Sunday, December 31, 2023

Christ’s Birth Says It All By Becky Van Vleet #devotional

Christ’s Birth Says It All

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

 

Have we settled down from the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, card giving, cookie baking, children’s school programs, busy stores, family gatherings, and everything in-between, now that Christmas is over?

Or is it over?

No, not really.

Now we can enjoy the 12 Days of Christmas, December 26 to January 6, and hopefully our lives have slowed down a bit as we reflect on Christ’s birth to the Epiphany, celebrated on January 6 as the day when the manifestation of Christ’s glory was realized.

Sometimes people struggle with a letdown, even depression, after Christmas. Energy levels change and anxiety ramps up with how to pay the charge card. Post-holiday blues of emptiness frequently follow the intense rush of Christmas. But the 12 Days of Christmas, often overlooked, can provide a much-needed calmness and an even richer reflection of the reason for the season. No hustle and bustle involved, no big plans to make, just a wondrous down-time of thanksgiving of God’s promise to deliver His Son in the form of a baby for our salvation.

Speaking of promises, as we enter into a new calendar year, we can be thankful we serve a God who is unequivocally faithful with ALL of His promises. Whether we find ourselves on top of the mountain or in the deepest valley in 2024, we have God’s promise of infinite love and an endless supply of grace.

His promises are not reliant upon our age, socio-economic status, race, education, what kind of car we drive or our jobs. God blankets all of us, His children, with exceedingly great and precious promises (2Peter 1:4 NKJV) to demonstrate His power and sustain our faith. All we have to do is embrace His promises by believing and trusting.

Make no mistake, we don’t have to worry that God might change His mind or alter His promises. He is not a flippant God and His word is rock solid. In fact, the apostle Paul tells us that God’s promises are for real: “For all the promises of God in Him are yes” (2Corinthians 1:30 NKJV).

And that little baby in the manger? His birth says it all. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

By Becky Van Vleet

  


Becky Van Vleet is a retired teacher and principal and award-winning multi-genre author. She has been published in Guideposts, The Country Register, and Christian Devotions Ministry. Her children’s picture books are the recipients of the 2020 Excellence in Editing award as well as the Purple Dragonfly award in 2020 and 2021. She and her husband make their home close to Colorado Springs where she enjoys gardening, hiking, oil painting, power walking, and spending time with her family, especially reading books to her grandchildren.

Becky is the author of Unintended Hero, a true story about her father’s battles, experiences, and adventures in WWII aboard the USS Denver. She is passionate about sharing the values from the Greatest Generation and enjoys speaking to high school classes about patriotism.

A member of ACFW and Allauthor, Becky has devoted her website to creating and preserving family memories and sharing family stories for the next generations through her monthly blogs. 

You can find her at: https://beckyvanvleet.com. She would love to hear from you, especially if you have a family story to share!

 

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorbeckyvanvleet/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/becky-van-vleet-ms-806055181/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/becky_van_vleet_author/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/beckyvanvleet/ 

Amazon Central Author Page: https://amzn.to/3INHIPB 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/125841473-becky-van-vleet

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@beckyvanvleet9907

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/becky-van-vleet

 

 



Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Love, Unscripted – March 12, 2024 by Denise Hunter (Author) #preorder

 


Love, Unscripted 

March 12, 2024

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Her Scandalous Amish Secret: An Uplifting Inspirational Romance (Love Inspired, 8)

 


Her Scandalous Amish Secret:

 An Uplifting Inspirational Romance 

(Love Inspired, 8) 

December 26, 2023 

by  Jocelyn McClay (Author)



She’s made mistakes.

Now she’s back to fix them.

After a life-changing event, Lydia Troyer returns to her Amish community to repair her damaged reputation. But the baby she brings with her raises more questions than she can answer. Proving she’s changed while keeping her secret becomes even harder when she finds carpenter Jonah Lapp working on her family home. Jonah is the only man she’s ever loved, but winning back his trust will be hardest of all…

From Love Inspired: Uplifting stories of faith, forgiveness and hope.

Marilyn's thoughts:    

 

 

A tremendous story of overcoming the past and finding happiness.  Lydia return to Miller’s Creek was more than she expected but she wanted former acquaintances to see she had changed. I admire the depth McClay penned her characters with. Lydia and Jonah’s story. This is a touching tale that readers will recognize that everyone has events in their lives that is not pleasant. But with God nothing is impossible as McClay gently wove the theme of forgiveness, redemption, finding new peace and happiness. I’m glad Lydia had her own story to show she could change and become a new person with God’s love and faithfulness.

 

I received an early copy of this book without any obligation to write a positive review. I have expressed my own thoughts.




Sunday, December 24, 2023

God’s Blessing To All By Sharon Musgrove @devotional


 

Reading the birth story of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Luke is a tradition and treasure every year at Christmas.  Something new stands out and squeezes my heart like a big hug each time.  This morning the warm embrace comes from Elizabeth, the elder cousin of Mary the mother of Jesus, as she speaks a blessing to us all. 

 

The relationship between Elizabeth and Mary was special.  Both women carrying within them a miracle child given to them by God.  Elizabeth, a barren elderly woman, was pregnant with a great prophet, while Mary carried the Son of God.  Expecting these sacred babies together must have been the delight of their days!  In public they would have been chastised, but in the safety of Elizabeth’s home, the laughter was free to flow.

 

Elizabeth blessed Mary at their greeting.  The scriptures tell us that the infant in her womb leapt at the presence of Christ and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41).  Loudly she exclaims “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:42 ESV).

 

Remembering the joy of my own pregnancies and sharing the common excitement with pregnant friends and sisters is something I treasure, but these two women held the anticipation of the Messiah in them!  That’s expectancy on another level!

 

Yet as the scene plays out on the pages of the Gospel, Elizabeth, as if turning full front to her audience, says something special to us all.

 

“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”  (Luke 1:45 ESV).

 

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth speaks a blessing to each of us listening: 

Our happiness comes in believing God is at work accomplishing what He promised!   

 

The J.B. Phillips New Testament translates this same verse in these words:

 

“Oh, how happy is the woman who believes in God, for he does make his promises to her come true.”

 

Historically and culturally, women have been socialized to believe that their dreams are coming true when they become mothers.  But that is not the excitement that Elizabeth and Mary share here.  The joy that they share is that God is at work in the world.

 

When we look all the way back to the garden of Eden, Eve did not believe that God was true to His word.  So, she went against the word of God.  Mary, in contrast, heard the words of God and believed in Him, responding with a humble yes, sir.

 

When looking at the original Greek of Elizabeth’s proclamation, the words translated into English “she” and “her” have no specific sexual orientation.  The Greek words could just as easily have been written:

 

And blessed is the one who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to them from the Lord.

 

It doesn’t matter, male nor female, this blessing applies to all.  Our belief that God is doing what He has promised is the gift that brings us joy! 

 

This is the big hug of Christmas, this time spoken through Elizabeth.  Jesus was born, a fulfillment of God’s word.  And Christ followed through with the hard work of death and resurrection, so that we could be one with God. 

 

Daily we each have this choice...do I believe that God is at work when it seems He’s absent?  Friend, every voice of the Bible implores with us...partake of God’s blessing...believe! 

 

 Author Bio:

 


Sharon has been writing and teaching biblically based curriculum, Bible studies, and devotionals since 2007.    

 

She has had the unique position of writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both programs primarily served women in the homeless community.

 

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She’s been privileged to speak in Leadership camps intended on encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young women.

 

Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

 

Sharon and her husband, divide their time between Oregon and Hawaii. They have two grown children. 

 

Currently, Sharon is encouraging others via her inspirational blog, but prefers sharing face to face. Additionally, she is working towards a degree in Ministry. 

 

~*~

Connect with Sharon:

Website: Sharonmusgrove.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Sharon-Musgrove-Untethered-102208978041060

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sharonmusgrove_untethered/

 

 


 

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Against the Wind: (Three Sisters Facing Mystery and Romance in the 1880s Texas Hill Country) #historicalromance

 



Against the Wind: 

(Three Sisters Facing Mystery and Romance in the 1880s Texas Hill Country) 

October 3, 2023

Sunday, December 17, 2023

God With Us By Sharon Musgrove #devotional #Sundaythoughts

 

 

God With Us

By Sharon Musgrove

   #  

“’Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).”  Matthew 1:23 ESV

 

Christmas is about celebrating the birth of God with us

 

Sometimes, even in holiday times, we can forget that God is with us.  When we read about the life of Jesus, we often compartmentalize His time on earth as history and forget the spiritual and omnipresent nature of God here now.

 

Do you ever feel alone in this world?

 

As I was reading the Christmas story in the Gospel of Matthew, it struck me that Matthew was the only Apostle that included these “God with us” words of the prophet Isaiah in the telling of Jesus’ birth.  Of the four Gospels, each written by a different Apostle, Matthew’s chronicle singularly includes this ancient text. 

 

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 ESV

 

Noting this added Holy writ made me curious about Matthew.  Did he, like me, need consistent reminding that God isn’t gone? 

 

Matthew is believed to have been called Levi before his discipleship with Jesus.  He made a living as a tax collector, a career built on taking excess fees from his fellow countrymen to pay for his lifestyle.  Because Matthew worked for the Roman government and profited at the expense of his own people, he would have been ostracized from society...including religious gatherings.

 

Matthew was one of those people.  He cites in his book (Matthew 9:9-13) that the Pharisees labeled him a sinner, considering him beneath their standards.  The religious leaders held it against Jesus that he was with such people.  I suspect it meant a great deal to Matthew that Jesus, God with us, reclined at his house.

 

In the years spent with God’s son, Matthew changed.  He went from manipulation to honesty and deception to truth, working for the Kingdom of God until his martyrdom.  The presence of God turned him around.

 

Watching Jesus ascend into the heavens must have been hard.  God with us gone.  But Matthew ends his writing with the last words of Jesus:

 

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20 (emphasis mine).

 

Matthew knew we needed to hear God with us as the gospel message.  He understood we’d feel alone and would need encouraging good news.  So, he filled his book with it.  From the first chapter to the very end, he reminds us that God is with us.  And all the stories of Jesus in between help us understand that God is and always has been for us too.

 

Christmas time or not, when we find ourselves in difficult times, we can surrender our burdens, forgive, or act towards others according to His lessons of love.  When times are easy, we can sing Him praises and give Him thanks.  Each of these everyday activities are like returning to Matthew’s reminder that God is with us, and we are not alone.

 

Author Bio:

 


Sharon has been writing and teaching biblically based curriculum, Bible studies, and devotionals since 2007.    

 

She has had the unique position of writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both programs primarily served women in the homeless community.

 

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She’s been privileged to speak in Leadership camps intended on encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young women.

 

Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

 

Sharon and her husband, divide their time between Oregon and Hawaii. They have two grown children. 

 

Currently, Sharon is encouraging others via her inspirational blog, but prefers sharing face to face. Additionally, she is working towards a degree in Ministry. 

 

~*~

Connect with Sharon:

Website: Sharonmusgrove.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Sharon-Musgrove-Untethered-102208978041060

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sharonmusgrove_untethered/

Saturday, December 16, 2023

He Is! Kick-Off Package #nonfiction #giveaway


About the Book

Book: HE IS! Knowing God through Fifty Scriptural Meditations

Author: Mark R. Worden

Genre: Devotional – Personal Growth, Devotional Theology

Release Date: July 27, 2022

HE IS! Knowing God through Fifty Scriptural Meditations is devotional theology that is inspirational in nature, coming right out of the Scriptures.  The devotionals are practical and relatable as the author shares from his own stories of life and ministry like a grandpa would share with his grandchildren.  Other edifying features at the end of each devotional are the reflection questions, Scripture verses for further reading for personal meditation and spiritual growth, and space for the reader’s own thoughts.

Through a decade-plus of his life, the author took on the challenge of Hebrew 11:6 to seek God purposefully by looking for all the “God is…” statements that he could find in the Bible. He discovered that God clearly reveals who HE IS throughout the history and stories of the Bible. Each chapter is a HE IS statement about God that helps us to know Him better as we meditate on each attribute or work of God.

The author suggests a slow reading of HE IS throughout the year to have time to pause and think about who God is by taking one chapter each week. However, many readers are choosing a daily read and finding the devotionals enlightening as they are exposed to approximately 800 quoted verses of Scripture through the fifty, HE IS meditations. Each chapter can be read independently; however, there is a flow to the order of the chapters with some chapters building upon the preceding ones. After reading the book post-publication in preparation for a speaking engagement, the author realized that there was an unplanned sub-theme of God the Heavenly Father and we, His children through faith, that runs like a thread through the chapters, tying the truths about God together. The crescendo of the book is Chapter 47: “HE IS OUR FATHER.”

The writing of the book HE IS was part of God’s healing and growing process in the author’s life as he encountered faith-challenging trials. He shares his spiritual journey briefly in the Preface of the book. He is thankful for the promise of Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

Mark R. Worden is a lifelong learner and a student of the Bible. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Bible and Teaching Bible. He has served as youth pastor, missionary, professor at a Bible institute in Manaus, Brazil, and pastor of a local Montana church for six years. Along with being a licensed property manager, he is a self-employed handyman and a fly-fishing guide. Mark also enjoys woodworking in his home shop in Dillon, Montana.

Book Awards:

  • American Writing Awards 2022 Finalist in the Religion Category
  • Readers Views, Reviewer’s Choice Award 2022-2023, Bronze Medal Winner
  • Ames Award Winner 2023, for courageous faith in Devotional – Personal Growth
  • Christian Indie Awards, 2023 Finalist – Devotional

More from Mark

God’s Providence in some of the History of HE IS!

Do you read the Acknowledgements and the Preface of books you read?  I do! They often give the reader insight into the life of the author and possibly more understanding of his or her message.  God’s grace and providence are thick in my life.  Read about it from the Preface to the last page of the book, “HE IS!”
We know that God intervenes in our lives when we have a heart to recognize His work.

Providence in my salvation story!

In the Acknowledgement and the Preface of “HE IS!” I mention a friend by name.  He was a fellow classmate in High School whom God used to encourage me to think about God. I didn’t really like it at the time because I was running away from God during those days.  However, presently, I am eternally grateful for Jim’s life, for God used him to turn my life around to run towards God.  Read more of the story in the Preface.

Providence in rewriting chapter 10, HE IS LOVE!

About three years ago, when I was rewriting each chapter of the manuscript, I was stuck on chapter 10, HE IS LOVE.   Taking a break from writing to drive out to my hometown of Roseburg, Oregon, I participated in a Memorial Fun Run in honor of Jim who had months earlier passed into eternity.  Sunday, I attended a worship service and sat with Jim’s widow by her invitation and heard a Bible message where the messenger defined love.  I took notes. With his permission, I used his definition in Chapter 10.  God providentially gave me the help I needed to get past some writer’s block.

Providence in the publication date!

Jim’s widow became a precious sister in Christ since his passing into eternity and she posted a comment on Facebook that shocked me into a big smile. I was in awe of God’s timing in the publication date of “HE IS!” She pointed out that the “HE IS!” paperback publication date of July 27, 2022, printed in the actual book, was Jim’s Birthday!   I remember at one point in the publication process having to surrender my expectations to the timing of the publication where I said, “Lord, I give up; it’s in your hands!” Then I was surprised how quickly it got published and, unbeknownst to me, perfectly timed on Jim’s Birthday!  Simply amazing!  Jim had been one of God’s major human instruments in bringing me to faith in Jesus Christ!   Seems so fitting! Providential!

Providence to come!

Before my mom passed into eternity to be face-to-face with her Savior in September of 2022, she told me, “Mark, don’t worry about this book you have written; God will get it into the hands of those who need to read it!”  What trust and what peace those words brought me.  While I am working on letting others know about “HE IS!” I can let go and let God take control.  Amen!  I look forward and expect to hear some more stories of God’s providence in regard to this book He led and helped me to write.  All glory be to God because HE IS!

Providence in 2023!

It was through the publication and my offering of a free PDF of “HE IS!” in an online Christian author group on Facebook that a single, attractive, and fascinating author, by the name of Connie Cook, asked for a copy, saying, “This looks good!”   I wondered who would say my book looked good and read her insightful apologetic work, Look Around! Ten Observations that Leads to one Conclusion. We were soon writing emails back and forth to each other, author style, and had a budding friendship started. By the time I had finished reading a self-autobiographical mixed with historical fiction work about Connie and her mother, entitled, Mae and Me, I had totally fallen in love with Connie. But would she choose me in return as I had chosen to lover her for as far as she would love me?   Of course, there is a lot more to the story which we plan to tell in a sequel to Connie’s book, Mae and Me entitled, Mark and Me. I won’t leave you hanging too long; we do believe that God is calling us together in marriage to coauthor some books in the future.  Yes, we believe in the providence of God and answers to prayer.

Blessings, Mark R. Worden

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 13

It’s Mama Safe, December 14

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 15

Lighthouse Academy Blog, December 16 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 17

Texas Book-aholic, December 18

Fiction Book Lover, December 19 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 20

Artistic Nobody, December 21 (Author Interview)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 21

Cover Lover Book Review, December 22

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 23

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 24 (Author Interview)

For the Love of Literature, December 25 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, December 25

Lily’s Corner, December 26

Giveaway

To celebrate his tour, Mark is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card, a signed paperback copy of HE IS! and a signed paperback copy of Look Around: Ten Observations that Leads to One Conclusion by Connie Cook!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/293d3/he-is-celebration-tour-giveaway


While the City Sleeps (Women of Midtown)

  While the City Sleeps  (Women of Midtown)  February 13, 2024 by  Elizabeth Camden   (Author) Amid the hushed city, two hearts must navigat...