Friday, January 24, 2020

GOD'S HAND ~ Alexis A. Goring ~ Devotional


God’s Hand

A devotional by Alexis A. Goring


“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 [NLT]

There’s a term that I learned with a technique that I applied when I was a photography student that still stands out to me years after my college class.

Image courtesy pixabay.com
The term is called “dodging and burning.” I’ll explain it later but first, for those of you who may not know, let me explain the old standards and practices of photography. Much of today’s photography is digital but before it became the standard, photographers developed all ttheir pictures in what’s called a darkroom.

There in the (literal) dark, they meticulously removed the roll of negatives (the film inside their manual cameras on which the pictures were taken) and carefully started the process of developing the negatives into what we see as “prints” or “pictures” today.

The process of developing photos manually in the old-fashioned way takes a lot of patience and skill. If you expose your negatives to the light before they’re fully developed your pictures are ruined. Even if you still try to develop the prints, you won’t see anything on the film because the bright light (be it fluorescent or natural from the sun) destroyed the photos, which is why photographs needed to be developed carefully in a darkroom. It is literally a dark room with special lights that are only bright enough for you to see what you’re doing but not bright enough to ruin your film.

Now here’s the part about the term “dodging and burning” and the technique used. First, let’s look at the definition of this term. According to Adobe.com, “The Dodge tool and the Burn tool lighten or darken areas of the image. These tools are based on a traditional darkroom technique for regulating exposure on specific areas of a print. Photographers hold back light to lighten an area on the print (dodging) or increase the exposure to darken areas on a print (burning).”

Let’s talk about the technique. When Adobe.com says that there is a “Dodge tool” and a “Burn tool” used in this technique, it’s referring to digital photography where you edit photos on your computer and use those digital tools to accomplish your vision for the photographs.

But before digital photography became so popular and widely used, photographers in the darkroom used a special light and their own hands to perform the action of dodging and burning a photo.

Years ago, I realized that there is spiritual symbolism and metaphor in this professional practice because, just like the photographer skillfully guides his or her hand over a photo to produce the desired outcome, the Creator of the Universe (God) also uses His Hand to direct our life!

Only God is better than any human photographer and His end results are always the best for us! Maybe not perfect because of the state of the world we live in but perfectly tailored to fit our lives and lead us to Him, which then ultimately results in us being saved in His Kingdom when we make the choice to accept God’s Son (Jesus Christ) and follow Him.

Just like a photographer in the darkroom gently and skillfully moves his or her hands under the special light that hovers over the film in order to either lighten or darken certain areas of the photo they’re developing, our Maker (God) has His hand over our life. We only need to be still and trust Him as He uses His hand to shed light on the areas of our life that He wants to work on with us. Sometimes, He may allow the darkness in parts of our life to help us draw close to Him and trust Him to see us through.

God is in the restoration business! What He doesn’t restore in our life during our time living on planet Earth, He will restore when our eternal life starts in Heaven! The Bible says when we make it to Heaven, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4, ESV).

But for now, as we experience trials and tribulations on Earth, it is important to seek God while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6-7) and trust Him to use His Hand over our lives to produce the end result that again, may not be picture perfect in our eyes, but is perfect for the work He’s doing within us. Pastor Rick Warren says, “God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.”

Now this isn’t to say God wants your life to be miserable! No! Quite the opposite. God wants to fill your mind with His perfect peace (Philippians 4:7), bless your heart with His Love (1 John 4:16) and enrich Your life with His Presence (Psalm 16:11)!

So won’t you trust His Hand to move over your life (in fact, it already is), to work out all the details to not only sustain you but to bless you?

There’s a song by Marvin Sapp called “He Has His Hands On You.” The song lyrics basically say that even when uncomfortable things happen to you and don’t feel good, you can take solace in the fact that as long as you’re in God’s hands, everything is going to be okay.

The Bible says that God works out everything for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). So when life hits hard and the storms of life roll in, making it difficult to see a safe end, just lean into God and trust Him to see you through. Remember, God’s Hand is on you!



Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.



Thursday, January 23, 2020

DREAMS DEFERRED BOOK SPOTLIGHT ~ June Foster ~ #giveaway


DREAMS DEFERRED
Book Spotlight
June Foster (and #Giveaway)



Father Matt Hall wants to serve the Lord. School teacher Mary Louise Graham needs freedom from her unforgivable past. They never expect to fall in love.
Frances Matthew Hall is obedient to family tradition: all firstborn sons will serve as a priest. Now Matt officiates at St. Aloysius Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas. But when on Easter Sunday, he notices a beautiful young woman who takes his breath away, he must fight against his attraction to her or leave the priesthood and alienate his entire family.
Mary Louise Graham is a middle school teacher and devout catholic. Yet no amount of service to the community can ease the heavy load of guilt she carries. God can never forgive her unspeakable mistake. But when Father Matt tells her about a forgiving God through His son Jesus Christ, she's free. Only thing, the Godly priest now means more to her than he should.
Can two people find their way to each other amidst insurmountable obstacles? Dreams Deferred is inspired by the author's great grandfather and great grandmother's story.



Excerpt DREAMS DEFERRED:
Mary Louise's eyes were bright with tears and the hope of new life. Matt savored the pressure of her hand upon his. "Praise God," he whispered, restraining the volume of his voice. If he could, he'd shout the words, sending an echo from the ceiling to the floor. "He's faithful to forgive you."
Before he could react, bare arms reached around his shoulders. Mary Louise's silky hair that smelled of fresh peaches, brushed his cheek. "Thank you."
He dared to hug her in return, his hands wrapping all the way around her. She was so small, unearthing in him feelings he'd never had before—the desire to protect her and provide for her needs. The warmth of her body against his stirred more in him than it should've, and he moved away.
Fingers as soft as the downy pillow on his bed brushed his arm. "I'm sorry. I over reacted. Please forgive me. But I will never regret asking Jesus into my life today."
The stained-glass window with the image of a dove reminded him of God's grace. He rose and offered her his hand. "There's nothing to forgive. I thank God you've found the way to our Savior."
Mary Louise lifted her gaze to Jesus on the cross. "For the first time in ten years, I feel clean—forgiven. I can never thank you enough."
Movement at the entrance of the church called Matt's attention. Someone slipped out the door. A man with the same thin shoulders as Father Nicolas. 

purchase link: https://amzn.to/2N4quQC (affiliate link)



Author June Foster

Author June Foster


An award-winning author, June Foster is also a retired teacher with a BA in Education and MA in Counseling. She is the mother of two and grandmother of ten. June began writing Christian romance in 2010. She penned her first novel on her Toshiba laptop as she and her husband traveled the US in their RV. Her adventures provided a rich source of information for her novels. June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. June uses her training in counseling and her Christian beliefs in creating characters who find the path to live godly lives.



June is generously offering a giveaway - an eBook copy of DREAMS DEFERRED. To enter, simply leave your name and email address (e.g: me(at)yourdomain(dot)com) in the comment section below. Giveaway runs for one week from today, ending at Midnight O'Clock Central time, on Thursday, January 30.
   


Friday, January 17, 2020

KNOWING JESUS ~ Alexis A. Goring ~ Devotional


Knowing Jesus


A devotional by Alexis A. Goring



“And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” – John 17:3 [NLT]

A famous entertainer once took a comedic jab at Christians. She mentioned that they think she’s going to hell because she “doesn’t praise Jesus.”

She meant it as a punch line and it drew laughter. But I took her words seriously and it made me sad.

I was sad because I realize that it is a trick of the enemy to get people to think that we can save ourselves, to think that we don’t need Jesus Christ, who is the Savior of the world, to save our lives.

The enemy wants us to think that we can get to Heaven by ourselves in any way we want. He wants us to think that we are our own god and our destiny is determined by us. He wants us to think that we don’t need God when we have money, health and happiness. He doesn’t want us to think about Heaven and what it takes to get there, according to what God says through His Word (The Holy Bible). Most of all, the devil doesn’t want us to think that he exists! He likes it when people say that he’s a fictional character made up by Christians. Ultimately, what the devil doesn’t want us to know is that kind of lifestyle will lead us to hell and eternal death.

Why follow the evil one (Satan a.k.a. “the devil”) who only comes to “steal, kill and destroy,” when Jesus Christ has come so that we may have life and live it “to the full” (John 10:10)?

Why listen to Satan’s lies when the Savior of humankind is gently knocking at the door of your heart? Here’s the catch: Only you can open the door because Jesus is a gentleman who won’t force you into having a relationship with Him. He won’t force you to choose Him. He won’t force you to live for Him and accept His free gift of salvation. But He does want you to experience eternal life! Which is why He keeps knocking at the door of your heart. Will you let Him in?

When I think of the entertainer who doesn’t think she needs Jesus, I simply think that’s because she doesn’t know Him yet. Because to know Him is to love Him! I can speak from experience. My life “B.C. (Before Christ)” was filled with fear, hurt, anger and a depressed outlook on life. But when Jesus Christ came into my life and I got to know Him personally as my Lord, Savior, Redeemer and Truest Friend, He changed me from the inside out!

God renovated the walls of my heart and restored the broken places. He gave me a new outlook on life, one that’s Christ-centered. I began to see the world through lenses of love (Christ’s love) and I began to see people as precious souls who are loved by The Creator of the Universe (God). And I had within me, this burning desire to tell the world about Jesus! To show everyone why we all need Him! I wanted to – and still do want to – share God’s Love with the world! To this day, I am driven to teach people about Jesus and show them why it’s worth following Him.

According to God’s Word (The Holy Bible), the enemy is REAL! We are all involved in spiritual warfare, whether we like it or not. We must remember that we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12) and that our weapons of warfare need to be spiritual (Ephesians 6:10-18). It is the only way we can win!

I believe that if that popular entertainer came to know Jesus, she would change her tune and maybe even her career! Imagine the impact she could have for Jesus! I imagine that her millions of fans would become followers of Jesus too because they would see His Love radiating through her and they would want to know the source of her glow!

Knowing Jesus is my greatest blessing in this life! Have you heard the song, “All I Once Held Dear” by Robin Mark?

In the song, the artist talks about how everything he worked so hard to achieve and gain in this life is worthless compared to the blessing and joy of knowing Jesus! He shares that God is his all in all. It is his heart’s desire to know God more and to be known as one of God’s children here on Earth. He realizes that he cannot work his way or pay his way into Heaven. He knows that the gift of salvation is free and that we are “saved by grace, through faith … not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). He recognizes that there is power in the Name of Jesus and he wants to live for God, all the days of his life. The artist (Robin Mark) says that he looks forward to an eternity spent in the presence of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.


He often says these words in his song: “I love you, Lord.”

Why? Because as I said earlier and various people from songwriters to preachers have declared: To know Him is to love Him!

In closing, please remember that Jesus loves you and He wants you to know Him. I pray that this devotional today has encouraged your heart and pointed you to the One who loves you with all of His heart. I also hope that you will let Jesus into your life (if you haven’t already) so that you too may see personally why to know Him is to love Him!

Author Bio: Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ. 




Thursday, January 16, 2020

ANNIVERSARIES ~ Pat Jeanne Davis ~ Giveaway


ANNIVERSARIES

by Pat Jeanne Davis (Giveaway offered)


Today marks one year since When Valleys Bloom Again released. In several ways having my first full length novel published has changed my life. The work doesn’t stop with finally seeing your book in print. In order to promote and market my debut novel, I needed to learn how to be a businesswoman. Also, it has been necessary to become more outgoing and to step up and engage with readers after speaking at historical societies, book signing events at churches, fairs and at bookstores, sometimes traveling miles from my home to the area in which my novel takes place. To my surprise, I’ve enjoyed being at these events and answering question on the research for my WWII novel and about family members who served with the military in the war. I’ve also enjoyed being a guest on many blogs over the months and connecting with new readers there. During these months my Heavenly Father has been so gracious supplying all my needs along the way.

In the excerpt below, Abby Stapleton, the heroine in my novel, also arrives at a significant one-year anniversary.

August 1940
One year since her arrival. Though Abby wanted to return to England, she couldn’t exclude the possibility that Jim might be part of God’s plan for her life. That her aunt had thrown up a road block only intensified her longing for him. Chafing under her aunt’s prohibition and hating herself for submitting to it, she took refuge in the belief that Jim would keep his job.
She’d botched her attempt to explain things to him. “Something’s come up, and I can’t work with you for a while,” she had told him. What was that supposed to mean? No wonder he’d looked confused. But Jim had taken it with good grace, nodding while she fidgeted and groped for a reason.
Abby scheduled tasks in the greenhouse for Sunday afternoons—the only day Jim was off. Infrequent encounters with him during the summer had been accidental. She gleaned from a remark Jim made that he attributed these absences to anxiety over her family. Abby let the impression stand. Soon she’d be returning to Weston for her junior year and be away most of the day. Still, she wanted to talk with him as before.
Today, as she went about her work Abby consoled herself with the realization she moved in the same space Jim had yesterday. She cherished the written instructions he’d left on the potting table, pinned down with a smooth, shiny stone from the garden. He asked her to “snip the blooms from the sweet peas to keep them flowering,” and to “pay special attention to watering the container plants.” He’d underlined the last task. Abby ticked off each one as she completed it. Boy, Jim was so clever. Thorough, too. Her uncle made a good choice with him. As she puttered about, Abby kept up a running dialogue with Jim in her head.
Abby consulted the final item on his list. “For You,” Jim wrote. At his suggestion, she cut for herself yellow, orange, and salmon gladioli, taking care not to remove all the leaves from remaining stems. Jim had said these leaves feed the bulbs for the following year’s growth. Cradling her bouquet, Abby left the greenhouse, shutting the door behind her. Regardless of what her head told her, her heart pulled irresistibly to him. Oh, yes, and double-yes, she’d fallen in love with Jim. Where would it all lead?


BIO:
 
PAT JEANNE DAVIS lives in Philadelphia, Pa with her British-born husband, John. They have two grown sons. She enjoys flower gardening, genealogy research and traveling with her husband. Pat has published essays, short stories and articles online and in print. She has a keen interest in twentieth-century American and British history, particularly the period of World War II. Pat’s father-in-law served in the British Eighth Army during the war. When Valleys Bloom Again is her debut historical inspirational romance set in that era. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Pat loves to hear from her readers. Subscribe to her newsletter here www.patjeannedavis.com

Links:

When Valleys Bloom Again can be purchased here:



Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/when-valleys-bloom-again-pat-jeanne-davis/1130351044?ean=9781948888929                                          

Social Media:  

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/pat-jeanne-davis-34290422/                   


About the Giveaway: Pat is generously offering to give away one print copy of When Valleys Bloom Again to one of my readers in the US who leave their name and email information in the comments section below. Giveaway ends one week from today on Thursday, January 23 at Midnight, central time. 



Wednesday, January 15, 2020

THE STORYTELLER IN ME ~ Linda Siebold ~ Giveaway Offer


 The Storyteller in Me

Guest post and Book Spotlight from author Linda Siebold


My first stories were told to my granddad. I wasn’t in school yet, and I was his constant companion on the farm where we lived with my parents, brother, and sister. He listened. With his encouragement I kept on – even if it was what the rooster did that day.

As I grew older my words found their way to paper. I wrote when I wasn’t pouring over pages of books reading to my heart’s content. I wanted to be a writer – maybe illustrate my own children’s books too. The still, quiet voice of my high school English teacher made me see reason. It was really hard to support yourself as a writer. So I went on to college and became an elementary teacher.

As years passed and I married and had a family of my own, I kept storytelling – my children’s bedtime stories, children’s stories at church, and writing when I had the chance. My career changed many times over the years. I worked as a salesclerk, a keyboard operator, an office supervisor, a secretary, and other things.

The words and stories have kept coming. My kids are grown with families of their own. I had a thirst to read mystery/suspense books. And I began to write again. You guessed it – mystery/suspense with a little romance thrown in.

In 2015, I was on dialysis three days a week, three hours a treatment, forty-five minutes travel time each direction. My kidneys had failed from a combination of weakness from a genetic disorder called polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and painkillers used to treat intermittent extreme pain in my lower abdomen – then cause unknown. I didn’t know when the pain would hit and the severity increased with each event. I could no longer work outside the home. After a specialist in Wichita found the source of the pain and removed the four-inch piece of mesh inserted in my abdomen at the end of a previous surgery I could function again. I received a kidney transplant in 2017.

I learned how to lean on Christ, more than I ever had before. He gave me hope and a purpose with my writing. He also gave me time. So, I wrote and polished my craft.

After the site healed and the transplant occurred, I could travel without pain and dialysis arrangements. I talked my husband into going with me to Nashville to the ACFW Convention in 2018. I had six chapters finished on my work-in-progress. My first appointment of the three I could schedule at the conference (editor, agent, or mentor) was with Cynthia Hickey, editor with Winged Publications.

Cynthia put me at ease right away. We visited and found common ground. Then, I told her I wasn’t finished with my book, but I’d like to pitch it to her for the practice. To my delight and surprise she liked it. I was to email her what I had once I returned home. I did and the rest is history. The Contessa’s Necklace was published in November, 2018. It is the first of the Contessa of Montaire series. I liked my characters so well I had to write a series.


 Book Blurb
Louella Carmichael, Contessa of Montaire, and her entire family were assassinated in 1973. One witness survived and escaped with Montaire’s ruby succession necklace. In 2017 the necklace reappears in Kansas as current contessa, Sophia DePaul is close to death. When she dies the council will again name a new count or contessa to rule the principality and gain control of four international conglomerates and other industries, as well as jewelry and other riches.

Selena Simmons specializes in researching financial reports, background checks, and family histories for the Aegis Research Library. When a tragic hit-and-run accident makes her research personal she walks away from the agency. Someone from the past is targeting those close to her and binds her to the Carmichael assassination. She has to find the link before she becomes the next victim.


Sam Russell from R & S Retrieval Agency is hired to follow the two jewel thieves that have tracked the necklace to Kansas. They not only want the necklace, but control of the principality. They will stop at nothing to accomplish their goals, even murder. Selena Simmons is in their way, and Sam finds his skills and instincts tested to keep her safe.

 
Author Bio: Linda Siebold loves to read and write romantic suspense. She lives in north central Kansas with her husband and spoiled cat. She has a grown son and daughter and seven grandchildren. She has a degree in elementary education from Fort Hays State University.

Social media links:


Giveaway offered: One copy of THE CONTESSA’S NECKLACE in print format. Leave your name and contact information below to be entered in the drawing. Giveaway ends one week from today on January 22, 2020 at midnight Central time and will be notified via email.