10 Weeks of Romance Giveaway!

Welcome everyone! I am super excited to share this big news!

Ten of some of the best authors in the inspirational and sweet romance genres are hosting a 10 Weeks of Romance Giveaway to celebrate a new Resort to Romance series! And I’m honored to be a part of it.

Here’s the series premise:

It’s Matchmaking Week at an all-inclusive resort on a private island in the Bahamas. Each guest has been expertly paired and is here to enjoy one full week with their match. While there’s no money-back guarantee on the paid trip, the participants are guaranteed to find love!

Each week beginning Tuesday, February 19ththrough the week of Tuesday, May 7th, a new book by a new author in the series will release, and you have the chance to win one, some, or the grand prize which includes all ten novellas plus a $150 Amazon gift card!


Here’s how it works:Register at the rafflecopter below. We’ll randomly select a winner each Tuesday. And the great thing about this giveaway is the books build with every author’s new release! That means your entries roll over each week all the way up the grand prize.

This week’s prize is: A Meddled Match by Jill Kemerer and my book A Messed-Up Match!


A Kindergarten teacher with fears to overcome.
An infamous blogger and magazine writer with a cynical view.
And one romantic week that will bring second chances.

Neeley Valentine has spent nearly all of her savings to participate in a matchmaking week on Joy Island in the Bahamas. But she’s not looking for a love connection so much as someone who will force her out of her comfort zone.

Pax Cannon is known to the online world as the Love Curmudgeon, and he’s ready to prove in one of his biggest articles yet that matchmaking weeks are a joke and men should run as fast they can from them.

When one of the resort’s rules is broken, bringing these two together, neither are prepared for the unexpected twists and turns that will school them on the subject of love. 


Be sure to stop by Susan L. Tuttle’s blog next Tuesday to see what book is being added to the giveaway.

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Welcome to a Brand New Series!

Romance is in the tropical air. Okay, it’s freezing pretty much everywhere but not on Joy Island in the Bahamas. The weather is perfect. Feel the sun on your skin, the smell of coconut and fruit filling your senses, and love falling at your feet…possibly tripping you up!

I am super excited to be a part of a fabulous new romantic series that begins releasing next Tuesday, February 19th!

But you can preorder the ENTIRE series right now and save $20!!!

The Resort to Romance Series is unique for sure. And you are SURE to love it!

WHAT IS RESORT TO ROMANCE ALL ABOUT?

It’s Matchmaking Week at an all-inclusive resort on a private island in the Bahamas. Each guest has been expertly paired and is here to enjoy one full week with their match. While there’s no money-back guarantee on the paid trip, the participants are guaranteed to find love!

Get ready for ten weeks of romance in the Bahamas with a new series brought to you by some of the best authors in the inspirational and sweet romance genres…

Ten delightful – and standalone – novellas linked by one matchmaking week. You’ll want to devour each one!

Jill Kemerer kicks off with her release A Meddled Match. And then my book, A Messed-Up Match releases February 26th.

A Kindergarten teacher with fears to overcome.
An infamous blogger and magazine writer with a cynical view.
And one romantic week that will bring second chances.

Neeley Valentine has spent nearly all of her savings to participate in a matchmaking week on Joy Island in the Bahamas. But she’s not looking for a love connection so much as someone who will force her out of her comfort zone.

Pax Cannon is known to the online world as the Love Curmudgeon, and he’s ready to prove in one of his biggest articles yet that matchmaking weeks are a joke and men should run as fast they can from them.

When one of the resort’s rules is broken, bringing these two together, neither are prepared for the unexpected twists and turns that will school them on the subject of love. 

What Early Readers Are Saying about A Messed-Up Match

“A Messed-Up Match sizzles with romantic tension. Patch tosses in loads of her trademark banter along with characters wading through deep personal issues. Throw in a few unexpected twists, and this book is the perfect escape from the winter blues.” ~ Jill Lynn, Author of The Rancher’s Unexpected Baby

“I’m normally not a fan of novellas because they can come across as shallow and underdeveloped. Not this one!” ~ Denise, Goodreads

“From the first pages of A Messed-Up Match, readers will be chuckling, because Neeley is hilarious! And Pax’s initial reactions to this strange woman who overshares only enhances that.” ~ Suzie, Goodreads

Join us next week as we kick off these releases with a HUGE, like HUUUUUGE giveaway to celebrate!

You can preorder these 10 novellas at just .99 cents a piece now. The price goes up each book after the individual release week!

Check them all out at Jill Kemerer’s site! RESORT TO ROMANCE FULL SERIES

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Day 3

Hey everyone! I am so happy to be a part of this AMAZING 12 Days of GIVEAWAYS! 12 Days of Christmas! Wow! So many books and gifts. Just check them all out!

Welcome to Day 3! 

The prizes build every single day and today’s winner will receive a copy of Cold Case Christmas by yours truly, Wyoming Christmas Quadruplets by Jill Kemerer, and Christmas with the Cowboy and a Jingle Bell necklace from Tina Radcliffe

It’s not too late to enter in the Rafflecopter giveaway below by following some of your favorite authors on social media and signing up for their newsletters. We draw a new winner every day, and on December 12th, we’ll give away a $150 Amazon Gift Card OR a 1-Year Audible Gold Subscription (winner’s choice) in addition to all the other great prizes!

Merry Christmas, friends! 

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Don’t forget to stop by Liz’s blog tomorrow to see what new prize is going to be added!

 

Also, if you’re looking for a fun, romantic Christmas read set in the South to indulge in over the holidays, you’ll love A Honey of a Christmas! Purchase HERE

 

They say opposites attract; it’ll take a Christmas miracle to keep this couple from killing one another!

Agnes Piercy is finally going to make her mark now that she’s in charge of the Honeyhaven Winter Wonderland. She’s created a new event this year—Santa’s Village—which will bring in tons of tourists and money for charities and church ministries, and secure her a full client list when she opens up her own event planning business. But things go haywire from the get-go, including her feelings for one Tuck Renner.

Tuck Renner has been tasked (against his will) with building the Santa’s Village which means taking orders from Miss Bossy Pants herself—Agnes Piercy. Sadly, she’s off to a seriously rocky start. Feeling sorry for her, and a lot sorry for himself having to hear about it day in and out, he vows to make this the greatest event ever. Except nothing goes as planned. But everything may end up exactly like it was meant to.

Christmas Comes Early! Two Giveaways For You!

This upcoming holiday season is especially exciting for me. For the first time I have a Love Inspired Suspense Christmas book releasing December 1st! Cold Case Christmas kicks off a new Storm Chaser series which I have been giddy about writing. I love weather disaster plots. Mix that in with murder and romance…oh yeah! 

Here is a little about Cold Case Christmas which is available for preorder HERE.

 

Secrets lie buried in ice…

One of them can kill her.

Home for Christmas after her long-missing mother’s body is found, nothing will keep Nora Livingstone from uncovering the truth about the cold case. Especially not Deputy Sheriff Rush Buchanan, whom she once loved and left. Even when threats become attempts on her life, Rush can’t dissuade her—but he will protect her. Because someone is determined to bury the truth…or bury Nora.

Doesn’t that sound mysterious and fun? Well…it is. 🙂 And I’m giving away 5 signed paperback copies to U.S. citizens only. 18+ Just enter below!

 

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But that’s not all of the fun news! Not only do I have a romantic suspense Christmas book coming out, but I also have a fun contemporary romance novella releasing November 1st.

A Honey of a Christmas is the 2nd novella in the Honeyhaven series. It can be read as a standalone, but you can find book 1, Under the Honey Moon,  in the Once Upon a Laugh collection with romances by 7 other fantastic authors! It’s only .99 cents for the entire collection! Purchase it HERE.  

Here is a little about A Honey of a Christmas:

They say opposites attract; it’ll take a Christmas miracle to keep this couple from killing one another!

Agnes Piercy is finally going to make her mark now that she’s in charge of the Honeyhaven Winter Wonderland. She’s created a new event this year—Santa’s Village—which will bring in tons of tourists and money for charities and church ministries, and secure her a full client list when she opens up her own event planning business. But things go haywire from the get-go, including her feelings for one Tuck Renner.

Tuck Renner has been tasked (against his will) with building the Santa’s Village which means taking orders from Miss Bossy Pants herself—Agnes Piercy. But she’s off to a seriously rocky start. Feeling sorry for her, and a lot sorry for himself having to hear about it day in and out, he vows to make this the greatest event ever. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned. But, they may go exactly like they were meant to.

This story has lots of fun banter, crazy situations, and swoony romance all set in a small, quirky southern town. It’s available for preorder HERE at a SPECIAL PREORDER PRICE OF .99 CENTS. IT WILL GO UP TO $2.99 ON RELEASE DAY. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT AND GRAB IT NOW. I’m also giving away 5 ebook copies. Open to all! 18+

Enter the contest below.

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*See Jessica’s privacy policy page for more information on contests.

Well, there you have it friends! I hope you enter and feel free to share this post with friends. 

And if you are really jonesing for great Christmas romances, try my good friend Jill Kemerer’s newest: Wyoming Christmas Quadruplets (Wyoming Cowboys series) You can purchase it HERE

A nanny at Christmastime…
Will she find love in this Wyoming Cowboys novel?

Six weeks on a ranch caring for quadruplets—aspiring nurse Ainsley Draper’s prepared for a busy Christmas. When the children’s handsome uncle opens the door, her task gets extra complicated. Marshall Graham is upholding his promise to look after his twin sister, the babies’ mom. But as family loyalty clashes with new love, will the perfect present include a future with Ainsley?

How adorable are those babies, right? 

Have a fabulous week, friends! 

Talk to you soon,

Jess

#TakeoverTuesday with Annie Just Commonly

It’s Takeover Tuesday and Annie Just Commonly and I are swapping blogs for today. You can catch my interview on her blog, and I’m giving away a copy of Secret Service Setup, so head over there next.

Welcome Annie!  Let’s get to know more about you in a formal way and then we’ll get to more personal stuff when we play Would You Rather!

Just Commonly, AKA Annie is an avid reader turned blogger.  She is the mind behind  Just Commonly  blog, sharing what she loves most – Jesus & all things book and bookish . She’s a big fan of all Christian fiction, as well as books in the Young Adult, Middle Grade and even Kids Fiction genre. She’ll test out recipes from cookbooks and share thoughts from biographies to books on nutrition, spiritual help or just any book that struck her fancy. Next to reading, her other interests includes spending time with family and friends, eating, playing with her miniature schnauzer pups, Gabby and Reagan, and somehow challenge her non-existent athletic abilities to improve (tremendously) her tennis and golf game. 

Annie is proud to be one of the founding stewards of the  Christian Fiction Readers Retreat  (CFRR). CFRR is a one day event gathering of Christian Fiction readers and authors, with a focus theme of “Honoring God through Christian Fiction.”  It features speaker sessions, author panels, breakout sessions, prayer & worship and author signings.  You can reach Annie on her blog, Just Commonly , Facebook , Twitter  or Instagram.,

 

Y’all for real, go check out CFRR. It’s a great line-up!

Now on to a former game I played often on the blog. I’m resurrecting it for today. It’s all bookish questions and if you comment below…you’ll be entered for a chance to win one of Annie’s favorite historical romances by one of her favorite historical romance authors, Karen Witemeyer, which makes me super happy because Karen is one of my FAVORITE historical romance authors too! And I loved A Tailor Made Bride!

Would You Rather…

1. Read your favorite book over and over, or read any other book but never get to read your favorite again? So, I don’t like this question. I mean, that’s hard. Are you saying this is FOREVER? Do I really have to CHOOSE?  

 
2. Meet a “book boyfriend” in real life or the author who created him? Totally the author. I mean we can gush together about him and even think of some names to call him, like McDreamy or McSteamy – wait, those are taken. The lovely thing about book boyfriends are the very fact that they are fictional, and the mind behind that created them are worth exploring more, don’t you think? 
 
3. Be saved by a military hero or a law enforcement hero? LAW ENFORCEMENT HERO – OK, no disrespect there, but I have my reasons. I’m kinda partial to a Gibbs, Tony, Booth…etc. Wow, 2 out of 3 are also military (at least ex). Hmmm…
 
 4. Be the heroine or the sidekick? Totally sidekick. I love being the sidekick. You get to enjoy all the fun while being the sensible one. Right?! 
 
 5. Live in the pages of a historical or a thriller? Historical – I think. Ask me again tomorrow.  
 
 6. Read only setting on the coast or only settings in the South? Coast…I think. OK, ask me again tomorrow. 
 
7.  Read paperbacks or digital books? PRINT ALL THE WAY! I love the touch, the smell, the look. How can you admire the book and it’s beauty while it’s stuck inside a screen? 
 
 8. Read your favorite author forever or only get to read new authors from now on? I love favorite authors, but I think variety is good. WAIT. Is this a forever scenario like I can’t read any more of theirs?  Jesse, I’m beginning to not like these questions. 😬
 
9. Fall in love with a spy hero or an undercover agent hero? Undercover agent hero. Spies are overrated – OK, maybe also too much James Bond.
 
10. Be a damsel in distress or a rescue-the-hero heroine? Rescue-the-hero heroine’s sidekick. 😉 I mean sidekicks have some great moves!
 
Such great answers and they made me laugh. Yep, they had to get a little harder as we went. 😉 Thanks for being such a fantastic sport. I’m so glad we swapped blogs today. I love having you here. 

Givewaway-Tailor-Made bride

 

 

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Visit Annie’s blog and enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Secret Service Setup, my newest release! 

All About Valentine’s Day and Romance with Carrie Schmidt!

Can I just say how super-sweet it is to have Carrie Schmidt (you may know her through Reading is My Superpower blog and Facebook page). Let me tell you a little about this precious lady.

Carrie  is an avid reader, book reviewer, story addict, KissingBooks fan, book boyfriend collector, and cool aunt. She also loves Jesus and THE Story a whole lot. A reviewer for RT Book Reviews and a co-founder of the Christian Fiction Readers’ Retreat, Carrie lives in Kentucky with her husband Eric and their quirky dog Zuzu. She can be found lurking at various blogs and websites (because she can’t stop talking about books) but her main home is the blog she started in 2015 – ReadingIsMySuperPower.org.

She’s been super precious to me and I’m glad she’s here.  Waving at you, Carrie! I asked her some questions about romance, Valentine’s Day, and of course books. You’re going to love her answers and guess what? She’s giving away a Romance Trope and Book Boyfriend candle to 2 lucky winners! (U.S. Only, the entry form will be below.

So, let’s talk romance, books, and Valentine’s Day.

How old were you when you were drawn into the romance genre? What book hooked you?

I was probably 11 or 12, something like that, when I discovered Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke. One read was all it took, and the rest is history 😊

What was it about that book that caused you to fall in love with the romance genre?

I have always loved romance – from the moment I first watched Prince Charming dance with Cinderella. But Love Comes Softly showed me that fictional romance could go beyond Disney’s definition, that it could include real life & history & friendships. And that, in the process of telling me a great story about two people who fall in love, it could also help me fall in love with God a little more too.

Why do you think women love to read romance? Is this why you love romance? If not, tell us what it is you love about this genre?

I really think women love to read romance because it’s part of that ‘eternity’ that God has placed in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We crave these romance reads where some form of Prince Charming comes riding in on some form of a white horse, rescues us (I mean…the heroine), and we (I mean…they) lived happily ever after… because it’s the story God’s been telling from the beginning! We are the Bride of Christ & one day Jesus will come riding in on a literal white horse (see Revelation 19) and rescue us for the ultimate happily ever after (Revelation 21). So I think it’s just part of our soul’s DNA and, because we’re still waiting for it to play out in reality, we gobble up these little reflections of it in the meantime. And all that to say (lol) – that’s what I love about reading romance! It reminds me that I’m living in an even greater Story with an even better HEA that one day will actually come true. And… you know… the hot heroes and swoony kisses don’t hurt either.

Oh my word! I agree too. It’s why I love to write it. I have to share that Divine Romance with readers!! Love this so much. And uh, no they don’t!  

Describe the perfect romantic hero? (Have you found this hero in a book or are you still waiting on him?)

The perfect romantic hero? Hmm.. that’s a tough one. Because so much of it depends on the story itself, the reader’s personal preference and the chemistry with the heroine. But for me? It never hurts if he resembles Henry Cavill (just sayin), if he speaks in some sort of accent, if he’s flirty and/or smoldering, if falling in love takes him by surprise but hits him hard emotionally and (on that note) if he’s not afraid to share emotion when appropriate. He needs to love more than himself, and he needs to be a protector at heart. And a good kisser. But … looking like Henry Cavill gets you a lot of grace on these other points 😉

Have I found him yet? I believe so. But currently it’s a 5-way tie. And interestingly enough, three of them favor Henry Cavill a great deal. LOL! At least I’m consistent. (I remember one of your heroes looking suspiciously like Henry too 😉 ) (Jess here: Yes, I did use Henry but not for Holt! For Griffin Noble, but you see how you want. I don’t mind!) Anyway, I had a book boyfriends shirt made with five of my very faves, and the guys include:

#myJames (aka James MacDonald from Carla Laureano’s Five Days in Skye)

Ty Porter (from Becky Wade’s Meant to Be Mine)

Charlie Lionheart (from Joanne Bischof’s The Lady & The Lionheart)

Vance Everstone (from Dawn Crandall’s Everstone Chronicles)

Wes Harrison (from Pepper Basham’s Just the Way You Are)

I adored Charlie Lionheart and Ty Porter. I also need to step up my game and read and these other books! Do you have a favorite romance sub genre? Why is it your favorite?

I love romantic suspense. Because as long as I’ve loved romance, I’ve also loved mysteries. Nancy Drew is my home girl. (Do people say that anymore? Lol) But my favorite Nancy Drew stories were the ones when she teamed up with the Hardy Boys because, let’s face it, Frank Hardy made a better book boyfriend than Ned Nickerson. (sorry Ned) Getting to read a romantic suspense ties both of these loves together for me, plus the tension created from the suspense adds to the romantical tension which is another win-win.

Yes! I mean how can this rom/suspense writer who always throws in mystery not love that answer. Have you ever thought about writing your own romance novel? Why or why not?

Thought about it? Yes. Will I ever actually write one? Probably not. Mainly because a) I don’t think I have that specific kind of talent and b) it would cut into my reading time too much lol.

What is one romance novel that has stuck with you over many years? Why do you think that is?

Newlywed Games by Mary Davis. I don’t exactly know why it’s stuck with me for so long but I think one of the reasons is because it was really the first Christian fiction I read that showcased the kind of romantic tension that makes you forget to breathe. The chemistry between Bruce and Meghann is AMAZING and electric and oh-so-swoony. Also I think this is the book that started my love of the ‘fake marriage’ trope, which is really a derivative of the marriage-of-convenience story that Love Comes Softly spearheaded. It all comes full circle 😊

Okay, I gotta read this book! Wow! Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Some people don’t want to be told to do something special on one day but feel romance and kind gestures should be done all throughout the year, which I agree, but I love Valentine’s Day. Might be because it’s the anniversary of the first date with my husband (24 years ago!) What’s your take on this day?

As a kid, I loved Valentine’s Day! My parents made it so special for us. From the special meal my mom would make (complete with hearts cut out of just about any food she could, even the butter) to the scavenger hunts that would send us scurrying all over the house to find the next clue and – eventually – our candy gifts. As an adult, Valentine’s Day hasn’t been nearly that much fun haha! But it will always be special to me because in my senior of college this guy (who happened to be one of my best friends) decided to boycott Valentine’s Day by going to see You’ve Got Mail together (yeah, just about everyone saw through that except us). A year and a half later, we got married ❤

I love this! How fun! Have you read many romance novels set around Valentine’s Day? Which ones do you recommend? (I read Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh and took that idea last year, stringing paper hearts all over for my man to read. He was so surprised and saved them!)

Ok, now you’re really making me think!! LOL. Honestly?!? I know that there are some, but I haven’t read many. I’m not sure why. Totally seems like my thing. I definitely recommend Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh and The Cupcake Dilemma by Jennifer Rodewald. Other books that people have recommended to me (but I haven’t read yet) are Once Upon a Winter’s Heart by Melody Carlson, Secretly Yours by Valerie Comer and Operation Valentine by Elizabeth Maddrey.

If your special someone gave you a gift for Valentine’s Day that was solely focused on a book/reading them, what would that gift (day or weekend!) look like?

Ooooo what a fun question! I have always loved the idea of this bookstore date from The Dating Divas! And I really really want one of these adorable custom bookish blankets from Sweet Sequels on Etsy!

I love the Dating Divas site! I just printed some stuff from there for this lovely week! I’m spoiling my man because he ALWAYS spoils me!

Thank you so much for being here today, Carrie! It’s been fun. Readers and writers, you can also connect with Carrie on Facebook @ meezcarriereads and everywhere else social at @meezcarrie.

Enter for a chance to win 1 of 2 Novelly Yours candles! 

 

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Forward Friday: From Rascal to Regardful.

When I was seventeen, I was a brat. There. I said it. My deepest, darkest secret. Okay, it’s not. But it is true. Most seventeen year olds are brats. They have it all figured out. Know everything. Hey, if you weren’t, I said most not all. 

One of my favorite people in the Bible is Joseph. He’s great to study for character growth (writers, did you hear that?). At seventeen he’s a spoiled brat. Oh, yes. He is.

Genesis 37:3-4 MSG: Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he was the child of his old age. And he made him an elaborately embroidered coat. When his brothers realized that their father loved him more than them, they grew to hate him—they wouldn’t even speak to him.

He was daddy’s fave and Daddy made no bones about it. He made this amazing coat of prestige and honor and Joseph wore it proudly. Didn’t seem to mind the fact that it hurt his brothers deeply or that being the fave caused hatred in their hearts. 

These brothers couldn’t even speak peaceably to him. Now, I don’t know about you but when someone is unhappy with me, I know it. I can see it on their faces and feel it when I enter a room. That’s just someone unhappy! Not hatred.

But Jospeh didn’t care. He didn’t bother to see. Instead he chose to tell them his dream about how they’d bow to him. Yeah, that’s what you do when you’re hated. You lord a dream over them. Not once. But twice! Nice work, Jo.

And one day, Daddy sends Joseph out to check on his brothers. Why wasn’t he out there helping in the first place? Oh yeah, he’s spoiled. He’s a rascal. Dons the coat, oh yes, he does. Because that’s what you do when you’re about to approach your own brothers. Rub it in their faces that you’re loved most. I kinda feel bad for the brothers. 

While Joseph was in the distance, the brothers plotted to kill Joseph.

Not just give him the business, but murder him. They’ve murdered before…remember poor Dinah and the revenge on the entire town for the act of one.

But they end up selling him as a slave.

I wish we had time to pick all this apart. But we don’t. Joseph ends up a slave and then imprisoned and what we learn is that Joseph grows and matures over this period of time. Because how can a rascal like Jospeh rule a nation humbly? He can’t. Not unless he’s been humbled and molded into the kind of man God would need to rule and lead.

There are many glimpses of Joseph’s maturity and humbling process, but this one is one of my favorites. In Genesis 40, the chief butler (cup bearer) and the chief baker are thrown into the prison for offending the Pharaoh. Joseph is put in charge of them. Day in. Day out. 

Verse 3-7 MSG: “After they had been in custody for a while, the king’s cupbearer and baker, while being held in the jail, both had a dream on the same night, each dream having its own meaning. When Joseph arrived in the morning, he noticed that they were feeling low. So he asked them, the two officials of Pharaoh who had been thrown into jail with him, “What’s wrong? Why the long faces?”

The NKJV says, “He saw they were sad.” 

At seventeen, he was oblivious. He ignored the hateful glares, the snarled lips. The disdain in their words. Maybe he saw the looks of sadness when he wore that coat the first time. But he didn’t think to spare them the pain by not wearing it. By not having some kind of conversation with them or Jacob. 

But now.

Now, he’s seeing. “You’re sad. What’s wrong?” Not only does he see, but he speaks. He inquires. “Why are you upset?”

Joseph was now hoping for the future, but living in the present.

I wonder if he’d regarded his brothers’ countenances and inquired if maybe things would have been different. Maybe. Maybe God would have gotten him to Egypt to fulfill his destiny and God-given dreams another way. I don’t know.

I do know this: Joseph had been more preoccupied with being the favorite and his future dreams than he was about the present. And he missed A LOT! 

Our God-given dreams require planning and preparation on our part.  I had to actually write and do the work to be published. And I admit, that for a time I became so focused on the gift that I neglected the present. I wasn’t awake to the “now.” I wasn’t paying attention to what God might doing right then in me, through me. 

Maybe that’s you. Don’t be so consumed with the dreams and the future that you neglect what’s right in front of you.  Wake up! Wake up and be present in the moment. See the people around you. Notice the hurt, the pain. Notice you might need a conversation with someone you love. Humble yourself now! Don’t go through a pit and a prison to do it. 

Don’t miss the moments. 

Don’t wait dozens of years to wake up. 

Yes, God has dreams for you in the future. But He also has dreams for you to walk into today! 

Forward Challenge: Be awake today. Remove the apps from your phone. Step away from working toward your dream for one hour, two, a day and be present in the moment. Who looks sad and needs encouragement from you? 

Forward Scripture: “…Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me, awake and ready for me each morning, alert and responsive as I start my day’s work.” Proverbs 8:34 MSG

Forward Prayer: God, who made the day, awake me to present in it and responsive to Your will as You start Your day’s work. Thank you for Your good plans that include me. Open my ears to hear You and my eyes to see You and where You are at work. Help me to take notice of those around me and recognize when they need a word of hope, of encouragement and give me ,through Your Holy Spirit, the words to say. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

What do you need to do today in order to be AWAKE and present?

Forward Friday: Refuse to Stay Dead

2018. I can’t count all the things I’d like to not see happen or live through in 2018 that I had to deal with in 2017. I’m sure you feel the same way. Maybe not. But probably.

This year, my one word is awake and Forward Fridays will be dedicated to what I’m studying, learning, and understanding about this word. I hope you’ll join me, learn something yourself and challenge yourself to move forward in this year, fully awake. And there will be some guest posts by some wonderful people. I think we can always learn from others’ experiences.

Today, I want to talk about a dead man. And more importantly the Man who raised him back to life.

Awake: to become aroused or active again (according to Merriam-Webster. ) It also means: alive.

Let’s unpack this amazing account. We won’t be able to touch every detail, but we will hit some highlights.

John 11.

I have it here for you in the MSG and NKJV. I’m going to use MSG to give it that one-two punch. 

The first thing we hear of is that a man, a friend of Jesus’s, was sick. Word gets around. But that’s not the only thing that Jesus heard when word was sent. “The one you love so very much is sick.” They weren’t just pals and fishing buddies. He loved him so very much. Like he loves you. Like he loves me. You’d think he’d be up on his feet, “Let’s go, people. I have to get to him.”

Isn’t that what we do when our loved ones are ill? We rush to their bedside, the hospital. We waste no time if it’s in our power to be there. It was in his power to be there sooner than when he got there.

But he waited two whole days! You ever feel like you need a miracle, help, provision, hope…fill in the blank and Jesus falls through–doesn’t show up and you know it’s in his power to do so? I have. 

Instead Jesus responds like this: “This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son.”

Um…for those gathering around Lazarus, I’m sure they thought differently. I’m sure Lazarus thought differently. “I’m dying, here, Lord! I’m not gonna make it!” I can imagine Lazarus grabbing ahold of his sisters’ hands. “Go! Get Jesus.”

And they did. Because it was fatal! Wasn’t it? By human standards. 

Crickets.

But two days passed. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go back to Judea.” Now he wants to go. Now you want to show up? It’s too late now. The damage has been done. It’s final. Like we’ve buried this. It’s dead. We’re in the grieving stages. If you can’t show up when I ask you to the first time. Then why come at all? Ever had any of these thoughts? Questions? You could have done something. But you didn’t. You sat around ignoring our call for TWO DAYS! 

The disciples didn’t want him to go. “Rabbi, you can’t do that. The Jews are out to kill you, and you’re going back?” You’ll die if you go back! They wanted to protect him over anything that might be done for Lazarus. Thomas the twin says (paraphrase): “Welp, let’s just go die with him then.” 

Opposition was in between Jesus and Lazarus. The Pharisees who wanted him dead. And death itself. But that didn’t stop him. Even if it felt too late to do a single thing.

Because to Jesus: “This sickness isn’t fatal…Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. I’m going to wake him up.”

“Then let him rest for crying out loud!” they said (paraphrase). Sleeping it off is the best medicine. Even back then, I guess.

Then Jesus got literal. “Lazarus died.” 

Oooh. Well…

“And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him.”

New grounds: An area of knowledge or subject of discussion or thought. Factors forming a basis for action or justification for a belief.

It was time for them to see something new. To see a foreshadowing of what was soon to come so they could believe when it happened.

So, they went.

Four. Days. Dead. 

Jesus meets Martha and they have a conversation.

Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.”

Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.”

Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”

“You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life…”

What do you need resurrected? Brought back to life? A marriage? A family restoration? Hope? Dreams? Promises? Health? Joy? Peace? Fill in the blank. What’s been dead and buried for so long that you’ve given up on ever believing Jesus can bring it back? Did you cry out and heard crickets? Saw nothing? Has your faith been buried in a tomb? 

Your sickness (loss of hope, faith, dreams, marriage…you name it) isn’t fatal to Jesus! 

The RIGHT NOW MOMENT for Jesus isn’t always the RIGHT NOW moment for us. RIGHT NOW for Jesus might mean decades later for you. Two days later. Four months. Six years… Or it could mean RIGHT NOW THIS MOMENT. Right now, he can bring back your hope, dead faith, joy…RIGHT NOW! THIS MOMENT! 

Move that stone. Oh, but the stench! EEK.

Move. That. Stone.

“Lazarus, you come out!” Jesus called.

There might have been some awkward tension as onlookers passed glances amongst each other. Some anticipation. Hope. But a lot of awkward glances, I’d think.

And then…a rustling. A scooting along the dirt.

Bound head to toe and face covered, Lazarus the mummy hobbled out like a bad game of Marco Polo. Shuffling toward the sounds outside because the poor dead-now-alive guy couldn’t see! He may have knocked a shoulder, stubbed a toe. He may have oomphed and grr’d his way out. 

But he came out into the light!

Alive. Resurrected.

But bound.

Jesus brought him to life. But he called on others to care for Lazarus in the aftermath, the follow up. “Unwrap him and let him loose.”

A gift! 

I love that phrase: let him loose. Not just to unbind him, but to give him freedom with no limits! Ever used that verbiage? I’d like to let Joanna Gaines loose on my house. 

Let a bound man who become free loose on the world and see what happens! Let a dead man who has been brought back to life loose on the world…see what happens!

Many that were there watching who didn’t believe, believed! In fact, the Word says, “That was a turnaround for many…”

When God brings something dead back to life, maybe YOU yourself, it can be a turnaround for many. Have you been lifeless and dead due to bitterness, tragedy, hurt? Have you given up on God, on life, on love? God can and will breathe new life into you. Ask him to call you out of the dead, musty tomb to live again. It will glorify Jesus. It will be the turnaround for many.

Awoken people turned loose…they set the world on fire with the love and passion of an all-consuming God.

What needs woken up in you? I’d love to pray for you.

Forward Challenge: Take a notebook, your bible, and a pen. Get alone with God and ask him to reveal areas in your life that need woken back up to life. Write them down and ask God to resurrect them.

Forward Scripture: “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. I’m going to wake him up.” John 11:11 MSG

Forward Prayer: Jesus, I need you to wake up dead areas of life. Breathe into me new ___________. Thank you for coming for me. Thank you that even when I think you’ve dropped the ball, you never have. You never ignore me. Never fail me. Your timing is always the right timing and nothing is dead to you. For those loved ones, I can’t bring back, revive in me joy and hope and restore my heart, make me whole. Let my life glorify you and let it be the turnaround for others. And Lord, let me always be mindful of your work and care for those you’re bringing to life. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Forward Friday: One Word 2018

December has been a whirlwind, y’all! A good whirlwind, though. I spent less time on social media and more time with friends and family face-to-face. How about you? In fact, lately, I’ve been thinking about the time I spend. Time on social media. Time with my laptop. Time with family. Friends. Time with Jesus. 

Some days I feel the quantity but not the quality. 

I’ve been praying a lot about what God might have me place my focus on this year. It’s going to be another whirlwind–it’s true that the older you become, the faster time seems to pass. I have three books and one (maybe two) novellas releasing this new year. My daughter will be home for one summer before she truly will live somewhere else. My son is entering high school. Things are stirring in other personal areas, in my church. So, Lord, what should my focus be?

I learned several years ago, that resolutions don’t work for me. I give up. Of course, I set goals. I think it’s important to do that. But the ONE WORD or PHRASE for the year keeps me focused.

These past few months, the Lord has really pressed a word on my heart. It whispers through my lips in prayer. A friend ordered me a book and journal with the word and topic for Christmas, not knowing this word has been burning through me. 

AWAKE. I have to admit there are areas where I’ve been asleep, spiritually sluggish. Exhausted to the point of not being able to rouse myself. And the Lord in His tenderness has brought this to my attention and given me a good shake.

What exactly does AWAKE mean? What will this look like in my life? 

I want to be awake mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically. I want to SEE all that God has for me and be growing daily. I want to heed what the Lord says and be on guard for distraction and temptation so I can bypass it! I want to be observant like Joseph when he noticed the countenance of the butler and the baker and saw they were upset (you know at one time he wouldn’t have noticed that). 

I want to be AWAKENED. Breathing in God and breathing Him out. 

So each week I’m going to unpack some verses that will help us all awaken, help us all grow and meditate on His word and what it means. I hope you’ll join me, share with your friends, and this year, be awake with me! 

What say you? Are you in?

Forward Challenge: Be awake in all things. Be present. Be observant for what God is doing. Be heedful and obey. 

Forward Scripture: “The angel of God came back, shook him awake again, and said, “Get up…—you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.” 1 Kings 19:7 MSG

Forward Prayer: Awaken us, Lord. In every area where we’ve been dozing or full-on snoozing. Waken us to Your heartbeat. Your calling. Your Word. Breathe into us and make us live again. No more dry bones. Only life and life more abundantly, in Jesus name. Amen.

Do you have a New Year’s resolution, goal, one word or phrase, or a particular scripture for the new year? I’d love to hear it. 

Happy New Year, Friends!

On the 8th Day of Christmas…

My authors gave to me…

Deep Waters (and an adorable Christmas ornament) by moi… 

An adorbs book cozy from Susan Tuttle 

The Memory of You by Catherine West

A Child’s Christmas Wish by Erica Vetsch

On Love’s Gentle Shore + tote bag from Liz Johnson

The Gift of Twins by Gabrielle Meyer

The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride by Jill Kemerer

Christmas Captive  by Liz Johnson

What is this I’m talking about? The 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway is BACK!

 

You read that right! Each day the prizes have been building and new winner is drawn daily. On Day 12, the grand prize winner will be drawn and he/she will win all 10 books, bonus gifts, & a Kindle Fire 8!

Just now getting in on the fun? You’re not too late to revisit the prior blogs from Day 1-Day 8 and enter to win. You can enter every single day! Tomorrow, don’t forget to stop by Bethany Turner’s! Her link is below.

Here is the line up:

12/1 Liz Johnson
12/2 Jill Kemerer 
12/3 Gabrielle Meyer 
12/4 Liz Johnson 
12/5 Erica Vetsch
12/6 Cathy West 
12/7 Susan Tuttle 
12/8 Jessica Patch 
12/9 Bethany Turner
12/10 Lindsay Harrel
12/11 Karen Barnett 
12/12 Liz Johnson 

 

Also, if you’re looking for a holiday read to cozy up with while you wait to see if you’re a winner for these sweet prizes above, may I suggest Hope Under Mistletoe? If you love Hallmark movies, holiday romances, and swoon-worthy heroes, plus a beautiful redemption story, then this is the book for you! And only .99 cents! You can purchase it NOW on AMAZON

Merry Christmas, friends!

*Forward Friday will return next week! 

 

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