“To not use a talent to the best of your ability is to stifle the thing that makes you most special. It is like plucking the wings off a butterfly.” ~Fennel Hudson, A Writer’s Year — Fennel’s Journal, No. 3

VanessaI met Vanessa Fortenberry at last year’s Catch the Wave Christian Writers Conference in Atlanta. As one of the presenters, she shared a devotion I found so encouraging, the moment the main session completed, I made a beeline for her, and having barely made self-introductions, blurted out, “Would you be willing to share the message you just gave with my blog readers?”

She said yes and here we are. She is such a lovely woman of Christ, I know you’ll be as blessed by her insight as I was, and am.

Unpacking Your Talents by Vanessa Fortenberry  

“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving

one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10 NASB). 

A few years ago, I received an email message from a former chorus student I taught in elementary school some 14 years previously. In college and pursuing a career in music as a singer/songwriter, this young woman took the time to thank me for instilling in her a foundation and love of music.

Grateful for this young woman’s message, I felt compelled to give all the glory and praise to God. Through God’s grace, He

Photo by PublicDomainPictures taken from pixabay.com
Photo by PublicDomainPictures taken from pixabay.com

afforded me the talents to inspire and serve this young woman and I hope countless other students. Matthew 25:15 says God gives us all talents or gifts according to our ability.

Fennel Hudson from A Writer’s YearFennel’s Journal – No. 3 is quoted as saying, “To not use a talent to the best of your ability is to stifle the thing that makes you most special. It is like plucking the wings off a butterfly.”

What special gifts do you possess? Perhaps, you are guilty of plucking the wings off a butterfly, as Fennel Hudson stated. On the other hand, you may feel you have no unique gifts to offer. In reality, we all possess a natural aptitude or skill or the ability to do something well. Once we recognize these abilities or talents, it is essential for us to plant the seeds, toil them, nurture them, and most vital, to harvest the fruits of our labor.

To start, what does your behavior say about your confidence level regarding your talents and abilities? Do you question your abilities? Maybe, you believe you lack the needed skills to accomplish your dreams. Let go of negative attitudes and study your craft (or calling) to enhance your skills. Often times, we do not generate enough effort into improving our talents. Move forward, nurture and grow your God given talents today. The gift is yours! However, it takes determination, diligence, dedication, and self-discipline to develop your gifts. No matter your talent: homemaker, musician, writer, artist, actor, chef, baker, secretary, teacher, preacher, doctor, nurse, entertainer, salesperson, etc., commit yourself to do whatever it takes and for however long it takes to reach your desired goals.

When utilizing our talents, God considers us good stewards. In addition, God wants us to give Him praise for our gifts. He also wants us to serve Him, but not through our own accord; rather with the strength supplied by Him. (1 Peter 4:11) Furthermore, we should know one thing about our abilities and our gifts; they are not for us! God so graciously gave us these gifts to serve others.

Unpack your talents today to serve others and to glorify God and serve Him!

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything You gave me.’” ~ Emma Bombeck


An inspirational author and speaker, Vanessa Fortenberry penned the children’s verse story, Mama, I Want to See God. Vanessa is also a contributor to the book, Relief Notes: Encouraging Letters for Tough Times written by the Christian Authors Guild. She also writes, “Connecting Readers to the Word,” a monthly e-newsletter. Vanessa savors the moments she spends with her family and friends. She is most relaxed when in her kitchen baking delicious desserts for her loved ones. You can visit her at www.vanessafortenberry.com, Twitter, or Facebook.

CoverHer book, Mama, I Want to See God:

Wanting to connect more with God, a child asks his mother countless questions in this rhyming verse book. In answer, the mother’s tender and patient responses model God’s love. At the story’s end, Mother has answered all of the questions, allowing the child a true connection with God.

Buy it HERE!


livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. When was the last time you paused to pray about your unique gifting and passions and how God might want to use them to further His kingdom? Are you doing that? Are you using every gift God has given you to its maximum capacity? Are you intentionally developing that gift? Where might God want to take you, in regard to your gifting or calling, in the next year? With 2015 coming to an end, now’s a great time to prayerfully plan 2016. Share your thoughts, dreams, and experiences with us here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook, because we can all learn from each other!

ID-10075977Have you ever felt like life is hurling flaming arrows at you? Like every step forward provokes yet one obstacle after another? Could be God’s training you, could be He’s redirecting you, or it could be you have an enemy lurking in the shadows, watching you, planning your demise. But before you become discouraged or afraid, take comfort in this: Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. Today a sweet Christian lady and fellow ACFW member, Alexis Goring, shares some powerful marching orders, challenging us to live not as victims but victors. As you read her devotion, pause to connect with your power source.

The Christian Life

 by Alexis A. Goring

“It’s not the devil’s plan to convert us but to simply divert us.” – Pastor Peter Bath.

Pastor Bath is one wise preacher because in that simple quote, he uncovered a key strategy of the enemy—the devil sends diversions that rob us of our joy, peace and patience. If we’re not careful, the devil’s ploys can also rob us of our salvation which is why the Holy Bible tells us to put on the “full armor of God” every day (Ephesians 6:11-17) for the battles we are facing are not with “flesh and blood” but with against principalities, powers and “spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Did you think that the person who cut you off on the freeway was your enemy or the person who offended you was your true problem? No, they were merely distractions because the real problem is not with the person who cut you off on the freeway or the person you don’t like because they offended you. There is a deeper level to life happening every day and Christians are on the frontlines.

“The Christian life is not a playground,” Pastor Steven Furtick, said. “it’s a battleground.”ID-100225188

Pastor Furtick is another man of God who is wise and on-point with his sermons. His creative team at Elevation Church based in North Carolina, created a video message, “I Will Fight” that is very inspirational and true to what I’m telling you today. If you need encouragement in your journey, watch the video here:

Here’s an excerpt:

“The devil is a liar and my God always causes me to triumph through Jesus Christ my Lord. I will fight. I’m unashamed to represent a kingdom that is unshakable. No one will be able to stand against God’s plan for me all the days of my life. With my God, I will advance against every troop, with His help, I will scale every wall. Though my enemies surround me, my God surrounds my enemies. Though they may come at me one way, they will flee seven ways because no weapon formed against me will prosper and every evil thing that rises against me, I will condemn. I will fight! My heart is steadfast, my purpose is immovable. I am always abounding in the work of the Lord and my potential is unlimited because the limitless God lives within me. I will fight!”

Now that’s an attitude we all need to have as Christians. Don’t let the enemy discourage or divert you. It’s his plan to divert your focus from God and emphasize the troubles and despair of this world. But there is hope because God is more powerful than the enemy and clearly the Bible tells us in the Book of Revelation that at the end of human history, God wins! Stay on the winning side—keep your faith in God alive and strong. Don’t be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the battles you face in this life. Remember, you can be victorious in this life through Jesus Christ! The Bible says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

So take heart, dear ones as your remember these simple truths: God loves you (John 3:16). God is for you (Romans 8:31). God will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5) and you can have the victory in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, (1 Corinthians 15:57)!

I think we’ve reached the point in this devotional where if we were in church service, the pastor would say, “And let the church say Amen.”

Be blessed!

@ByGoring, pic 2

Alexis A. Goring is a college graduate with a degree in print journalism from Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland. Writing is her passion. She hopes that her stories will touch hearts, bring smiles to faces, and inspire minds to seek God whose love for humanity is unfailing.


Social media links:

Official website, http://www.alexisagoring.com/

Official Author page on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAlexisAGoring

Twitter handle, @pennedbyalex



Media image (1)Hope 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.


Purchase links:

Amazon.com, http://amzn.to/1it3pxT

BarnesandNoble.com, http://bit.ly/1mGHW95

Books-A-Million.com, http://bit.ly/1kLQviX

Christianbook.com, http://bit.ly/1heBcjV

Crossbooks.com, http://bit.ly/1it47eJ

Lifeway.com, http://lfwy.co/1kLQStR

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! When talking about spiritual warfare, the idea that we do indeed have a spiritual enemy–Satan and his demons–we can often err one of two ways: We can become obsessed with the idea, attributing every minor frustration to Satanic activity, cowering in fear, or we can underestimate the unseen world and continue in ignorance. Or, we can proceed with a healthy awareness, continually connected with our power source, staying strong and alert in the battle. Where are you on this spectrum? What are you doing today to stay strong in your faith? Share your ideas here or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Normally, I’d add a list of places of where I’ve been this past week, but… I’m a bit tired and behind. So… Join me on Facebook? 🙂

I did have a wonderful signing last weekend and felt such an outpouring of love from my sisters in Christ. A good chunk of my Northland Baptist church family came, reminding me that though we’ve moved, we’re still part of that sweet family. 🙂 I 2015-01-31 12.54.11-2also got to connect with Gale Perkins, the courageous, strong Christian woman my main female character in When Dawn Breaks is based on. It was fun to share her story with book buyers, plus, Destinee, the teenage girl she adopted came, and both of them did some signing as well.

This Saturday I’m sharing the story of how God turned Steve and my failing marriage into a growing, intimate, laughter filled romance that has lasted 20 years (and counting!). If you’re in the Omaha Metro, I’d love for you to join me. Email me at jenniferaslattery@gmail.com for details.

Following this, I’ll be signing books at the Bookworm, an independent bookseller in Omaha. I’d love to see some friendly faces! If you can’t make it but would like to purchase a personalized, autographed copy, call the store, and I’m sure they’ll work something out. 🙂

BooksigningposterforBookwormInOmaha BooksigningposterforBookwormInOmaha file-page1