Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Anchored Hearts and Surrendering Control by Julie Arduini

Anchored Hearts and Surrendering Control by Julie Arduini


                My tagline is “Encouraging you to find freedom in Christ by surrendering the good, the bad, and---maybe one day---the chocolate.” When I write, there is always a surrender issue and a chocolate mention. As I grow in the craft, I’m learning that the surrender starts with me.

                A few years ago, I had an idea to write a series about sextuplets who stay in the national spotlight after tragedy. I researched. I took notes. I started to write. Then a Christmas project came along that I had always wanted to be a part of.

Two years ago. I returned to the series. I started over. I revised. Then our daughter and I started a new series for young teen girls and women of all ages. I tried to return to the sextuplets, but we wrote two books of three for Surrendering Stinkin’ Thinkin’.

Then the quarantine hit. It felt like the perfect time to return to what I was calling Surrendering Opinions. Then my daughter reminded me we still had You’re Brilliant to write to wrap up our series. Once that was finished, we had home repairs to tackle. A family reunion. Then my mom became ill and I left home to care for her. When I came back home to catch up, I still had to return for her appointments. Then came the holidays.

And a week later, Mom passed away.

That series is now Surrendering Hearts featuring the Hart sextuplets. Releasing the first book, Anchored Hearts, took a surrender that nearly broke me. The heroine, Jordyn, likes to be in control, or thinks that she is. One thing after another changes and she spirals. I had no idea that would be MY story. It took transition, loss, and grief to bring me to a place where I had to admit I wanted to hold the reigns to a life only God can.

With that kind of healing, I’m such a fan of Jordyn’s because I get why she is the way she is. The oldest sextuplet, she’s put it on herself to take care of everyone around her. Now that the sextuplets are in their twenties, they are grown and finding their own identities. Jordyn’s not quite ready to let them go. When Spencer Collins enters the pictures, he relates to her. They share grief, and loyalty to family. Yet he has an issue he can’t control. And it’s the one thing keeping Jordyn away.

I adore the Hart sextuplets and look forward to telling all their stories. I hope you will check out Jordyn in Anchored Hearts and find encouragement in her surrender journey and chocolate drawer along the way.

Can two go-getters surrender their need to control and find a happily-ever-after?

Jordyn Bell Hart succeeds in everything she does. Her promotion to morning show co-anchor blossoms her career in the same way her mother’s work had. Jordyn keeps tabs on her family and enjoys helping them grow. When life around her starts to change, can she surrender her desire to control?

Spencer Collins knows how to balance a busy life. He has his work as a reporter, his time caregiving for his grieving father, and looking out for his little brother. When he learns he’s the new co-anchor of a morning show with Jordyn Hart, can he handle working with a celebrity who brings a lot of challenges to life on and off the set?


Christian Romance/Clean & Wholesome

Free Kindle Unlimited

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09XH1KVXD

Softcover: https://www.amazon.com/Anchored-Hearts-Julie-Arduini/dp/1733687645/



Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to find freedom in Christ by surrendering the good, the bad, and ---maybe one day---the chocolate. She’s the author of the new contemporary romance series SURRENDERING HEARTS (Anchored Hearts, Repairing Hearts, +four more.) Her other romance series is SURRENDERING TIME (Entrusted, Entangled, Engaged.) She also co-wrote a YA series with her daughter, SURRENDERING STINKIN’ THINKIN’ (You’re Beautiful, You’re Amazing, You’re Brilliant.) Her stand-alone romances include MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN and RESTORING CHRISTMAS. Julie maintains a blog at juliearduini.com and participates in the team blog Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and daughter. Learn more by visiting her at http://linktr.ee/JulieArduini.





Monday, January 30, 2023

What I Would Tell You


What I Would Tell You

January 1, 2023

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Lethal Betrayal (Vanishing Ranch #5)


Lethal Betrayal 

(Vanishing Ranch) 

October 21, 2022

Emily Holcomb never thought working for a nonprofit would endanger her life. But when she’s abducted by ruthless men, it’s clear someone has an agenda they don’t want exposed. She manages to escape, only to find herself at the mercy of another man. But is he her oasis or a deadly mirage?

Former Mexican federal police commander Mateo Garcia wants to leave his painful past behind. Vanishing Ranch offers him a fresh start. When he stumbles upon a mysterious woman in dire need of help, he realizes something about the woman seems familiar. He’s certain of one thing—Emily didn’t end up at Vanishing Ranch by chance.

Even though Emily and Mateo don’t trust each other, they’re forced to work together. With danger closing in, the answers they need are buried deeper than the desert sand and clothed in betrayal. Can they discover the truth before their search becomes lethal?

My thoughts: Lethal Betrayal is book 5 in this ongoing series, but it easily stands alone.  Fans will love the action packed romantic suspense that keeps the reader guessing.  Ms. Barritt writes a fast paced story that keeps you captivated and engaged until the end. If you love romantic suspense with a faith message, you will love Lethal Betrayal and the other books in this series. Grab your copy today.  I was given a copy free and all opinions are my own.

Friday, January 27, 2023

An Interview with Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, Authors of God Made Babies


An Interview with Justin and Lindsey Holcomb,
Authors of God Made Babies 

“Where do babies come from?” This common question all too often leaves parents perplexed about what to say and when to say it. In God Made Babies: Helping Parents Answer the Baby QuestionJustin S. Holcomb and Lindsey A. Holcomb offer an answer to the often-dreaded, sometimes awkward question in a commonsense, biblical way.

Drawing from the story of creation and how God made the living world to reproduce, God Made Babies helps children ages 4–9 to understand the gift of reproduction in the light of God’s goodness and care.

Q: In the introduction you write that contrary to popular thought, when kids ask about where babies come from, they aren’t asking about sex. If that’s the case, what are they asking about?

When children ask the baby question, they want to know where they came from before they were born. Knowing why they are asking can free us up to treat it like other conversations we have with our children. The question is a healthy and normal part of a child’s development. Many children around the age of three or four start to notice pregnant women, which then sparks their curiosity and questions. Children can understand that reproduction is a natural part of life, and that God made all living things to reproduce.

We get to tell our children that God planned to make them because he specifically wanted them in his world. That’s a conversation parents are privileged to have repeatedly. Please don’t treat this topic like a one-time conversation—such as “The Talk”—that you never revisit with your child. Instead, make an open-ended invitation for them to ask you questions, and for you to ask what they know and think.

Q: You also make the point that the book is about reproduction rather than sex. Why is that distinction important?

Focusing on reproduction connects the conversation to God and his creation of all things. The foundation of these conversations is the doctrine of creation. Reproduction is a larger focus. Focusing on the specifics of sex can make the discussion feel clinical, mechanical, and highlights the act of sex.

Reproduction is about God wanting his world to be filled with more of the things he enjoyed creating. God made living things that can make offspring. It means that God’s creatures can join him in making other creatures like themselves. Focusing on reproduction emphasizes the wonder and awe of God and how he created all things. This is a wonderful context for children to learn more about how God made it possible for babies to be made.

Q: What makes God Made Babies unique in how it approaches the answer to the baby question?

There are numerous things that make God Made Babies unique. First, the illustrations by Trish Mahoney are spectacular. We have worked with her on all three of our children’s books because great illustrations are essential to engage a child’s imagination and to capture their attention.

The content of the book highlights God’s joy in creating and that sets the tone for the discussion about where babies come from. We emphasize that God is creative and likes to makes all sorts of different things. As a matter of fact, God likes making things so much that he made living things able to make more things like themselves.

In addition to helping parents explain where babies come from, we also ask and answer the top questions children have about babies in general, such as:

  • How long are babies inside the mom?
  • What do babies do inside the mom?
  • How does a baby get out of the mom’s body?
  • Can I have a baby grow inside of me too? Can I help make a baby?

Also important is that, similar to our other children’s books, we write two sections to parents and caregivers. The first is a letter to the parents to encourage them and highlight the importance of them being the trusted source for their children to come to on important topics.  The second is a section at the end of the book with very practical suggestions for parents to consider when having these conversations.

Q: God Made Babies eases into talking about human babies. What progression does the book take to get to humans?

Since we start with God creating and making living things able to make more living things, we want to show some of the other creatures that reproduce before we talk about human babies.

We begin with flowers because God made flowers able to make more flowers. By describing how new flowers are made, the book introduces key ideas that are important for talking about how babies are made. For example, flowers have female and male parts, and both are necessary for making new flowers. Starting with flowers helps introduce the concept of seeds into the discussion of reproduction.

The next step is to discuss how God made some animals to make babies by laying eggs. Just like it takes two flowers to make new flowers, it also takes two animals to make babies that come from eggs. This helps introduce the idea of eggs into the discussion.

With all of that in place, the next example of reproduction is to look at how God made some animals that carry their babies in the mom and give birth to young animals. It also takes two animals to make baby animals that do not come from eggs but grow inside the mom.

By the time we get to human babies, the stage has already been set and it feels like a natural progression to communicate that it takes two people to make a baby by using a small part from the dad (seed) and a small part from the mom (egg). The most detail used in the book is this: a sperm from the dad and an egg from the mom join together in the mom’s body. We stop there because we think it is important for parents to decide how much detail they want to provide and when.

Q: Scripture is incorporated throughout the book, even in the middle of describing development in the womb. How can parents take advantage of the opportunity to go deeper into God’s Word with their children?

We want the enable parents to frame this conversation with God’s Word, so it is presented in the way God relates to his creation. The theme verse for the book is: “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth’” (Genesis 1:28). Our retelling of God’s enjoyment of creating follows the creation account in Genesis as well. In addition to Genesis 1:28, God also told the sea creatures and birds: “Be fruitful and multiple and fill the waters in the sea, and let birds multiply on the earth.” This reminds us that reproduction is God’s creative idea and that he invites the living creatures he made to join him in making more things.

In the middle of the book, when we address how babies live and grow in the mom’s womb, we celebrate Psalm 139:13–16: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

We want parents to be able to celebrate that God made them on purpose and that he planned for their life. It is important for children to know that God made them on purpose because he wanted them in his world and that he knew all about them and was excited for them to be born. What a wonderful thing for children to hear their parents to say.

By incorporating Scripture like this, our goal is to encourage parents to repeat to their children that every baby is a gift from God, and they are they God’s special gift to their family.

Q: What are some things a parent can do to create a safe atmosphere for their children to always come to them with questions?

Being open and available for conversations with our children is very important. One of the main things parents can do to create a safe atmosphere is to make the conversations natural and normal. Find ways to talk about this subject while eating dinner, taking a walk, visiting the zoo, driving somewhere, etc. If the conversations are natural and normal, that will help your child feel comfortable with other questions or concerns that arise.

Another thing is to keep your response simple and short. Sometimes a few sentences are all that’s needed. Often the simplest explanation is sufficient. Keep it simple and see if they have any follow-up questions. If they want more information, they will let you know—now or later.

Something we have found helpful is to ask what they think. Asking your child what they think can be a fruitful launching point for a more helpful discussion.

Q: Can you tell us more about the back section of God Made Babies that is written to parents?

At the end of the book, in the section, “Things to Consider When Asked the Baby Question,” we offer very practical suggestions to parents.

First, we offer three different stages of explaining how babies are made. Which stage of detail parents address depends on what they determine is age-appropriate and what the child already knows. The younger the child, the less detail they need. How much detail parents want to provide and when is up to the parents and should be based on previous conversations with the child.

Second, we offer ten practical suggestions for when parents are asked the baby question. Some of these are things we learned firsthand as parents, and some are things we wish we had known or been told. We intend God Made Babies to be a resource for parents and children together, but we also want to come alongside parents to offer suggestions that are practical, informed, biblical, honest, and age-appropriate.

Q: When a child comes to a parent with a question, why is it important for a parent to ask their child some questions, both before and after the conversation?

Asking questions before answering your child’s question helps determine the context of their question. Since it is a conversation, it will feel normal to the child if you ask them questions. The answer may provide context for their question and help you know how to focus your response. Did they hear something at school? Did they see a pregnant woman? Did they read something in a book? Are they just very observant or curious?

Asking questions after the conversations honors them and helps you gauge if more needs to be said and if you communicated what you wanted to clearly. Asking your child what they think can be a fruitful launching point for a more helpful discussion in the moment and also for future conversations.

Q: One of your tips is to not make things weird when these kinds of questions come up. Here’s a question kids of all ages can appreciate: what can parents do to be less weird?

We tell parents not to make it weird because young children do not know that asking where babies come from can be awkward for you. For them, asking about reproduction is no different from asking any other question. Try to be casual and straightforward in your response. How you respond communicates just as much as what you say. Try to stay calm and not reveal shock, embarrassment, concern, or frustration. Your discomfort may make your child feel shame for asking a normal question.

Answering the baby question is an opportunity to teach your child the proper names of body parts related to reproduction. Focus on the parts they can see—like the penis and vagina. Using accurate terms for body parts can avoid unnecessary confusion. For example, babies grow in the uterus or womb. If you use terms like “stomach” or “tummy,” it can be confusing since that is where food goes. Explain any words your child does not know. This keeps them from feeling overwhelmed with information and helps keep the conversation from feeling abstract.

God Made Babies: Helping Parents Answer the Baby Question
by Justin S. Holcomb and Lindsey A. Holcomb, Illustrated by Trish Mahoney
September 19, 2022 / Hardback / Retail Price: $15.99
Print ISBN 978-1-64507-223-2
Religion / Christian Education / Children & Youth

About the Authors and Illustrator

Justin S. Holcomb, PhD, is a minister and professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has authored, coauthored, or edited more than twenty books on numerous topics, including abuse, biblical studies, and theology. Justin and his wife, Lindsey, coauthored the award-winning children’s book God Made All of MeGod Made Me in His Image, and God Made Babies.

Lindsey A. Holcomb, MPH, works in non-profit development and is an advocate for survivors of abuse. She is a former case manager at a sexual assault crisis center and a domestic violence shelter and is the cofounder of REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade). Lindsey is also the award-winning coauthor of God Made All of MeGod Made Me in His ImageGod Made BabiesIs It My Fault?, and Rid of My Disgrace. 

Lindsey and Justin, conduct a variety of training seminars on parenting topics such as child sexual abuse prevention, body image, and how to talk about sex. They also provide trainings on how to prevent, recognize, and respond to child, sexual, and domestic abuse. The Holcombs live in Orlando and are parents of two daughters.  

Learn more at justinholcomb.com. Justin can also be found on Facebook (@justinholcomb)Twitter (@JustinHolcomb) and Instagram (@justinholcomb).

Trish Mahoney
 is a graphic designer and illustrator in Salem, OR where she runs The Mahoney Studio with her husband, Patrick, also a designer and illustrator. They have two children—both budding artists too. Trish illustrated The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible and is also the illustrator for the God Made Me series.

Image of God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies
Image of (2022) God Made Me Series Set
Image of God Made Me in His Image: Helping Children Appreciate Their Bodies

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