Friday, January 29, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: A Life Lesson on the way God works!

God Works Behind the Scenes
A devotional by Monique Anderson

“But, Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” 
–John 5:17 (NLT)

Seeing the images online the next day made me feel so proud to have been a part of something so epic. Picture after picture of each model coming down the runway with their sleek, clean looks gave no indication of the madness that went on backstage just moments prior.

Missing shoes, missing accessories, and even missing models is what adds to the heightened tension and pandemonium backstage at a fashion show. However, given all the stress of the last-minute details that go awry, when the lights go on and the curtain is pulled back, the press, and awaiting audience have no idea that something so streamlined came from something so chaotic.

This is what I imagine the heavenly realms look like when we send our prayers up to God. Imagine all the angels he dispenses to see about us, and them scrambling to get to our needs. I envision them getting held up by the enemy and his angels, and the spiritual warfare that takes place just to see to it that God’s will gets done for his children. Imagine what God’s work looks like behind the scenes. Let’s read this verse from Daniel 10:12-13 (NLT):

“Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.”

I was reminded of God’s unseen handiwork when I was praying for a loved one to surrender to God. I would constantly ask God what I needed to do: Should I show them Scripture? Should I share a sermon? Should I read a devotional with them?

I felt like I received no response from God, and from what I could see, there was no change in the person I was praying for. I was not sure if my prayers were even heard much less getting answered. So, I just continued with my relationship with God in hopes that they would see all that He was doing in my life and be moved to submit to Him.

From my view in the audience, I could not see all the work God was doing backstage.

Until one day, out of the blue, he confessed he was ready to surrender. He said he felt God chasing after him, and he was tired of running. I was stunned, and almost in complete disbelief. It was presented in such a nonchalant manner. I imagined this day being a fall out, ugly cry praise and worship moment. But it was not. It was presented just as neat, and well put together as the models coming down the runway.

Just like the awaiting audience, I had no idea what was happening behind the scenes. I later found out that he was being ministered to by someone he worked with. He said he felt like there was nowhere else for him to run. His journey to Jesus reminded of this song by Casting Crowns called “Even When You’re Running.” God’s love for him was inescapable. My loved one was getting Jesus at home, and in the workplace, but in very subtle ways. I made sure never to pressure him into submission. I wanted him to want Jesus for himself, and that is exactly what happened.

I couldn't tell from where I was sitting that God had been scrambling backstage to bring all the pieces together. I just saw the finished product of a man of God humbling himself before the Lord. This situation reminds me of God’s promise to us in Psalm 91:11 (NIV) which reads, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”

Please remember this: From where you’re sitting it may look like no work is getting done. It may seem like God doesn’t hear you and isn't seeing about your needs. But let me remind you that our Heavenly Father is always at work. He’s never not working. We should thank God that we don’t see the mess happening behind the scenes; we just get to be a witness to the final production once He shines His light and pulls back his curtain for the big reveal.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, I praise You and thank you for constantly working in my life, and in the lives of those I care about. I am thankful that my prayers are always received and heard in your Kingdom. I will hold on to the promise of Your Word that says You will command Your angels concerning me. This promise reminds me that even when I don’t see it You’re working. I will continuously sing your praises even while I wait. Father, I love You and thank You. In Jesus's Name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

Monique M. Anderson is a writer, wife, and bonus mom to a 14 year old. She just recently unleashed her always present yet hidden talent of writing to the masses. She was born and raised in Mount Vernon, NY where she still resides, and serves on the prayer team of her church The Gathering Harlem.  

Monique always felt like God was chasing after her, but never felt the need to surrender. Until that is when life started veering left, and she no longer wanted to steer so she finally gave Jesus the wheel. After forming her relationship with God she always felt compelled to share the revelations that the Word gave to her. She always felt the Holy Spirit prompting her to write, but was afraid of what people might think. So her writing started in her journal. The journal turned into a book, and the book into a blog.

Slowly but surely God’s love started to cast out all fear. She started to consistently update her bi- weekly blog called “Yours Truly, Moe.” Her obedience led to further revelation. God revealed to her that He would use her to help others along their walk the same way God helped her along hers. Since Monique did not grow up in church she always felt intimidated by the Christian life. She thought that she would be losing so much of herself, not realizing that she would actually find her TRUE self.

Since God has shown her who He really created her to be, she now feels it is her life’s work to help those that are taking their first baby steps in this walk with Christ. She is doing so through her blog, and soon to be published book. Monique is excited to extend her reach to podcasts and speaking engagements in the near future.

Her blog is the stepping stone to fulfilling the vision God gave to her – “Sharing God’s revelations so we can all reflect his image and fulfill his purpose.”

Connect with Monique:

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Our Plans

Releasing our plans to God
A devotional by Heidy De La Cruz

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” 
– Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)

We all have plans, goals, and desires for our lives. We all want to succeed, and we have a vision of how our life will go. But life doesn't always go as planned. As a matter of fact, can you think of a time when things went right according to your plans?

Prior to getting engaged, I had not thought much about my wedding. I know some females dream of their wedding since they were little girls, but that wasn't me. I had been to plenty of beautiful weddings, but it wasn't until I got engaged that I really started to think about mine.

I'm not much of a party planner; it causes me too much anxiety. So I never gave it much thought about planning a wedding. I did know that there's a ton of small details that goes into planning a wedding, and it all seemed overwhelming to me. Then there is the money part; weddings are expensive! But before my husband, then fiancé, started planning our wedding, we prayed.

We would pray every day for our wedding, for the planning aspect, for the financial aspect, and we would pray that everything will turn out according to God's will for our life. It seemed like everything was working smoothly from day one, considering that we were planning this wedding in five months because I wanted to get married on my birthday, which is in February, and we got engaged in September.

As the days went by, we continued to pray and continued to plan – everything was working out according to plan. God provided the financial aspects, which was only His doing because I wanted to use credit cards right away, but my husband stopped me. There were a few things I started to worry about as the day approached. Like the wedding was on a Thursday, we had family flying in from out of town, the DJ was also part of the wedding party, my siblings went to school in the morning, the caterer was also a wedding guest … but at the end of the night, everything, absolutely everything turned out perfect!

People would ask me how the wedding planning was going if I was stressed out or worried, but because I prayed and left everything in God's hands, He worked everything out and we had minimal bumps along the way.

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 16:3 (NIV), “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” and that is my testimony in regards to my wedding. From the very beginning, I prayed to God and released everything to Him, and He worked things out to His will. At the end of the night, it was the dream wedding I never knew I wanted.

Let’s Pray:
Heavenly Father, I know we have plans for our lives, but Your plans are far more significant than what we can ever imagine. Help me Lord, to always commit to You my plans first, and let you guide my steps. You work things out for my good. Remind me that You will make things happen in your time according to your plan for my life. In your name, I pray, Amen.

Author Bio:

Hello, my name is Heidy (Reynoso) De La Cruz. 

I am Dominican-American and I’m passionate about writing! I write poetry, encouraging blog posts about personal experiences and any message that God has stored in my heart. I am working on publishing my first poetry book.

First and foremost, I am a daughter of Jesus Christ. I am also a wife and a mother. I have my master’s degree in Healthcare Administration through Belhaven University’s online course. I have my bachelor’s degree in Science with the concentration of Psychology and Healthcare Administration.

I currently work in the medical field as a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist, and I’ve been in the medical field for the last six years. I love my career!

My hobbies include writing, reading, watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, traveling, and spending time with my family.

Connect with Heidy:
Read my poetry on Instagram:

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Romantic Reads: Waltzing with a Grease Monkey

Interview with Janetta Fudge-Messmer about her book, 
Waltzing with a Grease Monkey:

“Waltzing with a Grease Monkey” is quite the creative title for a story! What inspired it?

Janetta: It is a unique title, for sure. You ask, “What inspired it?” Since my main character is a ballroom dancer and moonlights as a mechanic, the book called for an out-of-the-box title. I wish I could take credit for the name, but I have to thank my friend, Linda A.

Here’s a fun fact: Ray and I owned an auto repair shop for eight years in the 1990s. After one of our mechanics quit, I worked in the bays for about five months.

Alexis: Why did you write this story?

Janetta: I have to blame my publisher. Cynthia puts out ideas, and the dancing one jumped out at me. I love to dance, and I love watching the TV program called Dancing with the Stars, which made a win/win combination. My hubby and I brainstormed and came up with the moonlighting as a mechanic.

What was the most fun part of writing this romance?

Janetta: Learning more about dancing as I researched. And figuring out how to combine a dance instructor with a side job as a mechanic. I’m a pantser (write by the seat of my pants), so a scene will pop into my head from nowhere. Most times, it surprises me as much as I hope it does my readers.

Tell me about your story’s heroine, Penelope "Nell" Price. What does she look like? Sound like? Act like? What are her greatest dreams and deepest fears?

You ask me what Penelope Price looks like. I know I’m different than other authors – I don’t have a picture of a specific person for my character. I want my readers to imagine what they look like in their own mind. One thing I do know about Nell, she has settled into her routine of working all the time. Her greatest dream: To make a difference. Her deepest fear: Stepping out of her comfort zone.

Alexis: Tell me about your story’s hero. What is his name? What does he look like? Sound like? Act like? What are his hopes and desires in life?

Janetta: If I tell you about my story’s hero, I’ll give away the book. It is a novella. Penelope has two men vying for her attention, and both are successful in life. One is happy to share his talents as an owner of an auto repair shop. And grease under his fingernails doesn’t bother him in the least. The other, he’s made his own way in life, not relying on his family name to get ahead.

Alexis: What brings Penelope and the hero together?

Janetta: They realize the Lord has a plan for their lives, and finding the importance of telling the other person how they feel – before it’s too late. Not wait for someone to woo them away.

Alexis: What threatens to tear Penelope and her love interest apart?

Janetta: Their stubbornness. Just like with all of us – our stubborn streak will get us going in the wrong direction more times than not. They (as with us) must listen to God’s leading in our life.

Alexis: Describe the setting for this story. Where does it take place? What makes this setting special to your characters?

Janetta: Newberry is the setting for my story but it isn’t real. The imaginary town is big enough to have a warehouse district (where Priceless Dance Studio is located), but small enough where people know their neighbors. And their business. I loved the name when it came to mind.

What gives Penelope a love for dance? How does she like teaching at her mom’s studio?

Janetta: All Penelope has known is dance. From her first steps, her mother and father taught every dance step their students learned. Penelope does love to dance. She also enjoys working with her mom and brother but wonders if there’s something else out there to use her talents.

Alexis: What role does Harrison play in Penelope’s life?

Janetta: As far as Penelope is concerned, Harrison plays a larger role in her life than she’d planned when she first met him. After their unexpected meeting, she didn’t care if she ever set eyes on him again.

Who is Derek and what role does he play in this story?

Derek is Penelope’s boss at the auto repair shop. He and Nell dated and broke it off two years before. And the more time she spends at the shop, she’s aware he wants to rekindle what they once had.

Alexis: What is Penelope looking for in a man? Has she ever been in a romantic relationship?

Janetta: Penelope wants a man that loves the Lord and works for the good of others. Looks aren’t at the top of her list. Character is of most importance to her. She and Derek dated before, but she wants it to stay in the past.

Alexis: What is it about Penelope that attracts suitors? Does anything that she says or does make these men leave her life? Explain.

Janetta: Penelope is kindhearted, witty, and isn’t interested in dating. Her excuse is that she’s too busy. When she does date, she’s the one who calls it quits before it gets too serious. And, don’t ever pigeon hole her. She’s a female and doesn’t have an issue with pursuing what people believe is ‘man’s work.’

Alexis: What do you want your readers to remember most about this story?

Janetta: 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) is the Bible verse the Lord chose for Waltzing with a Grease Monkey. The verse reads, “Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” I believe the Lord gives us gifts and talents to use for His glory. Years ago, He spoke into my heart about becoming a writer. Obstacles stood in my way, but with Him by my side in all the struggles, we persevered.

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

Alexis, thank you for featuring me on your blog. I loved your thought-provoking questions and will ask them when I begin my next book. Blessings, my friend.

Author Bio:
Janetta Fudge Messmer’s tagline is "Turning Life into Comedy." The reason being, she loves to laugh and that’s why she writes Christian Comedy with a touch of Romance.

She’s also a speaker and editor. For Janetta, writing and traveling go hand- in-hand, since she, her hubby (Ray) and their pooch (Maggie) are full-time RVers.

Most days you’ll find them sightseeing around the USA in their Winnebago…but first Janetta has to sit down and write a few words.

Book Blurb for Waltzing with a Grease Monkey:

Penelope Price contemplates dating her boss (Derek Hamilton) again. But all they talked about the last time was vehicles they worked on at the auto shop that day. 

Along with her job at Hamilton Auto Repair, Nell also teaches ballroom dancing at her mom’s studio.

And to top off her crazy job schedule, she takes a “Finding Your Spiritual Gifts” test at her church. This sets more things into motion than Penelope ever dreamed of – one being the day her two professions collide. She won’t be able to dance her way out of this predicament.

Will Penelope’s newest dance student (Harrison) waltz into Priceless Dance Studio and steal her heart away? Or will Derek’s gifts of wit and wisdom win her over in the end?

Buy Janetta’s book on Amazon

Connect with Janetta:
Amazon Author Page:

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: 

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Monday, January 25, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Reset

A New Beginning
A devotional by Glynis Becker

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” –Lamentations 3:22-24 (NLT)

We are creatures of time. We need cycles, seasons, and delineations of days and years on a calendar. We need these things because God created us to need them. The moving forward of time, and the changing from one year to another, however arbitrary, gives us a chance for a reset.

We all need a reset. Over and over we need a chance to see our lives as a fresh start, whether that just means getting a good night’s sleep to feel ready to go in the morning, or a season of quiet before a new activity begins. We need cycles. The new year brings us a chance to start a new habit or get rid of an old one. We see it as a chance to get into shape or lose a few pounds. I’m using this year to read the Bible through, something I haven’t done for several years. It will be a chance for me to see God’s story in a fresh way.

As most one-year Bible plans do, my first readings have been the story of creation that starts in Genesis 1:1-5 (NLT). Read these verses with me:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day. 

These verses remind me that the very first thing God created was the cycle of day and night, before He created the sun and moon or even people! Those cycles of rest and activity have been around for a very long time, so it’s no wonder we need them so badly.

The creation account reminds me that God worked, then He rested. We need rest, but we also have work to do. God created the world from nothing, bringing order out of chaos. In this new year we need to do the same. The world needs light and peace and order and the only way to bring it is to allow Jesus into everything we do. Each of us has been given the task to help others hear the Good News and bring glory to God.

It’s a new year. Maybe He is giving you new work to do for Him. Or maybe this year will be a season of rest for you before a new activity. Spend time in prayer with Him today. He’ll give you a fresh word because that is what He does!

Let’s Pray: Lord you are a constant Creator. You bring order to a world that looks out of control and You bring light to darkness. Give me work to do and give me rest when it is done. Remind me that You are in control and that You are our hope in a world that can look hopeless. Your mercies are always new and You are always at work. Thank you, Father. In Jesus’s 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

Friday, January 22, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: A lesson on faith learned from computer updates

Necessary Updates
A devotional by Erin M. Handley

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” 
–James 1:2-4 (ESV)

Some years back, I remember witnessing my computer install a series of updates that took so long, I thought I would never see the end of it.

At the time, my computer was my lifeline. I used it for work, school, and to stay connected to friends and family; sometimes using it for close to 20 hours a day. One night as I attempted to shut down my computer, I noticed it was ready to install a few updates. The notification stated that the device should not be powered down or unplugged, and I obliged by placing the computer to the side and allowing it to finish updating as I continued to get ready for bed.

About twenty minutes later, I noticed it hadn’t shut down and was still installing updates. I thought it was strange but didn’t think too much of it; I went to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, I noticed the computer was still updating. So far, this update had taken close to 10 hours, and I found myself beginning to panic. Something had to be wrong. If it took this long, how much longer would it take? I didn’t want to stop it for fear of messing it up and making things worse, so I waited.

Finally (somewhere around hour 15), the updates were complete, and the computer powered down. In pure shock (and with much hesitation), I restarted the computer. It powered on without any issues and worked properly just as it had the night before. The incident was strange, but after a few days of pondering, I let it go.

Months later, I was reminded of the prolonged update. Then, it hit me: Updates are downloads that the device receives for the purpose of improving the device. We don’t always have control of the updates we receive or when we receive them, but we know that when we get them, it’s to benefit and extend the life of the device. I remember applying that idea to my spiritual life trusting that the Lord knows what we need, when we need it, and He performs updates regularly in our lives to better us and His Kingdom. Great! Duly noted.

Fast forward to the year 2020.

The world seemingly stops and is turned upside down. Sadly, some of our lives turn upside down right along with it shaking loose any permanent entities we believed were tethered in our personal lives. Some of us lost jobs. Our educational systems were stretched beyond reason. Friends and families found themselves at odds as they recognized differing stances on race, politics, and religion. This is all in addition to the entire world fearing, suffering, and grieving through a pandemic many of us were not prepared for. We’ve seen so much death, destruction, and hatred in the year 2020, that it’s hard to see us returning to the world we once knew.

If you’re still reading, I want to encourage you with this:

Remember when you found yourself in that season that just wouldn’t end? The tests. The trials. All the times things just wouldn’t seem to go right … and remember how God not only brought you through it, but how He grew you through it? How in the midst of the chaos, He nurtured you in that season of waiting so you could be better on the other side of it? Maybe you haven’t experienced that season before, but you’re definitely experiencing it now. The season where you find yourself questioning if ‘this’ is what you signed up for or even if ‘it’ is worth it.

Trust me. It is.

You’ve been equipped for it. Just as that computer took so much time to install the necessary updates to keep it running smoothly, you may be in a season where He’s installing His necessary updates within you. And it may seem like you’re simply sitting and waiting, and that’s okay.

Whether you’re in the season of downloading (learning) updates or installing (applying) them, waiting can be the hardest part – but the hardest part is usually what makes the process worth it. Trust that He is equipping you with everything you need to be used for His glory.

Author Bio:
With an ever-growing desire to continually learn the Word of God and present teachings based on Biblical principles, Erin M. Handley is committed to her calling of teaching and inspiring others to ‘be more by doing more.’ With this in mind, Erin mentors young women and appreciates seeing the growth and change in the lives she impacts.

While she sincerely enjoys mentoring and speaking to young people, she is most passionate about educating and empowering women from various stages of life about biblical womanhood and how to live out those principles in today’s world.

For over 15 years, Erin has worked with youth and adolescents in the fields of mental and behavioral health, education, and ministry. When reflecting on her experiences in ministry and non-ministry settings, her most memorable encounters have been those that allowed her the opportunity to teach the Word of God in a way that is most relatable to the audience she served in that moment. She has enjoyed writing since her youth, but only recently felt the call to share her writing with the world.

With an undergraduate degree in English and a graduate degree in Ministry and Pastoral Counseling, Erin M. Handley has been fortunate to be able to leverage her gifts and her passions throughout her career in Education. Aside from reading, writing, and mentoring, Erin enjoys dancing, interior design, cooking, and most other activities which allow her to utilize her creativity.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Safety

Safe in God’s Love
A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
– Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

I am a worrier. In fact, if there were an Olympic Games of Anxiety, I would medal in every event. It can seem helpful in some ways (I’m a great manager, seeing threats in advance and planning around them). But, the toll it takes on my peace of mind can be extreme.

When searching for a way to return to that peace, the usual Bible verses about fear often bring little comfort. In fact, sometimes they make me feel like a failure. Why do I find it so difficult to not worry?

Years ago my two-month old son, Ben, broke out in a fever. It’s not a good thing for a baby that young to have a fever. At the ER, the doctor we saw was nice, but serious, almost stern. Ben was fighting an infection and it was bad. They’d need to do a spinal tap because the kind of bad it looked like was meningitis. A positive test would mean an airlift to Boston.

They asked me to leave the room, the nurse assuring me that it would be easier on everyone involved if I waited in the lobby. I texted my husband at home with our two older children and spent the next 30 minutes in the lobby completely overcome. While on the surface I was sitting calmly, inside I was in a panic spiral.

Ben is our rainbow baby, a term used for the child carried to term following a pregnancy loss. Like a lot of women who give birth after a miscarriage, I developed postpartum anxiety. So sitting in the ER that night with my emotional reserves already depleted, I had little left to face the dread that consumed me. Heart and mind in tatters, I prayed.

My prayers were pretty incoherent, but God heard them anyway. I was allowed back into the exam room, and the moment the doctor walked in, I knew the test was negative. The grim determination in her expression was gone, she was even smiling! They’d be admitting my baby to watch overnight, but his vitals were strong, and his fever was responding to the meds.

It's absolutely no fun to lay on a cot next to your son’s crib and watch him try to sleep while being wired up to machines. But it sure beats being MedFlighted to an uncertain fate. The doctors never could figure out what it was, but it resolved on its own, and we were just glad he was okay.

Anxiety and I have a long history. The vague, ever-present sort; the unexplained “Am I crazy?” kind; the sharp and all-consuming variety; the existential kind; the kind that invades your dreams, and also the type that keeps you awake … I am well-acquainted with them all. The words of Scripture should be a comfort to me in times like these, but again, I find many verses on fear hard to internalize when my mind is ravaged by anxiety. God's Providence is genuine, but it’s hard to feel when a panic spiral of “what ifs” derail my thoughts and try to rob me of any peace.

Romans is my favorite book in the Bible, and these verses especially. Some believe that these verses are the pinnacle of the Bible’s message of the Good News. I can genuinely feel that truth when I am at my lowest, at the point when all my human resources are exhausted, and I am like David in the Bible book of Psalm, crying out to God for deliverance. Paul’s words remind me that, regardless of the outcome, God has me in His hands. There's true peace in that. Not the kind the world offers, which is paper-thin; it's God's peace. Whatever road I am walking, it's His road. No trial, however difficult or fear-inducing, can separate me from His love in Christ Jesus.

When we repent and place our faith in Jesus, we receive His Grace in salvation and are made new. Do we suddenly lose our anxiety, or depression? Rarely. We still need to persevere through them, but we're no longer a slave to them. We're not alone in them; He is now there with us.

We belong to God. We have been saved by Grace and are children of God. That doesn't spare us from the trials in this life, but it is where we can draw strength and where we can set our hearts when we're struggling.

Remember: The road we are walking ends in God's presence, and nothing on this earth can compare to that beautiful reality. Just like the song by Mack Brock says, "Your Presence is A Promise."

Author Bio:

Christa MacDonald is a 2017 Carol Award finalist for contemporary Christian fiction. 

She began her writing career at the age of eleven, filling a sketchbook with poems and short stories. After publishing a few short pieces in her college’s literary magazine she took a long hiatus during which she embarked on a few different careers, got married, had three kids, and renovated an old barn masquerading as a house. 

Her most recent work, The Redemption Road, finished the Sweet River Redemption series published by Mountain Brook Ink.

When not working or writing Christa can be found ferrying her kids around, reading, or attempting something crafty. She and her family live along the coast of New England.

Connect with Christa:
Christa's book publisher:

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

My most recent podcast interview

Hope*Writer Laura Conrad interviewed me about my devotional book that I wrote! 

Listen below...

Romantic Reads: Hope's Promise

Interview with Mary Manners about her book, Hope’s Promise:

Why did you write this book?

Mary: I wrote Hope’s Promise because I wanted to help share hope in the face of what seem to be hopeless situations.

Alexis: What or who inspired your story’s title?

Mary: Since the heroine’s name is Hope, I thought the title Hope’s Promise had a nice double-edged significance.

Alexis: What is the theme of this novel?

Mary: That’s an easy one! The theme is…hope. Hope in the face of a hopeless situation.

Alexis: Hope Donnelly is the heroine of your story. Describe her looks, personality and heart. What makes her special?

Mary: Hope is a dark-haired thirty-year-old widow who is a fighter mired in a period of depression following her husband’s death. She has a huge faith and a great heart that just needs a little polishing.

Alexis: Jace Callahan is the hero of your story. Describe his looks, personality, strengths and weaknesses. What is his motivation?

Mary: Jace is a tough and tender cowboy with a plan that’s quickly derailed when he’s faced with putting Hope’s needs ahead of his own. She’s his weakness, and he’s not at all sorry for that!

Alexis: Hope has survived heartbreak. What can you tell me about her loss?

Mary: Hope’s husband died merely a month or so following their cross-country move from the city to a remote slice of open land. She knows nothing about ranching, and is now faced with raising her teenage son, alone.

Alexis: Paint a picture of words to describe how Hope’s country dream house looks.

Mary: Oh, wow…I’m not sure I’d say the house is Hope’s dream, at least not at first. It’s a sweeping whitewashed two-story with a somewhat dilapidated wrap-around porch. Missing shingles give the look of a bad case of chicken pox, while a drooping shutter or two add a touch of sleepiness. Let’s just say the house is a sort of diamond in the rough, with potential to become a home. Readers will just have to wait and see if the country dream house finds its happily-ever-after!

Alexis: Where is this story set? What makes the setting special to your characters?

Mary: Hope’s Promise is set in Atascosa County, Texas. This area is special because it’s fairly remote compared to Chicago, which is Hope’s hometown. The contrast provides for some interesting conflicts.

Alexis: What gave Jace a love for the rodeo?

Mary: Jace is a bit of a daredevil. He likes to think out of the box and felt constrained by the responsibility of his family’s ranch, so the rodeo was his way of bucking (both literally and figuratively) that responsibility.

Alexis: Why did Jace leave the rodeo to work on his family’s ranch? What’s next for him? Does he have a game plan?

Mary: Jace left the rodeo when an accident made it to dangerous for him to compete any longer. His game plan is to head home and expand his family’s ranch by snatching up the land of his new neighbor, Hope. But things don’t quite go as planned.

Alexis: What were Jace’s first thoughts about Hope?

Mary: When Jace first met Hope, he honestly thought she might be a little crazy. She was muttering to herself as she got into her car to head to school to pick up her son who’d gotten into trouble, and she had on two different shoes!

Alexis: What was Hope’s first impression of Jace?

Mary: Well, to say Hope wasn’t impressed with him is sort of an understatement. Jace had his work cut out for him!

Alexis: How do Jace and Hope form a friendship? Does anything or anyone stand in their way as their friendship blossoms into a romance? Explain.

Mary: Jace and Hope’s friendship is forged through Hope’s teenage son, Garrett. Garrett’s sort of a wayward mess following the death of his father, and Jace takes him under his wing. But trust doesn’t come easily for either Garrett or Hope, so the path to romance is winding and full of ruts.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about this story?

Mary: I would like readers to remember to trust God even in the darkest time. His plan is perfect, and His love never fails.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Mary! God bless you.

Author Bio:

Mary Manners lives on a mini-farm in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and their rescue dog Axel, cats Colby and Jack, a flock of chickens, and an aquarium teeming with fish.

Mary writes small-town family romances laced with faith, hope, and humor. Her books have earned multiple accolades including two Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, the Aspen Gold, the Heart of Excellence, and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award.

Mary loves long sunrise runs, Smoky Mountain sunsets, flavored coffee, and chocolate…lots of chocolate.

Book Blurb for Hope's Promise:

Can a broken promise be restored? 

Hope Donnelly lost her husband only months after moving into their country dream house on his promise of working the two-hundred-acre plot of land into a profitable future. Left alone to raise her teenage son, Hope’s heart is barren and raw as the unworked earth that surrounds her.

Jace Callahan gave up his quest for the perfect eight-second ride after a rodeo accident nearly claimed his life. Now, Jace works his family’s ranch with the intent to acquire rich and untapped land from elusive new neighbor Hope Donnelly.

An unexpected turn of events leads Jace to Hope's doorstep, where he's forced to choose between turning his back on her or bypassing the lucrative sale he desires. Will a troubling secret draw them closer, or shatter any hope they might have for a future, together?

Buy Mary's book on Amazon

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Mourning

Joy Comes in the “Mourning”

A devotional by Angela Anderson

“This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.” 
–Lamentations 3:21 (NKJV)

Jeremiah is one of the major prophets in the Bible. Some Bible scholars refer to him as the “weeping prophet” as well as the “prophet of judgment.” He authored three books in the Old Testament: Jeremiah, Kings and Lamentations … and all three books exude gloom and doom.

The prophecies of Jeremiah are among the most pessimistic in all Biblical literature. There is vivid imagery of death and dispersion. In that day, the Jews had turned their backs on God and given way to idolatry and faithlessness. Jeremiah warned the Jews about the impending destruction that was coming if they did not repent of their sins and turn from their evil ways.

There was a lot going on that warranted Jeremiah to be sorrowful. He lived during the time of the destruction of the First Temple and the Jews were taken captive by the Babylonians. In addition, when Jeremiah preached, he was beaten, arrested, left in a pit, and imprisoned by King Zedekiah.

Jeremiah’s life reminds me of here and now. We are living in a time that is full of uncertainty. There is so much going on in this world that it makes you want to weep. Not too long ago, this COVID-19 virus reared its ugly head and turned this world upside down in just a matter of days. Life as we know it is vastly different. People have fallen ill, and many have lost their lives. If you have not encountered the virus yourself, you many know someone who has. And let us not forget those who are still experiencing the awful effects of the virus.

The economy has shifted, people are out of jobs, out of money, out of food, and out of their minds! Social distancing has taken its toll on the mental health of not only adults, but our children who are experiencing things that we have never had to undergo in our childhood, such as distance learning, wearing masks, or being “extra” careful. This virus is just one instance of chaos in our society. If we had more time, we could discuss the hostile political climate, inequality in all forms, social unrest, wars and rumors of wars, and the list is continuous. There is a lot to be sorrowful about, just like Jeremiah!

Even though Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet,” and the “prophet of judgement,” he was also known as the “prophet of hope.” Within the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations, in the middle of despair, desperation, doubt, destruction, impending doom, and even death, there are rays of hope sprinkled throughout the chapters. 

Some of the texts are the most inspiring and hope-filled of all time:

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV):
“‘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.’”

Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV):
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV): “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

Lamentations 3:21-26 (NKJV): “This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

In times like these we must hold on to hope! Listen to this song “In Times Like These” performed by The Cadet Sisters and be encouraged.

Remember: We have to fill our minds with God’s truth and His promises found in His Word (The Holy Bible). In the face of overwhelming situations, we must retain our faith as though our lives depend on it. In this world we will have tribulation; but remember, God has overcome the world (John 16:33)!

Author Bio:

Angela Anderson was born in Brooklyn, New York. She was raised in a Christian home in New Jersey. Angela dedicated her life to Christ and was baptized at the age of 12.

As a child in elementary school, she developed a penchant for writing book reports and entering writing contests. By high school, she was taking advanced placement courses in English and Speech & Creative Writing. Angela’s love for journaling also had its beginnings in high school and it evolved into prayers journals and detailed notes for prospective book ideas. As a result, Angela is the author of a published 40-day devotional book titled Just When I Thought I Knew God. She also wrote a children’s book that is not yet published.

Although Angela wanted to somehow incorporate writing in her life, she is currently a Certified Human Resources Professional. Angela graduated from Rutgers University in NJ with a double bachelor’s degree in Labor/Employment Relations & Sociology. She also has an MBA from Strayer University.

Angela founded a non-profit 501(C)(3) organization called Head to the Sky, Inc. It was formed in order to assist those in prison with their transition into society and to reduce the rate of recidivism in the community. During this venture, Angela received a certification in grant writing from The Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership at Rollins College. Angela was very passionate about teaching, training, and sharing the love of Christ in this ministry; but she had to refocus her passion when she and her husband decided to start their family.

Angela has been married to the love of her life, Duane Anderson for 16 years. Together they have two sons: Thomas (age 8) and Ryan (age 3). Angela’s favorite pastime is journaling and she also enjoys spending quality time with her family. Her personal mission is to empower others to achieve their goals and dreams.

Connect with Angela:
Facebook fan page for her devotional book, Just When I Thought I Knew God:

Friday, January 15, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Stones

Stones of Remembrance
A devotional by Jessica Collazo

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” –1 Samuel 7:12 (NIV)

I don’t know how many times I heard someone say that 2020 needed to end.

Interestingly enough, January 1st has always brought about a lot of high hopes for many. An opportunity for a fresh start, a chance for a do-over, a time to reset, or the ability to put things behind us. Considering this past year in particular, 2021 could not come fast enough.

For many, 2020 felt like a boxing ring where one hit after another kept coming and the round never seemed to end. The desire to feel like the end was in sight was heightened by the blows that kept coming and the lack of interference from a referee. The fight felt heavy and unfair.

But I wonder, does the Lord truly want us to forget 2020? Are we supposed to hit the reset button and pretend like one of the most pivotal years in our history never happened?

I am starting to think maybe not.

Could it be that 2020 was actually an Ebenezer year for you and for me? A year where we look back and say “The Lord has helped us.” It is clear that 2020 was a year where no one was exempt from pain, heartache or suffering. It was a year that really tested our faith, but friend, I want to remind you that we made it through. The Lord did not withhold His hand from us. He walked beside us and before us the entire time.

The Israelites experienced God’s faithfulness in their battle at Mizpah. The Israelites had turned back to the Lord, and as they assembled before the Lord, the Philistines came to attack. The Lord heard Samuel’s plea and helped them win the battle.

The reason Samuel put the stone there was because it was to serve as a remembrance every time the Israelites looked at the stone. Why would the stone be needed? Simply put, because in our humanity we seem to forget that the Lord is with us. We forget that if He did it once, He will do it again. Or maybe we didn’t forget what He did, we just feel like whatever we are going through at the moment is so much bigger than what we went through the last time, and we may wonder, “Does He even want to help me again?”

The answer is yes! God absolutely wants to help us and He wants us to remember that He is always with us.

2020 will forever be a year marked in our history for generations to come. An Ebenezer year where we can look back and remember how the Lord does not cease to help us. Now, let’s walk through 2021 with the confidence of knowing that we walk with the Lord, our ever present help. 

May we always remember that our help cometh from the Lord! 

Listen to this song by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and be encouraged. 

Let’s Pray:
Father in Heaven, we come to you with open hearts. Acknowledging that 2020 was not the easiest year. Many of us are tired and worn down. We are hurting or simply have become apathetic. However, in the midst of all those feelings, we are choosing to lay down Ebenezer Stones in remembrance of your ever present help. We know that despite our feelings, you my God have never left us or forsaken us. We thank you for the grace and mercy you extend to us daily. In Jesus name. Amen.

Author Bio:

Jessica Collazo is a Chicago native with a heart that beats for Jesus. Her passion is to challenge women to think differently, gain a new perspective and live confidently. Because she knows it’s possible.

Using God’s Word, a little bit of humor, along with a strategic way of thinking and sharing personal stories, Jessica offers a fresh take on where to go when women feel stuck, overlooked or overwhelmed.

Jessica’s greatest passion is to help women take off the identities they have been given by the world and realize who they are in Christ: known, dearly loved, set apart, and chosen.

Jessica is the customer experience manager at Proverbs 31 Ministries who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband, Jerry, two sons and dog, Sawyer. Prior to working at Proverbs 31 Ministries, Jessica has over 10 years of experience working in women’s ministry, marriage ministry and outreach.

Connect with Jessica:

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Walking dusty roads and loving people

Walking a Dusty Road
A devotional by Kay Pflueger

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 
–1 John 3:16-18 (NIV)

I am plagued with wide feet and as such, I have a difficult time finding shoes that fit and that I actually like. A few years ago, I bought a pair of bright pink athletic shoes that were wide enough and were comfortable. I was so excited to find them. My thoughts were that they would be perfect for my daily walks and would help motivate me to exercise more since they would be so much fun to wear. I envisioned taking leisurely walks and counting my steps on my Fitbit.

I am sure you are familiar with the saying, “The pathway to Heaven is paved with good intentions.” I had good intentions when I bought those shoes but they have spent more time on the floor of my closet than they have walking the sidewalks of my neighborhood. Funny thing is that unless I take the time to put the shoes on and lace them up, they will still sit in my closet. They will not walk those sidewalks unless they are on my feet.

Those pink shoes are much like our good intentions. We have good thoughts about reaching out…about offering to help...but unless we put those thoughts into action, they sit idle. Loving others is not a passive thing … it involves walking the walk, not just talking the talk. It takes putting on those shoes, lacing them up and getting out and moving. Do you have shoes of good intentions? Hopefully they are not still sitting in the closet like my pink shoes.

Jesus Christ spent His time walking the dusty roads of the Holy Land. He encountered people on those roads…people who heard His words or felt His touch and were healed. His feet were calloused and dirty but that did not stop Him from His mission. He put on his sandals every day and went out into the world.

The most well-known parable told by Jesus is the story of the selfless love of the Good Samaritan. (Luke 10:25-37). It is interesting to me that even those who do not know the Lord are familiar with this story. It happened that the Samaritan, as he was walking, came upon a man who had been beaten and robbed. Even though this man was a stranger to him, he made certain the injured man was taken care of and his wounds tended to. He lived out the words found in the verse above from 1 John 3:16-18. His actions showed the love of God.

To come upon a such a scene as the Samaritan did may not be likely in your own neighborhood. But then, when have you driven by someone who needs a meal, or neglected to call a friend whom you know could use some encouragement, or failed to reach out to welcome a visitor to your church because of how they look?

God wants us to “walk the dusty roads” in our own neighborhoods. Just think how you might meet someone who needs a “good Samaritan” in their life today.

I encourage you to ponder on this…How dusty are you willing to get your shoes?

Author Bio:

Learning to read as a young child opened a world of adventure for Kay Pflueger. She came to realize that words can have a unique power and beauty. 

Choosing to share those words in her devotional writings has become a joyful and rewarding experience for her. As a widow, she feels a special affinity towards those who are grieving or experiencing loss.

When she is not spending time with her married son and three grandchildren, she is either reading, cooking, writing, or working on pursuing her Copyediting Certification.

Kay is an avid baseball fan who looks forward every summer to following her favorite team, the Chicago Cubs. 

Kay is an active member of Victory Lutheran Church in her hometown of San Diego California.

She enjoys writing devotions to be shared on her church’s website and personal social media.

Connect with Kay:

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Romantic Reads: A Heart's Gift

Interview with Lena Nelson Dooley about her book, 
A Heart's Gift: A Love's Road Home Novel

Alexis: Congratulations on writing the first book in your new series “A Love’s Road Home.” What is this series about? How many books are in it?

Lena: There are five novels in the series. Each book is a standalone story that has a link to at least one other book in the series. In each of the stories, the hero, the heroine – or both –experienced something serious happen in their past so they don’t feel loved.

Alexis: A Heart’s Gift is the first book in this series. What inspired you to write it?

Lena: God created me with both the ability to write and an imagination that He uses to help show how He works through people’s lives. I’m not an author who preaches to readers. I just show the situations to them through what is going on in the characters’ lives. I pray a lot while I’m writing, and God gives me discernment and ideas.

Alexis: Describe your story’s hero Franklin Vine. What does he look like? Sound like? Act like? What are his greatest goals and worst faults?

Lena: Franklin Vine owns the Rocking V ranch in Summit County, Colorado. He is tall with ebony eyes and thick wavy hair that often curled over his collar. I used actor Dale Midkiff for my inspiration for how he looks. He interacts well with the other ranchers in the area. He’s compassionate and respected in the town of Breckenridge. He has shut down his heart against romance and marriage, but he worries about an heir.

Alexis: Tell me about Franklin’s ranch. Why is it special to him?

Lena: He has grown the ranch he inherited into one of the premier ranches in that area. He’s a good boss. He understands that he’s responsible for the livelihood of the people who work for him.

Alexis: The Colorado mountains are beautiful in real-life. Paint a picture with words of how this setting looks in your fiction story. What makes it memorable to the fictional people who live and work there?

Lena: One of the hallmarks of my historical novels is that I make them as authentic to the place and time period as I can. I do a lot of research. With this one I bought books that had the history of the area and a book with historical photographs, so most of the businesses I mention were actually in Breckenridge. I use the names of the rivers that are there, and I make the descriptions in the books fit the pictures. Actually, I’ve been to Summit County a couple of times—one in summer and one in winter. I took photographs then, too.

Alexis: What can you tell me about Franklin’s romantic relationship history that left him closed off to love, without spoiling the story?

Lena: His fiancé ran away with his best friend a few days before their scheduled wedding.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine Lorinda Sullivan. What does she look like? Sound like? Act like? What are her deepest desires and greatest fears?

Lena: Lorinda Sullivan is a petite blonde who came from poor family in Oklahoma. She has blue eyes. When the book starts, she’s married and living with her husband near their gold mine, which is also near the Rocking V ranch. She never wants to see her father or uncle again.

Alexis: Why does Lorinda believe that the men in her life are controlling and how does she break free from their control?

Lena: Her mother died when she was five-years old. She lived with her father and uncle until her first husband rescued her from them. They were controlling and abusive.

Alexis: What is it about Franklin that makes Lorinda feel like she can trust him?

Lena: At the time, she has no other option.

Alexis: What is it about a marriage of convenience that Lorinda and Franklin like?

Lena: She will be able to provide for her newborn son, and he will have an heir without giving away his heart.

Alexis: What do you want your readers to remember most about this story?

Lena: How God intervenes to save her life.

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

Lena: Thank you for having me here, Alexis. I want all your readers to know that I love readers, and as I write a book, I have them in mind. I love to hear from fans.

Author Bio:

Multi-published, award-winning author Lena Nelson Dooley has had more than 950,000 copies of her 50 book releases sold. Her books have appeared on the CBA, Publisher’s Weekly, and ECPA bestseller lists, as well as Amazon bestseller lists. She has won a dozen awards. 

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the local chapter, ACFW - DFW. She’s a member of Christian Authors’ Network, and Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

She has experience in screenwriting, acting, directing, and voice-overs. She is on the Board of Directors for Higher Ground Films and is one of the screenwriters for their upcoming film Abducted to Kill. She has been featured in articles in Christian Retailing, ACFW Journal, Charisma Magazine, and Christian Fiction Online Magazine in which her article was the cover story.

In addition to her writing, Lena is a frequent speaker at women’s groups, writers groups, and at both regional and national conferences. She has spoken in six states and internationally. She also wrote and teaches Dynamic Writing Workshops.

Lena has an active web presence on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn and with her internationally connected blog where she interviews other authors and promotes their books.

Blurb for A Heart’s Gift:

Is a marriage of convenience the answer? 

Franklin Vine has worked hard to build the ranch he inherited into one of the most successful in the majestic Colorado mountains. If only he had an heir to one day inherit the legacy he's building. But he was burned once in the worst way, and he doesn't plan to open his heart to another woman. Even if that means he'll eventually have to divide up his spread among the most loyal of his hired hands.

When Lorinda Sullivan is finally out from under the control of men who made all the decisions in her life, she promises herself she'll never allow a man to make choices for her again. But without a home in the midst of a hard Rocky Mountain winter, she has to do something to provide for her infant son.

A marriage of convenience seems like the perfect arrangement, yet the stakes quickly become much higher than either of them ever planned. When hearts become entangled, the increasing danger may change their lives forever.

Buy Lena’s book “A Heart’s Gift”:
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Amazon Author Page:

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Monday, January 11, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: When your past is messy, God can still bless you!

God Bless This Hot Mess
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 
– 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

I groaned in frustration as my Instagram opened.

“Again?” I asked to no one in particular.

Filling my screen was yet another picture of my friend off on some incredible adventure with the perfect pose in the perfect setting, the wind blowing perfectly through her perfect hair … it was, well, perfect.

In today’s social media world we get accustomed to seeing everyone with their beautifully filtered, seemingly picture-perfect lives and can often start feeling sorry for ourselves. Or worse, we jump on the bandwagon and spend an hour trying to capture the “perfect” selfie to post for ourselves, then spend another hour (or more!) checking our account repetitively to see how many “likes” our image has received. And if we are able to secure a comment, we’ve hit the social media jackpot. Comments like: “You look gorgeous!” / “I am so inspired by you!”/ “I wish I had your life.”

Acknowledgements like this would leave us feeling pretty satisfied with ourselves and allow us to completely forget the three hours of our life we just wasted and will never get back. Please somebody give this post a like if you can relate to any of this (just kidding!). We seem to have an addiction to making ourselves look like we have it all together. We rarely see people confessing their failures to the world on Facebook, posting unfiltered photos on “the gram.”

But our God wants us to be raw and real with Him. Romans 5:8 (NLT) tells us, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

Or as I personalize this verse, “Cyndi, while you were still a hot mess I came to rescue you. I am so crazy about you! I think you are to die for.”

God didn’t wait for me to have my act together to save me; which is good, because at this point, I’m not sure that will ever really happen. He wants us to come as we are and leave the perfection up to Him, because He has perfection mastered. One of my favorite things about the the Bible book of Psalms is seeing how King David laid himself bare before God – the good, the bad, and the ugly. And God called David a man after His own heart. I don’t know about you but I would love to hear God say, “Cyndi was a woman after my own heart.”

I believe if I’m going to hear that from my Savior, I have to realize that God loves me as I am – hot mess and all – and accept myself just as I am.

I was several years into my Christian walk when God revealed to me that my desire to hide the mess of my past was robbing Him of glory and preventing others from seeing where God had brought me from. I was sitting in my office at work one day when one of my co-workers came into our office and plopped down in her chair visibly dejected and distressed. It was her day off which made it even more surprising that she was there, so I asked her if everything was okay. She said she “had a lot going on at home and just needed to get away from it for a bit.”

Then she added, “But you wouldn’t understand because you’ve got your life together.”

In that moment, God spoke so clearly to my heart. “Cyndi, if you don’t share what your life was like before you met Me, people will never know what I can do or how much I love them.”

It was in that moment that I had a full understanding of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12. So I spent the next half hour sharing with my co-worker a glimpse of what my life looked like before I turned it over in complete surrender to Jesus Christ and how He helped me shed the shame of my past and trade it for a garment of righteousness that I will continue to wear until I meet Him in Heaven.

We tend to wear our (fake) perfection like a badge of honor when, in reality, we should be boasting about our weaknesses and the big God who helps us navigate them. Next time you are tempted to put on the happy face and pretend everything is “fine”, try instead crying out to God or admitting to a friend “I’m struggling.”

By walking in truth, you will come to know the freedom Jesus was talking about when He said, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NLT)

Let’s pray: Gracious God, we praise you for your love and mercy. Thank you for not requiring us to fix our failures before accepting us into your Kingdom. Help us to resist holding ourselves and others to unrealistic expectations of perfection, expectations that You never make of us. Remind us that as Your Holy Spirit works in us, You are looking for spirits that are surrendered to You, minds that are teachable and hearts that are tender to Your Word and Your will. Then give us the faith to believe You and the desire and dedication to obey. It’s in the mighty name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Author Bio:
Cyndi Staudt is a Jesus-loving, adrenaline junkie who is devoted to living her life for Jesus Christ until the day she is living with Him.

With a passion for cultivating a craving for God’s Word, her devotions and Bible studies are saturated with faith and hope to stir your soul to connect with God in deeper, more intimate ways. 

Through her writing she hopes to ignite your desire to read God’s Word, invite your heart to experience God’s love, and inspire you to live your live life “souled out” to the One whose love has no limits.

Connect with Cyndi on Instagram: 

Friday, January 8, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: On being courageous and ready for change

Go Get It!

A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
–Joshua 1:9 (KJV)

My last devotional focused on Moses, the patriarch, who with the endorsement of God, led Israel out of Egypt. I focused on his use, in his latter days, of a leadership style that time had eroded.

He and his nation of wanderers were at an inflection point where the course of history would change. The angry, punitive outburst at the people and his display of unmitigated, rebellious violence disqualified Moses as the leader for the next phase of God’s plan. Moses went to the mountain top, viewed the Promised Land then died.

Before dying, Moses masterfully executed the four polarities of transition: succession planning, the peaceful transfer of authority, institutional change and generational shifting. This process involves intersecting continua. On the vertical axis is remembering and forging. The horizontal axis includes dreaming and executing.  

The 27th chapter of the Bible book of Numbers tells the brief story of the ordination of Joshua to lead Israel. Before his departure, at the behest of and in the presence of Divinity, Moses meets with the High Priest Eleazar, in the presence of the entire encampment. The census had determined a tribal population in excess of 600,000 people. They were all assembled. Before them all, Moses put his hands on Joshua and administered a commissioned to him as the new, God chosen, Leader. In that moment, Moses publicly passed his magisterial authority to Joshua. Joshua humbly but confidently enveloped the mantle of leadership.

The roles, responsibilities and authority of the new leader was public, uncontested, undeniable and unassailable. I am not sure how many days or months went by between that public transition of authority and the departure of Moses. We know that he preached the book of Deuteronomy before he left. But with dignity, honor and unabated health, he left. He did not die because he was 120 years old. His task on Earth was completed. God was transitioning him to life at another level. He was ready.

Joshua was ready too. He had served Moses faithfully and boldly, even in the face of disappointment. Moses recognized his time to step down. Joshua had used 40 years of apprenticeship to prepare to step up. In those 40 years, God, Moses and the people saw that the “Spirit was in him.”

Optimal generational shifts and corporate change require people who are spiritually prepared to embrace the inevitable change and willingly inhabit their roles within the change. So, Moses climbs a mountain and Joshua assembles the people on a plain near the Jordan River.

It is here that the Divine voice counsels Joshua and each of us, by extension, to “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

If you are my age, you still have much to offer, but, you should consider pouring some of your experience, wisdom and authority into some younger people within whom is clear evidence of the Spirit of God.

If you are young and beginning or midstream in your development, practice and hone your faith in God, fidelity, loyalty, competence and courage. Don’t rush to power and prominence. However, when your turn comes, don’t shirk the mantle. God will not allow it to fall upon you without giving you adequate preparation. When the inevitable events occur for which there is no adequate preparation, trust that God is with you and will deliver your success.

As you embrace your challenges for today, like Joshua did, forge forward. Rehearse the visionary principle; that as long as you remember how God has led you, there need be no fear of where or how He will lead you now. Whatever your role or job, go get it! With the presence and strength of God, claim the territory that He has enlarged and prepared for you today.

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.

You may connect with Chaplain Anderson via email at this address,