Wednesday, October 22, 2014

New Release from Rachel A. James


Rachel A. James grew fascinated with the medieval time period as a child. Dubbed a bookworm from a young age, Rachel found herself surrounded by places steeped in history and adventure. She enjoyed trips with her family to visit nearby derelict castles and Roman ruins, and that coupled with a zealous imagination and love for stories, sparked her interest in knights, fortresses and ancient kingdoms. 

Born and bred in England, Rachel writes adventure driven historical romance, she is also a pastor’s wife, and has three beautiful little princesses. She minored in creative writing at university and strives to entertain, inspire and encourage others in their own spiritual journey. She’s also captivated by romantic tales… combine it with a little history and a hot cup of tea, and she’s smitten! Find her at www.rachelajames.com for more information.





A few years ago, whilst living in Yorkshire, I visited a grand stately home, Harewood House, where there was a commemorative exhibition on display to celebrate the once owner of the house, Princess Mary.  I discovered that she was known as ‘The Yorkshire Princess’. I was fascinated at the notion that Yorkshire, once had their very own princess, and inspired to write a story about it. However, I did not want to write a historical account, but rather a fictional book.

Having always been drawn to medieval times and tales of Britain when it was once divided into separate kingdoms, I wondered if I could write about a princess who lived long ago. It was then that I discovered the kingdom of Elmetia. Elmetia existed for only a few hundred years, before it was invaded by neighboring Anglo-Saxons, where the last king of Elmetia, King Ceretic, was slain in battle.

There is no historical record of Ceretic ever being married, or having children, but some historians believe that just because it wasn’t recorded, didn’t mean they did not exist. This inspired me to write about Princess Teagen, my fictionalized daughter of King Ceretic, who, because she managed to flee the invasion, was forgotten about.

The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia is essentially, a story about how a forgotten princess journeys to find her true identity, and reclaim what was stolen from her. It is an inspirational tale, demonstrating God’s amazing grace and forgiveness, and love.



This sounds like a must-read for your reading list! Thanks for sharing the background, Rachel. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

25 Years!

Tuesday, October 21st, is my and my husband's 25th wedding anniversary. It was so wonderful to celebrate with family and friends Sunday.

This guy of mine has been in my life since we sat in first grade together. He asked me to "go with" him when we were in middle school. It wasn't called "talking" then. We broke it off when I moved about an hour away. But, after two years, my family and I returned. My sweetheart and I got back together in high school.

During high school, he felt the call into ministry. My mama saw it all along!

We stayed together all through college, even though we attended different schools. We came home on the weekends to see each other and do our laundry.

On my graduation day from Maryville College, my honey proposed to me. Five months later we tied the knot!

I don't remember my life without him and don't want to. I've seen God take a very shy boy and turn him into a bold preacher of the Word and a caring pastor.

He told me when we got married that he would probably not ever be able to give me a big house or an expensive car. But, he did promise if we stuck together and followed God's guidance, we would have an adventure. He didn't lie about that!

Happy Anniversary, Babe! I love you. Let the adventure continue .........


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Godliness Without Its Power

Have you ever had a scripture passage just stick with you? I want to share just such a passage with you today. These verses have become the basis for the novel I am revising. In fact, I'm thinking God will lead me to subsequent novels with this scripture basis.

2 Timothy 3:1-9
"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth - men of depraved minds, who, as far as faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone."

When you read that list above of the evil ways of people in the last days, do you definitely feel we are living in those last days? Yeah, me too.

Here is the scary thing to me about this passage. Look closely at the line, "having a form of godliness but denying its power," and the line, "always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth." These two statements refer to those among us. I'm talking about Christian brothers and sisters.

The Message version of the Bible says, "They'll make a show of religion ..." and that their thinking is twisted.

My first inclination is to examine myself. Am I living in true godliness or just a form of godliness of my own creation? As Christians we can slip into going through the motions or relying on what we learned in the past instead of always pursuing the holy life we are to strive for.

Read through the list of evil ways above. Aren't the opposites the very things were are to do and focus upon? Not being self-centered, not allowing money to control us, not boasting in anything but God, not allowing pride to blind us, being kind, loving, forgiving, obedient to parents, not speaking ill of others, loving the good, being loving, and loving God above all.

Here's another verse that spreads a warning vibe through my bones: 1 Timothy 4:1 "The Spirit clearly says that in the later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons."

Some brothers and sisters in Christ would read this verse and scoff, saying this is a little over the top. Really? Deceiving spirits and demons? Yes. Please allow me to warn us all that Satan would want nothing more than to pull a Christ follower away. He'll use whatever deceptive method he can.

In these last days, living a godly life isn't easy, but it is necessary. Let's make a pact, dear brothers and sisters, to pursue godliness with its inherent power. Let's live by the Spirit so we will be discerning to false teachings and practices. Pray and test everything through God's Word and by His character.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Don't Limp Through Your Day



Just a few days ago this phrase showed up in my Jesus Calling devotional. My eyes widened when I read the line. Why? I had been doing some major limping through several days. But, God didn't intend for me to just limp or just make it through a day. He planned for me to abound.

Scripture says that Jesus came to give us life more abundantly. (John 10:10)

In another area of scripture this same concept comes up.

"Finally then, brothers, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received from us how you must walk and please God - as you are doing - do so even more." 1 Thess. 4:1

Beth Moore in her study, Children of the Day, says, "God has an affinity for lengthening cords and extending boundaries with a person willing to be stretched by Him. No matter who you are, where you've been, or what you've done, God has handpicked you to abound."

To continue to walk in the way God would want me to walk, it might take some stretching. I have to make the effort and be willing to do what He has planned for me if I want to experience the abundance He has for me.

I can settle. I can go through the motions. I can worry about tomorrow or have regrets about yesterday. But, that won't get me the abounding life that God so wants me to have. Those worries and distractions rob me of the abundant life I can have through God today. That is what causes me to limp through my day, defeated.

God wants me leave all those things that would pull me down to Him. Then, I can concentrate on seeing and doing all that He has planned for me which will lead to that abundant life.

Lord, help me to bask in Your presence more and more and never settle for just limping through a day. Help me reach for Your abundant way of living.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Stabs in the Dark

I'm currently in a Beth Moore study called Children of the Day which is a study of First and Second Thessalonians.

In First Thessalonians three, Paul finds himself in Athens, away from the people he wanted to see. He had suffered every kind of affliction and trouble. I wonder if after being forced to leave, he felt a little lost or off track.

Can you relate? When we follow the call of God on our lives, things don't suddenly become smooth sailing. We, like Paul, may have what we think are set-backs or road blocks. But, suppose that is all a part of the whole process.

Beth Moore writes this about her journey: "I now believe those decisions that felt like stabs in the dark at the time were as determined by God as ones that burned with conviction. Every turn was imperative to God's plan for me and led in the direction I needed to go. Even poor decisions that seemed like disastrous detours wound themselves around until even they became crucial to the process." She continues with this: "God can shove us with His mighty hand wherever He wants us to go, or  He can gently blow us there with an almost imperceptible breath. God is ever at the helm, patient and foreknowing."

When things don't work out the way I have imagined, I fall apart or think I've totally missed God's direction. I seem to think that if there's a bumpy way, maybe I've taken a wrong turn. Now, have I taken the wrong path before? Yes. But, there are times when my calling may lead me into a dark place I never thought I would find myself. God may allow these things as part of the whole original process or plan. I may not be able to get to that next turn without a little trouble or struggle.

I can relate to what Beth shares. In my calling I've had times when I've felt so confident of God's endorsement of my next move. At other times I've groped in the dark, easing a step by cautious step forward. I have seen God dim the way before me so I will trust Him and not what I can see up ahead.

I think that Paul would tell us today to stick to that call on our lives. Don't be deterred by trouble that arises. Paul had experienced beatings, imprisonment, and shipwreck. He could have said, "I must have gotten that call from God wrong because defeat seems imminent." Nope, he said, "We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ our Lord." Then he moved on to another city and shared the gospel, all the while writing back to encourage those believers in the areas where he was banned.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, keep those eyes fixed on the author and finisher of your faith!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

New Book Release from Lillian Duncan




Tell us about REDEMPTION.
It’s the third and final book in my Sisters by Choice series. Well, probably last. I do have an idea for a fourth book rattling around in my brain, but it’s only an idea at the moment. Who knows if it will actually grow into a book?
Redemption brings the series full circle and gives closure for those who’ve read all three books. Jamie is the missing twin in the first book-DECEPTION. And in REDEMPTION, we come to learn more about Jamie and her spiritual struggles. But the main story is about a missing child who Jamie is determined to find—no matter the danger to herself.

What’s the setting for REDEMPTION?
This story is all over the place. It starts in Florida, then Jamie goes to Ohio and on to Wyoming and New Mexico—and not all of her own doing!

How did you come up with the title for REDEMPTION?
The story begins with Patti not understanding why her twin, Jamie, continues to place herself in serious jeopardy time and time again. Jamie doesn’t understand either. Only that she needs to help others if and when she can no matter the danger to herself.
As the writer I know why, and I’ll share the secret with you. Jamie is ashamed of things she’s done in her past. As a result she feels God can’t love her the way she is. So she seeks redemption by putting herself in dangerous situations to help other people.
But then I checked out the definition of redemption. Dictionary.com defines redemption as an act of atoning for a fault or a mistake; deliverance or rescue; deliverance from sin; salvation; atonement for guilt.
Wow! As I look at those definitions, I realize REDEMPTION is full of all sorts of redemption for many of the characters in the story—not just Jamie’s. No wonder that’s the title I chose.

Why did you write REDEMPTION?
We only catch a brief glimpse of Jamie in DECEPTION and BETRAYED. REDEMPTION is Jamie’s story.

What do you want readers to take away from REDEMPTION?
God loves us no matter what we’ve done in the past or what we do in the present or will do in the future. His love is the one constant we can always count on!

Does REDEMPTION have a theme?
God loves us just the way we are and He is always there waiting for us to come to him.

What’s the SISTERS BY CHOICE series about?
This series definitely has romance in it, but I also wanted to explore the strong bonds that form between women—through blood or through the choices we make. Each story focuses on a relationship between two women that becomes as important to the story as the romantic plot.

Why did you become a writer?
I always had stories in my head waiting to be told. Unfortunately for many years those stories were only being enjoyed by me. One day a light bulb went off—hey, maybe I should be writing these stories down for other people!
That was the day a writer was born, but it took many long years until I could say, “I’m a writer!” Now, I love saying that.

What is your writing process?
I am not an outliner. I wish I were—it seems easier to me. But my mind doesn’t work that way. I never know what is going to happen in my story on any given writing day. It’s as if my mind is a movie screen and I watch that day’s events and then I write it.
When I start a new story I usually have a clear picture of the main character in mind and what obstacle he/she will face, but anything goes after that. If I’m writing and start to feel bored—then I kill someone or blow something up. And that way it’s a surprise to me and to my readers.

Do you know who the bad guy is when you begin your story?
Not usually. Most of the time I have several characters who it might be. As the story comes to a conclusion, I am surprised right along with my readers. REDEMPTION was no exception. I thought I knew who the bad guy was but as usual there were a few surprises!

Most people don’t think of murder mysteries and suspense novels as Christian Fiction. What do you say to them?
I can certainly understand their point of view. And for some readers my stories might be a bit too graphic or edgy and that’s all right. I understand that. I would say my readers are those who like traditional suspense and mystery novels but are tired of all the explicit language and sex scenes that aren’t necessary to a good story.
As mysteries and suspense, there is, of course, some violence in the stories. However; I don’t promote or glorify violence. I make sure to show characters experiencing the natural consequences of bad choices and bad actions.

Then what makes your stories Christian Fiction?

My stories always have an element of faith in them. How that plays out depends on the individual plots of each specific story. My main characters are always on a spiritual journey, though some may be further along than others.
My stories show characters in crisis. I use the crisis to illustrate how real Christians react to real problems in their life. We all react in different ways when bad things happen and the same is true in my stories. I show characters having doubt but also resolving that doubt and becoming stronger in their faith as a result of the crisis.
One more word about Christian Fiction, it has changed dramatically over the past ten years. Other than erotica, readers can find their favorite genre as Christian Fiction as well as mainstream fiction. There are Christian Fiction books out there for every book lover—historical; romance; regency; science fiction; even horror novels.

If REDEMPTION becomes a movie who would you like to see play your main characters?
I’d love to have the Oslin twins play Jamie and Patti. As for Enrique—a dark, handsome actor with a bit of a Hispanic accent. Mmm, who could that be?

What are you working on now?
In July, I had a new mystery novella series released--DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS. It features a crime-fighting speech pathologist. Having been a speech pathologist for almost 35 years, this story was so much fun for me to write.
The second in the series—NOWHERE TO BELONG—will be released sometime next year and I still have some work to do on the third in the series. Along with that I have a few other projects I’m working on. Busy, busy, busy!

HOW CAN READERS FIND YOU ON THE INTERNET?
My website is www.lillianduncan.net. My blog is TIARAS & TENNIS SHOES at www.lillian-duncan.com. I’m also on Twitter as @LillianDuncan and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lillian.k.duncan I also contribute to Putting On The New at www.puttingonthenew.com.

REDEMPTION PROMO:
To celebrate the release of REDEMPTION, I’m giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card. But wait…there’s more! I always feel bad for the people who enter the contest but don’t win. So I’m also going to pick FIVE more lucky names to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card. Just the right amount to buy REDEMPTION! Just kidding, the winners can use it to buy whatever they wish.
So hop on over to TIARAS & TENNIS SHOES at www.lillian-duncan.com  to enter. Leave a comment on the post REDEMPTION and you’ll be entered to win. Easy Peasy!!


BLURB:
Others may think Jamie Jakowski is a hero, but she knows differently.
Haunted by her past, she seeks redemption by helping others in spite of the danger to herself. However, after almost orphaning her daughter, Jamie opts to retire. When a friend needs her, Jamie agrees to one last undercover operation.
She is determined to reunite a heartbroken mother with her kidnapped son. Used to working alone, Jamie’s not happy when she’s assigned a partner. And after a failed operation and their failed romance, Enrique Rodriguez is the last person she wants to work with—ever.
To succeed, Jamie must confront her past as well as the people who want her dead.


BIO:
Lillian Duncan: stories of faith mingled with murder & mayhem!
Lillian is a multi-published writer with several Amazon bestsellers, including The Christmas Stalking and Betrayed. Lillian writes the types of books she loves to read—fast-paced suspense with a touch or two of romance that demonstrates God’s love for all of us
Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.
To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: www.lillianduncan.net. Tiaras & Tennis Shoes is her personal blog at www.lillian-duncan.com.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Are We Holy?

We've come to our last post about our worth in Christ and what that really means. The last letter is H and must stand for holy.

Holy can be defined as worthy of absolute devotion; having a divine quality; devoted to the deity or the work of the deity; sacred; godlike; untouchable; devout, faithful, godly. You might also hear holy meaning set apart, other, and like God.

God says to be holy as He is holy. A lofty goal? Yes! But, as Christians we are called to be holy by God Himself.

So, let's break down the definition above and see how we are doing with this goal of becoming holy.

Worthy of absolute devotion - because God is holy, He is worthy of your absolute devotion. This means there is not a person or a thing to whom or to which you are more faithful or loyal. Is God number one on your priority list? Don't speak too soon. Look at what your schedule and finances prove about your devotion.

Having a divine quality - Christians are called to be imitators of Christ. This would mean that we would have divine or godlike qualities. This doesn't mean we become a god or take on supernatural characteristics. We behave following the example of Jesus. Do lost people notice something different about you?

Devoted to the deity or the work of the deity - Christians are to be busy about the Father's business. We should pray that God would put on our hearts what is on His heart. We should follow His guidance in the plan He has for our lives. Are you busy with your own business or God's?

Sacred - This means set apart for the service or worship of the deity. Christians have been specifically called out to be different from the world in serving and worshiping God. The world encourages serving and worshiping self. Is your service and worship focused upon God or yourself?

Godlike - See the above, having a divine quality.

Untouchable, devout, faithful - These three words suggest being serious and earnest in our goal to become holy. Do you truly want to become holy?

Godly, set apart, other, and like God - Again, these words hint at the fact that being holy means we are nothing like the world. Do you look too much like the world?

Our worth on this earth is so often measured by the money we have, the things we possess, and the status we have achieved.

Remember, worth is defined as the value of something measured by its qualities. Christians' have worth through Christ. Do you have the qualities of Jesus?