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Friday, April 25, 2014

What Books Are Being Launched by the John 3:16 Marketing Network May 1 through May 17

A Spiritual Journey Renewal with Alberta Sequeira

Alberta Sequeira

Medjugorje, miracles, spiritualA Spiritual Renewal: A Journey to Medjugorje

How many of us have waited too long to learn what our loved ones were all about before their passing? Did opportunities slip by to tell them they were loved? Or were the doors to forgiveness closed because of pride? A Spiritual Renewal: A Journey to Medjugorje is a beautiful story which follows the author’s inner thoughts and intense emotions as she fights the prognosis of her father’s cancer and learns too late about his remarkable military status. This is the story of her journey.


By Sharon Lavy

Reading A Spiritual Renewal was like reading a long personal letter from an old and cherished friend. I was proud of her as she persevered through illness and discouragement to receive the blessing of taking the trip to Medjugorje. A trip she needed to take in honor of her father’s life and for her own spiritual healing. She experienced the treasures that can only be found at that place.

A. Sequeira
About the Author: Alberta H. Sequeira was born in Pocasset, MA. Her father, Albert L. Gramm, was a One Star Brigadier General in the Army, and she spent her childhood in various towns across the different states traveling. She lives in Rochester, MA with her husband, Al.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Looking for Blog Hosts For Our John 3:16 Author Blog Tour May 1-May 15

We are looking for hosts for our blog tour - if you are interested, please leave a comment. You can also email me at 

All blog hosts will receive a free Kindle copy of the above books. We will have a Rafflecopter drawing with lots of prizes for your readers.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Taste of Friday First Chapters with Cheryl Colwell and The Secrets of the Montebellis

of the

Cheryl Colwell

November 2013

Chapter 1

Tension permeated the elegant living room and solidified between them like a rock wall. Smoldering anger darkened Thomas’ expression. Heart pounding, Lisa Richards forced herself to ignore the familiar warning signs and lifted her chin. “Thomas, I need this. I need to do something that’s important to me.”

He rushed at her. She stumbled back, bumping against the wall. The scornful words he spat burned with intimidation. “I provide all of this.” He backhanded the air, just missing her face. “And this is how you repay me?”

She flinched. Repay you? She wanted to scream the words but his glare withered her courage. Dropping her tearing eyes to the plush carpet, she pretended acquiescence. Why? She wondered if her question was why he acted this way or why she put up with his threats.

A quick glance upward caught a smug smile tugging at his lips. He was enjoying this? Heat advanced up her neck and something snapped. She sensed a deep, internal shift in a place she rarely went. Enough. Her hands clenched in unspoken determination. Right or wrong, she would build her dreams. Secretly. Away from his scrutiny.


After six years, echoes of that encounter still gripped Lisa’s emotions. A power struggle polluted their life together, invisible as long as she complied. Or appeared to comply. Her fingers absently massaged the tightness behind her breastbone. Even now, this time in the mountain town of Mont Castello should be enjoyable to a married couple, but her heart harbored twenty-nine years of resentment.

She studied the architecture of the restaurant they were approaching as she and Thomas walked in silence. A thin smile of appreciation softened her lips, relaxing the relentless tension. Hand-chiseled stonework gave the building the authentic look of Italy. She climbed the stairs and touched one of the rough timbers that had supported the structure for a century of winters. Embedded in the earth, it claimed as much permanence as the surrounding fir trees, whose roots stretched deep into the rich, dark soil.

A crowd hovered on the porch. Thomas grabbed her hand, pushed in past the waiting customers, and jerked the heavy wooden door open. Avoiding the sea of indignant frowns, Lisa tried to focus on the massive tapestries of Italian street scenes that adorned the amber-toned plaster of the walls.

“I’m Dr. Richards,” Thomas announced, loud enough to turn heads. “I have a reservation. Now.” 

The distracted young hostess recoiled from his expression, checked her list, and rushed them through the dining room.

As she followed Thomas, an unexpected sight caught Lisa off-guard. Ahead of her sat an extraordinarily attractive man with dark hair and eyes. Intelligent lines distinguished his confident face. He set his glass down and turned to look in her direction. Embarrassed, she closed her mouth and flitted her eyes away.

The hostess seated them at a table situated three feet from the booth of the striking man. Thomas sat down in the chair on the far side, leaving Lisa with the intriguing stranger to her left. Suddenly self-conscious, she was glad when the waitress arrived at their table.

“Would you like to order a drink while you decide?” A lazy southern drawl tinged the woman’s voice.

Lisa opened her mouth to decline, but Thomas cut in. “Sweetheart, bring us a bottle of your best Merlot.”

After watching her husband’s attention follow the curvy waitress, Lisa’s lips tightened and she fixated on the menu. Only once had she expressed her anger at his wandering eyes. He’d twisted her words, leaving her humiliated for imagining he would be unfaithful. She refused to repeat her mistake.


Steven Taylor was waiting in a comfortable booth when a loud voice jerked his attention toward the front door of Varano’s restaurant. A pompous man announced himself as Dr. Richards and demanded his table. A lovely woman followed him, looking extremely uncomfortable. Her striking blue eyes caught Taylor’s and darted away. 

He studied her. The summer sun had darkened her olive skin, creating a contrast to the white and orange flowers of her sleeveless blouse. Soft black hair, cut short, accentuated the brightness of her lips. He watched the hostess lead them to a near table. After years of covering news stories and writing investigative reports, Taylor possessed an uncanny insight for reading people. These two seemed at opposite ends of the spectrum.

From his seat, he observed the woman’s profile and the couple’s peculiar interactions. Their waitress asked for a drink order. The woman was about to reply, but the doctor interrupted. Her lips closed without protest and she worked to cover a frown as he gawked at the waitress.

Was this her husband? They appeared to be of similar age—fiftyish. He was clean-cut with salt and pepper hair and an angular jaw. From his sleeveless bicycle jersey, it was obvious he was in town for the three-day bike ride. His small, lean stature and muscled thighs resembled the European riders in the Tour de France.

The doctor downed his first glass of wine and became talkative. He refilled his glass and raised it, “To a great day, Lisa.” She gave him a thin smile, clinked his glass, and sat hers down. Untouched.

So, her name is Lisa and she doesn’t like Merlot, Taylor mused. The name, smart and feminine, fit her looks. The doctor started to describe his ride earlier that day. She nodded at all the right times, but her eyes wandered elsewhere and her delicate fingers toyed with the condensation fogging the outside of her water glass. Taylor shook his head. Relationships were trouble. It was a mystery why people endured them in the first place.

He glanced at a text message on his phone. “First story is where???” His new owner/editor couldn’t resist the opportunity to needle him. They had tangled on the man’s first day, when he ranted for twenty minutes that Taylor was late for their meeting. By two minutes.

Taking another drink, Taylor lowered his glass and swirled the liquid, replicating the circular motion of bicycle tires. He frowned. Sportswriting for USA Cycle Magazine was his dream job, but with the change in ownership he wasn’t certain what the future held. So far, his manager took the brunt of the insults, encouraging their team of writers that things would eventually settle down. It would be a shame to see the magazine deteriorate.

Since the fiasco with his ex-wife, his job had afforded the diversion he needed, providing great backdrops of cities and towns from which to compose his articles. His first assignment had been the New York Tour. It had been fascinating to watch the cyclists fly past landmark buildings, through streets that were normally jammed with cars.

There had also been trips to the New England countryside when autumn brandished its fiery foliage, and far to the northwest for the Portland Bridge Ride in Oregon. He always took a photographer from the magazine to capture the zest of the events. The portraits of the colorful cyclists crossing the bridges in Portland were extraordinary.

He bit into a piece of garlic bread and glimpsed the pine trees through the front window. Holed up here for the last two days had given him time to explore Mont Castello. He knew that the photographs taken of this area would be even more dramatic.

“No, no, no!” A stern female voice caught Taylor’s attention. By the front door, two red-faced cyclists worked to remove their clipped shoes. Holding onto each other’s shoulders for support, they laughed and swayed precariously until they accomplished their task and walked in socks through the restaurant on the oak floor.

“Hope you have better balance in the saddle,” a friend shouted and slapped one man’s hand with a high five. Laughter rose again while they seated themselves.

Taylor began a draft of his article while he waited at his table:
The Summit Challenge comprises three steep ascents, climbing a total of 22,000 feet. The cyclists will reach heights packed with snow, even in August.

He thumped his pen and recounted the day’s ride, then scribbled:
On day one, riders streaked down, reaching speeds above 40 miles per hour as they navigated the curving road on their descent to the verdant valley below. The sharp, majestic crags rising above the trees were breathtaking, while wide spans of concrete bridges lunged out over whitewater rapids in the giant rivers. The green of the pine forest and red bark of the madrone trees hung behind the circus of colors emblazoned on the rider’s jerseys.

Rereading his notes, he grinned. Not bad.

Varano’s Italian Restaurant was packed. Taylor watched the hungry cyclists devouring pasta, salad, bread—anything to help replace the 3,000 or so calories burned since 5:30 this morning.

His eyes followed Signora Varano, the owner of the restaurant. She stood like an anchor amid the teaming bustle and clanging of heavy china and glass. She had dark but graying hair, thick and wiry. Her straight back exuded authority, but her graciousness extended to her guests. Even now, a frown on her lips deepened while her ebony eyes watched the youthful hostess ignoring new customers and rushing others in an attempt to get her job done.

“Maria,” the signora whispered at the frantic girl. “Slow down. Smile. Be courteous.”

The young woman halted and exhaled. “Thank you, Grand Anna.” Then she moved toward the new guests at a slower pace. Giving them a welcoming smile, she invited them to follow her past Taylor’s table to the back of the room. He recognized the pride in the woman’s eyes as she watched her granddaughter learn the ways of the family.

“Taylor.” An auburn-haired beauty waved a hand in front of his face in an attempt to capture his attention. He spun his head back around and focused on the young woman’s perfectly formed features.

A broad grin covered his face and he stood to embrace his most precious treasure. He covered her hands with his. “Asia, you look beautiful.” He continued to hold her hand as she sat opposite him in the red leather booth. “When did you get in?”

“My plane landed on time, but there was a wait at the car-rental agency.” She leaned over the table and kissed him on the cheek. “It’s so good to see you.” She smiled and sat back, tucking a strand of her long, dark hair behind her ear.

Taylor gazed at her. Asia was 26, beautiful and brilliant. She had achieved her master’s degree in architecture and worked for a major architectural firm in Portland. “Who would have thought our careers would land us in the same area,” he said.

“I know. You are usually on the other side of the world. Now we get to spend a few days together.” She grinned with pleasure.

“What are you working on?” he asked.

“An urban renewal program. It’s a great career boost.”


Lisa followed her husband’s stare to the attractive young woman who had just arrived and now spoke with the equally arresting man standing to greet her. She called him Taylor.

A quick glance upward revealed that he was a massive man, nearing 6'4", with silver-streaked dark hair and a vibrant grin. Glimpsing their affectionate embrace, Lisa’s heart caught in her throat. Why should that bother me? The answer pierced her. Life was a constant reminder that Thomas’ interest had faded years ago, along with any tenderness he might have had. Pleasing him was impossible.

Stifling a sigh, she grasped for gratitude. Her dreams were coming true, her vision taking shape. Yet, every inch of forward movement had cost her. For years, she had endured heated disputes with Thomas to let her take a part-time job. Only his vanity allowed her to succeed. After a colleague remarked about his control problem, Thomas began to flaunt her, “freedom do whatever she pleases.”

Working as a receptionist at the Verina Fields Real Estate Agency had given her a start. Soon, an opportunity had presented itself, allowing her to participate in a much grander scheme than she could have imagined. However, it was a high-risk proposition and the businessman she dealt with caused her stomach to twist in knots. Hoping for the best, she continued to ignore the red flags. 

She gulped her water, eyes darting toward Thomas. Like a mother bear hiding her cub from its murderous father, she remained vigilant in keeping her activities concealed. He monitored her time, scrutinized her comments. Across the table, his eyes studied her. She hid a nervous swallow and smiled at the waitress heading their way.

Their server placed Varano’s famous pasta in front of her, creating the diversion she needed to push away her dark thoughts. She dipped into the lasagna, bringing the hot, stringy cheese to her mouth. The scent of warm garlic butter wafted up from the breadbasket and filled the air.

While Thomas recapped his day, Lisa caught glimpses of Taylor holding the hand of the beautiful woman. Thomas’ voice hindered Lisa from hearing the whole of the conversation drifting from the next table, but her heart quickened when she heard fragments of Asia talking about the work she was doing. This young professional enjoyed the liberty to share her inspiring work with no pretense. Envy gripped Lisa.

So what? I’m doing what I want. Still, frustration tugged at her lips. She acted behind the scenes, away from the opportunity for others to know her mind and talents. Through the years, Thomas had painted a demeaning portrait of her with their friends. His comments chipped at her self-confidence, but she was proving her worth, week by week.

The blond waitress refilled their water glasses while Thomas related the vivid details of a crash. “We were streaking down the mountain, hit a hairpin turn and, bang, right in front of us lay a downed rider. The guy must have skidded on the gravel. He was in a world of hurt. Our whole group braked, slid our tails back and dodged any way we could.”

Lisa’s head jerked upward as Taylor stepped to their table. “Please excuse my interruption. I’m Steven Taylor from USA Cycle Magazine.” He held out his hand to Thomas.

Lisa studied the face of the stranger. He was attractive—not pretty like a GQ guy, but strong and solid. His manner suggested sophistication, yet he was casual and disarming. Dark lashes highlighted his deep brown eyes, while his large bone structure accentuated his broad nose and ample lips. He glanced at her and she concealed her eyes with a tilt of her head.

Taylor continued. “I overheard your reference to the crash today and am very interested in interviewing you. Could we set up a time to talk?”

Thomas was exuberant as he shook the big man’s hand. “I am Dr. Thomas Richard. I’ll be riding during the day, but we’ll be back here tomorrow night for dinner. Will that work for you?”

“Tomorrow night would be great, if it’s not too imposing on your company.” Taylor’s eyes moved to Lisa.
Her mouth opened to respond, but Thomas cut in. “Not at all. This is my wife, she’ll be fine with it.”

Taylor didn’t acknowledge him. Realizing he was waiting for her response, Lisa answered with a hasty smile, “I’d be pleased to have you and your guest join us.” She glanced over at Asia.

“I’m sorry,” Asia spoke to the group, “but tomorrow I have business to manage, so he’s on his own.”

Thomas looked back at Taylor, “Well then, does 6:00 suit you, Steven?”

“I’ll be here and, please, call me Taylor.” He sat back down with Asia and continued their conversation.
Thomas finished his meal and headed outside to recount the day’s events with his friend and two flirtatious women riders. Lisa glared at him and finished eating alone.

Twenty minutes later, the server brought the check to the table. Lisa glanced out the front window, took out her credit card, and paid the bill. Catching Taylor’s stare, her face reddened. None of this had missed his notice. His eyes searched her face, threatening to expose the mixture of emotions lodged there.

She bristled. What was he looking for? She didn’t need anyone exploring the complexities of her life. Jerking her eyes downward, she left the restaurant, but could feel his gaze follow her. Instantly, she regretted tomorrow’s dinner arrangements.

She drove their tan truck the twenty miles down to the valley with Thomas’ expensive road bike anchored in the back. His animated talk died down as the effects of an eighty-mile ride at altitude drained his body of its last bit of energy.

The curving mountain road soothed her tension. In the distance beyond Bella Vista, she recognized the small cluster of lights that belonged to the town of Tangle Grove. Her heart lifted.

Her thoughts were her own now and she reflected on how far her dream had come. Her family had helped settle this area and played a major part in the history of Tangle Grove. She wanted to be a part of the town’s development into the charming place that befitted its heritage. Thanks to the involvement of the Montebelli Corporation, she could participate in an important way—if the corporation lived up to its promises.

Thomas snorted in his sleep and she jumped. Resentment swelled. He hated anything to do with her family heritage or Tangle Grove. “Just wait,” she whispered under her breath. Tomorrow would be a landmark day in her career. At 9:00 a.m., she would see a miniature model of her dreams—the embodiment of six years of hard work.

Through careful plotting, secrecy, and, unfortunately, lies, she had succeeded in concealing her involvement from Thomas. She gripped the wheel tighter. Even thinking about her ventures this close to him felt precarious. This project was all she had. At any moment, his discovery could lead to her emotional, and financial, sabotage.

About the Author:
Cheryl Colwell began writing fiction in 2007. True to her tagline, "Stunning Suspense," her characters visit stunning locations while they pursue adventurous quests peppered with mystery, suspense, and romance. Cheryl likes to think of her stories as "cozy" suspense - less thriller and more relational.

Passionate about all things creative, Cheryl finds inspiration in the countryside of Ashland, Oregon - the perfect venue for her interests in writing, gardening, and art.

John, her husband, best friend, and chiropractor, keeps her in shape for gardening and writing long into the night. They are delighted to have four unique and talented children and three grandchildren. A smart and playful English Shepherd makes their empty nest a happy place.

The Proof, published 2014 by Inspired Fiction Books
The Secrets of the Montebellis, published 2013 by Inspired Fiction Books

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Showcasing Lisa Hainline's Creativity of Book Mock-Ups

Lisa Hainline and I have been working on the book cover for my next book "The King" in the Seventh Dimension Fantasy Series. She actually had already done the cover, but as I was writing, I realized I would have to divide the "The King" into two books. 

It's now going to be "The King - Book One" and the "The King - Book Two." We are still working on the  cover for book one. 

Lisa sent me some mock-ups for ideas, and they were so good I wanted to share them. I won't be using them, so if one strikes your fancy, let her know. You can visit her website for more ideas at:

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Taste of Friday First Chapters with Kimberley Payne and Where Life Meets Faith

 Where Life Meets Faith

Weekly devotionals for the year

Kimberley J. Payne

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of the International Bible Society. 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the publisher and author.

All devotions were first published as “Today’s Faith” column in the Millbrook Times and Cornwall Seaway News between 2003-2007.

All inquiries should be addressed to:
Kimberley Payne
RR#3 Millbrook, ON, Canada L0A 1G0

Above all, I would like to thank and give all the glory and praise to God.
Loving thanks to my husband, Bob, and my children, Kristen and Daniel for their support and patience during my writing.
Special thanks to Jan Cox for editorial assistance, and Pastor Jamie Nelder and Roger Keyzers for biblical advice. Thanks to the members of my writing group, The Writer’s Crucible, for their advice and critique suggestions. Thanks to all my friends and family for their loving support. Any omission of credits and sources is unintentional. 

Table of Contents
Perfect Christians             
Who Am I?
God First                          
Be With God                               
Good And Bad Times                 
When In Doubt                
Neither The Present                     
At All Costs                                 
No Greater Love              
With Thanksgiving                       
True Riches                                  
Lemonade On A Hot Afternoon
God’s Purpose                             
Control Freak                               
Daytimer Daze                             
The Clock Is Ticking                    
Those Closest to Us                     
Believe, Know and Serve
Grow Where You are Planted     
God Speaks                                  
Life Is A Puzzle               
Thorn In My Side            
What’s In It For Me?                   
Tithes And Offering                    
Audible Voice                              
Dwell In His Presence                 
Judging Others                 
Christianity 101               
The Fellowship of Believers                    
God’s Word
It’s a New Year
Listen Closely
Actively Waiting
Good Samaritan   
Love your Enemies          
Does it matter?     
Planting Seeds                             
Path to Prayer
Taming the Tongue
Five Senses          
Alone But Not Lonely
Agape Love
In Spirit and Truth


I remember one night at the cottage; slumber was elusive because I was worrying about a problem. I was playing with the puzzle in my mind, spinning solutions, and repeating scenarios in my head. At the same time, a little fly had made its way into my bedroom and was buzzing around my head, distracting and annoying me. I realized that many problems are like this common housefly. The housefly is an irritant at best, buzzing around your head day or night, landing here and there, creating a tickle and disturbing your work or slumber.

That evening, I found myself tossing and turning to avoid the noise of the fly and hiding under the covers. If this kept up, I knew I would wake in the morning feeling exhausted and achy. However, if I made the effort to get up and turn on the light, I could find the pesky bug and get rid of it.

I came to the same conclusion about my problem – I needed to illuminate it. I needed to turn on the light to get rid of this ticklish issue. God is this Light. He says, “Do not worry and let Me take care of it.” The problem I was facing was just like a pesky fly. There will always be flies in my world. No matter what I do, whether I close the windows tight or wear bug spray to bed, they will be there. I need to turn on the Light before I go to bed to search them out before I am vulnerable. I need to let the Light help me. If I let all my thoughts and strength go into worrying about my problems, when will I think about God? If I am consumed with the housefly, when will I listen to the voice of God and do His work? I need to let trust be the flyswatter of my problems. God created me to enjoy life. He reminds me to look to Him for the answers instead of worrying.

That night at the cottage, I got out of bed, turned on the light, and rid myself of the pesky fly. Then I got down on my knees and prayed to God to help me with my problem. After that, I crawled back into bed, put my trust in God and did not give a second thought to my problem. It was the best sleep I had in a very long time.

May your unfailing love come to me, O LORD, your salvation according to your promise; then I will answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in your word (Psalm 119:41-42 NIV).

Perfect Christians

Her jaw dropped in utter disbelief, “You did not do that!”

I could only reply with a weak whimper, “I did.”

“No!  I mean, how could you? Well, I understand how you could, but I mean you’re a Christian!” my friend stammered.

With a red face I admitted I had made a mistake. “Christians aren’t perfect.”

Christians are not perfect. We have the same anxieties, illnesses and political struggles as non-Christians. Our children face the same temptations that other children do. We all struggle with conflicts and health concerns. Christians, too, make mistakes.

Somehow, some time ago, I assumed Christians were perfect. And to be a Christian, I assumed that you first had to be this perfect person, and then you submit to God. I have since learned that it is the other way around. You first submit, and then you aim for perfection. And perhaps perfection is even too strong a word. It should be process.

Our lives are a journey that start in infancy where we learn to hold our heads up, then to crawl, then to walk with the help of furniture. Finally, we can walk on our own. But it doesn’t stop there. We then must learn to run, to jump, and to skip. Then we add in new challenges such as riding a bike or learning to alpine ski, skate or water ski. It seems that we are continuously learning new, more exciting ways to move our bodies.

The journey of a Christian is a similar process. We all start out as infants. I, myself, am just learning to hold my head high and I am both excited and scared about what the future holds for me. I do know, however, that just as a parent will run beside a child mastering the art of riding a two-wheel bicycle, so too, will God be with us on our journey. When we fall and scrape our knees, He will be there to make it all better. He will forgive us and hold our hand as we try again and again to master the bike.When we feel that we can ride without training wheels, and we have put many miles on our bike, we can still grow in our Christian character with new challenges. It is a process. It is a journey. 

If the LORD delights in a man’s way, He makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with His hand (Psalm 37:23-24 NIV).

Who Am I?

Have you ever thought, “Who am I?” Have you ever wondered, “Why am I here?”

I have. It was a question that had haunted me especially after my car accident back in the 1980s. My car was crushed in a near head-on collision, which ended in my vehicle rolling over and collapsing on the roof. By all accounts I should have died. Instead, I suffered an injury that required six operations over the course of the next two years. The memory of my injury is a constant reminder of my brush with death and a daily question mark on why I was allowed to live. 

My life continued with this question starting and ending my days, as I relentlessly pursued the answer. I thought a university degree would be the solution. Then I thought a career would provide the answer I was seeking. Both of these attempts to find my identity and a reason for my existence failed miserably. Being a rational thinker, I thought I would try it on my own, so I started a small business. This business grew and was building to be a great success, but it still did not answer my question.

Each project I had tackled, I excelled at. Each goal I had set, I achieved. But at the end of the day, as I admired the awards, the certificates, and the degrees on the wall, I still felt empty. “Who am I?” loomed heavier the harder I tried to find the answer. 

Fifteen years of searching and I had come up with nothing. I was exhausted. I had nowhere else to go and no one else to ask. It was here, in this resigned and defeated state that I realized I did not have all the answers. In an act of desperation, I looked up and asked God Himself, “Why am I here?”

He had been waiting for me to ask. In His loving patience, God had allowed me to look for the answer on my own and pursue every reason I felt that might have led me to the reason for my being. But in the end, only God, in His ultimate wisdom, had the true answer.  

The reply God fed me might be different than what He gives you. But don’t spend your limited time chasing empty reasons like I did. Don’t spend your energy looking for answers in your own strength. God has a plan and a purpose for all of us. What you need to do is spend time pursuing God and He will provide you with your identity.

Where can you start? It’s easy. Commit time to listening to God. Prayer and reading the Bible are the ways in which God communicates with us. It’s taken me many years to finally stop being who I thought I wanted to be and start being who God wants me to be.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

God First

I have a friend who planned to seek God only after he got his affairs in order. He would rather spend energy on himself and his family first. He wanted to first figure out how he was going to handle his current financial situation and get his business off the ground. These things were priority for him.

I wondered if this was right thinking. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have God on his side before he tackled these things? Wouldn’t it be better to petition the One who knows the future?

Wouldn’t it be better for him to ask God for help?

I’ve learned to seek God first instead of saying, “After this or after that, then I will.” Because there will always be a “this” and a “that”. There will always be trials – that is life. But trials without God on your side can feel stressful and exhausting. With God, the load is lighter. Having faith in Him relieves the stress. 

Once I wrote on the importance of routine and especially on keeping the habit of time with God first and foremost in my day. But then I changed my routine that very same day! That afternoon, I drove up north to present a workshop. I drove instead of walked; I visited instead of exercised. On the very day I had resolved to stick to a routine, my routine was shaken up.

However, I realized that my resolution wasn’t really to stay on track. It was to devote time to God. My resolution was to pledge my life anew to Jesus. Although my routine changed, and life threw a curve, I resolved to spend quality time with God first and foremost every single day. This I did.

On the long drive, I listened to a Christian radio station. I listened to the words and even sang along. I felt in the company of God for the whole trip. Once there, I went about my business as I had to, but for an hour in the early evening I stole away to a quiet room to read my Bible. It was refreshing.

My day was not routine. I was in a different city, eating different foods, with different people. But I felt great. I spent time with God and this alone made the difference in what could have been an anxious time. I could have stressed about the drive by myself in very wintry conditions. I could have focused on my anxiety about the important presentation the next day. Instead, I chose to focus on God.

When I look to Him, I find peace and comfort. When my day starts with God all else falls into place. I have learned not to worry about the time spent with God – it is the best-spent time of my day. I must make a conscious decision to start every day with God.

If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV).

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Taste of Friday First Chapters with Lisa Lickel and A Summer in Oakville

A Summer
in Oakville

Lisa J. Lickel and Shellie Neumeier
Black Lyon Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2011 by LISA J. LICKEL

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any way by any means without the written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews
Please note that if you have purchased this book without a cover or
in any way marked as an advance reading copy, you have purchased
a stolen item, and neither the author nor the publisher has been
compensated for their work.
Our books may be ordered through your local bookstore or by
visiting the publisher:
Black Lyon Publishing, LLC
PO Box 567
Baker City, OR 97814

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, events,
organizations and conversations in this novel are either the products
of the author’s vivid imagination or are used in a fictitious way for the
purposes of this story.

ISBN-10:     1-934912-39-5
ISBN-13:   978-1-934912-39-3

Library of Congress Control Number: 2011935872

Tessa’s Story

Psalm 84:3 “Even the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. ”

Chapter One

Contessa Marie Hasmer Murphy closed her eyes and inhaled the scents of her summer kingdom. First hay cutting—sweet and fragrant alfalfa from Janssen’s across the road—cress, and mint that she had just walked on. A cardinal’s peculiar trilling keen and artesian water bubbling from the spring a yard in front of her rock throne seemed magnified in the leafy glen. Tessa wiggled against her backrest, the channeled bark of the century oak a solid comfort behind her.

Whiny mosquito! Tessa scrunched her brows and batted the insect from her ear. She sighed and sat up. Where’s a good slave with a palm fan when you need one?

Who was she trying to kid? At age forty-eight all she’d been her whole life was a slave to her family, to Oakville. And unappreciated went her efforts to keep the family together. First, Robin. Married and moved so far away. Having grandbabies Tessa couldn’t hop in the Land Rover to visit. Skype was just not the same. Phil. Good riddance. He hadn’t thanked her for anything in the past decade anyway. Lindsay … her baby girl coming home after earning her master’s degree. But not home to mom. Home to grandma.

Tessa leaned over and plucked a small white lady slipper. Everything seemed to bloom earlier each spring. Even though she knew the flower, a member of the orchid family, had no fragrance,
she brought it to her nose, always hoping something might have changed.

Something shimmied the leaves. A muffled step? Tessa stayed still, hoping to see a doe and maybe a fawn. When a large human hand thrust aside the leaves of her willow curtain, she stiffened. Her husband Phil had been gone three months and likely wasn’t coming back. Her father was too weak to walk this far from the house.

“This is private property,” she said.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” a man’s voice called. He entered her domain despite her warning. Tessa glanced around for a weapon, a stick, something. Crime was rare in rural Oakville, Wisconsin, but that didn’t mean it was non-existent.

Hoping he was a hiker wandering off the nearby popular Ice Age hiking trail that meandered through this glacier-gouged part of the state, she asked, “Can I help you? Are you lost?”

The stranger, a young man perhaps her daughter’s age, straightened. “No, ma’am. I believe this is the Hasmer farm.”

Tessa raised a regal brow. “The house is a quarter-mile east. Do you have an appointment?” As if her father was in shape to see anyone, anyway. “Are you looking for someone?” My daughter,
maybe? Lindsay hadn’t mentioned a beau. Such a handsome fella too, with lovely wavy hair and showing buff under his off-white polo. They’d certainly make a cute couple. Already tan, must work outdoors. Huh—or played a lot of golf. Like her husband.

“I’m just out for a walk. Sorry to disturb you.”

He didn’t look in the least like he was sorry as he scanned her special hideout. Hideout? A grown woman needed a place to hide? Tessa went on the defensive and rose from the comfy rock where
she spent so many hours reading and dreaming and watching nature. “I’m Tessa Hasmer Murphy, and this is my father’s farm.” She stood in front of him and folded her arms. “Private property.”

The young man’s knowing little smile seemed to indicate introductions hadn’t been necessary. She changed her mind from her first impression. Hopefully he wasn’t here to see Lindsay. She
tilted her head to look up at him. Did he … his deeply grooved mouth sent her back a couple decades, to college, and … but no. Why bring up old dead memories now?

“Sorry again. I didn’t mean to disturb you.” He turned and left the way he’d come before she could make her lips ask for his name.

Tessa slowly turned to survey her secret place. The ambiance had been ruined. No birds called. Janssen had started spreading manure on his field.

Still clutching the lady slipper, Tessa climbed out, ready to go back to her empty house in town. She walked across a field that hadn’t been worked in ten years and was as tangled as her lonesome life.

About the author:
Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives with her husband in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. Surrounded by books and dragons, she writes inspiring fiction. Her novels include mystery and romance, all with a twist of grace. She has penned short stories and radio theater, is an avid book reviewer and reader, writing mentor, freelance editor, and blogger. She loves to encourage new authors and is the editor of Creative Wisconsin magazine. Find her at

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Want to Read the Next Peretti or Dekker - Check Out Gatehaven by Molly Noble Bull

Book Review by Kathleen L. Maher

Evil has its hour, but the end of the Story reveals a Victor whose atoning sacrifice makes redemption possible. This is the central theme of the Bible, and also of this gothic tale of intrigue and wickedness in high places, and of rescue and restoration.

Rachel Shannon Aimee is the beautiful and spirited daughter of French Huguenots settled in Scotland. She has an honorable admirer in Ian Colquhoun, a minister in training. Shannon becomes the unwitting target of two conspiring men bent on evil: the young, charming Earl of Northon, and Etienne Gabeau, aka Leon Picard, a wealthy old man looking to satiate his lust for revenge against Shannon's mother for scorning Leon's advances many years ago. Ian and Shannon's brother Peter would save Shannon from a big mistake--trusting the handsome earl's sudden proposal of marriage. Their journey takes Shannon, Ian and Peter Aimee to England where the young lass is set to become the earl's bride, or perhaps meet a nefarious fate.

What transpires will send chills racing down the reader's spine, and keep them riveted on the edge of their seat, as mysteries are uncovered and evil is exposed by the light of revelation. Enemies and allies are drawn up in an epic battle of good and evil, while the plot twists and turns through narrow escapes and brushes with cultish meetings and the supernatural. So much more than entertainment, this story brings truth and balance to a cultural fascination with spiritualism. Written with skill, keen insight and wisdom, this story will please readers of Frank Peretti, Tedd Dekker, and all fans of supernatural thrillers.


Book Length: 99,000 words
ISBN: 1621364003

Gatehaven, Molly Noble Bull's Christian gothic set in Europe in 1784, won the 2013 Creation House Fiction Writing Contest while still a manuscript, and Gatehaven is the novel being featured today. However, Molly’ first two published novels were published by Zondervan. Her Zondervan novels were later reprinted and published as Promise Romances from Guideposts. Molly also sold novels to Love Inspired and Tsaba House. Westbow Press published The OvercomersChristian Authors Who Conquered Learning Disabilities, a non-fiction book she wrote with four other Christian authors. Molly owns the rights to her Zondervan romance novels now, and she will soon self- publish The Rogue’s Daughter as an e-book. Rogue is a western set on a South Texas cattle ranch in 1890.