Friday, April 30, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Emotions

Surrendering Our Emotions to God
A devotional by Monique Anderson

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” 
– Galatians 5:16-17 (NIV)

When it comes to relationships in the natural, we depend heavily on our feelings.

We rely on how a person makes us feel to determine how good or bad the relationship is. If the person gives us butterflies, makes us feel good, or comfortable, or safe then we decide that this is a good relationship, and this person cares about us. Being human beings of this world, we are naturally led by our feelings. But as we know, this is a fallen world. So are our feelings reliable leaders for our lives?

Having emotions, or even being emotional isn’t necessarily a bad thing. God gave us different emotions for a reason. He wants us to feel joy, happiness, excitement, and love. At the same time we also have to go through feelings of sadness, sorrow, grief, and anger. It is not what we feel that causes a problem, it’s how we respond to those feelings that can be dangerous. The way that we respond to our emotions can either lead to healing and peace, or brokenness and conflict.

The Bible provides several examples of those who mishandled their emotions. Below are some examples (from books in the Bible) of where these people’s misguided feelings led them.

Example #1: Anger. In Genesis, Cain killed his brother because of uncontrolled anger and jealousy in his heart. 

Example #2: Fear. In Genesis, Abraham lied to Abimelech about Sarah because he was afraid of losing his life.

Example #3: Lust. In 2 Samuel, David was led by lust and committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Example #4: Guilt. Judas killed himself because of the guilt he felt after betraying Jesus.

Letting our emotions take control of our decisions leads to bad choices and puts a wedge between you and your relationship with God.

I am guilty of frequently using the phrase “I don’t feel like it” whenever it comes to things that I need to be doing; specifically, the things that God instructs me to do. Instead of prioritizing my time for the work that He has trusted me with, I instead succumb to my feelings and my mood. The time that should be delegated to writing or studying God’s Word (The Holy Bible), gets overthrown by how I feel at that moment.

I realized that this was starting to put a strain on my relationship with God. I am not serving Him well when my emotions led me away from Him. Unlike the relationships we are used to in the natural, me relying on my feelings does not strengthen my relationship with God. I am learning to detach from my feelings and align myself to the Holy Spirit.

This is how our relationship with God was intended to be. We are to walk with God through life and use His Spirit as our helper and guide. John 14:26 (ESV) tells us: “But the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

He is who we should rely on. The Holy Spirit can’t lie nor lead us astray … but our feelings? Our feelings will send us on an emotional rollercoaster, tossing us to and from. Our feelings change so frequently depending on our circumstances or mood. They are fickle and unreliable. So how can we allow the instability of our emotions to be the dictator of our lives? How can we make decisions based on feelings instead of God’s truth?

When we rely on our emotions more than the Holy Spirit, our emotions become our idol. We give into them. We obey them. They run our lives. We even allow our feelings to determine how much God loves us. When we don’t feel God’s presence, we think He has abandoned us. When we don’t feel the Holy Spirit when we pray or worship, we think God is not listening or paying attention to us. We are putting God in a box of how we think He should express his love for us.

We need to remember God is always present whether you feel Him or not. Don’t become so reliant on the “feeling” of God that you walk away from Him when He has actually never left your side.

So how can we respond well to our emotions?

We give them to God. We lay them at His feet. We surrender to Him everything inside of us that does not align with His character. We ask Him, “Why am I feeling this way?” Ask God, “What do these feelings really mean?” He will lead you in how to respond well. In our relationship with God, it is better to be emotionally detached than emotionally driven.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, help us in detaching our emotions from our relationship with you. Help us to rely solely on the Holy Spirit to lead us in making the right decisions for our lives. I pray we no longer allow feelings to dictate how you love us. Give us the strength to not succumb to our feelings and make them idols. Holy Spirit, prompt us to follow your lead and teach us how to not follow our emotions. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

End note from Monique:
I would like to recommend the following book by Peter Scazzero as a resource for remaining emotionally healthy in your Christian walk, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It's Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature, While Remaining Emotionally Immature.

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, April 28, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Grief

Season of Grief
A devotional by Heidy De La Cruz

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
– Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

I am writing this in a season of grief, during a week that is extremely heavy for me. But I hope this will encourage others. I lost my Mother-in-law two days ago. Tomorrow will be seven months since my grandfather passed, and in two days it will be the fifth-year anniversary since my mother’s passing. I know grief! And the beginning of March will no longer be the same for husband and I.

Losing a loved one is painful, but losing your mother is a void that never gets filled and will never go away. They say time heals all wounds, but I’ll tell you that after you lose your mother, you are never the same.

Although the pain never goes away, God provides the strength and comfort to be able to continue on with life. Day by day, He is with you. “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.” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV). The strength needed to continue on can only be provided by God. He is the only one who fully understands our pain and grieving has to be one of the worst experiences we endure in this lifetime.

I guess I am writing to say that unfortunately, death is a part of life. We will lose loved ones, our parents, our spouses, and friends because death is the only guarantee in this life. But God is the only one who knows when our time will come. As long as we have a pulse, we have a purpose, and He will push you through this pain. There is purpose for the pain. Push through and continue every day. Even the days you don’t feel like getting out of bed. God is there.

The Bible says in Psalms 34:18 (NIV), “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” This verse has helped me through my grieving seasons and has brought comfort during this one. I know that God is with me during difficult times and through these experiences I am able to relate and help comfort those who are going through the same. Since I’ve already lost my mother, I know the exact pain my husband is feeling right now. I am able to help him get through this difficult transition of living in a world without his Mom.

We go through struggles, pain, difficult times, and challenges in this life and sometimes we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. But once we overcome that storm, we walk victorious on the other side then we realize how that situation changed us and made us stronger. Don’t give up. This too shall pass.

Let’s Pray: Father God, you know us from the inside out. You know the pain and the struggles we go through and you are the only one who can help us get through these difficult times. You provide the strength and the comfort that we need. You are walking with us when it rains and when the pain seems unbearable, you remind us that you heal us and that we are not alone. Lord, thank you for your peace and comfort and for never leaving my side. In Jesus’s 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, April 27, 2021

Romantic Reads: A Heart's Forgiveness by Lena Nelson Dooley

Interview with Lena Nelson Dooley about her book,
A Heart's Forgiveness (Love's Road Home Book 2):

Alexis: What is the premise for this story?

Lena: It’s a mail-order bride story with a twist. I always like to have an unexpected twist to my stories that enhance the expectations for the genre.

Alexis: What or who inspired you to write this book?

Lena: I wrote the proposal because of a request through my agent for a story set in another state. The publisher didn’t choose my proposal, but they liked the story and asked me to find another setting that would work for the story. I found another place where everything would fit this story.

A Heart’s Forgiveness is the second book in your Love’s Road Home series. Tell me about this book and how it ties into your series. What is this Love’s Road Home series all about?

Lena: Love’s Road Home is a series about people losing something important from their lives and finding a way back to love. There is a minor character from book one, who appears in this story and ties it into the series. Later we’ll see him again as the hero in book four.

Alexis: Tell me about your story’s heroine, Madeleine Mercer. Describe her looks, personality and heart. What makes her happy? What makes her sad? What makes her mad? Explain.

Lena: Madeline (Maddy) Mercer is the heroine. She looks like a china doll, with brown hair and creamy skin. She’s petite with stormy gray eyes that can turn warm or stormy. She has had a very good and happy life until her father dies of a heart attack, which happens before the book opens. The everything changes.

Why does Madeline believe that becoming a mail-order bride will solve her problems?

Her father’s partner is an evil man who tries to take over her life. She feels she must get away from. But she doesn’t know that he’s been lying to her.

Alexis: How did you research this story?

I always research the time, the settings, and everything I can find about the time period. All my characters and their stories are fiction, but I work really hard to make everything else in the book authentic to the time period.

Alexis: What is a nursemaid and why does Philip need one?

Actually, Philip wants to help a woman who has a deep need by having her come to take care of him. He figures any woman who would answer an ad for a mail-order bride has serious problems she needs to get away from.

Alexis: Who is Jeremiah and how does his presence in this story affect the plot?

Jeremiah is a young man who Philip took under his wings when he came to the gold field. He’s mentored him and helped him when mining became dangerous for him. He encouraged Jeremiah to change his vocation before the story begins.

How do Philip and Madeline first see each other? Is it a good or bad impression?

Philip and Madeline form a strong friendship from the first minute they meet. Remember that Jeremiah is the hero, and at their first meeting, he thinks Madeline is a gold digger and he doesn’t trust her.

What draws Jeremiah and Madeline to each other and what or who tries to pull them apart?

Lena: Their love for Philip is their only bond at the beginning. It’s interesting to see what changes that in the story.

Alexis: What is the theme of this story? Why?

Forgiveness. Madeline’s unmerited forgiveness for the man who was very evil is a catalyst for several people’s lives.

Alexis: How did you real-life faith in God play into your writing this book?

I accepted the Lord as my Savior when I was 7 years old. That’s over seven decades ago. I’ve walked with Him most of the rest of my life. I didn’t live close to Him when I was in college, but He never gave up on me. He watched over me and when I was ready to return to Him, He welcomed me with open arms. That’s why forgiveness if often a theme in my books.

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

Lena: That God’s plans for you are always better than any plans you can come up with.

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

I write my stories for the readers. I love to hear from them. Fans are what keep an author going.

Author Bio:

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

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. 

Lena 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. Her article in CFOM 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.

Her blog has a reach of over 65,000.

Book Blurb for A Heart's Forgiveness:

Accepting an ad for a mail-order bride was supposed to solve her problems. 

It’s 1890, and Golden, New Mexico is a booming mining town where men far outnumber women. So when a wealthy miner named Philip Smith finds himself in need of a nursemaid, he places an ad for a mail-order bride—despite the protests of his friend Jeremiah.

Hoping to escape a perilous situation back East, young Madeleine Mercer answers the ad and arrives in town under a cloud of suspicion. But just as she begins to win over Philip—and Jeremiah himself—the secrets she left behind threaten to follow her to Golden . . . and tarnish her character beyond redemption.

Buy Lena’s book on Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo or Barnes and Noble

Connect with Lena:
Official Fan Page:
YouTube Channel:
Amazon Author Page:

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

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Monday, April 26, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Kindness

A devotional by Glynis Becker

“So that in the ages to come He might show the boundless riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” 
–Ephesians 2:7-9 (NASB)

Over the last few years especially, have you noticed the trend toward inspirational sayings using the word “kindness”? Such as:

“Always be kind.”

“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

“Kindness matters.”

I’ve seen these phrases on everything from coffee mugs to bumper stickers and T-shirts to journals. Videos and stories showcasing acts of kindness go viral on the internet, resulting in both smiles and tears. If people out in the world start using words that I know through sermons and Bible study, it’s time for us to take notice. So what does kindness really mean and why is it important?

People often think of God as being harsh and cruel in the Old Testament. But time and again we read about God’s lovingkindness to the Israelites, even when they turned their backs on Him. Nehemiah 9:17b (NASB) shows this beautifully: “...But You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in mercy; And You did not abandon them.” 

David wrote many Psalms about the kindness of God, showing God’s grace to David personally and to the nation as a whole. (Psalm 36; Psalm 117)

In the New Testament, kindness is listed along with eight other attributes of a Spirit-filled Christian life in Galatians 5:22-23. A quick search of the Greek word Paul used shows me that kindness in this case doesn’t just mean being nice to people, but rather doing good for others without harshness or cruelty. Those who claim the name of Jesus Christ will show others that we truly follow Jesus when we are kind, doing good to all with no ulterior motives. It is a word of action, not just speech.

We have been shown the greatest kindness, in that while we were “enemies” of God, He came near to us (Ephesians 2:1-6, NASB). Because of that love, we can—and must—show kindness to those around us. This does not earn us anything from God, but proves we understand how great His love is to us. We should want to share kindness because we can’t help it!

The flip side of this, is that we need to be able to receive kindness from others. It can be humbling and uncomfortable to be on the receiving end, when you are usually a “giver.” Being the one to give in service to others puts us in a position of control in a way. When we are shown kindness, we need to receive it humbly, with grace and gratitude.

If we believe God has created us in His image, which includes His abounding kindness, how can we not want that same character to shine through in us? So let’s go out and be kind, loving the world in word and deed, and giving the best of what we have to everyone!

Let’s Pray: Gracious Father, please give me the opportunity to show kindness to someone today. Whether it is a small thing, or something huge you want me to do, give me the heart to do it. If I am to receive kindness from someone else, help me to do that with humility and love. I want to be a kinder person, and I want the world to be a kinder place. Help me to do my part. In Jesus’s precious 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, April 23, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: God's Glory

When Glory Comes

A devotional by Shirley A. Denson

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” –Romans 8:18 (KJV)

This last year has been trying on so many levels. As everyone adjusted to living through a global pandemic, and a new norm, it hasn’t been easy. As a nation, we experienced loss on a different scale. There was loss of jobs, homes, incomes, and most importantly lives. Some losses were more detrimental than others. And other losses were absolutely immeasurable. Grief hit our lives at an alarming rate.

However, as people who believe in God, we don’t grieve without hope. Whether you’ve had to be separated from loved ones, birth a child alone, view elderly parents/family through a glass window/door, or gotten married without all your family and friends being in attendance; there’s always an undercurrent of hope that buoys through the ebbs and flows of uncertainty, and anchors you during each stormy season. Hope is the silver lining that makes the storms of life more bearable, and pushes you to look for the rainbow within each storm.

Amidst the ashes of doom, despair, and debilitating grief, there is always an underlying current of hope. A knowing that an All-Mighty God is still in control, and that even in the midst of chaos and confusion, glory will still come out of all of this. Even while grappling to put the pieces of your life back together, you still have a hope that things will end better than they started. You still have to believe that there’s something beautiful on the other side of grief, trauma, and loss.

The past year may have momentarily wiped the smile from your face for a season. You may have had more losses than gains. But one thing’s for certain, God is still a Promise Keeper. He’s never lied. He’s never gone back on His Word. He won’t start now! God will not leave you destitute. Everything that you’ve endured, everything that’s transpired, it will somehow work out for good, and reveal God’s Glory. When His glory comes, it’ll make everything else that happened fail in comparison. Hang in there! Don’t lose hope! Wait for the glory!

Let’s Pray: Lord, thank You for being with me in the hard times—in the times when I’m overwhelmed and feel helpless. I know that You’re with me through every trial. Even when I feel alone, I trust Your voice and Your providence. Help me hold on until the radiance of Your glory manifests in me, and lives are changed. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Author Bio:

Shirley A. Denson is a native of Statesboro, GA. 

She found out at a young age that she had a creative mind and a way with words. Later on in life, she learned to cultivate her passion for writing as a budding author.

Shirley is very passionate about writing. Each book that she releases will be a product of God stirring and cultivating the gift He’s entrusted her with. She has won numerous writing awards/certificates, and is a published poet and blogger.

For the past six years, Shirley has worked as a professional ghostwriter, editor, and author. It is her joy and goal that through print, she might impact lives and leave the imprint of the King.

Visit her website to stay in the loop about her new book releases, current projects, and to read her blog posts.

Connect with Shirley:

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Good News

The Good News About Sin

A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” 
– Romans 3:23-24 (NIV)

I’ve written before how Romans is probably my favorite book of the Bible. I return to it again and again. Reading Romans steadies my steps when I’m feeling spiritually depleted, when my thoughts get clouded with too much cultural chaos, when I'm getting too much of this world and not enough of the next.

Consider Romans 8:38 (NLT): “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” How is that for a game-changer? When I’m desperate to grab some peace in the storm of a crisis or the quiet of existential dread, I remember this verse and know that, irrespective of all that, God is Provident and I am His.

The verse above is another foundational truth, one that I think is easy to gloss over. Many of us first came to faith in Jesus Christ at Vacation Bible School or Sunday School. We grew up “Christian”, so it was easy to assume that the adults around you were sinless superhumans who were naturally good. You may have even gotten the idea that there were “good” and “bad” people in this world. But it’s a lie. We’re all bad. It’s only through God's free and gracious gift of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ that any of us are redeemed. Even the most good, nicest person at your church was drowning in sin when God brought them to faith.

There is no way that we can rescue ourselves from sin. No one is immune from sin no matter how well they were raised, how hard they work, the number of good things they do—sin is in all of us. Paul here is addressing the belief that Jews were somehow closer to redemption than Gentiles. His point is clear: We are all sinners. I find some peace in that when I look at heroes of the faith. They struggled with sin like the rest of us. No one is born into this world naturally good. But Jesus can save any of us.

The other foundational truth here is that it’s by Grace alone that we are saved. There’s not a single redeeming quality in my person that leads God to save me. No, Christ’s sacrifice alone can save the human soul. 

There is a scene in C.S. Lewis’s book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, that has stuck with me for years. Near the end, we find Eustace, transformed into a dragon and desperate to return to the boy he once was, clawing at his scales. Regardless of how hard he scrapes, and the obvious pain that he causes himself, it’s only Aslan’s claws that can free him. It’s the same way with garden-variety sin in our lives. Only Jesus can free us. And there’s great freedom in that. We can give up our pathetic efforts and throw ourselves on His mercy and be saved.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for the sacrifice of your Son (Jesus Christ) to save us from sin and death. Help us to share this good news with the world. In Jesus'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, April 20, 2021

Romantic Reads: The Reluctant Billionaire by Carol Underhill

Interview with Carol Underhill about her book
The Reluctant Billionaire:

Alexis: What or who inspired you to write this book?

Carol: I’m not sure what inspired the original idea, but I do remember thinking about a couple who’d been friends for a long time. While he had a major crush on her, she never knew it. Then the story started to develop from there.

Alexis: Tell me about the heroine of your story, Jessica Palmer. Describe her looks, personality and heart. What is her greatest need and her deepest desire?

Carol: Jessica is a 30-year-old nurse who struggled with an eating disorder in the past. She’s tall, slender and very pretty, but her ex-husband always found reasons to criticize her. Even though she tried to be the perfect wife, she never felt like she was good enough for Paul. Her greatest need is to be loved and accepted as she is. Her deepest desire is to have children and be a mom.

Alexis: What dreams did Jessica have for her life before they went up in flames?

Carol: She wanted what her husband had promised her: She’d worked to put him through law school and once he made partner, they were supposed to buy a home and start a family.

Alexis: In what ways did her husband’s betrayal and resulting divorce, help Jessica (as oftentimes God works everything together for our good an redeems our pain)?

Carol: She was able to see that her ex-husband controlled and criticized everything from the way she did her hair to what she did or didn’t eat. She realizes she is free to be herself and make her own choices.

Alexis: Why does Jessica think she can rebuild her life by moving back into her parents’ house?

Carol: Her apartment in Chicago was too expensive after her divorce. She moves in with her parents so she can save the money she would have paid in rent. She wants to buy a home of her own and needs to save for a down payment.

Alexis: How do Jessica’s parents feel about her leaving her independent life in Chicago and moving back into their home as their grown adult daughter? What tensions, if any, does this create?

Carol: They haven’t seen Jessica since she filed for divorce, so they couldn’t comfort her face-to-face with hugs the way they wanted to. They are glad she came home so she isn’t alone in Chicago and they can show her their support.

There is some tension because her mom is concerned that Jessica has lost weight that she can’t afford to lose. Jessica doesn’t like to be reminded to eat and it causes some tension. Her mom doesn’t say much, but her tight-lipped disapproval makes Jessica feel guilty.

Alexis: Let’s talk about the hero of your story, Liam Engstrom. Describe his looks, personality and dreams. What is his greatest strength and his worst weakness?

Liam has dark hair and a beard that always looks like a few days’ shadow. He’s just short of six feet tall, broad shouldered, and muscular from both his job and his home gym. He’s 28 years old. He likes to tease and remind Jessica that she’s older than he is. Although he’s a billionaire, Liam prefers working at his construction job instead of taking life easy. He’s content with his life and the only thing that would make it better is if Jessica were his.

Liam’s strength is that he treasures Jessica. He thinks she’s perfect the way she is. His weakness is that his billionaire status has made him withdraw socially. He tends to shut out everyone but Jessica and her family.

Alexis: Why and how does Jessica draw strength to hold herself together, from Liam?

Carol: Liam doesn’t bad mouth her ex-husband or tell Jessica she made a mistake. He looks out for her and anticipates her needs. The care that he shows her is so different from the way her ex put her down. She gains confidence in herself again because Liam values her.

Alexis: What is it about Jessica that inspired Liam to feel love for her since they were teens?

Carol: Liam was shorter than other boys his age when he started high school. Jessica was two years older and popular. Liam was bullied and Jessica stopped it. He was already crushing on her because she was pretty, and then she became his champion.

Why does Jessica only see Liam as a platonic friend, not a romantic partner?

Carol: Jessica grew up with Liam, who was the same age as her younger brother. She used to play tag and baseball with them when they were kids, until she became a teenager. Then her focus was on friends her own age. Her ex-husband asked her out when she was sixteen, and after that, her life centered around her relationship with him. He didn’t like her to spend time with Liam, so their friendship fell by the wayside.

Alexis: What lengths does Liam go to convince Jessica that there is hope for lasting love after divorce?

Carol: Liam tells Jessica that he is willing to wait and take their relationship at her pace, giving her time to heal before making a commitment to him.

Alexis: What inspires Liam and Jessica to give their not so platonic love a chance?

Once Jessica is aware of how Liam truly feels about her, she allows her little crush to flourish. Their attraction won’t be denied.

Alexis: What brings Liam together romantically and what (or who) threatens to tear them apart?

Carol: She attends a fundraiser ball with him. They are in awe of each other’s appearance and have a great time dancing. Afterwards, they have dinner at a restaurant and open their hearts up to each other. Jessica’s ex-husband keeps tabs on what she is doing and tries to interfere in her life.

Alexis: What role does faith and forgiveness play in this story?

Carol: Jessica and Liam are both trying to figure out God’s purpose in their lives. Liam needs to make decisions about his inheritance, and Jessica has to discover who she is after her divorce. They’ve made mistakes in past relationships and they want to honor God as they move forward as a couple. Jessica has to forgive Paul for his betrayal before she can move forward with Liam.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about The Reluctant Billionaire?

Carol: God can take our shattered dreams and piece them back together with love and acceptance, often giving us greater blessings than we had before.

Alexis: Complete this sentence: If I were not an author, I would try to be _______________ because ____________________________________________.

If I were not an author, I would try to be a chef because I love to create new recipes.

Thanks for the interview, Carol! Do you have closing comments to share?

Carol: The Reluctant Billionaire is my first full-length published novel. I also have a Christmas novella with a sequel coming out called next holiday season.

Author Bio:

Carol Underhill lives in rural Michigan a few miles from the farm where she grew up. She is mom to three adult children and a spoiled Lab. Her household also includes several rescued cats.

She likes finding new authors on Kindle and binge-reading all their books.

Carol rewards herself for meeting deadlines with a cup of fudge-flavored coffee.

She enjoys quiet mornings and spending time with her family.

Blurb for The Reluctant Billionaire:

With her husband’s ultimate betrayal, and the finalization of her divorce, Jessica Palmer’s dreams for her life go up in flames, leaving her devastated and lost. Now, she’s leaving Chicago and moving back into her parents’ house in an effort to rebuild her life.  

Longtime neighbor and friend, Liam Engstrom, is the only reason she hasn’t completely fallen apart, but the closer they get, the more she realizes the depth of his feelings.

Liam has loved Jessica since they were teens, but she never noticed him as more than a friend. Now that she’s single, he’s determined to show her how much he cares and that not all men are like her ex-husband--if she’ll let him.

Jessica is reluctant to trust again after what her husband did to her, and Liam refuses to be the rebound guy, but their attraction is hard to deny. So, together, with a little help from God, they decide to give love a chance. But between Liam’s recent inheritance and an unwanted public billionaire status that has people lining up with their hands out, and Jessica’s ex-husband monitoring her every move, their relationship is off to a rocky start. 
And when tragedy strikes, Liam pushes everyone away—including Jessica.

Can they both learn to forgive and grow, or are they doomed to be alone?

Buy Carol’s book on Amazon or Anaiah Press

Connect with Carol:

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

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Monday, April 19, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: A life lesson on learning to be content

The Journey of Contentment
A devotional by Angela Anderson

“...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” 
–Philippians 4:11 (NIV)

In today’s society, some may find it difficult to be content. With smart phones that grant immediate access to social media, television with countless commercials, and magazines overflowing with ads … there is always that looming pressure to keep up with the Joneses.

Someone is always more attractive or something is always more new and more improved. Even the things that we do not need or even care about somehow become a desire. The wishlist grows longer and longer over time with useless items that usually cost more than we would like to spend. It’s almost as though we are trying to fill a void, reach a level of status, or make ourselves feel better about life. I suppose that is why I entitled this devotional “The Journey of Contentment.” To be content is to be happy, at peace, or satisfied with the status quo. This type of behavior is learned and it takes practice to master contentment.

In the first book of Timothy 6:6-10, the Apostle Paul imparts words of wisdom regarding contentment. To paraphrase, he proclaims that serving God and doing what is right will make a person rich because it will result in contentment. He further counsels that we should be thankful and content with whatever we have. It is always good practice to recognize the blessing in what we have instead of getting caught up with satisfying foolish desires.

It is important to note that there is nothing wrong with desiring things or wanting to be better. The detriment is only when this is our primary concern. However, contentment is forward- focused. It looks into the future with hope for a brighter day. Contentment is fluid and should not be confused with complacency which is stagnant. Contentment comes with the understanding that the status quo is just a phase and you are passing through it. Complacency on the other hand is a lax attitude of just staying where you are without any effort or desire to move forward. I do not believe that God wants us to be complacent in our lives. We should be constantly striving toward excellence and becoming the best version of ourselves. God created us to be great. Contentment is finding that spiritual maturity and learning more about God as you navigate through different experiences in your life.

The Apostle Paul explains this the best in Philippians 4:11-13. He further explains that he has learned to be content in any circumstance that life brings his way. Moreover, he has experienced living on both ends of the spectrum: extreme need and having more than enough. He claims that he learned the secret of being happy wherever he is, whether he has little or much. He then boasts that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That is the key to contentment. No matter the circumstance, Jesus Christ will give you the strength to make it. Always remember that God will provide all of your needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).

Let’s Pray: Dear God, Thank you for being a God of provision. May we grow in Your love and develop a better understanding of what it means to be content. Remind us that we can do all things only because You give us the strength to do it. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

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, April 16, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Silence

When God Seems Silent
A devotional by Jessica Collazo

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” 
–Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)

There are times in our lives where we ask the Lord “Where are you?” “Why can’t I feel you?” “What do I do next, Lord?” I have uttered those words many times. However, as the years have passed, I have come to realize that things are not always what they seem.

I can say with all certainty that everyone in this world can agree on one thing: Life is hard!

No one is exempt from facing hardships. If anything, 2020 was proof that the entire world struggles and experiences hard times. And in the midst of those hard times, we look to see if the Lord is nearby. Is He really who He says He is? Will He really never leave me or forsake me? Especially when He seems silent.

I am currently studying the book of Esther and I have to say that as I read through the pages of this book, I can place myself in Esther’s shoes and must admit that I would absolutely be asking those questions.

Let’s stop and think about her life for a minute. Esther lost both her parents at a young age. She had to get accustomed to living with her uncle. She was living in a pagan land. She was forced into the beauty pageants of all beauty pageants. She had to hide her true identity for her personal safety. She spent an entire year getting ready to meet with the king. She lost her virginity in this beauty contest. She became a queen to foreign nation. She had to share her husband with all the runner ups of the pageant plus all of his other concubines he already had. It was mandatory that she must be summoned to see her husband or else, she could be sentenced to death. Her uncle (Mordecai) informed her of the eminent annihilation of the Jews and told her she must do something about this. She risked her life trying to save her people, and as a result had to reveal her true identity to the king (which could have resulted in her death). Whew...that is a lot to happen to one person! Also, if you have never read the entire book of Esther in the Bible, you’re welcome for this cliff notes version … just kidding, go read it. It’s fascinating!

Can you imagine all of the thoughts and emotions racing through Esther’s mind and heart? The uneasiness of it all, she must have wondered what the Lord was up to. If He was going to show up. We have the privilege of knowing how the story went for Esther. We know that God’s hand was all over the events happening at that time.

However, when it’s our own story, and we don’t know the ending, we struggle. We have this need to feel God. To know that He is helping us, and that He hasn’t left us. We have to remind ourselves that although it seems like the Lord is silent, He is actually making moves on our behalf, positioning us and others to take action when appropriate. He brings deliverance from where we least expect it. Healing to our mind, body and soul in ways that we could have not imagined.

We have to remember Deuteronomy 31:8. God goes before us and He does not leave or forsake us.

Friend, if you are going through a hard time right now, and feel like the Lord is being silent. I urge you to memorize today’s scripture reference. Repeat it to yourself over and over to remind yourself of God’s promise. Then, go read the book of Esther. See how the Lord was working the entire time, then ask Him to reveal to you the ways that He is working on your behalf.

Let’s Pray: Lord, today I pray for my friend who is struggling. I ask that you would reveal yourself and remind them that you are ever-present. May they realize that they are not alone! You are going before them. Father, bring peace to their heart and mind. Open their eyes to see your goodness and love surrounding them. 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, strategic way of thinking and 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 senior manager of operations 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, April 14, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Why we all could use some decluttering

Create in me

A devotional by Kay Pflueger

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” 
– Psalm 51:10 (ESV)

Organizing and decluttering our homes has become popular of late. Experts suggest if something does not bring us joy, we should toss it or donate it. We are encouraged to surround ourselves only with things we love. Unfortunately, it is not always an easy task to give up those things we have become attached to.

Last winter, God taught me a lesson on the value of clearing out clutter. A winter storm brought heavy rains and howling winds to San Diego. Trees were uprooted and power lines were downed. Winter had arrived with a show of force. As I looked out the front window of my apartment, I saw two tall pine trees sway and shake due to the strength of the winds. It was a bit unsettling, and I prayed that they were rooted deeply enough to not be blown over. When I opened the blinds the next morning, they had survived the storm, but I was startled by what I saw. The storm had cleared all the debris from those trees; the ground, the street and the cars parked by the curb were literally buried in dead pine needles. The healthy branches were now able to soak up the sun and continue their growth. What an interesting metaphor for our lives!

I am part of a healthy living group on Facebook and am participating in a “Decluttering” challenge within that group. Our goal is to focus each day on one specific area in our home to organize and remove unnecessary items. It has amazed me how much stuff I can cram into my tiny apartment. But it feels so good to tackle this issue. One task in this challenge was to clean out our junk drawer. You know which one I mean…the one filled with all those things we just cannot seem to throw away, but that we never use. I am glad I was alone while cleaning that drawer. I would not want anyone to see what was hidden there.

As I worked through that task, I sensed a tugging on my heart and a whisper from God that seemed to say “What about the junk drawer of your heart? What clutter might you find in there?” Whoa…that was not what I expected as I thought of decluttering! What habits and thoughts that are not God honoring had I kept hidden from others? If I opened that drawer, what would I find? Jealousy...envy...anger…pride...stubbornness?

My thoughts went back to that winter storm. I recalled the words of Psalm 51, particularly verse 10: “Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.” The storms that blow through our lives have a purpose. Maybe they come to clear the debris that is cluttering our lives and to give us an opportunity to grow.

The words of Psalm 51 are ones of lament and of confession. King David had been confronted by the prophet Nathan regarding his sin with Bathsheba, and he went to the Lord humbly asking for forgiveness and for release from his guilt. He wanted God to cleanse his heart and to instill and new spirit within him. Just as we clear our homes of the clutter of day-to-day living, so should we ask God, as David did, to clear the clutter of sin from within our hearts.

Let’s Pray: Lord, I know I have stored things in my heart that are not pleasing to you. Help me to open my heart to you so that you can clear that clutter from within. Renew me with your life-giving spirit today and always. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen

*Note from Alexis: Kay’s devotional today reminds me of the song by Donnie McClurkin titled “Create in Me a Clean Heart.” Listen to it and be blessed! 

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, April 13, 2021

Romantic Reads: Beyond Justice

The Story behind Beyond Justice by Cara Putman:

Beyond Justice was my first legal romantic suspense. 

This book was a little different from the others because editors were asking me for a legal proposal. One thing that I learned early in my writing process is that I have to find an idea I can fall in love with for two years. Yep, you read that right. Two years. It takes roughly two years to go from building the proposal to writing and editing the book then through marketing the book as it releases. I knew I had to find an idea with Beyond Justice that could carry me through that space of time.

I was very deliberate about working toward that idea.

I quickly had the idea that the series would focus on a group of friends who became close in law school. Each book allowed a different woman to step forward as the heroine, and because I set the books in Alexandria, Virginia, I had immense flexibility about what they could do with their law degree. Each book wouldn’t have to be a courtroom driven drama.

But I still needed the hook for Beyond Justice. What would be the quest that Hayden, the first heroine, embarks on? What would motivate her to change throughout the course of the book?

It started with a headline. The United States was experiencing a flood of unaccompanied minor illegal aliens – a theme that is repeating in headlines now. I began to wonder what that experience was like for the children and young adults. How should we care for them when they entered the country? Then I saw the photo of the Syrian refuge toddler who drowned while fleeing with his family. Combined, these different stories made me think. What would it take to make a mother believe that her child was better off taking the horrific risks both journeys involved to reach the freedom offered by another country? And what if a child died while in custody of the United States at a detention facility? Those questions became the genesis of Beyond Justice.

I added in a feisty heroine, a strong hero, and layers of problems. The result is a book I hope you will enjoy reading.

Be sure to click here to read the first five chapters of Beyond Justice.

Author Bio:
Since the time she could read Nancy Drew, Cara has wanted to write mysteries. In 2005 she attended a book signing at her local Christian bookstore. The rest, as they say, was history. 

There she met a fellow Indiana writer Colleen Coble. With prompting from her husband, Cara shared her dream with Colleen. Since those infamous words, Cara’s been writing award-winning books. She is currently writing book 35 and dreaming up future books, not hard when she sees what-ifs everywhere. 

Cara Putman is an active member of ACFW and gives back to the writing community through her service on Executive Board. She has also been the Indiana ACFW chapter president and served as the Area Coordinator for Indiana.

Cara is also an attorney, full-time lecturer at a Big Ten university, active in women's ministry, and all around crazy woman. Crazy about God, her husband and her kids that is. 

She graduated with honors from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Go Huskers!), George Mason Law School, and Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. 

You can learn more about Cara at

Book Blurb for Beyond Justice:

Hayden McCarthy is on track to become the youngest partner in her prestigious D.C. law firm . . . if the case she's just been handed doesn't destroy her first. 

Hayden McCarthy knows firsthand the pain when justice is not served. It's why she became an attorney and why she's so driven in her career. When she's assigned a wrongful death case against the government, she isn't sure if it's the lucky break she needs to secure a partnership—or an attempt to make sure she never gets there.

Further complicating matters is Andrew, her roommate’s distractingly attractive cousin. But Andrew’s father is a Congressman, and Hayden's currently taking on the government. Could the timing be any worse?

The longer she keeps the case active, the higher the stakes become. Unknown enemies seem determined to kill the case—or her. Logic and self-preservation would indicate she should close the case. But how can she, when justice is still just beyond her reach?

Monday, April 12, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Dinner

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me.”
– Matthew 26:23 (NLT)

Have you noticed the Bible talks a lot about meals? I’m not complaining by any means. This girl loves her food and even more so when I can enjoy that food in the company of good friends or family. Gathering together, especially for meals has always been a great way to connect with others and, much like Biblical times, many significant events happen around a table.

In the Bible we see that sharing a meal together is one of the primary ways relationships are established, deepened, and enjoyed both with God and with others. Old Testament prophets often compared life in the new heavens and earth with the picture of a divine banqueting table. In the New Testament, we regularly find Jesus “reclining” at a table during His earthly ministry, engaging with real people, furthering His kingdom work, fostering true community, demonstrating reconciliation with God, and building genuine fellowship among His disciples.

While we see that eating or gathering together is important, what might be more important is who we gather with. If we are going to establish, deepen and enjoy relationships around the table there must be others at the table. And who those people are matters. In fact, we can often tell a lot about a person by the people they hang around with. Typically, we tend to gather with people who are a lot like us – think like us, believe like us, maybe look like us, etc.

This got me thinking about those Jesus fellowshipped with while He was on earth. Jesus loved to hang out with people that made the Pharisees uncomfortable. It’s part of what got Him killed. Certainly, when you look at his closest crew, they were people that if we simply looked on the surface, might make us scratch our heads.

My study Bible has a chart that lists occupations, qualities and traits of the disciples and it’s somewhat comical to read through. Among the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ was Matthew the despised tax collector, James described as short-tempered and judgmental, Thomas the doubter, and Peter who was impulsive and disowned Christ three times. Yet they were all part of His ride or die crew – the ones He went everywhere with! It makes me feel good to read some of the people Jesus chose to spend time with – it gives me hope that maybe, in spite of my less-than-stellar traits, He would choose to spend time or share a meal with me too.

But, let’s not forget Judas, the betrayer. He too was in Jesus’s inner circle, part of His ride or die team. Judas was there for the miracles and the ministry. He saw the healings and heard Christ’s teaching. And he also had a seat at the table with Jesus many times during His ministry, including at the Last Supper. In fact, if we read the entire account of the Last Supper in the Matthew 26:20-30, we see in verse 25 that Jesus lets Judas know that He knows Judas will betray Him. Yet none of the disciples do or say anything in reaction to this statement. This would lead you to believe that Judas was sitting very close to or right next to Jesus at the table during the Last Supper—close enough for Jesus to say this and no one else to hear.

I also find it fascinating that the disciples were asking “Am I the one, Lord?” This indicates the disciples had no clue who the betrayer was and that they each knew they had the potential to be unfaithful, to be a betrayer, to Jesus as well. In fact, it wasn’t long after that they scattered and even denied knowing Jesus. If we are honest, we all have the capacity to be unfaithful, a bad friend. Recognizing this should prompt us to extend understanding and offer grace when others let us down and, yes, even invite them to our table.

Their questions also tell us that Jesus must not have treated Judas any differently during their time together. Nobody suspected Judas was the betrayer because, despite knowing that Judas would betray him, Jesus loved and treated Judas the same way He did the rest of the disciples. Every meal they shared, every conversation they had, every road they walked together Jesus knew Judas would betray Him, yet Jesus never treated Judas any differently.

Let’s be honest, how many of us would dine at the table with a person that we knew was going to betray us and hand us over to die? And how many of us would bend down before them and wash their dirty, dusty feet as we discover Jesus did in John’s account of the Last Supper?

Until we learn how to sit at the table with people who are like Judas, we’ll never fully understand the love of Jesus. If we want to love like Jesus and not simply be loved by Him, we must figure out how to reconcile our differences and personal agendas and accept everyone at our table – the person who votes differently than we do, the person who looks differently than we do, the person who loves differently than we do. We must learn how to sit at the table with our “Judas” and love them like Jesus did.

Let’s Pray: Loving Savior, thank You for Your unconditional love and abounding grace that You offer freely for everyone. Help me to search myself and locate those places where I am holding back love or withholding grace so I can open up the floodgates allowing both to flow without restraint. I want to open my heart to others without reservation, without hesitation and without inhibition so I am a vessel for Your overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love. In Jesus’s mighty name I pray. Amen. 

*Note from Alexis: Cyndi's devotional message reminds me of this "Nobody" song by Casting Crowns, featuring Matthew West. Listen to it here.

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:

Friday, April 9, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Advocacy

Advocacy is a Spiritual Imperative
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” 
–Proverbs 31:9 (KJV)

Lately the news has been filled with horrible stories of abuse. Rogue police officers facing trial for flagrant abuses of power. Scenes of thousands of children seeking asylum at the southern border of the United States.

Yesterday, I saw the film of a huge man, seemingly unprovoked, kicking an old woman. Even after she was down on the sidewalk, he kept kicking her. What was most galling to me was that there were three men standing within 30 feet of the incident. They did nothing to intervene! Nor did they help the woman after the aggressor left her, wounded and broken, on the sidewalk. Watching the news has often left me wondering about what my role and responsibility in the world is. What do you do when you witness struggling humanity?

The wise writer of Proverbs gives an answer. If you can’t do anything else, open your mouth and say something! To “judge righteously” means to litigate, condemn, avenge, defend, judge, and plead for what is right, equitable, righteous and just.

It is a spiritual imperative to do something to uplift the poor and the needy. The poor among us are not just those with no money or means of earning money. Scripturally, the poor includes those who are depressed in mind or circumstance. In this mindset, a person of means can be poor. The men who did nothing in the above story, by virtue of their social location, were privileged. They may have been in shock, seeing what they saw, but, they were also morally impoverished. Rather than aid the injured woman, one of them closed the door to the building.

I know that many companies tell their employees not to intervene in crisis moments like this. Passivity in moments like these protect the company from liability. I get it, but civility and chivalry demand that someone should have intervened.

When George Floyd was killed on the street in Minneapolis, bystanders were pleading with the policemen to let him up. They lived out the meaning of Proverbs 31:9. They spoke up with righteous indignation. The world watched the horror of that murder. We also saw the bravado of Darnella Frazier the young woman who stood nearby, recorded and published the video. We all heard her, repeatedly, implore, plead and beg for the life of a man she did not know.

As you enter your day, every day, may the instruction of Solomon be resident and reflexive within you. If and when you witness a wrong, intervene! Speak up! Condemn the wrong and speak right into the world. Plead the cause of the poor and needy. Right and righteousness is risky. But silence in the face of evil and wrong demands a higher price. 

J. S. Mills poignantly wrote, “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” Edmund Burke, with some debate, is credited with a similar and more popular statement by David Bromwich: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

As you go through the day, remember these words spoken by Eugene H. Peterson: “Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the misfits.”

If you see something, say something!

Let’s Pray: Dear God, please be with us today. Give us the gumption to change the world around us by making a difference for the people closest to us. If we are met with or see an injustice, drive us to speak up and call out the wrong. If we see someone being marginalized, convict us to step up in their defense. And when we act at your promptings, protect us and deliver us from evil. 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,