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Photo by LoganArt taken from freedigitalphotos.net

This is almost ironic–the day after I make a vlog sharing my tendency to worry, stress and fret (when I should be still!) my article on Internet Cafe’ Devotions on embracing risk goes live. The two might seem contradictory… or maybe not. Because surrender is a constant, daily battle. As is learning to trust, and I say learning intentionally, because I believe we should be active participants in the processes that deepen our trust in Christ.

But that’s a blog (or maybe vlog) for another day.

If you have a tendency to worry, to work every what-if situation in your mind until your stomach knots and your temperature rises, if you’re like me and would rather avoid those uncomfortable stretching moments, you may be able to relate to the below. (And um… 4:00 yesterday quickly turned to 8 am today… Sorry about that!)

(After you watch my vlog, join me on Internet Cafe’ to take this trust thing one step further, figuratively and literally. Read more HERE.)

Oh, and it’s that time again–another book launch is upon me! Which means, in the next couple months, I’ll be visiting numerous websites, answering interview questions, sharing stories behind my stories, testimonial devotions and more. I’ll try to keep you updated of all my happenings and visits.

Today I’m on the Internet Cafe’ (linked to above). I visited Robin Mason’s blog to talk about self-protecting (or not) when we’re under attack. You can read more HERE.

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Photo by Unsplash taken from Pixabay.com

I’m also on Preslaysa Williams blog talking about one of my favorite subjects–love! :) You can read more HERE! God has done such amazing things in my marriage, and thanks to Him, my honey and I will be leaving soon to head back to Seattle–where it all began–for a special anniversary week. To add fun to fun, I’m editing, now, a novel set in Seattle (which will release in March), so I hope to take lots of pictures for Pinterest!

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Photo by ClkerFreeVectorImages taken from Pixabay.com

Do you ever feel generic? Unnoticed? Unappreciated? Maybe even undervalued? Behind every made-up face and carefully chosen outfit, behind every rehearsed speech and immaculate house, hides an insecure woman who, at some level, strives for what she believes she isn’t because she hasn’t learned to rest in who she is. Or should I say, whose she is.

Today fellow ACFW member Alexis Goring shares her thoughts on mankind’s constant yet Alexis A. Goring, Autumn 2012misguided strive for significance. As you read her thoughts, prayerfully ask God to show you what’s getting in the way of your resting fully in who He is and who you are in Him.

But first, a dash of hilarity–a fun parody to get you laughing about my next novel, Intertwined. Because if you’re going to make a book trailer, you might as well have fun doing it, right? Regardless if you tell the synopsis of the story…

Made in His Image

by Alexis A. Goring

Tests on Facebook are popular. One of the most popular is where you submit a profile picture and wait a few seconds for results to show you which celebrity you most resemble.

Tests like this feed on our innate desire for greatness. We want to “reach for the stars,” take selfies with our favorite celebrities, shake the hands of popular politicians and become best friends forever. Why? I believe it’s because we want to reach a level of greatness we believe can only be accomplished by connecting with people who’ve already achieved it.

But don’t you know that you already are connected to the ultimate form of greatness in the universe? Oh yes, dear one, God is great and you are made in His image! Genesis 1:26-27 tells us just how special you are to our Creator God. The passage reads:

“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in Our image, in Our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them” (NIV).

God made man in His image. Let’s delve into what this truth means: God created the entire universe. All that lives, breathes and moves was created by Him and for Him. God is the Author of Creation. He literally spoke the world into existence. He created everything here on Earth with the power of His Words. But when God created our first father Adam, He bent down in the soil and molded man, creating Adam in His image.

Do you know how special it is that God took time after speaking this world into existence, to use His Hands to mold man from the dust of the ground? Scripture says, “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7).

Do you know what else this means? We don’t need to continue searching for ways to connect with “great” people in this world. We can stop idolizing our favorite celebrities and “wishing upon a star” we’re lucky enough to meet and make them our best friend forever. God does encourage community, and we need friends. But when our desire to connect with greatness overrides our desire to connect with our Creator who is the Greatest, we have a problem.

God wants our loyalty and devotion, daily. He’s out of this world (literally) but He’s also right here, with us.

God sent His one and only Son into this world to show us the way to Him (John 3:16). So if we really want to connect with someone, it should be God’s Son (Jesus Christ) who is our Mediator, the only bridge between Earth and Heaven (John 14:6).

Even the most personable celebrities may not want to connect with their fans. But our Creator God not only wants to connect with His creation, He wants to forgive us our sins and offer us the gift of eternal life!

So next time you’re tempted to take a “celebrity look-a-like” tests, pause and remember that you already resemble someone great—you are made in the image of the Almighty God!

***

Alexis A. Goring is a writer at heart and a journalist by profession. She loves the art of storytelling and is especially delighted to have released her first book, an inspirational romance novella called Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories, in Sept. 2013. When Alexis isn’t working on her next book or chasing down the next big story for the newspaper where she works as a freelance reporter, she can be found listening to songs by her most admired musicians, enjoying the food in cafes/restaurants, shopping at her favorite malls and spending quality time with loved ones (family and friends).

Hope in My HeartHope in My Heart is a collection of short, heartwarming stories with characters in need of hope.

In “Love Unexpected,” a car crash brings commitment-wary Sebastian and career woman Chandra together. Neither is looking for romance, but those around them see the potential, and Sebastian and Chandra discover that sometimes love shows up unexpectedly.

Christmastime is the setting for the middle story, “The Best Gift.” Christina desires to lose ten pounds so she can fit into her dress for her sister’s wedding. Jordan wishes her mom would stop trying to marry her off. And Joshua hopes to be reunited with his ex-girlfriend but eventually learns that the best gift this Christmas will be the restoration of his relationship with God.

In “Peace and Love,” three characters living in a metropolitan area are desperately searching. Elle, a starving artist, aspires to become a paid professional. Eric, a divorce attorney, wants to resolve his issues concerning his parents’ divorce. Kristine anticipates finding her birth mom before she marries Derek. All characters pray their searches will conclude this holiday season and fill their hearts with peace and love.

Buy it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

 Connect with Alexis online on Facebook, her blog, “God is Love”, and Twitter– @pennedbyalex

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. Some of us might be quite aware of our insecurities, but for others, our ever-need for significance might only rear its head when we’re offended. (Our reactions to difficult people, criticism, and hurtful experiences often reveal what’s hiding in our hearts.) For all of us, the answer is the same: rest in who we are in Christ and center our thoughts in His truth and promises.

When do you find you’re most insecure or easily offended? Chances are, those point to a hidden need for significance or validation in that area, which in turn reveals a hidden lie we’ve allowed ourselves to believe, like, “I’m not smart enough, good enough, talented or capable enough”. Ask God to show you the underlying cause of your pain, then ask Him to replace that with truth. Ask Him to help you see yourself as He sees you.

Share your thoughts and experiences with us, as well as how you’ve managed to ground your identity in Christ, here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook. Because we can all learn from and encourage each other!

I love progress. I love to achieve, to dream, and to take determined and well-planned steps forward. Sometimes this is a great thing, other times my visionary thinking can cause me to lose sight of all the wonderful gifts God’s bestowed on me now.

Today’s post, written by friend and author Sarah Ruut, challenged me to… Well, I’ll let you read it for yourself.

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photo by David Castillo Dominici taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Graduation is such an exciting time! It represents a transition from youth to adulthood — the beginning of a new phase in life.

Most teenagers eagerly anticipate that wonderful day when they will be free to actually live their lives, because life begins after school, right?

That thought seems to last until graduation, and then a new thought works its way into the young mind. Wouldn’t it be nice to get married? To have someone special in your life who would happily commit to spending life together? Oh, how hard it is to wait for that big day.

Not long after the wedding, often thoughts of children follow. Babies are so sweet and so cute and so…

Once children are running through the house, the weary young mom can’t wait until they are all in school so she has a few hours of peace.

Those school years quickly lead to the potentially-tumultuous teen years, and the weary parents are anxious for the day when their children will leave the nest to make their way in the world, leaving the parents free to more fully pursue their own dreams.

Do you see where we are headed? The next promotion, the next house, even the next answered prayer…

When we focus so much of our thought-life on that next goal we want to attain, we forget to stop and enjoy the moment we are living. We forget that this spot, today, right where we are, is where God has us. He has us here for a reason, and we need to focus on the tasks at hand.Learn to be Content

Does that mean we shouldn’t dream or pray for something different? No, that’s not what I mean. Dreams and goals are good things, as long as we don’t allow that to breed discontent with our current circumstances.

The apostle Paul said, “I have learned to be content in any circumstance.” (Philippians 4:11b, NET)

Can we say the same? Are you content where you are right now, or are you chafing inside, anxious for that next step that you are hoping and praying is right around the corner?

I am not a big-city girl, but that is where the Lord has me right now. I have spent the past few years dreaming, hoping… and yes, complaining. I don’t want to be stuck here, but I don’t have any choice, and so I grumble.

But that’s not what the Lord wants us to do, is it? He has a purpose for every part of our lives (check out Jeremiah 29:11 if you doubt that…), and we need to be willing to do what He’s called us to do right here. Before we know it, the opportunities we have now will be gone.

Which reminds me of a song. (Those of you who know me already know that most things remind me of a song…lol) Trace Adkins tells us, “You’re gonna miss this. You’re gonna want this back. You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast…”

Let’s not waste today pining for tomorrow. Let’s make the most of today, looking for the purpose God has in today. If we watch for His hand and His blessings, we too can learn to be content in any circumstance.

Sarah Ruut PicSarah Ruut is an avid reader who loves sharing about books and their authors on her blog. You’ll find devotionals as well as reviews of Christian fiction, interviews with amazing authors, giveaways and more at sarahruut.com. You can also connect with Sarah on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

 

Let’s talk about this. Are you planner and what-iff-er? livingbygracepic.jpDoes your planning, worrying side hinder your ability to enjoy the present? If so, what are some ways you can learn to be content right where God has you at this moment? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

FREE SAMPLE

You know what this means, right? Release day is fast approaching!

Read the first three chapters of my next release HERE.

And for all of those in the KC Metro area, stop by Zona Rosa Barnes and Noble, grab a mocha, and say hi! I’ll be signing copies of Beyond I Do and When Dawn Breaks. Then, the following weekend, I’ll be in Atlanta giving a talk titled the Making of a Writer. (Find out more about this 50 min presentation HERE, and stay up-to-date on my upcoming events HERE.)

And of course, if you’re in the Papillion area, stop in to Reality Church; I’ll save you a seat!

 

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. :) This summer our daughter volunteered at a children’s center in downtown Omaha where she taught kiddos to art. For one of the projects she had them design a comic book, and here’s the example she created.

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Gonna miss this girl. She leaves for college in about two weeks. Reading my numerous, empty-nesting Facebook posts, a friend from church posted this video and tagged my husband and I. I’m sure you can envision the amount of tears it initiated!


Motherhood, the greatest blessing God has ever granted. Letting go is proving much harder than I’d imagined, and yet, I’m blessed beyond measure to know our daughter is walking with her Savior. Her life has been clear evidence of that.

Love you, girl!

Oh, and before you go, to my Papio/Omaha Metro friends, you’re coming to the Streets Got Talent tomorrow, right? Because it’s going to be awesome, and it’s going to help us at Takin’ it to the Streets feed a lot of hungry people! Find out more HERE!

Photo by aatlas taken from pixabay.com

Photo by aatlas taken from pixabay.com

Never quit on the uphill. My high school track and cross country coach repeated that phrase to me often, usually when I was tired, lagging, and midway up an intense climb. He also encouraged me to take my rest days–to give my body time to recover and rebuild. Both are important for champions.

This analogy and advice applies to our spiritual life as well. Right now I’m in an uphill climb. Planning a major fundraising event–it’s not the biggest event I’ve facilitated, but it is by far the most complicated and foreign! You can read more about it HERE. I’m also preparing for two talks in August, and, well, I could go on, but I’m sure you understand. Life is busy, for all of us. This is true doubly (triply?) for today’s guest post, Ginger Solomon.

Take the Next Step

By Ginger SolomonGinger pic

What’s your July been like?

Mine’s been busy.

At the beginning of the month, several other authors and I had a book release. Since then I’ve guest posted on several blogs like this one. I also finished another novella slated to release in November. It still needs to be edited. In addition, I’m working on three other novels—a sequel to my debut novel, a stand-alone contemporary, and a fantasy—all romance.

Then there’s school to prepare for. It starts in just a few weeks. I have a senior, a sophomore, an eighth grader, and a sixth grader this year. Getting their schedules set up and ready usually takes me a day or two of intense work. We also have a full garden that needs to be cared for, in addition to twenty-five chicks—they’re about eight weeks old now—who are ready to be transferred out to the barn to be added to the dozen or so we raised earlier this year. The older hens will retire.

Oh, I guess I should have told you I live on a 7-acre mini-farm. Well, that’s what I call it.

Needless to say, I’m busy.

But it’s just a season. A few years ago, I was homeschooling all seven of my kids. That was busy, even without anything else added to the mix.

Next year, I’ll only be homeschooling three, and then it won’t be long before even those will graduate and move on.

seasonversepicEcclesiastes chapter three talks about seasons. Verse one says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…”(NIV)

I’m fond of saying my full-time job is homeschooling, and writing is my part-time job. That is my season at the moment.

In my latest release, Mr. Christmas and Miss Scrooge, part of the Love in Mistletoe Springs novella set, both of my characters are in new, busy seasons of life. Mitch returned to Mistletoe Springs to care for his ailing mother. Margaret took over the family business so her parents could take a yearlong sabbatical to travel the world. Neither season was expected, but sometimes it’s what’s needed.

We often ask why me. Or why now. I’m not sure God answers those questions very often. I’ve read somewhere that asking what now is better. It gives us something to focus on besides the mountain we have to climb. Often it means just looking at the ground in front of us, taking one step at a time.

That’s what Mitch and Margaret did. One step at a time. There were bumps along the way, sometimes big ones. But as long as they did the next thing they knew to do, they made progress. And so can you.

Hebrews 12:1(NIV), “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,

Raceverseand let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

What season are you in?

***

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. Are you in a season of business? How might (or how does) remembering that this is just a season help you persevere? Or maybe you’re in a season of rest. How might remembering that that too is a season help you recoup without feeling guilty? Both seasons are important, because we can’t run marathons forever. Neither can we remain in rest mode forever. Share your thoughts with us here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Faceboook.

Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer — in that order (mostly). When not homeschooling her youngest four, doing laundry or fixing dinner, she writes or reads romance of any genre, some sci-fi/fantasy, and some suspense. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, president of her local writing group, and writes regularly for two blogs. In addition to all that, she loves animals, likes to do needlework (knitting, crocheting, and sometimes cross-stitch), and is a fan of Once Upon a Time and Dr. Who.

Visit her online: on her website, group blog Inspy Romance, at her Facebook Author Page, on Twitter @GingerS219, or on Pinterest

About Ginger’s latest release, Love in Mistletoe Springs:

The Mistletoe Springs animal shelter loses their grant, endangering the lives of countless stray dogs, cats, even birds and turtles. The community attempts to save the shelter by running a Christmas in July fundraiser. Groups of volunteers scramble to get all the details together while managing their personal lives. For ten people, love gets in the way.

“A Cockatoo for Two”
Nikki Waldrop is given a cockatoo because her son is allergic to hairy animals. But this biology teacher needs help from the principal, who once lived in Indonesia and knows about caring for a cockatoo. When the sick bird responds with “Gimme a kiss,” hearts begin to soar.

“Brewed with Love”
When Amber Cook meets firefighter Bryan Grant, can she overcome her deep seated fear of fire and discover true love?

“Stray Gifts”
Dani Cooper has vowed to focus on her four kids and stay away from strays, whether animal or human. But will she be able to resist the handsome, mysterious veteran who shows up on her doorstep looking for work…and maybe, for a home and family too?

“Mistletoe Madness”
To say Kayla can’t function in a crowd is an understatement. The only help she can get to do her part to help the shelter is the bane of her existence, her brother’s best friend who has teased and harassed her mercilessly all her life. But Drew’s feelings for Kayla have suddenly changed. Can he both help the shelter, and help Kayla change her mind about him?

“Mr. Christmas and Miss Scrooge”
Mitch Silverton agreed to be in charge of decorating for the fundraiser. And he needs his boss, Margaret Holberg, to donate her family’s vast array of decorations to make the day unforgettable. BUT…

She’s not sharing. Christmas is not a holiday she wants to celebrate in July, and saving the animal shelter is not high on her list of important things to do.

He wants her to share more than the decorations. He wants her heart. Will he succeed in changing Miss Scrooge into Mrs. Christmas?

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Photo by johnhain found on pixabay.com

Do you feel like you go through life white-knuckling it? A quick perusal on Facebook tells me anxiety is a major problem. As I was reading Davalyn Spencer’s post below, and the adventures and views she encountered, I wondered how often I’ve missed out on the beauty of the journey due to worry and fear.

As an added bonus, Davalyn’s giving away a free copy of her novella, Columbia Bride! (Read about the book at the end of today’s post) The winner will be randomly selected form comments left on this blog post. Please note, the contest is open to readers in the continental US only.

My Winding Roads and Toddlers by Davalyn Spencer

When my rodeo bullfighter husband and I set out on the road years ago with our dreams and children, we quickly acquired the skill of traveling light, fast, and focused. I loved it. No suitcases and always at home in our camper. Only the view outside our windows changed.

But the roads—they were another matter. Particularly when we veered off the predominant path.

One breathtaking drive took us through southeastern Washington down into the northeast corner of Oregon to the Chief Joseph Days Rodeo in Joseph, Oregon, land of the Nez Perce. I acquired one of my most important lessons in map reading on that trip: two squiggly lines on either side of a river means go the other way. But by the time I figured that out, there was no turning back.

Home was an 11.5-foot camper, extended-cab pickup, and horse trailer. In those pre-seat belt days, we fitted the back-seat space with a covered, padded board so our toddler, Jake, could sleep and ride and play in comfort.

Rolling wheat fields escorted us across the Washington state line until we began our descent toward the Grande Ronde River

photo by 4dr14nqg taken from pixabay.com

photo by 4dr14nqg taken from pixabay.com

on what the locals called Rattlesnake Grade.

Why were we not put off by the name?

Our “shortcut” to Joseph took an extra hour in our rig, maneuvering the narrow, sort-of-two-lane road that switch-backed down to the river and up the canyon on the other side.

As we rode that grade with all of our livelihood and our precious child, prayer became more important to me than breathing. I’d cringe as oncoming logging trucks whipped down the snaking road, passing us with inches to spare. Or I’d look over the rail-less edge, drinking in the terror of what could happen with one wrong turn.

My husband white-knuckled the steering wheel, his focus shifting between the engine light, the side mirrors, and oncoming trucks. But our son leaned over our seat back and laid his little head on his daddy’s shoulder, cool as a glass of summer lemonade. The sight was a direct message from God to me.

Jake was completely unaware of the razor’s edge we were riding. His daddy was in charge, and he was just fine with that. He didn’t even look out the side windows, but kept his eyes on the view through the windshield. In his childish innocence, he demonstrated the kind of confidence I needed to have in my Heavenly Father.

We made it safely to Joseph, had a great rodeo, and took the longer but quicker way out of the area through Pendleton. Map-reading lesson learned.

Several times since that trip, life has kinked up with curves, steep pulls, and passing concerns that threaten to push me over the edge. But things have always worked out when I rested in the Lord’s care and let Him sit behind the wheel.

We would do well to remember that Dad’s got it under control. He doesn’t need us grabbing the steering wheel, especially on the steep grades. If we let God be God, He’ll get us safely through. He’s faithful and oh so worthy of our confidence.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5, NIV).

***

Novella in Old West Summer Brides: The Columbine Bride:

DCS 2014_3.smaller FullOldWestSummerBridesLucy Powell is on a path not of her choosing: widowhood. But she’s determined she doesn’t need anyone’s help to get her neglected ranch back in order and running right—especially the neighboring rancher who keeps showing up at the end of her shotgun. Buck Reiter can’t leave Lucy and her two young’uns alone. It’s just not in him to sit by and watch while someone struggles. But he ends up as the struggler, searching for a way to let Lucy know there’s a whole lot more going on in his heart than just neighborly attention.

But it HERE.

 

 

Wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, author Davalynn Spencer began her writing journey in the national rodeo market and as a newspaper journalist, winning awards in both arenas. Today she continues to win acclaim with her inspirational western romance, finaling for the 2015 Will Rogers Medallion, placing second in the 2014 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, and finaling for the Selah Award and the Holt Medallion. Davalynn teaches writing at Pueblo Community College. She and her handsome cowboy make their home on Colorado’s Front Range with a Queensland heeler named Blue. Connect with Davalynn online at www.davalynnspencer.com and www.Facebook.com/AuthorDavalynnSpencer.com.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Can you share a time, like Davalynn did, when you were consumed with worry but God reassured you with a truth, object lesson, or perhaps an unexpected surge of peace? What do you do when you feel anxious? What helps you find peace when life gets crazy? Share your thoughts with us here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Before you go, I wanted to invite you to be part of my Street Team!

Not sure what that is? Let me tell you. ;)
A street team is a writer’s inner circle of readers. Basically, they’re a group of freaders (friends and readers. I just made that word up. Are you impressed? … Yeah, me, neither.) Anyway, a street team is a group of folks, like you, who enjoy a writers writing enough that they want to tell others about it. (This can be such a huge help to writers!) In return, they get fun perks like free autographed books, first peak at covers, are invited to help name characters that will appear in upcoming novels (if I wrote suspense, that could really be fun, right?? haha!); they’ll get to read deleted scenes no one else will get to see, and more!
Sound fun? It will be, I promise!
Here’s what’s expected of street team members:
  • Tell your friends, family, co-workers, the random strangers you meet on the street, about the book. (Assuming you like it, of course!) You can do this by:
  • Posting reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnesandnoble.com, etc.
  • Sharing links (and links to reviews) on Facebook and Twitter
  • Sending invites to friends and family for an author’s events
  • Inviting friends over for chocolate and Skype with an author parties
  • Attaching post-it notes to random vehicles with the phrase, “Please read this book:–” Um… on second thought, don’t do that one, please. I’d hate to scare people.
So, I’m out of ideas now… Your turn!

 

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