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Live Grace

December 29, 2016

IMG_16032016 has not been my favorite year. I can bet many of you feel the same. What started out as a year full of promise, even filled with good things, ended in a kind of mind-numbing disbelief for some and heartbroken pain for others. If you had a picture-perfect holiday and you live in an “everything is beautiful” world, then maybe you won’t relate to this post. But perhaps, if you stick with me, you might find something of use for next year or the year after or the next time you are faced with hurt that feels like a sucker punch or leaves your heart bleeding but no one sees.  When joy turns to sorrow, and when there is more anger and violence than grace and mercy. Sometimes life cut deep – whatever the cause.

Truth is – if I focus on all of the things I count as loss this year or any year, my emotions will close up and I tend to grow a little numb, like someone has hit me too many times until I can’t feel any more. Maybe it’s our God-given coping anesthetic until we can face our trial–whatever that may be. And trials, struggles will come. Guaranteed.img_0350

My pastor once shared with me several verses from Isaiah–a few of which read, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up, the flames will not consume you…”

Did you notice the word “when“?

Not if. When.

Have you felt sometimes like you’re drowning? Has the fire come close enough to singe your clothes? That’s what deep hurt feels like. And I daresay there is not a person on the planet who is not hurting in some way – if not today then yesterday or tomorrow. The human heart has a great capacity to walk around wounded and look every bit as normal as the next person. We pass each other in the stores, in the waiting rooms, on the subway, at the airport – and no one knows what we are really feeling on the inside.

Some of us have been betrayed by someone we love. Others have had expectations dashed. Still others have lost hope that the future carries any hint of brightness, that the skies will always be gray. Tomorrow isn’t a song in a musical that dreams of a better day. Tomorrow just looks gloomy.

img_7371Whatever happened to “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning?” I think I missed part of that somewhere because joy and I keep passing each other before dawn attempts to clear the clouds.

And yet…

I wonder if part of the reason this is not my favorite year has to do with my perspective? Could it be that my focus on pain needs a lens adjustment? Have my glasses grown foggy, wrapped up in too much inward thinking?

I’ve been reading posts of late that are making their rounds on social media about forgiveness and what that looks like. One author said it well, when she spoke of lamenting the wrongs done to us – pouring out our hearts to God about the issue or incident – and ask Him to help us forgive.

IMG_0718Another suggestion that I borrowed and shared on my FaceBook Page says that forgiving someone isn’t excusing bad behavior. It’s a choice to forgive because God forgave us first. Forgiveness frees me, whether it improves the situation or not. Forgiveness takes away pain’s power.

But the truth is, if we are honest with ourselves, we aren’t strong enough to forgive like that without God’s grace. It is in our nature to grow bitter. It is in our nature to blame others, to complain, to gossip, to hold a grudge.

Some in my family tree were angry people. I had a grandfather with a temper I’m rather glad I didn’t witness, and a grandmother (different side of the family) who held a long-lasting grudge, that was thankfully reconciled and forgiven before her dying day.

I’ve had my own bouts with bitterness and grudge-holding and I didn’t even know they were part of my anatomy.

Anger a subtle sin, and one we don’t always recognize. Sometimes we bury anger so deeply and so easily that we would deny the emotion to anyone who asked. I did that as a child, and the consequences led to physical symptoms that caused some deep struggles, which God graciously helped me to resolve.

I learned to recognize the symptoms of anger because for me it starts with hurt turned inward, which leads to depression. Anger turned inward is depression – much of the time.

Tricky little emotion is anger. Anger also turns into a root that digs deep into our subconscious. The Bible calls it a root of bitterness and if we go to bed angry, we’ve allowed it to fester and given the devil a foothold. That means we’ve given him a way into our thoughts, into our hearts. And trust me, the enemy of our souls isn’t a nice guy. Jesus said of him that he is a thief and a liar and he comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants to destroy us.

img_2562He’s very good at destroying everything in his path, especially relationships. Just look at the relationships in this country – the misery, the anger, the violence against humanity. The murders in Chicago are at a record high. Now step outside of the United States and look at war-torn Syria. Destruction takes on a whole new meaning.

Man’s inhumanity to man is sin, and I have no doubt it is often linked to anger and an unforgiving heart. We treat each other with contempt and disdain and hate – people made in the image of God – all because we cannot forgive as we’ve been forgiven. For those of us who have known the forgiveness of God’s grace, we can’t harbor these emotions. God doesn’t give us a choice in this. When He commands us to forgive, He also gives grace to do so.

img_0285I once taught a Bible study on forgiveness and we came across the passage in the gospels when Peter asks Jesus – how many times do I have to forgive my brother? Seven times? (Peter was being generous in his mind.) But Jesus multiplied that number 70 times, meaning the forgiving doesn’t ever stop. And sometimes it’s for a one-time offense that is just too painful to forget. So forgiveness becomes a daily thing.

As is grace. Grace. Once for all and yet daily bread. We need to breath in grace every single day. And we need to breath out forgiveness just as often.

Maybe 2017 will turn out to be as bad a year as 2016. I know some people fear that it will. Others think it will be good in significant ways. I’ve never been able to predict the future–and I’d probably run from it if I could!

But maybe we have a choice in this next year’s outcome. Maybe how a year feels is based more on how I handle the circumstances that come at me rather than the circumstances themselves. How will I react to the next negative thing that comes my way?

Will I forgive each offense? Will I grow in grace and knowledge of Christ Jesus so that I don’t give in to bitterness but can offer up mercy? Will I accept that the flood and the fire will come, but I know that the words of God go with me in the midst of them? Because in that passage my pastor gave me, God also said, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.”

When I remember Whose I am and the promises of the God who knows me by name, I can stop looking back with regret or bitterness or depression, wishing life had do-overs, but rather look up, trusting that for every broken-hearted person, there is a God who came to heal every one of those bleeding places in our hearts with His Grace.

2017 – It’s time to Live Grace.

~Selah

#livegrace

 

by jill at 8:27 pm in

When forgiveness isn’t enough

December 16, 2016

Jeremiah verse and picI know the title to this blog might sound strange, and it has nothing to do with God’s eternal ability and willingness to forgive us everything. In fact, we celebrate this season for the very reason that God loves us so much that He stepped out of infinity and into time just to make things right between us and Him.

He came to forgive. And He taught us to forgive.

Sometimes we forget that. And I think…that perhaps unforgiveness is one of the biggest things keeping us from a life of love, joy, peace, and profound hope in a future that is a lot brighter than the one we might be facing now.

But forgiveness doesn’t always wipe out consequences in this earthly life.

Oh, it does wipe out consequences in eternity. To be forgiven by God–that’s what wipes our slates clean. We get to start over and have a future that means life eternal with Him. Loving Him. Just being with Him!

IMG_8354But here. On earth. Consequences sometimes have to play out, even after we’ve felt and known and received God’s forgiveness.

Backtracking a bit…

The other morning, Randy and I were getting ready to pray as we do many mornings. I had picked up my Bible and was reading the beginning of Jeremiah when I stopped at the beginning. Novelists tend to notice little details and I pay attention to things like when Jeremiah lived. What kings did he serve? And the first few sentences mention that Jeremiah lived through the reign of three kings.

So I mentioned King Josiah to Randy and that got us both searching because I knew I’d read that Josiah was a good king. And yet, Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet and he began to prophecy doom during Josiah’s reign. Why on earth would Jeremiah be told by God to prophesy against Jerusalem or Judah during the reign of a good king?

That led us on a little rabbit trail of genealogy to Josiah’s grandfather King Manasseh, spoken of in 2 Kings. Now King Manasseh had a godly father, King Hezekiah. But Manasseh–he didn’t learn much from his godly father because he was one of the most wicked kings in Judah. God was not happy with all of the bloodshed during Manasseh’s reign. He even put his sons on the altars of foreign gods and killed a lot of innocent people in the streets of the city.

Gethsemene oldest olive treeGod doesn’t take kindly to brutal dictators. And even when it seems like they are winning, He is paying attention and like Able’s blood cried out to God from the dust of the earth after his brother killed him, so does the blood of every innocent from that time until today.

God will avenge such atrocities.

But back to Manasseh. While I knew he was wicked, I was also sure I had read that he repented of that wickedness. So we searched a little more into Chronicles. Sure enough. Let the record show, Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33) had been hauled off to Babylon and there repented of his evil deeds. God heard Manasseh’s prayer and restored him as king in Judah.

So why then was Jeremiah told to prophecy against Judah because of the sins of Manasseh? (Jeremiah 15)  I mean the guy had humbled himself and begged forgiveness and God granted it. And though his own son was wicked after him, his grandson Josiah was godly. And then Josiah’s kids were wicked. (Is there a lineage of godliness anywhere in Scripture that lasts?) But that’s a question for another day.

As Randy and I searched for an answer, we came to the conclusion that sin has consequences.

IMG_4718Remember King David? He repented of his sin with Bathsheba and yet, God allowed the consequences to play out. David lost ten of his wives and four of his sons and the sword never departed from his house while he lived. Hefty price to pay for one night of lust. But David was a godly man and what he’d done caused other nations to look at God with disrespect.

Manasseh had encouraged his people to kill their own children. He was guilty of much innocent blood. Much more than the one man David had murdered. Manasseh was evil. Like some dictators in our world today. Some of us might think he didn’t deserve to be forgiven. But we don’t get to choose whom God forgives.

Yet sometimes even forgiveness isn’t enough. It isn’t enough to fix the wrongs of a nation who followed in a bad king’s footsteps. It isn’t enough to erase the slaughter of the innocents.

It may be enough to forgive the wrongdoer–God will be gracious to whom He pleases.

IMG_7374But when a leader turns an entire people group to do evil–that needs to be dealt with. And that’s why Jeremiah kept warning the people that judgment was coming. He warned them and warned them under king after king. And yet they would not listen.

No one likes to be told they’re wrong. And Judah’s people didn’t like Jeremiah very much. He suffered greatly for being God’s prophet.

In the end, I believe God sent Jeremiah because He didn’t want to exact judgment against His people for their sins. He wanted them to repent and return to Him. That’s always His way. Why else did He come here?

So Jeremiah preached like Jesus preached, “Repent!” One preached judgment. The other preached the coming kingdom. But both needed repentance to appease the wrath of a holy God. And like Jeremiah who was hated, Jesus was hated more for speaking the truth about His Father–the Creator who owns the very ground we walk on.

And the Creator says, I want to forgive you…”For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

Manasseh didn’t suffer the consequences we probably think he should have. No, future generations suffered for his sins. David suffered his own consequences, and his son’s kingdom knew peace. Sometimes forgiveness is enough. Sometimes, depending on how far we fall, God lets the consequences play out because sin has consequences and forgiveness only cancels punishment, not the ramifications of our actions.

That’s why sometimes…forgiveness isn’t enough to rescue us from the results of our choices.

But forgiveness is enough to put us in right standing with God, which affects our entire eternal future. The hope and reward of things to come.

Selah~

 

by jill at 8:14 am in

What Love Did

December 13, 2016

img_0281I won’t lie to you. It’s been a tough year for me on a personal level. No need to explain the reasons, but I can say that I appreciate more than ever what other women my age face, of the demands of this life. And trust me. The longer I live the more I understand that to live life to the fullest–to live life in Christ–is not for the faint of heart.

Life is hard. We know that, don’t we? I remember when we were kids and life was so much different then, but even then, I felt different. Like I didn’t fit into my shoes. Like life was this place I didn’t quite understand. But one thing I did get at the tender age of eight and it has stuck like glue to my heart ever since.

God loves me. God wants me. God has a plan for me.

I didn’t always feel that love. Let’s face it–life interrupts the way we feel and circumstances can ruin the joy of a sensitive heart.

But I have always known that love at a place deep inside of me. I felt the intimate pleasure of God’s touch at a soul level. I knew He was true and could be trusted, even on those days when I didn’t really trust Him. Does that make sense?

Though the humanness in me struggles with trust sometimes, I know the Bible is true and have proven it could be trusted over and over and over in my life. (We are fickle though, aren’t we? And we need to remind ourselves of what we already know.) I am no different than anyone else who struggles now and then. Especially when life hits hard.

And yet, I sense God’s pleasure when I pray, when I praise Him – even before I receive the answer to my prayers. I know He hears me. I know He keeps His promises. I know He isn’t fickle like me. Doesn’t change His mind. Doesn’t say one thing and do another. Doesn’t walk away when I’m not very lovable. Doesn’t ever leave me or forsake me. Doesn’t turn His back on me for any reason because He already did that to Jesus on my behalf.

That’s what Love did. That’s what Love does.

img_0285So I try to live in the light of His Love for me. Sure, I fail sometimes. A lot of times. I’m not the perfect wife. (Don’t tell Randy.) I’m not the perfect mom. (My kids already know that.) I’ll never be the perfect grandma because no matter how hard we try, no one is perfect.

But that doesn’t stop Love.

There have been a lot of hurting people in the world over the years. History proves it. Just read the Psalms and you can’t escape it. Jeremiah was the weeping prophet. Talk about pain! Look at the news and see the tears on the faces of the Syrian refugees. Look into the eyes of the child in Haiti who doesn’t have clean drinking water–or food, for that matter. Watch despair line the faces of the aged who have lost everything to a flood or fire. Talk to the parent of a child who went on a killing spree or the spouse of a husband who was killed in front of her because of their faith.

We talk about lives that matter. We talk about people who live on the margins. And I just want to say something that I hope anyone reading this will take in the spirit that it is intended. And that is this:

All Lives Matter. All Lives Matter to Jesus.

Love doesn’t see color or ethnicity or religion or politics or gender. Love sees a beating heart even before it is fully formed in the womb. Love/Jesus came to earth to preach one thing. “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” He didn’t come to heal every disease, as much as we might have liked that to happen. He came to heal every soul. He died to heal every soul.

img_0245When it all comes down and we are about to take our last breath, it isn’t going to matter to us what causes we fought for or what we thought about any variety of issues. It isn’t going to matter how we spent our money or where we lived or what career we had. It’s not even going to matter how good we were to our neighbor or how much we cared for the downtrodden. (Though those are all good things.)

What’s going to matter is – do we really know and understand Love? God is love. Jesus is love. Do we really get what that means?

I told someone the other day that no one loves you more than your parents. There is just no getting around the fact that in this life, this human experience, the parent/child bond–if it is normal and not filled with extenuating circumstances–is the strongest bond there is. Next to husband and wife–as long as that commitment is truly committed–that bond is greater. But a parent loves a child in a fraction of the way God loves us.

I think most loving parents would agree with this statement–we would die for our children. We would jump in front of the oncoming bus to save them. We would lay down our self worth to save theirs. We would sacrifice our lives to give them more.

That’s what Love does. That’s what Love did.

That’s what Jesus did for us. That’s why all lives matter. He died for all. He came to preach the good news to all. It’s why nothing we do to make this world a better place can top what He Already Did. If we can’t get that message of His saving redeeming grace, we miss the whole purpose of Love. We miss the whole purpose of life.

We miss the reason for this Christmas season. And we miss the reason for the Cross.

Jesus didn’t just come to save a few of us. He doesn’t excuse sin in any single one of us. He did come to save all who will let Him in. He did come to free us from the things that keep us enslaved to our own sometimes bitter choices.

What Love did was come. Wrapped in human skin. Nailed to earth’s wood. Draped in earthly grave clothes. Laid in the belly of the earth as though it had all come to an end. Love died.

But Love didn’t stay dead. Love lives. Love gives. Love forgives. Love saves. Love redeems. All lives that are willing.

Because that’s what Love did.

For you.

For me.

Selah~

#whatlovedid #forgodsolovedthewholeworld

 

by jill at 8:51 pm in

Interview with BIOME’S author Ryan Galloway!

December 6, 2016

biome_cover_finalNow and then I interview an author whose work I find amazing. This interview is unique in that it carries a surreal feel and puts that “parental pride” into a completely new category. The author is Ryan Galloway. His debut novel is Biome. Please take a moment to read how my youngest son became an author who has garnered high praise for this book, which released TODAY!

JES: Welcome to my blog, Ryan! It’s an honor to promote your debut novel Biome! Please tell us a little about you and about this amazing novel.

RG: Thanks, Jill. The honor is mine!

As you said, Biome is my debut novel. The story centers around Elizabeth, a cadet living on Mars Colony One. She learns that the doctors who run the colony have been erasing the cadets’ memories—a fact that becomes apparent when she wakes with all of the missing memories inside her head. She is then faced with balancing the thoughts, ideas, and secrets of her peers, while trying to stop the doctors from realizing what she knows.

JES: Kirkus gave this book a “recommended read” and said it had a very satisfying ending. Four multi-published authors gave it a “Wow!” endorsement (and I would agree with them.) Were you surprised by the reception it has received thus far?

RG: Surprised and humbled. I think many debut authors (myself included) are just excited at the idea of their work being “out there.” Having so many people get behind Biome right out of the gate is incredibly encouraging. I’m very grateful.

JES: Though this is your debut novel, it is not the first book you’ve written. Please tell us when you were bitten with the writing bug and how many books are hiding on your computer that led to this amazing debut?

RG: That’s true. Biome is actually my sixth novel. According to the time stamp on the very first draft of my first novel, I began writing books when I was twelve. Over the years, I attended several writing conferences to learn about the craft and pitch my work. Biome is the first book I even considered self-publishing. I felt that I might be neglecting my “dues” if I tried to venture outside the system too soon.

JES: What made you decide to publish it yourself rather than go the traditional route?

RG: It was a tough decision. Self-publishing is a staggering amount of work, after all. Yet, things kind of fell into place with Biome. It helped that I knew a fair share of authors and industry professionals. On top of which, working a day job in marketing clued me into what self-publishing would likely entail. It’s a lot like starting your own business—which I ended up doing. My partner and I founded Stranger Fiction LLC to help juggle expenses and legalities.

13692823_825290300939940_2035613566819220715_oJES: What caused you to decide on the young adult science fiction genre? Have you written novels in other genres? Do you plan to stay in this genre for future novels and are you working on the sequel to Biome or something else? Please explain.

RG: This is my first attempt at Science Fiction; though if there was (officially) such a category, I’d likely term it Science Fantasy. I like the ability to bend the rules a bit. It allows for some deep metaphorical potential, which I find powerful. Also, it’s a lot of fun. If I had to guess, I’d say my future books would all have fantasy leanings.

Next up is an alternate-history novel about the dawn of industrial magic in Athens, and the only young man in the city who can’t use it. I’m hopeful for a late-summer release in 2017. The sequel to Biome is on my list after that.

JES: This question is going to come up from people who know that you are my son. Since we do not have a blended family – in other words, both your dad and I are “Smiths” and your last name used to be Smith, what prompted you to change your name to Galloway?

RG: Galloway began as a pen name. It means “way of the stranger.” As an artist, it’s always been easy for me to internalize praise and criticism of my work. The name Galloway was a reminder that no matter how the world receives my art, the people closest to me are the ones who truly “know” me. My career, in a certain sense, is a journey as a stranger. Stranger Fiction LLC is an extension of that.

JES: You’ve launched a Kickstarter promotion to raise money to help with the cost of print books for Biome. Please tell my readers where they can find the link to see the book’s trailer.

RG: Kickstarter keeps all successful campaigns logged on the site. You can find Biome’s campaign here.

As an aside, I’ve had several authors and indie artists seek me out to hear about my experience with crowdfunding, and to discuss whether it was right for them. For anyone who is curious, I plan to journal about the topic in-depth on my web page (ryan-galloway.com) within the next few weeks.

JES: What advice would you give to aspiring writers who want to publish their work? Is indie for everyone and is there some type of vetting process to let a writer know that their work is ready for publication, especially if they aren’t planning to go the traditional agent/publishing house route and have not published before?

RG: Right now, I’d say this is possibly the most important question a writer can ask. To me, the biggest reason to self-publish is to (hopefully) make a higher profit. If you feel confident you can gain visibility and make sales on your own, then it’s probably worth a shot. But it’s important to remember that doing it solo means that you’ll do everything solo. Taxes, printing—possibly even distribution.

As for a vetting process, this is where my previous comment about “paying your dues” comes in. Malcolm Gladwell famously mused that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a craft. While that may be subjective, the takeaway is that most people don’t get it right on the first try—and if they do, it’ll be tough to repeat the process later. Pitching your work frequently, sharing your work often, and writing consistently are all pieces of laying the groundwork for being “ready” to publish. Once you’re there, getting an honest review from professional sources like Kirkus Reviews is a great way to gauge your work. That goes for both the traditional and indie markets.

JES: Where are some other places readers can find you and connect with on the web?

I journal about self-publishing, novels, writing, and the random personal conviction on my web page at ryan-galloway.com. I’m also on Twitter and Instagram as @ryangallows, and I have Facebook pages for both Biome and myself.

JES: Do you have any last words of advice you would like to give? And what do you hope readers will take away from Biome?

RG: When I was writing Biome, I did my best to be honest. Which is to say, I put my personal experiences, ideals, fears, and beliefs into the story. Though I hope the book reaches a wide audience, I also recognize that honesty can be a tricky thing. Some people will connect with my convictions—others may not.

For me, the ultimate point of art is to reach others. And to not only entertain, but to challenge and inspire. I think the best advice an artist can receive is to simply be who you are. Write your own convictions, and write them honestly. In the end, you’re the only person who can tell a story from your perspective. If you really want to connect with readers on a deep level, you’ll have to go deep with them. It may not be popular with everyone, but it’ll be real. And that’s what matters.

JES: Thank you, Ryan, for joining us today! I can’t wait for readers to get hold of your book. I know they will be challenged and satisfied. I daresay, some will come away as I did and say, “Wow!”

Here is some of Biome’s current acclaim:

“Superb. Fast-paced young adult sci-fi that combines all the action of a psychological thriller with the angst of coming to age. A fascinating premise deftly executed.” —Tosca Lee, bestselling author of Forbidden

“An indelible red-planet backdrop enhances an already rugged, tenacious story. The ending, meanwhile, satisfies on every level.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Within the first few chapters I gave up trying to predict where the story would go and simply let it carry me on a wild, extraterrestrial ride.” –Anne Elisabeth Stengl, award-winning author of Heartless

“A real page-turner, reminiscent of both The 100 and Doctor Who.” –India Edghill, author of Wisdom’s Daughter

“The twisting plot and fleshed out characters lead to a satisfying ending.” -The BookLife Prize in Fiction “[E]xtremely engaging. I can’t wait to read a sequel.” –Hannah Alexander, author of The Hallowed Halls series

Happy reading~

 

 

December 2016 Christian Fiction Releases

December 4, 2016

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

Contemporary Romance:

bella-natale Bella Natale! by Marianne Evans — An aspiring American artist and the widowed, Italian owner of a premier art gallery meet and fall in love in Florence when he champions her work, but there are her American family’s expectations and his five-year-old son to consider. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

with-this-kissWith this Kiss by Marianne Evans — A kiss stolen in a midnight snow. A jealous colleague at Jonathan’s firm is bent on revenge…revenge that puts Isabella’s store into legal peril. Will love be enough to see them through? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

mistletoe-daddyMistletoe Daddy by Deb Kastner — Bubbly Vivian Grainger bids on gruff Nick McKenna at Serendipity Texas’s annual Bachelors and Baskets for one reason–to help her build her hair salon; but once Nick finds out she’s pregnant, he does his best to build a path to Vivian’s heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

a-hero-for-heatherA Hero for Heather by Marion Ueckermann — When a “homeless” man she’s been helping rescues social worker Heather Blume from a vicious attack, she’s so grateful she violates one of the most important rules in her profession–she takes him home to tend his wounds. But the mysterious Paxton Rathbone is no homeless man…he’s a gentleman. When feelings grow, and Paxton’s past beckons, both he and Heather discover there’s a fine line between gratitude and love. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

a-husband-for-hollyA Husband for Holly by Marion Ueckermann — Holly Blume loves decorating people’s homes, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to play house. Believing a house is not a home without a woman’s touch, Reverend Christopher Stewart is in the market for a wife. What woman would consider him marriage material, though, with an aging widowed father to look after, especially one who suffers from Alzheimer’s? Despite their differences, Holly resolves to finish her job of redesigning the Stewart home, while Christopher determines to re-form Holly’s heart. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

rocky-mountain-cowboyRocky Mountain Cowboy by Tina Radcliffe — Twelve years after she married another man, Rebecca Anshaw Simpson is back at Joe Gallagher’s ranch as his physical therapist. But healing his body is nothing compared to guarding his heart from the woman he never forgot. Becca won’t let regret and a surly rancher get in the way of her job and the chance to start over with her little girl. But Becca never expected she’d fall all over again for her first love. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Cozy Mystery:

christmas-cookie-mysteryChristmas Cookie Mystery by Naomi Miller — With Christmas right around the corner, Katie Chupp and The Sweet Shop get involved in a mystery when a certain dear family finds an unexpected package at their door. (Cozy Mystery from S&G Publishing)

Historical:

michelMichel: The Fourth Wise Man by Katheryn Maddox Haddad — This descendant of Daniel, also a wise man, sacrifices everything – his wife, his father, his home – to do what he is convinced God needs him to do, then finds out he was wrong (Historical from Northern Lights Publishing House)

five-nights-with-pharaohFive Nights with Pharaoh by Kristen Reed — Shortly after entering Egypt with her husband, Sarai is taken into Pharaoh’s harem as his newest, most favored concubine. The breathtaking, ageless beauty is forced to cling to her faith in God as she prays for the strength to accept her new position and endures a series of mysterious plagues that can only be indicative of a wrathful deity’s divine judgment. Discover a remarkable reimagining of Sarai’s plight in Egypt, where she humbly set aside her own honor to protect the man through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. (Historical – Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

seven-brides-for-seven-texansSeven Brides for Seven Texans Romance Collection by Amanda Barratt, Susan Page Davis, Keli Gwyn, Vickie McDonough, Gabrielle Meyer, Lorna Leslie Seilstad, Erica Vetsch — Meet the seven Hart brothers of the 7-Heart ranch in central Texas. Each man is content in his independent life, without the responsibilities of a wife and children–until their father decides 1874 will be the year his grown sons finally marry, or they will be cut from his will. How will each man who values his freedom respond to the ultimatum? Can love develop on a timeline, or will it be sacrificed for the sake of an inheritance? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

a-pony-express-romanceA Pony Express Romance by Misty M. Beller — Pony Express rider Josiah English and the station master’s sister, Mara Reid, fall in love, but when the Express shuts down and Mara’s family home is in peril, the danger looming over Mara’s life may not be half as destructive as that threatening her heart. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Military Suspense:

conspiracy-of-silenceConspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig — A former Green Beret is confronted by past mistakes as he and his team battle a centuries-old plague and the terrorists bent on rewriting history. (Military Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Romantic Suspense:

hazardous-holidayHazardous Holiday by Liz Johnson — Just in time for the holidays, navy SEAL Zach McCloud returns home from deployment–and discovers someone wants his family dead. When he married his cousin’s struggling widow, he vowed to help her and her seriously ill son, and now he’ll risk everything to protect them. Even if their arrangement is only temporary. Kristi’s certain an unhappy client from the law firm where she works is determined to hunt her down. But when a sniper bullet wildly misses its target, they begin to question whether it’s really her someone wants dead. Working together, can they figure out why they’ve been attacked…and keep little Cody from the nefarious forces dead set on making this Christmas their last? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

christmas-conspiracyChristmas Conspiracy by Susan Sleeman — When Commander Jake Marsh loses control of a hostage situation and Tessa Long is injured, guilt eats at him. He blurs the line between the professional and personal, and visits Tessa at the hospital. But when a man tries to kill her in her hospital room, Jake disregards all of the rules and regulations that have allowed him to control his world and vows to keep her safe no matter what. Trouble is, the situation brings back memories from his childhood of the loss of his entire family, and for the first time in twenty years, he fears he’s no longer in charge of his life, and knows when he’s out of control bad things happen. Very bad things. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

by jill at 2:46 pm in