Why I Write

I was speaking at a conference this past weekend and someone asked why I write. Ever since my first book, that’s been an easy question for me. Besides the fact that I write because I can’t not write, I received an email after my first book released.

In the email a reader told me she’d bought my book at a writer’s conference and really enjoyed it. Then she went on to tell me I’d made an error–I called a respiratory therapist a respiratory nurse.

Uh-uh! No way. But she went on to give me the page number and there it was–respiratory nurse. To this day I have no idea why I typed those two words. I’d never in my life called a respiratory therapist a respiratory nurse. Not that I’m in the medical field, but in the past, my husband and his mother had been in and out of the hospital enough that we probably owned a wing of the hospital. I know how hospitals work!

I thanked her, and she went on to tell me she’d been a nurse for thirty years. Lightbulb moment! My next book, A Promise to Protect, was about a doctor so I asked if she’d be willing to read my manuscript to make sure I didn’t make any dumb mistakes.

She graciously agreed, and caught several mistakes I’d made. After I turned the book in, I wanted to give the nurse something for her time and trouble, and since she’d met me at a writers conference, I thought I’d gift her writing craft book. She turned me down flat, saying that after she saw what I went through she would pass on being a writer.

Then she went on to tell me that she’d already received the best present I could give her. That she believed God had her to come to the conference just to meet me so she could help with the book she worked on.

It turned out that she had the same problem my heroine had. As a child, my heroine had overheard her mother tell her father: “I told you we never should’ve had that second kid.” My heroine was that second kid and from that day forward, believed she wasn’t wanted, that she wasn’t worthy.

The nurse went on to tell me her mother never loved her, but seeing how my character handled the problem let her know she could do the same thing. I’m sitting at my computer reading the email with tears streaming down my cheeks.My book had actually changed her life, and her family’s life.

And that’s why I write fiction. To change lives. To show the world that Christians have problems just like everyone else, but we solve them differently than the world (often after we’ve tried to fix our problems on our own.) In the end we know there’s no problem God can’t handle.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 This is one of my many favorite verses.

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Malchus by James R. Coggins

In 1731, the Spanish coast guard boarded an English merchant ship captained by a man named Robert Jenkins. The incident was not very serious, but in the melee Jenkins’s ear was cut off, and he apparently complained to the British Parliament. For this reason, and for a host of other ones, the two nations went to war. The War of Jenkins’ Ear lasted for almost a decade.

When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, one of His followers tried to defend Him and in the process cut off the ear of one of the high priest’s servants. In his Gospel, John included an interesting detail that the other Gospel writers did not mention—the name of the high priest’s servant whose ear was cut off was Malchus (John 18:10). How John learned the name of the high priest’s servant is a good question. Perhaps by the time John wrote (scholars believe his was the last of the four Gospels to be written), Malchus had become a Christian believer. While Malchus was taking part in the arrest of Jesus, Jesus responded by reaching out and healing his ear. This must have made a profound impact on Malchus.

The other Gospels (Matthew 26:51, Mark 14:47, Luke 22:30) identify the man only as “the servant of the high priest.” This is perhaps a reminder that as long as we label people with an impersonal description—the high priest’s servant, the enemy, the communist, the capitalist, the immigrant, the boss, the Russian, the Jew—then it is easy to hate them. However, once we name them, recognize them as individuals, then they become our neighbors and our brothers and sisters, and we are obligated to love them.

As His followers, we know that Jesus has loved us and called us by name (Isaiah 45:3). We can be sure that He also knew Malchus by name, reaching out to touch him in love and to heal him where he hurt. Interestingly, John is also the only Gospel writer to identify the disciple who cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear—Simon Peter. In loving others, in according them the dignity of being individual human beings for whom Jesus died, we too become recipients of God’s love, children of God.

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God Still Performs Miracles by Peggy Webb

I know this is true because on May 1, God saved my life with a miracle so spectacular, so breathtaking, there is no doubt in my mind that I would now be severely disabled or dead except for Him! 

I was feeling great that Monday. My latest suspense novel was finished and in the hands of my editor—two weeks ahead of deadline—and I was going to relax and fly off to New Hampshire to see my family there the following Thursday. Life was good.  I was in tiptop shape, especially considering my silver hair and the many, many years I had been sitting at a desk, writing.

It was a beautiful day and my calendar was clear. I decided to celebrate by heading off to the aquatic center for my workout. Sun poured through the south bank of windows. American flags, dear to my patriotic soul, flew in Veterans Park beyond. For thirty minutes, I had the pool all to myself. I worked in a spot of sunlight, reveling in the feel of muscles moving through the water and the sun on my skin. 

Two people I knew casually entered the pool. We chatted briefly, and I worked another twenty minutes in the water. Then came my cool-down. Five to ten minutes of stretches combined with silent prayer. One by one, I lifted up my family and friends by name, asking God to supply their needs, according to His will. He knows them. I don’t have to give Him a laundry list.

At the end of my prayer, I did something I had never done before, not in all the years I had been going to the aquatic center. “God protect me,” I prayed, and then I stepped from the pool.

My bag with shoes, coverup, and beach towel was on a bench a few steps from the pool. I dried off a bit. Once again, I did something unusual for me. Instead of slinging the oversized towel over my shoulder or tying it around my wait as I always do, I hung it around my neck and headed to the showers, barefoot. 

Forty seconds later, my right foot slipped in a puddle of water on the apron of the pool, and I knew I was going to faceplant concrete. It flashed through my mind that I would likely die that day. Or be disabled. A dear friend and former classmate of mine had just such a fall several years ago. She ended up in a coma in Intensive Care, having brain surgery to relieve the masses of blood from cranial bleeding, and permanently impaired because of brain seizures and the damage that was done that day.

An instant after my foot slipped, my nose slammed the floor, then my forehead and my lips. My head ricocheted, bashing both upper and lower right sides.  My right knee connected with concrete. My entire body vibrated with the shock of the fall. I could hardly breathe. My nose poured blood.

But wait! I was still alive, still conscious. How did that happen? 

My face had slammed into a rubber mat, perfectly placed to cushion the blows. The rest of my body hit concrete. 

But God wasn’t finished with that miracle yet. Five minutes later, I was in the ambulance on the way to the ER. I managed one call to my son in Florida, and he got in touch with a dear church friend who rushed to the hospital to be with me. 

We had an anxious five hours—blankets to warm me from shock, questions and tests, waiting for the results. I knew my friend who had fallen on concrete had been lucid for hours before she sank into a coma from cranial bleeding. Would I? 

Finally, finally, my test results came back. No cranial bleeding, a great hallelujah moment; no broken facial bones except my nose, which had not been displaced and would not require surgery, another praise God; no broken fingers or hands, endless praises because I could still write and play piano; no internal bleeding, Amen; no broken hips, back, legs, arms, feet!  I had only a moderate scratch on my right knee, and I was ugly with facial swelling and bruises and wracked with pain, but God put everything in perfect place to save me that day. The beach towel around my neck that doctors say likely kept me from breaking it. The rubber mat on the floor that cushioned my face. The way I fell, so perfectly straight that I took the brunt of the fall on my nose and my forehead, which is made of strong and tough bone in order to protect the brain.

The first two weeks after the fall, I was in full recovery mode, my walking unsteady, my head hurting all over, my body stiff, my muscles seized, my speech thick because of swollen lips, my bruises turning dark red and deep purple. Oh, but I was alive. I was a walking miracle! I thanked God every day. I still do. He has more work for me to do on this earth. That’s all there is to.  I have found favor with Him through a deep and abiding faith and an eagerness to share it with others. 

I’m happy to report that one month after the fall, I’m back at church singing in the choir, playing piano for evening services, teaching the precious little children in Sunday School, and writing the third novel on a suspense trilogy I’m excited about. My nose will be completely healed in another few weeks, and I only have a small, crescent moon bruise under my right eye that should absorb in another week. 

What is impossible with man is possible with God. Luke 18:27

God is good, and He’s still in the business of working miracles!

Peggy Webb

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Summer Begins by Tara Randel

My daughter and I took our annual visit to EPOCT for the Flower and Garden Festival. It was beautiful as always and I took plenty of pictures to share.

Spending a day in the Florida sun never gets old! At one point I took a break and had a visitor. He strolled right up to me as if he expected me to feed him, which I did not. Disappointed, he waddled away.

There were also some unusual but very cool designs this year.

And some very recognizable characters.

I’m thankful that I get to spend time with my daughter in memorable places. I’m sure you have those special spots you can’t wait to get back to and visit. This year, I hope to find new locations to fall in love with. Hope you do the same this summer!

Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author. Family values, a bit of mystery and of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Look for her Harlequin Heartwarming romance, HER SURPRISE HOMETOWN MATCH, available now. For more information about her books, visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TaraRandelBooks. Sign up for Tara’s Newsletter.

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Nora’s Review of: What Happens Next by Christina Suzann Nelson

What Happens Next by Christina Suzann Nelson

Bethany House Publishers, 352 Pages

NORA’S REVIEW: I don’t normally read true-crime stories, but since I was asked to be an influencer by the publisher, and I’ve read all the author’s novels and enjoyed them. I thought I’d jump in.

It’s been 36 years since Heather had gone missing. Her sister, Brooke Crane asks Faith Byrne to do some investigating. Faith tells her this is not her normal venue, but she would use her reporter skills, for the sake of their friendship. Faith was shocked by the news and the fact her parents and friends never told her of Heather’s situation. She had written her several letters which had gone unanswered. This explained so much. Faith hoped that by doing this podcast it would help bring closure to this family.

The main character Faith Byrne was visiting her grandmother the summer 10-year-old. Heather went missing. Heather lived next to Faith’s grandma and became fast friends as they spent a lot of time together that summer, which included male pal Nate, who had a crush on Faith. Telling the story through the eyes of Heather (the missing girl), Faith and Dora (Heather’s mother) added a depth to the story, with an element of mystery. and suspense.

I appreciated that the story did not get super graphic. Faith starts digging through the cold files and interviews people, hoping to gain a new insight. The towns people are not fond of this digging. They knew who did this deed, no need to stir the pot. They kept an eye on the man and made his life miserable.

Through the search, Faith discovered she had to deal with some grief of her own. She realized she needed to find hope, mourn her divorce, learn to live in her new normal and find forgiveness along the way. This story is well-written and heartfelt. It shows how one person (Dora the mother) in a family can get stuck in the past while other family members try to move on. The disappearance affected their lives in every way. It’s not that they don’t love Heather, but there were other children and a husband to love.

The author shows how emotionally damaging it can be to hold onto grief, anger, and the past. The investigation was very well written, I liked how she dropped clues throughout the journey. This plot will tug at your heart, make you tear up in parts, and cause you to wonder. There was a splash of romance, a dash of hope, and a trail of new beginnings.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I requested and received a copy of this book by the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Nora St. Laurent

TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! 

The Book Club Network blog https://psalm516.blogspot.com/

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Plastic Bags Are Fragile by James R. Coggins

I have an acquaintance who, through no fault of her own, is a single mother. No matter what their skills and resources, single mothers have it rough. The responsibilities are heavy.

A while back, I got a call for help. My acquaintance had cleaned the cat box in her basement and put the litter into a plastic bag. She was carrying the plastic bag to the trash when it broke, spilling litter all down the carpeted stairs. When she attempted to clean up the mess with the vacuum cleaner, the vacuum cleaner became clogged and stopped working.

Hence the call for help.

I managed to help get the mess cleaned up and the vacuum unclogged. She was deeply discouraged that she had not been able to solve the problem on her own and needed help.

I reminded her that plastic bags are fragile. If you put too much weight and stress on them, they break. Sometimes it is necessary to double bag.

I also reminded her that human beings are fragile. If they are put under too much stress, they, too, can break. We all often need help, and we cannot do it all on our own.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”

It is not good for anyone to live alone. We weren’t designed that way. Human beings are fragile, we need each other, and we cannot make it on our own.

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This Picture!

I’ve seen this picture many times before, but for some reason, this time, the sacrifice that was made for us by the family of a fallen soldier really got to me.

As an author, when I create heroes for my novels, I usually gravitate toward military men and women. I’ve even written about some who have died while serving their country, but understanding the pain that goes along with that loss isn’t easy for someone who hasn’t lived through it personally.      

So many times, Memorial Day comes and goes without us really thinking about its true meaning.

It’s wonderful to have a three-day weekend to spend with family. A chance to barbecue and maybe go swimming. We consider Memorial Day to be the official kickoff for summer, and vacation time, which are all great things.

But take a look at this picture. Can you imagine your spouse going off to war and never coming home to you?  

An act of sacrifice so great is hard for me to imagine, but I’m grateful to all those who know with heartbreaking clarity what it feels like.   

John 15:13 says, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Today, I want to say thank you. Thank you to all the families who have lost someone they loved who served in the armed forces.

Your sacrifice can never be repaid, but we can honor your loved ones by always trying to be worthy of what they gave up for us as a county and as an individual.  

Many blessings!



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Remembrances by Nancy J. Farrier

Photo by Jill Dimond on Unsplash

Every year on Memorial Day, my parents would take us to visit the graves of family members who had died. We took flowers, water, and a trowel to plant flowers next to the headstone. Reading the inscriptions helped to learn a little about the person if it was someone we hadn’t known, but also my mom or dad would tell stories about them to keep them in remembrance.

Some people might view this as morbid, visiting the dead. Or perhaps they would see it as unnecessary. I saw it as a way to learn family history and was fascinated by stories of people I was related to and what happened to them. Sometimes the story would be a funny memory and sometimes a very sad one.

I grew up in the Midwest but moved to the Southwest and raised my family there. We didn’t have family to visit on Memorial Day, but I did try to keep alive stories I’d heard as a child. There was the story of my grandfather telling my uncle he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn after he missed a shot at a rabbit. My uncle responded that he could hit grandpa’s hat if he threw it. Grandpa threw the hat (his favorite) and my uncle shot a neat hole right through the hat. Grandpa was not happy. I also shared about the triplets born before I was born and the three only lived a few hours. So very sad.

Remembering and keeping a memorial is something taught in the Bible. It was important that events and commands would be repeated and passed on to help people remember what was important. This is what God said about the importance of passing on His commandments. They were to be remembered throughout the generations.

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (ESV)

We are also, as Christians, called to remember Jesus and the sacrifice He gave for us. And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19 (ESV)

Memorial Day is not just about remembering family members that might have passed on before us, but can also be a time to reinforce the practice of remembering Jesus and what He did, how He gave His life for all people. For us, and for those around us, remembering Jesus is the most important memorial of all.

Take time today to share with someone about the incredible gift Jesus gave to us all. Bring out those proverbial flowers, dig in the soil, plant and water. Grow remembrances that will last a lifetime.

Have a blessed Memorial Day.

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Are We Called to Write?

Many years ago, I read a blog post about whether a writer is called by God to write. Since that time, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that blog and whether I was called to write or if I’m writing and offering it up to God as an act of service.

When I first started writing I was about as far away from God as a Christian could be. You know, one of those carnal Christians Paul talked about in his letter to the Corinthians. Why, I even lived in Corinth. Not the Biblical Corinth, of course. But twenty-five years ago, I realized just how far into the wilderness I had traveled and recommitted my life to Christ. I laid my writing on His altar and picked it up in His power rather than my own.

I imagined I would have a contract within the year.

It would be fourteen years before my writing would be where He wanted it. And part of that time was spent on a six-year side trip—teaching the abstinence curriculum I co-wrote with a friend.

Then, one day after the curriculum was finished, I was having my quiet time and a woman popped into my head and told me someone was trying to kill her. YES! (Imagine me sitting there pumping my fist.) God had given me my beloved suspense stories back.

That woman was in my first published book, Shadows From the Past that released in February of 2014. In the nine years since, I’ve written fifteen more books and four novellas. My latest just released—Counter Attack, and I’m making edits to the one after it that will release in February of next year. And I’m starting book seventeen.

When people ask how I write these stories, I always reply that it’s a gift from God. After all He’s the Master Creator.

I am being obedient to honor the gift He gave me by choosing to write day in and day out—an offering. And as I plan out my next series set in the Smoky Mountains, I feel compelled to write a certain story—a calling.

Again, answering my own question…I believe writing is both a calling and an act of service.

How do you view your writing?

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Glory by James R. Coggins

On the night before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus prayed for His immediate followers and for those of us who would become His followers in the future. This prayer is recorded in John 17:1-26. I had read this prayer many times, but, on my last reading, I was struck by something I had not noticed before. In verse 22, Jesus told His Father, “I have given them the glory that you gave me.” The Greek word for “glory” is doxa, which means dignity, glory, honor, praise, worship. This is astounding. In the Old Testament, God’s glory was displayed as a shining cloud that was so bright and awesome that it was death for a human to look upon it (see Isaiah 6:6). When Moses was granted the privilege of seeing God face to face, Moses’ face shone with the reflected glory of God to the point that the Israelites were afraid to look at him (Exodus 34:29-35). And now Jesus said that He has given this glory to us. Paul described this in 2 Corinthians 3:7-18: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” How can we have the glory of God? The word “Spirit” is a clue. We have God’s Holy Spirit shining within us, so that when people look at us, they see God. That is hard for us to believe.

What does this look like in practice? John 17 offers some clues. Jesus prayed, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (verse 4). We glorify God (enhance His reputation in the eyes of the world) by performing the works He has called us to do. Jesus also said, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one” (verse 22). We glorify God by displaying the same unity that exists in the Godhead. The Trinity is a profound mystery, and theologians have wrestled for centuries with how to distinguish the three persons of God. When people look at the church, do they see that we are so united that they can’t know where one person is separate from another, where one person’s work is merged with other people’s work? Jesus also said, “The world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (verse 23). Jesus said that God loves us as much as He loves His own Son. That also is astounding. Jesus said earlier in the Gospel of John: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35) When we do God’s works, when we are united, when we love and are loved with the same love that exists in God, then we glorify God. We reflect the glory of God to the world around us. And yet the glory of God goes far beyond any one aspect. We are all aware of how imperfectly we reflect the glory of God. And yet Jesus said that He has given us His glory. He is shining through us even when we are least aware of it.

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The Fountain of Youth Conspiracy by Peggy Webb

I recently saw a TV ad that made me stand up in my chair and say to the screen, “No! Just no!” I wanted to kick furniture, but I was afraid of breaking my toe, so I refrained. The ad was for a book titled, Forever Young–that overworked conspiracy targeting woman and designed to make us believe that anyone ten years past puberty should set to work immediately making repairs to our lined faces, our gray hair, and our sagging bodies

We are exhorted to buy all kinds of makeup and skincare products that will restore the bloom of youth, and to spend every waking moment worrying about eating calories that will add to our waistlines. We are bombarded with ads for exercise equipment that shape us up on treadmills and such that will take us away from a meaningful life of enjoying family and friends, working, playing, attending church, and being productive members of our communities. 

Whatever happened to reverence for age? Where did respect for the elderly go? Who decided that wisdom and a life well-spent are not as important as the fresh-face and brashness of youth? And who on earth decided that women are the ones who should remain forever young, while men get to enjoy losing their hair and sitting in a comfortable chair with their arms resting on a paunchy belly? 

When my hair started going gray, I let it. When lines started appearing on my face, I made more by smiling a lot. When the beauty experts at the cosmetics’ counter recommended a mind-boggling number of skin care products with an astronomical price tag, I went to the drugstore and bought baby face cleaner and a baby moisturizer, dirt cheap by comparison. 

My parents taught me to respect and honor the wisdom and the lifetime achievements of the beautiful, wizened women who had blazed a trail for me. They taught me the difference between a shallow woman with an attractive façade and a woman of character and substance, who has made a great contribution to society.

Don’t try to sell me anything that promises eternal youth. I plan to live the kind of giving, loving, purpose-driven, Godly, faith-filled life will give me eternal life.

God is good.

Peggy Webb    

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Romantic Poetry by James R. Coggins

She asked for my help in studying for her English exam. She is an accountant and does not get poetry. It gave me an opportunity to reacquaint myself with English poets of the 18th and 19th centuries.

This was the era of “Romantic Poetry.” This poetry was not about courtship between men and women but part of an important and often underestimated philosophical and cultural phenomenon called the Romantic Movement. It was a movement focused on nature and emotion. To a large extent, it was a reaction against the Enlightenment with its focus on reason and the rise of science with its emphasis on rational investigation and proof. Romantics did not approach nature to catalogue and investigate it as scientists did. They did not approach nature to exploit it as the capitalists of the Industrial Revolution did. They did not approach nature to see the hand of the Creator God behind it. They approached nature to commune with the divine spirit within nature. The religion of this movement was Deism, which sees God as being part of nature rather than as a conscious Being behind nature.

William Wordsworth was one of the central poets in this movement. He wrote “There is a spirit in the woods” (“Nutting”) and “To her fair works did Nature link the human soul that through me ran” (“Lines Written in Early Spring”). He described “a presence that disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts…a motion and a spirit, that impels all thinking things…and rolls through all things” (“Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey”).

Matthew Arnold wrote about “The Scholar Gypsy,” a university student who grew tired of the academic rat race and went off into the countryside, where he became a sort of ghostly presence fused with the spirit of nature. In contrast to this seeking of a deeper meaning in nature, Arnold described the “languid doubt” of the nominal Christianity of his day, the empty ritual of the established church. He described Christians as “light half-believers of our casual creeds…who hesitate and falter life away” instead of really living. Most famously, in “Dover Beach,” Arnold described Christian faith as a belief that was receding like an ebb tide: “The Sea of Faith was once, too, at the full…But now I only hear its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, retreating.”

The impact of the Romantic Movement is often overlooked and underestimated. It is the foundation of the modern environmental movement. Its ripples can be felt in the charismatic movement in churches, which is strong on emotion and weak on systematic theology. In popular culture, it can be found in the music of John Denver and “the force” in Star Wars.

 And yet that is not all that was going on in the 18th and 19th centuries. While the established church was dying, this was also the era of the evangelical revivals and the Great Awakening, which brought tens of millions of people in England and the United States to faith in Jesus and sparked reforms that profoundly changed society for the better.

And there was also the poetry of Robert Browning, particularly “An Epistle Containing the Strange Medical Experience of Karshish, the Arab Physician.” This long narrative poem is supposedly a letter from a first-century scientist traveling through the Middle East and sending specimens and observations back to his colleague and mentor, Abib. In his travels, Karshish comes across a man who was raised from the dead by a traveling Jewish holy man. We, of course, recognize this man as Lazarus. Having experienced eternity, Lazarus has a profoundly altered understanding; he is almost indifferent to physical danger but highly alert to spiritual danger. In encountering Lazarus, Karshish unexpectedly encounters the reality of God, and it astounds him: “So, the All-Great were the All-Loving too—So through the thunder comes a human voice.”

As we ponder the decline of Christian faith in our own modern Western world, this is a helpful reminder that the tides of philosophy and culture do not all flow in one, inexorable direction. Underneath, there are unseen and unsuspected undercurrents, flowing in ways we cannot predict. God is at work, often in times and ways we do not expect.

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God’s Lessons Found in Christian Suspense

I love the lessons that can be found in Christian fiction, and God bless the authors who strive to include God’s love and forgiveness in their books.

No matter what the hero and heroine are facing, God is there with them. Whether one or both are believers at the beginning of the story, they can see God working in their lives.

In AMONG THE INNOCENT, God brought two people connected to the same past together to grow their faith and to give them both the answers they’ve both been searching for.

God wrote the greatest love story of all time when He loved us enough to send Jesus to die on the cross. In Christian suspense, most stories feature two people who may or may not know each other at the start of the story, but as they face down danger, they draw closer, and risk everything to protect each other.

In AMISH WILDERNESS SURVIVAL, two people who are complete strangers to each other are forced to work together to figure out what happened to their kidnapped loved ones. By the end of the book, they have fallen in love, and put their trust in God to bring them through an uncertain future.

Just like we as Christians face an enemy, so do the hero and heroine in suspenseful fiction. How they deal with the challenges the villain throws at them, especially when things seem hopeless, can be a wonderful example of how Christians overcome whatever Satan brings our way through God.

In SINS OF THE PAST, the villain is a serial killer known as Judge who has appointed himself judge and executioner (sounds like someone else we know).   

I’ve always been a huge fan of Christian romantic suspense. It’s why I write it. I love how God’s love and forgiveness can be seen throughout the chapters of the story as well as His salvation.

So, the next time you set down to read a Christian fiction novel, I hope you will be able to feel the love of God that the author has painstakingly placed in the pages of their story.

John 21:25 says, Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.  

 Until next time,

I wish you God’s blessings!



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A Special Trip by Tara Randel

Florida offers a variety of memorable locations to enjoy. That’s one of the reasons I love living here. The weather is pretty awesome, so I can take a day trip and enjoy both the sights and the sunshine. Here we have incredible beaches, theme parks, beautiful gardens and small towns waiting to be explored. But twice a year, the most popular destination in Florida is Daytona International Speedway.

We’ve been to NASCAR races multiple times. There’s always excitement in the air. Once the engines fire up, the noise is so loud, there’s no point in talking when the cars careen across the front stretch. The cars are so fast, they speed by and then you hear the grumble of the motors. It’s an experience like no other and being at the track brings back lots of memories.

Last weekend, my husband and I took a day trip to Daytona for Jeep Beach. The speedway opens the infield to vendors who sell all things Jeep related. Since we don’t go to races these days, just being in the stadium is fun. But this year, I was able to walk on the track. That’s right, walk on the track.

Once we paid to get into the event, I expected a tram to take us to the show by way of the tunnel under Turn One. It’s the way fans get to the infield. This year, they opened the fence and we walked across the track to get to get to the show. I didn’t really think about where we were walking until the stands loomed up beside me and I realized I was on the track that holds so much motorsports history. Needless to say, I stopped, took it all in, the proceeded to take pictures because… I was standing on the track!!!

Have you ever had that one place that evokes such a strong response? I suppose I really felt the emotion that day because going to Daytona Speedway was my oldest daughter’s favorite place to be. And in all the years we attended races, we never got on the track. And since she isn’t with us any longer, I just wanted to yell, “I made it onto the speedway!”

This place is really impressive.

After that, we finally got to the Jeep show. Long aisles of Jeep stuff, and this is the only picture I took, LOL.

I guess a Barbie Jeep is a dream for someone.

Since we’re coming up on summer, I hope you are able to make some trips that are meaningful to you. Next time I hope to write about a different location I’ll be visiting.

Have fun!

Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author. Family values, a bit of mystery and of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Look for her Harlequin Heartwarming romance, HER SURPRISE HOMETWON MATCH, available now. For more information about her books, visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TaraRandelBooks. Sign up for Tara’s Newsletter.

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Never, Ever Give Up by Julie Arduini

I love a good underdog story. I’m energized when I see potential in someone and they start to believe it.

But I also tend to isolate myself from people who in my opinion ignore God’s love, their calling, and the enormous potential I see in them.

Sadly, over the decades I’ve isolated a lot. If I don’t think the person is interested in changing, I move along to the one who does. I’ve tried to improve as our church adopted principles, and one of them is “Every life is redeemable.” Still, I struggle. Why would people embrace garbage choices when they are such a treasure?

If you struggle in this way like me, take heart. I’m seeing amazing transformations that honestly, I gave up thinking would happen. These were folks who were on fire for Jesus but walked away. They seemed forever stuck in the miry pit, clinging to the world’s answers instead of their Savior.

But, God!

Now? They are out of the pit. Showing up to church no matter how hard it is, even if they come without anyone in their family. They raise their hands to be baptized. They go forward for altar calls. They are telling others what Jesus has done.

It’s nothing short of miraculous.

In my time frame, their situations seemed hopeless. I backed away, much like a Michael Jackson moonwalk. I thank God for His grace with me, and His love for them.

If you love someone who seems far, far, FAR away from what you believe they could be in Jesus, don’t give up. Keep praying. Then, pull down those promises from heaven and start decreeing who they are in Jesus. Believe.

Julie Arduini

And watch Jesus get the glory.

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