You Get to See it First–Cover Reveal!

Hello, lovely blog subscribers. Some of you have been with me for over ten years now, long before I received my first book contract. Some of you (SandyT, waving!) have prayed with and for me as I’ve sought to follow God’s lead on this crazy, fun, hard, and sometimes confusing journey. So, it only seemed right that y’all got to see the cover for my September release first!

Ready?

If I add enough enters here, will that create a “delay” affect? No? Okay, here it is. 🙂 What do you think?

Want to read the back cover copy?

She’s home again, but not for long…
Unless this cowboy recaptures her heart

Returning home with a baby in tow, Paige Cordell’s determined her stay is only temporary. But to earn enough money to leave, she needs a job—and her only option is working at her first love’s dinner theater. With attraction once again unfurling between her and Jed Gilbertson, can the man who once broke her heart convince her to stay for good?

You can preorder a discounted copy HERE.

The Power to Forgive

ID-100161689I’ve often said, forgiveness is rarely a one-time event. Nor is it an emotion, at least originally. It usually begins with a choice, sometimes a teeth-gritting, white-knuckling, Lord Jesus please help me, choice. One that must be made again and again and again, every time old wounds and negative emotions resurface.

Forgiveness is rarely easy, but it is possible, with God’s help.

Today my friend, Janet Sketchley, Author of Secrets and Lies, shares her thoughts on Janet Sketchley headshot 350x350 (1)how we can begin to move toward forgiveness, and the freedom and healing that offers.

BUT FIRST I wanted to announce last week’s give-away winner.

LoRee, congrats! You won a copy of When Dawn Breaks! I’ll shoot you an email so we can talk about the best way for me to get that to you. 🙂 In the meantime, you can read the first two chapters here. 

And now, for Janet’s encouraging thoughts.

Forgiveness by Janet Sketchley

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:12, NLT

Someone hurts you. Next day, she apologizes. Do you say it’s okay, not a big deal? Pretend nothing happened, for the good of the relationship? Or do you refuse to forgive? Can you forgive, if it’s a major hurt?

Forgiveness is more about the victim than the offender. We’ve all been both. As the wounded parties, we can find healing and wholeness by acknowledging what happened and letting it go. Otherwise it stays inside us and continues to do damage.

“But you don’t know what she did!” No, but I know the hardest things are beyond our power to forgive without Jesus helping us. It can take years to start forgiving a traumatic hurt, and that may be just the first step. It may need regular repetition until that forgiveness “takes” at our deepest levels.

Forgiveness (1)

Dismissing a hurt, or learning to work around it, isn’t forgiveness. Honest forgiveness is a hard choice and it takes time, and we still have the after-effects of the hurt. If I steal from you and you forgive me, wisdom says you shouldn’t put me in charge of your bank password.

God’s forgiveness is different. If we accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross to buy us back from destruction, He forgives us. Every time we ask with a sincere heart. Even for the same offense, again and again.

He never denies the effects of our sin, and we may live with  its consequences. He forgives, but He doesn’t brush it off—the chance at forgiveness came at a great cost. But He removes it.

People may struggle to forgive, or may say they do without really meaning it. With God, we can believe that once He forgives, He truly does put the matter away. Not forgets, not dismisses. He marks it “paid.” That allows us to see the depth of the cost, the strength of the offense. But it doesn’t leave us with a burden to prove ourselves or to earn our way back into His good graces.

God knows our hearts and intentions—and our weaknesses. He likely wouldn’t put an embezzler, for example, back into the same position of trust. There are consequences in our world. But He regularly forgives and cleans us up, knowing that despite our best intentions we’ll mess up again. He doesn’t keep a tally that will eventually cut us off. Instead He offers as much help as we’ll take. As often as we need it.

In the mean time, He acknowledges the weight of what we’ve done, minimizing nothing. Jesus Himself paid the price. Now He works in and with us to remake us. How strong a love is that?

***

Janet Sketchley is the author of Heaven’s Prey and Secrets and Lies, two novels of suspense and redemption. She also blogs about faith and books. Janet loves adventure stories, worship music, tea and Formula 1 racing. Like Carol in Secrets and Lies, she loves music and tea. Unlike Carol, Janet isn’t related to a dangerous offender, has a happy home life, and has never been threatened by a drug lord. May those tidbits continue to hold true! You can find Janet online at janetsketchley.ca. Fans of Christian suspense are invited to join Janet’s writing journey through her monthly newsletter: bit.ly/JanetSketchleyNews.

Visit Janet online at:

Website: http://janetsketchley.ca/

Join Janet’s author journey – sign up for her monthly newsletter: http://bit.ly/JanetSketchleyNews

Secrets and Lies page (includes purchase links): http://janetsketchley.ca/books/secrets-and-lies/

Read a sample chapter here. 

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livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! We’ve all been hurt, betrayed, let down by someone we love. So how do we handle that? How have you dealt with past pains? Did you find forgiveness took effort and perseverance, or did God grant you a miraculous emotional healing and change of heart? Or perhaps you’re still hurting, still trying to fight for forgiveness. If so, did Janet’s post help you? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook. 

Other posts and articles you might find helpful:

Fighting to Forgiveness

490 Forgiveness

Freedom in Forgiveness

How to Trade Bitterness for Blessings

For those of you not on Facebook but who would like to follow my book-launch blog tours, signings, and interviews and such:

Yesterday on Bonnie Leon’s blog, I shared the time I asked God for permission to quit. You can read that here.

Tuesday I chatted with Greg Vogt, station manager of Omaha’s KCRO about my new release and the inspiration behind it. You can listen to our on-air discussion here:

Monday and Tuesday I participated in two blog interviews.

Join me on Kelly Liberto’s blog here.

Join me on Grid-iron Granny’s here.

On Saturday, I visited with Alexis from Capturing the Idea. You can read our chat here.

Fiction That Reaches Into Prison Cells

Never underestimate the power of a well-crafted story. I’ve heard it said, words spoken may be soon forgotten. Those written are recorded forever, able to reach beyond physical boundaries and extend to multiple generations. When I read Margaret’s Reach Out story, presented below, I envisioned a broken woman, sitting in her cell, reading Margaret’s novel–a novel that speaks truth and radiates love.

Reaching Into the Prison Cell by Margaret Daley

When a woman who worked at a Florida female prison helping the inmates contacted me, I was surprised and excited about the prospects of the outreach for my book. She’d read my Love Inspired, Second Chance Family, and was interested in using that story with the women. Second Chance Family dealt with abuse and some of the women she worked with had gone through it. I didn’t have many copies left of the book, but what I had I sent to her. I asked my publisher, Harlequin, if they had any copies for the prison. They went back to press and ran 100 copies off and mailed them to the Florida prison.

I have often sent my books to prisons through an organization since often prisons won’t allow inmates to receive books in the mail unless from a publisher or organization.

Second Chance Family:

Dedicated teacher Whitney Maxwell gave up her dream of a family years ago. But she’s about to get a lesson in faith and family from an unexpected source–a brave little boy named Jason. Jason and his dad are dealing with his autism the best they can, but Dr. Shane McCoy can’t put his tragic past behind him. As Whitney and Shane work together to help his son, could these two lost souls open their hearts to love again and become a lasting family?

***

Margaret Daley, an award-winning author of eighty-two books, has been married for over forty years and is a firm believer in romance and love. When she isn’t traveling, she’s writing love stories, often with a suspense thread and corralling her three cats that think they rule her household. To find out more about Margaret visit her website at http://www.margaretdaley.com.

Margaret has donated two novels to May’s Reach Out to Live Out gift basket, Second Chance Family and Saving Hope: Men of the Texas Rangers.

***

I’d love to hear from you. What books, fiction or otherwise, have made the greatest impact on you? Were any given as gifts? Tell us about  it for a chance to win Deborah Raney’s Remember to Forget.

And don’t forget to send me your Reach Out to Live Out story for a chance to win May’s gift basket. Send it to jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com.

Thanks to all our donors for helping motivate us all to reach out in tangible ways as we share the love of Christ to a hurting world:

Short-Story Saturday

Somehow I’ve accumulated a bit of short stories sitting on my computer. I hate wasted text, so, I decided to try something new and fun. But you know me, I hate being boxed in, which means, I can’t guarantee a story every Saturday, but as I’ve got them (or at times, as they’re sent) I’ll post them. If you’ve got a story or excerpt you’d like to share, send it to me via email at jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com. You’ve always wanted to write but aren’t sure how to get started? Try your hand and send it my way!

Moses Answers the Call (taken from Exodus 2-3)

Moses rolled his mat and stuffed it in his bag along with the rest of his belongings. The aroma of roasted grain filled the air, drawing him to a fire centered in their camp where Zipporah, his wife sat preparing his morning meal. Her sisters chattered beside her, one grinding grain, another pressing olives, still another weaving strong goat-hair thread into torn and thread-bare tent panels.

                Footsteps sounded behind him and he turned to see Jethro, his father-in-law, approaching. His stiff smile only deepened the sadness in his chestnut eyes. “So you have made up your mind? There is nothing I can say to sway you?”

                Moses sighed and gripped his bag tighter. How he longed to heed Jethro’s words of warning, but God left no room for doubt. “I must do as God commands.”

                “And if the Egyptians kills you?” His gaze drifted toward his daughters gathered a few paces away before returning to Moses.

                Moses straightened and lifted his chin. “They won’t. I told you of the signs God showed me. The flaming bush that never burned up. My staff which turned to a snake. My hand leprous and as white as the clouds drifting above us, made healthy by a mere dipping it into my cloak.”

                “But why now? After they’ve been enslaved for so very long?”

                Moses shook his head. “He did not tell me why, and I cannot worry about that which I do not understand. I must act upon what I know.”

                “And what is that?”

                Moses lifted his gaze toward the distant hills, a gentle breeze stirring through his thick, gray hair. “I know that God has heard the cries of his people and has deemed it time to act. I know that He will be their mighty deliverer. I know Aaron, my brother whom I thought I would never see again, is on his way to meet me even now.” He inhaled, then exhaled slowly, hoping to quiet the churning in his stomach. “I know it will not be easy—that the Pharaoh’s heart will grow hard again and again and I fear that my people, the people I come to help, will hate me.”

                “Yet still you go.”

                Moses nodded. “Yet still I go, for now that I have experienced God’s presence for myself, now that I have heard His voice, I cannot walk away. His presence is better than life itself.”

                Soft footsteps approached and Moses glanced up to see Zipporah approach with a bundle of cloth. “Better than life with me, my lord?” Unshed tears glistened in her eyes.

                Moses held her gaze, the very breath stolen from him. A tear slid down her cheek and he brushed it away. “Do not cry, my beautiful wife. I will return. Once Pharaoh lets the people go, and we begin our journey, I will send for you. I will bring you with me to the Promised Land.”

                Zipporah dipped her head and Moses knew the emotions that warred inside her, because they raged in him as well. Two days ago, God was nothing more than a story told to him as a child. And now, he risked everything to follow. The very thought turned his stomach, but below the fear simmered something more—hope.

                He cupped Zipporah’s chin and lifted her face until her eyes met his. “At night, when you lie upon your mat, gazing at the stars, think of the Promised Land I spoke of. A land with fragrant flowers growing upon the meadows. A land flowing with milk and honey.”

                Zipporah smiled. “I knew God had plans for you. All these years as you’ve served my father so faithfully, tending his sheep night after night, I knew you were destined for more, my prince of Egypt.”

                Moses chuckled. “Prince of Egypt indeed. Such a title is no longer important to me, my sweet Zipporah. Now I wish more than anything to be a servant of the living God.”

                “And so you will be. Go with the strength God provides, and may He protect your every step.”

Luke 9:23  Then He (Jesus) said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (NIV)

When we read the biblical accounts, often we fail to realize these were real people with real struggles. They felt the same emotions you and I face. Although I’ve “fleshed out” the story provided in Exodus, adding details as I see they may have happened, I imagine leaving his wife, father-in-law and the predictable life he knew in Midian to confront the powerful, slave-driving Pharaoh wasn’t easy. Obedience rarely is. But I believe Moses’ obedience was motivated by two things: his love for God and his hope in something better–the Promised Land.

Similarly, as Christians our obedience is motivated by two things: our love for God who, while we were still sinners, died for us; and our hope in something better–Heaven, the eternal promised land. For we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen, our glorious Savior and His promise of eternity.

Happy Saturday!