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July 2015 Christian Fiction Releases

July 7, 2015

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Amish Romance:

Her Brother’s Keeper by Beth Wiseman — Charlotte Dolinsky disguises herself as an Amish woman to investigate her brother’s death never, expecting to fall in love with quiet Amish man Isaac Miller. (Amish Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Contemporary Romance:

The Cowboy’s Surprise Baby by Deb Kastner — Navy veteran Cole Bishop returns to Serendipity Texas to make a new life with his son, only to find he has to work with his high school flame, Tessa Applewhite. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Father’s Second Chance by Mindy Obenhaus — Businesswoman Celeste Thompson has one goal: to make her restaurant and hotel a success. She doesn’t need any distractions, even from handsome contractor Gage Purcell and his two adorable little girls. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Historical Romance:

Among the Fair Magnolias by Tamera Alexander, Shelley Shepard Gray, Dorothy Love and Elizabeth Musser — In the most turbulent decade of our nation’s history, four Southern women–destinies forged by birth, hearts steeled by war–face near impossible choices on their journeys in life . . . and in love. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

The Daughters of Jim Farrell by Sylvia Bambola – Three sisters seek to prove their father innocent of murder in spite of great danger and the possibility they will loose the men they love. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Convenient Bride Collection by Amanda Barratt, Andrea Boeshaar, Mona Hodgson, Melissa Jagears, Maureen Lang, Gabrielle Meyer, Jennifer Uhlarik, Erica Vetsch and Renee Yancy — God can take the best-laid plans and turn them into something even better, as nine couples who marry for convenience soon learn. In fascinating settings from America’s history, the convenient brides take their nuptials out of necessity. . .never dreaming that God might turn them into true love stories for His glory. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Lady and the Mountain Fire by Misty M. Beller — Care-giving granddaughter Claire Sullivan and Bryan Donaghue, a doctor with a bad reputation, can’t seem to get along-until disaster strikes their wild Montana mining town, and Claire’s desire to help lands her in the midst of the fire. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

To Capture Her Heart (The Southold Chronicles) by Rebecca DeMarino — In 1653, when Heather Flower, a princess of the Montauk tribe, is kidnapped by a rival tribe, she finds herself rescued by handsome Dutch Lieutenant Dirk Van Buren. Torn between her affection for Dirk and her long friendship with family friend Benjamin Horton, Heather Flower must make a difficult choice–stay true to her friend or follow her heart. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker Publishing])

A Bride at Last by Melissa Jagears — Can Silas, Kate, and Anthony’s wounded souls bind them together as a family, or will past hurts and new resentments leave them lonely forever? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing])

Irish Meadows (Courage to Dream) by Susan Anne Mason — Two O’Leary sisters search for love and independence from their domineering father in 1911 Long Island, New York. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing])

The Cactus Creek Challenge by Erica Vetsch When a sheriff and a schoolmarm swap jobs for a month, the town of Cactus Creek is thrown into an uproar. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

To Soar on Eagle’s Wings by Renee Blare — Spring arrives to the Snowy Range and instead of relaxation, Rachel finds herself the center of a Timber Springs crime spree, but she isn’t too upset when she discovers the new game warden’s an old family friend. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Gone Without a Trace by Patricia Bradley — Homicide detective Livy Reynolds’s cousin had disappeared from Logan Point. The last person she wants working the case with her is self-assured private investigator Alex Jennings. But when Alex contacts her with a lead, she’ll have to find a way to work with him-before it’s too late. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [Baker Publishing])

Emergency Reunion by Sandra Orchard — Paramedic Sherri Steele refuses to believe someone’s out to get her-until she’s held at knifepoint in her own ambulance. With every emergency call to the paramedics turning into an attack on Sherri’s life, it still takes her high school crush, deputy sheriff Cole Donovan, to convince her she needs protection. Cole is certain Sherri has a stalker-worse, his brother’s the lead suspect. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

by jill at 9:18 pm in

Where evening fades

June 28, 2015

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy. (Psalm 65:8)

Have you ever tried to gaze at a blazing sunset?

I rode my bike to the park tonight at that perfect hour when the sun is at an angle where you still need sunglasses but the air is cooling down. Through polarized lenses, I looked at that yellow orb, shrouded in white wisps in a sea of blue sky. (Not this picture.) The effect was blinding. Yet still, I looked.

It’s risky to look long at the sun. Even worse, an eclipse of sun and moon. But tonight, with big round sunglasses to protect my eyes, I dared. I glanced. I looked. I almost gazed.*

And looked away. The glare too much, too brilliant…too glorious?

I continued to ride the circle of our small park, but on this pass around I noticed something that had not been there before I looked into the sun’s brightness. The people were fading in my vision. Faces blurred. I could still see them, but their images were like those blotted out on cameras when identities are hidden.

And I wondered…is this what it will be like to leave the earth behind, to lose sight of all around us, to step into God’s presence?

The Apostle Paul tells us that “Now we see only a reflection as through a mirror…”

And the Apostle John said, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

When my grandmother was dying, my mom was in the room with her. Grandma was in a lot of pain, but she managed to say one final word. “Jesus.” Did she see Him standing at her side, waiting to take her with Him?

All else fades with time. Morning comes, each day new. But just as sure as the dawn will rise, the evening’s glory soon fades.

Moses asked the Lord to “teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Moses who saw a greater glimpse of glory than the sun’s bright glow still asked for wisdom to live well in the few years he had on the earth.

What desires of ours might change, what works of our hands might we alter if we lived in light of that glory, knowing that only God is everlasting and our time under the sun is temporary?

Right now we see the reflection. We gaze on the afterglow in the mirror, and still it is blinding.

But someday, and we do not know what day that might be, we will see the full brilliance of God.

May we have eyes to see and ears to hear.

When all else fades…


*Please note – I have recently come to discover that sunglasses are not enough protection from looking directly into the sun. In fact, they can make it seem safer, when in fact, it is not. So…I will do no more sun gazing – just offside glimpses – nothing direct. My vision faded only briefly tonight…and while it made me think of glory, I felt it wise to mention that the sun can also fade our vision to blindness. Not recommended!



by jill at 9:27 pm in ,

One Thousand Gifts

June 24, 2015

IMG_5653Last weekend our church hosted Ann Voskamp as a special speaker. I have not met Ann (until that day) and do not know her. I also had not read her book, but the theme of gratitude struck a chord within me. I sensed God wanted me to hear her speak. Gratitude is something I have yet to learn well.

So I went alone. I normally prefer to attend such events with a friend, but this time I felt that God wanted me to be open to whoever needed me and to meet whoever I needed to meet. It’s amazing the things God does when we leave the decisions up to Him.

I ran into a good friend and was so glad to connect with her. I met a stranger whose story lightened my heart. I saw my pastor who encouraged me and even prayed with me, then willingly agreed to send me some information I need for my work-in-progress – Ruth’s story. In some small way, I think those things were as important for my heart than just hearing Ann’s story.

321910_1_ftcBut Ann’s story was amazing–and it truly blessed me. I bought her book One Thousand Gifts and started reading it that night. I had already been trying to practice gratitude this year – first with a blessings jar in the middle of the table (that didn’t work out so well for me), then in my daily journaling – one  grateful thing a day.

But Ann said, statistically speaking, it’s been shown that if people will write down three things they are grateful for each day, they will be 25% happier. Who couldn’t use 25% more happiness in their life? Besides, my emotional tank, as they call it, has been running on empty for a long time, and I could never figure out why.

I couldn’t blame everything on my circumstances, though I won’t discount that trials and struggles can be quite the challenge and definitely emotionally draining. But what Ann is teaching me in her book, which by now you would think I should have already learned, is to be thankful. In every circumstance. Give thanks always. In everything give thanks.

Jesus practiced thanksgiving all the time. Before He performed miracles. Before He ate food. Before He offered His life as a sacrifice for our sins. Even then.

IMG_5659“With thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” In the Old Testament they were to offer sacrifices and celebrate feasts with thanksgiving. In the New, we are to offer the “sacrifice of praise” for what Jesus has already done. To give thanks in all circumstances because this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

We are to be a living sacrifice, and to fully live is somehow linked to this idea of thanks. I’m not sure I have ever fully lived.

Not that I have never given thanks – I have. But it is not a habit. It is as though I am learning a new musical instrument and if all I ever do is listen to the teacher but never practice the music, I will never really learn.

Gratitude takes practice. Every day. Several times a day. (Daniel prayed three times a day, giving thanks.) Why don’t I thank Him more freely?

IMG_5657Because I’m looking for something else. I want my circumstances to change. I would rather lift up my petitions to God than thank Him for the provisions He’s already provided.

So how do I practice? I’m starting by taking Ann’s advice and writing at least three gifts in my journal each day. In fact, I bought a new journal that I intend to use to record 1000 gifts, as Ann has done.

Because in just a few days of gratitude, I can already feel joy I have not felt in a very long time. Thanksgiving is linked to joy. And I don’t wonder if Ann is right when she suggests that only in thanksgiving is prayer true.

How about you? If you haven’t read her book, I highly recommend it. Have you journaled 1000 gifts? It’s going to be a challenge, but already the poet in me is itching for a chance to notice the little things and praise Him for them in lyrical ways, in a song of words.

I hope you’ll join me. I may post some of my list here from time to time. In the meantime, what gifts are you grateful for today?


by jill at 6:36 pm in

Father’s Day

June 20, 2015

4-14-1942 Leonard and Shirley weddingHolidays can pose both joy and sadness, can’t they? I know people who have come to hate birthdays and special days like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, and more — not so much because of what they represent, but because of what is missing in their lives. And what is missing is linked to our expectations.

I remember years ago when I longed to be a mom, but that dream didn’t come quite as quickly as I’d hoped. Several years and a miscarriage in between made me cry during Mother’s Day sermons, not because I didn’t love my mom, but because I wanted to be one myself.

But God knew – when the timing was right, He gave me the privilege of being a mom to three sons. He gave me the privilege of now having two daughters-in-law. And the privilege of parents that taught me about Jesus and showed me all through their aging years, that He is ever faithful.

CCF06092011_00000My mom and dad married when they were only 19 and 20, and only a short time into their marriage, WWII happened. Suddenly, my dad was off to war and they rarely saw each other again for several years. My dad missed my brother’s birth, which probably bothered him more than we ever knew. He didn’t talk about those war days much. He had too much to do living right now.

CCF06092011_00019But life, as had happened when he answered the call to war, still took a lot of unexpected turns. Daddy didn’t expect his father-in-law to die young or his mother-in-law to end up living in his home. He did not expect the company he worked for to go bankrupt or his health to cause him multiple surgeries. He lived through all the struggles of his kids (I was a surprise!), through struggles at our church, through financial losses, loss of friends, and so much more. (Of course, he also got to enjoy seven grandchildren and a few great-grandchildren, so we can’t forget the blessings!)

IMG_1230Then in 2008, the year that seemed to change so much for all of us, Daddy fell and broke his hip. He was supposed to go to rehab and come home and walk again. But he never did. He spent the last three and a half years of his life in a nursing home — a place we never ever wanted him to be. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t on his bucket list of things to do in life either. And I’m pretty sure he never expected the path of his life to go in that direction.

He’s been gone for three and a half years now, and Father’s Day always reminds me how much I miss him, and yet how grateful I am that I had him at all. I could have been someone else’s daughter — that is, someone else could have raised me. I could have missed out on so many fun memories I have of him now. So many things he said and did that made me feel loved.

IMG_1433Daddy accepted each day as a gift from God’s hand. He knew his Father well, and the older he got, the more trials he faced, the more joy he showed. He wouldn’t have held it against us if we missed Father’s Day or his birthday, though he might have wondered why. And every time we threw him a party, or even visited him, his face would light up like the stars. He loved each one of us unconditionally, no expectations, no matter what.

When I met Randy, I didn’t realize how much like my dad he is. He’s been through hardships and trials. Maybe not a world war, but certainly some stresses that might break a lesser man. He never expects things or thinks highly of himself. He just takes what is given with gratitude. He doesn’t demand his own way and he loves unconditionally, no matter what.

I’ve learned, or tried to learn, a lot from these two special men, though one is now with Jesus. And I am so grateful God put them in my life. Daddy was my rock from my earliest memories. He was there for me when no one else could be. I was proud to call him Dad.

images-59And Randy is my rock now. He is the steady in my storm. He is peace in my distress. He is the blessing in my morning, the joy in my life, the one I count on. Because he leads me to Jesus.

Daddy died with a Bible and a wedding ring, with a faith that never wavered and a heart of acceptance for the next step of his journey with his Father.

Randy lives with a Bible and a wedding ring, with a faith that never wavers and a heart of acceptance for whatever God has for our future, and a gratitude for each day.

I could not ask for a better Dad or a better dad to my sons.

In loving memory, Daddy.

And Happy Father’s Day, Sweetheart.



by jill at 5:26 pm in

This and that

June 17, 2015

I apologize foIMG_5502r being so lax on this blog of late. Sometimes I honestly wonder where this year has gone. How is it mid June already? And yet so much has already happened!

A few updates that I thought I might share. First, the never-ending bathroom project is finally (almost completely) finished. We have a few small things to finish up – as always – but I expect they will be done soon. Here are a few pictures of the finished room.

IMG_5498Unfortunately, the first time we tried the shower, it leaked into the kitchen ceiling. Do homeowner projects ever end? But wonderful engineer that he is, Randy managed to fix the leak. One thing done, probably too many to count to go!

Now that travel and wedding events are over, I’ve been back to work full time on Ruth’s story. My goal is 2,000 words a day and to finish the first draft by mid July. Then my editor will send me edits for The Prophetess, Deborah’s Story, which releases next year.

IMG_5499In early August, The Shepherdess, book 2 (e-book short story) Loves of King Solomon series releases. Hopefully, it will be available on Amazon and CBD soon. You can pre-order through my website by clicking on the cover of the book and then following the links.

In September or sooner, I’m hoping to start studying the story of The Queen of Sheba, which will be the last novella (e-book short story) in the Solomon series.

Of course, summer brings with it all sorts of things we hope to do. Car shows. Day trips. Gatherings with family and friends. And enjoy each day that God gives us.

In the meantime, I may be scarce on this blog until I finish the first draft of IMG_5500Ruth’s story. I pray that God blesses each of you with joy in the days to come.