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Daughter, your faith has healed you…

July 7, 2016

I wonder tonight – how many of us are suffering? Life can truly throw some curve balls our way, can’t it? Maybe it’s physical. Maybe it’s emotional. Maybe it’s spiritual. Can you relate?

freed suffering verse and picI’ve spent many years suffering in every form–from chronic pain to spiritual longings. And I know what it feels like to want God to just heal all of it. To stop the rollercoaster of emotion, to know the peace God promises. It’s hard, isn’t it? Especially when years go by and our prayers still await an answer. To wait is the hardest thing we can ever do – at least in my experience. The not knowing truly tests our faith. Is it real or isn’t it?

But what I love about this verse is…well, several things. First, Jesus calls the woman “Daughter”. At a heart level, that word carries a very intimate, loving feeling. I’m a daddy’s girl, so to be called “daughter” always meant a lot to me, especially when my dad told me I was special, a gift to him from God. Not every daughter feels that way, I know, as not every dad is as loving as mine was, but our God–HE is a loving father, and when He calls us “Daughter” we can bank on knowing He sees us, He hears us, He loves as as someone very special in His eyes.

The other thing I love about this verse is that faith was a catalyst to healing. We are all broken at some place in our lives, whether we realize it or not. We are a needy people.

Oh I know, the American spirit tells us to be self-sufficient and independent. But the Christian spirit, what Jesus promoted, was dependence of His Father, trust in His love, faith in His promises, even when we could not see what was around the next bend. And that’s not easy.

The truth is, we want to be our own boss. True confession here – I always hated people trying to tell me what to do. In fact, if people told me I couldn’t, I worked to prove them wrong. In some cases, being told we can’t destroys a person’s self-confidence. In mine, it made it stronger because of that stubborn streak I carry. (I’m told it comes from being German and red-haired but that sounds a bit prejudicial, so I will just say that I’m either tenacious, which is the good side of stubborn, or rebellious, which is the part that tells me I’m a sinner in need of saving.) And both are true.

My faith isn’t always as strong as I’d like it to be. I struggle with trusting that God understands, that He’s listening, that what troubles me also troubles Him and that He’s doing something about it that I can’t see. Like my health. That chronic pain thing? It gets old after a while. And I don’t like dealing with it. I want to feel normal all of the time. And maybe God is working to make that happen. At least He is leading me to people who are trying to help me.

But He may also say, “My grace is sufficient for you.” I want Him to say “Your faith has healed you, go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” All of my suffering – the kind that changes with the day.

And I believe He can do that for all of us. But I also believe that sometimes suffering is His tool to remind us that we need Him. There have been many many times in my life when I’ve felt like – enough! But God gently whispers His love in my heart and reminds me that HE is enough for me. That He IS working on the things that cause me to suffer in whatever manner that may be.

He isn’t blind to what hurts me or what hurts you. He knows. He deeply knows. And what’s more, He cares. Sometimes the waiting, the trial of not knowing is for our benefit. To teach us that He is trustworthy. That He is God and there is no other. That He has the power to free us, even if it doesn’t seem to be happening on our timetable.

That woman Jesus spoke to – I want her to be me, don’t you? I want to know that suffering is temporary. Or as one of my favorite songs says, “Let me know the struggle ends, let me see redemption win.”

Because honestly? The greatest struggle I have ever known is the one that involves prayer. Prayer for people who are also struggling. Prayer for relationships to heal. Prayer for everyone to know that God is real and that He loves them and wants to truly know them.

Next to prayer, there is no wrestling. There is no stronger force of fighting against evil. There is no greater way to touch the heart of God. Prayers smell sweet to God. As weird as that sounds, I think every one of His senses tune into us when we pray.

And couple that prayer with faith? The more we trust Him, even when we do not understand, the sooner we will carry with us His peace that passes knowledge or understanding. This is not a temporary peace brought on by things like repeating certain words or meditating on certain sounds or anything we can do. This is a gift from God given through faith.

Faith that can bring an end to our suffering and give us hope to step out into the world and live for Him. For His glory, not ours. To know His healing on every level, but most especially in our hearts.

#liveloveprayhope #faithplushopeequalstrust #leannotonwhatyouthinkyouunderstandbutongodstruth

by jill at 8:53 pm in

Are you a scoffer?

July 6, 2016

“Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4 NIV)
Eastern (Golden) Gate 2 verseThese words came from the Apostle Peter who walked with Jesus for three years. The Jews of Peter’s day were looking for the Messiah and the coming Kingdom.

But they were looking for a physical kingdom. Jesus came to deliver a spiritual one.

Then. At. That. Time.

But. Not. For. All. Time.

The verse in the picture is prophetic, written by King David. He saw a future day when the King of Glory (not himself) would enter Jerusalem and reign forever. This was the kingdom the Jews of Jesus’ day were waiting for. A King to overthrow the Roman oppression. A King to set things right.

They didn’t understand that Jesus had to set our hearts right before He would set the world right. He had to fulfill the plan so that we could have a future and a hope. He came to seek and save those who were lost. Those who KNEW they were lost.

He didn’t come for those who thought they didn’t need a savior. Oh, He would save some of them too, once they realized their need. But the proud of heart rarely see that need. Have you noticed that? How easy it is to grow proud, and how hard to think we are needy when we are needier than we realize.

But the truth is – every single one of us needs a Savior.

Every one of us desperately needs Jesus.

Peter knew that. He knew it at such a personal level because he of all of the disciples had failed His Lord. He knew it. He had boasted that he would NEVER deny the Lord and yet he did it THREE times. What failure he must have felt. How deeply he hurt.

So when Jesus restored Peter and set him as leader of His church, Peter knew what it was like to need Jesus, to need saving. And he also knew that the hearts of people don’t always see that need. He prophetically saw that one day, the closer the day came to Jesus’ second coming – the time when that kingdom would be physical not just spiritual – people wouldn’t believe it was ever going to happen.

People would scoff. People would make fun of the idea because they would have come to the place where they deliberately chose to forget that God was their Creator. That He had made the heavens. That He had also destroyed the world by water and would one day do so again by fire. They deny and scoff because they don’t want to believe in that kind of God.

They strip the God of Scripture of His power.

But Adonai Tzva’ot, the Lord of Hosts cannot be stripped of His power. He is the Lion of Judah that can’t be messed with. And He is the one David wrote about – the King of Glory.

These gates in Jerusalem are blocked right now. When we were there, we were told by our guide that they are blocked by those who hold the deed to the Temple Mount because they do not want the Jewish Messiah to come through those Eastern Gates. So they barred the way.

If you stand on the Mount of Olives, you can see these gates, and the Bible tells us that one day, Jesus will come and stand on the Mount of Olives, splitting it in two and He WILL go through those gates, barred or not. As if anything manmade could stop Him.

Prophesy tells of it. And every previous prophecy of His first coming has been fulfilled. What makes anyone think He can’t keep His promise to fulfill what’s left?

Who is the King of Glory? The LORD ALMIGHTY. HE is the King of Glory. May our hearts be ready to accept Him and let Him in. May none of us be counted as scoffers.

Even so, Lord Jesus, Come Quickly!
‪#‎comequicklylordjesus‬ ‪#‎liveloveprayhopealways‬ ‪#‎stopscoffingandtrust‬ ‪#‎hopeinthelord‬

by jill at 7:28 am in

July 2016 Christian Fiction Releases

July 5, 2016

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

Contemporary Romance:

The Courtship Basket by Amy Clipston — Devastated by a broken courtship, Rachel Fisher takes a position at a special Amish school for children with learning disabilities to keep her mind off of her pain. A new student joins the class, and when Rachel has problems getting him to pay attention, she reaches out to his older brother and guardian, Mike. She learns they are grieving their mother’s death and begins sending food to them in a special basket she found in her parents’ attic, a basket Rachel’s father gave to her mother long ago. Rachel and Mike grow close, but he doubts whether he can be a good husband while caring for his brother and dat. As they face the hardest days of their lives, Rachel’s old fears of another man leaving her come to the surface. Can they pull together and create hope for the future? (Contemporary Romance from Zondervan)

A Living Hope by E. C. Jackson — It was a match made in heaven. Or so everyone thought. Sadie Mae Cummings is all set to marry her childhood sweetheart, Kyle, when she is assigned to tutor Lincoln, the new college football running back. Through her alternate relationships with both boys, she learns some burned bridges can never be restored. Now Sadie fights for a chance to restore broken dreams. Will love endure? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

General Contemporary (Women’s Fiction):

The Things We Knew by Catherine West — After her mother’s death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to harbor animosity toward their father, silently blaming him for their mother’s death. Nobody will talk about that dreadful day, and Lynette can’t remember a bit of it. But when next-door neighbor Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, he brings the past with him, only it seems Nick is hiding things from her. As their father’s failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets begin to surface—secrets that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. (Women’s Fiction from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Historical Romance:

The Courageous Brides Collection by Johnnie Alexander, Michelle Griep, Eileen Key, Debby Lee, Rose Allen McCauley, Donita Kathleen Paul, Jennifer Uhlarik, Jenness Walker, Renee Q. Yancy — Ride into adventures alongside nine determined women of yesteryear whose acts of compassion and bravery attract male attention. Marcy helps displaced Indians. Emmy tends wounds at Fort Snelling. Ronnie stows away on a cattle drive. Daisy disguises herself as a Pony Express rider. Elinor becomes an abolitionist. Mae tames wild horses. Hannah gets help for accident victims. Lucy’s curiosity unnerves criminals. Kate nurses soldiers on the battlefield. Will real dangers douse the sparks of love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

No Way Up by Mary Connealy — When Cimarron ranch patriarch Chance Boden is caught in an avalanche, the quick actions of hired hand Heath Kincaid save him. Badly injured, Chance demands that his will be read and its conditions be enforced immediately. Without anyone else to serve as a witness, Heath is pressed into reading the will. If Justin, Sadie, and Cole Boden don’t live and work at home for the entire year, the ranch will go to their low-down cousin Mike. Then Heath discovers the avalanche was a murder attempt, and more danger might follow. Deeply involved with the family, Heath’s desire to protect Sadie goes far beyond friendship. The danger keeps them close together, and their feelings grow until being apart is the last thing on their minds. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

To Follow Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino — It is 1664 and Patience Terry is devastated to learn that Captain Jeremy Horton’s ship has been shipwrecked off the coast of Barbados, with no survivors. She had hoped that Jeremy would someday give up the sea and settle down with her in Southold, Long Island. Unaware his memorial service is being planned, Jeremy is rescued and aboard a British Naval Gunship with secret orders to attack New Amsterdam and claim it for the British Crown. When he makes his surprise return to Southold–and to an overjoyed Patience–it’s not the happily-ever-after his beloved had hoped for. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

An Elegant Façade by Kristi Ann Hunter — Lady Georgina Hawthorne has worked tirelessly to seal her place as the Incomparable for her debut season. At her first London ball, she hopes to snag the attention of an earl. With money and business connections, but without impeccable bloodlines, Colin McCrae is invited everywhere but accepted nowhere. When he first encounters the fashionable Lady Georgina, he’s irritated by his attraction to a woman who concerns herself only with status and appearance. What Colin doesn’t know is that Georgina’s desperate social aspirations are driven by the shameful secret she harbors. Association with Colin McCrae is not part of Georgina’s plan, but as their paths continue to cross, they both must decide if the realization of their dreams is worth the sacrifices they must make. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Honor Redeemed by Christine Johnson — Two years ago, Prosperity Jones waved farewell to her beloved David as the army sent him to faraway Key West. Now with her parents gone, she has but one prospect for the future: make the dangerous journey from Nantucket to Key West to reunite with David and secure a happier life. Arriving penniless in the South, Prosperity is dismayed to find David married to someone else. Scrambling to survive and nursing a broken heart, she gains the friendship–and the affection–of a kind doctor. Could he be the answer to her loneliness? Or will her life be upended by circumstance yet again? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Lawman in Disguise by Laurie Kingery — A Texas Ranger goes undercover to bring about the capture of a dangerous outlaw gang, but doesn’t count on falling in love during the process. Can he achieve his goal and begin a new life with the woman he has come to love, or will he pay the ultimate price for his daring? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Resurrection of Hope by Tamera Lynn Kraft — She thought he was her knight in shining armor, but will a marriage of convenience prove her wrong? (Historical Romance from Desert Breeze Publishing)

A Changed Agent by Tracey J. Lyons — When schoolteacher Elsie Mitchell meets rugged William Benton on a train platform in Albany, it appears they have nothing in common. He isn’t the sort of fellow a proper young woman of the 1890s would ever speak to, much less become involved with. But when she arrives at her small town in the Adirondack Mountains, Elsie is offered a job as caregiver for this mysterious out-of-towner’s niece and nephew, who’ve been tragically orphaned. Heartbroken for them, she accepts. Unknown to her, William is an undercover Pinkerton agent posing as a lumber-company foreman. He’s never wanted family–his work is too dangerous. Yet as Elsie transforms his house into a home and he spends time with the children, he feels drawn to family life–and to Elsie. As a good Christian, Elsie is troubled by William’s secrets…though she does find him intriguing. And when a sinister figure from her past arrives, Elsie and William will have to trust in faith and newfound love to protect their unlikely family from danger. (Historical Romance from Waterfall Press)

Sarah’s Surrender by Vickie McDonough — When Sarah Worley rejects Luke McNeil’s proposal to pursue property in the Oklahoma Territory land lottery in 1901, the ranch hand pulls up stakes and goes after her. But he’s the last person she wants to see. The land lottery gives Sarah the chance to realize her dream of independence and a home of her own. But with it comes challenges she never considered. When her dream becomes a nightmare, she must decide whether to stay on her land or give up and return to the life she left. Luke hopes that by winning a claim, he can give Sarah the home she’s always wanted. How can he prove his love and show the stubborn woman that he’s the right man for her? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Incriminating Evidence by Rachel Dylan — When rookie prosecutor Jessica Hughes crosses the son of a major crime boss, she’s determined to bring him to justice–if his family doesn’t kill her first. And with newly minted FBI special agent Zach Taylor protecting her, she believes she can succeed. Zach will do anything to stay ahead of the crime syndicate and guard Jessica while she builds her case. The more time he spends with her, the more personal the assignment becomes. It’s bad timing for falling in love, but as the threats against her life escalate, Zach realizes Jessica is everything to him–and he will do everything he can to make sure she has a future. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Through Raging Waters by Renee Blare — Floods from spring runoff compounded by the storm of the century sends Timber Springs into a tailspin. Tossed into the role of rescuer, local pharmacist Paul Fitzgerald must face his past before the whole world falls apart. While he fights to contain the beast around him, he finds his steadfast control slipping through his fingers. And life…everyone’s life…hangs by a thread once again. Melissa Hampton has her own demons to battle. She’s never been a hero…but as waters rise and tension climbs within Timber Springs, she needs to rise to the challenge or lose the only man she’s ever loved. (Romantic Suspense from Inspired (Prism Book Group)

Fractured Memory by Jordyn Redwood — United States marshal Eli Cayne saved Julia Galloway’s life once…and he’s prepared to do it again. But his task would be easier if she could remember him–or the murderer who almost put her in an early grave and seems to be hunting her once more. To protect Julia from the latest threat against her life, Eli has to consider the possibility that he put an innocent man in jail. Julia has no memories of the serial killer called the Hangman, though, and no reason to trust Eli. But with the killer getting closer, she must work with Eli to confront her past—and the feelings growing between them. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

In a Killer’s Sights by Sandra Robbins — When Gwen Harwell witnesses someone dumping a body into a Tennessee river, she knows she’s the killer’s new target. Far from home on a work assignment, she isn’t sure where to turn–especially when her ex-husband appears. Five years ago, Dean Harwell’s burdens from his police work tore their marriage apart. But now he says he’s changed. He’s working as a rancher; he’s put his problems behind him. And he’s committed to keeping her safe until the killer is caught. With their troubled past, trusting him with her life is hard enough. Can she trust him with the truth about the child he doesn’t know they have? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Deep Shadows by Vanetta Chapman — Life in Abney, Texas is predictable and safe–until the night a massive solar flare wipes out all modern technology. (Suspense from Harvest House Publishers)

Speculative (High Fantasy):

Eirwen’s Dream: Inside Snow White’s Sleeping Mind by Kristen Reed — After eating her stepmother’s poison apple, Princess Eirwen has a fantastical dream in which she must defeat an evil Siren. (Speculative/High Fantasy, Independently Published)

Happy Summer Reading~

by jill at 7:16 am in

Are we deep down truly free?

July 3, 2016

Tomorrow we celebrate freedom. This country, the USA, was founded on a declaration of independence that began over 200 years of freedom from the tyranny our founding fathers sought to escape.

Years and wars have come and gWalk in freedom verse and picone and we are still fighting to keep that freedom. Its form may change and its face look different than it did back then, but we still seek to be free from some type of oppression, don’t we?

And yet, I wonder. How many of us feel truly free?

At a heart level, are you free?

Sometimes I don’t FEEL free. Sometimes I feel bound to worry or confusion or the darkness that surrounds me.

But when I look up–or as the Psalmist says here–when I follow God’s precepts, then I can walk in freedom. The path isn’t so dark anymore.

Jesus said that he came to give us abundant life. He came to set the captives free. He came to declare that freedom that holds onto us from within.

He could have come to free His people from Roman oppression. Like our forefathers freed this nation from England’s rule back in the day. Like so many have sought freedom from tyranny in any form.

But that kind of freedom doesn’t last. Oh, it may last for a season – even a lifetime. But in my short life here, and in the lives of my parents and grandparents, we have seen World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Desert Shield, and many more Gulf or Middle Eastern wars. And that doesn’t even count the ones we aren’t supposed to be involved in.

Jesus said we would always have wars and rumors of wars. Someday there will be freedom from war and we will know true peace, but we can’t know THAT kind of peace until we know the Prince of Peace.

Jesus Christ came to free us from within. From the things that haunt us. Tomorrow we will celebrate our national freedom and I thank those who bought that freedom for us with their very lives.

But let us not miss the eternal freedom that can free us from what keeps us awake at night. Those things that remind us that we aren’t really free–not in the place where truth lives. That’s the place where we need freedom most.

When we walk with God in His precepts. When we live in His truth. When we seek His face and believe what He said. Then we are truly eternally free.

#liveloveprayhope #itisforfreedomthatchristhassetusfree #truefreedomisfoundinjesus #letfreedomring

by jill at 9:10 pm in

Deadlines, Book Cover Reveals, and More…

June 18, 2016

I know I have been quiet here and even on Facebook where I tend to post daily devotional thoughts. Life has gotten busier than I imagined with writing the fourth book in the Daughters of the Promised Land – Hannah’s story. Our five-week vacation out west to visit family this winter put me a bit behind and then I realized 2/3 into the story that I needed to fix it from the beginning. Oh the joys of first drafts!

Smith_DaughteroftheNileSo I have been scrambling to edit and finish this book, which is due to my critique partner by mid July or sooner. In the meantime, Fed Ex delivered galleys for the next e-book short story in the Loves of King Solomon series, which releases September 2016. I’m not sure why it is not up for pre-order on Amazon or CBD, but it is coming. I’ve added the book to the books page and will give pre-order information there as it is forthcoming.

Some people ask me whether it is worth reading the short-ebook series. They would rather wait for the full-length compilation when it comes out in a few years. And I totally understand that thinking. But may I say, the story that will eventually end up as a paperback will not be the same as these e-book shorts. So if you want to get a good glimpse of these four women (the last one releases in 2017) from their points of view, these short stories should whet your appetite for the full length where Solomon’s point of view will take a big part of the story.

Anyway, that’s just my take – these are normally around $1.99 in e-book and they are not full length novels, so they are a quick read. I do hope you will enjoy them. Daughter of the Nile is dedicated to Tiger (yes, I’m a crazy cat person) because he inspired the story. Er…he at least inspired the cat parts of it.

Smith_RedeemingGrace_50percentThe galleys for Daughter of the Nile are due to my editor July 1, so again, I’m doing double duty right now with edits. Then come mid to late July I will be receiving galleys for Redeeming Grace, Ruth’s Story, which I have also added to my books page. This one does not come out until Valentine’s Day next year, but it is already available for pre-order on Amazon. (I have no control over these things and do not understand how they are decided.)

But I am excited to share Ruth’s story with all of you. My editor claims it is her favorite yet, which totally surprised me. My hubby and some friends can tell you that I have no confidence in my first drafts. (Which of course, is not what I turn in to my editor.) It’s just that figuring things out and getting to know the characters is like constantly moving to a new house when you are still attached to the one you left behind. I tell myself I can do this, and then I’m positive I can’t. It’s a love/hate relationship with creativity, I guess.

In the meantime, I’ve also been going through physical therapy for a pinched nerve (much better now) in my back, and Randy and I have taken up bike riding. We have many house projects awaiting us this summer, though I suspect most are going to fall to him until my deadlines are through.

I wish I could say more trips are planned this year, but for now, we will be enjoying Michigan weather – and working. But each day is a new surprise from the Lord–and I’m learning to pray with the heart of a child–to watch and see what God will do. I hope your summer is filled with answers to prayers and that God makes Himself more real to you today than you ever though possible.

Happy summer to all –