Monday, July 13, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: A Spiritual Lesson Learned from farmers


Preparing for The Harvest

A devotional by Wade Webster

“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” – Matthew 13:23 (NIV)

I spent a day driving in Kansas recently. There's quite a variety of terrain there, contrary to what certain movies show. Yes, there's a lot of wheat grown there. In fact, it was being harvested while I drove down the interstates. I wondered how many seeds were planted compared to the amount being collected. Old farm boys think about such things.

I had to be in Hays that evening so I could deliver first thing in the morning. The sun set as I drove up I-135. The clouds to the west were a long ways off as best as I could tell. Their tops were all I could see at first against the fading dusk. The crescent moon ducked behind them for a time only to poke its head back out briefly.

As the sky grew dark I witnessed and interesting phenomenon. There was lightning in those clouds that didn't reach the ground. I've seen this before. It's what's known as an electrical storm. One of the interesting things about these storms is that they seldom make rain. All of that churning in the atmosphere causes sparks but has no benefit for anyone.

Thunderstorms have many blessings attached to them. Not only do they drop rain to water the vegetation but the lightning also puts nitrogen into the water to aid in making plants green. Not so with electrical storms. They make flashes of light for witnesses to see and that's it.

It makes me think about the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. Seeds fall to the ground in several different soils. Most of the results are abysmal at best. The good soil is mentioned last in the story to show the desired result.

The wheat fields being harvested had been prepared well by the farmers to attain the results they were achieving. Weeds had been removed to assure the plants weren't starved of the nutrients being offered in the soil that was fertilized and tilled properly. Experience and hard work were paying off. These farmers didn't just talk about what needed to be done. They did it.

That electrical storm was all show with no results. I hope you aren't like that. Too many folks are. They talk a good talk but don't walk a good walk. They don’t put in the effort to make the necessary changes to bring lasting results for God's kingdom.

Reading the Bible is a good start but you must apply what you're learning to let it transform you. Once you change to become more like Jesus Christ, then amazing things will happen. People will notice something different about you. They'll be attracted to your behavior and grace. They'll ask you what your secret is. That's when the fruit will be harvested.

I pray that you have not already, you will become like the bountiful wheat fields I saw instead of the storm that dropped no rain.

~*~
Author Bio:
Wade Webster is a farm boy turned city slicker, heathen turned born-again Christian, truck driver turned writer doing his best to point folks to his best friend, Jesus Christ.

He currently lives in Plano, Texas.

Wade is the author of 100 Prayers of a Writer, a book that didn't begin as a book, just weekly prayers to a group of writer friends.

He enjoys spending time in nature, running for exercise and dark chocolate, though not necessarily in that order. Apart from driving 18-wheelers for a living he has a part-time job painting houses on the side...and the front and back and inside.

As a teenager, he told his friends he never wanted to be considered normal. So far he's done a pretty good job of living up to that aspiration.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Compassion


Transformational Compassion
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 
When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” 
–Matthew 25:37-40 (NIV)

Recently, I was introduced to a phrase that caught my attention and has stuck with me: “transformational compassion.”

When I heard it, my mind was stimulated to imagine stories or scenes of compassion that transformed a life. My first thought was a song published by Ray Boltz. 


His song talks about a man who dreamed that he went to Heaven. While there he met many people, he heard angels sing. Then one day he heard someone call his name. When he turned around he saw a young boy approaching him. The boy thanked him for giving himself as a youth mentor and for his consistent invitation to accept Christ. The boy said that he responded to his appeal and God changed his life. He said, “Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am a life that was changed.”

My mind leapt to a story I read years ago about a teen boy walking home from school. On his way, he saw a younger boy walking home with an enormous amount of stuff. 


Uncharacteristically, he offered to help. The younger boy accepted his offer.

As they walked, they talked. Something clicked between them. Upon arrival at the home of the younger boy, the older boy said to the younger boy, “I will see you tomorrow.” Years went by and their relationship grew. On the day of the younger boy’s graduation, he thanked his friend profusely. As the older boy demurred, the younger boy told him that on the day that they met, he was carrying so much stuff because he was taking everything he had at school, home.

He intended to kill himself that evening, but the kindness of the older boy and the last words that he said (“I’ll see you tomorrow”), transformed his gloom into hope.

Jesus spoke of transformational compassion in Matthew 25:34-40 (NIV). He paints a word picture of socio-economic disparity and the moral imperative of individual responsibility:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

The twist in this story is that the transformational effect of compassion was meaningful to the recipients and salvific for the giver. In this story, Jesus Christ was teaching His followers not only that doing right is its own reward, but also that there is a cosmic accounting of the smallest acts of kindness.

In my first example, the life of a child was changed eternally because of the consistent prayer of a mentor. The second example demonstrates how a simple, spontaneous act of kindness, saved a life, created an undying relationship and changed at least two lives.

The object lesson of the Christ is that acts of kindness to the poor, hungry, downtrodden, addicted, imprisoned or different, are really declarations of the giver, into the cosmos, of the caliber of one’s character. In that parable, the purveyors of compassion were ushered into the presence and fellowship of God.

Today, I pray that you may feel challenged to make an investment of kindness into someone’s life. Your deed of kindness may be the catalyst that catapults someone else from doom and gloom to hope and purpose. Your investment of kindness will be noted and affirmed in this world and the next. May dividends flow upon you from the storehouses of heaven in such abundance that you become a greater conduit of grace and kindness than you ever dreamed!

~*~
Author Bio:

Chaplain Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps. 


Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.

He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees: a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Thankful Thursdays: My Thoughts on The Gift of Time and Friendship


Thankful Thursdays: The Gift of Time and Friendship

It’s Thursday and I’m thankful for the gift of time and friendship.

My friend Holly brought this to my attention about a year ago. We’ve been friends for a few years. We talk often and during one of our conversations, she told me, “You have the gift of time and friendship.”

Her words caused me to pause because I’d never thought of time as a gift. I’ve always thought that friends who God placed into my life are a gift. But never once did I consider nor did I realize just what a precious gift time is especially for those who are running out of it.

Holly’s words caused me to re-evaluate my life. She spoke those timely words to me during a tough time in my career journey. It had been years since I graduated from college and my career path looked nothing like I planned. But still, God was present and blessing me through all the detours He led me to take in the journey to my dreams.

I thought my dreams had come true last year when God enabled me to land a full-time job in Journalism at a major magazine without even interviewing for the job. However, that journey as a journalist ended after five months.

However, that was all part of God’s perfect plan, because once again I had more time to spend with Him and more time to finish writing my devotional book! My devotional book, Stories and Songs of Faith: My Journey with God, was published in April 2020. God confirmed that this was part of His plan. He confirmed it through the words of my friends who’ve read my book and through all of the ratings which as I write this blog post, are ALL five-star ratings!

My time with God has been and continues to be precious. I realize more than ever how important it is to always make room for Him in my life and spend time studying His Word (The Holy Bible). The older I get, the more I see just how precious His Word is and how important it is to apply His truth, promises and principles to my everyday life.

I have not landed a new full-time job since my magazine job didn’t work out last year but I have been abundantly blessed by God during this time with Him and with the people in my life who love me (family and friends).

The Gift of Friendship

Growing up, I loved to read books. Every summer, our dad would drive my brother and I to the local library to borrow books. My brother would borrow books about dinosaurs and puppies while I would reach for books about friendships and characters falling in love.

Never had I ever thought that when I grew up, I’d become friends with my favorite authors whose books I read as an adult! Thanks to Facebook, becoming friends with authors has become as simple as sending a friend request. But what I cherish even more than becoming Facebook friends with these wonderful writers, is becoming real-life friends offline! I’ve met most of my favorite authors at a Christian writers’ conference that God made a way for me to attend five years ago and He continues to connect me with more of my new favorite authors! It’s such a blessing.

It’s truly special to my heart when my favorite authors and I become such good friends that we call each other on the phone even if we cannot meet in person (my author friends live across the USA and around the world).

Just before writing this Thankful Thursdays post today, I was looking at my friends on Facebook and praising God for exactly what they are: blessings!

God helped me realize how He made all of this possible. He showed me that He has perfect timing and that He has good plans for my life (Jeremiah 29:11). God reminded me that He cares about my heart’s desires.

God knew who He would bring into my life before I even asked Him or petitioned Him in prayer. Just like God knows exactly who I need in my life, He knows who you need too! Trust Him to coordinate your connections!

It’s Thursday and I’m thankful for the gift of time and friendship.

What are you thankful for today?

Sincerely,

Alexis A. Goring, MFA
Founder of "God is Love" blog

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Gardening


Beans and Blueberries 
A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” 
–Ephesians 4:16 (NIV)

Gardening is an activity that God has used to teach me about His kingdom. Participation in cultivating life has resulted in a consistent opening of my eyes to God's nurturing love. I share my garden stories for building up God’s family in that love.

I planted pole beans in the garden bed that lies between the rows of blueberries. The blueberries have been in the ground for longer than I have been the owner of the property, though I understand they've been there for decades. They are well established in that soil and have weathered much over the years. They are hearty, reliable, and sure.

The pole beans began from seed this spring. The seedlings went into the soil in May. They were newcomers to the garden.

When I was a kid, my grandfather planted pole beans and because of those memories, they have been a favorite of mine. I like eating beans, but I love the fun in harvesting them! I feel like a kid again. It's like a game of hide and seek looking behind broad leaves and under a self-made canopy for the produce that looks so much like the vine it came from. If it weren't for those memories of picking beans as a child, I would not have known how prolific pole beans grow.

Given good soil, watering and plenty of sunshine, pole beans grow rapidly. Long tendrils stretch, reaching up and out, unable to support themselves. They truly are reaching out for support. This year, they found support in the nearest blueberry bush.

Rather than building extra supports, I decided to let what was happening between the two plants play out, knowing that the beans would not last but one season, leaving the blueberry bush to continue.

What has happened between the two has been a joy to observe. The rapid growth of the beans found security in the support of the blueberry’s hearty stalks. The beans reached out and curled dainty fingers around thick branches. The large leaves of the beans brought extra shade to the old blueberry in a summer’s heat. Berries developed more slowly in their shade, becoming large, juicy and sweeter than their full-sun neighbors.

It looked like a jungle mess of intertwined bodies playing a savage game of Twister. However, when you duck under the exterior to see what's happening on the inside, an enchanting secret garden of beans and blueberries grow together!

God’s Spirit touches me there, every time I visit. The church family, the body of Christ, is like this garden. There are some, like me, who have been in the same soil for decades, weathering seasons of ice and drought. There are others, in our congregation, who are young and growing quickly, needing support of the mature. Some of these young “pole beans” have stretched out in missionary service to other countries…that's a long arm!

Rapid growth periods require support, no matter what the variety. Being stretched beyond capacity means you are healthy and potential for fruitfulness is increased. This is not weakness.

The added weight from the young plants strengthens the older “tried and true.” It’s a gift of greater purpose and adds new meaning to aging lives. It is not a burden to be resented. To partner together is a blessing that is greater than the success of the individual. The fruit is sweeter!

From the outside it looks messy. Could intertwined and messy be good and tidy independence deception?

Ephesians 4:16 points out that life begins with Christ…that ligaments are there for the purpose of support…and the body's work is building itself up. In Christ, with love, let’s build each other up!

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for the lesson of the beans and the blueberries! May we, Your church, work unified. Let us be at peace in our need, reaching out for support as we grow spiritually. May we also be generous in spirit as we bear the weight of those who require support.

~*~
Author Bio:
Sharon Musgrove is a self-proclaimed sociologist. The opportunities opened to her, over the years, have led her on a fascinating journey observing human behavior.

She has a diverse background in business, fitness and health industries. This background led her to a unique position writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both recovery programs served women primarily from the homeless community.

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She's been privileged to participate in Leadership camps for maturing young women. These annual camps have a mission of encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young Maasai girls.

Easily identifying personally with the brokenness of the women she's served, Sharon now sees all people as needing more encouragement regardless of cultural or socioeconomic status. Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

In her leisure time, Sharon enjoys her garden, health food, travel and a good story. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. They have two grown children. Currently, Sharon is writing her first Christian historical fiction novel utilizing her study, experience, and understanding of self-destructive behaviors.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Romantic Reads: Save the Last Dance


Welcome Susan C. Fischer to the blog! 

She's here today to share the story behind the heroine of her book,
Save the Last Dance.

Enjoy!

~*~
The Story Behind the Main Character of Save the Last Dance:
A guest post by Susan C. Fischer

In some way I identify with every character in my contemporary inspirational Christian Romance novels. I’ve written three novels so far, and there are bits of me and my personal experiences in all of them.

The main character in Save the Last Dance, Liz Everton, is a paralegal and one of the only female ranch owners in Florida. I’ve had readers tell me that she is the most likeable character in the first two novels (which centered on two other heroines) since she is a down to earth, intelligent, compassionate and loving individual with whom lots of women identify. She is in her 50’s, weighs a little more than she would like, and has problems learning to dance. Yet she takes lessons at a ballroom dance studio, anyway.

In Save the Last Dance, the prologue establishes that Liz has recently lost her father and is now living alone on their ranch. Her husband died ten years ago. However, I was determined not to focus on her grief or losses but on her resolution to live life going forward laughing and loving people as much as possible.

I know that everyone has had their share of grief and loss during this difficult time of fighting a pandemic while grieving those who have gone to glory, whether they are your family, friends, or lives which have been remembered in the recent protests in every state.

I fashioned the character of Liz to embody the strength and resilience that we all have deep inside which the Lord uses to help us endure the tribulations of this earthly life. Liz focuses on the future. She questions whether she should even be dating Pastor Isaiah Comstock, who lost his wife two years ago, due to his frequent remarks on their first date about his deceased wife. But Liz, being who she is, doesn’t stay silent and hurry to get away from him. She reprimands him on this weakness. Isaiah later regrets this and vows to change.

Liz embodies the philosophy I’ve followed in spite of many losses: to enjoy the abundant life Jesus promised us in John 10:10 (ESV), “…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” In addition, Jesus wants all of us to have our what we desire as long as we don’t lose our focus on him. According to Psalm 37:4 (ESV), “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

All of us endure loss in our lives. But we also need to remember to thank God for giving us the grace and strength to bounce back from personal losses and difficulties because we are not alone. He is always with us. As Jesus reminds us in Matthew 28:20 (ESV), “…I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

~*~
Author Bio:

Susan C. Fischer is an author, Christian Mediator, and speaker with several ministries. 



She leads a Bible study group, is a member of the Order of the Daughters of the King, and is active in the Inner Healing Prayer Ministry. 

She obtained a Juris Doctor degree and has practiced Personal Injury Law in Michigan and Florida for over 30 years. 

She resides in Bradenton, Florida near a dance studio and her favorite beach.

~*~
Back Cover Blurb for Save the Last Dance:

Strong and confident, paralegal Liz Everton is one of the only female ranch owners in Florida.



Having been a widow for many years, she strives to live life to the fullest on her own. So why is she attracted to the minister of her small, community church?

Pastor Isaiah Comstock is a widower who is fascinated with Liz's wisdom and beauty. Being an introvert, he forces himself to interact with his parishioners and to go to ballroom dance classes where he may be able to dance with Liz. 

When a weather emergency forces them together, can he overcome his past mistakes and church gossip to turn their friendship into love?

~*~
Buy Save the Last Dance on Amazon

~*~
Connect with Susan:
Website: susanfischer.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susanfischerbooks/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/susancfischer
E-mail: susanfischer.author@gmail.com

Monday, July 6, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Creation


Falling in Love with God’s Creation
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

One of the most beautiful things I’ve discovered about life is something I spent decades taking for granted: God’s creation.

It’s not that I was completely oblivious. All of us can appreciate a gorgeous sunset or one of those perfect spring days, when it’s comfortably warm with no humidity and just a gentle breeze, the kind of day that makes you seek out patio dining or take a long walk just for the pleasure of it.

But as a type-A-personality do-er, I had a tendency to get so focused on my tasks that I’d tune out the beauty of life as simply “pretty setting,” of no real importance.

One day reading the Bible, it hit me that not only does God love me, but He also loves this whole planet. He designed everything—every flower petal. Every rock. Every single atom. Nothing was by accident! He intentionally handcrafted every star in the sky for His enjoyment. He loves creation—so why was I taking it for granted, thinking I was somehow “wasting time” when I lost myself marveling at the trees, the oceans, the rivers, or the rainbows?

One of my favorite Bible verses right now is one that eluded me for many years: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a NIV). Learning to do that—be still—wasn’t easy for me at first. But I’ve come to understand forcing myself to sit and just be with the Lord is important. I’ve realized many of us are afraid of the quiet and the solitude because, deep down, we know when the noise and the excitement stops, we’ll be all alone. In the quiet, that’s when we are most likely to encounter God and wrestle with our true natures, and sometimes, we fear this.

Still, the quiet always comes. Even when we fight it, there comes a time sooner or later when the noise stops and we are left alone with our Creator. The sooner we can know it, face it, embrace it, and own it, the sooner we can stop going through the motions of living and start truly living.

In the quiet of creation, our souls can simply unite with God.

Look around—the flowers barely sway in the breeze, yet their vibrant-hued faces are turned upward, focused on the Lord. Notice how perfectly crafted every tree is, every blade of grass, every rock, every creature.

I’ve shared before how God recently nudged me to produce a mini book to help people shrug off their worries and center themselves in the Lord. Called A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed, the book is free for anyone who signs up to receive my blog by email.

One of the tips in that book is this one: Spend time outdoors. Soak up the sun! And most importantly, doing while you relax. Be still and know—that God created all this beauty! That His hand and His heart designed every bird chirping outside my screened patio.

Go outside and just bask in creation. Grab a folding chair or sit on a blanket by a garden, take a seat on your front porch step, or cuddle up in your jammies in a sunny patch someplace in your house.

Leave your phone and your book behind. Just go and sit in the silence of the Lord as His masterpiece of nature unfolds all around you.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:7-10 NIV).

“In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land” (Psalm 95:4-5 NIV).

There’s a rhythm and a unity, a harmony, undergirding it all. Take some time in the quiet to truly see it.

We get so busy in life. We get so focused on our purpose, on our people, on the work we are doing for the Lord, and while all that is good and important, if we’re not also taking the time to rest and bask in God’s creation, we’re missing out on an important way to get to know Him.

To love what He made—whether it’s people or the earth in general—is to love the Lord.

For other tips on how to be rooted in God and live a God-centered life, check out my free eBook, here.

~*~
Author Bio:


Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden.

She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism.

Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com

You can also connect with her on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and more.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Conflict


Jesus in the Conflict
A devotional by Mirachelle Canada

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 
–Romans 12:2 (ESV)

Since the beginning of creation, our world has been defined by what is active and reactive.

In uncertain times it takes but one voice to claim the spotlight and stir up those willing to listen and then act based upon what they hear. Some join the crowd, while others flee it. Believers in Jesus Christ fall prey to the internal struggle and want to give in or give up. The constant barrage of information, imagery, and conflicting voices leads to desperation, confusion, lack of understanding, and forced reactions full of fear, anger, and resentment. All hope seems lost among the burden to make sense of things and bring the world back to right.

Does this sound familiar? It should. In the book of John, we read of the wondrous things that Jesus does near Jerusalem. The people welcome Him, follow Him, and seek after Him for His miracles. Thousands testify of His great love. Then a sudden a new, less public, voice spreads the rumor among them in John 7:25-26, “Isn’t this the man they were trying to kill? Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah?” Enter Doubt. Confusion. Fear.

The rumors continue to permeate into the people’s hearts. They question their belief in Jesus. What they thought was true becomes twisted into constricting lies. They go out again to seek Jesus but return to their homes manipulated by condemnation of public eyes. Enter Indecision and Division.

Hope is diminishing as the crowds grow restless and accusatory. Yet, it’s all going according to God’s plan for salvation through His son, Jesus Christ. And it is by Jesus’s example in the garden through prayer, reaction, and action (Mark 14:32) that He offers the way through the chaos of conflict.

Silencing the rest of the world, Jesus goes to a Gethsemane with his disciples to pray and seek the Father (God). He takes His trusted friends further in with Him as he faces deep distress (Mark 14:33) to where “His soul was overwhelmed to the point of death” that He asks them to keep watch for Him. Going further into His struggle to accept God’s will, Jesus asks for God’s mercy, that the cup of death would pass from Him (Mark 14:36). Then, He yields to God’s will and not His own. Finally, when He returns to find his friends sleeping, He wakes them with the final warning to watch and pray so they would not fall into temptation (Mark 14:38) as “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 

Only after returning a third time, though everyone was still resting in their own weakness, does he proclaim his readiness to accept that the hour of decision has come (Mark 14:41).

What then can we do when we find ourselves facing the chaos of the world when conflict rises? We can follow Jesus’s example. By way of through the garden of prayer and seeking God, He was prepared to die (to his own will) and accept dying on the cross of Calvary so that we might have life – and life eternal!

So, when we face the problems of the day, let us:

1. Pray and seek the Father (God), through His Son, Jesus, and by way of the power of His Holy Spirit. Repent of any sin in your heart and lay all burdens at the foot of the cross where they are covered by His blood that cleanses us from sin.

2. Ask others you trust to pray and watch over you by interceding on your behalf. Thereby, standing united in Christ with one purpose.

3. Ask God for His mercy over the situation and all who are involved.

4. Yield to the will of God, believing that He knows what is best in the situation and will produce an outcome that is according to His plan.

5. Keep watch and continue to pray, so that you are not tempted to react in the flesh as the world does, but are led by His Spirit with wisdom and truth.

6. Finally, proclaim your acceptance of the will of God with praise and thanksgiving, giving all glory and honor to God because of the victory that is given through Christ Jesus.

By following Jesus’s example, we can rise above the conflict, renew our hearts and minds like Jesus, and having passed the test by seeking and accepting God’s will, we are transformed by His Spirit to receive was is good, acceptable, and perfect in His heart.

~*~
Author Bio:
Mirachelle Canada is a writer, playwright, screenwriter, and theatre director/producer from Northern Virginia, where she teaches television production at her high school alma mater.

She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Script & Screenwriting from Regent University and is an alumnus of Act One: Hollywood Film & Television Writing Program.

Mirachelle is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, American Fiction Writers Virginia Chapter, The Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild, and Your Novel Blueprint.

She is currently working on her first historical fiction novel set during WWII.

~*~
Connect with Mirachelle:
Website: www.mirachellecanada.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mirachellecanada/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/miracan

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Grace


Giving Grace
A devotional by Allison M. Wilson


Key Scripture: 
Romans 3:21-25, James 1:19-21, Romans 12:2, Romans 13:12, Luke 6:37,
Jude 1:22-23 (NASB)

Grace is a really complex, yet simple, concept. Hopefully, we understand that it cannot be earned, but is given (Romans 3:21-25) as a gift, by the only righteous One (God). We cannot grasp all grace entails. Our finite human minds just aren’t capable. God does allow us to gain more and more understanding as we surrender ourselves to Him.

We can’t fully grasp grace. Yet, we’re called to give it to others. How do we do that when we don’t understand it? As with everything in the Christian faith, it is by allowing Him to do it in us.

I can’t give grace to the driver who cuts me off without Christ doing it through me. He takes the fleshly response, which seems righteous, and tells me that it is not the way He wants me to be. That anger stirs up the negative emotions in me, not the love, joy, peace, patience (that one gets me every time!), and the rest of the fruit of The Holy Spirit that He died to give me. It does not produce the righteousness of Christ in my life. James 1:19-21 is clear about what my human anger does in my life. It’s also clear what I’m called to do instead.

Judgment has been a consistent sin for me. I respect authority, and I am a rule follower. When others don’t obey the rules/laws, it upsets me. I want justice for being a “good” person. I want them to toe the line. If I have to do it, then everyone should, right? Where is the grace in that? Allowing the Holy Spirit to work in me to bring judgment into obedience with His calling has been a lifelong struggle. It has required changing my thoughts and bringing them into the obedience of Christ. (Romans 12:2)

Things that come easily to me are rarely from God. Anger is an easy reaction. Judgment is, too. To allow the peace of Christ to reign in my heart and mind is not something I am capable of doing on my own. It requires the sacrifice of laying down what I think is right, and allowing Him to teach me what is truly righteous. (Romans 13:12) If I were to continue in my judgmental thinking, I couldn’t be the minister to others He’s called me to be. (Luke 6:37) Countless times He has brought someone to me who has, what they would say, sinned in such a way that I would be offended or repulsed.

If the judgment that used to be so much a part of me was still running rampant, I wouldn’t be able to speak His truth in love to those hurting people. This does not mean I condone sin. It does, however, mean that I treat people the way Christ did in their sins. He loved them. He never accepted their wrong choices. He accepted them, and loved them to the right path. See the story of the woman at the well, or countless other passages in the Word where He confronted sin with love, not condemnation.

I believe that is what giving grace to others looks like. We can say that what they are doing is wrong, but love the person. (Jude 1:22-23) That is the person I want to be. I want others to feel safe coming to me for truth from Christ, no matter the sin in their lives. I want to be known for love. Too many believers are known more for their judgment than their love. Christ first came to love, not judge. That comes later. That’s who I want to be. Only Christ can make the changes in me, through His grace, to be grace-filled toward others.

Let’s Pray: Father God, do in me what needs to be done so that I give grace where I do not naturally want to do it. I surrender my “right” way to Your perfect way. Make me slow to speak, slow to anger, and quick to listen that I may become more like You in grace. In the precious name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:


A very early reader and lover of the written word, Allison M. Wilson has been writing since the age of 8 with the heart to impart stories and God's truth. 



She has judged countless contests for the last 25 years, reviewed for several online publications, professionally edited, and written articles and devotionals.

Wife, mother, writer, editor, teacher, mentor, and mompreneur, God keeps her busy while living in east central Florida with her family.

~*~
Connect with Allison:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allisonmwilson
Twitter: https://twitter.com/amwilson

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Romantic Reads: The Trouble with Love, a book by Toni Shiloh


Welcome Toni Shiloh to the blog! 

Today, she's here to talk about her new novel, The Trouble With Love

Enjoy!

~*~
Interview with Toni Shiloh about her book 
The Trouble with Love: 

Alexis: Why did you write this book and call it “The Trouble with Love”?

Toni: The Trouble With Love perfectly sums up how Holiday views love: trouble. I wanted the book to have some fun moments but real moments as well and I think the title and the story hints at both.

Alexis: What is the leading lady of your story, Holiday Brown, like? Describe her looks, personality, mindset, dreams and character flaws.

Toni: Holiday is an African American woman in her twenties. She’s a bit stubborn, a bit sassy, but fiercely loyal to those she calls friends. She dreams of a life with happiness, but it always seems so out of reach, despite the fact that she’s an award-winning singer. When I wrote her, I used Mickey Guyton as an inspiration image of what I thought Holiday looked like.

Alexis: What is the leading man of your story, W. Emmett Bell, like? Describe his looks, personality, hopes, fears and worst habits.

Toni: Emmett likes to flirt with the leading lady, yet she doesn’t always get the little nicknames he gives her as flirting. He’s a little serious but that’s because his faith grounds him and keeps him from gaining a big ego. Afterall, being a Pulitzer prize-winning photographer could make a person think more of themselves than they should. I pictured him as Jesse Williams from Grey’s Anatomy.

Alexis: What inspired you to make Holiday an award-winning singer living in luxury?

Toni: I really wanted to write about rich heroines and I brainstormed and talked to the characters forming in my mind and I settled on a pop singer.

Alexis: Who in real life, would you compare Holiday’s singing voice to and why?

Toni: Hmm, I was thinking of Mickey Guyton throughout the time I wrote Holiday’s story. However, Mickey is a country singer and I was picturing a more pop vibe in Holiday’s voice.

Alexis: Why has W. Emmett Bell always been the “bane” of Holiday’s existence?

Toni: I’ll tell you a secret. Holiday had a crush on Emmett until he ruined it with judgment. From then on, every joke felt like a slight, every comment a judgment. Each hardened her heart.

Alexis: Why does Holiday believe that it would be too much “trouble” to fall in love?

Toni: Holiday’s father is an R&B legend and also a man who’s been married ten times. She doesn’t believe in love. Thinks it’s as elusive as a unicorn. I mean, how can she believe it’s something that last when her father is the example she has to go by. Not to mention all the other Hollywood romances that end in divorce.

Alexis: What was Emmett’s first impression of Holiday? Describe his relationship with her.

Toni: Emmett has known Holiday since their boarding school days so his impressions of her have gone through many changes. He would like to get to know her more, but all she sees is a judgmental Christian.

Alexis: How many ex-girlfriends are in Emmett’s dating history? Why didn’t it work out?

Toni: There’s only one I discuss in the story and to find out why it didn’t work out, you’ll have to read The Trouble With Love. 😊

Alexis: What is it about Holiday that makes Emmett want to know her better?

Toni: Actually, Holiday’s best friend (and Emmett’s sister) Tori suggests that Holiday give Emmett a chance. Otherwise, she would have been stubborn enough to keep on disliking him.

Alexis: What challenges do Holiday and Emmett have that interfere with their romance?

Toni: First, they don’t like each other. At least, Holiday has strong feelings of dislike. Emmett was a little zealous when he became a believer and said somethings to Holiday that soured her opinion of him. Not only that but she has to weed through her beliefs on love and God before they can have a happily ever after.

Alexis: What role does faith in God play in this storyline?

Toni: Holiday starts out as a nonbeliever, but by the end, she comes to believe that God is real and her need for Him, the realist thing in her world.

Alexis: What was the most challenging aspect of writing this story?

Toni: Never having stepped foot in NYC, I found writing about it a little challenging. Usually I make up a location, but this time I took a chance and set it in a known—well known—location. It was fun as it was challenging.

Alexis: How did you research this story? Did you visit Nashville (home of the music industry)?

Toni: I didn’t. I’ve never been to Nashville although I would love to. I actually watched many episodes of Songland, read books about New York City, and spent time on Google maps looking at various places Holiday visits.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about The Trouble with Love?

Toni: That God has an everlasting love and is the example we should remember, not the broken relationships in this world.

Alexis: Tell us about your Faith & Fortune book series, of which The Trouble with Love is the first. What inspired you to create this series? How many books are in this series?

Toni: There are three books in the series. Holiday and her two roommates each have their moment as the lead.

Alexis: What can readers expect next from you as an author?

Toni: The Truth About Fame releases July 7, 2020. It’s book two in the Faith & Fortune series and I think you’ll love it as much as Holiday’s story.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Toni! Would you like to share closing thoughts?

Toni:
Thanks for a great interview, Alexis. Readers, drop me any questions you may have in the comments.

~*~
Author Bio:

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and multi-published Christian contemporary romance author. 



She writes to bring God glory and to learn more about His goodness. 

Her novel, Grace Restored, was a 2019 Holt Medallion finalist and Risking Love is a 2020 Selah Award finalist.

A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and of the Virginia Chapter, Toni seeks to help readers find authors. 

She loves connecting with readers and authors alike via social media. 

You can learn more about her writing at http://tonishiloh.com.

~*~
Back Cover Blurb for The Trouble With Love:


I, Holiday Brown, have it all. A platinum record. Multi-million dollar home in Manhattan that I share with my two best friends. Life is looking fantastic until my roommate’s brother decides to bunk in our guestroom while his house gets renovated. 


W. Emmett Bell has always been the bane of my existence. He’s annoying, stubborn, a know it all, and just might be the most gorgeous man I’ve ever laid eyes on. 

But I refuse to fall for him. 

Then his sister’s threatened by a stalker and dynamics change. His unwavering faith isn’t quite as self-righteous as I’d always thought, and maybe he has a good side I’ve overlooked all these years.

Or maybe it’s all too much trouble.

The Trouble With Love is the first book in the Christian Chick Lit series: Faith & Fortune.

~*~
Buy The Trouble with Love on Amazon

~*~
Connect with Toni:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/authortonishiloh
Twitter: www.twitter.com/tonishilohwrite
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/tonishiloh
Instagram: www.instagram.com/tonishiloh
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/tonishiloh
BookBub: www.bookbub.com/authors/toni-shiloh
My BookCave: https://mybookcave.com/profile/toni-shiloh/
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gcMfqT
Blogs Toni contributes to: www.inspyromance.com and http://diversitybetweenthepages.wordpress.com

Monday, June 29, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Confidence


Confidence in the God Who Sees
A devotional by Tema Banner

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” – Genesis 16:13 (NIV)

Let’s talk about the Bible story of Hagar who was an Egyptian slave to Sarai and Abram.

Frustrated that she could not have children of her own with her husband (Abram) and not willing to wait any longer on God to fulfill His promise of blessing Abram with a child naturally through Sarai’s womb and make him the “father of many nations” (Genesis 17:1-8), Sarai gave Hagar to Abram in hopes of producing her longed-for son.

In our time that seems anything but honorable, but it was a common practice in Biblical times. But when Hagar becomes pregnant by Abram, Sarai quickly changes her mind when she feels her position is weakened. She mercilessly mistreats Hagar to the point that Hagar flees. She finds herself in a desolate place, alone and with child.

Imagine the distress and treatment that would cause her to flee to a barren, desolate land. How many times have we found ourselves in such a place?

It may have been our own choices and actions that place us there—I know this is true for me. But for others, it is treatment forced on them. My journey to the barren land has always been driven by my own desires instead of being obedient to God. However, had I not known it before, the last few weeks have shown that many in the country in which I live (United States of America) have been marginalized, mistreated, silenced, and ignored all because their skin is a different color.

But there is hope because Elohim Roi (The God who sees) is our God. He is just and has told us to “act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly” with Him (Micah 6:8).

Despite my unfaithfulness and foolish choices, God saw me in my isolation, and He did not leave me alone. He is ever faithful. How much more will He see those who are mistreated and alone all for the way He created them? He will surely rescue them and deliver them from oppression. He is the God who sees. If you follow Him, you will be part of that rescue by His Holy Spirit working in you and through you.

God told Hagar to return to Sarai, but He also told her that she would give birth to a son. Hagar would find herself back in the desert when Abram, at Sarai’s insistence and God’s agreement, sends her and her son, Ishmael, away. Again, God sees her, alone, afraid, expecting to die for lack of water. He provides for her needs and promises that her son will live and become a great nation.

God always sees us, though sometimes we struggle to feel His presence. It is most often in our times of greatest distress, when situations are beyond our control, when we are at our weakest, that He reminds us that at such times His strength is there to lift us up.

When the world seems the most out of control, have confidence that God is not surprised by any of it and He sees you.

Let’s Pray:
Heavenly Father, thank you that You see me, that You love us so much that You sent Jesus, your son, our Savior to rescue us. May your peace and love fill our hearts to overflowing, spilling onto all those who come near. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:
Writing stories that take the reader on a journey to parts unknown has been a lifelong love for Tema. She enjoys all history and continues daily to hone both her knowledge of history and her writing skills.

God is her guiding light and the reason for every endeavor in her life. She is a member of the South Carolina ACFW chapter as well as an active member of her local RWA chapter, Carolina Romance Writers.

Tema has served as past President and Secretary as well as holding various chair positions. She is the honored recipient of the Harold Lowery Service Award, presented by the Carolina Romance Writers.

God has gifted her with a loving husband, two children and three grandchildren who are the delight of her life. In her spare time, she gardens and digs into genealogy for nuggets to use in her stories.

~*~
Connect with Tema:
Website: https://temabannerauthor.com
Blog: www.temabannerauthor.com/blog
Instagram: Instagram.com/temabanner

Friday, June 26, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Reasons why YOU are God's Favorite!


You’re His Favorite

A devotional by Amy Odland

“Then an argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the thoughts of their hearts, had a little child stand beside Him. And He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My name welcomes Me, and whoever welcomes Me welcomes the One who sent Me. For whoever is the least among all of you, he is the greatest.” –Luke 9:46-48 (NIV)

As most parents experienced in March, April, and May of this year, we also had an increase of evening meals around the table with all of our kids.

Before Coronavirus hit, we usually tried to eat dinner together as much as our schedules allowed. During those weeks of quarantine meals, we were all together all the time so didn’t have much to “tell about our day” during the meal as each day seemed to be the same as the one before. So instead we enjoyed some extended devotional time, we developed some inside jokes, and we also maybe had an argument or two when we got tired of all being together so much. Our four kids, ranging in ages 20 down to 9, would frequently tease each other during these meals about which of them was our favorite. Every time they did, I would think of this passage in Luke.

Have you ever felt like God plays favorites? When we measure “favorite” by the world’s standards, we think of someone else receiving something we don’t ... like material blessings or healing or answers to prayers ... and it begins to seem like God plays favorites. Our humanness equates “ease of” as a measurement of quantity of love – whether it’s ease of life or ease of gain or ease of struggle, the easier things are, the more we think someone is loved. We begin to believe God loves them better than, or more than, He does us.

God never said things would be easy for us just because we follow Him. God doesn’t play favorites by making things easier for us while we’re alive. In fact, Jesus said in John 16:33 (NIV), “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” He has equal love for all of us, meaning those who call upon Him and continue to follow and trust Him are all favored. He loves the thief who hung on the cross next to Jesus and called out to Him just as much as He loves His beloved son, Jesus. Why else would Jesus have said to the thief, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” We are all favored because we call Him Father.

God loves all His children the same, but He doesn’t treat them all equally. A few examples of this? Abraham was richly blessed with land and flocks, but had to wait until he was HOW OLD to have a child, who was a fulfilment of a promise God had given him? Joseph became second in command in Egypt during a crucial time but only after first being hauled away from his family and sold as a slave, then falsely accused, and after spending years in prison. All the major prophets were ostracized during their lives as they warned of the coming ruin of Israel. David was anointed to be king of Israel by Samuel, but had to endure being chased around and almost killed by his boss and predecessor for years beforehand. Mary was chosen to be the mother of the Savior of the World, but she almost lost her engagement, her family’s name was scorned because she was pregnant before wedlock, and she later watched her son die a criminal’s death when he’d done nothing wrong.

Jesus talks in Matthew 7 about what we should do with this apparent discrepancy between what each of us gets from God. In Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV) he says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 

Some of us get so distracted by what others are doing or achieving or receiving, we lose sight of the path laid out before us. We are focused on whether so-and-so deserves this-or-that instead of what God has purposed us to accomplish during our lifetime. We get caught up in negative emotions and thoughts that weigh us down instead of thinking about the things Paul mentioned in Philippians 4:8 (NIV), “...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

This is exactly what happens when our kids fight about who is the favorite. They forget about the unique gifts they have to offer the world. They forget about how God has designed each of them differently, that they were raised differently, and that they will each head down different paths in life. They forget they each have different strengths and weaknesses, character qualities that need to be pruned or watered, depending on God’s plan and timing and desire. They’re not going to all choose the same career. They’re not going to all get married at the exact same age or have the exact same number of kids...or maybe even get married at all.

God doesn’t shape his children to be factory-made dishware; we aren’t all supposed to be the same. We are unique creations created for bringing variety and beauty and love into the world. Imagine if there was only one kind of tree or one kind of animal or one kind of food. God said we were His “very good” creation, so why wouldn’t we be as multi-faceted as the rest of His creations?

Of course each of our four children think THEY are the favorite. They are not wrong; they’re each our favorite in a different way. It is amazing the difference in our children’s behavior when they think they’re the favorite, how willing they are to please us and to listen to us.

So today, I say to you: Start to believe you are God’s favorite and live like it. Do things to please your Father, not the people around you. Ask God for things like a favorite would ... and don’t act like a spoiled brat when He doesn’t give them to you right away.

Jesus Christ’s words in Matthew 7:11-12 (NIV) say, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” 

Love God and love others as one who is highly favored by God. Because you are His favorite.

~*~
Author Bio:

Amy Odland has been serving in church ministry as a volunteer leader for over 16 years, in various worship, prayer and women’s ministry roles. 


Her passion for helping women stems from her own struggles and lessons learned in her journey as a Christian since first deciding to follow the Lord in 1994.

Amy’s priorities after her faith include her family — husband Rick, and their four kids — as well as extended family who all live close in proximity and the many friends she’s made over the years.

In addition to a love of teaching and helping her husband with the bookkeeping for their many businesses, Amy has recently expanded her stay-at-home work to include leading author’s book launch teams for publishing companies like Baker, Revell, Barbour, and Lifeway.

She also enjoys teaching new authors about platform building, self-launching, and online marketing.

~*~
Connect with Amy:
Facebook: https://facebook.com/amyodland
Instagram: https://instagram.com/amy_odland
Twitter: https://twitter.com/amy_odland
Website: https://amyodland.com

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: The Light


Hold On To The Light
A devotional by Julia Wilson

“The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.” 
–John 1:5 (MSG)

There are times in life when everything seems dark and uncertain. As we live through this pandemic called COVID-19, life has seemed like that at times. Everything we thought we knew, everything we used to do has gone. We have been in lockdown for months and now we are beginning to emerge into a strange new world.

In these uncertain times, there is one sure thing … God. God has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the Life-Light and He shines as brightly now as always. We do not need to fear because God is with us today and He sees our tomorrow. He is the Light of the world (John 8:12 NIV).

Have you ever noticed how when you are trying to sleep in a dark room, that just a small ray of light can illuminate and seems to light up your room? Jesus Christ is like that … when we cannot see our way through dark times we need just to look to Him and He will give us just enough light to see the next step. We do not need to see the whole way ahead, just the next place to plant our feet. Jesus asks us to trust Him to guide us through life with all its highs and lows.

I love looking at different Bible translations of the same passage. This is how the Passion Translation says John 1:5, “And this Living Expression is the Light that bursts through gloom – the Light that darkness could not diminish!” Wow! I just love the thought of light bursting through the gloom. Imagine the sun’s rays bursting through the clouds. Jesus is like that when He bursts into our life, He illuminates us and asks us to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NIV).

When Jesus is living in us, we are called to be bearers of His light. We are to show Jesus to a hurting world by all that we say and do. The Passion Translation tells us “So don’t hide your light! Let it shine brightly before others, so… they will give their praise to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 TPT).

St. Francis of Assisi said, “preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.” Our life is meant to point others to Jesus Christ. Our world can be very dark at times and people need hope. The good news is that we do have hope! Above all, hope has a name … that name is Jesus.

Light will always overcome darkness. Jesus is our Life-Light. We need Him in our life every single day, every step of the way. He is my hope and He can be your hope too! If you have never said yes to Jesus, I would like to give you an opportunity today and have this Life-Light in your life. May I lead you in a prayer?

Let’s Pray: Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I choose to turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

My name is Julia Wilson but I also go by Christian Bookaholic.



I live with my husband and five cats in a small town in Worcestershire on the banks of the River Severn (England). We have four grown up children and three granddaughters.

I have always loved reading and have always been surrounded by books. I used to work as a teaching assistant for special needs in the local high school. Ill health forced me to stop working in December 2015. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (known as M.E.) and fibromyalgia. I now have plenty of time to read and review books!

Our eldest son set up my Christian Bookaholic blog. I review every book I read. I read over 300 books a year. I read Christian and mass market. I prefer stories set from 1850 onwards. My favourite type of books to read is stories set in WWI and WWII, and Russia under Czar Nicholas II.

I am a historian, having a Combined Humanities degree where I majored in History and minored in English. I also love swimming. I only learned how to swim in 2017 and go swimming four mornings a week for 90 minutes before breakfast, it keeps my joints going.

I am also a crazy cat lady. I absolutely love my cats. I have grown up with cats and cannot imagine life without them. My dream is to own an old fashioned seal point Siamese … but not while we have our young rescue cat as she hates other cats!

I love God and love going to a large lively church called Lifecentral. I cannot imagine life without God. He gives a peace even when life does not. He guides my life. He is my Rock.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Romantic Reads: Dance Over Me


Welcome Candee Fick to the blog! 

Today, she's here to share the story behind her book, Dance Over Me.

Enjoy!

~*~
How a Dream and Song Turned Into a Book
A guest post by Candee Fick

Ever wake up in the middle of a dream and actually remember what it was about?

Usually the wisps of unconnected, pizza-induced, nonsensical images disappear within a few blinks, so when a vivid scene lingers and actually feels real, I pay attention. And when my imagination keeps the characters interacting at least until I’m brushing my teeth, I know it’s time to pull out my notebook and capture the idea so I can add it to my folder of story seeds.

In one such dream, I was a college-aged dancer standing backstage at a theater watching three or four couples rehearsing a slow dance onstage. I noticed their popularity and personalities enough to know I didn’t belong and stayed in the wings. But the romance and the music and the potential for something just out of reach still drew me in. What I remembered most about the situation was the emotion. The longing. The wishing. The hoping… Until a new young man stepped up beside me, started a conversation, and then escorted me onto the stage to begin the perfect dance that left the others speechless.

Who were they? Where were they? What did it mean? And what was I supposed to do with the scene?

Not long after my dream, the worship team at church sang “Amazed” by Phillips, Craig & Dean. It’s a song about the love of God that shows up in unexpected ways that leave us amazed. The opening verse states: “You dance over me while I am unaware, You sing all around but I never hear the sound.”

Immediately, my heart connected with the lyrics and my subconscious resurrected the imagery from that dream. And I knew it was God in the wings loving and encouraging the girl until she was able to step onto the stage.

Once home, I did some research and found the Scripture in Zephaniah 3:17 that inspired those song lyrics. “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with his love. He will rejoice (dance/whirl with joy) over you with singing.”

Serious brainstorming ensued and more pieces started to fall into place. The girl became an orphan who was searching for family and a performance artist longing for a place to belong. The guy was a “somebody” in a “nobody” (i.e. overlooked) role. And since the onstage diva wouldn’t be happy to give up her spot at center stage, I had plenty of potential conflict.

Dance Over Me is now the first in a series exploring faith and fame. And while that duo-dancing scene from my dream never made it into the final version of the story, I worked hard to keep that raw emotion on the page. Not to mention the constant reminder that our ever-loving God is working behind the scenes.

Did I succeed? I think so, because one book reviewer said: “Dance Over Me is an emotional journey, from rejoicing over Dani’s successes to wanting to purse whomp the antagonists (or at least trip them) to crying with Dani over her frustrations. Through it all, we are gently reminded – through the authenticity of Dani’s walk with Jesus – to let Him fight for us and to rest in His love.”

And it all began with a dream and a song.

~*~
Blurb for Dance Over Me:

She’s spent a lifetime searching for family, but God’s been dancing behind the scenes. 


Danielle Lefontaine, an orphaned actress raised to the lullaby of Broadway, searches for her long-lost brother and her place on the stage. After a successful audition lands her a part in the same city his adoptive family had moved to, Dani believes she’s finally close to finding her place to belong.

Meanwhile, Alex Sheridan is living his dream playing the trumpet at his family’s dinner theater. He’s got everything he ever wanted…except someone special to share it with. When Dani dances into his life, he hopes she’s the missing piece to his heart but fears the bright lights of a bigger stage could steal her away.

However, after a jealous cast member’s vicious rumors threaten to drop the curtain on Dani’s career, everything they’ve worked to build may end up for nothing. Will the rhythm of dancing feet usher in their deepest desires or leave them stranded in the wings?

If you like tap dancing, musical theater, adoption-reunion stories, and faith-based romance with authentic characters, then you’ll love the first book in The Wardrobe series from Candee Fick.

~*~
Buy Candee’s book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble 

~*~
Author Bio:

Candee Fick is a multi-published, award-winning author. 


She is also the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. 

When not busy writing, editing, or coaching other authors, she can be found cheering on the home team at sporting events, exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.

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Connect with Candee:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author.Candee.Fick
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CandeeFick
Website: https://candeefick.com