Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Jesus Christ can calm any storm in your life


When Jesus Is In Your Boat
A devotional by Julia Wilson


“They all got into a boat and began to cross over to the other side of the lake. And Jesus, exhausted, fell asleep” –Matthew 8:23 (TPT)

Since transport in Biblical times was on foot or by boat, I imagine the disciples because they were fishermen, were used to being in a boat. They would also have been used to being in rough seas. So I can only wonder what was different about this storm described in Matthew 8:24 as “a violent storm.”

There are times in life when we drift along being perfectly content. We are used to little blips and then it is calm again. But now COVID-19 has hit the whole world. It is a situation none of us have experienced before and it is frightening. Like the disciples we feel blown off course. Daily lives have changed. We cannot see our friends and family as we are in lockdown. Symptoms range from none to death. It is a scary time, but when Jesus is in your boat, you do not need to fear. In Matthew 8:26, Jesus said, “Why are you gripped with fear? Where is your faith?”

Nothing surprises Jesus. Nothing scares Him and that is why He sleeps as the storm rages. COVID-19 does not scare Jesus, and if we know Jesus, it should not scare us. Yes, we must obey the government’s rules to “Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.” But we who believe in God and know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, have unwavering hope. We know that when fear comes knocking, we can run to Jesus because by faith, we know that He will calm us, just as He calmed the storm.

There is an old saying, “Do not tell God how big your fear is. Tell your fear how big God is.” When we have wobbles, and we all do, we must “fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV). When we look to Jesus, He will calm the storm inside us, whether it is COVID-19 or anything else. We need to activate our faith muscle.

When Jesus is in your boat, you can rest assured He will never leave you (Deuteronomy 31:6). Whatever you face in life, Jesus will be with you.

What happens when a storm hits and Jesus is not in your boat? Cry out to Him and He will be with you. He never ever left you but sometimes in life, our fear blinds us to His presence. We fail to see, hear or feel Jesus but that does not mean He has left us, it merely means we took our focus off Him.

When I was little, the biggest, boldest, bravest person in my life was my Dad (I realize this may not be the case for everyone). My Dad protected me because he loved me. When I was afraid I could run to him. When I was hurting I could run to him. When I wanted to feel loved I could run to him. My Dad was always in my boat.

Jesus asks us to see Him in the same way. He wants to be in our boat of life. He wants to help us to feel safe, to heal us when we hurt and He wants to love us. 


Jesus is asking you today: Will you let me into your boat? Will you put your faith in Me so I can be with you through all the storms of life? Will you let Me love you?

COVID-19 is unknown and feels very scary. Jesus can help us overcome our fears when we rest in Him. In these uncertain times, why not put your faith in Jesus. If you don’t know Him, then you can, today, right where you are, just reach out to Him.

Let Jesus be in your boat today and let Him calm any storms that rage inside you.

If you have never said yes to Jesus, may I lead you in a prayer today?

Let’s Pray: Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and I invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Saviour. In Your 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, May 26, 2020

Romantic Reads: A Date for Daisy


Welcome Tara Grace Ericson to the blog today!

She's here to talk about her new novel, A Date for Daisy.

Tara has graciously agreed to give away a copy of her story to the winner of the book giveaway contest! Enter the contest via the Rafflecopter widget that's located at the end of this blog post.

Happy reading!

~*~
Interview with Tara Grace Ericson about her book, A Date for Daisy:

Alexis: What inspired you to write this book?

Tara: This book was one of my favorites to write. The characters are strong and independent, but very different from one another, much like my (very loved) analytical-thinking husband and my more ‘free-spirited’ self! I wanted to write a story about characters like us, whose differences make them a better match, providing balance and encouraging growth. It’s not without its challenges, though, which the characters work through in the story.

Alexis: A Date for Daisy is the first book in The Bloom Sisters book series. What makes this series special to you?

Tara: More than my first series, The Bloom Sisters series is all about the family. I grew up with three older brothers, and the dynamics of a household with lots of siblings is so much fun to write. The family is close-knit, grounded in faith, and rooted deeply in the farm they love and work together.

Alexis: The opening line for your book blurb is hilarious! It reads, “He thinks she’s the captain of the Hot Mess Express.” Why does your story’s hero Lance think that about Daisy?

Tara: Daisy has her priorities, and organization is not one of them! Lance is very orderly and logical, and he has built a life and a business that leaves very little room for impulse decisions or off-the-wall ideas. When Daisy crashes (quite literally!) into his life, his first instinct is to back away slowly into his universe of lists and predictability.

Alexis: Why does Daisy Bloom who is the heroine of this story, think that Lance is too rigid?

Tara: Daisy lives in the moment, follows her whims, and searches for ways to channel her creative spirit into her world. It leaves little room for planning or schedules. To her, Lance’s structured world would mean giving up the flexibility and chaos she thrives within.

Alexis: What role does the renovation project play in bringing Daisy and Lance together?

Tara: Daisy is renovating an old house on the Bloom’s Farm property. Her previous contractor (Lance’s dad) has to have a knee replaced and is out of commission. Lance agrees to take over the project for his father.

Alexis: Did you, in real life, visit a bed and breakfast to scope out this story? If not, how did you do the research to write this book?

Tara: In college, my husband and I lived on the property of a bed and breakfast! In exchange for a rent-free apartment above the garage, we took care of the grounds, and occasionally checked in guests or threw sheets in the wash if the owners were busy. It was a pretty sweet deal for us, and it gave me some firsthand exposure to the reality of the innkeeper’s life. On the renovation side, my husband and I tackle renovations together. We’ve done two complete kitchen remodels and several bathrooms, basements, and flooring. Everything from electrical to plumbing so I was able to sprinkle realistic projects into Daisy and Lance’s schedule.

Alexis: How did Lance become a construction guru and business owner? Why is it his passion?

Tara: Lance’s father was a contractor and a single dad. Which meant Lance spent more time on a jobsite than off it. He grew to love the process as well, and built his own business. He loves taking something old and ugly and making it new. It reminds him of how God restores broken hearts and makes us new each morning.

Alexis: What is it about Daisy that Lance thinks is beautiful yet infuriating?

Tara: For someone straight-laced as Daisy, there is something magnetic about someone so vivacious and full of joy as Daisy. At the same time, she is impulsive and messy and it makes him crazy!

Alexis: What role does your characters’ individual faith in God play in this story? 


Tara: Both Lance and Daisy are being called to step out in faith. Lance, as someone who wants complete control, trusts God up to a point, but no further. As Daisy approaches the finish line with the renovation, obstacles make her doubt the call she was given. Through the story, each has their assumptions about God challenged and they have to trust him deeper in order to embrace their call and each other.

Alexis: What do you want readers to take away from this book?

Tara: I want readers to laugh and appreciate the complicated relationship of the characters. I want readers to fall in love with the Bloom Family as much as I have, and I want them to be encouraged that love is a daily choice, possible regardless of the differences we have with someone. I hope readers are encouraged by the steps of faith each character takes and how it blesses them.

Alexis: Now for the quick and fun questions in italics with your answers in plain font …

Starbucks or Subway?
Starbucks.

Autumn or Winter? Autumn

Peaches or Nectarines? Peaches

Kindle or Paperback books? Both!

Country living or City? Country, but close enough to a city to go to Target 😉

Brownies or Pie? Brownies.

Who is your favorite Christian author? Francine Rivers or Becky Wade

What is your favorite book? The Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Tara! Do you have closing comments?

Tara: Thank you so much for having me!

~*~
Author Bio:

Tara Grace Ericson lives in Missouri with her husband and two sons. 


She studied engineering and worked as an engineer for many years before embracing her creative side to become a full-time author. 

She loves cooking, crocheting, and reading books by the dozen. Her writing partner is usually her black lab Ruby, and a good cup of coffee or tea. 

Tara unashamedly watches Hallmark movies all winter long, even though they are predictable and cheesy. She loves a good “happily ever after” with an engaging love story. That’s why Tara focuses on writing clean contemporary romance, with an emphasis on Christian faith and living. She wants to encourage her readers with stories of men and women who live out their faith in tough situations.

~*~
A Date for Daisy book blurb:

He thinks she’s the captain of the Hot Mess Express.
She thinks he’s rigid and wound too tight.
And this renovation is about to get complicated.

Daisy Bloom is determined to turn her 100-year-old house into a bed and breakfast. The only problem? She knows nothing about renovations.

Enter Lance Matthews, construction guru and business owner. He is determined to tackle this project with his usual methodical, organized approach. His only problem? The beautiful and infuriating homeowner -- deeply involved with the project and completely averse to lists, schedules, or any form of organization.

When sparks fly between these wildly different personalities, will they find common ground? Or does God have other plans for each of them?

~*~
Buy Tara's book on Amazon, B&N, or Eden

~*~
Connect with Tara:
My website: www.taragraceericson.com
Free Story/Newsletter Signup: www.taragraceericson.com/mailinglist.html
Facebook: www.facebook.com/taraericsonauthor
Instagram: www.instagram.com/taraericsonauthor
Twitter: www.twitter.com/taragraceauthor

~*~
Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 25, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: How we can go bravely into the Unknown


Into the Unknown
A devotional by Glynis Becker


“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” –Psalm 23:4 (NASB)

As always, the first Thursday of May was the National Day of Prayer. 


I work for a large Christian nonprofit and throughout the day, we were given opportunities to tune in for a time of prayer and devotion with our ministry’s leadership. What a blessing to work with people who are excited to spend part of their day in prayer and praise! One of the quotes that stuck with me during one session is that as believers “we can never let what we don’t know overshadow all that we do.”

Thinking over that phrase I realized that every day—even when we are not in the middle of a global crisis—we walk into the unknown. Each new day is a day of uncertainty. Waking up to a sunrise does not guarantee that we will see that day’s sunset. And even in those seasons where nothing changes for us—same job, same family, same everything—we’ve never walked that day’s journey before. Then there are times in our lives where everything is uncertain: sickness, job loss, strained relationships, war.

But in all of those times, God is there. He already knows the outcome of whatever it is we face in a day or a season. He has already walked the road we can’t see. He is beside us as we continue. He holds us close when we are too paralyzed to move forward.

So today, let’s remember things we know to be true about our great God:


He loves us. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we yet sinners, Christ died for us.” –Romans 5:8 (NASB)

He is faithful. “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” –Deuteronomy 7:9 (NIV)

He is in control. “For this is what the Lord says—he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited—he says: ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other.'” –Isaiah 45:18 (NIV)

He is with us. “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” –Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

He will never leave us.
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Romans 8:38-39 (NASB)

He sustains us. “He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” –Colossians 1:17 (NASB)

He redeems us. “O Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is lovingkindness, And with him there is abundant redemption.” –Psalm 130:7 (NASB)

Life is always uncertain, but we serve a God who loves us enough to save us through His Son (Jesus Christ)'s perfect sacrifice. That should give us confidence to walk boldly into whatever the next step will be.

Let’s Pray: Gracious God, remind me today exactly who you are and why I can rely on you to see me through whatever today brings. Give me courage to face the uncertainty with confidence that you are with me. I love you and praise you, in Jesus Christ’s sweet name I pray, Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Glynis Becker writes devotions and inspirational fiction, hoping someday to have a published novel on her resume.

She has co-written several screenplays, including the film Sinking Sand, available on DVD and digital streaming.

Glynis, whose childhood was spent all over the country as an Air Force brat, has called South Dakota home for many years, along with her husband and two teenage children.

When she’s not writing or reading, she is watching more television than she should and crocheting. You can find her at www.glynisbecker.com.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Thoughts on caring for people a bit "too much"


Caring Too Much

A devotional by Amy Odland


“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” – Luke 6:27-28, 36 (NIV)

“You care too much.”

Have you ever had this said to you? Or maybe you’ve said it to someone? Is it even possible to, as a Christian, “care too much?”

In John 15:12-13 (NIV), Jesus says “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” When you think about him saying that to his twelve disciples, including Judas who would eventually betray him, you can get a better picture of what he meant in Luke 6 when he also said “love your enemies.”

According to BibleHub.com, the Greek word of enemies is echthros, which means “someone openly hostile, animated by deep-seated hatred, implies irreconcilable hostility, proceeding out of a “personal” hatred bent on inflicting harm.”


Do you have an enemy right now, someone you have deep-seated, irreconcilable hostility towards? Maybe it’s against someone who treated you unfairly or did or said hurtful things to you or a loved one. Maybe you are someone else’s enemy because of something you’ve done or said to them.

As Christians, we’re supposed to be loving and forgiving, but we don’t always do a very good job of that. We hold grudges, have angry outbursts, daydream about revenge, and want to see justice prevail quickly. I don’t know of many people, myself included, who look for ways to “lay down their life” for their enemies. But if we only love those who love us, what sets us apart from those who aren’t Christians, those who do the same kinds of acts of kindness we do? (Luke 6:32-33) 


Some of my unbelieving friends are just as kind and generous as my believing friends; the thing that sets those of us in Christ apart from the rest of the world is how we treat those who mistreat us. We become a living, breathing example of the Gospel message when we care for our enemies, which to some people, may look like “caring too much.”

Loving our enemies is only possible because of the Holy Spirit, the Helper who Jesus Christ mentions in John 14 and John 15. We love because he first loved us, because while we were still enemies of God, He sent His son to die for us. (Romans 5:10) Danielle Bernock explained it this way in one of her Christianity.com posts:


“Jesus brought up the issue of mercy repeatedly. Everyone wants mercy. The Bible tells us that mercy triumphs over judgment. Of course we want it. Giving mercy requires us to give up revenge and hand the judgment part to God. Loving our enemies doesn’t mean to allow them to continue to hurt us. That would be a failure of loving ourselves as God loves us. We can do what is in our control to protect ourselves while trusting God to step in. Loving our enemies means to see them as human beings in need of the Father’s love.”

Imagine loving your enemies in such a way you were able to say to a group of people who knew you best: “Love your enemy as I have; I’ve given you an example of how I loved mine.” Jesus Christ, in a sense, said this and then later died on the cross...even for Judas and the Pharisees. He cared about people to the point of death.

When we say to one of our brothers and sisters in Christ that they “care too much,” I wonder if we are actually meaning something else. I don’t think it’s possible, as a Christian, to “care too much” about people.

Let’s Pray: Lord, please help us care for others as you want us to. Help us love our enemies as you would love them. Give us wisdom to be able to discern when it’s time to turn the other cheek and when it’s time to “shake the dust from our sandals” and move on. Give us compassion for everyone created in your image. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

~*~
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, May 20, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Courage


Courage, Dear Heart

A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” –2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)

This month of May is the beginning of real spring here in Massachusetts.

The garden is coming alive, the trees are budding, the bulbs are all up, the bees have come back, and all of nature is growing. If you had seen my gardens in March, you'd see that it was a mess filled with mud and twisted brown horribleness. The weather was awful, the news was worse. It was downright depressing inside and outside. But there was an unseen process that was going on. Under that mud and bracken the world was waking up.

For a lot of folks, these last few weeks have been a season of affliction. Many of us have lost loved ones, our financial health, and maybe even our overall sense of security. The world doesn’t look the same way it did just a few weeks ago. Plans have changed. Hopes for the future have changed. The world has changed. But this verse above is the reminder that the world is always changing. As Christians there is no guarantee of easy days and prosperity, because our hope is not in this earth—it is in Heaven.

There is nothing here for us that is not transitory. Our country’s history, as meaningful and epic as it is, is still a blip on the record of time. Our homes, our jobs … all of it is momentary and ephemeral when set against the eternity that waits for us.

When it all gets to be too much, when I’m too anxious about the future or panicked about a present crisis, that’s when I try to remind myself that what I’m going through might feel like everything—all-encompassing, insurmountable, the ONLY thing—but that’s my brain telling me lies. God has me in His hands. My life is His. He knows what I’m experiencing and where it’s going to end. He’s written every chapter of the book I’m living and what I need to do is to trust Him.

A big part of trusting in God during these times of affliction is the stuff that we’re all taught to do in Sunday School, but we often forget. Read your Bible, pray as often as you can, reach out to other believers and share your struggles, share the Gospel with others. It’s the basics of having our inner selves renewed. We’re in the Refiner’s fire. Let it burn away the petty things that don’t matter: the things that weigh us down. Like the hymn by Helen Howarth Lemmel says: ‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus/Look full in His wonderful face/And the things of earth will grow strangely dim/In the light of His glory and grace.”

When affliction comes—and boy has it—remember that we are God’s children. He loves us. When it gets rough, raise your eyes and your heart from the earthly to the eternal. God is with us. “Courage, dear heart.”

~*~
Author Bio:
Christa MacDonald is a 2017 ACFW Carol Award finalist for contemporary Christian fiction.

A native New Englander, she was inspired by her travels through the north woods of Maine to write The Broken Trail, which would become the first in the Sweet River Redemption series published by Mountain Brook Ink.

Christa's writing focuses on the real-life challenges of the modern world, love’s sometimes crooked path, and the redemptive power of Grace.

When not working or writing Christa can be found ferrying her kids around, reading, or attempting something crafty.

She and her husband live with their three kids, two cats, and one dog along the coast of New England. Connect with Christa at www.christamacdonald.com.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Romantic Reads: Once Upon an Irish Summer by Wendy Wilson Spooner


Welcome my author friend Wendy Wilson Spooner to the blog!

She's here to share the story behind her debut book, Once Upon an Irish Summer.


Enjoy reading this captivating tale! 

~*~
The Story Behind Once Upon an Irish Summer 
by Wendy Wilson Spooner

AN IDEA IS BORN

Allen Hamilton is a name that inspires me to my core.

The first time the idea sparked for me to write his story was on a research trip to Ireland. I was hunting for ancestral records with my husband and parents. As we searched archives in tiny villages surrounded by deep green hills, and combed through the records in town halls flanked by ancient castles and cathedrals, something deep within me stirred—a connection to the past as tangible as the cobblestones beneath my feet.

Allen was the oldest son of my 3rd great-grandfather. When he turned 18, he met a man from “the states” at his great-aunt’s manor house in County Donegal that lit the fire of the American dream in his heart, and compelled him to cross the Atlantic alone to find a way to save his family. Allen’s father was a Clerk of the Crown and one of 17 sons of a landed gentry family near Enniskillen Castle in Northern Ireland. But when the British forced oppressive fees and tax laws on the people it imploded the economy—three decades before the Irish Famine. And seeing no hope for recovery, Allen borrowed the six-pence for passage and crossed the ocean in search of an answer.

BASED ON A 200-YEAR-OLD LETTER COLLECTION

A faded and worn letter collection survives today, written by Allen’s parents to him after Allen went to America. My mom and my daughters and I transcribed many of the faded, damaged letters ourselves. Microfilm copies can be found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah as well as the genealogical library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. 


The correspondence is both inspiring and heart-breaking, filled with the family’s trust in God as they suffered, while Allen journeyed thousands of miles away through antebellum America, seeking for a way to make a success of himself so he could bring his family to him before it was too late.

As starvation and typhus fever raged throughout his homeland, it was who and what Allen became in the U.S. that still inspires me today.

I wrote Once Upon an Irish Summer through the eyes of Allen’s fictional descendant, a young gifted artist struggling through debilitating grief, because what we learn from the past entirely holds the promise of changing our future.

NO DOUBTS

Writing this story in dual timeline was one of the hardest tasks I could have taken on as a debut novelist. But I would do it all again because the outcome has inspired countless people to delve into the lives of their own ancestors. And I believe that those who came before us want nothing more than for each generation to become a little better. 

And that’s what Once Upon an Irish Summer is all about: to learn about the people we come from, to honor them, and then to stand on their shoulders to become someone even better.

~*~
Author Bio:

Wendy Wilson Spooner, Lic. G., LCoT, is a Genetic Genealogist by day, a writer by night, and an artist in between.



Her love of what we can learn from history compels her to write the true stories she unearths during her research because she has found that truth is indeed, much more exciting and inspiring than fiction.

Wendy is a member of the International Society of Genetic Genealogist, The Association of Professional Genealogists, Romance Writers of America, and The American Night Writer’s Association. As an award-winning author of professional articles and poems, she’s turned to novel writing to share what she has learned with a greater audience.

When not writing or researching, Wendy paints, hikes, binges on Bollywood movies, and spends time with her greatest loves—her family.


~*~
Blurb for Wendy's book, Once Upon an Irish Summer:

"A compelling and heartfelt story about the power of faith, family, and our need for connection." —Richard Paul Evans, New York Times Bestselling Author 


Two teenagers, two centuries, one city.

1817 Ireland - Allen Hamilton crosses the Atlantic alone to find a way to save his family from imminent financial and social ruin before it’s too late. Instead he is met with prejudice, sickness, and starvation.

2018 Fort Wayne, Indiana - A gifted young artist struggles with debilitating grief after a sudden death in her family. When she unearths Allen Hamilton’s noble rise from rags to riches in Antebellum America, their shared connection inspires her own healing and renewed inspiration.

Based on a 200-year-old letter collection, Once Upon an Irish Summer brings to life and weaves together this true story of romance, mystery, and hope.


~*~
Buy Wendy's book on Amazon

~*~
Connect with Wendy:
Website - https://wendywilsonspooner.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/authorWendyWilsonSpooner/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/Wendy_W_Spooner
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/wendyspooner/

Monday, May 18, 2020

Romantic Reads: The Introduction


Dear Reader Friends,

I'm delighted to share the news of my brand new series, "Romantic Reads!"

Romantic Reads is a book promotion series that is purposed to promote sweet romance stories written by Christian authors in a way that will warm your heart and help you get to know Jesus Christ who loves you with ALL of His Heart and His Life! He thinks you're worth dying for (John 3:16)!

Visit my blog every Tuesday (starting this May 19, 2020) for a new installment of this series. Every Tuesday, I'll feature a Christian author and their sweet romance story. We'll promote their books through your favorite features like author interviews complete with book giveaways, and other fun features such as a preview of their stories and a glimpse behind the scenes such as guest posts about how and why they wrote their book!

I hope that this new, ongoing series will be a blessing to you!

May the Lord (God who is the Creator of the Universe and humankind) bless you, keep you and give you peace.

Love,

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


Devotionals for the Heart: Hope


The Hope of Flaming Shrubbery
A devotional by Malinda Fugate


Key Scripture: 
Exodus 3 (NIV)

The sun was hot and the air was dry. The shepherd followed his flock over every stone of this wilderness, and they were far from home. He looked up as Mount Horeb, the mountain of God, towered above him. A hush seemed to settle over the valley. As he turned to tend a wayward lamb, something caught his eye.

Suddenly, the shepherd was mesmerized. There was a bush, like many similar bushes he passed along his journey. But unlike the branches that scratched his ankles and tore his robes, this bush was engulfed in flames. Yet the leaves were not reduced to ashes, nor was a single twig going up in smoke. While the shepherd marveled, the Lord called to him from the shrub. This ordinary day just became extraordinary.

The shepherd removed his sandals, for he was on holy ground. He listened intently as God spoke to him from that bush on fire, as his life dramatically changed course. The shepherd had been running from his complicated past, unsure of where he belonged – among the oppressed people of his birth or his adopted Egyptian family – the oppressors. Now he knew that God was watching, and, more importantly, that God had compassion for His persecuted people. It was time for a rescue and the shepherd was chosen to lead the way.

“Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt.’” (Exodus 3:16)

From this bush afire came hope. Not because of the miracle in the brambles, but because of Who spoke from the fire. The very source of hope, the Almighty God, made a promise to His people that He would surely keep. They would be released from their slavery and given freedom in a land of promise.

Hope came personally for the shepherd, Moses, too. The Lord had His eyes on Moses since birth, through the brightest days of his Egyptian childhood to the darkest moments of his adulthood. Moses could traipse through the farthest edges of the wilderness and still not be out of the Lord’s sight. Not only would God redeem his past, but the blessings in store for his future were beyond imagination.

Would the weary sheep-tender have believed it if he knew the adventure he was beginning with His loving Heavenly Father? Could he have possibly grasped the confrontation with Pharaoh, the dramatic parting of the sea, or the close friendship with Almighty God that was to come?

At first, all Moses saw was wilderness and then a burning bush. The Israelites only saw the daily torment of slavery. But hope was alive and a rescue was coming. God was watching and never left them. So, too, are we watched in our wilderness. Our complicated pasts and difficult circumstances are in the hands of the same Almighty God who spoke from flames and parted a sea. This God loves us as passionately as He loved Moses. He has purpose for our past and present, with hope for a future beyond our imagination.

Do not despair when you only see wilderness. Many generations later, God’s people were once again captive, this time in exile. But God spoke words of hope to them again: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14)

Our God is a rescuer. We see how He brings His people out of all forms of wilderness over and over. He is faithful to keep His promises and full of compassion. You are His beloved child, He is watching you, and He never leaves you. Because of His love, you have hope.

~*~
Author Bio:


Malinda Fugate writes from the heart.

Though she serves full time as the Children’s Education Director at a church in Southern California, she is also a crafter of words published in books. Her writing includes children's faith resources, commercial copywriting, and various faith-based stage and screenplays.

Malinda invites you to explore the various 3:16s in the Bible with her new book, The Other Three Sixteens (published by Ambassador International in May 2020).

She also invites you to read her previously published books: Bible Time for Active Kids, which is an activities-based devotional that is available for purchase on Amazon.com, and The Pen and the Sword: Connecting With the Word of God, which is an interactive creative writing journal.

Malinda earned a communications degree with a theatre emphasis from Azusa Pacific University, and then worked behind the scenes at the Los Angeles Salem radio stations, including The Fish and KKLA. 


When she's not writing or working at church, Malinda might be creating art, reading, or exploring the many adventures to be found in the Los Angeles area. She lives by the beach with her pup, Yoshi. Visit Malinda online via https://www.malindafugate.com.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Celebrate Lit blog tour featuring Lori Hatcher's book "Refresh Your Faith"


Welcome to my blog's stop on Lori Hatcher's tour with Celebrate Lit for her book, 
Refresh Your Faith: Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible.

I hope that you will enjoy learning more about this sweet author and her wonderful nonfiction story.

Remember to enter the giveaway contest toward the end of this blog post for your chance to win amazing prizes from the author.

Enjoy!

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About the Book

Refresh Your Faith: Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible

Author: Lori Hatcher
Genre:  Devotional
Release Date: May 2020
Unfamiliar verses. Uncommon insights. Unlimited possibilities.
Move from biblical doldrums to dynamic discovery! While your favorite Scripture verses or stories may bring you comfort, if you’re feeling monotony in your time with God it’s time to shake it up a bit.

Each of these 66 culturally relevant, story-driven devotions—one from each book of the Bible—spotlights an unusual verse or passage and takes only five minutes to read.

If you have more time, you can dig a little deeper with an uncommon thought to ponder, unusual faith action step to take, and an unfamiliar passage suggestion that invites you to further explore the Bible’s hidden gems.

You’ll be challenged to think deeply, step out boldly, and grow dynamically, transforming your devotional time—and your life!
Praise for Lori Hatcher’s writing . . .
“Real-life inspiration and candid wit. These 5-minute devotions will change your life.”
—Psychologist and best-selling author Dr. Kevin Leman
Click here to get your copy!
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About the Author:
Lori Hatcher is a blogger, pastor’s wife, and women’s ministry speaker. 

She’s the editor of South Carolina’s Reach Out, Columbia magazine, president of Columbia Toastmasters, and regular contributor to magazines such as Christian Living Today and websites like Crosswalk.com.

Her book Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time, won the Christian Small Publisher 2016 book of the year. Find out more about Lori and her well-loved 5-minute devotions at lorihatcher.com.
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Read a Teaser from Refresh Your Faith:

The dirty little secret in Christian circles is that many of us are bored with our devotional time. We know we shouldn’t feel this way. It’s important to read our Bibles every day. After all, it’s God’s Word, the source of truth, and life, and hope.
While some have successfully built the discipline of Bible reading into their lives, others struggle. Even those who regularly read their Bibles find it a bit dry at times. Many of us also read devotionals, not to take the place of Bible reading, but to help us discover unfamiliar passages and stories and benefit from a godly writer’s perspective.
I wrote Refresh Your Faith because I was frustrated by many of the devotionals I read. They seemed to focus on the same basic verses I’d memorized with my children twenty years ago. John 3:16, Romans 8:28, Psalm 23, Matthew 3:5-6. Same with the Bible passages and stories. I treasure the familiar verses and stories. I’ve held them close to my heart during some of the darkest times of my life.
But I knew there was more to the Bible than these well-worn favorites.
I reached a point in my spiritual life when I needed something new. If something didn’t change, my spirit was going to wither up. My time with God shouldn’t be something I did out of duty. I wanted to delight in God and His Word.
So I asked God to help me. I needed something to refresh my faith and energize my Bible reading. Wow, did He answer. I’d been reading through the Bible every year for more than a decade, but all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to passages I’d never noticed before.
These uncommon verses sparkled like gems. The more I read, the more I spotted them, tucked into obscure stories and buried under genealogies and census reports. I found some hiding out in plain sight—golden nuances and nuggets in the shadows of the more familiar stories.
Refresh Your Faith, Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible is a collection of the treasure I unearthed during my year of searching. Each story-driven devotion contains an unusual verse, a real-life application, and an uncommon faith step.
I hope my book will energize your faith, inspire your devotional time, and make you say, “Wow, I’ve never seen that before!”
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My Review:

Lori Hatcher’s book, Refresh Your Faith: Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible, is a lovely devotional that is as lighthearted as the warm pastel colors on its book cover!

But the lighthearted storytelling style of the author is accented by solid Scripture to support the messages in each devotional in this book. And that is a good thing because it causes the reader to read the Bible, not just this author’s book.

It is clear that the author loves God and puts Him first in her life. She wears her heart on her sleeve as she weaves in personal stories from her life in the real world, in a way that’s practical yet inspiring. 

The author takes the reader on a journey through God’s Word (The Holy Bible) as each chapter of this devotional book is grounded in God’s book. She starts with the first book of the Bible (Genesis) and examines the central theme from that book then applies these ancient words to our modern day reality before moving on to the next Bible book. The author continues to take the reader by his or her hand and invite them on a journey through God’s Word from start to finish.

The author does a delightful job of encouraging the reader to delve deep into God’s Word and refresh their faith.

I’d highly recommend this book to every Christian who needs a boost to their daily devotional time with God. But I’d also share this book with people who do not yet know or follow Jesus Christ because they would be able to come to know Him and love Him as they read this author’s devotional book.

*Celebrate Lit provided me (Alexis A. Goring) with a complimentary copy of "Refresh Your Faith" (book). My opinions in this book review are my own.

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Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Lori is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and autographed copy of Refresh Your Faith!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
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Blog Stops

Emily Yager, May 8
Mary Hake, May 10
God is Love, May 17
Marilyn Ridgway, May 18 (Guest Review on Lighthouse Academy Blog)

Friday, May 15, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Why we should always listen to God's direction


Go Right

A devotional by Alexis Newlin

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

Since COVID-19 started, I now take drives to explore the mountains in my town so I can satisfy my travel bug and connect with God through nature. I’ve lived in California for almost seven years and there is still so much I haven’t discovered yet. That is one positive in this quarantine time.

I am so thankful that I am surrounded by so many places that I can explore in under three hours. Each time I take one of these drives, I come back feeling grounded and refreshed, having spent a bit of time out in nature with God.

Last Saturday, I revisited one of the backroads that my friend mentioned to me a few weeks ago. The mountain road is curvy, tree-lined and covered with wildflowers before it cuts through a beautiful valley. The sights on this road are absolutely breathtaking, and because of its sharp curves, you have to go slow or you will plunge off the edge of the mountain. The slow speed allows you to really take in all the beauty around you: wildflowers, large oak trees, birds singing, cattle grazing in the hillside. It’s now one of my favorite places to go.

At the end of this drive, there is a fork in the road. If you choose left, that will lead you back to town in about 20 minutes. I’d gone left three weeks ago and it was a beautiful drive. Now there was an option to go right, but I’d never gone that way before. I was a little afraid of getting lost and I didn’t want to accidentally end up three hours away from home.

I heard a whisper from God. “Go right.”

I was scared to go right. I knew what was to come if I went left since I’d gone that way before. So I went left.

The urge to go right became stronger. I felt like God was saying, “Alexis, if you turn into this turnout, you can still U-turn and go right.”

I knew that urge would not go away until I decided to go right. Swallowing my fear, I pulled into the turnout, made a quick U-turn when it was safe and headed right.

I am so glad I did.

Not only was the drive beautiful, it ended at a marina of a very large lake I’d never seen before. I couldn’t go onto shore because the lake was closed, but from my parking spot I got to take in a beautiful view: crystal blue water with mountains as a backdrop.

If I had listened to my fear and continued to go left, I would have missed out on discovering this lake. Taking a different path, the one that God chose for me, ending up being better than my original plan.

That often happens in my Christian walk. I don’t know about you, but I am not a big fan of the unknown. I like routine, I like to know what lies up ahead so I can plan and weigh my options. I like to be in control.

However, none of that exists in the unknown. Walking in the unknown plans that God has for us, takes a lot of trust and faith.

Faith that God knows what is best for us.

Faith that He is always with us, especially when things are hard.
Faith that although we think we may know the way, God always has a better way.

When God calls you to take a new path or leads you into the unknown, remember these verse from Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV):

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make straight your paths.

We may think we know the best way, but friend, God always knows better.

Trust Him.

~*~
Author Bio:

Alexis is a 36-year-old lover of Jesus, loose leaf tea, roller coasters, writing stories and going on adventures. Originally from Marietta, GA, Alexis now resides in Fresno, CA.  


You can always find Alexis outdoors enjoying a walk in her neighborhood, scoping out the newest food truck, hanging out with friends or planning her next trip.

Her church, The Revival Center, and family mean the world to her. They have supported her through the loss of her mother and her own cancer diagnosis.

Alexis enjoys encouraging others by reminding them not to look at what they see, but to always look to God, who is working in the unseen.

Alexis currently writes for several online ministries and launched her first podcast – The Brave Podcast – in January 2020.

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Connect with Alexis:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/apeachincali/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/apeachincali
Podcast: http://thebravepodcast.buzzsprout.com
Website: www.apeachincali.com