Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Romantic Reads: Heart's Desire

Interview with Linda Hoover about her book, Heart’s Desire:

Alexis: Why did you title this book “Heart’s Desire”? Explain the significance of your story title.

Linda: Early in the story, Julia tells her mother it’s her heart’s desire to marry for love. That struck me as the perfect title. The story is about her “heart’s desire.”

Alexis: Describe the heroine of your story (Julia). What makes her tick? What makes her beautiful? What makes her strong? What is her personality and outlook on life like?

Julia is youngest of four girls and a little spoiled. She’s intelligent, independent and a bit of a risk taker. She’s had more freedom in picking and choosing what gentleman she spends time with and if an offer of marriage came, her parents allowed her to turn it down. Because of this, she’s shocked when she’s informed of her father’s agreement to betroth her to Lucien.

Alexis: Why is Julia set on marrying for love and love alone?

Linda: Two of her sisters were maneuvered into advantageous marriages and neither is happy. Julia’s parents weren’t a love match and at times it’s obvious. Not to mention the examples she sees in their upper-class social circle. She doesn’t want to live like that.

Alexis: What is Julia’s relationship with her father like? In what ways does it threaten to place her in a love-less marriage?

Linda: Julia loves and admires her father. She’s always trusted in his protection and provision. His sudden decision to engage her to someone she doesn’t want is out of character for him. It’s confusing. She finds herself in a position where she’ll have to defy him or end up in a marriage like her sisters.

Alexis: Why did you choose to set this story in Boston, era 1880? Paint a picture of this time and setting with words.

Linda: I love history and Boston played a big part in our country’s beginnings. Beyond that, though, Boston in 1880 was full of things for young people to do. The story begins after the new year, so Julia and her friends bundle up and go sleighing, complete with sleigh bells, and spend time at the lagoon in the Public Garden ice skating. Julia and Jacob first see each other there. There are also lectures and concerts to attend in the evenings. All these things are open to everyone, regardless of social class. When the weather warms up, they go on picnics, walk in the park and ride the swan boats on the lagoon.

Alexis: Who is Lucien Harris and what role does he play in this story? How does he impact Julia’s life?

Linda: Lucien is the villain. He blackmails Julia’s father into giving his blessing on marriage to his daughter. Julia isn’t aware of the true circumstances and spends most of the time she’s with Lucien trying to change his mind. He represents the very thing she told herself would never happen to her.

Alexis: Who is Jacob Anderson and what role does he play in this story and in Julia’s life?

Jacob moved to Boston from a farm in upstate New York to work with his uncle in a jewelry store. He’s from the merchant class which makes him an unsuitable choice for Julia, but that doesn’t stop them from falling in love.

Alexis: What is it about Jacob that captivates Julia’s heart?

Linda: She would tell you it was love at first sight. A connection of hearts. Besides being handsome, he’s fun, gallant and caring. When she tells him about Lucien, he immediately wants to rescue her.

Alexis: What role does real-life faith in God play in the lives of your fictional characters?

Linda: Julia and her family go to church, but for most of the upper-class it had more to do with being seen going to church. Julia’s oldest sister meets someone who leads her to Christ and it makes a real difference in her life. She shares her experience with Julia and Jacob who also accept Christ.

Alexis: As the author, what brought you the most joy in writing this story? Why?

Linda: The characters were a lot of fun. One in particular, Edward, practically wrote himself. He’s not a main character, but is one of my favorites. I like putting them in situations they have to find their way out of and writing dialogue with sarcasm and humor.

Alexis: As the author, how does your faith in God impact the way you tell stories?

I pray daily that God will be the center of everything I do or say. For me that means the worlds I create are centered on God. My characters may not know him to begin with, or maybe they did and lost their way or are mad at him and feel justified in ignoring him, but before the story is over, they’ll come to know him and it’ll make a difference in their decisions and in the way their path ends up going.

Alexis: If you could step into this story (Heart’s Desire) and counsel Julia, what would you say? Why?

Linda: Being the author means I can speak through a character and that’s what I did with Katherine, Julia’s oldest sister. She shares her joy in finding new life in Christ and tells how he freed her from worry. Her faith in God’s presence and protection is strong and she encourages Julia, and later Jacob, to pray about everything, believing he hears and will answer according to what’s best for them. No matter what, they can trust him.

Alexis: As the author, what is your heart’s desire for the readers of this book?

Linda: I hope readers will be entertained by the story, but also be inspired to seek a closer commitment to God, or be encouraged to share their experience with someone who needs to hear what God can do.

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

Linda: I’d like to thank you, Alexis, for the privilege of being on your Romantic Reads blog. I enjoy the opportunity to reach potential new readers, and I’d like to invite everyone to stop by my website to learn more about me and my books.

Author Bio:

Linda lives in west central Ohio with her husband, daughters, grandson, two cats and a dog.  

She earned a degree in psychology from Anderson University where she learned the voices in her head were actually characters from stories waiting to be told.

Linda recently retired from the county’s public library system. It was the perfect place to indulge her love of young adult and Christian fiction. It was also a good place to build a long “To Read” list. These days she enjoys being a fulltime author in her home office, despite interruptions from family members and pets. Linda is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. 

Blurb for Linda's book:

Julia wants to marry for love … But her father’s secret condemns her to a love-less marriage. 

In 1880 Boston, Julia Phillips’s father betroths her to wealthy Lucien Harris to cover up a tragic secret. She has no interest in Lucien, but Jacob Anderson, a kind jewelry store clerk has captured her attention. Can she put off Lucien long enough to convince her parents to accept a man who isn’t in the upper-class as her husband?

Jacob works with his uncle in Boston, but plans to buy land for a farm out west when he has enough money. When Julia walks into their store his priorities change. Their mutual attraction grows into love, and he wants to be the man she marries. But how can he with so little money?

Julia feels increasing pressure from Lucien to pretend she’s happy about the upcoming wedding. Then, she discovers the arranged marriage is based on blackmail. Her family will be ruined if she doesn’t comply.

Will God make a way for Jacob and Julia to have their heart’s desire?

Buy Linda’s book on Amazon

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, August 30, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Division

A Church Divided Isn’t What Jesus Started
A devotional by Gena Anderson

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” – 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 (NIV)

History is full of conflict. World wars, civil wars, and religious conflicts fill the pages of history books. Humanity has been fighting for something, it seems, since the dawn of time. 

The Bible is filled with tales of nation against nation, Jews against Gentiles, and religious leaders against a Savior. People fighting should come as no surprise to us, yet many feel shocked, angry, saddened, and exhausted with all the division around us.

As we who live in the United States watch our country and our own friends and family be divided by their views on everything from racism to vaccines, we all react differently. Some fight back when met with resistance, others back down in retreat, and some go on offensive attack. I’ve stayed quiet, spoken up, offered sympathy, and everything in between. Recently I considered the damage that has resulted not to our country and relationships, but to the Body of Christ.

Jesus Christ came to create a united new body of people (Ephesians 2:14-15). Don’t misunderstand, He didn’t do that by accepting sin and rolling past ungodly conduct. Jesus was clear on God’s expectations, but He didn’t compromise his position on the whole “love one another” thing while making his points. That’s something we can’t say about how we’ve been acting lately.

When asked which commandment was greatest, Jesus says first to love God and second, to love others (Matthew 22:37-38). As Christians, we can’t allow our feelings to control our words and actions because those emotions often betray our love for the Lord and serve ourselves more than others. James 1:19-20 tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak, as well as slow to become angry because doing so will cause us to dishonor God. When we reverse those recommendations and are quick to speak in anger and slow to listen, we are making God and Christians look bad, and dividing the church that was intended to unanimously carry Jesus’ message of love to the world.

So what are we to do when the world seems to be turned upside down and we feel in conflict with so many? If we listen to Paul’s words in the verse above, we would do good to remember that everything we think isn’t meant to be said out loud. Furthermore, the things we feel we have the right to say and do might need to be set aside for the good of others. In fact, I don’t see anything in those top two commandments about anyone's rights.

Jesus loved all of us so much that He gave His life for us, and silently endured persecution and crucifixion. We can surely bite our tongues for the sake of bearing our cross. In the name of Christian love, we can seek to listen and understand more than we strive to be heard. When we feel ourselves frustrated with the unprecedented situations around us we can take a moment to remember we serve a God of power, provision, and presence who wants us to point others to Him.

When we speak and act, we can let the Holy Spirit lead us to discern how to do so in a way that is rich with the love of God and others, and void of arrogance and pride. I am going to try to do better, what about you?

Let’s Pray: Lord, help us remember that you are always in control, and we have no reason to fear. Forgive us for allowing our emotions to control us. Help us to call on your Spirit and follow its prompting, and to be more skilled in listening than we are in speaking. We are so thankful for and humbled by your never-ending love. 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

Friday, August 27, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Quicksand

Be Still
A devotional by Erin M. Handley

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8 (ESV)


Imagine every visual example of quicksand you can think of. Unaware of your surroundings, you step into a situation that consumes you faster than you’re able to understand how you got in that situation to begin with. It is the surprise of the faulty foundation that catches you off guard. You are unable to physically move forward without the aid of logical thinking.

Your body flails, and you fight for life in an attempt to find your footing. But the more you struggle to get out, the deeper and faster you seem to sink. The physical quicksand can be a scary thought, but the mental and emotional quicksand many of us find ourselves in seems to feel just as bad as what we imagine the physical quicksand feels like.

We find ourselves in a struggle. We attempt to fight the thoughts and emotions that come with our situation. We struggle so much that we find ourselves deeper in the thoughts and emotions we were trying hard to avoid. We go from fighting them to being engulfed by them. Sometimes we get so stuck in the thoughts that consume us that we forget to remember the basics. We forget that the best way to fight is to simply be still. Our stillness gives us the opportunity to think more clearly and to simply wait on help. But whatever happens, it requires us to make the first move and take the first action of BEING still.

Being still is very different from doing nothing. Doing nothing seems to increase the thoughts and emotions that surround us. To be still requires intentionality and strategic thinking. To be still, we must focus on being still. We must collect ourselves. We must require everything that's in us—every fiber of our being—to be in alignment. We must tell our mind and body to get on the same page of being still.

And suddenly...it happens. We're still. Our body is still, our thoughts are still, even the situation seems still. But let’s be clear: being still doesn't change the situation. You’re still stuck. The difference now is that you have had enough time to observe the situation. After some thinking you realize you can't help yourself. There is no way to pull yourself up, and there is definitely no way to pull yourself out. You recognize you are incapable of fixing the situation or manipulating your circumstances to adhere to your deepest wills and desires. What's done is done, and you need help to get out of the situation.

But where is the faith?

We know Matthew 7:7-8 instructs us to go after what we want and that it is our responsibility to put in the action if we really want to receive the benefit. The Bible says in Matthew 7:7-8 (ESV) “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

Easy right? But let’s remember that James 2:26 reminds us that faith without works is dead. In the same way that we ask for the door to be opened, we have to actually desire for the door to open. Us simply formulating our lips to utter the words doesn't necessarily equate as us asking for whatever we're asking for.

This is faith. You have to really want your circumstances to change before they do. Those thoughts and emotions you may struggle with will not disappear until you are truly ready for them to go. Realign your thinking. Focus on what's more important. If for no other reason than simply allowing them the freedom to just 'be', you have to focus on the positive. You have to intentionally—with everything in you—tell your troubles where to go. You don't care where they go, they just can't stay with you, in your physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual space.

Let’s Pray: Father God, thank you! Thank you for allowing us the authority of our minds and hearts. Thank you for entrusting us with the responsibility to be good stewards of our thoughts and emotions. We recognize that we can’t always control things that happen around us, but we thank you for allowing us to manage the things we can control – ourselves. Father, we ask that you help us in our times of need. When we can’t find a way out, we look directly to you. But we ask that you remind us that our faith is our responsibility. You require that when we bring our requests to you that we must also have the faith that is double the size of the request. Lord, we desire to elevate our minds and hearts. Thank you for continuously giving us opportunities to grow closer to you. And when we are in our darkest hours, we ask that you remind us to be still, focus, and tell our troubles where to go. In Jesus’s Name we pray. Amen.

*Note from Alexis:
Erin’s devotional today reminds me of this song “Be Still” by Steven Curtis Chapman. Listen to it here.

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, August 25, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Rainbow

After the storm there is always a rainbow!
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 was always the person who said they didn’t want to have kids. I never saw myself as a kind person, and being completely honest, I wasn’t one of those young girls who always dreamed of their wedding or getting married. After having my daughter, I thought I was done. I said I’ll be one and done. I was content with just her.

My husband and I always said we weren’t going to have kids together. He has a boy and I have my daughter. So technically, we have the pair, and we were fine by that. But everything changed after my grandfather died last August. I was sitting on the couch watching my uncles and aunt discuss funeral plans and sharing the burden of this loss. It brought me back to when my mom passed, my sister was six years old, and every decision fell on me. It was extremely overwhelming. So, I thought to myself: I cannot do this to my daughter.

I discussed it with my husband and got him on board. We started trying for a baby. After a few negative tests, we finally got a positive. I took two tests just to make sure, and I was beyond excited, so I wanted to spread the news right away to our families even though my husband wanted to wait. We told my family and then his after I told my daughter. I recorded all their reactions. I just felt like, wow, God answered my prayers!

Two days later, I had my miscarriage. I was utterly devastated. Just like with experiencing the loss of my mom and my grandfather, I kept thinking about Psalm 34:18 (NIV) “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Reading this verse and listening to Contemporary Christian songs by Lauren Daigle really helped me cope with this devastating loss.

Fast forward to April 2020: We finally got our positive pregnancy test again! I was and still am worried about losing this baby, but I remember how much I prayed and how faithful God is. I also look back at all the events that happened prior to getting pregnant, and it makes sense why God waited. I wanted it to happen so bad, and it did—right when it was supposed to happen! 

God’s timing is always perfect. I know that Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) is a very popular verse, but I feel like it’s the perfect verse to describe this situation. The verse reads, “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.”

When God puts something in your heart, it will happen, but only in His time. We must be patient, which is something I need to continue working on.

Let’s pray: Lord, help me remember that Your plans for my life are better than the plans I make on my own. I pray that my plans align with Your plans for my life. Thank You for all the blessings you have provided thus far. I am looking forward to growing with You and trusting You more. 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, August 24, 2021

Romantic Reads: The Cowboy’s Amish Haven by Pamela Desmond Wright

The Story Behind the story The Cowboy’s Amish Haven 
by Pamela Desmond Wright

Cowboys and Amish.

It seemed like an impossible combination. However when my (then) agent suggested the combo, I decided to accept the challenge and write a book incorporating all those themes.

At the time, I was coming off a stinging set of rejections for a book proposal my agent believed had a lot of promise. Alas, except for one revise and resubmit from an editor at Harlequin, there were no takers for the book. Unsure how to fix the problems the editor wanted to address, I put the file aside and began working on the first book in my Texas Amish Brides series.

Wait a minute! Texas Amish? No way, you might say!

Why not? There are a few tiny Amish settlements in the Lone Star State, so why not expand it and create the fictional town of Burr Oak? No one said I couldn’t, so I did. Writing up the proposal, I sent it to my agent.

She wasn’t into it. And she dropped me like a stone shortly thereafter.

Agentless, I began the search for a new representative. I soon connected with Tamela H. Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. Instead of seeing the negative, she saw the positive in the project. Soon thereafter, the book was submitted to Harlequin for their Love Inspired imprint.

Determined to prove the project had merit, I kept working on the proposal to turn it into a full manuscript. I was halfway through the book when I had a freak accident and had to go into the hospital for surgery during the height of the Covid pandemic. Barely out of the hospital, I received the news my brother had passed away. Between the accident that almost cost me my life and my sibling’s untimely death, I was thrown into a deep depression. I simply could not function.

After a few months, it began to dawn on me that doing nothing accomplished nothing. I knew to get better, I needed a focus. Writing has always been the way to do that. So, I went back to the book and finished the manuscript. A few months later, the file landed on the desk of Melissa Endlich at Harlequin. Despite the book’s many flaws (and there were many) she found the wheat in the chaff and bought the manuscript. Several rewrites later, the book that had no hope of ever being published was finished. The Cowboy’s Amish Haven releases today (August 24, 2021)!

Oh, and that first project I could not figure out what to do with? I did revise and resubmit. That book sold to Harlequin Love inspired, too!

If you’d like to know more about me and my books, please visit me online at: www.pameladesmondwright.com

Author Bio:

Pamela Desmond Wright grew up in a small, dusty Texas town. From the time she learned to read, books have been her passion. Beginning with Dick and Jane, progressing through Nancy Drew and then onto romances of all genres, Pamela devoured stories by popular authors. At one time, Pamela was the proud owner of five library cards! 

Pamela won the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award in 2010. She was also a founder of the scam publishers and agents website, The Write Connection, which was transferred to the SFWA through (then) vice-president A.C. Crispin to become Writer Beware. Her experiences with scam agents and publishers was documented in Professor Jim Fisher’s book, Ten Percent of Nothing: The Case of the Literary Agent From Hell.

In 2013, Pam took a break from writing to reassess her career choices. Unable to shake the story bug, she came back to in 2019 with a new focus and vision, fulfilling a promise to write inspirational and wholesome books her entire family could enjoy.

After signing with Tamela H. Murray of The Steve Laube Agency, Pamela sold her first Amish Romance to Harlequin for the Love Inspired imprint. The Cowboy’s Amish Haven will debut in September 2021. Though her characters are often handed difficult challenges in life, they always persevere over the darker times through the power of faith and love.

Like the Amish, Pamela is a fan of the simple life. Her childhood includes memories of the olden days; old-fashioned oil lamps, cooking over an authentic wood-burning stove and making popcorn over a crackling fire at the cabin owned by her grandparents. She also loves needlepoint and has dozens of projects to work on! Someday, she hopes to move into van life, living on the road as a traveling writer.

Blurb for Pamela’s book, The Cowboy’s Amish Haven

Her home and her heart are on the line…

On the same day Gail Schroder’s faced with losing her Amish family ranch, her old crush Levi Wyse shows up on her doorstep. He doesn’t know that when he left ten years ago he’d taken Gail’s heart with him. Now Levi’s her only hope of keeping a roof over her head.

But can this cowboy teach Gail the ropes in time to save her home?

Buy Pamela’s book on Harlequin, Amazon or Barnes and Noble 

Connect with Pamela:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PamDWrites/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/pamdwrites
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pamdwrites/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21154533.Pamela_Desmond_Wright
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/pamela-desmond-wright

Monday, August 23, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: A life lesson learned from growing a houseplant

Be a Houseplant
A devotional by Glynis Becker

“The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.” 
– Isaiah 58:11 (NLT)

I’m not a great gardener. I love the idea of planting seeds in the spring, watering them throughout the summer as the shoots grow into stalks, and enjoying bursts of colored flowers or delicious vegetables as they mature. But when it comes right down to it, I don’t enjoy the work it takes to get that end result.

I hate being outside in the heat of summer. I certainly don’t enjoy weeding. (Does anyone?) We don’t get a lot of rain where we live, so watering is a constant necessity which I sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) forget.

I do like houseplants, though, and I’m pretty good at keeping them alive, so this year when I saw an indoor cherry tomato plant kit, I thought it might be fun to try. In April I planted a few little seeds in a Mason jar and for months I’ve watered it, watching, fertilizing, and waiting.

One of my favorite parts of growing plants is watching how they move. During those early weeks when the stems were thin, the tiny shoots would bend almost in half trying their hardest to catch the sunlight. Every day I would rotate the pot a little bit, so they would learn to grow upright.

I love that plants have an instinct to turn their faces to the sun. They know what they need to grow and their instinct is to take as much of it as they need. They will send out roots as far as they need to go to get as much water and nutrients as they can because whether they know it or not, they have one purpose: to grow and produce fruit.

I am so much more stubborn than those plants! God loves me enough to let me make choices about how much I turn my face to Him, how much I want to grow, and how much fruit I want to produce. And I am so often too comfortable, too lazy, or too busy to make good choices. But what joy there is for both of us when I do!

Jesus wants us to choose Him—not because we have to, like that tomato plant—but because we want to. He wants us to choose today to turn our faces in expectation that He can take the tiny shoots of faith in our lives and make us powerful, fruitful witnesses to His love and care in this world.

So in case you’re wondering, it’s now August and my plant has three tiny green-olive-like tomatoes that haven’t grown bigger in weeks. I’m pretty sure my experiment in indoor gardening was a bust. But I am so thankful for a God who is a much, much better gardener than I am!

Let’s Pray: Creator God, fill me with Your Holy Spirit today as I go about my work. Be the gardener in my life, turning me to You. Prune away all of the things in my life I have no need for, and keep me close as I look to You to give me everything I need for this life and the next. 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/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GlynisBecker7

Friday, August 20, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: A life lesson about joy learned from a child

Joyful Abandon
A devotional by Karen Marstaller

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name!” – Psalm 100:4 (ESV)

When our oldest granddaughter was about three years old, we visited at our son and daughter-in-law’s church one Sunday. The children were in the nursery, but as soon as the service was over, they were reunited with their parents. As we waited eagerly for a glimpse of our sweet girl, we watched the doorway to the nursery as other kids came out. After what seemed like a long wait, our son finally appeared holding our precious little one’s hand.

What happened next is something I’ve treasured ever since. Corie let go of her daddy’s hand and ran full-tilt to me, calling, “Grama! Grama! Grama!” Then she flung her little body into my arms, and we went round and round in the nearly empty lobby.

That day, a beautiful life lesson dawned on me:
Jesus Christ waits eagerly for His children to come tearing toward Him, even more eagerly than we waited that day. He relishes the moment we fling ourselves into His arms. And when there is joy motivating our reunion, it makes it all the better.

And there’s another lesson, too:
The Lord gives every one of His followers a set of talents specifically tailored for each person. Our giftings are as individual as we are, and God’s creative power gives us our own personal mission in service to Him.

The secret to serving the Lord is joy. It’s the story of the little girl in my arms. She ran to the grama she loves. With no thought about whether I’d catch her, she leapt with complete abandon. Then in celebration of our reunion, she experienced the joy of spinning crazy circles, secure and loved.

When Jesus said, “Follow Me” to Simon Peter and his brother in Matthew 4:19, He said it as a continual invitation to us, as well. Matthew records that Simon and Andrew immediately dropped their nets to follow Jesus. Two work-hardened fishermen walked away from everything they had always known to follow their Savior into an unknown they couldn’t even imagine. They ran! They jumped in with both feet! And their lives were never the same.

It’s not always easy.

My first teaching job started on October 12, 1994. I admit I didn’t run toward it, let alone jump, but from the very first day, God walked through it with me. Because of His love for the students in my classroom, He gave me love for them, as well. So, I learned my mission: Love high school students who didn’t want to be there and teach them how to learn. Piece of cake, right?

Looking back on those early years, I can answer with a resounding “Yes!” I was finally serving Him with the specific gifts He’d given me when He created me. With each new day, I was able to look ahead to whatever the Lord placed in my path with joy, and yes, sometimes with trepidation. But God walked me through it all. I was never alone, although it sometimes felt like the world was spinning madly.

Teaching wasn’t easy, nor did I always obey. For one whole year, I stayed at a school where I was clearly not designed to be. He had another job for me, but I was perfectly comfortable where I was. Christ’s lesson finally sank into my heart, and He opened another door. With a clear path ahead of me, I was again able to run with joy toward each new day. His forgiveness is transformative.

Now retired after a full career, I still wake up and ask the Father what we’re going to do today, and the answers look very different. Sometimes, especially during the pandemic, the answer is to encourage women in Bible study, to check in on friends and neighbors, to write, and mostly, to study His Word (The Holy Bible) to share with others, and always, to pray. The trick is to still leap to the task in front of me with that same joyful abandon.

The reward for obedience is that we do all things through Christ because He strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). Jesus, the Lover of our souls, is with us.

Let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, You said that we will have life in You, and that we will have it abundantly. Please help us to love and serve You—the Lord of Heaven and Earth. 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

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Fitting In

Clarity Against Conformity
A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
– Romans 12:2 (NIV)

As humans, we are social creatures.

Belonging—whether to a romantic partner, a family, or a group—is essential to us. 

What’s the number one concern of kids heading into a new school? Friends. They’re not stressed about what classes they’ll take; they’re focused on who they will sit with at lunch. For many kids, it’s not just a new school either. Every day can see a shifting social scene with new alliances and fractured friendships. The drama in middle school is rough, folks. Children are thrown into this high-test social environment right when they are beginning to develop the character they will take with them into adulthood. The pressure to conform so one can fit in can be exhausting. And it doesn’t stop with middle school.

We all face the pressure to fit in—whether it’s within our family, our community, or our country. We’re told if we want to belong, we need to conform. For Christians, that’s a non-starter. As Paul tells us in the verse above, we are called out of the world, transformed by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. This means that we are not going to fit in.

We should look to God for what is good and right, not to the world around us. Does that mean we don’t belong? Well, yes and no. We are not of this world, but we are to live in it, form relationships, love our neighbors and even our enemies. As Christians, we should stand out, not blend in. People should know we belong to God because of how we conduct ourselves. 

In the United States, we are in a time of rancor and discord. There are so many factions forming, teams we’re urged to join, sides we’re supposed to be on. But we don’t belong to any of them; we belong to God. The Church’s only foundation is Jesus Christ, and that one Church spans the globe with members of all ethnicities, all countries.

We need to engage our discernment in times like this to live in a world that is so intent on getting us to conform. Remember the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

If the group you’re being urged to join shows none of this fruit, it’s not a place you can belong. It doesn’t mean you can’t have a relationship with others outside of the faith; on the contrary, we need to be in the world as salt and light. But for loyalties, for allegiances, we have one that transcends all others. We can give time to worldly matters, but our hearts have to stay with Jesus. It’s the only way to live in the world and not be conformed to it.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, please give our hearts and minds discernment to help us navigate the dangerous waters we find ourselves in. Bind us to You so that our feet may stay on the path that leads to an eternity spent with You in our true home (Heaven). 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, August 17, 2021

Romantic Reads: Husband Auditions

The Story behind the story Husband Auditions by Angela Ruth Strong

To my husband’s great relief every time he hears me mention my next novel, I’m not actually holding Husband Auditions. It’s just the title of my book.

I got the idea for this story from a popular article that was making the rounds on social media a couple years ago. It included a list of ways to attract a husband in the 1950s. Ideas included everything from crying softly in a corner to painting your phone number on your roof for pilots to dial. I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if a modern-day woman decided to try this list out.

I took the article to a writer’s conference and invited others to help me brainstorm. Peter Leavell, being a history professor, was particularly intrigued by the suggestion of carrying a hatbox around. He said, “Ooh…a hatbox.” To which I responded, “Only you, Peter.” And thus I had to make him a character in my book.

The story revolves around Meri Newberg being the last of her friends to get married, which means she inherited her best friend’s magazine list at her wedding. Meri’s then forced to move into her brother’s house since she’d been roommates with her best friend, but she’s in a funk and feeling like a failure.

Kai Kamaka, her brother’s roommate, is a cameraman for the local news and has no ambition to get married, but he does want to get hired to work on a local television show for which he needs a demo reel. He sees Meri’s list as an opportunity to start a YouTube show and thus make a name for himself. He’s the last man she’s looking for, but as he films “Meri Me” and becomes her new best friend, she starts to wonder if he would ever change.

My author friends and I couldn’t help laughing as we plotted, which is how I knew the book was going to be a romantic comedy, but I also wanted it to have a strong message about healthy relationships.

I’d just recently read a self-help book called The Emotionally Destructive Relationship by Leslie Vernick, which talks about seven heart issues that create dysfunction. One of those issues is laziness. This is something I’ve seen many women deal with in our society—they have husbands who don’t want to get up off the couch to help out. The men are likable and have redeeming qualities that made their wife fall in love with them, but the wife didn’t realize how hard their marriage is going to be when she has to do all the work. I wanted to offer some insight to women dealing with this since you don’t see lazy heroes in most books.

Enter Kai. He’s lazy but lovable. One of my pre-readers even labeled him in their “top five” list of heroes, while another one said, “He’s perfect because he’s different.” My publisher was actually worried about this at first. They made me give him more redeeming qualities in the beginning so readers wouldn’t be disgusted and put the book down. Apparently, it worked.

The story practically wrote itself. And the end is what one endorser calls, “Better than an easy happily-ever-after.”

Life can be happy even when it’s not easy. Really, it’s all the characters’ challenging and embarrassing moments that make the story fun for us. Then seeing them overcome their challenges can help us overcome our own.

My own challenge is that I was diagnosed with cancer before I sold this book to a publisher. Through my chemotherapy, I didn’t have the energy to write anything new, so I thought about this book. I imagined the different scenes and dreamed of the opportunity to share it with you. The fact that you are reading this article means my dream is coming true.

I’m also cancer free now, though I did have to go in for another surgery recently. Thankfully, my husband is taking good care of me. Had I ever actually held my own husband auditions, he would have been the clear winner.

Author Bio:

Angela Ruth Strong sold her first Christian romance novel in 2009 then quit writing romance when her husband left her. 

Ten years later, God has shown her the true meaning of love, and there's nothing else she'd rather write about.

Her books have since earned Top Pick in Romantic Times, won the Cascade Award, and been Amazon best-sellers. Her book Finding Love in Big Sky just filmed on location in Montana and will air soon. She also writes nonfiction for SpiritLed Woman.

To help aspiring authors, Angela started IDAhope Writers where she lives in Idaho, and she teaches as an expert online at Write That Book.

Blurb for Husband Auditions:

How far would you go to find the perfect husband? All the way back to the 1950s?

In a world full of happily-ever-after love, Meri Newberg feels like the last young woman on the planet to be single, at least in her Christian friend group. So when she's handed a strange present at the latest wedding—a 1950s magazine article of "ways to get a husband"—she decides there's nothing to lose by trying out its advice. After all, she can't get any more single, can she?

Her brother's roommate sees the whole thing as a great opportunity. Not to fall in love—Kai Kamaka has no interest in the effort a serious relationship takes. No, this is a career jump start. He talks Meri into letting him film every silly husband-catching attempt for a new online show. If it goes viral, his career as a cameraman will be made.

When Meri Me debuts, it's an instant hit. People love watching her lasso men on street corners, drop handkerchiefs for unsuspecting potential beaus, and otherwise embarrass herself in pursuit of true love. But the longer this game goes on, the less sure Kai is that he wants Meri to snag anyone but him. The only problem is that he may not be the kind of husband material she's looking for . . .

With droll comic timing, unbeatable chemistry, and a zany but relatable cast of characters, Angela Ruth Strong has created a heartfelt look at the reality of modern Christian dating that readers will both resonate with and fall for.


Monday, August 16, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Comfort

Words of Comfort
A devotional by Angela Anderson

“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you ...”
—Isaiah 66:13a (NIV)

When I was a child, there were a few instances when I woke up from a nightmare with my heart beating very quickly and my sweaty palms clutching my blanket. What happened in my dream seemed so real and it caused me to scream for my mother.

As she barged into my room to find me in the dark, she sat in front of me on my bed. I quickly grabbed on to her and hugged her as tightly as my little arms would allow. The embrace was comforting, but what really calmed me down were the words that she whispered in my ear: “It’s okay. I’m here. It was a dream. You are alright.”

Not too long ago, my son woke up in the middle of the night, rushed into my bedroom, shook me out of sleep, and then told me that he had a terrible nightmare. He was visibly upset and I wrapped my arms around him to console him as he cried.

I felt his heart beating against my chest and his body was shaking. As I held him, I started to tell him that everything was going to be alright. I told him that it was a dream and now he was awake so he does not have to worry anymore. I reminded him that God is always with him and the angels are watching over him at all times. I walked him back to his bed, sat with him while holding his hand. He breathed a long sigh of relief and eventually fell asleep.

Throughout the course of our lives, we experience numerous circumstances that threaten to shake us to the core. Many times, we are in need of a word that will comfort us and give us peace. God’s Word (The Holy Bible) is full of promises and if we draw close, we can feel His presence and hear His still small voice in our ear.

Let’s look at these promises found in The Holy Bible:

A promise for when you are afraid: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

A promise for when you feel alone: “...Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you...” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV)

A promise for when you feel anxiety: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)

A promise for when you are confused:  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)

A promise for when you need peace: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

Remember: God’s Word will comfort us in any situation.

I’m so glad that His comfort will always available to us all!

Let’s Pray:
Dear God, thank you for giving us your Word and for blessing us with Your precious promises. We are so thankful that You are always there for us. May we always find comfort in You. 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:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/angelanderson1104/

Friday, August 13, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: A Life Lesson Learned from Muddy Water

Muddy Water
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.” –Proverbs 25:26 (ESV)

McKinley Morganfield was born in April 1913 in Mississippi. His grandmother said that he liked to play in the water of Deer Creek that ran near their home. He always came home muddy, so she started to call him Muddy.

The nickname stuck. Muddy became a proficient, self-taught musician and pioneered a genre of music called Chicago Blues. He added Waters to his moniker as he became more famous.

I suspect that the songs that Muddy Waters wrote and performed were the fruit of agitated, murky, possibly impure and painful life experiences. The Blues. In the Bible, the phrase “muddy water” is an analogy to confusing, unstable, polluted, or disconnected circumstances and the result of turning against God’s revealed will. I believe such actions result in us having “the blues”.

Recently, when I read Proverbs 25:26 (ESV), I was reminded of Muddy Waters. The text says: “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.” This picture doesn’t seem very hopeful. 

However, the Bible doesn’t leave us without hope. His name is Jesus. As “The Good Shepherd”, Jesus Christ leads us “beside still waters”. He leads us beside the still water so that we can drink, be refreshed, and rest in harmonious and pleasant situations.

While we can’t control every experience of our lives, when we reflect upon them, our attitudes can make the difference between a blues song and a praise party. Our positive attitudes can purify our streams of consciousness. Our positive attitudes may change the environment in which we live, work and worship. Let’s not bow before the wicked.

Let’s stand in the love, truth and power of the will and word of God.

In so doing, we might make muddy water clean again.

Let’s pray: Dear God, thank you for this day. As we got out into our own little worlds, help us not to be muddy water. Help us to be refreshing streams of grace. Use us to brighten darkness, clarify opacity, lighten loads and inspire smiles. In the name of Jesus 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, August 11, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Jesus Christ is The Good Shepherd for humankind

The Good Shepherd
A devotional by Kay Pflueger

“I am the good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” 
– John 10:11 (TLB)

One of my favorite images of Jesus Christ is one that seemed to be hung on the wall of every Sunday school classroom I entered as a child.

It was a familiar one to me that pictured Jesus carrying a lamb on His shoulders. I must admit that all I knew about sheep is that you count them to fall asleep at night. So, I spent some time on Google reading about them. I discovered some interesting facts in my reading.

I learned that in biblical times there were two types of sheep pens. There was a permanent pen that was constructed of stones with one entrance so narrow that only one sheep could enter at a time. This allowed the shepherd to easily count the sheep as well as to assess their physical condition. The second type of pen was a rather makeshift one constructed out in the field with whatever the shepherd could find to piece together. The shepherd would lie down across the opening, creating a “human” gate of sorts to keep predators at bay.

What images of Jesus does this conjure up in your mind? To me, as the “gate” in the permanent pen, He keeps track of us and monitors our condition. On the flip side, as the temporary gate, He protects us with His life and body.

As well as proclaiming that He is a gate for the sheep, Jesus calls himself the “Good Shepherd". He mentions some of the characteristics of a good shepherd: someone who knows his sheep and calls them by name, someone whose voice the sheep recognize, and someone who would lay down his life for his flock.

Jesus knows us completely, and that is a comforting thought to me. But, let’s look at it from the other side. What kind of knowledge do you have of Him? Do you recognize His voice?

As part of knowing us, the Good Shepherd (Jesus) calls us by name and was willing to lay down His life for us (His flock). In John 10:28 (ESV) we read, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

Take a moment to ponder the depth of that kind of love.

As we join our hearts in prayer, meditate on these words from 1 Peter 2:25 (TLB): “Like sheep you wandered away from God, but now you have returned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls who keeps you safe from all attacks.”

Let’s pray: Forgive our wanderings, Jesus. Thank you that you search for us and always bring us back into the fold and into your loving arms. In your name I pray. Amen.

*Note from Alexis: Kay’s devotional reminds me of this song based on Psalm 23. Listen to it on YouTube here.

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, August 10, 2021

Romantic Reads: Until June

The Story Behind Until June by Barbara M. Britton

Over the years, I have heard authors say that they were writing the book of their heart. I didn’t understand that terminology until I wrote Until June. I’m known for writing Biblical Fiction, so why should I release a WWI Historical? Throughout my life, God was preparing me to write Geoff and Josephine’s story.

Veterans hold a special place in my heart. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during the Vietnam War. I remember the conflict from television and the conflict from growing up in the home of the Hippies. I thought it was sad that men who had fought in battle had to come home and not debrief from their memories. Many soldiers had to hide their service in Vietnam. We understand now that many servicemen and women experience post-traumatic stress disorder and need to talk about what happened during their time of service.

Fast forward a few decades. My family and I were on an Alaskan cruise excursion outside of Juneau, Alaska. We visited the Taku Glacier Lodge and heard how a WWI veteran and his caregiver had lived at the lodge. In winter, the Taku River would freeze, and the man and his caregiver would be shut off from society. A man and a woman alone in a lodge? Seems isolating, but perhaps the veteran liked the solitude. Characters and a storyline began to develop in my mind.

I wrote Until June about a severely injured veteran and an inexperienced caregiver residing in a remote lodge due to the severity of the veteran’s wounds and the pandemic of 1918. Unfortunately, no one wanted to publish my story. I continued writing other stories—stories from the Bible—and forgot about my Historical.

One day, my son texted me that someone had “stolen my story.” No writer wants to get a text like this one. My son had seen a movie trailer for “Me Before You.” The movie was about a quadriplegic man and his caregiver who happen to fall in love. Yes, this was the same trope as my Historical. When I read the blurb to “Me Before You,” I discovered the ending was nothing like my book. My character, Geoff Chambers, overcomes his hardships and disabilities from war and grabs hold of life again. The character in “Me Before You” (Spoiler Alert) chooses to end his life even though he has fallen in love with his caregiver.

Was it time to see if my caregiver-trope story would be accepted by a publisher and show readers that no matter how hard life gets, it is always worth living? Would I be able to show readers the honesty of a veteran’s struggles? Or that caregiving is a rewarding, yet a draining task? Could two people who needed healing find it in God and help each other along the way?

Eleven years after I began writing about Geoff Chambers and Josephine Nimetz, their story saw the light of day. Pelican Book Group published Until June in June of 2020—during a pandemic.

Each new day is a blessing from God. Geoff and Josephine grab hold of that realization after a little conflict and tension, and a lot of love from an author.

Author Bio:

Barbara M. Britton lives in Southeast, Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. 

She is published in Biblical Fiction and loves bringing little-known Bible characters to light in her Tribes of Israel series. Her WWI Historical Until June released in 2020.

Barbara has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate.

Book blurb for Until June:

When seventeen-year-old seamstress, Josephine Nimetz, agrees to take care of a WWI amputee in a remote Alaskan lodge to escape the influenza of 1918, there’s enough friction to melt the Mendenhall Glacier. Her position is only until June, and it pays well enough to overlook the hardship of managing a rustic home and a shell-shocked veteran, Geoff Chambers.

Geoff makes it clear that he isn’t too fond of the “runt” sent to take care of his needs, nor of her painful mistakes. Dealing with a depressed and addicted amputee, pushes Josephine to the brink of leaving, if not for the money her salary brings.

But Josephine is a perfectionist, determined to get Geoff back on his feet—figuratively. Though, sending a rich, handsome veteran back into society may cost Josephine the man she has grown to love.

Buy Barbara’s book on
Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Connect with Barbara:
Website: www.barbarambritton.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14983213.Barbara_M_Britton
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/barbara-m-britton
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Barbara-M-Britton-173432342754243/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarbaraMBritton

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, August 9, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Memory

God Has Not Forgotten You
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

“He never forgets to show us his love and faithfulness.”
—Psalm 98:3a (TPT)

As we proceed through life we remember all kinds of things – birthdays, experiences, to lock the car doors, etc. But if we are being honest, we also forget many things – important dates, pots cooking on a stove, even children in the car. According to KidsAndCars.org, a national nonprofit focused on keeping children safe in and around vehicles, each year about 38 children die from being left unattended in a hot car. That's about one child every nine days.

All in all, more than 900 children have lost their lives this way since 1990. It’s scary to think about, but in the article I read they say it, “often happens when people are doing something outside their normal routine” and that “it could happen to anyone” as “forgetting a child is not a negligence problem but a memory problem”. Yikes!

In light of just this one statistic, isn’t it mind-blowing that the God of the universe is a God who not only remembers us but remembers every single detail of our lives? He even remembers the number of hairs on our head! I lose so many hairs every day, how can He possibly keep up?

The fact is, God would never forget us—no matter how many children He has or how much He has going on in the world. Even though sometimes it may seem like He has forgotten about us or He has abandoned us, He never has and He never will. This is a truth we can stand on! God shows us over and over in His Word (The Holy Bible) how He constantly remembers His people because of His great love for them.

A prime example of God’s great love for humankind is found in the Bible book of Genesis when God’s people had been enslaved in Egypt for hundreds of years. They were abused and beaten, forced into hard labor and they even had their baby boys taken and killed. Do you think at any time during those 400+ years the Israelites thought God had forgotten about them? I know I would have. But God’s Word tells us differently. Exodus 2:24-25 (NLT) tells us, “God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.”

Now I’m sure the Israelites thought “it was time to act” after the first month. Certainly after the first year. Or 100th year. I’m sure they felt they had been long forgotten by their God. But in these verses we are told that not only did God remember them, He heard their groans and remembered His promise made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. God came to their rescue.

Friends, there are so many stories in the Bible about how God remembered His people when they probably felt forgotten. Like Rachel, who was childless for so long until Genesis 30:22 (NLT) tells us, “God remembered Rachel’s plight and answered her prayers by enabling her to have children.” We know God doesn’t change. We know that even though we are fickle and forget, our God never does.

I don’t know what circumstance you are facing today that may have you feeling like God has forgotten you, but I can assure you He hasn’t. Let these stories of God’s faithfulness fuel your faith by reminding you how God remembered His people long ago. He will remember you too. Take some time every so often to have a little Messiah “memorial day” when you take time to remember how God has remembered you in the past and remains faithful to you today.

Let’s Pray: Holy God, thank you for being a God whose memory never fails! Help me to see that even during the times when I can’t see You, feel You or hear You, you have not abandoned me and have never forgotten me. Reveal to me encouragement in Your Word, seeing how You remain faithful to Your people even when we are not faithful to You. You remember us, rescue us and restore us because of Your great love for us and You always will. Thank You, Lord! We are forever grateful. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 6, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Spending time with Jesus Christ in real life

Time with Jesus
A devotional by Mirachelle Canada

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” 
– Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV) 

There’s no other place I would rather be than walking with Jesus Christ.

Whenever I mentally picture our walks, we are often on a beach, walking barefoot through the sand under a clear blue sky on a bright sunny day. On these walks I am listening, as most of them are filled with teachable moments regarding the questions in my heart or struggles churning in my spirit that I have brought to him.

Then there are the occasions when I picture him standing on a hillside not far from the sea behind him, with vast mountains towering above in the distance. He stands next to a rock, and I know it’s where I am meant to sit with him a while. Much like a parent sits next to a child on a bed for a heart-to-heart conversation, I know our rock moments will be deep, meant for healing, and internal revelation.

To the world it may seem strange, or even crazy, for us to be taking time to mentally imagine walking and talking with God. But for lovers of God, walking and talking with his son (Jesus) is a part of our spiritual journey that is not only necessary, but also a great privilege.

When Jesus lived on the earth as a man, his disciples were privileged to know him fully in the flesh. They lived with, fellowshipped, and followed him for three years, yet multiple times they still questioned who he was though they saw him perform miracles, walk on water, and raise people from the dead. How much physical evidence did they need to completely believe in him?

Even after his resurrection, his disciple Thomas was still in doubt. It took Thomas touching Jesus’s healed wounds for them know that he was physically real (John 20:24-29 ESV).

Evidence with their eyes was not enough. Jesus knew the final, true belief in who He was had to come from their hearts. Jesus called those who have not seen him yet still believe that he is the Christ, "blessed" (John 20:29). This is the foundation of faith that was established for them and for us. Christ knew his final departure from the earth would be difficult for his followers, so He sent them the blessing of His Holy Spirit who would be their comforter and guide (John 14: 25-26 ESV).

For us to be blessed is to receive God’s favor and protection, but it is also something that is conducive to our happiness and welfare. When we believe in Jesus Christ by faith, without the evidence of sight, God can and will grant us favor, protect us, and see to our happiness and welfare. Such blessings came as we seek a relationship with his son, Jesus, and we open our hearts to a faithful journey where the Holy Spirit can transform our hearts and minds to see and hear from Jesus in our most favorite places such as by a lake, in a garden, on the waters, or walking on a path. It doesn’t necessarily matter where you picture Him. Jesus will meet you anywhere your heart desires to spend precious time with Him.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, thank you for sending your son, Jesus, to die for me so that I may have a relationship with you. Thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to help and to guide me on my faith walk with you. Lead me into a deeper walk with you in our most favorite places within my heart so that I may see, hear, and know you more. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Reflection Question: 

Do you have a place that you picture when you spend time in Jesus? Tell us comments section!

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.

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