Friday, July 30, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: What to do when God gives you an assignment


When God Gives You An Assignment
A devotional by Monique Anderson

“You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.” – Ezekiel 2:7 (NIV)

In Ezekiel chapter 2, God sends Ezekiel on an assignment that will not conclude successfully. In fact, He’s sending him on a failed mission.

God sent Ezekiel to a rebellious nation where the people are “stubborn and hard-hearted”. The nation of Israel had been rebelling against God for generations, and God knew they had no intentions of changing no matter who He sent to speak to them. Nonetheless, He wanted Ezekiel to deliver His message to the people whether they would listen or not.

“But the people of Israel won’t listen to you any more than they listen to me! For the whole lot of them are hard-hearted and stubborn.” – Ezekiel 3:7 (NLT)

Would you be able to follow through with an assignment that God tells you will be a failure?

Perhaps you’re thinking: What would be the point? Why bother sharing a message from God if the people will not receive it?

But isn’t this our everyday struggle? As disciples of Jesus Christ, we’re called to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ faithfully and continually even when people don’t want to receive it.

Maybe you’re wondering, “If that’s the case, what is the point?” The point is not the success of the assignment but the success of your obedience to the assignment.

A lot of times we think our purpose in the assignment is the outcome. God is not watching the outcome, He’s watching our hearts. The truth of the matter is we will never see the outcome if we never fulfill the assignment.

My Life Application Study Bible says, “the measure of Ezekiel’s success would not be how well the people responded, but how well he obeyed God and thus fulfilled God’s purpose for him.” This note from my Bible is based on Ezekiel 2:3-5.

This tells me that God’s main purpose for our lives is our obedience. It’s not to have a large following or influence but simply to be obedient to the call on our lives. How well are you fulfilling God’s purpose for your life based strictly on your obedience? I can be transparent and tell you that I am failing miserably.

I’m always so focused on the outcome of what He tells me to do I end up not even doing it at all. How will people receive me? Will they even care to listen? And what do I even have to offer? I’m always so fixated on people’s response that I miss the mark on the assignment altogether. Can you relate? I just recently failed a mission with this exact mindset.

A friend of mine shared a message with me that she got from a devotional she read. She instructed me (through the Holy Spirit) to share this message with my step-daughter.

As I scrolled through the screenshots she sent, I thought to myself “my step-daughter will not receive this.” I was immediately consumed with how she would respond. Would she even care to listen? Would this change anything in her heart or mind? These thoughts delayed my obedience for two days. I had to submit all these thoughts to God and let Him lead. The Holy Spirit convicted me and reminded me of this text in Ezekiel. I heard God say, “You must speak my words to her, whether she listens or not.” Although I was eventually obedient, delayed obedience is still disobedience.

This section of Ezekiel’s story has given me a new perspective on God’s purpose for me and every task He hands me. He’s only looking for my “Yes and Amen” then He will handle the rest. I’m learning not to focus on the success of the task but being obedient to it. Focusing on the outcome will just lead to disobedience.

For all I know, I could have delayed my step-daughter’s healing and deliverance by being so hung up on her response. When God assigns us a task, especially one that involves other people, we cannot be delayed in our actions. Not only are we being disobedient, but we are also impeding on someone else’s blessing.

I encourage you to re-examine your assignment(s) from God. What are you focused on? What is your motivation for completing it? Success or Obedience?

Remember the success is in your obedience.

Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, forgive us for our disobedience. Forgive us for focusing on the outcome instead of the task at hand. I pray that you convict our hearts to remember Ezekiel when given instructions. Help us to be obedient to the call and not worry about the outcome of it. Allow us to relinquish the power we think we have in other’s people’s response. Remind us that your people’s response to the word we share is in your hands. Help us to move forward with your assignment with our hands open wide, willing to let go of the outcome. Teach us how to walk in obedience to your commands. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Monique 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 revelation’s 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 yourstrulymoe.com. 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. She 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:
Website: www.yourstrulymoe.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yourstruly__moe/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Yours-Truly-Moe-140255684101423

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: God's Plan


God’s Plan 
A devotional by Heidy De La Cruz

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

I’m sure we are all familiar with this Bible verse since it is very popular.

It’s a verse that reminds us that God has a plan for each of our lives and a verse that gives us hope, especially when we feel lost.

There have been many moments in my life where I've felt completely lost. Toward the end of my high school career, it seemed like all my friends had their plans all set for after graduation, and I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I couldn't make up my mind because the choices seemed overwhelming, and I didn't know my "interests" or "passions" at that time. Looking back at the first two years of my college career, it seems like it was all a waste. But in reality, it wasn't.

At that period in my life, I didn’t have the relationship with God that I have now, but that doesn’t mean that God wasn’t there for me. God loves us so much that He gave us free will for us to choose. Nevertheless, He always has a plan for us. Again, I started college taking general random classes because I didn’t know what I wanted to study. If it weren’t for the “Intro to Psychology” class I randomly signed up for, I wouldn’t have known that it was a topic that really interest me.

After taking that class, I realized I wanted to get into the Psychology field. But getting pregnant at the age of twenty took me off track for a little. I ended up not taking more college courses. Instead, I completed a medical assistant program with the thought that being in the medical field will provide job security for my daughter and me.

Fast forward to today, I have a bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Administration and Psychology and a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration. I am proud of my degrees because when I look back at my journey, I started with no clue about what to do with my life. Also, looking back, I know that God was with me every step of the way and that without Him, I wouldn’t have the accomplishments I have today. God had this plan for my life, and I am certain that I am in the career field that I am supposed to be because I feel fulfilled.

If you are struggling right now to figure out what you want to do with your life, pray for guidance and trust God. Remember Jeremiah 29:11 because God has a plan for you, and this plan was established long before you were born.

Let’s pray: Lord, I pray for everyone who may be feeling lost right now, unsure of where to go or what to do. I pray that their hearts and minds are opened to you, Lord and that they come back to go so you can lead them and guide them to the plan you have for their lives. Thank you for always being with us and never giving up on us, even when we stray away. 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, July 27, 2021

Romantic Reads: Sweet Summer


The Story Behind the story Sweet Summer by Christina Sinisi:

First, thank you, Alexis, for this opportunity to share the story behind the story with your readers. I’m excited to share and hope to inspire others!

As soon as I could begin to write, I did—in third grade. I started with poems and then wrote a play in fifth grade. In eighth grade, I wrote a “novel” about the “monstrous goop” that evolved from dirty dish water and devoured everything in its path. In high school, I was “Creative Writing” student of the year as a senior. In college, I published poetry in the college magazine. Then, after graduating, I wrote another novel, submitted it, and received my first rejection letter. I didn’t know where to go from there, so I concentrated on graduate school, a day job, and raising children.

When my daughter began kindergarten, I started again. I'd been writing for pretty much my whole life, getting close to being published, but then getting a no every time. At the beginning of June 2019, after experiencing losses in my personal life, I read a call on the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) email loop for Christmas novellas. That was June 6. The deadline was the end of the month. With a lifetime of experience behind me, I sat down and wrote Christmas Confusion in three and a half weeks. Then, Anaiah Press bought the book!

Because of the rush to meet that deadline, I hadn't had time to send the manuscript to friends to proofread or even to my mentor to read. When my mentor, Eloisa James, did read the book, she said, “Now, I want to hear the sisters' stories.”

I had already started a new book, The Christmas Promise (I'm working on finishing it now), but I put it aside and started writing Shelby's story. I finished her book by December 2019. The book went to Anaiah and my editor was surprised it was a full-length novel. They didn't have space to publish a full-length novel in 2020. But they would consider it for 2021. Not wanting to lose momentum and not wanting to wait a whole other year before publishing something else, I sat myself down and wrote Christmas on Ocracoke and finished it by June.

But now it's 2021, and it's Shelby's turn! Let me tell you about her story … 


Shelby Marano is the youngest of three sisters and was always Daddy’s baby girl—until her father was murdered when she was only eight years old. Ever since, she’s been running from anyone or anything that could truly hurt her. Instead, she seeks calculated thrills that leave her exhilarated, but when she’s caught outside during a summer storm, she quickly realizes not all adventures are within her control.

Tyler Burgess struggles with the responsibility of caring for a mother suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Forced to take a leave of absence from work and put his life on hold, his only reprieve is the volunteer work he does at the local museum. When a soaking-wet Shelby barges in, he offers her both refuge from the rain and a safe place to land. She’s the breath of fresh air he didn’t know he needed.

Tyler proves to be much more than just a nerd in a history museum, but what she finds out about him is a deal-breaker for her. As family health issues and an unknown stalker threaten Shelby’s perfect little world, she learns a hard lesson: no one can hide from the dangers of life. Can Shelby let her sisters, Tyler, and even more importantly, God, show her in one Sweet Summer that love is worth taking the risk?

Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear others’ stories of times where they struggled and persisted. God can certainly open and close doors—we just have to be willing to walk through!

~*~
Author Bio:

Christina Sinisi is a member of the ACFW. 


She writes stories about families, both the broken and blessed. Her works include a story that became a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest and the American Title IV Contest, in which she appeared in the Top Ten in the Romantic Times magazine. 

Christina’s published books include Christmas Confusion and Sweet Summer, the first two books in the Summer Creek Series, as well as the Christmas On Ocracoke and the upcoming Why They Call it Falling.

By day, she is a psychology professor. Christina lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina with her husband, two grown children, and Chessie (her Hemingway cat).

~*~
Buy Christina’s book on Amazon

~*~
Connect with Christina:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/christinasinisi
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChristinaSinisiAuthor/?modal=admin_todo_tour
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/csinisi123/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/csinisi/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/101218889-christina-sinisi
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/christina-sinisi
Website: https://www.christinasinisi.com/

Monday, July 26, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Choose Joy


Joy

A devotional by Glynis Becker

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!”–Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NLT)

Do we “find” joy or do we create it? Is the joy we want sitting below the surface, waiting for us to uncover it, like a seashell on the beach? Or is it something we need to actively work at because we’re not going to be joyful all on our own?

I believe, like so much of the Christian life, it’s probably a little bit of both.

In Christian circles, we often talk about the difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is more about circumstance so that some days we are happier than others. During hard times, it’s understandable for us to be less happy in general, than during those days when our lives are easier. But what about joy? Should we be joyful during those times, even if we can’t quite manage to be happy?

Years ago I read an article about the psychology of cheering yourself up if you were feeling blue. It suggested playing some music that matched your mood. Maybe it was a little sad or heavy, then as you continue to listen to music, begin to choose songs that are more upbeat and happier. Pretty soon you’ll be feeling lighter, too. Is it an artificial feeling? Maybe somewhat, but we have hearts and attitudes that can be swayed when we choose to.

In a similar manner, can’t we choose joy as well? In the verses from Habakkuk above, we see evidence that the nation of Israel was not doing well. Although we don’t know a lot about this particular prophet, scholars have determined that he was probably a contemporary of Jeremiah and Zephaniah. The days were difficult, yet he is determined to declare that he will rejoice in God. He knew what God had done for the Israelites over the years and that there would be salvation for the righteous. Whether Habakkuk felt it or not, he encouraged them—and himself—to see the joy even in those things.

James 1:2 (NLT) says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” That one doesn’t sugarcoat it at all. We should be joyful in spite of our circumstances or even more because of them. That’s an important reminder.

Philippians 4:4 (NLT) reminds us to “Always be full of joy in the Lord.” His life was marked by shipwrecks, stoning, and prison sentences. He couldn’t always have felt joyful, but he knew he should always be rejoicing. In chapter 5 of Galatians, Paul tells us that joy comes as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Hopefully as we mature in our walk, the fruit we see in our lives will become fuller and more evident. How great would it be to spill over with so much joy (as well as peace and patience and all the others) that we can’t help but spread it wherever we go?

So it seems like God will help us find joy as we create space and opportunity for Him to do so, through obedience to the Holy Spirit, regardless of circumstances, and certainly regardless of our feelings.

I’m ready for some holy joy today. How about you?

Let’s Pray:
Father God, give me a sense of joy in whatever I face today. I want more of You and Your Spirit and I want to share that love and joy to those around me. Thank You for your faithfulness in all things. I love You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

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


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

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

When she’s not writing or reading, she is watching more television than she should and crocheting. 

~*~
Connect with Glynis:
Website: www.glynisbecker.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beckerglynis/

Friday, July 23, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Listen


Listen to God 
A devotional by Erin M. Handley

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”
– Romans 8:14 (NIV)

As Christ-followers, we strive to fulfill our purpose. To do so, we must take the necessary steps to get us exactly where we should be. We know the destination, but we don’t know how to get there. As many of us have learned, we listen to God to use Him as our GPS. We know His instructions ultimately guide us to the ordained steps specifically created for each individual.

Sometimes on this path, the steps ahead seem obvious. It is a straight path and God’s directions are clear. But sometimes we find ourselves at a crossroad, and suddenly we can’t hear His voice anymore. The path is no longer obvious, and the GPS seems out of range. At this crossroad, a decision must be made. We fear making a choice without direction as it could put us on the wrong path which would ultimately keep us from reaching the destination of fulfilling a purposed-filled life.

Have you ever found yourself in this pickle?

On a ‘spur-of-the-moment’ grocery trip, I realized I needed pickles. I made a beeline to get them first so I wouldn’t forget. I grabbed a jar but felt compelled to get two. I wrestled with rationalizing two jars of pickles. Why? Do I need two? What’s the purpose of getting two jars?

Here I was, standing in the middle of the aisle having an internal dialogue…about two jars of pickles. I convinced myself that I didn’t need two jars and walked away.

When I reached the end of my grocery list, I felt like I needed to go back for a second jar of pickles. At this point, it was comical that this second jar of pickles was so significant. I went back, grabbed the second jar, and headed to checkout.

My arms were so full of groceries, I had to put them down so I could begin checking out. After placing the groceries down, the only thing left in my arm (which would be the first thing I would scan) was the first thing I grabbed when I walked in. Pickles. I went to scan the jar but couldn’t find the barcode. I stood there entirely too long looking for the barcode, and eventually had to ask for assistance. The cashier was just as perplexed as I was about why the jar didn’t have a barcode on the label, but quickly reminded me that I had a second jar of pickles.

For the next twenty minutes, I focused on this ‘wrestle about pickles’ I just experienced. At that point I was conflicted by feeling like I was in a season where I wasn’t hearing Him like I did before, but in this moment, He wanted to take the time to talk to me about pickles. It was then that I was reminded that sometimes His voice doesn’t always sound (or look) how we anticipate that it should. He speaks to us. He never stops speaking to us. But we have to be comfortable with the fact that sometimes His voice doesn’t appear in the way that aligns with how we choose to hear to Him. His voice doesn’t always fit our method of listening.

We have to be willing to lean into Him and become in tune with the various ways He may choose to communicate with us. In order to be in tune with God’s voice, sometimes we have to properly adjust our posture. When we adjust our posture to be in tune with God’s voice, we force our flesh to become quiet as we allow our ‘spirit man’ to take the lead. In the flesh, many of us have become accustomed to hearing from the Lord in only one way.

When the Holy Spirit that lives within us is allowed to facilitate that commune with God, the Holy Spirit will draw our attention to whatever the Lord choose to use to speak to us – be it a book that is about the exact season you find yourself in at that moment, or a song that ministers to your soul in a moment of despair, or maybe it is a conversation with a stranger who answers the prayer you prayed moments before you met them for the very first time. He will speak to you in any way He knows will get your attention. Make sure you listen for the message and not solely rely on hearing the messenger.

Let’s Pray:
Father God, thank you for loving us and allowing us to be in your presence. Thank you for speaking to us and doing so in a personal way that we cannot deny experiencing you. Father, we pray that even amongst chaos and confusion that we are able to hear your voice and recognize your presence. We pray that when we feel like we can’t hear your voice, that your presence become more obvious than the audible voice we have trained our hearts to respond to. We pray that we become more in tuned with how you choose to commune with us so that we adjust our posture appropriately to hear exactly what you want us to receive from you in that moment. We ask all these things in Jesus’s Name. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

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


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

For over 15 years, Erin has worked with youth and adolescents in the fields of mental and behavioral health, education, and ministry. 

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

With an undergraduate degree in English and a graduate degree in Ministry and Pastoral Counseling, Erin M. Handley has been fortunate to be able to leverage her gifts and her passions throughout her career in Education. 

Aside from reading, writing, and mentoring, Erin enjoys dancing, interior design, cooking, and most other activities which allow her to utilize her creativity.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Jesus Christ


Is Jesus Real?
A devotional by Wendy Wilson Spooner

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”
– Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)

There is absolute truth and there is relative truth.

What are each and how can we know the difference?

Absolute truth is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Just like God, it never changes. A good example is the sun rising in the east. Because even if we say all day long the sun rises in the west, it will still rise in the east. That is absolute truth. And it will not succumb to public opinion, polls, or popularity. It simply is.

Relative truth is subject to opinion. Such as, “That cat is ugly.” “No it’s not, it’s pretty.” Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, therefore, it is relative truth.

The existence of absolute truth is basic to Christianity.

Jesus Christ directly proclaimed the ultimate truth in John 14:6 (NLT). He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Truth attains its foundation in God who is moral and personal. Paul declares in Romans 1 that God has revealed Himself through creation and individual conscience. God has also unveiled himself through the Bible, His distinctive disclosure.

What is the enemy of truth? 

Satan ("the devil") is the adversary. According to 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT), He is “our great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

The devil seeks to mislead by devouring truth and replacing it with deception and lies. We live in a time where good appears evil, and evil appears good. This is the work of the adversary and his minions.

If you have already embraced the truth that Jesus is real, you can count on the adversary seeking to spread seeds of doubt within you—if you let him. This can happen when you don’t understand a concept in the Bible, or someone at church offends you, or for numerous other reasons.

But the absolute truth is that in the end all our questions will be answered and all our wounds will be healed. It’s a beautiful truth that Jesus is real whether people believe He is or not. And I choose to believe.

When I was a teenager, I went through a season where I didn’t know if I believed or maybe I didn’t care if I believed? It’s hard for me to remember. But what I do remember is my unhappiness.

Once I fully embraced Jesus and his atonement for my sins, I was at peace. And happy again!

I’ve chosen this way of living and believing the rest of my life. And I’ve never looked back. Because it is absolute truth that the closer and more exactly I keep the commandments of God, the more I can feel his presence in my life … every single day! This is absolute truth for countless people today and is also countless people throughout time in the Bible.

God’s truth is absolute, signifying it is true without exception and it does not change. Beliefs change but truth itself is constant. God is the creator of absolute truth because He is everlasting and His character never changes.

And He will reward all who diligently seek him.

Let’s Pray:
Father in Heaven, we know you and your son (Jesus Christ) are real. Bless us each day to choose Jesus in all we do, and to testify whenever moved upon by the Holy Spirit. Empty us of all doubt, but if it creeps in, bless us to fall to our knees in prayer instead of succumbing to the entrapments of the adversary. Bless us with daily commitment to stand for you and your son in all things and in all places no matter the cost. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

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


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

Wendy writes about family, faith, grief, art, and overcoming obstacles in life by coming to know who we really are—children of God, and, the descendants of remarkable people who paved the way for us—even if they really struggled. She believes in learning from ancestors, honoring them, and then standing on their shoulders to become someone even better.

As an award-winning author of professional articles and poems, Wendy Wilson Spooner turned to novel writing to share what she knows with a greater audience. When she is not writing or researching, she currently serves as National Vice Chair for Daughters of the American Revolution over Art & Sculpture in the annual American Heritage contest. She also serves as Chairman of the Advisory board for Century Vital Records in Bengaluru, India.

Wendy loves to read, hike, paint, travel, binge on Bollywood movies, and spend time with her greatest loves—her family.

Her debut novel, Once Upon an Irish Summer, released April 3, 2020. It has been a best-seller in the several different genres. She’s looking forward to releasing book two in the series!

~*~
Connect with Wendy:
Website: https://wendywilsonspooner.com/
Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/3lpNZSY
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/authorWendyWilsonSpooner/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Wendy_W_Spooner
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wendyspooner/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendy-wilson-spooner-07741249/

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Romantic Reads: Someone to Trust


Interview with Lesa Henderson about her book, 
Someone to Trust:

Alexis: Why did you write this book and give it the title, Someone to Trust?

Lesa: I wanted to tell a story of someone who was very broken by her father’s betrayal of her mother and subsequent abandonment of the two of them for another woman. I wondered what would happen if a grown-up, na├»ve Megan became what she despised most? The other woman. This violation of her trust a second time would certainly do quite a bit of damage. Would she be able to believe there was any man she could trust? For that matter could she trust God? Thus the title.

Alexis: Who is the heroine of this story? Describe her.

Lesa:
Megan McCormick is the heroine of Someone To Trust. Megan is a pretty, 27-year-old with long chestnut hair and amber colored eyes. She is quick-witted, loyal and kind. However, she has huge trust issues in the men department (as I mentioned earlier), tends to be a bit of a klutz and talks to her Great Dane like he’s human.

Alexis: Who is the hero of this story? Describe him.

Lesa: Lee Grainger is the hero of Someone To Trust. Lee is 6’3” tall, handsome, with dark hair and incredible grey eyes. He’s a believer and a veterinarian. He’s kind, funny and patient with both hurt animals and skittish females.

Alexis: What brings Megan and Lee together?

Lesa:
Megan and Lee run into each other. Literally. Megan is on her way back to her truck from shopping, carrying too many packages while munching on an icing filled cookie when she runs right into Lee and is knocked off her feet. Did I mention Megan is a bit of a klutz?

Alexis: What threatens to drive them apart?

Lesa: Megan’s mistrust and the secret shame she carries from her past threaten to drive them apart.

Alexis: What are Megan and Lee’s first impressions of each other? Why?

Lesa: Initially Megan blames Lee for her being knocked down, which she quickly acknowledges is unfair, since she wasn’t watching where she was going. Lee is concerned that she was hurt and helps her to her vehicle with her packages. They find one another attractive. Lee would like to ‘run’ into Megan again. However, she is certain someone as handsome as Lee, with a great sense of humor must be married and is on vacation in the quaint mountain with his wife.

Alexis:
What brought Megan from Atlanta to the mountain town of Laurel Crest?

Lesa:
Megan is on the run from a broken heart and a simpler way of life.

Alexis:
Megan sounds like an independent woman. How does she support herself financially?

Lesa:
Megan is a copywriter who was very successful working for a large firm in Atlanta. Since relocating she has launched out on her own and doing very well.

Alexis:
Why does Lee love his job as a veterinarian? How does his career affect his outlook on life?

Lesa: Lee is a natural defender of the underdog and those needing to be cared for. As a little boy he was always trying to mend broken wings of baby birds, care for one-eyed puppies and stray kittens. He believes that a Godly man cares for the animals God has put on earth.

Alexis:
Why does Lee love the small-town lifestyle? It’s simpler, with much less hustle and bustle.

Lesa: He feels like there’s more time to truly connect with the community and build relationships. He loves nature, the outdoors and hiking.

Alexis:
Where did Lee live and work before he moved to the mountains?

Lesa:
Lee also lived and worked in Atlanta. He was part of a larger Veterinary practice.

Alexis: What is the foundation of Megan and Lee’s friendship?

Lesa: Initially it’s shared friends, commonality of both living in Atlanta and now loving small-town life and the enjoyment of one another’s company. Megan’s never had a friendship with a man. Lee believes he has to first prove trustworthy as her friend or with no pressure, or there can never be more.

Alexis:
Why does Lee think that Megan is his dream girl?

Lesa:
Not only is she beautiful on the outside, but Lee also sees her heart. He sees she is genuinely kind and beautiful. Broken but beautiful.

Alexis:
Why does Megan hesitate to go after a second chance romance with Lee?

Lesa:
She is haunted by her past mistakes and believes that if Lee learns the truth about her, he will despise her.

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

Lesa:
Trust and Forgiveness. Playing out the two betrayals in Megan’s life not only brought up the issue of not being able to trust again but also the damage of holding onto unforgiveness.  
The power of forgiveness goes beyond forgiving those who have hurt us and accepting the forgiveness our Heavenly Father offers us through His Son (Jesus Christ), but also the grace to forgive ourselves. 

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

Lesa:
I want them to remember they have a Heavenly Father who loves them very much and has a good plan for their lives (Jeremiah 29:11). He is Someone they can trust.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Lesa! Would you like to share closing comments?

Lesa: Thank you so much for this opportunity, Alexis! It is such an honor. Also, thanks to those who have read or will now read Someone To Trust. I pray it blesses you. Please consider leaving a review – those really help. Stay tuned for a second book, which will revisit this beautiful mountain location and characters from Someone To Trust.

~*~
Author Bio:

Lesa Henderson discovered she loved to write at age 10 when she won her first writing contest. At age 13 she began submitting manuscripts. Since that time, she's been crafting articles and stories that have been published in national magazines and as non-fiction books and novels.  


She partners with her husband Ken as a screenwriter and filmmaker. Together they wrote, directed and produced Hope Has A Name, an award-winning documentary about ordinary women bringing extraordinary hope in unlikely places.

Lesa is a native Floridian, a hopeless romantic, wife to her childhood sweetheart Ken. She’s the mother of three grown children: Brandon, Tiffany, and Destiny. She is the grandmother of seven amazing grandchildren.

She enjoys traveling the world or just hanging out with Ken at new restaurants and at home with their Schnauzer Lilo and Phantom Poodle Groucho. Lesa also tends to be a bit quirky and has an unhealthy obsession with buttercream icing.

~*~
Blurb for Someone to Trust:


Megan McCormick doesn't leave Atlanta looking for love. Far from it. She runs to the mountain town of Laurel Crest to flee from her past and a broken heart. When she's knocked over by Lee Grainger, handsome veterinarian and lover of small-town living, Megan's life takes an unexpected turn.

Tired of fast-paced city life, Lee is considering a permanent move to the mountains. His run-in with Megan has him believing he's in Laurel Crest for more than a partnership in an animal hospital.

After a case of mistaken identity is cleared up, Megan and Lee strike up a friendship. Lee is everything Megan ever wanted—smart, loyal and dedicated to his faith. But Megan has experienced deep betrayal twice, and she's reluctant to give romance another try.

Can Megan come to terms with the secret that haunts her, get past her distrust of men, and accept the love Lee offers or will her heart be broken again?

~*~
Buy Lesa’s book on Amazon or Pelican Book Group

~*~
Connect with Lesa:
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/lesawhenderson
Twitter - https://twitter.com/lesahenderson
Website - https://www.lesahenderson.com

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

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Monday, July 19, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: The Plan


Follow the Plan
A devotional written by Angela Anderson

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”— Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

It was the second day of sneezing, coughing, a runny nose and a fever. My toddler son had just started daycare and his immune system was not ready for all of the friendly germs that were introduced to his little body.

He started off the week so full of energy and excitement to share with anyone who crossed his path. He told me how much he loved his teachers and he called out a few names of various children who he considered his companions. He was happy and full of life until the end of his first week when everything seemed to gradually change. When he refused to even taste his favorite food, I knew something was wrong.

I tried to get my son to at least drink something. He was not a big fan of water, but I was able to get him to swallow some apple juice. He had trouble falling asleep and I was sure it was his temperature that was preventing him from getting a good night's rest. I knew that he needed something to reduce his fever, so I pulled out the children's formula and I began to administer the cure. I poured the kid-friendly, berry-flavored medicine in a small cup that accompanied the bottle. My son took one look at it, placed his hand over his mouth, and vehemently shook his head. I tried to explain that this medicine would make him feel better, that his temperature would decrease, that his appetite for his favorite meal would soon return.

He reluctantly took the cup in his hand, raised it to his lips, proceeded to taste the medicine, and then quickly put it down on the table. I tried putting the medicine in a syringe, gently inserting it between his pursed lips, and then squirting it toward the back of his throat so that he could avoid tasting any of it. He kicked and screamed as the medicine entered his mouth. Just when I thought he was swallowing it, he was actually collecting it in the back of his mouth, and then all of a sudden, he spit it all out. 

What an impossible mission! I was only trying to help my son feel better because I cared so much about him and I did not want to see him suffering with a fever. My son even told me he wanted to feel better, but there was still so much resistance that proved otherwise.

Do we not behave the same way when God tries to do what is best for us?

We ask Him for guidance, we pray earnestly for His will to be done, but when God shows us the chosen path for our lives, we refuse the plan because it is not what we wanted or expected. We somehow feel that we know what is best so we resort to kicking and screaming instead of accepting God's perfect will which would save us from misery and pain.

Some of us would rather stay in our current situation instead of receiving deliverance from a God who knows and sees all. He was there from the beginning and He stands at the end, but we still resist. We are at times like the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-8). When Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well, he offered excuses as to why he was not well.

God is not concerned with why as much as He is concerned with how. He offers us His divine plan for our lives and all we have to do it accept it and follow it. Let's make it a point to choose His plan today!

Let’s Pray:
Dear God, thank you for loving us and caring so much about us. Help us to trust You in all things and to accept Your perfect will for our lives. May we be willing to follow Your plan, believing that You know what is best for us. In Jesus' 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, July 16, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Answers


What Am I Searching For?
A devotional by Jessica Collazo

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” –Hebrews 1:3 (ESV)

A few weeks ago, I attended a conference where the keynote speaker said something that has stood with me, which if I am honest, I am still processing.

She talked about how Jesus had all of the answers.

You may think, “Jessica, we know that already.” But I want us to pause and think about the weight of that statement. As Jesus walked this earth, he was fully God, meaning He knew all things. Everything that has happened, was happening and would happen.

For some reason, this stood out to me this time because I truly started to think about how I can get fixated on having all the answers. On understanding why things are happening or what solutions I can come up with. This was the first time that it hit me. Finally, I realized that Jesus had all of the answers, and that didn’t stop him from feeling the weight of everything that would happen to him: the sadness of losing a friend, the anger of seeing the house of God disrespected.

I have lived my life seeking to have answers, thinking that if I have the answers, it would change how I feel or the overall outcome of the situation. I am guilty of spending more time praying for answers to my situation, than praying for the Holy Spirit to guide me through the situation.

It is only through prayer and intimacy with God that I can face my problems. I have to accept that there are times when I may have answers to why things happen, but other times I may not. I also have to acknowledge that having answers cannot supersede having faith in God.

Jesus fully surrendered His will to His Heavenly Father, and I must learn to do the same no matter what is happening in my life. I know how hard life can be, but I hope that today you can remember that so does Jesus.

Let’s Pray: Thank you, Jesus, for loving us so much that you willingly came to this earth and carried the weight of our sins on that cross. Thank you for modeling what it’s like to wrestle with your emotions yet fully surrender your will to the Father. I pray for anyone who is struggling at the moment and seeking to understand why things are happening in their life. I pray that they would find peace in you. Help them to surrender their need for answers, and trust that you are taking care of every detail of their life. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen. 

*Note from Alexis: Jessica's devotional message today reminds me of the song "My Jesus'" by Anne Wilson. Listen to it here.

~*~
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, July 14, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Detours


Unplanned Detours
A devotional by Kay Pflueger

“I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with my eye on you, I will give counsel.”
— Psalm 32:8 (CSB)

A detour, according to the Merriam-Webster, is defined as “a deviation from a direct course or the usual procedure, especially: a roundabout way temporarily replacing part of a route.”

What is the first thing you think of when you read the words “Detour Ahead” on a road sign? Are you excited or do you inwardly groan and start to worry that you will be late for an appointment or an important meeting? My first thoughts are usually, “How far out of my way is this going to take me?” As inconvenient as they may be, those unplanned detours are usually meant to protect us from potential hazards in the road ahead of us.

I am the queen of planning ahead. I write lists and sometimes it feels as though I need a list to keep track of my lists! Being prepared gives me a sense of control. As a child, I remember the glove box of our car being filled with folded paper maps and then in later years, a Thomas Brothers Guide took their place. Like my lists, they were guides that showed us how to reach our destination. Now we rely on GPS or Google Maps to point us in the right direction.

Detours tend to throw that “planning ahead” mentality right out the window, don’t they? I am reminded of the saying, “Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” Proverbs 16:9 (NIV) says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” God has a plan for our lives and sometimes He needs to send us on what may seem like a detour to accomplish those plans.

2020 was a year of unplanned paths in my life—detours into widowhood and unemployment came at me with no road signs to warn me of their arrival. I was thrust onto messy and uneven roads without Google Maps to help me find my way. Through tears and prayers, I have learned to rely on what I call my GPS (God’s Piloting System) to travel those roads. I do not know why God chose these paths for me, but I am trying to trust in His infinite wisdom and His knowledge as to where these paths will lead.

Not all detours, though, are ones that God has set before us. When we take matters into our own hands, we may take detours that lead us into that “valley of the shadow of death.” How many times has the voice of your car’s GPS system said “recalculating” when you take a wrong turn? I wonder if God doesn’t shake His head and mutter the same word when we stray off the way He has set for us.

We usually expect detours to take us onto a new path from the road we are traveling, but then circle back to the original route so we can continue our journey. But occasionally, those detours take us in a whole different direction and lead us to places we did not expect to go but are an exciting and serendipitous adventure. My sisters and I took a road trip in 2008 on the old Route 66 and a few times we ended up detouring through rural parts of the country on old bumpy roads. Those were some of the most fun parts of the trip that were not included in our guidebook and in looking back, though not planned, added such memorable elements to the journey.

What have the detours in my life taught me? I am learning that no matter how inconvenient a detour may be, I will end up where God wants me to be—even if I do not think I want to be there. It is comforting to realize that God has a purpose for everything in my life and those detours are part of the plan for me to achieve that purpose.

Instead of grumbling and griping about those detours as they come along, what if we choose to face those long ways around with an attitude of learning and with re-adjusting our GPS? Think of what we might discover!

Let’s Pray: Father God, help us to be open to where you want us to go. You have plans for our lives that are much larger and more wonderful than anything we could have for ourselves. Open our minds to accept the detours you may have for us. Move us where we need to be so we can glorify you in all we do. In Jesus’s Name we 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.

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

Kay 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, July 13, 2021

Romantic Reads: A Dance in Donegal


The Story Behind the story A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel

In 2004, we had just moved back to the United States after two years living in remote, wild Donegal. Those two years were amazing…and hard…and life changing.

After we returned, I was struggling to process all we’d experienced in those long-but-brief two years. My faith had been stretched. I’d questioned my identity. And God’s sanity. I’d wondered about my place in the world, and how I could ever impact the darkness that seems to surround this world. And in His way and time, God was faithful. But there was still a lot to sift through.

Then one day, after reading a book about a quilting circle, this idea struck me for a story about a young Irish-American teacher who moves to her mother’s home village in Ireland to teach. Having suffered through a somewhat traumatic first year of teaching before moving overseas, it was easy for me to imagine what it might be like for a first-year teacher to start her career in a completely foreign environment, culture, and language. Thus, the baby idea for A Dance in Donegal took root.

I started writing right away, but was also expecting our first baby. Once she came along, the story sat. And sat. For years. Through that time, God continued to work on my heart and help me grow. We moved back to Ireland, and I learned even more about this amazing country, culture, and amazing, beautiful people. After another two and a half years back in Ireland, I picked the story back up, finding that it needed to be much different. Because I was different.

I’d learned more about the writing craft, the art of story, and I’d lived more of my faith. And some of my most favorite elements of the story came to life—the mystery element materialized, Moira’s main conflict and crisis of faith came to life, and secondary characters became like old friends.

There is so very much of my own heart and experiences bled onto the pages of A Dance in Donegal. And yet, Moira and Sean and Colm and Peg and all the others are their own people, with their own journeys. God showed me more of Himself and His grace as I wrote. And that is my prayer for all those who read it—that God would challenge and encourage them in their own faith journeys, no matter where on the spectrum of belief they start on.

And while they are fictional characters…figments of my own imagination…God used them to teach me more about faith, grace, and loyalty than if I’d never endeavored to write.

This story burned in my soul, and even though I was tempted to quit many times along the way because it was over 15 years from the time I started writing to when I signed the contract to publish it, I felt called to continue. And with that, I want to encourage you, dear reader, to keep on keeping on. If God has called you to it, He will equip you for it, and carry you through it, dark times and all.

~*~
Author Bio:

Jennifer Deibel is a middle school teacher whose work has appeared on (in)courage, on The Better Mom, in Missions Mosaic magazine, and others. 


With firsthand immersive experience abroad, Jennifer writes stories that help redefine home through the lens of culture, history, and family. 

After nearly a decade of living in Ireland and Austria, she now lives in Arizona with her husband and their three children.

Her debut novel, A Dance in Donegal, is available wherever books are sold! Her second novel, The Lady of Galway Manor, is available for pre-order and is set to release February 1, 2022.

~*~
Book Blurb for A Dance in Donegal:

After the loss of her Irish mother in the summer of 1920, Moira Doherty decides to fulfill her mother’s wish for her to leave Boston and teach in her mother’s home village of Ballymann in Donegal, Ireland.


Though a few locals offer a warm welcome, others are distanced by superstition and suspicion. Rumors about a scandalous family reputation abound and threaten not only her new position but also her life.

Moira must rely on the kindness of a handful of unlikely friends including Sean, a handsome thatcher, to help her clear her family name before it’s too late. As she seeks to navigate her new life in Ireland, she may find that this is truly the life she was always meant to live.

Historical romance fans will embrace this lyrical tale of family and relish the cultural nuances, the rich history and the beautiful setting imbedded in the pages of A Dance in Donegal.

~*~
Buy Jennifer’s book:
Baker Book House ~ ChristianBook.com ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Target ~ Books-A-Million ~ IndieBound ~ Walmart ~ Lifeway

~*~
Connect with Jennifer:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jenniferdeibel_author
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jenniferdeibelauthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20391683.Jennifer_Deibel
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jennifer-deibel

Monday, July 12, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Clean Slate


Create in Me a Clean Slate
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

“Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be—you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean.” 
–Psalm 32:1 (MSG)

Vacations always seem to be a time I hear from God. Maybe it’s because my pace slows down, my mind quiets and I take more time to tune into the many ways my Creator reveals Himself to me.

On a recent vacation, my nephew and I took a walk down to the beach. It was relatively quiet as most beachgoers had long since gathered their belongings and made their way home. As many kids do at the beach, Ryan started building a castle with a moat and spires, towers and walls. He took such great care with it and spent so much time on all the details, decorating it with big shells and tiny shells, twigs and seaweed. He crafted such an elaborate structure – it was quite impressive. As I looked down the beach I could see dotted across the shoreline, several other structures that remained from a busy day of play at the beach.

The next morning, as I walked the beach, I noticed the shoreline smooth as silk with no visible remnants of the castles that peppered its horizon just a few hours before. It was a blank canvas – an untouched fabric on which new “builders” could sculpt their structures on this new day. During the night, as the tides had washed through, the waves had carried the walls of the castles and structures out to sea with them. The rolling waters had pulled sand into the crevices and moats leaving a smooth, even surface in their place. I looked at that smooth, clean slate full of possibility and wonder. No baggage to be removed, no tearing down or correcting needed. Just a smooth surface awaiting a new day.

I got to thinking of how much I wish I could have a clean slate. How I wished I could erase all traces of the messes I had created in my life and wash away the disappointments and destruction that littered the broken road to my present. Almost immediately God spoke to my spirit, reminding me that He specializes in fresh starts. As our verse so clearly states above, we do get a clean slate to work from the moment we invite Jesus to reside in our hearts and every day thereafter. Even when we can’t seem to let go of or forget our past failures, God does. That accusing voice we hear isn’t our Savior’s. That guilt and condemnation we feel doesn’t come from our God. It’s the voice of our accuser who will stop at nothing to make us feel unworthy of the grace and love God so freely and extravagantly extends.

Lamentations 3:21-24 (MSG) tells us this, “It’s a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God. I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.”

These verse speak to my heart in such a powerful way. When it talks about hitting bottom I am immediately reminded of some of my “rock bottom” moments. Moments I would like to wipe off my slate forever. Before I had a relationship with Jesus, I had a relationship with drugs – one that almost killed me more than once. To say I had hit rock bottom was an understatement for sure. When I came to Christ, Satan loved to bring those memories to mind and conjure up feelings of embarrassment and shame. So I rarely shared with anyone these dark details of my past. The devil loves to keep things hidden, while God brings things into the light and washes them away.

One day I was in my office at work and a coworker came in on her day off, sitting next to me in our office. I asked her if everything was okay and she said she was “going through some stuff” but that I wouldn’t understand because I had my life so together. It was at that moment God convicted me that if I never shared where He had brought me from then I was robbing Him of His full glory. God can’t erase what we keep holding on to and hiding. But if we bring it to Him, His grace and mercy will clean our slate not just of the sin but of the guilt and shame that go with it.

When we tell of how God changed us and where He brought us from, He gets the glory He is due. If you are struggling today with a slate that you can never seem to get fully cleared, I encourage you to bring every burden to the foot of The Cross and leave it there in the very capable hands of our Redeemer (Jesus Christ) who paid a dear price to wipe our slates perfectly clean.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, we don’t have adequate words to express the gratitude we have for the sacrifice You made so that we could have a clean slate. Help us to release all of our burdens to You – all of our sin, shame, guilt and embarrassment. Empty us of all that interferes with our relationship with You and allow us to be filled with a deeper, more intimate connection to You. Help us to have a heightened sense of Your boundless love, unending grace and mercies which are new every morning. In Jesus’s name we ask this, Amen.

*Note from Alexis: Cyndi’s message today reminds me of the song “Create in Me a Clean Heart” performed by Donnie McClurkin. 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:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/souledoutcyndi/

Friday, July 9, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Finding God in the beauty of nature


Finding God in Big and Small Ways
A devotional by Karen Marstaller

For thus says the One Who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
— Isaiah 57:15 (ESV)

On a recent visit to California, my family and I were astounded by the grandeur of snow-capped mountain peaks, stunning electric blue lakes, vast Giant Sequoias, layers upon layers of lush ferns, and bubbling volcanic fields. Every day was an adventure to see which new turn in the trail would stop us in our tracks to stand in awe of God’s creative power.

On the last day we were there, we went to the Redwoods National and State Parks. Trekking down the gently curving path was a spectacular lesson in botany. Hundreds of Redwoods, along with much smaller trees, provided lovely shade and even shelter from a short spate of rain. A canopy of the Lord’s natural design served as our sanctuary.

Several signboards directed us to Big Tree just ahead. Almost 270 feet tall, and almost 70 feet around, Big Tree has lived for somewhere around 1,500 years. Surrounded by a deck, the tree is accessible to the hundreds of people who come every day to see this colossal reminder of our place in the world.

When I leaned over to touch the smooth-rough bark of the magnificent tree, I leaned back to look up. Suddenly overwhelmed by my own insignificance, all I could do was cry. God is our strong tower as Proverbs 18:10 reminds us. We look to Him to save us.

Just a few steps away another Redwood lay on its side, downed by wind or old age. It was almost halfway decayed, and much of the tree’s core spilled onto the ground in a trickle of sawdust. Such a sad, yet natural, part of God’s creation.

But out of the sawdust, fresh soil grew. A tiny plant drew sustenance from the death of the mighty Redwood above it. Its roots went deep, drawing moisture and life from the decay around it.

The tenacious little plant was adorned with dozens of tiny white flowers that were about the size of a pencil eraser. The petals of each blossom were shaped with small triangles. In number, they were seven.

Seven. Such a beautiful number, but as I knelt beside that fallen tree, it was a reminder to forgive—seventy times seven (as Jesus tells us to in Matthew 18:21-22). I looked up and surveyed my surroundings. Hundreds of those little flowers showed their lovely faces as far as I could see!

As I’ve thought and prayed about my experience that day, I understand now that God was showing me just a teensy glimmer of His majesty through His creation of Big Tree. In addition, He drew my eyes to see His message of forgiveness in a seemingly insignificant wildflower at my feet.

The Holy One, the King of the Universe, uses everything – even the smallest, most mundane things – to point us to Him. He loves for us to be amazed at His power, but He also demonstrates His love in myriads of ways. For me that day, He gently drew me to see His lesson. I needed to look up and to behold the creation given by my glorious King. And then it was time to look down, to go low, to be contrite, and to forgive seventy times seven—God’s number of infinity.

Let’s Pray: Father, please allow us to worship You in spirit and in truth, to acknowledge Your good and gracious love, and to be grateful for Your caring forgiveness and mercy. Please help us to do as You teach us, to forgive quickly, completely, and as often as we can. Help our forgiveness to be as fruitful as that little glen, growing daily with tons of Your seventy times seven. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

During this time of quarantine, Karen enjoys reading, writing, and connecting with friends and family via phone calls, texts, emails, blogs, live-streams, and video conferencing. 


She is grateful that the Lord has provided so many ways for humankind to stay in community, even when we are all hunkering down in our homes.

Karen says, “In this unprecedented time, we know that He has prepared us for such a time as this! To God be all the glory!”

You can reach Karen by emailing her at this address: klmarstaller@gmail.com