Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Book feature with Mary Marie Allen, women's fiction author

Let's welcome Mary Marie Allen to the blog today! 

She's an author who writes under the women's fiction category of books.

Mary is here to share an excerpt and review of her book, God's Love Most Gentle.

First, here are a few words from Mary:

God wrote, and is writing, the greatest love story day by day with each of us. It’s a love I (Mary Marie Allen) hope others be
come acquainted with through my writing. 

My primary goal is to encourage women believers who have experienced love and joy in life along with sadness, loss, failure, and guilt. Hurting women often need help remembering God forgives and His love is most gentle. Then they can find love and joy in life once again. 

This is what happens when a pregnant woman with a harmful secret returns from the missionary field.

Excerpt from God's Love Most Gentle:

Kim sat cross-legged on the bedroom floor with a basin of tepid water nestled in her lap. She dipped a wash cloth and without wringing it plastered it to her neck. Water drenched her blue cotton dress and pooled about her waist and hips. She prayed for rain. Secretly, of course, for Kurt counted each dry dawn as a gift from God and devoted most of each day to construction of the new church.

Nsia entered the room with the laundry basket on her hip.

Kim plunged the cloth again and raised it over her head. She lifted her face. Clumps of wet hair clung to her cheeks and neck. “They said September was the start of the cool rainy season, but this humidity is more oppressive than any Midwest-summer day I remember. I hate the heat.”

Beneath a red headscarf, round dark eyes studied Kim. “I do not think it is the weather that causes your problem, Mrs. Kim. I will ask Mrs. Thema about a drink to help with baby sickness.”

“Are you saying I’m pregnant? I’m not pregnant.” Kim gave a dismissive wave of her hand letting droplets from the soggy washcloth fling about the room. Nsia knelt and set about sponging Kim with the water. Kim sighed. “That feels so good. You’re a blessing, Nsia, and a good friend.”

Nsia said, “You cry. Yesterday you cry over a watermelon.”

“I was thinking of my father. We won a prize for our watermelons one year. He died five years ago. I miss him terribly.”

“You get sick every morning. Eat or not, you get sick.”

Kim bolted upright. Her mouth gaped.

Nsia laughed and covered her smile with her fingers, but her luminous eyes were big with mirth. “You should see your face. You will give Pastor Kurt a fine, fat baby.”

“But, I don’t know what to do. There weren’t any babies around when I was growing up.”

Nsia patted her hand. “Do not worry. I care for you and the baby. I am the oldest of six.”

She smiled at Nsia. “You are like a little mother.”

“Thank you.”

“I miss my mother.” Tears burned in Kim’s eyes. She pushed homesickness away and pressed her stomach through the thin cotton material of her dress. “I don’t feel pregnant.”

Nsia rolled her eyes. “That comes later.”

Kim stood and hugged herself. She giggled. “I’m going to be a mommy. Kurt’ll be thrilled.” She twirled around then nausea overwhelmed her. She grabbed a bucket near the bed and groaned.

Nsia laughed. “Maybe you should rest a bit. Will you tell Pastor Kurt tonight?”

“No. I can’t wait that long.”

“Mrs. Macomb! Mrs. Macomb! ” Uzachi’s urgent voice blasted through the open window. His face appeared and he saw her. “Kim!”

Nsia scurried to fling open the front door. Men carried Kurt into the room and Kim ran to him. “Kurt! Take him to the bed. What happened?”

Uzachi’s face twisted. “Heat stroke. He never complained. None of us noticed anything until he collapsed and fell off the roof.”

A short man with a scarred face snatched up a braided palm frond beside the bed and fanned Kurt. “He fell on his head.”

Kim whimpered at Kurt’s still form. Nsia pressed the dripping cloth into her hand. “Wet him.” She moistened Kurt’s head and worked down his flushed frame.

His body was hot and dry. His breathing rasped in and expelled with a ragged sigh as his chest rose and fell unevenly. Her own lungs seemed frozen and she gulped for air. Kim re-moistened the cloth and gripped Kurt’s wrist. His pulse surged against her fingers. She swallowed back the bile that rose in her throat as the stench of hard-working bodies thickened the air in the small room.

More men, speaking in low, worried tones gathered outside the open window. Soon their voices rose in a clamor of supplication to God.

“Bring the pills from the desk drawer, Nsia,” Uzachi ordered. Nsia hurried off and trotted back, her hand extended as if to get help to Pastor Kurt more quickly. He placed two salt tablets under Kurt’s tongue. “Keep doing what you’re doing, Kim. I’ll call for help on the ham radio.”

A short time later he returned. His face was grim. “The helicopter can’t come. It’s on a call up in the mountains. That's the other direction entirely. We’ll have to do the best we can and let God do the rest.”

Fear stole words from her mind; a coherent sentence wouldn’t come together. Kim sank onto the edge of the bed and stared at Kurt’s still, pale form. 

Blurb for God's Love Most Gentle:

When a pregnant widow returns from the mission field family and friends rally to help, but she harbors a secret that may lead to her spiritual downfall. Kim Macomb returns from Zaire, Africa where the 1995 coup has claimed her missionary husband’s life. 

Grief-stricken and pregnant, Kim is only a shadow of herself. Hoping to promote her daughter’s healing, Carol sends Kim, to the calm, godly man who once rescued her. 

Jack’s Montana ranch seems to have the desired effect, but as his son, Mitch, and bad boy Hank vie for Kim’s affections, an agonizing secret drives her further from God. 

Swept up in Kim’s search for peace and forgiveness, those around her face their own frailties and the sometimes unexpected, yet overwhelming truth – God’s love is most gentle.

Book Review of God's Love Most Gentle:

“I thoroughly enjoyed God’s Love Most Gentle and highly recommend this read! It captivates from the start and takes the reader through the gamut of emotions. I laughed, I cried, I held my breath anxiously waiting for resolution, and my heart warmed at the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father. Seeing the hand of God move in the lives of the characters as He holds them, protects them and carries them through the joys and trials of life. I felt as if the characters became friends of mine and I often wonder how they are doing now! Lol! I’d love to meet up with all of them in a sequel!!” – Myra's 5-star review on Amazon.com

Author Bio:
Women’s Fiction author Mary Marie Allen lives in northwest Indiana with her high school sweetheart husband, a feisty 97-year-old mother, and a rambunctious German Wirehair Pointer. 

She’s authored four books of poetry, including one children’s Bible story. 

After five surgeries in two years, she’s happy to continue the story of the characters first seen in “God’s Love Most Gentle”. 

She expects book two to release fall on 2018 as “God’s Love Most Faithful”.

Connect with Mary:
E-mail - marymarieallen2015@gmail.com
Website - https://www.marymarieallen.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/PoetAndWriterMaryAllen/
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/marymakingmerry/

Monday, April 23, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Thoughts on Time and Eternity

An Intersection of Time and Eternity
A devotional by Dana McNeely

Note: This is the fourth post in a series on the prophet Elijah. To read previous posts, click the titles: Love in the Time of Drought, In the Waiting Room, and A Widow, a Prophet, and Provision from God.

After Elijah reached Zarephath and found shelter with the widow and her son, they lived under God’s blessings. Though the drought worsened, the never-ending jug of oil and jar of meal nourished them. It would have been reasonable to expect the good times to continue.

 some time later the widow’s son became ill. He grew worse and worse and finally stopped breathing. She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” (1 Kings 17:17-18 NIV)

I feel for this poor woman. One moment she ate the bread of life, the next she gagged on the stench of death. Anguished, she lashed out, but then secret guilt whispered. Did you come to remind me of my sin? Any mother would be devastated by her child’s death, but she’d already lost her husband. Now she was alone in the world.

I don’t know about you, but I want life to roll along smoothly. When it does, I often forget to thank God, taking everyday blessings for granted. But when trouble strikes, it’s easy to complain or blame others or myself.

I know this is unreasonable. We live in a fallen world, and God hasn’t promised immunity from its hardship, even to those who follow him. Think of Joseph, who ran from Potiphar’s wife but still ended up in prison. Or Daniel, who refused to quit praying and then faced lions.

Though I empathize with the widow’s reaction, what I find interesting is Elijah’s calm response to her remarks. Known for his somewhat hot temper, Elijah didn’t remind her of all he’d already done to help her and her son. In humility, he ignored her harsh words, and in faith, he took this problem to the Lord.

“Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. Then he cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!" (1 
Kings 17:19-24 NIV)

The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!"

Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.”

I believe the Lord prepared the widow’s heart with a whisper before Elijah even arrived. She must have heard the truth about God’s love and claims on her life during the time the prophet lived with her and her son. Yes, she reacted out of pain and confusion when her son suddenly died. Such a response doesn’t mean she had no faith … only that it faltered. In quietly asking the widow to give him her son, Elijah allowed her time to quiet her soul and consider. And the Lord, in his mercy, ignored her outburst and looked on her heart, where a tiny spark of faith burned.

In an intersection of time and eternity, God reached down and touched the widow’s son, restoring him to life. Yes, he was still subject to a fallen world; he would grow old and die again. But now, more than ever before, he was his mother’s comfort and a blazing example of God’s mercy and miraculous power. If the widow’s faith in God was a spark before, it was a sturdy flame now.

Do you believe in miracles? When Paul met with Agrippa, the apostle asked, "Why should it be thought a thing incredible that God should raise the dead?" (Acts 26:8 KJV)

Have you ever experienced that which only God can do? Perhaps your miracle was as soft as a whisper to the heart or as earth-shattering an event that, even now, you can hardly bring yourself to speak of. An intersection of time and eternity.

I leave you with this final thought from the great Bible scholar A.W. Pink: “Bring into the scene the living God, and no matter how drastic and desperate be the situation, all difficulties a once disappear, for nothing is impossible to him.”

*For further reading: Elijah by A.W. Pink

Author Bio: 
Inspired by the Bible story of Elijah and the widow’s son, Dana McNeely wondered why the prophet had come to stay with these two. Who were they? What was their life, before? And how did the boy change after dying, seeing the other world … and coming back? 

Dana began research for her novel, “Rain,” which tells the story of the three-and-a-half-year drought from the boy’s perspective.

No stranger to drought, Dana lives in an Arizona oasis with her hubby the constant gardener, two good dogs, an antisocial cat, and migrating butterflies. She writes biblical fiction, cozy mysteries, and has written for magazines and newspapers. Her short story “Death in the Butterfly Garden” appears in SoWest: Killer Nights (2017).

Connect with Dana on Facebook, Twitter, or DanaMcNeely.com

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Let Love Bloom: Safe Refuge

Interview with Pamela S. Meyers about her book “Safe Refuge”:

Alexis: Why do you call this book “Safe Refuge”?

Pamela: For my character, Anna, her new home in Wisconsin is a safe refuge for her. Many Bible verses also refer to the Lord as a safe refuge.

Alexis: Who is Anna Hartwell and why is she planning to marry a man that she loathes?

Pamela: Anna is the first-born daughter of a wealthy Chicago family and when she was an infant, her parents arranged a marriage for her with the son of friends they had known a long time. You’ll have to read the book to find out why going against her parents' wishes is so difficult for her.

Alexis: Why does Anna call Chicago home? What makes it special?

Pamela: Although Chicago is the only home she has known having been raised there, she has never felt totally comfortable with all the trappings of wealth that her parents enjoy, and after becoming a Christian, she has found solace in volunteering at a mission school as a teacher and attending Sunday night services at the Illinois Street Church (founded by D.L. Moody).

Who is Lyman Millard and why does he want an arranged marriage to Anna?

Pamela: Like Anna, he had no say in the marriage plans since he was a child when the plans were set. But he has no reason to not want it. It’s the custom in his family and what’s not to like about being married to a pretty woman that he can escort to social functions. To know more about this multi-layered character. You’ll have to read the book.

Alexis: What role does your characters’ faith in God play in this story?

Pamela: God sustains Anna through some very difficult times in the course of the story.

Alexis: How did the Great Chicago Fire impact the plot for this story?

Pamela: Two days before the arranged marriage is to take place, the fire erupts and totally consumes Anna’s family home and her father’s business property. The family moved north to what is now Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to live with friends until a new home on Geneva Lake can be built.

Alexis: Who is Rory Quinn and what role does he play in this story? How is he different from Lyman?

Pamela: Rory, an Irish immigrant, is the janitor/handyman at the mission school. He and Anna talk often about God and the issues they have with their respective families. He is everything positive that Lyman is not. And easy on the eyes too! Despite her being in an arranged marriage she’s attracted to Rory and knows she can’t marry him because of the arranged marriage and he’s attracted to her but knows he can’t have her because she is high-class and he is not.

Alexis: What is it about Anna that attracts Rory?

Pamela: Aside from her beauty, her faith in God, kindness, and humility, not putting on airs with those of a lower class than hers and never holding her status over them.

Alexis: If you were Anna’s Mom, what advice would you give her concerning her heart in the love triangle of sorts in this story?

Pamela: You will hear plenty from Mother when you read the story. I’m not going to reveal it all here, except to say she is not happy with Anna’s attraction to Rory pulls out all stops to get the marriage plans with Lyman back on track.

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

Pamela: That God is our refuge and strength and underneath are his everlasting arms. It’s a Bible promise found in Deuteronomy 33:27.

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

Pamela: Having grown up in Lake Geneva, WI next to beautiful spring-fed Geneva Lake, I was blessed to take for granted the beauty of the area and the wonderful mansions and estates that sit on much of the lake’s shoreline.

The newer homes are lovely, but a piece of Lake Geneva’s history has been lost in the process. I decided to write the Newport of the West series, starting with Safe Refuge to preserve some of that lost history. The reason for the series title is that when all the fancy large homes began appearing on the lakeshore, the area reminded people of Newport, Rhode Island where many of New York City’s wealthy built similar homes for a getaway. At the time Chicago was considered “the West” as the territories farther west hadn’t yet been established or heavily populated.

If you are ever in the area of Lake Geneva, check out the excursion boats that take passengers on a 26-mile tour of the entire lakeshore and announce the histories behind many of the homes as you pass by.

Author Bio:

Pam has written most of her life, beginning with her first diary at age eight. Most of her novels are set in or near her hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. They include Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and her newest release, Safe Refuge, the first of three novels in her Newport of the West series. Her novel, Second Chance Love, released last year, and her novella, If These Walls Could Talk, was published in the Coming Home collection. 

Future novels include Whatever is True (March 2019), Shelter Cove and Tranquility Point, both part of her current series.

Pam resides in northern Illinois with her two rescue cats. She’s an hour or so away from her hometown where she can often be found researching and nosing for new story ideas. 

Book blurb:

In two days, wealthy Chicagoan, Anna Hartwell, will wed a man she loathes. She would refuse this arranged marriage to Lyman Millard, but the Bible clearly says she is to honor her parents, and Anna would do most anything to please her father—even leaving her teaching job at a mission school and marrying a man she doesn't love. 

The Great Chicago Fire erupts, and Anna and her family escape with only the clothes on their backs and the wedding postponed. Father moves the family to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where Anna reconnects with Rory Quinn, a handsome immigrant who worked at the mission school. Realizing she is in love with Rory, Anna prepares to break the marriage arrangement with Lyman until she learns a dark family secret that changes her life forever. 

Buy Pamela's book on Amazon

Connect with Pam:
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pamela.meyers
Twitter - https://twitter.com/pamelameyers
Amazon Author Page - http://amzn.to/2kqP5CC
Website - www.pammeyerswrites.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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Friday, April 20, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Hospital Codes and God's Grace

Reason Together with God
A devotional by Shellie Arnold

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land." ~Isaiah 1:18-19 ESV

I once worked in a hospital as an admissions clerk. As part of the job, I was responsible for inputting all pertinent patient information, especially regarding insurance coverage. This information had to be documented on the appropriate computer screens—sometimes several of them—via the appropriate codes. The information had to be complete and correct. After all, timely billing depended on accuracy. Those screens directly affected how the hospital got paid.

Six months into the job, I learned that on that particular payday, I would not be picking up my check from the payroll clerk, as usual. Rather, my paycheck was held by my supervisor. Twice a year, I was required to meet with my supervisor and get my paycheck directly from her. What I did not expect, was sitting with my supervisor and being shown every error I had made on any patient information screen for the previous six months. Literally, someone had been assigned to go behind every admissions clerk (not just me) and audit their work. The errors were printed, and the corresponding stack of errors was given to each employee, along with our checks.

My stack of printed errors was huge. So huge, I was put on probation. I was at risk of losing my job.

Understand, I had pages of notes from when I was trained. Every day, I carried with me a full notebook of memos containing policy and procedure changes. And I consulted them throughout my work shift. Still, my number of mistakes was very high.

As I looked through the printouts, I realized I hadn’t made dozens of different mistakes. Rather, I’d made a few, same mistakes dozens of times. I was consistent. Consistently wrong, but still.

I shared this with my supervisor. “You can see I was consistent, which meant I thought I was doing it right. Why didn’t anyone tell me before now, instead of letting me do these things wrong for six months?”

She had no answer other than to quote the departmental policy, which in my opinion was flawed. Why set up your employees to fail?

I am so glad and thankful God doesn’t treat us this way. When I discovered Isaiah 1:18-19, I understood I was never at risk of having the same dynamic in my relationship with God. He doesn’t keep a running list of mistakes, simply so He can surprise us with them later. He doesn’t keep a tally to make us feel guilty and afraid.

Instead, He invites us to talk with Him about everything, even our sin. Scripture encourages us to “reason together” with Him. When we approach Him with a willingness to be obedient in the future, God will talk with us about our failings and mistakes. He wants to help us understand why we do the things we do, say the things we say, and think the things we think, even if those things aren’t necessarily pleasing to Him.

He doesn’t leave us alone to figure out how to live righteously. No, He’s always there, waiting to converse with us. Explain things to us. Share truth with us. Teach us. So that next time, with our better understanding, we might make better choices and suffer fewer consequences.

Don’t hide your failures and sin from God. Talk to Him about them. Ask Him why you did what you did. Ask Him how you can behave differently next time. God wants you to be successful in your spiritual journey. He’s not setting you up to fail. He’s in your corner. And He’s ready to listen and talk.

Author Bio:
Shellie Arnold is a writer and speaker on marriage and family. She truly believes—despite baggage, neglect, or mistakes—if a husband and wife listen to God, they can live happily ever after. Her passion is sharing how God is helping her do exactly that. 

She maintains a blog at www.shelliearnold.com and is the founder of YOUR MARRIAGE resources.

Shellie is a mother of three and has home-schooled for over twenty years. She lives in Ohio with her husband of thirty-one years.

Connect with Shellie:
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/shellie.arnold.7
Twitter - https://twitter.com/ShellieArnold1
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/ShellieLArnold/
Website - www.shelliearnold.com

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: God sends messages with beautiful rainbows

Rainbow Messages

A devotional by Paula Moldenhauer

“I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth.”~ Genesis 9:13 NLT

My nine-year-old burst through the front door. “Did you see? There are two rainbows outside!” The family rushed to the window. I trailed behind, caught up in a glum mood.

“Hurry, Mom!” My seven-year-old pleaded. “You gotta see this!”

I caught my breath as I joined them at the window. The perfect rainbow arched right in front of our home. Its colors were so rich it looked surreal, like something from a children’s Bible storybook instead of honest-to-goodness reality.

A tug in my heart said God gave me the rainbow to remind me of His promises.

Like the grumpy woman I was that day, I rejected the happy thought, reasoning with the left side of my brain that science has shown us how and why rainbows were made. The rainbow was delighting many families throughout our neighborhood. It wasn’t personal. It wasn’t a reminder to hope in God. Instead of reveling in the wonder of the rainbow’s beauty, placement, timing, and perfection, I recited the colors of ROY G. BIV.

Even people who’ve never read the Genesis account of Noah know the rainbow is a symbol of hope and promise. Whether or not God painted that rainbow for me at that moment can be argued either way. That isn’t the point.

The point is the Holy Spirit wanted to whisper hope into my heart as I gazed upon the rainbow’s wonder.

But that afternoon, I didn’t want to feel hopeful. It would mean choosing faith over whining, and, quite frankly, I felt like complaining.

I shut my heart and turned from the glorious rainbow. Oh, outwardly I tried not to dampen the enthusiasm of my children. I said the right things. Smiled an outside smile. But on the inside, I willfully closed my heart to the gentle reminder of the Holy Spirit that God’s promises were worth holding onto.

What a waste! I could have rushed down my stairs, flung open the front door (and my heart)! I could have run onto the lawn, my arms spread wide, embracing the promises of the Creator! I could have twirled in the street underneath the brilliant arch and laughed in joyful acceptance of His loving encouragement!

How about you, my friend? Are there gentle whispers of hope you turn from?

My Prayer: Father God, help me embrace the moments of hope You so freely give.

Author Bio:

Author, speaker, and mom of four, Paula Moldenhauer encourages others to live free to flourish. She shares this message when speaking at women’s events, and it permeates her written work. 

Paula has published over 300 times in non-fiction markets and has a devotional book series, Soul Scents. Her first published novella, You’re a Charmer Mr. Grinch, was a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards, and she now has six published works of fiction. Her most recent release is included in A Bouquet of Brides

Paula and her husband, Jerry, are adjusting to a sometimes-empty nest in Colorado. They treasure time with their growing family of adult children, spouses, and spouses-to-be. 

Paula loves peppermint ice cream, going barefoot, and adventuring with friends. 

Today’s devotion was adapted from her devotional book, Soul Scents: Rooted. Visit her at www.paulamoldenhauer.com

Monday, April 16, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Learning how to live by faith in God

Living by Faith 

A devotional by Nanci Rubin

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
~Heb. 11:1 (KJV)

I think we all struggle in areas of faith. How do we get it? How much do we need? Will I stand in faith during the hard times? God’s Word says, "So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." ~Romans 10:17 (KJV)

How much faith do we need to move the mountains in our way? Jesus said, “Because of your unbelief: verily, I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of a mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” ~Matthew 17:20 (KJV)

So now we know that we all have a measure of faith. From my own perspective, I have learned in order for me to have faith in the hard times I have to stay "built up" before they come. I strive to stay in God’s Word and prayed up so when the crisis arrives I won’t be caught unprepared. We should always be ready for the unexpected. God is faithful, and we can trust Him no matter what comes our way.

Another criterion for water-walking faith is not to live in sin. The Bible says, "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." ~1 John 1:7 (KJV)

As long as you walk in what light you have, there is cleansing from all sin by the blood of Jesus Christ. However, if you persist in living in wrongdoing, you are going to get into trouble sooner or later. However, God extends His grace to us so that when we confess our sins, He is just to forgive us (1 John 1:9). The sin issue is a biggie. We all sin. I often feel like Paul by doing the things I shouldn’t and not doing the things I should. The older I get the more aware I am of my shortcomings but when I confess my wrongdoing God is faithful and reminds me He’s not done with me yet.

In the eighties, my husband and I were preparing for a life-changing trip to Israel. Where we lived at the time there were many home invasions going on. Being away for ten days caused some concern, but I trusted God to protect what belonged to us. We had no family in the area but a wonderful older couple who lived next door. My husband was expecting a package to arrive while we were away so I asked our neighbor if they would look out for it. They were happy to do so. Needless to say, our trip was and still is the most amazing trip of our lifetime. Our return home brought us a total surprise and definitely renewed our faith in God’s promises to us as believers.

I walked over to our neighbors not only to pick up our mail and package but to give them the gift we’d picked out for them. My neighbor told me what a wonderful alarm system we had. She eagerly related that when she opened the storm door to pick up the delivered package, the alarm went off. I had a huge smile on the inside of me because that was God’s alarm system. I couldn’t wait to tell her that we didn’t have an alarm system. We had prayed that God would protect our home and bless His name, He did. That was a wonderful testimony and an opening to witness to our precious neighbor.

I can’t tell you how many times God has done the miraculous in our lives. I remember reading somewhere that God is as faithful as we believe Him for. I strive to walk by faith. There are many areas where my faith is weak, but I work through the trust issues. I can honestly say He will be there when you call on His name. WE CAN TRUST HIM.

I hope this is an encourager for you today. Our world is so stressed and there are so many hurting people, especially our youth. I can’t urge you enough to trust God with your loved ones and family. He is as close as your next breath. Things might appear hopeless and a situation impossible, but I can honestly say He has not forgotten you. So, remember you have a measure of faith, and you can build it up by believing YOU are who GOD says you are. If we stumble and fall and make a mess of everything God ‘s not going to be mad at you, instead He’ll be mad about you. He loves you more than you can imagine.

Author Bio:
Nanci writes Inspy Amish romance. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two fur kids, Romeo and Juliet, rescue cats. She is working on her debut novel, Plain Justice.

She retired earlier than planned from nursing to care for her mother, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Her mom passed last year at the age of ninety-nine and Nanci has delved more into her writing.

She is active in an intercessory prayer ministry in her church, belongs to The Woman’s Club, a service-oriented volunteer organization dedicated to the welfare and enrichment of the community and volunteers two days a week at the Mary Washington Museum.

Currently, she's enrolled in Rhema Bible College’s correspondence Bible studies. She belongs to ACFW and RWA. When she’s not working, reading or writing she’s hiking with her husband at Shenandoah National Park.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Let Love Bloom: The Wedding Barter

The Wedding Barter: 
The Story Behind The Story
A guest post by Alice K. Arenz

I’ve always loved reading and writing mysteries and suspense—all the puzzles that must be pieced together one scene at a time. And, while there’s always a bit of romance in each of my novels, they are, at the core, mystery/suspense. So, you can imagine my surprise when I was approached about writing a romance. I was flattered, but it was too far out of my comfort zone to even consider. 

But, the more I talked with my publisher—Forget Me Not Romances—the more curious I became. The premise sounded interesting and amusing—loosely based on a bridesmaid auction that had been in the papers—and would be part of six novellas in a proposed boxed set (later named Trying Out For Love). Maybe, just maybe, I could do this. After a lot of prayer, the seed of an idea soon blossomed into more than I could’ve ever imagined. The big question before me was—“Exactly HOW are you going to do this?!”

You see, my entire body was in such a state of spasm that I couldn’t sit at the computer—and because of chronic issues, working on a laptop in my chair is NEVER an option. Adding to the situation, were horrible allergy attacks that locked me in a mental and physical fog! But, I’m a firm believer that God wouldn’t have given me the idea and details if He didn’t have the solution already worked out.

After stewing over the dilemma for about a month, my husband suggested that I dictate to him as he typed on his laptop. Seriously? Which is exactly what I asked him. He was not only serious, he was dedicated to the project—even when absolutely nothing was happening! He tried to understand that “my process” had always involved me sitting at my desk, eyes closed, fingers on the keyboard as I prayed and waited for the “connection.” I can’t even begin to explain how much more difficult it was to find a way to verbally describe what I saw happening in my head! 

But, like my characters in Barter reminded themselves, all it takes is a mustard seed of faith. That’s what I sought, and the result is a 49,000-word short novel which is a romance based in the same fictional town of Tarryton, Missouri where The Bouncing Grandma Mystery series is set. No murders, but a few twists and turns, and, I hope, some laughs as well.

Author Bio:
Though Alice K. Arenz is known for her cozy mysteries and romantic mystery/suspense novels, the Carol Award-winning author has branched out with her newest release, The Wedding Barter, a romance that is both serious and funny. 

Arenz is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her first three novels were honored by two finals and one win in ACFW’s Carol Awards: cozy mysteries The Case of the Bouncing Grandma (a 2009 finalist), The Case of the Mystified M.D., (2010 winner), and mystery/suspense Mirrored Image (a 2011 finalist). 
These novels have been followed by An American Gothic, Portrait of Jenny, and short story, Home Cookin’.

Blurb for Alice's book The Wedding Barter:

Riley Carr has been best friends with Amy Lawton since they were toddlers. While Amy awaits her discharge from the Army, Riley's been left in charge of helping to arrange "a very small, intimate ceremony with no fanfare" for Amy and her fiancé. But, Riley has something else in mind.

With the aid of two other friends, Riley presents her “wedding barter” idea to groom, David Herron. He agrees, providing best man, Mike Todd, stays in the loop to keep things from getting out of hand.

It doesn't help that the giant of a man is threatening, overbearing, and just doesn’t seem to like her or her ideas. But, when Todd gives Riley an ultimatum of producing results in three weeks or he’ll take over, she’s determined to prove him wrong . . . in more ways than one.

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Connect with Alice:
Website - www.akawriter.com

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