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Week in Review

So much is happening lately, I’ve decided to use Saturdays for a “Week in Review”.

Book highlights:

ACFW Professional Relations Liason, Cynthia Ruchti, is a double finalist in Christian Retailing’s Best Awards–When the Morning Glory Blooms in General Fiction, and Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices in Nonfiction:Women. Read more here: Christian Retailing’s Best 

BeyondIDocoverMy debut novel, Beyond I Do, is now available for pre-order! At a discounted price, even!

Many said they wanted to learn more about this book, so here goes:

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadow’s encounter with a woman, her child, and their abuser sparks a passion that threatens her engagement. Will seeing beyond the present unite her and her fiance or tear them apart?

Raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignites a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Another highlight–I’m becoming more tech savvy by the day! I learned how to put the cover image in the sidebar of this site. (See right) I also started an author page on Amazon, and with help, I learned how to feed my blog into it. Hooray! (Check it out here.)

Libby Final front coverFay Lamb, a friend I lovingly call the Loop-lady, just saw the release of her latest novel, Libby:

Libby Overstreet can’t see herself as anything but shy and socially awkward. She’s nearing thirty, and she’s never even been on a date. Then she meets the man of her dreams, but Libby knows he would never be interested in a wallflower like her. All she wants to do is to buy that garden nursery on the outskirts of town and settle down with the life she has always dreamed about.

Evan Carter has been watching the sweet woman in the coffee shop for weeks when his friend tells him that the object of his affection plans to buy a garden nursery and needs Evan’s expertise as an architect/contractor. When they meet, Libby is more enamored of Evan and even more convinced that he would never look at her as anything but a friend. However, that’s far from the truth. Evan would love to get to know the innocent beauty God has placed in this path. Trouble is, he fears that a lovely flower like Libby will wilt under the sins of his past, and he’ll do everything in his power to keep that from happening.

Updated Wit & Wisdom cover 2014My sweet friend, Eileen Rife’s, kid quip book, Wit & Wisdom from the Wee Ones, releases in May:

Kids can take us right to the heart of God, one way or another. When they provoke frustration, we breathe a silent prayer for grace. When they incite giggles, we hear God’s laughter as well. When they stimulate an endearing moment, we sense God’s touch. When they utter a profound statement, we step back in wonder. What is this phenomenon a little one evokes? Bubbly ripples of laughter that transport us to another realm. Unabashed honesty that cuts to the chase. Joy splashing around our ankles, light spilling into shadow, awakening us to a childlike appreciation for the world around us.

If we take the time, if we listen, if we stoop to their level, we can go where kids go—straight to the heart of God. Wit & Wisdom from the Wee Ones is a collection of cute quips and quotes inspired by Eileen’s grandchildren. Along with other contributors, Eileen cracks the door to the whimsical, yet often wise world of the child. Lean in close . . . you may just hear God’s heartbeat.

On the web:

In the Christian living world, I’ve had two articles go live, one on Divine Silence and the other where I share one of my least glamorous yet most memorable moments in an article titled The Dangers of Negativity.

My sweet friend, Jennifer Hallmark, visited Seriously Write to discuss the pros and cons of joining a compilation project. Having compiled Sweet Freedom, and working on another compilation with my church, I found this post interesting. :) You can read about this here.

Reality Church News:

The Art of Neighboring!

Following an excellent series on the “E” word, hubby and I are going to a seminar titled “The Art of Neighboring.” We’re hugely excited about this, because this is an area we really need to grow in! Plus, I’ll be sharing a neighboring story that really touched (touches) my heart.

mini big live logoThe Mini Big Live!

You may remember our massive tri-city serving event titled the Big Live. Well, we’re at it again, but on a slightly smaller scale. May 2-4, RC members will partner with 10 Omaha Metro ministries to bring God’s love and truth to a hurting world. We’ll serve the homeless, clean a park, organize and facilitate a fun run to benefit the local foodbank, will plant flowers at the Hope Center and will make beds for children who have none… among other things!

The highlight: My railroader hubby is leading a flashmob dance of Papillion Manor residents and RCers. To say this shoved him out of his comfort zone would be an understatement. ha! But I know he’ll rock it! Figuratively and literally. (We hope to have Youtube footage of the event. Of course I’ll share it with y’all!)

Saving Grace booklet!

I’m helping our Groups Pastor, Roger Graber, compile a booklet on Saving Grace. This will be used for discussion groups and will be distributed to everyone who attends our Easter service. It’ll also be available in PDF form, which means I’ll be able to share it with you!

 

Booksigning 11You sense God calling you, nudging you to surrender fully to His call, but you’re not sure where that will lead. To make matters worse, doubts, fears, and insecurities well within, making it hard to zero in on that still, small voice that speaks courage and peace and confidence. This journey of obedience, of full surrender, is never easy and rarely quick, but today, a sweet friend, multi-published author Shannon Taylor Vannatter, shows us it’s worth it–worth every tear, every hurdle.

As an added bonus, she’s giving away a copy of Rodeo Song to one of you, randomly selected from the comments below. (She’s also donated three of her books to three different charity fundraising events, including Takin’ it to the Streets’ first annual Hope for the Homeless event. You can see her donations here.)

I also want to congratulate the winner of last week’s give-away. Mary C. Wilson, congrats! You won a copy of Connie Almony’s novel, At the Edge of a Dark Forest! I’ll contact you soon to arrange how best to get that to you.

Living My Dream by Shannon Taylor Vannetter

At times since I first started this writing thing back in 1999, the publication journey has been a roller coaster. From the time a Print On Demand publisher published my book without my knowledge to when my traditional publisher decided to close my line, I’ve been on the verge of pulling my hair out, and have lain in the floor crying. But despite my rollercoaster ride through the publishing landscape, I’m still writing and I’m thankful I’m a writer.

On a spiritual level:

1. I get to fulfill my calling. From the time I became a Christian at fifteen years old, I felt like there was something I was supposed to do. With writing, I get to fulfill my purpose by doing something I thoroughly enjoy.

2. I get to share Jesus with nonbelievers. A non-believer is more likely to read the romance novel their friend loans them than the Bible. I recently got a letter from a Muslim man in prison telling me how much he enjoyed one of my books. He still sounded Muslim from his letter, but maybe my book planted seeds.

3. I get the opportunity to draw Christians closer to Jesus. Some of my characters are Christians, some of them aren’t. Most of them make mistakes—just like real people. I use my characters blunders to draw them closer into fellowship with God. Maybe a reader will identify with my character’s journey and take steps to draw closer to Jesus as a result.

4. I get to preach. I’m not saying I want to be a preacher, but the overall theme of all of my books is this: Love doesn’t make the world go around—God does. My characters learn that love is only lasting if God is in the center of their hand-in-marriage-1422245-m (1)relationship. So many young people in the world need that message. It gives me great joy to know that mothers and grandmothers often let their daughters and granddaughters read Heartsongs because they trust the books are clean with a spiritual message.

5. I get to connect with Christians all over the world. It makes my day when readers contact me to say my story touched their hearts. Tangible proof that I’m doing what God called me to do and that I got the message across that He wanted me to share.

On a personal level:

1. I get to work from home and my schedule is flexible. I can take time off when my son is home from school sick. I get to attend all of his school parties and events and work my writing schedule around my family. During the school year, I write while he’s at school. I work my deadlines around summer vacation, so that during the summer, I’m mom. If I need to get some writing done in the summer, I do it when he’s not home, he has a friend over, or after everyone else goes to bed. If I write until 2:00 am, I don’t have to get up early for a regular job the next day.

Writing requires a schedule, but it’s flexible enough, I can be mom when I need to be and I don’t have to worry about babysitters. Yes, he’s twelve now. And my mom left me home alone when I was twelve. But he’s a boy. Boy’s are a different species – they like snakes, fires, and guns. Enough said.

2. I can take the day off for church functions. Since my husband is a pastor, member visits, hospital visits, and funerals are a large part of our lives. If I had a regular job, he’d have to go it alone and I wouldn’t be able to be as involved with our congregation as I am.

3. My son is proud of me. He tells everyone, “My mom is an author.” He thinks it’s cool that none of his friends can say that and that I’ve taught fiction writing classes and spoke at career days at his school.

4. Through the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, I’ve made friends all over the globe. I have lots of

Shannon and me (Jennifer) at the ACFW conference in 2009

Shannon and me (Jennifer) at the ACFW conference in 2009

friends, but writing friends get me like no one else does. Not even my family. And since writing can be such a solitary pursuit, friends who get you are a God send.

5. Having a job that requires daydreaming. All of my life, I’ve tried to listen and pay attention, but my mind would wander. With writing–having a wandering mind is encouraged, an active imagination is required, and daydreaming is allowed. I hear voices and have imaginary friends, but everyone thinks it’s okay and normal since I’m a writer.

And that just scratches the surface. I won’t even get into how I write in my jammies most of the time.

Rodeo SongRodeo Song:

JENNA WENTWORTH FOUND THE MAN OF HER DREAMS 

But when silken-voiced Garrett Steele set out for stardom, he left Jenna—and his cowboy past—far behind. A chance encounter at one of his concerts propels him back into Jenna’s life. But, once burned by love, Jenna must guard her heart against the captivating singer.

Once upon a time, Garrett vowed he’d be a success, no matter what. But that path shattered his soul. His reunion with Jenna makes him long for things he once took for granted. Now he must show her that he’s found what he was looking for all along…right here in his hometown.

Purchase Links:

Mardel            Deeper Shopping            Amazon            Christian Book          Harlequin

Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife/award-winning author. She lives in rural central Arkansas in a town with a population of around 100, if you count a few cows. Shannon writes inspirational contemporary romance and it took her nine years to get published in the traditional market.

Shannon hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as her characters struggle with real-life issues. Their journeys, from ordinary lives to extraordinary romance through Christ-centered relationships, demonstrate that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family and doing craft projects.

You can visit her online at her website http://shannonvannatter.com and blog: http://shannonvannatter.com/blog

You can connect with her on Facebook,  GoodreadsPinterest and Twitter.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! I believe we all have a calling. For some, that may mean saving money and paying off debt to spend quality time with their grandchildren during retirement. For others it may mean launching or serving in a ministry, writing a novel, or honing a talent to be used for God’s glory. Or perhaps God’s calling you to step out in faith and courage to invite neighbors to a women’s event at your church.

All of those callings can feel frightening, but as Shannon reminds us in today’s post, the rewards of obedience are endless!

What is God calling you to do, and what steps are you taking to obey? You can share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

And don’t forget to stop by Faith-filled Friends to read about the making of my novel, Beyond I Do, which is now available on Amazon for pre-order at a discounted price. I also encourage you to stop by Takin’ it to the Streets to read about one of my less-than glamorous yet more memorable moments.

So they're not dragons, and he didn't slay them, but don't you just love that smile? Left to right: El Salvadoran, hubby, me, princess

So they’re not dragons, and he didn’t slay them, but don’t you just love that smile? Left to right: El Salvadoran, hubby, me, princess

If you’ve been following my blog long, you know I adore my husband. For so very many reasons! But early in my marriage, I often missed out on his dragon-slaying heroics, not because they weren’t there, but rather, because I was far too focused on the burps and hiccups and casually-tossed dirty laundry. Our marriage changed dramatically when I surrendered fully–my mind, my thoughts, my perceptions–to Christ and began to view my husband through His eyes. (I shared a bit of this in a recent Crosswalk.com article. You can read it here.) Once I began to voice all those accolades God sparked within my heart, a gloriously beautiful and tender thing occurred–those dragon-slaying heroics became more frequent as my husband steadily stepped into his God-given role of provider, leader, and protector.

Today a sweet friend, author of At the Edge of a Dark Forest,(a book I’m reading now and LOVE!!!Connie Almony, talks about her dragon slayer and the impact each of us headshot1have on that hidden hero lurking within each of our spouses. She’s also giving away a copy of her novel, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, to one of you, randomly chosen from the comments left on this post. :)

Does Your Man Slay Dragons For You by Connie Almony

Whenever I begin to write a story it always starts as a romance. Of course, my characters take off and do things I’d never have expected when I first “birthed” them (they’re like children that way). But in the beginning, it’s always JUST a romance. With this in mind, I know there will need to be a defining moment where the man must slay a dragon (of some sort) for his lady.

You may think this idea is sexist and old fashioned. “Why can’t the woman slay a dragon for him?” You ask.

Well that’s fine and dandy, and most of my heroines do some slaying too, but if I’m going to fall in love with the man (which is unnecessary for me with the ladies I write) he will need to be willing to take a personal risk to get the heroine what she needs.

In my novella, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, my female protagonist, Carly, explains this idea to her counterpart, Cole, when he teases her about her penchant for reading the genre. He, being a double amputee, wonders if he could measure up as a dragon slayer.

He does!

Why?

dragon-46429-mBecause dragons come in many forms.

Early in my marriage, I’d scheduled one of those free offers to check our heating and air conditioning to clear it for winter service. FREE, I thought, who could pass up FREE? I was a little naïve back then. Of course, after the check, the technician handed me a very long list of repairs we could have done at a “reduced” price by their company if I signed NOW. I was warned, if not done soon, the whole unit would blow, costing me thousands of dollars in the end. My heart pounded. What should I do? I don’t want to miss this opportunity, and I didn’t want to risk the larger expenditure that would surely come.

I called my husband as the technician huffed loudly and tapped his toe in front of me. I could hear the comforting smile in my husband’s voice as he asked to speak to the man. I handed him the phone. They chatted. A few minutes later, the man gave me back the phone and packed his things as my husband told me not to worry. He’d consult a friend who could advise us and potentially do the work for much less than this company. He did, costing a third of what I’d been quoted.

I don’t know why this seemed a big deal to me, but I felt like a dragon had been slayed that day. A dragon in the shape of a scam-artist who’d infiltrated my home and planned to drain me of my life’s blood … or at least some cash. It gave me great peace to know my husband knew how to interrogate this man to get to the truth, to call on resources, and to ensure his family’s home was properly cared for.
My husband slays dragons every day in his office, where he manages employees, ensures goals are met and a salary is gained to feed his family. He is my hero. My knight in shining armor. He is also the biggest encourager in my writing. I am blessed.

I once listened to a woman complain that her husband never thanked her for the work she did in the home. I hear ya lady—it can be a thankless job. But I was stopped cold when she recounted how he asked of her, “When have you thanked me for going to my job every day?”

I wondered, “Had I ever thanked my husband for his provision?” I hadn’t. I try to rectify that now … To thank him for the work he does and most of all delaying HIS dream of being a writer (for which he is very gifted) to provide for his family so I can pursue MY dreams.

Thank you, Rick Almony, for slaying all those dragons!

Have you thanked your dragon-slayer today?

Dark Forest--Final CoverAt the Edge of a Dark Forest:

Cole Harrison, a war veteran, wears his disfigurement like a barrier to those who might love him, shielding them from the ugliness inside. He agrees to try and potentially invest in a prototype prosthetic with the goal of saving a hopeless man’s dreams.

Carly Rose contracts to live with Cole and train him to use his new limbs, only to discover the darkness that wars against the man he could become.

At the Edge of a Dark Forest is a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Only it is not her love that will make him whole.

***

Connie Almony is trained as a mental health therapist and likes to mix a little fun with the serious stuff of life. She was a 2012 semi-finalist in the Genesis Contest for Women’s Fiction and was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2012 WOW Flash Fiction Contest. Her newest release, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, is a modern-day re-telling of Beauty and the Beast about a war-vet, amputee struggling with PTSD.

You can find Connie on the web, writing book reviews for Jesus Freak Hideout, and hosting the following blogs: InfiniteCharacters.com and, LivingtheBodyofChrist.Blogspot.com.
You can also meet her on the following social media outlets: TwitterFacebookPinterest

 

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! In what ways does your spouse help you slay dragons? Pause and list them all right now, then thank God for them. It’s easy to lose sight of the heroics in the busyness of life, but they’re there. Let’s take notice! And let’s attempt to respond in kind. :) (using both meanings of the word.)

We all want our spouses to be heros and heroines, but do we also want to be heroic–in our love, encouragement, words, our servanthood, our persaverance, and our commitment to Christ? Because we have no control or say in how our spouses respond. God’s assumed full responsibility for them and their behavior. But we are responsible for our responses–for being our spouse’s helpmate, encourager, and cheerleader. The question is, how are we doing? What are some things you do, each day, to honor the hero in your spouse?

Some ways to show your appreciation:i-love-you-786729-m

1) Tuck a note in his/her lunch or jacket pocket telling him/her what you love most about him/her

2) Send him/her a link to a sappy song, telling him/her it made you think of him/her

3) Buy a card for them and actually send it to them in the mail!

4) Engage in an activity they love (with them, of course!)

5) Buy them their favorite treat and let them know you bought it just for them

6) Send them random texts letting them know you were thinking of them

7) Ask them how you can pray for them then commit to doing that.

Share your thoughts here or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Sometimes you pray and pray and pray for something to come about, only to be led in a different direction. Or maybe that moment that seems so perfect for a dream, goal, or long-desired outcome to occur comes and goes. And were left wondering, why? When? We know intellectually that God’s ways are quite different from ours, but moving that knowledge to our hearts can be a different matter.

twitterToday Jessica Everingham, author of Open Your Eyes talks about all those questions that mill through even the most faithful of believers, bringing hope and peace to our chaotic hearts.

But first, let me announce the winner of last week’s book give-away! Heather Day Gilbert, congrats! You won a copy of Saving Yesterday by Jessica Keller! I’ll be contacting you soon to get that intriguing novel to you. :)

Trust, by Jessica Everingham

Me to God:

“I don’t believe Your timing is right.”

“I don’t believe You can accomplish Your purposes through my life and writing.”

“I don’t think You can reach the hearts that are ready for You.”

“I don’t think You can take care of my financial needs.”

Have you ever caught yourself saying this to God?

Probably not. Few people say these things out loud, or even in their heads. But the other day I realized that I was saying all that to God through my actions.

It started with a meeting of my local writers’ group. Our topic this week was offline marketing. We shared our ideas and experiences for about an hour, but as I drove home I felt more stressed than when I’d arrived. The whole marketing thing freaks me out—it’s just so hard.

Apart from grabbing someone by the ear and marching them into a bookstore, I don’t know how I’m going to create an effective marketing strategy. I picture my beautiful book, (once it gets published), languishing on the bottom shelf of a bookstore. The publishing industry is difficult, and it scares me that I can’t control my own success. Even some bookstore-2-359139-mawesome books just never quite break out.  And so I stress that I’m not writing fast enough, I’m not good at marketing, I’ll go broke,  and no one’s hearts will be drawn closer to God through my work.

When I got home from the meeting I flopped onto the lounge with my journal and thought about my fears. God’s been teaching me about trust lately, so I reflected on what my worries were saying about my belief in him. All those ‘’I don’t’s’’ are what I came up with.

When they were just fears floating around in the back of my head, they seemed so big and scary. But when I wrote them down I saw them for the silly lies they were.  I should know better than to believe them.  God’s timing is right—and always better than mine. He is certainly powerful enough to ensure that His purposes are fulfilled whether I have experience in marketing or not. He can reach all the souls He pleases. And if I’m “seeking first His kingdom and righteousness”, then my needs will be sorted. End of story. End of worry.

Stressing about things I can’t control has been a pattern throughout my life. But I’m sick of losing my peace of mind to worries that I can’t control. I don’t think God intended for us to live this way; in fact, I’m confident of that. Jesus came to give us “life, and life to the full”. I don’t think repeated freak-outs fit under that description.

So now I’m learning how to break that pattern of stress. God’s helping me grab the thoughts that aren’t from Him and throw them out the door, then replace them with His truth. He’s reminding me that He loves me, His purposes are greater than mine and I don’t have to rely on my own strength. And even though I slip up occasionally, I have more peace and joy than ever before

***

Jessica Everingham is a blogger, journalist, boarding school mistress, youth leader and aspiring author. She loves writing articles and stories that peel back our subconscious attitudes and reveal God’s truth.

Connect with her via Facebook at www.facebook.com/jessicaeveringhamwriting, Twitter (@JessEveringham) or her blog, Consumed By Him, at www.consumedbyhimblog.wordpress.com.

Official book cover image unavailable at this time

Official book cover image unavailable at this time

Open Your Eyes:

What if someone could see into your soul?

All your wounds. All your darkness. All your potential. All your beauty.
How would you react?

Nathan Scott’s eyes see more than most. Penetrating past flesh and bone, they slice down to the very soul.
So when he moves to the small Kansas town of Grangeville, Nathan sees that jealously, suspicion and fear are tearing the local church apart. What’s more, the minister’s intriguing niece seems determined to avoid him.
While the congregation knows about Nathan’s sight, no one is aware of his secret mission—to find his estranged father.
While tensions build and relationships grow more complicated, Nathan is faced with two of the greatest challenges of his life.
Can he love a father who has done nothing to deserve it? And can he unite his church before it self-destructs?

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Forgive the cliché’, but they say hindsight is twenty-twenty. This has certainly been true in my faith journey. So many times a situation that seemed hopeless or a prayer that seemed to go unanswered later turned into a beautiful blessing. The trick is reminding myself of all those times when the next hurdle or period of waiting comes. I’m sad to say, when chaos hits, I often spend more time what-iffing than remembering, and I suffer for it! But praise be to God, He is ever faithful to lovingly and gently call me back to Himself, reminding me He’s ever-watching, ever-helping, always sovereign.

What about you? Are you in a time of struggle or waiting? Pause to remember a time when you felt broken, fearful, or as if things were hopeless. How did God bring you through? What did the time-table look like? What did He do in your heart and the hearts of those around you while you waited?

Maybe  you’re in a period of blessings. Record them! Write down what God’s done and ways He’s revealed Himself to you, then when the struggles hit (which they will), you’ll have something to remind you of that firm foundation you have in Christ.

However strong you are, there’s always someone stronger. There’s always someone smarter, more talented, more patient… a better cook, a better parent, a better spouse. Surrounded by so many folks who are better than us in so many ways, how can we ever measure up???

DSC_0065Isn’t it nice to know we don’t have to? Today my sweet friend and Young Adult Author of Saving Yesterday, Jessica Keller, shares her thoughts on this ugly and self-defeating game of comparison.

Note: Jessica is giving away a free copy, print or kindle, of Saving Yesterday. Winner will be randomly selected from the comments left on this post. 

***

“For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” -2 Corinthians 10:12

I’m going to come right out of the gate with a shocking confession for you—sometimes I compare myself to others and really find myself lacking. The situation changes, but the same thought still nags at the back of my mind. You don’t quiet measure up.

Have you been there?

The internet doesn’t always help this feeling. Pinterest tells me I’m not creative enough. Etsy says I’m not industrious enough. Facebook tells me I’m not liked enough. And Twitter says not that many people want to follow little old me.

It’s so easy to wander into the land of “if only” when these thoughts start to hound us. If only I were smarter. If only I if only I were...had more energy. If only I had more money. If only—then I’d feel confident and secure in who God made me to be.

In my book Saving Yesterday, the heroine Gabby Creed really struggles with this. She’s tossed into a world where everyone else knows all the rules and she’s making mistake after mistake. She just wants to belong—to be like them, all the while forgetting that she’s created special and different for a purpose.

We can all take heart because we’re not alone in these thoughts. In fact, the very first woman we meet in the Bible struggled with this too. From the moment God breathed life into Eve she knew her position as a child of God and the highest point in creation. She was surrounded by love from God and a man who adored her (Adam was pretty excited when she was created). Eve had what every woman longs for—love, intimacy, purpose, and significant. Pretty amazing, huh?

Even still, all it took was a whisper reminding her what she wasn’t and what she didn’t have for her to feel insecure. The serpent only had to say once that Eve could have more and be more if only God didn’t hold out on her—that’s all it took for doubt to take root and doubt almost always turns into poor choices.

If Eve in her ideal situation couldn’t help but measure her life against an absurd ruler that didn’t even exist—what hope do we have? Plenty. Know what would have changed everything in Eve’s situation—and can change us? Instead of focusing on who we are not and what we don’t have—flip that—and focus on who we are in Christ (a child of God) and what we have (a relationship with Him, keys to the Kingdom, an eternity spent worshiping the one true God).

You are loved beyond measure and understanding.

Jessica Keller holds degrees in both Communications and Biblical Studies. She is multi-published in both Young Adult Fiction and Romance. You can find her at www.JessicaKellerBooks.com, on Twitter @AuthorKeller, or on her Facebook author page (www.facebook.com/jessicakellerauthor)

SavingYesterday_CVR_MEDSaving Yesterday:

Her blood holds secrets she never knew existed.

Despite the fact that she acts as a parent to her alcoholic father, Gabby Creed feels pretty normal. But her life is turned upside-down on her seventeenth birthday when a bracelet appears on her wrist and sucks her back through time.

Turns out she’s not even a little bit normal. She’s a Shifter—a protector of humans and of history itself. And she’s not alone. The other Shifters believe Gabby is special, even more special than the mysterious Michael Pace. Oh, and the Shades—seriously creepy creatures who feed off of human despair—are determined to capture her.

It’s all a lot to absorb. So Gabby’s grateful to have Michael as her Trainer—or she would be if she could get her rebellious heart under control. Then again, if the rumors about her blood are true, saving yesterday will be the least of her worries.

Purchase it here: on Kindle and print.

Let’s talk about this! I’m pretty sure we all play the comparison game. We measure ourselves against what we “see”. The ironic thing is, we only see or hear the soundbites, the highlights, not the hidden struggles. In fact, that very person we compare ourselves to may livingbygracepic.jpbe comparing themselves to us! Oh, to see ourselves as Christ sees us: transformed, redeemed, immensely loved and set on a trajectory for eternal greatness. If we’d but take our eyes off everyone else and re-center them squarely on Christ, this journey toward growth and transformation would be so much easier!

So how do we do that? What are some ways you’ve successfully battled this cancer of comparison? What verses make this easier? How does your relationship with Christ help with this? We’d love to hear about your struggles and successes. :) Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Life After Kids by Eileen Rife.

I know, I know, today’s my regular blogging day and my day to host Living by Grace, but I’m a bit occupied. :) This is one of those monumental parenting weeks where my husband and I are coming to terms with the reality of empty nesting. It’s funny, I never thought this would be an issue for me. When I heard other moms talk about empty nesting or read articles about it, I couldn’t understand what was so difficult.

Until our daughter started touring colleges and suddenly reality hits.

It won’t be long until she’s gone. Ouch! To say we’re going to miss her would be perhaps the greatest understatement I’ve made on this blog. Hopefully the college she chooses will be within weekend driving distance. :)

Pat, you won a copy of Eleanor’s novel. I’ll shoot you and her an email soon.

Before y’all leave, I encourage you to pop by another blog I manage called Takin’ it to the Streets where I talk about the power of love. :)

Happy spring break!

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