Favorite Friday Fiction: Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado

Max Lucado is one of my favorite non-fiction authors so when I heard he released a fiction work, Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe, I ran to get my copy. I loved the storyline which surprisingly contains hints of the speculative genre. I liked this book because like all Lucado books, it left me greatly encouraged.

Click to tweet: Favorite Friday Fiction: Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado #FridayReads #amreading 

Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe

What if you could ask God anything? What would you ask? And how would He answer?

Chelsea Chambers is on her own. After a public split from her NFL superstar husband, Chelsea takes a bold step out of the limelight and behind the counter of the Higher Grounds Café, an old-fashioned coffee shop in dire need of reinvention. But when her courage, expert planning, and out-of-this-world cupcakes fail to pay the bills, this newly single mom finds herself desperate for help. Better yet, a miracle.

Then a curious stranger lands at Chelsea’s door, and with him, an even more curious string of events. Soon, customers are flocking to the Higher Grounds Café, and not just for the cupcakes and cappuccino. They’ve come for the internet connection to the divine. Now the café has become the go-to place for people in search of answers to life’s biggest questions.

When a catastrophe strikes and her ex comes calling, Chelsea begins to wonder if the whole universe is conspiring against her quest to make it on her own. After a shocking discovery opens her eyes to the unseen world around her, Chelsea finds the courage to ask God a question of her own. Heaven answers in a most unexpected way.

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Small Acts of Kindness: Lovely Words

By Betty Thomason Owens

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”—Scott Adams (born 1957), Creator Of Dilbert Comic Strip

My husband and I stopped at the grocery store on a hot, summer day. We only needed a few things, so after we had them, he headed for the self-check line. When he had emptied the small cart, I took it and headed for the front entrance, to return it.

As I reached the spot where the carts were stored, a beautiful African-American woman entered through the front door. Her gorgeous outfit caught my attention—a stunning design, blending golds, browns, and reds. But her face reflected stress, or maybe it was concentration. She headed my way, so I waited to allow her to go in front of me.

Instead of walking by me, she said, “I’ll take that cart.”

I gave it up with a smile, thinking she had saved me several steps. But before she turned away, I felt compelled to speak to her. “I love your outfit.”

Her face was transformed by a glorious smile. Her eyes sparkled as she thanked me. “God bless you—you’ve made my day!”

Ah, the warm glow in my heart, knowing I’d made a difference in this woman’s day, maybe diluted her stress a tiny bit. As I enjoyed that sense of well-being, I was struck with the reality that when we offer a kind word to another and they receive it with joy, their happiness spills over on us.

I was still smiling as my husband and I made our way to the car. Especially when I caught sight of that same woman in her beautiful dress, walking to her car with a definite spring in her step.

Click to tweet:  There’s no such thing as a small act of kindness.  #kindness #kindnessmatters 


Betty Thomason Owens is a multi-published, award-winning author of historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group, and serves as vice-president/secretary of their Louisville Area group. She’s a mentor, assisting other writers, and a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers. She also serves on the planning committee of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference.

Favorite Friday Fiction: Prophet by R.J. Larson

Prophet by R.J. Larson is the first book in the “Books of the Infinite” series. It’s a great fantasy read with strong ties to Biblical history interwoven throughout. I loved her characters and the pacing of the story. I couldn’t read this book fast enough.

Prophet

Ela Roeh of Parne doesn’t understand why her beloved Creator, the Infinite, wants her to become His prophet. She’s undignified and bad-tempered, and at age seventeen she’s much too young. In addition, no prophet of Parne has ever been a girl. Worst of all, as Parne’s elders often warn, if she agrees to become the Infinite’s prophet, Ela knows she will die young.

Yet she can’t imagine living without Him. Determined to hear the Infinite’s voice, Ela accepts the sacred vinewood branch and is sent to bring the Infinite’s word to a nation torn apart by war. There she meets a young ambassador determined to bring his own justice for his oppressed people. As they form an unlikely partnership, Ela battles how to balance the leading of her heart with the leading of the Infinite.

Click to tweet: Favorite Friday Fiction – Prophet by R.J. Larson #FridayReads #amreading

Dinner Out Every Week

I’d finally gotten out of the hospital after four months. I’d come home but was very limited in what I could do.  Walking with a walker and quite slowly at that, it was discouraging, even as I improved each week.  I was cooped up in the house, other than doctors’ appointments and physical and occupational therapy, since I couldn’t drive.

One of my friends recognized my plight and asked if she could take me out for dinner one night. “Sure!”  I said.  I’d get out of the house and spend time with a friend.   Toots MotisherWhat a great opportunity.  But then I had second thoughts.  How would I get around with the walker?  I was very slow with it. How could I get into her truck?  What if I didn’t have enough energy?

I talked to Toots about all of it and she assured me it’d be okay. That we would just go at my pace, and that she wasn’t in a hurry. As for the truck, she reminded me she could help me in. She said she could even lift me if I needed it and she didn’t mind at all. I had to admit that she was certainly strong enough.

So I agreed and we went out. Sure enough, Toots helped me in and out of the truck and we had a good time talking and just spending time together.  Then, to make it even better and more memorable she and I went out every week.  Toots doesn’t live near me, but was dedicated to ministering to me, even though I didn’t know I needed it.

It’s been over a decade now and I still remember how much it meant to me. Even the simple things can make a difference.. What have you done that’s made a difference in someone’s life? Or, perhaps someone’s made a difference in yours.   Share it here.

Favorite Friday Fiction: When Dawn Breaks by Jennifer Slattery

My friend, Jennifer Slattery, writes books that combine great story, strong plots, and interesting characters. When Dawn Breaks is another great read of hers. They always involve cutting-edge topics. Don’t miss reading any of her books…

 

When Dawn Breaks

As the hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, her need for purpose and restitution forces her to head north. North to where her estranged and embittered daughter lives. She needs reconciliation, but can she find it in time? Will her handsome new friend be someone she can lean on during the difficult days ahead or must she relinquish her chance at love again to find peace? 

When Dawn Breaks is a contemporary romance novel filled with humor, romance, and intrigue, along with characters overcoming life’s obstacles and embracing hope. When Dawn Breaks provides readers a look at how middle-aged men and women dealing with real-life issues find hope and peace in God’s will for their lives. The characters will inspire readers to look for ways God can turn their greatest tragedies and failures into beautiful acts of love and grace.

Be inspired to see how God longs to love and heal His children through other Christians. Written by a Hurricane Katrina survivor, this novel is an excellent choice for book clubs as well as women’s Bible study discussion groups to encourage evaluation of one’s gifts and desires in light of God’s calling.

Small Acts of Kindness: The Kindness Blog

Once again, the Kindness blog shares a touching story that I’m grateful to reshare. Enjoy!

For the last eight years, Colbert Nembhard has been bringing books (and smiles) to homeless children in the Bronx, New York.

Mr. Nembhard, a librarian who’s been the manager of the Morrisania branch of the New York Public Library for 25 years, has been on a mission to making literacy a constant in their wandering and ever-changing lives.

The New York Times reports:

“It’s a pleasure to come in here,” Mr. Nembhard began on that Wednesday, never removing his jacket during a presentation that was just short of a Mr. Rogers routine.

He began to sing, “Good morning to you,” and followed with “Wheels on the Bus.” The children joined in with a chorus of “round and round, round and round.”

Toddlers, fidgeting in their chairs or in their mothers’ arms, suddenly became fixated. They could not wait to flip open “Dear Zoo,” by Rod Campbell, a lift-a-flap book, to discover an elephant, a giraffe, a lion and other animals.

Then came Mr. Nembhard’s magical blue glove — magical thanks to Velcro and the five monkeys attached to it — and later he brought out finger puppets. Avani Blair, 2, and Taniyah Blair, 1, stared in amazement.

“I like it, too. I feel like a big kid,” Aaliyah Blair, 24, their mother, said.

She said they had become homeless about two months ago after an eviction.

Mr. Nembhard knew most of the children by name.

“You build relationships with them so that when you see them they feel comfortable,” he said.

…and thanks to Mr Colbert Nembhard, this model he started at the Crotona Inn homeless shelter is now at 30 shelters. He simply realized that some people who were homeless did not find the library comfortable or convenient.

“We bring the library to them,” he said.

For children at the Crotona shelter, the smiles begin every Wednesday morning at the sound of his suitcase’s wheels going around and around down the hallway.

Colbert Nembhard
Mr. Nembhard with his suitcase stuffed with dozens of books.

“Once the kids see that rolling bag,” Ms. Wright said, “they know.”

Mr Nembhard’s selflessness is a testament to the depth of the human heart and an inspiration for many to be the change they seek in all our communities.

Favorite Friday Fiction: Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

It’s the first of a new month and time for a new classic favorite. When I think of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, I enjoy books by Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, and Dorothy Sayers.

My very favorite Dorothy Sayers book is Gaudy Night. Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane have reached a point in their relationship where a decision must be made. Both have past issues they must deal with.  Will it be love and marriage or breakup?  Read on…

Gaudy Night

Back at Oxford for her reunion, Harriet Vane, Lord Peter’s beloved, finds herself in mortal danger.

Since she graduated from Oxford’s Shrewsbury College, Harriet Vane has found fame by writing novels about ingenious murders. She also won infamy when she was accused of committing a murder herself. It took a timely intervention from the debonair Lord Peter Wimsey to save her from the gallows, and since then she has devoted her spare time to resisting his attempts to marry her. Putting aside her lingering shame from the trial, Harriet returns to Oxford for her college reunion with her head held high—only to find that her life is in danger once again.
 
The first poison-pen letter calls her a “dirty murderess,” and those that follow are no kinder. As the threats become more frightening, she calls on Lord Peter for help. Among the dons of Oxford lurks a killer, but it will take more than a superior education to match Lord Peter and the daring Harriet.

Small Acts of Kindness: The Words of a Friend

By Kathy Cheek

Through the kindness and support of a friend,
I was moved from discouragement to a place of renewed hope.

Anyone who writes knows there are more rejections, more closed doors, more difficult challenges than there are yeses and contracts.

Some of those rejections hurt more than others and sometimes it is hard to get back on the bicycle or horse, so to speak.

It is a lot more fun to share good news with friends and family than the times we are rejected, especially when everyone knows how much you wanted to hear yes. Not, we are declining…

So, recently when I was rejected by an agent and a publisher in the same week, I was feeling pretty down, until I received an email from a friend I would describe as soft spoken.

Well, she wasn’t soft spoken in this email. If you could be loud in an email, she was loud. She was loudly proclaiming her support of my writing and telling me not to give up in such a forceful encouraging way, I was moved from my place of discouragement to a place of renewed hope.

Her uplifting words made a difference and urged me on. She will never know how much her kindness and support meant to me in those days as I read her email over and over—finding the courage in her words to believe there is a plan and I need to keep working.

I want to live up to her challenge and not give up.

I also want to be the friend to others that she was to me, and I hope I can do that with kindness and support—as she did for me.


Kathy Cheek writes faith-filled devotions and is published in LifeWay’s Journey magazine and Mature Living, and also contributes to several devotional sites, including Thoughts About God, Christian Devotions, and CBN.com.

Her favorite subject to write about is the rich relationship God desires to have with us and the deep trust it takes to live it out. She and her husband of 33 years live in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas and they have two daughters and one son-in-law who also reside in the Dallas area. You can read more of her devotions at www.kathycheek.com.

Favorite Friday Fiction: Lightning on a Quiet Night by Donn Taylor

Lightning on a Quiet Night by Donn Taylor is an intense suspense book, the story of a small town in the South, 1948. An edge-of-your-seat read with wonderful twists and turns throughout.  A great book…

 

Lighting on a Quiet Night

Following a horrific murder, the town of Beneficent, Mississippi, population 479, tries desperately to hold onto its vain self-image. The young veteran Jack Davis holds that idyllic vision of the town and tries to share it with Lisa Kemper, newly arrived from Indiana. But she is repelled by everything in it.

While the sheriff tries to find the killer, Jack and Lisa’s contentious courtship reveals the town’s strange combination of astute perceptions and surprising blind spots. When they stumble onto shocking discovery about the town’s true nature, their love and the town’s vain self-image become the least of their worries.