Category Archives: Devotional

Devotional by Davalynn Spencer

DC_SpencerAround our country home we have an open field of wild grass, oats, sunflowers, thistle, and various weeds. The most insidious weed is a skinny little thing officially named convolvulus arvensis. Most people know it as bindweed.

Bindweed pops up without much notice, sending out fragile-looking tendrils that wrap around anything upright—from a single stem of wild oats to wire fencing. Earlier this spring, I allowed a bunch of bindweed to lace the unstacked pile of wood behind my house. Bad idea. The bindweed lived up to its name and effectively bound each piece in the pile, preventing me from lifting one without using force or shears. I was amazed at its strength.

Deceptively delicate in appearance and painfully prolific, bindweed roots can reach depths of up to twenty feet. That’s a committed weed. Often confused with the ornamental annual, morning glory and its trumpet-shaped flowers, there is nothing glorious about bindweed.

Aside from annoying me with its insidious encroachment, bindweed reminds me of tiny sins and poor habits I allow to take root in my life. If left unchecked, they quietly grow into chain-like bindings that pin me down or choke out beneficial habits and desires.

It also reminds me of Jesus’s Parable of the Sower. In Mark 4:3-20 (also in Matthew and Luke), we find Jesus telling the story of a farmer who sowed his field with good seed. As a story teller myself, I imagine a sandaled man, skin sunbaked to a beautiful bronze, living in a semi-arid section of Israel’s former Promised Land. He wears a shoulder bag containing precious seed that will take root and grow and provide a good harvest come fall.

As he spreads the seed by hand, flinging the grains in an arc, some falls into the rich soil he has prepared. Some falls on rockier ground along the edges, and a few seeds scatter to the worn path and unattended areas next to his field. The birds eat some of the seeds, but most of it sprouts.

This is a wonderful story that I recommend you read during a quiet time with the Lord, for today I want to focus on the thorns that Jesus said choked out the seed and made it unfruitful. Jesus explained clearly what the thorns were: worldly cares, hunger for wealth, a clamoring for more and more things.

Jesus knew what He was talking about when he issued this warning. The seed is God’s word, He said, and is often stolen from our hearts by the enemy, allowed to dry up and wither, or choked out by noxious desires. In the story, only one-fourth of the seed grew and produced a crop.

I want to be in that 25%. Therefore, I’m grateful for the bindweed that finds its way among my flowers and garden plants. It reminds me that I must be vigilant to guard His word in my heart and not let it be choked out by the distractions of life.

Bio: Davalynn Spencer writes inspirational Western romance complete with rugged cowboys, their challenges, and their loves. She is the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, and worked several years as a rodeo journalist and crime-beat reporter, winning awards in both arenas. Her fiction has finaled for the 2015 Will Rogers Medallion and the 2014 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, Selah, and Holt Medallion. Davalynn teaches writing at Pueblo Community College and makes her home on Colorado’s Front Range with her handsome cowboy and a Queensland heeler named Blue. Connect with Davalynn online at www.davalynnspencer.com.

Book 4.Summ BridesThe Columbine Bride

Lucy 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 being neighborly

Vison by Teresa Pollard

Vision

By Teresa Pollard

   DSCF2229About three years ago, a vicious virus attacked my left eye, causing excruciating pain, which in turn literally caused cataracts to form in both my eyes overnight. Cataracts generally take years to form. I had worn glasses since I was six years old. Now the cataract surgery implanted the lenses in my eyes so that for the first time in my life, I was able to get up in the morning and see the world without glasses. I knew I’d still need reading glasses, but what I didn’t realize was that by choosing the distance vision lenses, that would take away what little close-up vision I did have.

Sometimes it seems to me that a vicious virus has also attacked our world today, and the people are walking around in a myopic fog. How else can we explain that we’re mindlessly committing genocide on our own future and don’t even seem to realize it? Proverbs tells us that “without vision, people perish.” 1 Peter 5:8 warns that Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” It seems that today the blind are leading the blind right into his gaping mouth. And innocent babies are the sacrifice they bring with them.

But I’m getting off the subject. What is our vision today? Do we even have one? I don’t think so. We have a mandate from Christ to go to all the world and preach the gospel. That should be our vision. About seventy percent of Americans claim to be Christians. But if asked, a much smaller percentage of them admit to a belief in a literal heaven or hell. Only a tiny fraction have ever led anyone to Christ. So what do they believe in? Not the Christ of the Bible! It’s time true believers took out our scalpel, the Bible, and spoke the truth of God’s Word. The Holy Spirit will be the Surgeon if we do. Lives depend on it! The myopia of self must be lifted, and the corrective lenses of the Bible and the Holy Spirit must be implanted. Unlike man’s surgery, God’s doesn’t take away anything. The vision will be perfect. We’ll see ourselves as we truly are, and we’ll see our purpose in a fallen world. And we will also see a glorious vision of the future God has planned for us with Him forever. God bless.

IMG_0823Back Cover Blurb for Not Ashamed

Charity Wright is ashamed of who she is. She just found out she was born of a brutal rape. Now, everyone tells her that her biological father has changed. They say he’s a good man who only helps people. They say she must forgive him. But do people really change? Especially when they’ve done something so heinous? Is forgiveness even possible?

Before she can confront her father with his crime, she almost literally stumbles onto another crime. In the same place.   Has the rapist also become a murderer? Can Charity discover the truth before the killer strikes again? Or will her fury destroy her?

Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Not-Ashamed-Windspree-Book-2-ebook/dp/B0115A4RSO/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438973690&sr=1-2&keywords=not+ashamed

Teresa Pollard FB Headshot for books-FBTeresa Pollard is from Richmond, Virginia, and was saved at a young age.  She has a Master of Arts degree in English and Creative Writing from Hollins College, and has served as a Sunday School teacher and children’s worker for most of the last forty years. She is the co-author of Not Guilty and Not Ashamed (due July 7), and the author of Tokens of Promise and Woman of Light, (also due out from HopeSprings Books in October). Married for forty years, she was devastated by divorce and the death of her youngest daughter, but God has blessed her with a new home and another grandson, and she now resides in Dacula, Georgia.  She blogs every Tuesday at http://teresatalkstaboo.wordpress.com. Follow her on Facebook at Teresa Pollard, Author.

God is Good 1 Peter 5:7

Panoramic of Yaquna HeadIt’s been long time since I’ve posted a devotional that I have written to this blog. I’ve been swamped with deadline after deadline for pretty much the past year, but I feel like I can finally breath and wanted to share something with you that recently happened.

I’ve been conversing with an editor at a publishing house about a project that I’ve been working on off and on for the past five years. It’s the story that I work on between deadlines. The editor thinks the story has potential, diagnosed the problem with it, and encouraged me to make some changes. But I had to decide what those exact changes. Believe me when I tell you, I didn’t have a clue how to do what she was asking. So I did the only thing I knew to do.

I prayed.

This morning, three days later, I woke up with the project on my mind and all of a sudden I knew what I needed to do. It was like the Lord fed me what needed to be done to make this story work. I ran it by a good writer friend, and she loved it. I also sent the idea to the editor–I’m still waiting to hear what she thinks. Hopefully by the time this posts, I will know. 🙂

Today I want to encourage you to bring you concerns to the Lord because He cares. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to give our anxieties to Him. He wants to carry our burdens.

Don’t you love how much He cares about each of us? 🙂

Carol J. Post shares on Forgiveness

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Photo by Austin Johnson

FORGIVENESS…

Do I Have To?

“I’ll forgive, but I’ll never forget!” These bitter words were spoken to me by a friend who had been wronged by someone close to her. Though she used the words, “I’ll forgive,” her caustic tone said otherwise.

Forgiveness is never easy, and the closer we are to the person who has wronged us, the harder it is. But the Bible doesn’t leave any room for interpretation—if we want to have a right relationship with God, we have to forgive. Jesus gave us the story of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35. Matthew 5:23-24 tells us that if we are offering our gift at the altar and remember a brother or sister has something against us, to leave our gift lie and seek reconciliation. When we recite the Lord’s Prayer, we say, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” If we really think about those words, their meaning can be alarming. Do we really want God to forgive us the same way we forgive others?

Forgiveness is something I have had to work at. I have a really good memory, and this is an area where it works against me. I can recall word for word what was said in the heat of an argument

Several years ago, I was verbally attacked by a fellow church member. She had come into our fellowship from another one, and I had done everything I could to make her feel welcome, including involving her and her daughter in the music program (my husband’s and my ministry). When she turned on me, I was hurt and angry and struggled with unforgiveness. I asked God to help me love her, but the resentment held on.

One morning when I was praying, God impressed on my heart that I needed to pray for her, not just asking God to mend our relationship, but in the same way that I pray for my closest friends—addressing specific needs in her life and asking for God’s blessing in those areas.

I have to admit, at first my prayers sounded insincere, even to my own ears. But as I continued to pray for her, a wonderful transformation took place. God began to remove the resentment and replace it with compassion and love.

Like so many commands in the Bible, the command to forgive is for our own benefit. Not only is refusing to forgive a poor testimony to the world, but harboring bitterness can damage us physically, devastate us emotionally and destroy us spiritually. Only when we learn to forgive and truly love our enemies can we begin to become all that God wants us to be.

Carol Post-100.150Carol J. Post writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line and lives in sunshiny Central Florida. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano. She also enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund. You can find her at www.caroljpost.com.

cover-hiAfter becoming trapped in a web of blackmail and murder, Meagan Berry escapes by faking her death. She finds anonymity on Florida’s Cedar Key until she is caught on camera rescuing a senator, and the nightmare begins anew. Something tells Cedar Key police officer Hunter Kingston that Meagan isn’t who she claims to be, but the fear in her eyes and the vulnerability beneath that aloof exterior reach out to him. When he learns the truth, he is determined to protect her, whatever the cost, because at least one person is dead set on making sure the next time Meagan “dies,” it’ll be for real.

A Season of Change by Catherine Castle

hostas cropped

There’s one thing I learn the longer I garden—change is inevitable.

When I first created the garden at the home where I currently live, the lot was a bare builder’s lot. A giant hill, really a sand dune, dominates the back of the lot and, except for a short spot on the north of the house, the remainder of the ground also slopes. Ten years ago I thought we’d plant some trees and bushes on the top of the hill, and flowers on the bottom. Then we’ll build lots of raised beds around the house to create level places to garden. I’d garden standing in the beds and sitting on the walls. I envisioned flowerbeds full of daisies and coneflowers waving in the breeze as they self seeded and covered the bare ground. Care of these beautiful perennials would be easy peasy.

Not so much.

Five of the eight trees we planted have died. Five of thirty-five of the bushes are gone now, and six others are not doing well. We are facing a major overhaul on one side of the hill. The hundreds of perennial wildflowers in the beds and on the hill have been plagued for the past ten years with fungal diseases. For the first three or so years, I spent at least one day a week of my daily garden chores spraying organic fungicides on the flowers to keep them looking nice. More recently, I’ve been ripping them out, because I’m tired of deadheading, tired of the rampant untidy spread of the flowers, and tired of the ugly black and brown fungus that ALWAYS attacks the plants.

Even as I see the flowers I loved giving way to more foliage, low-maintenance plants, I have to keep reminding myself that change is not always bad. In fact, sometimes change is what we really need. Since the publication of my book, and the books I’ve been coauthoring with my husband, I don’t have the kind of time needed to maintain hundreds of blooming plants. Juggling two writing careers, marketing, multiple writing deadlines, and life in general are squeezing me to the point that too many important things are falling by the wayside. I need to reorder things in my life.

So the next time I pass by a tray of blooming flowers and my fingers itch to buy them, I must tell myself, “There is a time for everything. A time to hold on and a time to change. (Ecc. 3: 1) Now is the time to change and change is good.”

After all, I don’t do anything to my hostas, except clear out the dead leaves once a year, and look how well they do…as long as a passing deer doesn’t find them.

What in your life is holding you back or keeping you from accomplishing something important? Make a change and make life better.

Award winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

You can read more about her award-winning garden and her award-winning book The Nun and the Narc at her website http://catherinecastle1.wordpress.com

The Nun and the Narc

Captured by the local Mexican drug lord after she interrupts a drug deal, novice Sister Margaret Mary risks losing her life, her vocation, and her heart when she falls for undercover DEA agent Jed Bond who is imprisoned with her. Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary. Jed knows she’s off limits, but his heart can’t help wanting this woman who’s been promised to God.

Equipment for Valley Travel by Jo Huddleston

Ephesians 2:14

My bedside vigil stretched into days as I watched meningitis suck precious life from the still form of my college-age child. Sunday afternoon I sat alone with my daughter, watching the disease apparently winning its battle. Gone were the twinkle in her eyes and the ready smile on her lips. The nurse had just left, the same one who had been coming in every 15 minutes to take vital signs. Pained and discouraged, I watched when she recorded on her chart a blood pressure reading only half what it should be.

Alone again in the hospital room, each of us experienced our own unique agony. Lying curled in a fetal position, my daughter moved only her eyes. With them almost swollen shut, she looked up at me through her consumed torture. “Mother, this may be my time to die,” she whispered. No panic or fear registered in her words or in her fevered eyes.

The same thought had been silently hammering inside my mind all afternoon. Holding her limp hand in mine, I leaned closer and said quietly, “Darling, it may be.” She shared a labored smile with me and slowly closed her eyes.

Amazingly, I did not curse God or offer him any arguments or attempt to bargain with Him to spare her life. I knew without doubt that my daughter believed in God’s Son and trusted Him for her salvation and eternal life.

As precious minutes slipped away in that lonely hospital room, I trusted God for his comfort and everlasting strength to support me (Isaiah 26:4). I rested in the assurance that my daughter also claimed these same promises. I saw peace on her swollen face when she closed her eyes. We both accepted God’s will.

Our pastor and his wife came by after evening church services. They barely concealed their shock at seeing my daughter’s hands and face twice their normal size. After speaking encouragement to her, they prayed with us in that still, quiet hospital room.

Looking back, I can only believe the Holy Spirit influenced every medical move my daughter’s doctors and nurses made. The next day, her health made an unbelievable change for the better. Since she was fully recovered by Wednesday morning, the doctors released her from their care.

On Wednesday evening when our pastor found my daughter’s hospital bed empty, he asked about her at the nurses’ station. Later he told us how much the nurses had marveled about her unexplainable recovery. “It’s just a miracle that she survived,” one nurse told him. We all smile now, knowing what absolute truth she spoke.

Does a Christian experience valleys between the mountaintop experiences? Yes. Those trying days when it was evident I might outlive my daughter were one of the deepest valleys I’ve traveled. God promises His buffering strength and calming peace for valley travel. We can always cling to His promises.

JO PK full

Jo Huddleston is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories. Her debut novels in the Caney Creek Series and her latest book, Wait for Me are sweet Southern romances. She is a member of ACFW, the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN), and holds a M.Ed. degree from Mississippi State University. Jo lives in the U.S. Southeast with her husband, near their two grown children and four grandchildren. Visit Jo at www.johuddleston.com.

WAIT FOR ME finalBACK COVER BLURB for Wait for Me:

Can Julie, an only child raised with privilege and groomed for high society, and Robby, a coal miner’s son, escape the binds of their socioeconomic backgrounds? Set in a coal mining community in West Virginia in the 1950s, can their love survive their cultural boundaries?

 

This is a tragically beautiful love story of a simple yet deep love between two soul mates, Robby and Julie. The American South’s rigid caste system and her mother demand that Julie chooses to marry an ambitious young man from a prominent and suitable family. Julie counters her mother’s stringent social rules with deception and secrets in order to keep Robby in her life. Can the couple break the shackles of polite society and spend their lives together? Will Julie’s mother ever accept Robby?

You can purchase eBook for Kindle and print copies of Wait for Me at: http://tiny.cc/xndfwx

Forgiving those who Hurt us is Not Easy by Kimberly Rose Johnson

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It’s probably safe to say we have all experienced hurt at one time or another. Hurts come in the form of disappointments, misunderstandings, downright meanness, and the list goes on.

The other day I was reading a passage in the book of Matthew chapter 26. Jesus was arrested and his disciples abandoned Him. I expect that hurt Him deeply. Can you imagine being abandoned by your best friends in your greatest hour of need?

I realize Jesus came to this world with a purpose, but he had human emotions and feelings. He was hurting, yet He understood their fear and forgave them, just as He has forgiven us multiple times.

Forgiving isn’t as easy as it sounds. In my new release Island Refuge Zoe was deeply wounded by people who were supposed to love her. She comes to realize that if she doesn’t forgive them she will never be able to be happy or be able to move on with her life. In fact not forgiving them hurts her more than it hurt the people who wronged her.

I encourage you today to forgive if you are hanging on to hurt. It’s not easy but with the Lord’s help it’s possible. Philippians 4:13 tells us that we can do all things with His strength.

IMG_4314-2 PublicityKimberly Rose Johnson, writer, blogger, and  soon to be empty-nester, lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their yellow lab. Island Refuge is her sixth published book and the first in a series of three. Kimberly enjoys long walks, chocolate, and mochas, not necessarily in that order.

Five-Star-Chef Zoe Griffin walked away from her dream job. Did she make a mistake?

 

 

Island Refuge cover 25080381Her engagement off, Zoe Griffin retreats to tiny Wildflower Island in the Puget Sound. Hiding out as a cook and maid at a shabby bed-and-breakfast seems crazy for a chef who’s used to running her own five-star kitchen. And just as she starts to feel at home, her klutzy mishaps make Zoe fear her handsome new boss will fire her.

Dr. Nick Jackson is done with medicine, and owning a B&B is as far from doctoring as he can get. He needs help, but his only employee’s mistakes give him doubts. As Zoe lets her defenses down, Nick begins to see a competent and caring woman. One whose wounds are as deep as his own. But as they fall for each other, Nick and Zoe must learn the hardest lesson of all—to forgive. Only then can they heal the past and embrace the future . . . together.

 

Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/1BWlVMK