Friday, September 28, 2018

Perfect Christians ~ Alexis A. Goring ~ Devotional

Perfect Christians
A devotional by Alexis A. Goring

It was a perfect fall day with crisp air in the atmosphere, beautiful scenery (love the changing colors of the leaves) and the weather warm but cool enough to wear my favorite tan color boots. I had a great day but I was hit by anxiety as I reflected on how lately, I as the quintessential perfectionist, felt like I was falling short of being perfect and therefore disappointing God.

As I drove down the road in my car alone, I felt God impress me with these words, “It’s not about you being perfect. It’s about you having faith in Me.” Those words rocked my reality in a good and needed way because I realized that I’ll never be the “perfect” Christian completely because I’m only human and we live in a broken world.

Nobody is perfect—not me, not you, not the most capable people in the world—but there is a God, a Lord and Savior who is perfect and sinless—His name is Jesus Christ. I’m learning to look to Him as my refuge and thank Him for His grace and mercy that kept me because even on my best days when I think I’ve done my best and am close to perfection, I still will never be good enough—or sinless enough—to make it to Heaven without an active, steadfast faith in God.

The Bible says that all of our righteousness is like filthy rags as it says in the King James Version translation of the verse Isaiah 64:6. It’s our faith and obedience to God that helps us make it to Heaven, not our best efforts of trying to be perfect while here on planet Earth. We live in a broken world. People are suffering and nobody’s perfect, not even the most “perfect” Christians, which is why it’s important to follow Christ, not Christians.

When he was living, the famous Mahatma Gandhi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

It is understandable that Gandhi felt disappointed by what he saw in Christians because nobody is perfect. But it is also dangerous for anyone to go through life avoiding Christ because they do not like Christians, since we are called to follow Jesus Christ, not Christians. Anytime you put your full faith and trust in humankind, you’re bound to be disappointed because only Jesus can truly save you and only God has the innate and long-lasting capability to never let you down.

God is not looking for Perfect Christians. He is looking for faithful followers, people who take up their cross and die to their fleshly desires daily (Matthew 16:24). Evangelist Billy Graham explained it clearly. Visit this link to read what it means for a Christ-follower to take up their cross daily and follow Him.

In closing, I’d like to share a song by my Mom’s favorite gospel artist, CeCe Winans. One of the songs that CeCe sings has special meaning for my Mom and for this devotional. The song is called “His Strength is Perfect.” You can listen to it on YouTube by clicking HERE

The message from the song is that God’s strength is perfect. We can rely on His mercy and grace to carry us when we are weary. It’s a song that reminds us that this life is about Him, not us. It’s not about our success stories or personal glories. It’s about realizing that when we are weak, we can lean on God because His strength is perfect and He’ll help us through the trials of life. When we are at our end and we rely on Him, God’s strength in us begins. He is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1).

Isn’t that beautiful? Let’s celebrate this truth and remember that God isn’t calling us to be perfect, He’s calling us to be faithful.

Alexis Goring 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.
Social Media Links for Alexis A. Goring

“God is Love” blog: 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Angels Among Us ~ Guarding Katrina ~ Kassy Paris

Mural. Image courtesy

Angels Among Us
Guest blog post by Kassy Paris

Do you believe in angels? If you believe the Bible, then you must believe in angels. I do.

God created angels and charged them with different duties. Sometimes angels are messengers, such as the one God sent to inform Mary she was to be the mother of His son. He also sends his angels to serve, give hope and comfort, to praise Him, and to guard us. Psalms 91:11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;

Twice in my life, I know my guardian angel stepped in to keep me from harm. Once I listened and no harm came to me or the friends I was with, and the other time I didn’t listen and ended up in a car wreck.

Several months ago, a marketing group I belong to, ETA-C, decided to put a series of short stories into an anthology. Each story features an angel in the plot. We titled the collection Angels Among Us. The profits are designated to benefit Neal McCoy’s East Texas Angel Network. Our first official sales will be on September 29, 2018 at his annual concert in Longview, Texas.

The story I wrote, Guarding Katrina, is a fictionalized account of two incidents my youngest sister experienced when she was two and again when she was about four. I hadn’t been able to come up with an idea for a story to submit and was talking with Katrina one evening. She told me to write about her angel encounters.

Our angels are always with us, but we never see them. Before the car accident, I heard the message for me to go home but didn’t see anyone. That’s the unusual part about both of Katrina’s contacts with her angel…she saw her angel each time. Maybe her angel appeared because Katrina was so young, I’m not sure.

Now, think back to your own life. Have you ever been aware of your angel being with you? You may be like Katrina, and the memory has been suppressed. She didn’t remember either contact until she was in her early 30s.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of Angels Among Us by East Texas Association, you can order it from in either Kindle or print formats.

In 1997, my best friend Elaine Bonner Powell and I decided to write novels together. Our pen name is Kasandra Elaine. Our first co-written publication Her Home or Her Heart, was published by HeartSong Presents in 2002. At the moment, Her Home or Her Heart, is out of print but will be re-released in the near future.

Our next three books, The Lazy M Ranch Series, was published by White Rose Publishing, which is now a division of Pelican Books. These three books can be purchased as both print and e-books from either White Rose Publishing or Amazon.

The newest Kasandra Elaine book is a cozy mystery, Murder in Maggie Valley. This first book in The Keps Kozy Mystery series is available from White Bird Publications and

Elaine and I met as sophomores in high school in 1965. We graduated in 1969 from Sabine ISD in East Texas. Until she answered God’s call and moved to heaven in May 2015, we spent many years traveling and writing together.

I’m continuing to write my own novels and to revise projects Elaine and I had completed together but were never published. There are a few projects we had planned but never completed I am working on. My solo projects will be published as Kassy Paris, and anything Elaine and I did or planned will continue to be published as Kasandra Elaine

Friday, September 21, 2018

Author Ellie Gustafson ~ A Devotional ~ An Unpresentable Glory

Image courtesy

Have you ever eaten a book?
Say ... what? 
Author Ellie Gustafson has some interesting things
to say about this ... and dogs. Everyone loves dogs, right?

Revelation10:8, 9a” NIV
"Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.
So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. . . ." 

Eugene Petersonprobably best known for The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, tells of his dog dragging home a piece of carcass he’d found in the woods. After depositing it for all to see and admire, he hauls it away to chew in private. He crunches in pure delight, even growling his pleasure from time to time.

Peterson links his dog’s obvious pleasure to the angel’s command to eat the scroll—the Word of God. We are to consume the Word with similar pleasure.

Each of us has our own way of reading the Bible. Some open randomly and read whatever shows up. Others choose a book they’d like to study. A few begin at Genesis and take aim at Revelation. Some heroic folk opt for finishing the entire Bible in a single year, which requires reading several chapters per day. My style is reading through the Bible, but taking five or more years to get there.

HOW do we read the Bible? Dutifully? Sit down and DO this! Practically? Here’s my plan of action to which I am committing. Joyfully? A bone to gnaw on, to growl over.

Joyfully. That’s what I’m after, and my slow style of reading gives me shorter portions to really chew and digest.

I also feast on other devotional material—Peterson, Henri Nouwen, and David G. Benner being top shelf. The important thing, though, is finding spiritual nourishment that invites, as Peterson says, “soft purrs and low growls as we taste and savor, anticipate and take in the sweet and spicy, mouth-watering and soul-energizing morsels . . . O taste and see that the Lord is good!” [Eat This Book, Eugene Peterson, p. 2]

An Unpresentable Glory
Who is this half-dead man who shows up in Linda’s award-winning garden—too weak to tend to his own personal needs? She cares for him through an entire week, with no clue to his real identity. An investigative reporter uncovers the secret week, and both Linda and her guest are maligned.

From the mystery of the opening pages, through a myriad of twists and turns and surprises, to the tantalizing questions of the epilogue, an intricate plot draws the reader ever deeper into the lives of Linda, “Jay,” and a sprawling cast of lovingly-drawn supporting characters.  [Sally Wilkins]

About Ellie Gustafson:
Having lived a few years, Ellie has collected long-ago memories—playing cowboys and Indians, watching first-run Wizard of Oz, collecting tinfoil for the war effort, driving a pony to a red ribbon, getting married and pregnant, and finally, enjoying the pleasures of kids, grandkids, and authoring. Add to this list gardening, house construction, tree farming, and loving on people—all of which bring color and humor to her fiction. One of Ellie’s major writing goals has been to make scriptural principles understandable and relevant for today’s readers through the undeniable power of story.

I’d love to hear your plan for “eating” the Word of God.
OR ... share some thoughts in the comment section below.

An Unpresentable Glory
Twitter: @EgusEllie
Facebook: Ellie Gustafson

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Unwelcome Detective ~ Mark (M.L.) Evans ~ Giveaway

Young Adult Author Mark (M.L.) Evans
as he tells us about his venture into writing fiction.

The floor is yours, Mark!

The Higgins Point Series, in a way, goes all the back to the beginning of my fiction writing. In eighth grade, I began the first book-length work of fiction that I would complete, The Mystery of Higgins Point. Its characters were thinly-veiled versions of myself and several classmates. I finished it that summer (1977), then wrote a follow-up “book” in ninth grade.

I got serious about my fiction in my late twenties (the late 1980s-early 1990s) and developed “The Higgins Point Gang” into a group of unique characters. In 1991 I came close to selling the first book (then called The Football Mystery) to a leading Christian publishing house.

I bounced between genres in both Christian and secular fiction and worked on three self-published local history books in between. I am now pursuing the traditional publishing route for my historical romance line, set in 1927.

I could not give up on my teenage detectives without a fight, though, and opted to go indie with them. The first book, Unwelcome Detective, shows fourteen-year-old Angie Keane trying to break into the detective group, led by her older brother, Matt. The big break that almost led to the series being published in 1991 was my decision to go from a third person POV, to a first-person POV with Angie as the narrator. Everything fell into place at that point.

After revising the first two books over the years to include cell phones, then smartphones and Facebook accounts, I decided to go “retro” this year and move the series back to a time I understood better. I set the series in the fall of 1985, a time when no one argued over which bathroom to use and schools were safe places.

Book 2, Underground Terror, will come out this winter and Book 3, Buried Secrets, is undergoing an overhaul as we speak.

Fictitious Higgins Point and Sleetzville, MO are much like Bonne Terre and Desloge, MO, where I grew up and where I returned as an adult, serving as youth director of my old church. I hope readers enjoy seeing Angie grow into a more confident detective and ambassador of Christ as the series progresses.

In the fall of 1985, fourteen-year-old freshman Angie Keane wants to join the “Higgins Point Gang,” a group of teenagers that has been solving mysteries for three years. 

When her brother Matt, the group’s founder, refuses to let her in, Angie decides to work on her own. If she solves the potentially deadly sabotage against the school’s football program first, Matt will have to let her join.

 Relying on instinct, spunk and the Lord’s guidance, Angie delves into secret motives and hidden dangers in a race against the clock to save the program, an injured player who may die without knowing Christ—and her own life.

M.L. Evans is the author of the Higgins Point Mysteries series, a YA/MG Christian series. Book 1, Unwelcome Detective, came out in late July. Book 2, Underground Terror, comes out this December. He is also pursuing Christian historical romance writing, with a pair of novels set in 1927, Second Chance and Life of the Party (his current WIP). 

A career newspaperman, he has lived in Missouri and Oklahoma all his life, returning to school in his late thirties to get an MA in history.

He spent much of the 1990s serving as a volunteer church youth director. Mark is single and lives with a very spoiled Siamese cat named Ginger Grant.

To order book: or

THE GIVEAWAY: Mark is giving away TWO copies (paperback or eBook) of Unwelcome Detective. To enter, just leave a comment, name a couple of your favorite Christian writers, and your contact information in the section below. The giveaway will run one week from today, ending on September 27, at MidnightCentral Time.

Note: Mark will be attending the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Nashville, TN, through through Sept 24, so his bility to respond to your comments may be limited. Just so you know.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Pony Express collection ~ Donna Schlachter~ Giveaway

Please welcome author Donna Schlachter as she shares a 'story behind the story' post about a book from her backlist on "Everything Old is New Again" feature.

Take it away, Donna!

The Story Behind the Story of Echoes of the Heart, from The Pony Express Romance Collection
By Donna Schlachter

 If you’ve ever wondered if a writer’s conference is worth the time, effort, and expense, let me assure you: it is!

My involvement in The Pony Express Romance Collection began several years ago at an ACFW Conference, where I met up with my dear friend, Mary Davis. I asked her what she was working on, and she said she was putting together a proposal for a Pony Express novella collection. I said, “I’d love to be part of that” to which she replied she already had the four authors she needed but if anything changed, she’d contact me.

The next month, hubby and I were planning a long weekend away, and I suggested we do some Pony Express research, “just in case”. So we traveled to Julesburg, Colorado and on into Wyoming, following the trail. Along the way, we stopped and talked to folks at visitor information centers, museums, and anywhere that advertised the Pony Express. People still love the romance and allure of the Pony Express, and it seemed as though everybody had a story.

Another month goes by, and Mary emailed to say an author had to drop out because of other commitments and was I still interested. You bet I was! The initial concept was four stories told in chronological order at the same station, Echo Canyon Utah, with some carryover of characters from one story to the next.

And so began my romance with the Pony Express. We went through several iterations of the proposal, and the format changed to nine authors at different stations with no overlap of characters.

If I hadn’t been at that conference, I wouldn’t have known about this opportunity. At other conferences, I’ve made contact with other editors, publishers, and book packagers and been blessed to work with them on various projects. So while classes are important, don’t forget the benefits of networking!

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor, and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. Her highlighted release, Echoes of the Heart, in a 9-in-1 novella collection titled "Pony Express Romance Collection" released April 2017. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. Donna loves history and research and travels extensively for both.

Echoes of the Heart:

Donna is offering a FREE print copy of this book (US only, please,) to one reader of this blog who leaves a commnt below, with  name and contact information.
Giveaway ends Monday, September 24, at Midnight, Central Time.

Thanks, Donna, for sharing this look into one of your older books. God bless!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Turbulent Times ~ Joi Copeland

God's Beauty - Picture provided by Joi

Turbulent Times
A Devotional from Joi Copeland

Flying. There are some people who really enjoy the flying experience. They seem to feel at ease in the sky. They seem to like the thrill of defying gravity. Oh, and getting from one place to another in hours instead of months is always a draw to flying, right?

Not this gal. No, ma’am. I do not like flying. Sure, I like the taking off and the landing portion of flying. But being in the air? Uh-uh. Nope. Not me. It’s unsettling for me to be so high in the air with no place to go if something were to happen. I’m not too keen on the idea of having to use my pressure mask or flotation device.

Yet, the life of a missionary requires me to fly. We have to travel from state to state, giving our presentation, sharing with churches and pastors. And when God says it’s time, we have to fly to Ireland and begin our ministry. It’s par for the course. It’s part of the job.

Just last week, we were in Portland, Maine. We then traveled to Vermont by car since it isn’t too far to drive. Then we headed back to Maine to fly home to Denver, Colorado. To say our flights were turbulent free would be a lie. Especially our flight from Baltimore.

We were sitting on the plane before taking off when the pilot came out to suggest we use the bathroom now since we were going to experience pretty heavy turbulence, and he wasn’t going to let the flight attendants up during time either.

Um, what? Say again? Turbulence. I despise turbulence. And here the pilot was telling us we were going to experience a lot of it. I wanted nothing more than to jump out of my seat, grab my luggage, and take a train home. That was my thought.

But that’s not what happened. I stayed on the plane, we took off, we were rerouted and still had turbulence.  I spent a lot of time in prayer on that flight. Who am I kidding? On every flight.  

Philippians 4:6-7 [NKJV] states “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” 

I spent a lot of time in prayer, thanking God for the opportunity to be in Maine and Vermont, asking Him to change my heart in regards to flying. I asked God for peace, His peace, no matter what happened.

And I saw beauty on that flight. I looked through the window and saw God’s creation. It was amazing! I was reminded that yes, in life, I will have turbulence. 

John 16:33 [NKJV] “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Jesus has overcome the world. Isn’t that great news? No matter what turbulence comes your way, rest in the fact that Jesus has overcome the world

Joi Copeland is married to a wonderful man, Chris, and has three amazing boys, Garrison, Gage, and Gavin. She lives in Denver, Colorado, but within the year, hopes to be living in Galway, Ireland.

Joi’s love of writing began at a young age. She wrote short stories for several years, and in 2009, she began writing her first novel, Hope for Tomorrow.
Joi’s books include:

Hope for Tomorrow, book 1
Hope for the Journey, book 2
Hope from the Past, book 3,

Letters of Love

Maine Series:
Christmas Snowe and Peppermint Cocoa, a novella
Shamrock Inn, a novella
Chance in Maine
Fall N Joy

Seasons of Love Series:
Christmas Rayne
Sunshine in Spring

Broken Together

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Time to Tell Melanie's Story ~ Bonnie Engstrom ~ Giveaway

 Time to Tell Melanie's Story

Guest post by author Bonnie Engstrom

I can’t believe I agreed to post on Peg’s blog on the fateful date of September 11. Hey, brain, where were you? Nevertheless, I am here with a pleasant memory.

Ten years ago, actually on September 13, I flew to California and saw my first grandson. I’ll never forget my son’s words as a first-time father. “I prayed he wouldn’t be born on the eleventh. I didn’t want him to forever deal with that date.” Fletcher was born on September 12!

Although this memory has nothing to do with writing, it is inscribed indelibly in my brain,

So are the words we writers put on paper. Once published they are forever words. That’s why editing is the hardest part of writing. I’ve always self-edited my stories at least six times. I’m sure I’ve missed many poor punctuations and misspelled, even unnecessary, words. That’s a given. But, Melanie’s Ghosts was my bane. I edited it over thirty times! Maybe I should have titled it The Curse of Melanie’s Ghosts. Unlike the other books in The Candy Cane Girls Series, this story is predominantly about Melanie and the emotional trials she goes through after her husband of only a few hours is arrested and subsequently dies. See, I just used an unnecessary word – subsequently – when I could have said “later,” or “afterward,” or even “eventually,” since it didn’t happen immediately or “right away.” We writers do that; use big words to make a point.

If you don’t know who The Candy Cane Girls are, I will bring you up to date:

Fifteen years ago, six high school freshmen in Newport Beach, California formed a swim team that became legendary. They won the state relay swim championship four years in a row. In addition to their skill and devotion to daily practicing, they prayed together and vowed to be sisters forever. 

Another thing that set them apart was they chose their own swimsuits making them a team within a larger team. They chose red and white diagonally striped swimsuits. Thus, became known as the Candy Canes. 

They always will be.

By passionate persuasion on her part, and Christian sympathy on their hearts, Melanie was accepted by the group after a strenuous swim. Now, there are seven. Now, her story can be told.

Ghosts! One is laughing down from heaven. One wears rags. One is falling in love with her. Melanie’s faith is shaken. Her husband Larry is dead. They had only been married a few hours before he was arrested. Will her best friend Natalie be enough? Who will understand about Larry’s crime, his deception and how he died? Surely not her new friend Robert who lost his wife to cancer; no deception there. Just sadness. Should she believe the homeless old woman who claims to be Larry’s estranged mother, calling herself Melanie’s mother-in-law? Especially when the raggedy old lady stalks her and camps on her doorstep. Why did the woman abandon her son and husband over thirty years ago? Robert gives her empathy and support . . . until his own secret is revealed. All Melanie has left of Larry is the gorgeous blue diamond ring! Her special group of friends, the Candy Canes, promise to pray for her. But, is prayer enough? She counts on all of them for support and answers! The love of a dog with her shaggy fur, big eyes and her kisses may have to be enough. Larry, his homeless mother, and even Robert, all haunt her. Her only normalcy is teaching the adorable three-year-olds in her preschool class. Maybe little Jackson will help put the ghosts to rest.

Click on to order.

About Bonnie:
Bonnie and her husband Dave live in Scottsdale, Arizona and have six grandchildren; four in Arizona and two in Costa Rica.

Bonnie is a long-time member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Christian Writers of the West in Arizona. She is a Pro Member of Romance Writers of America.

She loves to connect with her readers. Her email address is Be sure to put BOOK in the subject line. She would love to chat with you and answer any questions.

Visit her website (where you can see all those grandchildren) and link up with her on Twitter @BonnieEngstrom1 and Facebook at To see all of her books go to

Answer a question and leave a comment to enter the giveaway for a free e-book or print book – your choice. Question: What would you do if a homeless woman who claimed to be a relative camped on your doorstep?

Leave your comment and answer below with your contact information, to be entered in the giveaway Giveaway ends one week from today on September 18 at Midnight, Central Time.