Monday, May 31, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Pride


Pride is an Enemy of Love
A devotional by Gena Anderson

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” –James 4:6 (NKJV)

I once prided myself on being my family’s chief financial officer. When I began struggling to maintain, I first attempted to fix our finances by myself, then conceal them, and later blame them on my husband. Like a pudgy dog trying to jump on the couch, the weight of the struggle became too much, and when I fell flat on my face I was forced to see how low my pride had sunken me. Finding humility, I asked God and my husband for help.

Barely making ends meet, buried in debt, my husband and I worked together to rebuild and submit our money to God. I created a tight budget that fit like my Spanx, and prayerfully followed a plan to get into the black. After months of chipping away at bills the time came to revisit the budget and make use of some newfound wiggle room. Reworking the numbers, I yearned to use the new surplus on something indulgent, perhaps a night out or pedicure, but I knew what took priority.

From my view at the bottom of the financial ditch I saw the root issue: tithing. We were giving a comfortable amount, but God wants us to give freely and generously, promising abundance in return as He says to us in Luke 6:38 and Proverbs 11:24. In my realization of complete humility I had asked God to help me increase our tithe to an amount unimaginable in our broken state, and committed to getting there. This was the first opportunity toward generous giving, and I was ready. I allotted almost half of our long-awaited gain to tithe, knowing that investment would pay better dividends than a meal at Chilis.

Later that week I revisited the budget and realized I had miscalculated. Missing a monthly deposit, I undercalculated our income. We actually had a surplus double my original figure. After all the financial stress and penny-pinching this find was a God-sent gift, and I heard God’s message loud and clear: His ways are superior, and we benefit more by submitting and giving to Him than we do by withholding. I learned to love God instead of money and shed the weight of pride, gaining a pressed down, shaken together, running over gift that remains still.

James 4:6 says God resists the proud but blesses the humble beyond what they deserve. Reading that verse, I wondered what God finds so detestable about pride that he resists the prideful. Then I remembered, my pride led to financial destruction and sin, and humility was what ignited reparation. I believe that pride is more divisive in the church than adultery, murder, abortion, and any other headline issue, because it is the fuel behind all of those things and the root of selfish desires.

Pride is . . . trying to do it all and not asking for help . . . putting today’s achievement over eternal investment . . . finding satisfaction and pleasure in self over God . . . wanting to be saved without admitting the need for a Savior.

Christians like to hide our dirty laundry. The world needs to see our brokenness in order to witness God’s work in our lives and know they aren’t the only ones struggling. James reminds us God resists diving into our stinky pile of dirty clothes as long as we hide it, but brings powerful, heavenly-scented detergent to clean it all up when we release pride.

Christians sometimes struggle to work together, taking God’s design of a servant heart and twisting it into overbearing church volunteers that seek control and offer criticism. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says our gifts and talents are useless without love. The humble love of God and others over ourselves is one that collaborates with and offers praise to their brothers and sisters.

People who love others as Jesus loves them (John 15:12) sift out and remove pride. This is not a call to shame, but to repentance. Tara-Leigh Cobble said on The Bible Recap, “confident humility is when you’re not building or beating yourself up.” God loves us enough to forgive and forget any sin that’s confessed and turned from.

Humility is the elevation of God, more than it is the lowering of self, and what is the church if not adept at raising up the name of the one we claim to praise? Ask yourself and God today how you’ve let pride overshadow love. Humble yourself so God can exalt you (James 4:10), and be filled with a love so great it will spill out to the world.

Let’s Pray:
Lord, you are the only one who can be and do it all. Open my eyes to see where I’ve allowed pride to divide and destroy my life. Forgive me and help me to do better. Thank you for your never ending love and patience with me, help me to offer the same to those in my path today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Gena Anderson is a Jesus-lover, writer, nurse practitioner, and blogger who loves to share wellness information and inspiration with the world around her. 


She is the author of The Well Woman: A Journey to Wellness Through Loving Jesus, which is available on Amazon.com.

Gena proudly holds the title of wife, mom, and the world’s most average CrossFitter. She loves writing, reading, traveling, and brownies. She's working on that last one.

Gena lives in Hutto, Texas with her husband and two children.

~*~
Connect with Gena:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wellwoman.blog
Website: well-woman-blog.com
Email: wellwomanbook@gmail.com

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Podcast interview with Ginny Owens

Listen to this episode of the Ready to Thrive podcast, featuring Christian music recording artist Ginny Owens! It will inspire and encourage your heart. God loves you, dear heart!


Friday, May 28, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Focus


Where is Your Focus?
A devotional by Tema Banner

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”
 –2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (NIV)

Whatever consumes your every thought, therein is your god and the very thing that will pull you away from God. Our generation has never seen a world more battered than now. On every front we are stressed: marriages, children, finances, the list is endless. The devil uses these situations to pull us away from what is most important. This is nothing new, it is what he has always done.

He can be subtle. You might not initially see the things he uses to pull you away: politics, business, the cares of life, health, even church activities. The devil will use everything that is going on in the world today to get your attention and make you worry when God has told you not to worry about anything, but to take everything to Him in prayer (Philippians 4:6). As Christians, we love to quote 2 Chronicles 7:14, but if you read verse 13 you will see that it is speaking about a country being bombarded by pandemics and famine. Sound familiar?

There really is “nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Instead of only quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14, why not live it out in our own lives every day? Take our eyes off those things that bring fear, distress and confusion into our lives. It may be the news, strained relationships, children dealing with school issues or addictions, failed finances, an unknown future. The devil deals in fear and confusion, God does not. When you see the world in confusion and when you see yourself being pulled into confusion, realize it is the work of the devil, the one who hates God and hates us. Turn your eyes back to Jesus Christ who is the lover of your soul.

Perhaps you have gotten away from reading scripture, maybe you are focused on watching TV and the most recent news report. The news is the same day in and day out. Instead of watching TV, turn it and social media off. Take that time to open your Bible, read a devotion, pray with a friend, sit in silence, and ask God to speak to you. There is nothing He desires more than to communicate with us. He created us to have relationship and to glorify Him. We do this when we sit in His presence.

It is not always easy to be still. I find it difficult because I allow other things to get in my way: washing clothes, cleaning the house, walking the dog. I make excuses for things that need to be done instead of being still and knowing that He is God and experiencing Him.

The world tells us that we must be busy all the time, but that is a lie. What we need more than anything is to be like Mary and to sit at Jesus feet instead of like Martha – busy and worried about things that are unimportant. (Read the full story in Luke 10:38-42). I can say this because I am a Martha, always thinking I must fill every minute of every day with activity and feeling guilty if I am not industrious all the time.

What I need is to hear Jesus speak to my heart to remove the confusion and stress of a world in chaos. Remember all the gifts God has brought into your life, think of the beauty of His creation, rejoice in the salvation He has provided by the gift of His son, Jesus Christ. Know that He loves you deeply and no matter what the future holds, He will be with you every step of the way.

Let’s Pray: Father God, thank you! Thank you for your never ending, unstoppable love for your creation of which I am one. Thank you for the blessings you daily shower on me. May Your Holy Spirit fill me with greater love each day for you and those you put in my path. Keep my eyes and heart focused on you, let my ears be attuned to your voice so that I will not fear or be confused. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

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


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

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

God has gifted her with a loving husband, two children and four grandchildren who are the delight of her life.  

In her spare time, she gardens and digs into genealogy for nuggets to use in her stories.

~*~
Connect with Tema:
Website: https://temabannerauthor.com
Blog: www.temabannerauthor.com/blog
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/temabanner/
Facebook: https://facebook.com/tema.banner

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Friendship


A Sweet Friendship
A devotional by Heidy De La Cruz

“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
and the pleasantness of a friend
springs from their heartfelt advice."
–Proverbs 27:9 (NIV)

The Bible talks about different types of relationships: marriage, parental, and friendships.

It talks about the importance of each one and how the structure should be. We don’t choose our family members, but we do choose our friends, and I want to say that friendships are meaningful relationships in our lives.

We make friends in different stages of our lives because we meet people everywhere we go, but some of us are blessed enough to have one or two friendships that have gone through almost all stages of our lives. And I’m blessed to have a friendship like that.

The friend I’m talking about (I won’t mention any names) I met in middle school, and I want to say we instantly bonded, but I don’t quite remember now how exactly we became friends. I do know we played sports together, all through middle school and through high school. We were always at each other houses, and we spend almost all of the summer vacations together. She was someone who was always there for me in a time of need, to wipe my tears or make me laugh. I felt like I had a personal counselor because she always knew just what to say.

When I found out I was pregnant, at the age of 20, with no stable job and no place to go, she opened up her home to me. Although it was a small house, a little crowded with all of us there, she still welcomed me and gave me a roof over my head. That is something I will never forget, and I will forever be grateful to her. God places people in your lives for a reason. Sometimes it’s just for a season, but sometimes it’s for longer. And I am so thankful for my friendship with her.

I value our honest relationship, and I’ll never take it for granted. We may not talk every day, but when we do, it’s like nothing has changed. Of course, we’ve had our disagreements just like any other relationship has, but we always find a way to forgive each other and move on. And although we live in different states, the distance has not mattered when it comes to our friendship; it is as strong today as it was back when we met in middle school.

We aren’t meant to walk alone in this life. I mean, yes, God is always with us, but He created us for community and for relationships. God created us to be together. Today, I want to honor those special friendships I have in my life and for you to do the same. Think of someone who has been there for you through really rough times, someone who knew the right thing to say to make you feel better, or someone who was there in a desperate time of need. Let them know that you are thankful for them. Let them know that you value them and that you love them. 

In closing, please open The Holy Bible and read Proverbs 27:9 (NIV) because this verse is a beautiful reminder of how beautiful friendships can be.

Let’s Pray: God, thank you for the friends you’ve placed in my life. Thank you for the memories I’ve created with them, and thank you even for the ones who are no longer a part of my life now but once were. Because at one point, I needed those people in life for a reason. Lord, I trust that the friendships I have now will continue and stay true until the end of time. 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:
Blog: https://heidyreynoso.wordpress.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heidy.delacruz13/
Read my poetry on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heidyspoems/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/heidyreynoso13
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heidyreynoso13

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Romantic Reads: To Save a King


Interview with Rachel Hauck about her book,
To Save a King (True Blue Royal Book 2):

Congratulations on your May 5 book release! Let’s talk about it …

Alexis: Why would you call this book a modern-day fairy tale of hope and rescue?

Rachel: Well, any story with a prince is a “modern-day fairy tale.” But royalty are as human as any of us and life doesn’t leave them alone. In this story, the prince lost the love of his life and the heroine, Gemma, has lost her dream and in her mind, her dignity. Neither one wants love but their unlikely friendship changes everything.

Alexis: Use words to paint a picture of your story’s setting. What is it called? What makes this place special to your characters?

Rachel: The first half of the book is set in middle Tennessee which is lush, green, beautiful and hot. The second half is set in Lauchtenland, my fictional country set in the North Sea. It’s ancient, picturesque, a blend of English, German and Swedish culture.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine, Gemma Stone. Why does she dream of being famous and rich? Who does she love and who does she not like? Describe her looks, personality and heart.

Rachel:
She wants to make a difference in the world. She is beautiful and thinks a career in Hollywood will open doors for her. But she loses herself in the shallowness of having to look and act a certain way. She ends up doing something she would never do before.

Alexis: How did Gemma end up running a rescue ranch and raising her friends’ orphaned daughter?

Rachel: She didn’t know it but Imani’s parents made Gemma her guardian should anything happen to them. Since they were young and healthy, no one expected either of them to die. Their short lives left a daughter. Gemma is just home from Las Vegas and the worst experience of her life. She needs Imani as much as Imani needs her.

Alexis: Let’s talk about the hero of our story, His Royal Highness (HRH) Crown Prince John. What are his greatest strengths and worst weaknesses? Describe his looks, personality and heart.

Rachel: He’s military trained, on the brawny side, and has dark hair. He’s very kind and generous and smart. He’s also hurting.

Alexis: What brings Prince John to Hearts Bend? What does he like about that special place?

Rachel: His mother, the queen, sends him on an errand. He likes Hearts Bend because he feels he can be a regular bloke.

Alexis: What were Prince John’s first thoughts about Gemma when they met?

Rachel: He liked her. A lot. But love was not on his mind. 

Alexis: What are the themes of this book? Why?

Rachel: The theme is layered but I think it’s about God being with us in our darkest moments.

Alexis:
How did your real-life faith in God affect your fictional storytelling in this case?

Rachel: I’m interested in a friendship with God and His purposes on the Earth. In some ways, that desire influences all my stories. But the spiritual journey is unique to each book.

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

Rachel: I hope To Save a King is fun, entertaining and hope-filled.

Alexis: Complete this sentence: If I were not a successful NYT bestselling author, I’d try to be a ___________________ because I _____________________________.

Rachel:
If I were not a successful NYT bestselling author, I’d try to be a broadcaster because I like talking.

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

Rachel: Thanks for having me!

~*~
Author Bio:

Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. 

She is a double RITA finalist, and a Christy and Carol Award winner. Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in the Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie. Three more of her titles are under film contract.

Rachel was awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews.

A retired member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Executive Board, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of the Year.

In the real world, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically.

A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day.

She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.

~*~
Back cover blurb for To Save a King:

A modern-day fairy tale of hope and rescue from NYT bestselling author Rachel Hauck 


After growing up in small-town Hearts Bend, Tennessee, Gemma Stone set off to Hollywood to make her mark in the world.

But her ambition turned into a journey of a “thousand” bad decisions and after twelve years of seeking fame and fortune, Gemma returns home with a limp and a dark secret.

Now she runs a rescue ranch and is raising her friends’ orphaned daughter. She’s keenly aware these defenseless ones are also rescuing her. She just wants to stay hidden in the safe world she’s created.

HRH Crown Prince John has learned a royal title cannot shield him from heartbreak. As heir to the revered House of Blue and married to the love of his life, he believed his future reign would strengthen the royal dynasty of Lauchtenland. Then tragedy changed everything. Can anything save him from his grief?

When he travels to Hearts Bend on a mission for his mother, Queen Catherine, he’s drawn into the local life and cajoled into a three-legged race with the beautiful Gemma Stone during the 4th of July festivities.

While the event has a disastrous result, Prince John and Gemma form a quick friendship—one of two wounded souls finding comfort in one other. However, love is absolutely not an option. John desperately wants to hold onto the memories of his wife, and Gemma refuses to trust her heart to any man. Even a prince.

Then Prince John is called home for an emergency. How can he leave the woman who lifted him from his sorrows? But can Gemma join him on a royal stage and risk her secret coming to light?

With a touch of divine help, Prince John and Gemma just might find the kind of love that saves and ultimately write their very own fairy tale.

To Save a King is book two in the True Blue Royal series.

~*~
Buy Rachel’s book on Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes and Noble, or Kobo

~*~
Connect with Rachel:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/rachelhauck
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rachelhauck
Instagram: www.instagram.com/rachelhauck
Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/rachelhauck
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rachel-hauck

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 24, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Gratitude


A Grateful Heart
A devotional by Glynis Becker

“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.” –Isaiah 61:3 (NLT)

A few weeks ago we went to see the local high school’s spring musical. This was the first live production we’ve attended since February 2020 and it was everything I wanted it to be: energetic, fun, funny. It was a hand-clapping, toe-tapping, hum-under-your-breath good time. We saw many people we knew and chatted with friends we hadn’t seen in more than a year. I was grateful to be there.

But the greatest wave of intense, almost overwhelming gratitude came to me at the strangest time that evening. When I left the theatre at intermission and stood in line—a relatively long line—for the ladies’ room, I was overcome. It felt so normal! I have stood in a lot of lines at concerts, conventions, supermarkets, or movies, but never have I ever thought it was a blessing in disguise. Usually it’s just a nuisance. But the normality of waiting in a long line with so many strangers was a beautiful thing and I admit that I breathed a prayer of gratitude.

I love it when a circumstance that could be a source of grumbling and complaint suddenly becomes something different. A change in perspective can take the mundane and possibly annoying and turn it into a holy moment. I believe shifts like those are the Spirit’s way of reminding us that He has always been in the business of turning ashes into “a crown of beauty.”

These verses in Isaiah were the prophet’s words to Israel at a time of exile, judgement and hardship. But these are verses of hope, letting the people know that God would not only bring them through their circumstances, He would ultimately bless them in ways they wouldn’t imagine.

Their ashes would not only be removed from their foreheads but He would put a crown in their place.

Their mourning would not just be over, but they would be given a “joyous blessing” instead.

Their despair would not just be gone, they would break out into “festive praise.”

Aren’t those wonderful promises? Our world has been through a lot over the last year and we might feel tempted to lose hope. But don’t. God sees us. Jesus knows us. We’ve been given the Spirit as the ultimate Comforter and He wants us to take advantage of it. Run to Him and He will give you the comfort, strength, peace, protection, and help that you need.

Let’s allow Him to walk us through these hard times, but never forget the last part of those verses: the Lord plants us as oaks “for His own glory.” He blesses us for His own glory. He deserves all of the “festive praise” for whatever blessings He gives us.

Especially the blessings that come when we least expect them.

Let’s Pray: Father God, thank you so much for those quiet moments where You show up in unexpected ways. Thank you for blessings and promises we can hold onto on hard days and the ability to share those blessings with others. Allow us to be used by You every day. You deserve all praise and honor and glory always. 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 www.glynisbecker.com.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: When words are sweet like honey


Words Like Honey
A devotional by Jessica Collazo

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” 
–Proverbs 16:24 (ESV)

When I was younger the saying “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me” was consistently used on the playground and in my classrooms. However, they were very hollow words when both as a child and now as an adult, I could see and feel the ramifications of hurtful words.

I cannot begin to tell you how many times someone has quoted Proverbs 18:21 to me, “The tongue has the power of life and death (NIV).” I am sure that you have probably been told this a time or two as well. I also have used this verse numerous times to address the effects that someone’s words had in a particular situation.

What I was not aware of until recently, and probably mostly because it did not dawn on me, was that the same verse that has been quoted to me in an effort to help me be kind to others is also a warning to myself. I am quick to stop others from speaking about themselves in a negative manner, but I don’t know if I ever realized the damage that I was causing to myself every time I was being critical of myself.

When I stumbled across Proverbs 16:24 recently, I was able to really comprehend the impact that my critical words have on my body and soul as well as my overall health. If I truly think about it, how many times have I gone round and round in my head about a conversation that went sideways, or questioned something that I said over and over again. That continual over analyzation did not provide me any type of comfort or rest and I am sure that you can relate.

Gracious words bring life into any situation. Gracious words allow others to see Christ in the midst of it all and most importantly allow me to see God move in some hard places. Gracious words are not an excuse to not address difficult behaviors, it’s an opportunity to understand God’s grace for us.

The Lord literally gave us the tools we need to help our souls be at peace and our bodies be healthy. (Sidenote: I am not talking to anyone who has a medically diagnosed condition, I am talking to those who always have something negative to say about themselves or others.)

How kind is the Lord to us, that he provides us the words of wisdom in the book of Proverbs that not only give us life but also teach us how our words bring health to our soul and bodies.

As you go about your day/week, please remember that the Lord wants you to be gracious with the words you speak over yourself. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself the opportunity to experience the sweetness of grace that comes over your body and soul when your words bring life to whatever situation you are facing.

Let’s Pray: Father God, thank you so much that you are mindful of us and take care of our every need. Lord, I pray that we would see how you want your grace to flow in and through us. Therefore, please help us to speak life and kindness wherever we find ourselves today. Bless all who are reading this prayer today and allow them to speak gracious words to themselves as well as others. 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:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_jessicacollazo/
Website: https://jessicacollazo.com

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Love


Love Like God
A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.” 
–Luke 6:32-35a (NIV)

There are plenty of passages in the Bible that take some work to understand but this passage above definitely does not. Jesus Christ is letting us know the rules: “You want to be a Christian? Follow me, do as I do, do as the Father does.”

Jesus is calling us here to be more than just countercultural in how we treat our fellow humans; He's showing us how to reset secular culture to reflect the culture of His kingdom. The world tells us to hate our enemies. We are to love them instead.

But what does that look like, loving an enemy? Is it saying “bless your heart” and ignoring them when they irk or anger us? Is it walking away from a fight? Not suing someone when we could? Not repaying their unkindness with some of our own? Yes, but it’s more heart-deep. We can curb our actions out in the world a whole lot easier than the thoughts in our heads and the feelings in our hearts. It’s easy enough to deny that we hate someone, but harder to not feel that hate, to not have hateful thoughts.

In this world, there are some truly terrible humans. How are we to love them? Billy Graham said, “You cannot pray for someone and hate them at the same time.” There I think we have the first and probably the best way to love those that hate us. Pray for them earnestly. Not the “Dear Lord, please forgive these fools for their foolishness...” sort of prayer either. Pray for them as if they were a loved one. See if you can start with words and follow with feelings.

Remember that every single person on this earth is made in the image of God.

Irrespective of their ethnicity, culture, creed, lifestyle, or habits, they are an image-bearer. All of us have people in our lives who challenge us, even actively hate us. When next faced with that person, try to lead with love (be patient, kind, longsuffering...) and have a Gospel-centered mind going into that interaction. If your particular problem person is not a believer, they’re lost, and you may be the person that God has placed in their life to help them understand repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Wow. That’s both an awesome responsibility and a privilege. How you treat them matters. How you feel about them matters.

The next time you’re tempted to lash out when wounded, or ridicule when made fun of, or criticize when criticized, think about the standard that Jesus sets in the verses above. Love everyone. Give freely, expecting no return. Do good to all. The bar is high, and we’re obviously still persevering on the road toward sanctification, but believers see the path as lighted by His Word. When we show love to those who hate us, we shine the light of the Gospel for a world in desperate need of direction.

Let’s Pray: Father God, please help us love, give freely, and do good in all the places in this world where you have sent us. Help us to spread the Gospel with our every word and deed. 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:
Website: www.christamacdonald.com
Newsletter: https://christamacdonald.com/connect-with-christa/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1538432676468229/
Amazon: https://amzn.to/33uk329
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CricketMacD
Christa's book publisher: http://mountainbrookink.com/about-us/authors/christa-macdonald/

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Romantic Reads: ‘Til I Want No More


Interview with Robin W. Pearson about her new novel, 
‘Til I Want No More:

Congratulations on penning such a poignant second novel! Let’s talk about it …

Alexis: I love how your story’s heroine, Maxine, is a writer and that she has her own column! How did you create this role for her? Did you pull from any real-life inspiration for this?

Robin: Maxine is creative, whiny, introspective, faithful, family-oriented, passionate, fearful, and fun loving. Yes, I’d say I drew from a teeny bit of “real-life inspiration.” Just like my main character, I once dreamed of writing a national column on parenting, a subject I blog about. Also, Maxine communicates best through her writing and feels safe hiding in plain sight in front of her readers. I poured into her some of my own strengths and weaknesses, as well as my desire to be truly loved and known.

Alexis: Maxine is a woman keeping a deep secret that could rock her world as she knows it. What was it like creating this backstory and how do you see it making Maxine the woman she is today?

Robin: In a way, Maxine’s backstory—her rebellious childhood and current struggles—are a metaphor for the way we strain against godly wisdom and love. Her secrets represent the burdens we all carry, things we feel we can’t share with anyone for fear of judgment, reprisal, or due to our own self-recrimination. Often, we think redemption is something we can earn or the result of some physical change and can’t accept it when it’s freely given. These thoughts hinder our ability to live forgiven and accepted by God.

Alexis: Why does Maxine believe that her dad was the only person who really knew and loved her?

Robin: Maxine has an idealistic, even unrealistic, view of her childhood. She sees everything about her life as perfect before her father died. No rebellious teenage years, no memories of running away from home, no rejection or abandonment, no mistakes. When she lost her father, it sent her life into a tailspin that led to both her searching for and losing love. Her desire for that typical, nuclear family—mother, father, sibling, dog—shows our need for God, our Abba Father, who knows us intimately, loves us unconditionally, and provides everything we need.

Alexis: Who is JD and what role does he play in this story?

Robin: JD gives young Maxine’s wandering heart a home, or so she thinks. He accepts her, helps her feel she’s worthy of love, and gives her name meaning. Though he in essence is the same person when he returns years later, his presence has the opposite effect: He turns her world upside down. Since Maxine considers herself unlovable and unforgivable, she struggles to embrace what he has always offered her—wrapped up in a good-looking package!

Alexis:
Why is diversity in Christian fiction important to you? How did you intentionally portray this in your story? Briefly explain the racial makeup of each of your main characters.

Robin:
Though we authors write about the same truths in Christian fiction, we need diverse thoughts, perspectives, and characters to complete the picture, to expand what and how we learn and express our faith. I write what I know; I share my own background. And my experience is filled with all kinds of people—yes, most of whom look, eat, and sound like me.

But what completes “me” extends beyond the nine folks who regularly gather around my kitchen table. They include my extended family, brothers and sisters in Christ, other writers, the people at the grocery store, my audience and my readers… Putting all these faces and cultures in my stories, whether they’re black, white, and Cuban like the characters in ’Til I Want No More, reflects real life, which helps connect us, not divide us.

Alexis:
Tell us about Theodore. Describe his looks, personality and heart. What is his motivation?

Robin: Theodore Franklin Charles is a cutie with sandy-colored, curly hair who hails from New Orleans, Louisiana. He moved to Mount Laurel when he took a job as the headmaster of a private school there. He senses Maxine’s desire for a strong leader in her life, and he steps right into the role of father figure because he’s used to running things and taking care of people. Intensely loyal, Theodore adores her and thinks he’s helping her by anticipating her every need and thought and speaking for her. He believes the two share the same commitment to family, and he considers her honest and na├»ve, qualities that appeal to him.

Alexis: What is it about Theodore that moved Maxine to say “yes” when he proposed?

Robin:
Theodore loved the person who Maxine wanted to be, so she was saying “yes” to that new life he offered, what her parents wanted for her. He represented acceptance, obedience, security, and the “saved and sanctified” Maxine who had never made such life-altering mistakes or rebelled against her parents.

Alexis: Why do the readers of Maxine’s column believe everything she says as she chronicles her journey to the altar, but her family doesn’t believe a single word of it?

Robin: Her readers believe the Maxine she shows them, but her parents see her pain and are well-acquainted with her past. They witness her daily struggles. In our own lives, we have a way of showing “outsiders” what we want them to see, but our Father God sees who we really are and He knows the truth. He made us and loves us as we are, warts and all.

Alexis: Who is Maxine’s best friend and what role does she play in shaping this story?

Robin: As a teenager, Maxine formed a friendship with Evelyn, one of the main characters in A Long Time Comin’. She’s just had her first child, a daughter, and like Maxine, is recovering from her own problems with a Lester man. Both Evelyn and Maxine lost their fathers at a young age and grew up in the midst of a large family with strong extended family relationships. She has walked alongside Maxine a long time and is part of that past that Maxine just can’t shake, despite her best efforts. We all need friends like Evelyn who aren’t afraid to speak the truth in love.

Alexis: What can you tell us about Celeste’s role in this story without giving away the plot?

Robin: Thirteen-year-old Celeste was adopted as a baby by Vivienne and John Owens, Maxine’s mother and stepfather. She represents both the inescapable pain of Maxine’s past and the future hope and forgiveness she’s desperately seeking. Many of us carry burdens; we try to give them away, turn our backs on them, or set them aside for a time. Until we acknowledge them and truly give them to God, we’ll never live freely.

Alexis: What are the spiritual themes of this story? How did your faith in God impact your storytelling?

Robin: Forgiveness, redemption, salvation, faithfulness…so many spiritual themes play a role in ’Til I Want No More. I write about the ultimate love story: God’s passion for His creation, man and woman. Our love for Him impacts all our relationships—between spouses, within families, and among friends. My faith drives my writing.

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

Robin: That we’re all immature in some way; we’re all growing. I want readers to consider what they think about themselves and to let go of the lie of condemnation and instead, to speak life and truth. What we hate about ourselves—a weakness, a need, a mistake, our fears—can be the very thing God uses to help or inspire someone else, to strengthen us. He purposely designed us and calls us by name.

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

Robin: I’d love to hear readers’ thoughts about ’Til I Want No More and how it impacted them. Please share your reviews about this book and my first novel, A Long Time Comin’!

~*~
Author Bio:

Robin W. Pearson’s writing sprouts from her Southern roots, her faith in Jesus Christ, and the love of her sweet husband, seven children, and her dog. 


In her 25-year editorial career, she’s corrected grammar up and down the East Coast.

Both her Christy Award-winning debut, A Long Time Comin’, and her second novel, ’Til I Want No More, have earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

Follow @RobinWPearson on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and RobinWPearson.com to read about her adventures in faith, family, fiction, and homeschooling.

~*~
Book blurb for ’Til I Want No More:

“Pearson delivers a poignant debut that explores the faith of one African American family. . . . The writing is strong, and the story is engaging, and readers will be pleased to discover a new voice in Southern inspirational fiction.” ―Booklist 


When the man she loved years ago returns to town, one young woman’s complicated past rises again, threatening to expose her well-kept secrets.

If Maxine could put her finger on the moment when her life went into a tailspin, she would point back twenty years to the day her daddy died. She tells herself he’s the only person who ever really knew and loved her, and if he hadn’t left her behind, her future would’ve taken a different path. No absentee mother, no stepfather, no rebellious ripping and running during her teenage years. And no JD, who gave her wandering young heart a home, at least for a time.

But that’s over and done with. All grown-up now, Maxine has pledged her heart and ring finger to Theodore Charles, the man she’ll promise to love, honor, and obey in front of God and everybody. At least that’s what she’s telling anybody who will listen. The only folks buying it are the dog and the readers of her column, however. Her best friend and family aren’t having it―not even Celeste, the double bass–playing thirteen-year-old the community of Mount Laurel, North Carolina, believes is Maxine’s adopted sister. And apparently, neither is the newly returned JD, who seems intent on toppling Maxine’s reconstructed life. 

As her wedding day marches ever closer, Maxine confronts what it means to be really known and loved by examining what’s buried in her own heart and exposing truth that has never seen the light of day.

A Christian fiction novel with a poignant story of romance, a search for truth, and a journey to redemption. For fans of Chris Fabry, Lauren Denton, and Charles Martin.

~*~
Buy Robin’s book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CBD, Kobo, Target, or Walmart

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 17, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Faith


Just a Little More Faith
A devotional by Angela Anderson

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
–Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

Let’s take a stroll down my Memory Lane to illustrate my message today on faith. I remember the day when my three-year-old son was balancing on the edge of a short brick wall.

He insisted on walking up there as I was holding his hand. When he reached the end of the ledge, he exclaimed, “Ready Mommy? Catch me!”

Next thing I knew, he took a flying leap as if he was Superman. I was not in the proper position to catch him and I certainly was not ready for him to fly from the ledge. I dropped all of my belongings that were in my hand, and I had to lunge forward to grab him before he hit the ground, face first. Although that little stunt hurt my back, I would have rather sustained an injury than allow my son to fall on his face. Somehow he knew I would do that. My three-year-old son had that much faith in his mother. (A lot more faith than his mother had in herself!)

In the Bible, faith is described as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV). That is what makes faith such an enigma. It's the act of hoping for something that has not happened. This act of faith may make some people ask this question that is found in Romans 8:24 (NKJV), “...for why does one still hope for what he sees?”

Furthermore, faith is having confidence in the unknown and believing that what you are hoping for will one day be a reality. Faith is the realization that God will come through on your behalf, no matter how bleak the circumstances may appear from your point of view. Faith does not only involve your ability to hold on to God, but it also involves your assurance in God's ability to hold on to you.

Faith can also be so plain and simple. Faith is exercised on a daily basis without thinking twice about it. You use faith every time you step on the brakes while driving a vehicle. Faith is used when you set your alarm the night before rising from sleep to begin an early day. When you board a plane, you have faith that whoever is sitting in the pilot's seat is qualified to perform a successful take-off and will land that plane on the runway when you’ve reached your destination. In these cases, maybe it's so easy to have faith because these tasks are performed again and again. You become so familiar with the successful outcome that you begin to expect it.

Imagine what your life would be like if you had the type of faith where you ask God, trust God, and then expect His blessings. Maybe you already have this kind of faith because you have experienced God's goodness and deliverance time and time again. On the other hand, if you are like me, sometimes when the walls are closing in, you panic and you forget how God just brought you out of a similar situation.

According to Romans 12:3 (NKJV), God gives each of us "a measure of faith." The enemy wants nothing more than to add doubt and confusion to the equation in an effort to shake the foundation of your faith. We should not let this happen, but when it does, I am thankful that God remains faithful, even when we are faithless. When life seems to take you on a flying leap, be certain that God is willing and able to catch you and He will always hold on to you.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, Thank you for Your faithfulness to us. May we in turn have a childlike faith that is ready to trust and believe You in all things. As we navigate through this life, teach us how to hold on to You. Thank you for always holding on to us. May we excel in strength and grow in faith. 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: https://m.facebook.com/angela.thomasanderson
Facebook fan page for her devotional book, Just When I Thought I Knew God:
https://www.facebook.com/jwitikg/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/angelanderson1104/

Friday, May 14, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: The value of caring and loving people like Jesus


Give a Care
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack; but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.” –Proverbs 28:27 (KJV)

My wife and I have been married for 39 years. I thought that it was my responsibility to closely manage our money. She said I was a cheapskate and a skinflint. In retrospect, she was right.

As our finances and credit score improved, I relaxed a little. However, I did remain penurious. Even though I tithed and gave a liberal offering at church, I was not philanthropically oriented, until I had an experience that prompted me to pray for a giving spirit. God has grown me!

Here is an example of how God has helped me want to be more giving: One day, I was in my car. As I approached a corner, the light at the intersection turned red. I stopped. As I looked around, I noticed a lady walking up the line of cars. She was holding a sign with a message in English and Spanish. The sign said that she was a mother of two and was unemployed. The sign asked for donations. Had the light remained green, I may not have noticed her. But I did notice her, and our eyes met. In my penurious years, I might have averted my eyes and ignored her. But not that day! In that moment when our eyes connected, the verse above (Proverbs 28:27) reverberated in the core of my soul.

Immediately, I reached into my pocket, rolled down the window and gave her 25% of the cash that I had in my pocket. Her face radiated appreciation, affirmation and admiration. She said, “One day, I will give to others as you have given to me.”

Benevolence is a spiritual virtue. It is also the conduit of grace that insures the flow of blessings and grace. Benevolence (doing something good for someone else, just because), is an antidote for selfishness. Selfishness is really fruit from the tree of fear that you do not have enough.

According to Mark 14:7, we will always have poor people among us. The wise writer of Proverbs 28:27 shares a key that can unlock the divine storehouse where blessings are waiting to be dispensed. Kindness is like a catalyst for miraculous expansion of shared resources. Giving does not cause scarcity; being stingy does.

I am encouraging you to try an experiment today. Look for someone who needs some help and help them. Here are five reasons to do so:

Reason #1: Giving and helping are virtues that Jesus extolled and demonstrated.

Reason #2: Many people are in need through no fault of their own.

Reason #3: Poverty is not a sin. It is a circumstance.

Reason #4:
Kindness and brotherly love are more valuable to God than worship.

Reason #5: Kindness suspends judgement and can be transformational in the life of the recipient.

Two years ago I had dinner with a multi-millionaire. I paid for the dinner. He told me a thumbnail sketch of his life story: He was an orphan in a country far from America. He, along with some other children were selling pencils on main street in a big city when a woman passed by him. She looked at him as she handed him some money. He stood up, thanked her, and extended a pencil. She declined to take the pencil and walked away. A few moments later, she came back and asked him where his parents were. He told her that he was an orphan. That day, she began the process of adopting him.

Today, he is a scientist. He has created and patented several world changing innovations. He is a brilliant and humble man. Yet, he says that had that woman not followed the prompting of God and shown kindness to him, he would likely not be who he has become. Now, he is wealthier than his original benefactor.

Make an investment in yourself by investing kindness in someone else. When it becomes a habit, goodness and mercy will follow you. Your humanity, caring eye contact, and gift may change one life and many others in turn. Please do not shirk an opportunity to care.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, as we move through this day that you have blessed us with, please help us to be blessings in the lives of other people. Give us opportunities to give, share and care about someone or several people. Guide us into divine appointments where our sacrifice of money, time, and interest will be meaningful and transformational for the persons we help and ourselves. 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, psanderson75@gmail.com.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Worship


Everyday Worship
A devotional by Kay Pflueger

“… But the Most High does not dwell in sanctuaries made with hands, as the prophet says: Heaven is my throne, and the earth my footstool. What sort of house will you build for me? says the Lord, or what will be my resting place?” 
–Acts 7:48-49 (CSB)

The word “sanctuary” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the most sacred part of a religious building” or “the room in which general worship services are held” or “a place (such as a church or a temple) for worship.” We may hear church sanctuaries referred to as “houses of worship” as that is where we expect to go to honor the Lord through song and prayer. But is that the only place where worship can take place?

When you think of worship, what setting comes to mind? Are you in a majestic cathedral with a massive pipe organ? Maybe you are in a little country church with wooden pews? Or are you standing in a homeless shelter serving soup to hungry families?

Worshipping the Lord is not confined to the four walls of a church building. It can happen as you are standing at the kitchen sink washing dirty dishes, or in the quiet of the night while feeding and soothing a hungry infant, or when hammering the shingles on the roof of a “Habitat for Humanity” project. According to Mark 10:45, we are called not to be served but to serve. This is not meant to be obligatory service but rather should be a deep-down-from-the-heart prayerful outreach.

What does this kind of worship look like? Envision it as embracing interruptions in our day when an opportunity to serve presents itself. See it as bravely praying God would send someone our way who we can share His love with. Picture it as asking Him to reveal opportunities to worship Him through service—service that helps us embrace the uncomfortable and not shy away from that call due to fear of the unknown. Believe that it is connecting to God in the whole of our daily life.

Worship is showing reverence and adoration for God. When we reach out to serve others, we are demonstrating our love for Him in a very tangible, practical way. In John 13, we read how Jesus modeled servant behavior by washing the dirty feet of His disciples. Note Jesus’s words in John 13:16-17 (CSB): “Truly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”

The idea of worshiping God throughout the week might feel somewhat intimidating as I suspect it is easier to think of worship as something we do for an hour a week within the four walls of our church buildings. But consider how we can honor God by the way we act among our families, friends, and co-workers—how we can worship Him through offering every action to Him. Billy Graham said: “The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.” Let us praise God today by seeking out opportunities to serve others.

In closing, I’d like for you to listen to this song “Heart of Worship” by Hillsong United.

Let’s Pray:
Help us, Father God, to find ways to worship you in our daily activities…from caring for our own families to reaching out to those in need. May we learn to worship you each moment of every day. Teach us to see our whole lives as one great worship service, in which we honor you through every word, every thought, every deed. Open our eyes to those in need of your love. Show us ways to serve in the same manner as Jesus served. 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:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kay.m.pflueger
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/irishsweetpea/

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Romantic Reads: Imperfect Justice


The Story Behind Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman:

When I envisioned the Hidden Justice series, I knew that each of the women in the cohort of four would get their own story, but I didn’t know exactly what those stories would be. 

Hayden’s Beyond Justice became based on juvenile immigration issues.

Then I turned to Emilie, Hayden’s roommate, and started thinking about issues I’m passionate about and would resonate with who she is. I was sitting in Siena at our apartment (I was teaching there for Purdue) and saw a headline about a domestic violence situation in RomHouston and my mind began to spin what ifs. Emilie’s story, Imperfect Justice, was born.

Because of my work with a local domestic violence shelter, this is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. Add in experiences walking a friend and relative through similar situations, and I know how real domestic violence is and also firmly believe we need more empathy and understanding. Add in two compelling leads and I love this story.

Emilie Wesley is an attorney and part-time journalist who’s lost her superpower of words.

Reid Billings is alone and wondering if he wants to stay that way.

~*~
Book blurb for Imperfect Justice:

The police say the woman was a murderer. Emilie Wesley knows they can’t be talking about her client . . . can they? 


To the world it seems obvious: Kaylene Adams killed her daughter and then was shot by police.

Attorney Emilie Wesley knows a different story: Kaylene would never hurt anyone and was looking for a way out of a controlling, abusive relationship. Her death shakes Emilie’s belief that she can make a difference for women in violent marriages. Self-doubt plagues her as she struggles to continue her work in the wake of the tragedy.

Reid Billings thought he knew his sister—right up until he learned how she died. He discovers a letter from Kaylene begging him to fight for custody of her daughters if anything should happen to her. No attorney in her right mind would support an uncle instead of the father in a custody case, but Kaylene’s letter claims Emilie Wesley will help him.

Thrown together in the race to save Kaylene’s surviving daughter, Emily and Reid pursue the constantly evasive truth. If they can hang on to hope together, can they save a young girl—and find a future for themselves in the process?

~*~
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 www.caraputman.com.

~*~
Buy Cara’s book:
Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ CBD ~ Target ~ Walmart ~ Cara’s website

~*~
Connect with Cara:
Website: http://caraputman.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/cara_putman
Facebook: http://facebook.com/cara.putman
Instagram: http://instagram.com/caracputman
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cara-putman
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/939004.Cara_C_Putman

Monday, May 10, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Discipleship


Delving into Discipleship
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” – Matthew 28:19 (NLT)

Maybe you’ve seen the adorable video online that opens with an adorable puppy, Daisy, at the top of a flight of stairs. She is scared and apprehensive about going down the stairs.

Despite the encouragement of its owner, this sweet puppy paces across the landing anxiously, unsure of itself. Her whimpers of fear squeak out and this fear keeps her at the top, desperately wanting to join her owner at the bottom of the stairs yet not ready to tackle the mountain of stairs before her. Next thing you know, her older canine brother Simon runs to join her at the top and then bounds back down the stairs, showing her how easy it is. Yet, Daisy still isn’t brave enough to take the steps needed. Her brother runs back to the top of the stairs to show her again. This time, he waits until she takes her two front paws and places them both solidly on the first step. Then he runs down the steps again to show his sweet sister how to take the next steps.

Daisy remains at the top of the stairs, awkwardly paralyzed with her two front paws on the first step and her two back paws still safely planted on the landing. Simon comes back up the stairs and stands in front of her, staring her in the eyes as if to say, “Keep your eyes on me. I’ve got you.” Daisy turns her head and looks back, contemplating just going back to what’s familiar, the safety of the landing. And then she steps back up, just not ready to move forward. Simon bounds back up to the landing with her, not willing to leave her there. After a few more ups and downs, little Daisy finally dares to take one step, then the next, then the next. Simon stays by her side until she is all the way down, and cheering ensues from her family waiting at the bottom for her.

When I first became a Christian I felt a bit like Daisy – scared and unsure of taking steps away from what was familiar. It made no difference how messed up my “familiar” was; it was my comfort zone and I had learned how to survive in it. But God didn’t create us to remain in our comfort zone and He certainly didn’t save us to just survive. His goal is for us to thrive, to give us “more than we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20), “to prosper us and not to harm us” (Jeremiah 29:11). But how was that going to happen for this newly-saved babe in Christ?

While we are guaranteed the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit, it helps. But let’s face it, it’s a must to also have fellow Christians to share our walk of faith with. That’s where you and I come in. At some point we were all a Daisy. But God wants and expects us to move into the role of Simon at some point. We need to be an encourager and leader and show a new believer how to take their first steps down the road of faith. We should “think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).

Matthew 28:19 tells us to “go and make disciples of all the nations.” The dictionary defines “disciple” as “a follower or a student of a teacher or leader”. When we put our faith in Jesus, we are saved; but to become His disciple we need to start following His example and studying His teaching. Matthew 28 continues on in verse 20 to encourage us to “teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you”. While we are to introduce unbelievers to Jesus, we are also called to link arms with new believers and help them to take their first steps on their faith journey. In fact, we may have to walk with them for a few months or even years until they are ready to walk on their own. Then they too can move from being a Daisy to a Simon.

Where are you in your faith journey? Are you a Daisy – stepping gingerly into your newfound faith? Do you have a Simon in your life – a Christian mentor who can show you what steps to take and how and when to take them? If you need a mentor, start praying and ask God to reveal who that might be for you. Or have you moved out of your Daisy phase and are now ready to become a Simon to someone?

Can you think of someone in your life that needs to meet Jesus? Invite them to church with you. Do you know a new believer who might not yet have a mentor? Consult God and ask if you might be the one He has in mind to step into that role. No matter what stage you find yourself in, you have a role to play and a purpose to fulfill. Doing your part for God’s Kingdom will help others do theirs. And in this way we live out being the body of Christ!

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, help us to remember that our primary call while on Earth is to lead others to you and then help them take steps forward in their faith. As followers of Jesus, let us live our lives in a way that makes you attractive to others (Titus 2:10), giving them a desire to get to know you. May the example we set always demonstrate the love and grace that you freely extend and lead others to a deeper, more personal relationship with you. In Jesus’s mighty name I pray. Amen.

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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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Connect with Cyndi:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/souledoutcyndi/

Friday, May 7, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Life Lessons from the kitchen and dish duty


Strength in Weakness
A devotional by Mirachelle Canada

‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, 
for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 
Therefore I will boast more gladly of my weakness, 
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’ 
–2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

Have you ever considered your greatest weakness could be God’s greatest strength within you?

As a child, one of my key strengths could also be my binding weakness. I was the youngest of my siblings and fiercely independent. I preferred to do things by myself. Case in point was during the nightly duties after dinner when I was to help my older brother and sister clean up the table and the kitchen. I would pick up my dishes and utensils from the table and carry them to the kitchen sink, but beyond that I milled around and eventually left the kitchen. My siblings would complain that I wasn’t helping them or doing my part. I would get mad, they would retaliate, and yelling would ensue.

One night, my wise mother decided to assign me the entire kitchen clean-up. To do it all by myself. After all the dishes were brought in, she tied an apron around my waist, stood me up on a stool in front of the sink, and let me go to town cleaning up everything, even the pots and pans. Much to everyone’s surprise I wore a huge smile on my face and cleaned with glee. There is even a picture of me to commemorate the event that is in our photo album to this day.

Rather than scold me or let my frustrated siblings accuse me of wrongdoing, my mother found a way to empower my independent nature. She knew I wasn’t being willful, that I could and did want to help, I just didn’t know how to contribute when there were too many people in the mix. I wanted to be the cook, and there were literally too many cooks in the kitchen. In order for me to succeed and not offend, I would have to learn how to use my independence wisely and carefully.

The apostle Paul represents a strong character with an independent spirit. One that God had to tear down and build up again by placing a thorn in his side because Paul was a persecutor of Christians before he became a believer and follower of Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, Paul pleads for the thorn’s removal, but God tells him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God knew Paul’s potential and endurance even though most would have perceived his past as a disqualifier for him to author a majority of the New Testament. It was because of his confessions of weakness and desire to know and be one with God that he became known as a champion of Christ. God uses Paul’s weakness to show us an example of His great love and forgiveness of sins, but also to show us the full strength of someone’s character when he is fully reliant on God.

I am blessed to say that I eventually learned how to use my independence to benefit others rather than go it alone all the time. It can get very lonely on an island by yourself. Yet, like Paul, yielding my independent nature to God has also allowed Him to take me places I never could have imagined and further than I ever dreamed. According to 1 Corinthians 2:9 (ESV): But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” 

Yielding our weaknesses to God opens the doors wide for His strength to be made complete in us. In this His love, power, and grace we can know no bounds. And like a proud parent, He will smile upon us as we do His will with freedom and glee.

Do you have a strength that others may perceive as a weakness?

Let’s Pray:
Dear Lord, I thank you for my uniqueness and how you have created me differently for your purpose. I count it a blessing that you have put a specific character trait in me that is made strong even when I am weak. Guide me and my giftings with your love, power, and grace. That in all I do, I will honor you and who you created me to be. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

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Author Bio:

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


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

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

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

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Connect with Mirachelle:

Website: www.mirachellecanada.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mirachellecanada/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/miracan