Friday, February 26, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Hindsight

Perspective: Hindsight for 2021
A devotional by Erin M. Handley

“Set your minds on things above, not on things that are on earth.”
– Colossians 3:2 (ESV)

There is a difference between receiving something that has been given to you and taking what is readily available although it is not necessarily meant for you.

Recognizing this small, yet valuable distinction calls for an attentiveness to your situations and surroundings. It calls for you to shift your perspective just as you would adjust your eyes to refocus your vision.

The purpose of refocusing your vision is to see things differently than you did before and possibly be able to see something new. To do so, you must take a literal step to see beyond what you are presently concentrating on. Be it a step forward to maximize your focus on a particular focal point, or a step back to see the bigger picture and recognize more than what you were originally focusing on. A shift in perspective calls for a step of some degree to be taken. But that step can only be taken if the person makes the decision to do so.

Much like the backwards poems many of us have read where the poem takes on a completely new meaning when you read it from the bottom up, or maybe the pictures that use multiple images to create one new image…the idea presented with these creative expressions is that each person initially sees something different each time they change their point of view.

Hindsight: 2020

When you ask many people about their 2020 experience, they would likely speak on the death, job loss, economic despair, natural disasters, political unrest, and social injustices that all seemed to occur simultaneously. Many express a disdain for 2020 like no other and can easily recount all things lost and ways they suffered that year. Some would be able to go on and on about how much they hated 2020 … and on and on and on …

And then…

Then there are some who will tell you that 2020 was the greatest year of their life. I know many who have persevered through 2020 and have come out with stories of how they are better for it. Graduations. New jobs. New relationships. I have one friend who launched a non-profit, bought a new car, a house, and got married … all before August 2020.

Granted, my friend and the countless others who can share 2020 success stories were still affected by all of the happenings of 2020. Those issues surrounded them and impacted their lives much like they did everyone else’s. However, they chose to see life through a different lens and make the most of what 2020 had to offer. They chose to be intentional about monitoring their perspective. And you can, too.

While we are acknowledging what we lost in 2020, let’s also think about what we gained. We all at some point may have had to self-quarantine, but did we leverage this as an opportunity to rest and slowdown from our fast-paced, everyday lifestyles? Some lost jobs and experienced financial hardships. But did we recognize and leverage them as opportunities to rethink career choices and possibly tap into new skillsets?

In Philippians 4:11, Paul reminds us that in whatever situation we are to be content. He didn’t say depending on the situation, he said whatever the situation. Psalm 119:18 (ESV) says to "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law." So, while the world around us may be falling apart, it is our duty to set our minds on things above, and not on things on earth (Colossians 3:2). Each of these scriptures ultimately challenge us to shift our focus for the benefit of our sanity.

Since we are still in the first quarter of 2021, please allow me to remind you to be more intentional about your perspective. I challenge you to take a moment and reflect on your present situation and surroundings. If you find that there are specific areas in your life that could use a shift in perspective, shift it now. Shifting your perspective now will prepare you to receive the best this year has to offer you. Shift so that you are able to receive everything God has in store for you!

Let’s Pray: Father, thank you for reminding us to shift our focus back to you when we become distracted by the things going on around us. I ask that you continue to show us grace every time we fail to see you in our situations; and let us remember that despite the chaos that may ensue around us, You have orchestrated how we will be covered through it all. May we remember that you are gracious and kind, and that everything you do serves a much larger purpose for your Kingdom. All these things we ask in Jesus’s Name. Amen.

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, February 24, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Trust God

Why is it so hard to trust God?
A devotional by Heidy De La Cruz

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
– Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)

It’s easy to trust God when everything is going well. When work projects are up to date, when kids are behaving at school and bringing in good grades, when communication is going well between you and your spouse, but what about when things are going downhill?

Why is hard to trust in God when you get that unwanted diagnosis? Or maybe when you get a phone call from your bank that your account has been wiped out? Why is it so hard to trust God when it seems like life is beating you up endlessly? Because we are human, that’s why.

Our flesh is weak, and we want to know everything. We want to know that right after treatment that diagnosis will be gone, but we don’t. We want to know that the money will be replaced tomorrow, but we don’t. We want to see the light at the end of the tunnel but only God knows all. He is the only one who knows what is going to happen and why things do happen.

The uncertainty of life drives us crazy, but the Bible tells us in Psalm 46:10 (NIV), “Be still, and know that I am God.” He is always working, around the clock, nonstop! God never rests. He will get you through whatever challenge life has placed in front of you. All you have to do is trust Him.

Last year was probably the biggest test of faith we’ve all faced: 2020 was filled with so many uncertainties, but as people of faith we were called to stand apart and not be anxious. Literally, the whole year was not knowing what was going to happen next. Therefore, we had to have complete trust on God. We must lean on God. We have that reminder in Proverbs 3:5 (NIV) which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

There have also been many times when I question what I’m doing, like my career and even with writing. I’ll think to myself, “Will all this writing be worth it? Is it even helping anyone?” But right when I start doubting myself and want to give up, God always reminds me of why I’m doing this—it’s all for Him. Someone will tell me how they related to my blog post or they will tell me how they enjoyed my poems, but the glory will always be for God. I need to trust Him in all aspects of my life.

The Bible never tells us that we won’t face hard times in our lives, but it does tell us that God is with us (Isaiah 41:10). He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). So, in the middle of the storm He is right there with us getting drenched, while also guiding us towards the sunlight.

If you are facing a difficult time right now in your life, I pray that you would be able to truly release the situation to God and trust that He will figure it out. Trust that He knows the ins and outs of the situation and has a solution for you. Think back to other challenges you may have faced and how He helped you get through it. He will do it again, and again, and again. Because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV).

Let’s Pray: Lord, let us always remember your faithfulness, especially in those hard moments that we find ourselves losing trust. Let us remember that you will be there for us always. I pray that our trust grows more each passing day. Thank you, Lord, for everything. Amen.

P.S._ Listen to this song “Do It Again” performed by Elevation Worship for the hope your heart needs and a reminder of God’s power to perform miracles in your life.

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, February 23, 2021

Romantic Reads: Hers for the Summer

Interview with author Jill Kemerer about her book, 
Hers for the Summer:

Congrats on writing a new novel for Harlequin’s Love Inspired! 
Let's talk about it...

Alexis: Why did you write this story?

Jill: Thank you for having me! I wrote this story for several reasons. The heroine, Eden, is generous with her time and loves children. The hero, Ryder, lacks real family support but is also generous in different ways. His twin daughters are both struggling with difficult feelings about their mother as well as their love for Eden, their babysitter. I loved exploring how God brought the four of them together to bring healing to each of them.

Alexis: Let’s talk about the heroine of your story, Eden. What makes her happy? What saddens her heart? What brings her joy? Describe her looks, personality and hope for the future.

Jill: Eden is happy when her friends and family are happy. She never seeks the spotlight, but she’d love to find a man who cherishes her. She is dealing with sadness—the loss of her sister five years earlier—but events in the book help her make peace with it.

Alexis: Let’s talk about the hero of your story, Ryder. What makes him tick? What makes him glad? What is his motivation? Describe his looks, mindset and dreams for his life.

Jill: Ryder wants to raise his girls in the country near his brother. He loves seeing them thrive and feels guilty that he can’t be everything to them, since their mother isn’t very involved in their lives. He struggles with his feelings for Eden because he doesn’t trust his taste in women.

Alexis: What role do family relationships play in this story, especially with the twins?

Jill: The twins already know Eden from visiting their uncle Mason, who was Eden’s sister’s husband before she died. They’re happy Eden is their babysitter for the summer but being around someone so motherly brings up difficult emotions for them concerning their own mother.

Alexis: Let’s talk about the twins. What are their names? What is their gender? Describe their looks, personality and heart.

Harper and Ivy are five-year-old identical twins with long, dark wavy hair and dark blue eyes. Harper is rough and tumble while Ivy is more introspective. They fight the way siblings do, but they’re also fiercely protective of each other.

Alexis: What is it about the twins that made Eden fall in love with their precious hearts?

Jill: Eden loves how they look out for each other and find ways to cooperate while playing. It reminds her of growing up with her sister.

Alexis: Paint a picture with words of the setting for this story. What makes it special to Eden and Ryder?

Jill: This story is set in fictional Rendezvous, Wyoming, on the ranch Eden grew up on that Ryder recently purchased. He renovates the home before the story begins, and Eden is nervous about seeing it since it holds precious memories. The ranch and farmhouse play a big role in the book for both Ryder and Eden. It represents their hopes and dreams.

Alexis: Why did Ryder never want to marry again and what is it about Eden that might cause him to change his mind?

Jill: Ryder married a famous actress who made him feel special, but she lied to him throughout their brief marriage. He doesn’t trust his judgment when it comes to women. But there’s nothing false about Eden, and he slowly realizes he’s only hurting himself by guarding his heart.

Alexis: Is there anything that Eden does not like about Ryder? Explain.

Jill: Oh, yeah, Eden’s not a fan of Ryder at all when the story begins. She doesn’t like that Ryder bought her beloved childhood home. She hates that in the past he didn’t shield the twins from his arguments on the phone with their mother. And she doesn’t like some of the insensitive things he’s said since they first met.

Alexis: What brings Eden and Ryder together? What or who threatens to tear them apart?

Jill: Ryder needs a babysitter for the twins just for the summer. Their insecurities about love threatens to tear them apart.

If you could step into this story as Eden and Ryder’s best friend, what advice would you give to help them in their journey through life, especially concerning their growing love for each other?

Jill: I would tell Ryder it was okay to fall in love with his ex-wife, that he didn’t show bad judgment—he just allowed himself to trust. And it’s okay to trust again. And I’d tell Eden her loneliness isn’t such a bad thing. We don’t all fall in love when we’re young. God brought her together with the right guy at the right time.

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

Jill: I think we all need something different from any given book. I hope they remember what is most important to their heart at this time in their life.

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

Jill: Thank you for hosting me, Alexis! I enjoyed sharing the background of Hers for the Summer with you!

Author Bio:

Jill Kemerer is a Publishers Weekly bestselling author of inspirational romance novels for Harlequin Love Inspired. 

Her essentials include coffee, M&Ms, a stack of books, her mini-dachshund, and long walks outdoors. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two almost-grown children.

Hers for the Summer book blurb:

Loving the twins wasn’t part of her plan…

A family for the summer…

Or the beginning of forever?

Eden Page reluctantly agrees to babysit Ryder Fanning’s five-year-old identical twin daughters—but only for the summer. After that, she’s taking charge of her own life, even if it means leaving behind her family ranch that Ryder now owns.

But this cowboy, who’s determined never to marry again, could give her everything she wants…including the family and childhood home she loves.

Buy Jill's book on Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Christian Book | Target | Walmart 

Connect with Jill:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Amazon | Bookbub | Newsletter | Twitter

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, February 22, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Puzzles

God Can Make All the Pieces Fit
A devotional by Glynis Becker

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” 
–Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

Over the last year, many of us have taken up new hobbies, or renewed old interests in order to pass the time during quarantine. Some of us have learned to bake bread (I was pleased my own sourdough starter lasted a full six months!), knitted, crocheted, learned to play a musical instrument, started—and probably quit—numerous workout plans, as well as a million other creative things. One of the most popular, it seems, is working jigsaw puzzles. They’ve been sold out at times in stores and online and I read that one puzzle historian compared it to sales during the Great Depression.

I hadn’t done a jigsaw in years, but seeing other people putting together puzzles, spurred me to put on my mask and hit the store. I found a 1000-piece puzzle of a beautiful landscape scene and a puzzle mat and excitedly started working. It didn’t take long to see that I was out of my league! I couldn’t find all the edge pieces. I couldn’t tell the sky from the water and after a few frustrating days, I pulled apart the few pieces I’d put together and threw them back in the box.

Undeterred from my new hobby, I went back to the store for a slightly easier 500-piece puzzle, making sure there were lots of different colors and clear edge pieces. Over the next few weeks I completed that puzzle, as well as one more 500-piece puzzle. I finally felt ready to go back and try that first one again. It was still hard, but I did it and I felt victorious! I’d become a puzzler!

So while I highly recommend jigsaw puzzles if you’re looking for a hobby, this is not an advertisement for this hobby in particular. Because puzzles have given me a lot of quiet time for thinking, meditation, and reflection, I thought I’d pass along a few of the life lessons I’ve learned by spending hours bent over the puzzle table.

These are the lessons I’ve learned:

#1) Trust: I have to trust that the puzzle maker hasn’t left out any pieces and the picture on the box matches the actual puzzle I’m working on. If God has created my life and He knows what it will look like when it’s all over, I must trust Him to have given me everything I need to finish what’s been started. He has never failed before and He won’t start now. (Philippians 1:6)

#2) Patience: A complicated puzzle will probably not be completed quickly. Life can often feel like a jumble of pieces that are taking too long to fit together. God knows what my beautiful masterpiece will look like in the end and He has all the time in the world to create exactly what He wants if I let Him. (Psalm 40:1)

#3) Individuality: Puzzles have unique pieces that only fit together a certain way. God has uniquely suited me to fit a certain time and place and purpose that He laid out for me before I was born. (Ephesians 2:10)

#4) Tenacity: Don’t stop when things get too hard! Although my faith isn’t about me and I can’t do anything to earn God’s love, He wants me to keep showing up to meet Him, keep learning about Him, keep praying even when I don’t feel like it, keep reading the Bible, keep sharing the Good News with the people around me. (Isaiah 40:31)

Bottom Line: Life often gives us pieces that don’t seem to fit, but if we let Him, all together they will create an amazing picture!

Let’s Pray:
Father God, thank You so much for the beautiful masterpiece You are creating in my life. I praise You as the Potter, the Artist, and the Musician making something beautiful out of all my broken pieces. Help me continue to come to You, every minute of every day, allowing You to use me for Your glory alone. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen. 

P.S._Listen to this song "Pieces" by Meredith Andrews to discover how God can make all the pieces of your life puzzle fit.

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, February 19, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: A life lesson on giving and receiving love

You are someone’s neighbor
A devotional by Jessica Collazo

‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ –Luke 10:35 (NIV)

The month of February has a way of bringing LOVE to the forefront of our thoughts.

Many people think love can only be celebrated in a romantic fashion. Dinner for two, flowers, chocolate, all of the cliché things, which are not bad or wrong. But, what if this month we spend some time remembering the greatest command that God has given us in Mark 12:31?

God tells us: Love your neighbor.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the man that was beaten and left for dead did not ask for help. The Samaritan took pity on him and went above and beyond to help. He saw the need and he tended to it.

Our problem today is that we see or hear the word “pity” and we allow our pride to take over.

Yes. Pride. You may ask “How?” 

Here’s how:
We say things like, “I don’t want anyone’s pity” or “I don’t need any handouts.” But in reality we are saying, “I don’t want anyone to have compassion on me.”

I’m guilty of that. God recently allowed me to see that I do not allow my neighbors to love me. In my mind, pity equals weakness, and I did not want to be seen as weak or incapable of handling what life throws at me. Loving others? I can do that. But allowing others to love me? Well, that was the hard part … until recently.

Recently, my family has gone on quite the roller coaster ride. My youngest son was born with a severe health condition that one day would require an organ transplant. That time came and in less than three months, we decided to move forward with the process, received approval to have him listed on the organ transplant list, got a match and completed the surgery. And while there are many miracles that happened in that short span of time (we will talk about those another time), one of the most beautiful things that I was able to witness and experience was the love of God through how others loved us.

Just like the Good Samaritan, we had people who took care of us without us needing to ask. Friends who created meal delivery sign-up sheets, people who we met once sent us gift cards or delivered food to the hospital, text messages, phone calls, but most importantly they prayed.

I cannot tell you how the prayers of so many people, including strangers, carried us through. I felt the love through the army of people that prayed us through that entire ordeal.

Now back to that pride thing: If it were any other time, or any other situation, I probably would not have been so receptive to receiving the love and support (emotional or financial) that was so freely given to us.

So, if you are the one who is struggling to allow others to love you, I urge you to let your guard down, swallow your pride and say yes. Allow yourself to experience God’s love and peace through your neighbor’s love.

If you are the neighbor who doesn’t know what to do, how about you start by asking, “How can I pray for you?” Then do something. Walk their dog, take them a meal, rake their leaves, shovel their snow, sit with them, send them a Scripture, and once you do something, pray again. It will be their lifeline as they walk through whatever they are walking through.

Let’s Pray: Father, I pray that as we think about what it means to love our neighbor and how we can show others the love of Christ, that you would bring to our minds someone that needs to be reminded that they are loved. That we would act as the Good Samaritan did, and most importantly, that we would allow ourselves to be loved by our neighbors because we must remember that we too are someone’s neighbor. In Jesus’s Name I pray, 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, February 17, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Why we need faith in God and good works too

Faith and Works 
A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” –James 2:14-18 (NIV)

The book of James is a favorite of mine. Plain-spoken and convicting, he’s dropping literary bombs through the whole text. He is on fire, like an old-time revival pastor up in the pulpit preaching with every fiber of his being.

The passage above is powerful, practical wisdom, and then that kicker in verse 18, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” Mic drop.

“Faith without works is dead.” We’ve heard it said so many times, but what does it actually mean? For me, it’s been a question I’ve asked myself at every stage of my life because faith and works at 15 can look different than it does at 50.

My family was fractured when I was growing up. Although healing and reconciliation came later, there were years of struggle. I will tell you the truth; nothing puts a chip on your shoulder faster than growing up as a have-not among the haves. It isn’t easy. You can’t help but compare yourself with those around you, and if you somehow manage to avoid it, your peers will happily remind you.

That was the lens through which I viewed the world as I grew into young adulthood. It helped me see the hypocrisy in the churches that would say all the right things but ignore the needs in the community around them. They’d support missions overseas while homelessness and poverty devastated their neighbors. What’s the point of a church that has no heart for their neighbors? If they’re writing a check but not giving of themselves, what good is it? God calls us to be salt and light. The only way we can do that is by actively participating in the world around us, not to become worldly, but to shine God’s light in the darkness.

Whenever I log on to start a day at work, whenever I interact with anyone outside of my house, I remind myself that I am not just a woman, a mom, wife, and manager, but I’m also a redeemed sinner, a Christian, and my highest calling outside my home is to show my faith by my deeds in a world that is hungry for the Gospel. Every decision I make, every action I take, I need to keep my focus on God. His priorities have to come first, not mine. Not an easy task, but it’s a vital one.

God doesn’t need Christians in gated communities to write checks for good causes and only associate with other believers. He wants us out in the world, ministering, witnessing. Whatever way He has equipped you, whatever your gifts, don’t hide them away or save them for church on the weekends. Show your faith by your deeds to the world that so desperately needs the Good News. Be a light for all.

Let’s Pray: Lord, we pray that the Holy Spirit fills us each time we step out of our doors so that we live our faith in word and deed, being the salt and light in a dark and troubled world. Help us to use the gifts you’ve given us to live the Gospel and reach the lost. In Jesus Christ's Name I pray. Amen.

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, February 16, 2021

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

Interview with Wendy Wilson Spooner about her book, 
Once Upon an Irish Summer:

Alexis: Congratulations on the publication of your first book, Once Upon an Irish Summer! Let’s talk about it. Why did you write this story?

Because I fell in love with this particular ancestor, Allen Hamilton, and what he overcame, and who he became. My love of what we can learn from history compels me to write the true stories I unearth as a Professional Genetic Genealogist, and I’ve found that truth is indeed, much more exciting, and inspiring than fiction!

Alexis: How did you research this story?

Wendy: For some years, my mom worked on this particular family line, trying to gather more information on the Hamiltons. And we’re talking about the late 1700s and early 1800s in Ireland. Anyone who researches Irish ancestors knows many record collections have been destroyed or are only partially intact. So, traveling to Ireland was our best bet to find more answers. I went with both my parents and my husband in 2013. We scoured town halls, libraries, the People’s Republic of Northern Ireland’s extensive archives, and we traveled the countryside, discovering ancestral sites and original places these family members lived, worked, attended church, and where they were married and buried. It was while standing in the original estate on the west coast of Ireland in County Donegal that I knew I had to share this family’s story. Then we came home, and I spent a few more years researching this line and who Allen Hamilton in particular became after he arrived in America.

Describe your day job and explain how it inspires your fiction storytelling. Have you always had a passion for discovering people’s stories that you learn through researching genealogy?

Wendy: I am truly, equally as passionate about other people’s ancestral stories as I am my own. And I don’t remember how far back I became intrigued with genealogy, but I know I was a child. I grew up listening to my grandparents telling stories about our ancestors, where they immigrated from, what talents and skills they brought with them, and the underlying theme was always based on their love of God, holding fast to His word, and religious freedom.

Alexis: What is the theme of this book?

Wendy: There are several themes ribboning throughout the book. One is a strong Christian theme of overcoming with God’s help. Other themes are conquering grief, art, and how finding our roots is like finding ourselves.

Alexis: What was your greatest challenge in writing this story? Explain.

Wendy: Oh, my. I never could have imagined the challenges I would face when I began writing. And isn’t that like anything we dare to take on in life? One test was when I had written the first six chapters and I was returning from a service project that required my laptop. I got out of the car and my laptop fell and shattered. I lost the first six chapters and never recovered them! But I learned from that mistake and had multiple backup options from then on. Another challenge was that I first wrote the entire manuscript in third person, only to realize it wasn’t right. So, I re-wrote the entire story in 1st person, which was exactly right. Additionally, I was writing dual timelines. And keeping both stories straight while making sure they intertwined in a satisfying way for the reader, was a huge task. And lastly, adhering to documented, chronological truth in the historical chapters, to really honor the family I was writing about, what they suffered and how they triumphed—was the hardest thing of all. And it was my deepest desire while composing.

Alexis: What about creating these characters and authoring this story gave you the greatest joy?

Wendy: I love this question! Writing the story of my ancestors to inspire others to delve into their own family trees was a journey of complete and utter joy—even through the rough spots. And creating the present-day characters gave me unspeakable happiness when I read through the completed manuscript for the first time and came to know the characters as a reader instead of a writer. It was then I realized they were amazing, compelling, wonderful people. I loved each one of them.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s hero Allen Hamilton. What is his motivation? Share details on his background, including how he grew up and why he wants to save his family.

Wendy: Allen Hamilton was the oldest living son of his parents’ five children—who survived. They lost five, which I didn’t realize until I was researching records in Ireland and this fact came to light. My mother and I documented the names of those lost kids so our descendants would know they were part of this amazing family too. They sadly, just didn’t make it past infancy, or childhood, in the harsh world of the 1800s void of modern medicine and hospital care.

Allen’s motivations to save his family began with these facts. His father was one of 18 sons of a landed gentry family, who didn’t inherit but was educated to become a Clerk of the Crown. But he was prone to drink as he despaired over the decline of Ireland’s economy, and he didn’t handle money well either.

Allen took it upon himself to find a new life for his family. Ireland’s forecast for famine and more financial ruin was imminent, and there were too many people living on the Emerald Isle at the time for the land to sustain them through that kind of natural disaster.

When Allen met a gentleman friend of his auntie’s, it sealed the deal. What Allen heard about the United States that day in 1817, swelled the hope of the American dream in the heart of this Irish teenager, and that’s what began his journey to and through, antebellum America.

Alexis: Describe Allen’s looks, personality and dreams. What makes him special?

Wendy: Allen was a red-haired, blue-eyed Irish lad, through and through, with the heart of a gentleman and the smarts, wits, and courage of a young man with the guts to leave his homeland, cross the hazardous Atlantic alone, and start over with nothing but massive amounts of faith in God to see him through.

Alexis: Who is your story’s heroine? What is her name? Describe her looks, personality, and heart.

Wendy: Elizabeth Wilson, or Bethy, as her family calls her, is our present-day heroine. She’s a fictional descendant of Allen Hamilton five generations later. She’s also a gifted artist, and a struggling teenager suffering from debilitating grief after a sudden death in her family.

Bethy has the sandy blonde, wavy hair of her father, and the bright green eyes of her grandmother. As an only child, Bethy has a lot to learn about giving to others, as well as working through grief and navigating her family’s financial troubles. But she’s about to grow up a lot quicker and change her perspective forever, when her grandmother hires her for the summer to research an ancestor’s life. Allen Hamilton.

Why did you make your heroine an artist? What type of art does she create?

Wendy: Bethy is a realist painter (like me), so her paintings are real-life likenesses of people, places, architecture—everything she desires to recreate on canvas. Her completed paintings mirror photography because of her skill. As an artist myself, I decided to write something I know about to flesh out this character in a realistic manner. I ended up loving Bethy to pieces, and actually wishing I had been more like her as a teenager.

Alexis: How do Allen’s story and your heroine’s story weave together in this plot?

: The two stories intertwine with parallels and analogies that are timeless. Like the overwhelming grief of losing loved ones, never giving up on your dreams no matter what you face, and coming to know who you really are—God’s children on this earth, and the descendants of remarkable people who came before us, even if they really struggled. No matter what time period we live in on this earth, we will face similar trials to those who came before us. And God is always there. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Alexis: As a woman of faith, how does your belief in God impact your storytelling?

Wendy: My stories are clean, inspiring, and full of faith. My tales are an extension of my own devotion, which is founded in my complete identity as a daughter of God, which is my motivation for every choice I make—to glorify Him, and to do his will. I wrote Once Upon an Irish Summer to interest people in their own families—to turn their hearts to their ancestors, to seek them out, to know them, and honor them. This was God’s will for this book, and He helped me write it, every step of the way.

Alexis: What made writing and publishing this story special to you?

Wendy: Sharing a true story from my own family tree that I really couldn’t not tell, felt like an overwhelming privilege—to honor my ancestors in this way. And then to have an Irish publisher who loves Ireland as much as I do was just the icing on the cake.

What do you want readers to remember most about Once Upon an Irish Summer?

Amid their journey with Allen and Bethy, I want readers to remember their own ancestors. As a highly adventurous person, and world-traveler, I’ve never had a greater adventure than getting to know my own family. Traveling to their homelands and immersing myself in their lives, their records, ancestral sites, and historical facts, shed a grand light on who they were and what they overcame. I’ve been so incredibly inspired by my own ancestors, that’s what I want most for my readers. That’s why I write.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Wendy! Do you have closing comments to share?

Find your family, honor them, then stand on their shoulders to become someone even better.

Author Bio:

Wendy Wilson Spooner, Lic. G., LCoT, is a professional 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 research, and she’s found that truth is indeed, much more exciting and inspiring than fiction. Wendy writes about family, faith, grief, art, and overcoming obstacles in life by coming to know who we really are—children of God, and, the descendants of remarkable people who paved the way for us—even if they really struggled. She believes in learning from ancestors, honoring them, and then standing on their shoulders to become someone even better.

As an award-winning author of professional articles and poems, Wendy Wilson Spooner turned to novel writing to share what she knows with a greater audience. Her debut novel, Once Upon an Irish Summer, released April 3, 2020. It has been an Amazon best-seller in the several different genres. She’s looking forward to releasing book two in the series!

When she is not writing or researching, Wendy currently serves as National Vice Chair for Daughters of the American Revolution over Art & Sculpture in the annual American Heritage contest. She also serves as Chairman of the Advisory board for Century Vital Records in Bengaluru, India. As well, Wendy loves to read, hike, paint, travel, binge on Bollywood movies, and spend time with her greatest loves—her family.

Blurb for Once Upon an Irish Summer:

A gifted artist suffering from debilitating grief finds healing and inspiration in her Irish ancestry and goes on to paint a masterpiece. 

Once Upon an Irish Summer is a dual timeline novel of two teenagers, two centuries apart, in one city; the untold chronicle of Irish Allen Hamilton's journey through antebellum America to find a way to save his family, woven with the struggle of his 15-year-old descendant 200 years later, battling through grief to find herself again.

Buy Wendy’s book:
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Monday, February 15, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Why we need the love of God in our hearts

Where Is the Love?
A devotional by Angela Anderson

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 
–1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)

As I picked up my phone and scrolled through the news, my heart sank. The headlines read: “Man dead following shooting at apartment complex.” “Mother arrested after 1-month old baby thrown at father.” “Man threatened to kill family during home invasion.” “Over 800 hate groups operating in the United States.” One headline after the other, I skimmed each subheading and article wondering why these horrific events were so prevalent. How could people be so hateful?

When I was growing up, there was a song that used to play on one of my dad’s favorite radio stations. I can still hear Jackie DeShannon singing the tune to music composer Burt Bacharach’s song, “What the World Needs Now Is Love.” The lyrics often play in my mind: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of...”

This sums it up: Love is the missing ingredient to the recipe of life.

One thing I have noticed in my lifetime is that there are a lot of people walking around this earth who are feeling unloved. Love is missing from their lives because they have not experienced or accepted love or, they do not love themselves. If you do not love yourself, you cannot possibly love others—at least not the way you are supposed to love others.

The Bible defines love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV): “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails...”

Love is the answer! It is no wonder we hear of senseless killings, domestic violence, sexual abuse, abuse of power, acts of terrorism in all forms, political wars, and the list goes on. There is no representation of love in these acts, specifically the love previously mentioned. Fortunately, all hope is not lost.

There is a remedy for all of these societal ills. This remedy is presented in John 3:16-17 (NIV):

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

The love of God is so far-reaching! It’s life changing and it’s everlasting. It never fails!

God loves you. He wants nothing more than to save you. God wants to be part of you, to live inside of you, and show you how to love yourself so that you can love others. He sent a part of Himself, His Son Jesus Christ, to live among us and then die for us while we were yet sinners. It did not matter to him that he might be rejected. Even now, He still pursues us because He loves us that much. If you have not experienced this love, I urge you to give it a try. You have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. Jesus is waiting to enter your heart, but He can’t and He won’t unless you invite Him into your heart.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, may we recognize Your presence in our lives. For those of us who have already experienced Your love, I pray that we take the opportunity to renew our relationship with You daily. Then for those who have not received You into their hearts, I pray that they will make that decision so that they can experience You and the life that You have in store for them.

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, February 12, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Disciples

How Will I Know?
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 
– John 13:35 (ESV)

A month ago, the world watched the most poignant demonstration of anger, rage and hatred in this century. Many of the angry hoard who stormed the U.S. Capitol Building were professed Christians and patriots. Their demonstration of lawlessness was antithetical to John 13:35.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, the Western world thinks about affirming the people with who we are in love. Some people evaluate their relationships based upon the cards and/or gifts that they give or receive. Personal esteem and future plans are often predicated on the swag of the day.

In 1985 when I was an undergraduate Theology student, Whitney Houston released a new song. The title was a question for all the ages: “How Will I Know?” The lyrics portray a young woman who was smitten with a man. She is seeking advice from a more mature person. She is seeking some metric by which to measure whether what she feels is true love or the deceptive feelings of infatuation. True to pop music, no answer emerges, but the song was catchy and memorable.

In the days when Jesus walked on this earth and taught the people living in that era, He developed a following. The Gospels portray Jesus as, patient, kind and prescient. He cared about His followers and gave them the master key to the Kingdom of Heaven. This key was not wood or metal, but it was tangible. It was an ethic of service and an ethos of love.

Prior to his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus said to His disciples, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Twelve disciples of disparate backgrounds: seven fishermen, a tax collector, a doctor, two tradesmen, and Judas (the treasurer), rounded out the group. They lived, traveled and travailed together for three years. These disciples of Jesus Christ grew through the group dynamics of forming, storming, norming, performing and transforming. Even though there was some bickering and jockeying for position, they liked each other.

Near the end of His time with them, Jesus felt the need to show them that they needed to grow to a deeper level of relationship with Him and with each other. He made visible, tactile love the single most effective key to their futures. Like apples on an apple tree or peaches on a peach tree, love would be the stock in trade of His disciples, the true believers.

During this month in which love is the theme, please accept the following list as ways to demonstrate love like Jesus did, not just to your loved ones, but to others who may come into your sphere of influence. 

Here’s the list:

#1: Help if you can. If you can’t, refer and/or take them to someone who can. (John 2:1-11)

#2: Pray for them, ideally, while you are with them. When they experience the answered prayer, your words will resonate within them. (Acts 12:5)

#3: Be the guardrail for your friends. Guide them away from trouble. (Proverbs 27:6)

#4: Forgive and let go of your hurts and misgivings. (Proverbs 17:9)

#5: Be a servant of God and a friend to all people. (Galatians 5:13)

#6: Share optimism, kindness and love. (1 Corinthians 12:25-26 and 2 Samuel 9:1-13)

#7: If you know Jesus, introduce your friends to Him. (John 1:35-42 and Hebrews 10:24-25)

If your spiritual fervor and passion for change in your home or community must become active, please let it reflect the love of Christ. The principles above, once fixed on your mind, will guide you away from rebellion, anarchy, hatred and a spirit of murder. God’s love will propel you into positive action. Peaceful and purposeful benevolence will be the order of the day, even if you are met with resistance.

Gary Chapman, a 20th century writer of relationship books with a spiritual bent, cornered the market with his book, The 5 Love Languages. In his book he suggests that we all have the need for love and that we express and receive love in one or a combination of the following methodologies:

Words of Affirmation

Physical Touch

Receiving Gifts

Quality Time

Acts of Service

In the month of February, commit to sharing at least one of these manifestations of the love of Christ to at least one person every day. If you do, February may become the best month of your year. If you master the habits, every day will become better, in every way.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, thank You for creating love and making it the bonding agent of human relationships. Please shower the Earth with a new impetus and fresh anointing to love one another. Help us to see beyond our identifiers, race, creed, color, gender, age and pronouns that might easily separate us. Help us to see You more clearly in each other. Help us to embrace and magnify the You that we see, so that the world may be able to identify us as your loving, peacemaking, miracle working, disciples and thank You for the difference that we make in the world. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

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,

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: A life lesson on going where God leads

If not me ... then who?
A devotional by Kay Pflueger

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 
– Isaiah 6:8 (NIV)

My father passed away in 2003. One of the things I loved most about him was how he enjoyed making people laugh. During his hospital stay many years ago, a nurse came into his room and informed him that she needed to set up an IV for him. She politely asked him which arm he preferred that she use, and in his indomitable manner, he replied “Use his” as he pointed at my brother-in-law. That certainly got a chuckle from those in the room at the time!

In thinking about the above verse from Isaiah, I wonder how often we reply to the Lord in much the same manner. “Send him, Lord—not me” or “Let her do it—I am too busy” or “Use someone else—I am not qualified.” Even people we would consider heroes of the faith had their moments of hesitation when God called them to serve Him.

When He calls us, God does not accept our excuses. Let us look at Moses. I cannot think of a more visible way for God to get someone’s attention than through a burning bush. Moses realized who was speaking to him but still found all kinds of reasons to say no to what God was asking him to do. In Exodus 4:10 (NIV) we hear Moses say, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” God does not give up but rather tells Moses, “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” And how does Moses answer? He said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” (Exodus 4:12 NIV)

God did not let the hesitation from Moses sway him from the purpose He had chosen for him to fulfill. Moses focused on what he felt he lacked, but God rebuked him and told him He would be alongside him to help him use his voice.

There is a lesson in that for us. Too often we compare ourselves to others and judge that they are better equipped for what God has called us specifically to do. God does not expect us to do it alone. He does not call us and then turn His back and leave us to find our own way. Isaiah 41:10 (NIV) says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Just as with Moses, God will walk alongside us.

It is time to stop feeling guilty for what we feel we lack and to start being grateful for the gifts we have been given by God to use in doing His work. It is time to live out who God made us to be and to give up trying to be someone we are not. It is time to set aside our excuses.

It is time to heed His voice and to respond with “Here I am! Send me.” For some music inspiration to drive my message home, listen to this song by Rebecca St. James.

Let’s Pray: Father God, we have so many excuses for why we feel unqualified to do your work here on earth. Forgive our hesitation. Give us the boldness to say “Yes, I will go” when we hear your voice. Remind us daily that we do not walk alone. You are with us and will guide us as we step out in faith. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

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, February 9, 2021

Romantic Reads: A Change of Scenery

The Story Behind A Change of Scenery (book) by Davalynn Spencer

My start in the writing business was strictly nonfiction. As a crime-beat reporter for the Cañon City Daily Record, I dredged up the facts. As a features writer, I built human-interest stories around the facts. And as the religion-page editor, I laid out the page and added one of my photographs with an appropriate Bible verse and inspirational thought as a cutline. Again – facts, but from the Word of God.

However, at a small-town daily newspaper, reporters do what needs to be done whether it’s their gig or not. One of my ongoing assignments was to find interesting news items at the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center for the paper’s Back In Time series.

As some might say, that place was a gold mine. It still is.

Gold was a big deal in Colorado’s late 1800s, but prospectors didn’t find much of the precious metal around Cañon City. However, there is more than one type of gold, and while hard-rock miners were chipping away at gullies and washes in the high country, ranchers and farmers were making a go of it down here in the Arkansas River Valley because, well, miners have to eat.

One area north of town is still referred to as Garden Park – where vegetables grew in well-laid-out farms and countless dinosaur fossils were unearthed and fought over by rival university’s paleontology departments.

Fruit orchards still dot the Arkansas River basin, and ranchers still run cattle on the sweet mountain grass. Much of the area is as it was in spite of the 21st century’s noise and clutter.

Cañon City is an Old West town that just happened to survive because the founders built most of the buildings on Main Street from locally quarried stone. When places like Cripple Creek (over the hill at 10,000 feet) burned to the ground – twice – Cañon City lived on.

The place is ripe with history, and in my reporter days, I spent hours at the history museum reading amazing accounts of early life here. And the more I read, the more I envisioned some of the pioneers who settled the area and their Native American counterparts who were here first. The more I envisioned, the more I wanted to tell the stories, but not in a history book.

I learned during my middle-school-teaching days that students will devour historical facts if they are laced through an interesting novel. But so do adults. Historical fiction remains a selling market because, as I like to say, life wasn’t easier in the past but it was simpler. And simple is something people crave today – a respite from the mad go-and-show world in which we live.

My three novels in The Cañon City Chronicles are each set against backdrops of historical mile-markers from this area. And so is Book 4, A Change of Scenery. Silent pictures were a big deal here in the early 1900s, but they weren’t called silent pictures because pictures had never talked.

The flickers that “flicked” through nickelodeons were not referred to as silent pictures until “talkies” came along.

As I studied this era of local history, I was fascinated by what I read. Moving-picture companies paid ranchers top dollar to “rent” their cattle, horses, and ranches for filming. Even the ranchers themselves were paid day-wages – a whopping $5 per man per day.

Anchored in the rich historical facts, a story emerged in my heart of a rancher who was smitten by a big-city gal with the Selig-Polyscope company. The “what-if” nerve of a novelist began to throb, and A Change of Scenery played across my mind’s eye, starring two little boys from Book 3 in the Hutton-family saga known as The Cañon City Chronicles.

Faith is always a character in my stories – an aspect that directs lives the same way it does in real life. This book has no preaching but plenty of wisdom shared by truth-speaking characters. God and His peace and presence weave through the book the same way they do in my daily life: intimately, steadily, tenderly.

Tragedy takes its place on the stage, just as it does in our lives. But how a character handles it determines how that character develops. Again, an aspect that mirrors the reality of our lives.

And isn’t that what fiction is all about? Mirroring reality. I hope you’ll read A Change of Scenery and be blessed by the challenges, heartaches, and blessings that adorn this tender Western romance.

Author Bio:

Davalynn Spencer is a Publisher’s Weekly and ECPA bestselling author and winner of the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction.

She is the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters and the author of sixteen titles, both contemporary and historical. She blogs monthly for Christian Authors Network, contributes to the American Christian Fiction Writers blog, and writes her own weekly inspirational blog.

Davalynn appears on the area radio broadcast, Write Time Radio, and teaches writing workshops when not wrangling Keeper the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. 

Connect with her at

Blurb for A Change of Scenery:

Inspirational Historical Western Romance

A hidden fear. A daring challenge. A liberating love.

A motorcar accident on a rainy Chicago night steals Ella Canaday’s fiancé as well as her ability to ride. Clinging to the remnants of her independence, she cuts her hair and her ties with her wealthy father and takes a train west as the seamstress with a moving-picture company. 

Colorado offers the change of scenery she needs. But she doesn’t expect the bold cowboy who challenges her to reclaim both the loves she thought she’d lost forever.

Cale Hutton needs the money the moving-picture company is paying for use of his cattle and horses, but he’s not keen on some city gal gettin’ in the way at the ranch. Between the filming crew by day and a rogue cattle-killing bear by night, his attention snags on the little bob-haired seamstress. Something about her easy manner around his horse sets his mind to find out what she’s hiding and why she has such a pull on his heart.

Buy Davalynn’s book, A Change of Scenery:


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Monday, February 8, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Love

Love Over Labels
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” – Luke 8:46-48 (NLT)

Every time we got together as a family there was almost surely to come up a story that started with, “Remember that time when Cyndi…?” 

My family often retells stories of things I did that were rebellious when I was younger. I mean, to be fair, I gave them a lot of material. I was a bit of a wild child. In fact, if I am honest, I still have a streak of the wild and adventurous in me. But thankfully, I have also changed and grown not just older but wiser over the years. However, it doesn’t seem to matter how I have changed, they only seem to want to “remember when” I did things I shouldn’t have done. While I’ve come to accept it, I certainly don’t enjoy feeling like I am known by my “issues” or worst moments in life.

Every time I read the verses above in my Bible about the woman who suffered with constant bleeding for twelve years, my heart hurts. The title alone is certainly cringe-worthy. I mean we all have issues – was it necessary to point hers out so blatantly and then leave it there on the pages of the Bible for all to see forever?

I find it a bit unsettling to think this woman is known and labeled by her issues. Maybe because I have so many issues of my own that I am trying to free myself from mentally and emotionally so I can sit fully in my new creation status. What’s worse is sometimes we hold ourselves in that prison by not letting go of the past or shedding the labels we or others have placed on us. Thankfully, as is frequently the case with God, there’s more to the story.

In every Gospel account of this story, we see Jesus not only heal her issue but restore her value. Jesus first brings our sweet sister “out of hiding.” We are told “she realized she couldn’t stay hidden.” We often want to cruise through life with our issues, and sometimes ourselves, unnoticed. On the contrary, Jesus wants us to walk free and come boldly to His throne. And often that means bringing into His light those things lurking in the darkness.

My hope is stirred by the fact that Jesus ends this passage by calling her “Daughter.” While it’s not her “name”, I do believe Jesus wanted her (and us) to know He saw her, He knew her and the label of Daughter was the one that should truly define her. He was simply reminding her of the name she had always had. She had just forgotten, as we often do, that she was a Daughter of the King and that her status as Daughter of the King supersedes all other names and labels – even the name given by our parents at birth. We remain a Daughter (or son) of the King even when we stray or sin – we never lose our salvation or our status as His child.

I also love that we are told here that the “whole crowd” heard this exchange between her and Jesus. Because I am sure the “whole crowd” knew of her circumstances and may have had a hand in reminding her of her unclean status. They would have certainly avoided her, not spoken to her or acknowledged her, and would never have touched her. But Jesus did all of these. And He will do this for us too if we come to Him boldly and reach out for Him in faith. Our minds have a hard time forgetting our issues and failures. Others may make it a habit of reminding us of our issues and failures but our God does not. He puts them “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12) and we need to learn to do that too. Because when we do, we can walk fully and confidently into our future as a new creation in Christ and child of the Most High God.

Let’s Pray: Loving Lord, thank you for looking beyond our failures and infirmities to see us, truly SEE us. When our nature is to want to hide our face and cover our flaws, we are encouraged that you seek to remind us our true value and worth is found in You. Help us remember that when the world wants to label us repeatedly, You, instead, love us recklessly. Let us pursue You with abandon, knowing that in Your presence is where we encounter acceptance, secure our salvation and receive restoration to step fully into our position of royalty as Daughters and Sons of the King. 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.

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