Devotion by Dianne J. Wilson @diannejwilson
Do you ever wish God would put some skin on and come sit in your lounge and explain exactly what He wants from you? I sure do.
As a kid, I loved doing dot-to-dot puzzles. There was something deeply satisfying in watching something emerge from the seemingly random numbers.
I've come to realize that figuring out God's will is much like doing a dot-to-dot. But instead of pen and paper, you have events and promises.
The numbers alone don't make much sense. When you start a new puzzle, all you see are numbers dotted on a page. None of them mean anything by themselves. But when you start connecting them, the bigger picture will emerge. When it comes to life, sometimes single events will leave you perplexed. Until you are able to step back and see those events in the bigger context of the rest of your life, you may find yourself sliding towards fear and unbelief.
So how do you do a real-life-what-is-God-up-to-dot-to-dot?
1. Pay attention
Take note of anything that happens that's out of the ordinary, Bible verses that stand out, conversations... Some things will be significant, some of them won't. But you won't know unless you keep track of them all. Before I landed my first official publishing contract with Pelican / Harbourlight, I was throwing all my energy into catching the attention of an agent. Three things happened that highlighted the phrase 'Harbourlight'. One in particular made me realize there was more to it all. A song on the radio caught my ear and when I investigated, it was by a local band called 'Harbourlight'. In my Googling, I fell over this publisher that stood for all the things that are in my heart when it comes to fiction. The best part? They are one of the few that are happy to accept un-agented submissions. I'm currently working on my fourth book for them.
2. Write them down
I find it useful to keep a journal and make notes of scriptures that pop, events, conversations, anything that seems vaguely significant. Every so often I read through and as I do so, similar themes often emerge. Patterns. As I home in those, I get a sneak-peak into what God is busy doing with me.
3. Be patient
Eugene Petersen wrote a book called A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. That sums it up nicely. The picture is seldom clear by dot number three. When it comes to complex puzzles, dot thirty is still a spaghetti mess. But as you continue to pay attention, listen, keep a soft heart, and do what He tells you to, His plan will emerge, perfect in design and timing.
This puzzle of life is not sent to frustrate and exhaust you. It is a beautiful opportunity to choose to trust the One who holds the pencil of your future. He is good and His plans for you are good!
Dianne J. Wilson writes novels from her hometown in East London, South Africa, where she lives with her husband and three daughters. She is writing a three book YA series, Spirit Walker, for Pelican / Harbourlight. Affinity (book 1), releases on the 8th of June 2018
Paul Baines | @ICFWriters
Time is a curious thing. It exists. We can measure it and we are aware of its presence. Yet we cannot touch it. We cannot hold it in our hands or store it in jars. It may appear to travel at different speeds and, according to the theory of Relativity, it actually does, but we cannot stop its relentless march onward.
It is now well into 2018. I remember in 1978 as a ten-year-old reading about the year 2000 and being astonished. I tried to imagine so far into the future. I tried to picture being so incredibly old.
Someone once said that we do not conceptualize about
space and time. Rather we conceptualize within
space and time. Trying to imagine no space or no time is impossible for us because we were designed to exist within it. So you could say that we are prisoners of time. There is no escaping it. The clock is always ticking. In 1978 I could not imagine living to 2000, and yet it came and went just as 2017 did.
As a sci-fi writer I enjoy playing with time. While I believe time-travel is impossible, it can be used to great effect to tell stories. Who of us hasn't wished we could turn back the clock and do things differently? This past year has been a painful reminder for me that things done cannot be undone. If time-travel were possible I would be the first to sign up, even if it was just for a few seconds so that I could tell my wife that I love her one last time.
As a Christian, I often wonder about when Jesus will return. He lived and died 2000 years ago. At the time the New Testament was written, His return was seen as imminent. You can almost feel the anticipation within the pages. In the lead up to 2000, prophecies of Jesus' return sprang up like mushrooms. I remember watching Gloria Copeland discuss starting a new teaching series--if they "had time". That was in 1997 and all those prophecies were proven wrong.
Last week I heard a Christian speaker talking about Isaiah and his prophecies of the Messiah. I have always known that Isaiah foretold the coming of Jesus, but something the speaker said struck me straight between the eyes. I had heard it before but it never sank in. Isaiah's prophecies of the Messiah were made 700 years before the events actually took place.
Think about that for a moment. It would be like someone in the Middle Ages predicting events of today. Or somebody 150 years before Columbus discovered America prophecying that Donald Trump would be president of a country that would not come into being for another century and a half.
In 2 Peter 3:8 it says "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."
I find great comfort in this scripture because it show that, in God's calendar, 700 years is only a brief period of time and 2000 is not much longer. Jesus may return today or it may be in another 2000 years. Only God knows. All I know is, I want to be ready.
By Lisa Harris @heartofafrica
One of the things our family has been blessed to do is travel together. Sometimes it's for ministry, like language school in Brazil. Other times we've been able to stop in Europe on the way from Africa to the United States, where we usually visit friends. The opportunity to set my stories in some of these locations with my Love Inspired Suspense books has been so much fun for me, and releasing this month is Deadly Exchange which was set in Amsterdam. Several years ago, our family stopped in Holland for a few days to visit friends and see some of Amsterdam. I loved the chance to incorporate some of the things we saw while we were there including a brief mention of Corrie ten Boom, one of the first places we visited just outside of Amsterdam. Her testimony of her family risking their lives to save the Jews during the war has always been so powerful to me, and in my story, my heroine feels the same way. She talks about the impact of visiting her house and her prayer that God would use her.
We also were able to visit the countryside outside of Amsterdam where part of my story takes place, in an older estate. Some of my favorite scenes are the windmills in the background and the fog along the water. We were even able to visit a place where they make the decorative wooden clogs.
And no trip to Amsterdam is complete without trying some raw herring. I love fish and grew up on smoked salmon, so for me it wasn’t bad at all. But I can't say that all of my family felt the same!
Taking a boat ride through the city was a lot of fun, and honestly, one of my favorite ways to see a city. I love all the houseboats and bridges and of course Amsterdam's unique architecture.
And lastly, you can't forget about all the bikes in Amsterdam. I confess, I never tried to ride one, especially in the city, but I love the idea of riding bikes everywhere. In fact, the first scene is of my heroine on her way home on her bike she affectionally named Archie.
While I have such great memories of our time in the Netherlands, I took my heroine through a much different experience in Deadly Exchange
. Chased across Amsterdam by a human-trafficking ring, social advocate Kayla Brooks refuses to help them recapture Mercy, the young girl she rescued from their clutches. And there's only one man Kayla can turn to for help: her ex-fiance's brooding older brother, Levi Cummings. Armed with only a few clues, Kayla and Levi must bring down the crime ring. . .or lose their lives in the process.Giveaway
About Lisa Harris
LISA HARRIS is a Christy Award finalist for Blood Ransom and Vendetta, Christy Award winner for Dangerous Passage, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 (Blood Covenant) and 2015 (Vendetta) from Romantic Times. She has over thirty novels and novella collections in print. She and her family have spent over thirteen years working as missionaries in Africa. When she's not working she loves hanging out with her family, cooking different ethnic dishes, photography, and heading into the African bush on safari.
Introducing Athens Ambuscade by Kristen Joy Wilks
By Iola Goulton, @iolagoulton
I requested Athens Ambuscade for review for two reasons:
- It obviously featured Athens, Greece, which makes it perfect for a post at International Christian Fiction Writers.
- I've never heard of "ambuscade" before, so I had to find out what it meant (it's an antiquated term for 'ambush' for those who are interested.
But then I read the book description and wasn't so sure ...
What happens when a strapped-for-cash bridal designer needs a stuffed animal...and fast?Up-and-coming bridal designer, Jacqueline Gianakos must fly a Montana taxidermist to Greece in order to stuff her Grandmother's cat. If Chrysanthemum isn't preserved within two days' time, Jacqueline will lose the home that was her childhood sanctuary. But will she survive the next 48 hours when the taxidermist ignores her pointed request and then shows up wearing flannel?
This sounded a little weird. And perhaps it was. But it worked.
Jacqueline is in Athens dealing with the estate of her recently deceased grandmother. Ya-Ya left what could have been a to-do list in the envelope with her will, and the lawyer decrees that Jacqueline must complete all the tasks on the list before she can inherit the house. This would seem ridiculous and unbelievable, but the writing and the setting makes it seem almost logical.
Anyway, Jacqueline (never Jackie and definitely not Jack) is a lady with Plans. She has emptied the attic, cleaned the gutters, built a tasteful orange tree house (if that's not a contradiction in terms then I don't know what is), and baked a watermelon pie (I have no idea how you bake a pie from a fruit that is basically water).
Now she has to get that nice taxidermist from Montana to stuff her grandmother's dead cat.
He's arrived in Athens, and they've got two days to stuff the cat and show the lawyer. Shouldn't be difficult ...
Jacqueline and Shane collect the cat from cold storage (it's been dead three years, and Ya-Ya wasn't crazy enough to keep it in her own freezer. Yes, this is a good time for crazy cat lady jokes). Then their troubles begin as thugs in black vans want to steal the cat. Yes, you read that right. It's the "ambuscade" promised in the title.
What follows is a fast-paced cat chase through the streets and sights of Athens, including a visit to the Parthenon, the Gate of Athena, the Monastiraki Flea Market, and the Cave of Aglauros. It's also funny, in a laugh-out-loud kind of way, not a how-stupid-is-this-woman kind of way.
Jacqueline is a little strange (I guess she takes after Ya-Ya).
As I said, Jacqueline is a lady with Plans. She has plans and lists and is perhaps a little over the top. For example, when she arranges to meet Shane, the taxidermist, in an Athenian cafe, she doesn't tell him what she'll be wearing. She tells him the width of her belt, and the three shades of eyeshadow. I try to be organised, but Jacqueline takes planning and organisation to a whole new level.
Athens Ambuscade is a quick read, both because of the fast pace and because it is relatively short. But it packed a lot of punch: lots of great lines:
It also had a strong Christian theme, with Jacqueline learning a definite lesson about the nature of God (a lesson that had nothing to do with kittens or rainbows or fluffy things).
And the location ... Wilks did a great job with the location:
So much color. A swipe of robin's egg blue across the Mediterranean sky, ancient white marble, and the flush of green growth clinging to the mountain. God seemed to create His most glorious splendors in hard to reach places.
Some books are set in exotic locations, but you read them and get the feeling they could have been set anywhere—the setting comes a distant third behind the plot and characters. Athens Ambuscade is different. It almost felt as though the setting were a character, and I loved that—although I am glad my own short visit to Athens wasn't nearly as exciting as Jacqueline and Shane's.
I recommend Athens Ambuscade for those who enjoy romantic comedy from authors such as Kara Isaac, and those looking for a Christian novel equivalent of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Thanks to Pelican Books and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
About Iola Goulton
Iola Goulton is a New Zealand book reviewer, freelance editor, and author, writing contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Unpronounceable Names (Iola is pronounced yo-la, not eye-ola and definitely not Lola).
Iola holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting, and currently works as a freelance editor. When she’s not working, Iola is usually reading or writing her next book review. Iola lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand (not far from Hobbiton) with her husband, two teenagers and one cat. She is currently working on her first novel.
Deadly Exchange by Lisa Harris
When one of the girls she rescued goes missing and her father’s kidnapped, trauma specialist Kayla Brooks is sure she’s the human traffickers’ next target. Her only ally is Levi Cummings, the brother of a man she helped put in prison — a man she isn’t sure she can trust.
Lisa Harris is giving away an ebook copy of Deadly Exchange.
To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post and/or Lisa's Wandering Wednesday post on January 17. Receive two entries in the drawing by commenting on both posts. Check out Lisa's post on Wednesday for more information on the giveaway and Lisa's journey in Amsterdam - the European setting for Deadly Exchange.Read a FREE sample of Deadly Exchange at Amazon.com
Isaiah's Daughter by Mesu Andrews
In this epic Biblical narrative, ideal for fans of The Bible miniseries, a young woman taken into the prophet Isaiah's household rises to capture the heart of the future king.
Isaiah adopts Ishma, giving her a new name--Zibah, delight of the Lord--thereby ensuring her royal pedigree. Ishma came to the prophet's home, devastated after watching her family destroyed and living as a captive. But as the years pass, Zibah's lively spirit wins Prince Hezekiah's favor, a boy determined to rebuild the kingdom his father has nearly destroyed. But loving this man will awake in her all the fears and pain of her past and she must turn to the only One who can give life, calm her fears, and deliver a nation.Available at Amazon.com
A Mother for His Family by Susanne Dietze
A Convenient Arrangement.
Lady Helena Stanhope’s reputation is in tatters…and she’s lost any hope for a “respectable” ton marriage. An arranged union is the only solution. But once Helena weds formidable Scottish widower John Gordon, Lord Ardoch, and encounters his four mischievous children, she’s determined to help her new, ever-surprising family. Even if she’s sure love is too much to ask for.
All John needs is someone to mother his admittedly unruly brood. He never imagined that beautiful Lady Helena would be a woman of irresistible spirit, caring and warmth. Or that facing down their pasts would give them so much in common. Now, as danger threatens, John will do whatever it takes to convince Helena their future together—and his love—are for always.Available at Amazon.com
A Daring Escape by Tricia Goyer
Danger Closes In. Can the Children be Rescued?
As the threat of World War II looms on the horizon, American Amity Mitchell is living a comfortable life abroad as a tutor in England. Life changes when an urgent telegram arrives from her brother, Andrew, summoning her to Prague. Nazi forces tighten their grip on the country, and Andrew's efforts to help Jewish children escape Czechoslovakia grow desperate. Children's lives are at risk. Amity knows she can't ignore God's call to join her brother's cause.
Amity's boss, Clark, arrives in Prague, urging her to return. Soon, he too finds himself helping prepare kindertransports bound for the safety of England. With the sound of German tanks rumbling over cobblestone streets, Amity and Clark race to save innocent lives. Will their prayers for deliverance be answered? A Daring Escape
is a gripping tale of hope, self-sacrifice, and the power of unrelenting love overcoming unspeakable hate. Available at Amazon.com
Judah's Wife by Angela Hunt
Seeking peace and safety after a hard childhood, Leah marries Judah, a strong and gentle man, and for the first time in her life Leah believes she can rest easily. But the land is ruled by Antiochus IV, descended from one of Alexander the Great's generals, and when he issues a decree that all Jews are to conform to Syrian laws upon pain of death, devout Jews risk everything to follow the law of Moses.
Judah's father resists the decree, igniting a war that will cost him his life. But before dying, he commands his son to pick up his sword and continue the fight--or bear responsibility for the obliteration of the land of Judah. Leah, who wants nothing but peace, struggles with her husband's decision--what kind of God would destroy the peace she has sought for so long?
The miraculous story of the courageous Maccabees is told through the eyes of Judah's wife, who learns that love requires courage . . . and sacrifice. Available at Amazon.com
The Melody of the Soul by Liz Tolsma
Anna has one chance for survival—and it lies in the hands of her mortal enemy.
It’s 1943 and Anna Zadok, a Jewish Christian living in Prague, has lost nearly everything. Most of her family has been deported, and the Nazi occupation ended her career as a concert violinist. Now Anna is left to care for her grandmother, and she’ll do anything to keep her safe—a job that gets much harder when Nazi officer Horst Engel is quartered in the flat below them.
Though musical instruments have been declared illegal, Anna defiantly continues to play the violin. But Horst, dissatisfied with German ideology, enjoys her soothing music. When Anna and her grandmother face deportation, Horst risks everything to protect them.
Anna finds herself falling in love with the handsome officer and his brave heart. But what he reveals might stop the music forever. Available at Amazon.com
A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White
Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a crucial task at the outset of World War I--to steal a cypher from a famous violinist currently in Wales.
Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he's won--until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father's work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only light he finds is meeting the intriguing Willa Forsythe.
But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn't--that she must betray him and find that cypher, or her own family will pay the price as surely as his has. Available at Amazon.com