Favorite Friday Fiction: The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart

The Five Times I Met Myself is another great novel by James L. Rubart. The struggles of the characters mirrored my own and touched me. Like all his books, it is very well-written. Make sure you have a box of tissue nearby!

Click to tweet: The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart on Favorite Friday Fiction. Awesome book! #Fridayreads #amreading


The Five Times I Met Myself

“If you think fiction can’t change your life and challenge you to be a better person, you need to read The Five Times I Met Myself.”

Andy Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of How Do You Kill 11 Million People, The Noticer & The Traveler’s Gift

What if you met your twenty-three-year-old self in a dream? What would you say?

Brock Matthews’ once promising life is unraveling. His coffee company. His marriage.

So when he discovers his vivid dreams—where he encounters his younger self—might let him change his past mistakes, he jumps at the chance. The results are astonishing, but also disturbing.

Because getting what Brock wants most in the world will force him to give up the one thing he doesn’t know how to let go . . . and his greatest fear is that it’s already too late.

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Favorite Friday Fiction: The Bargain by Aaron D. Gansky

The Bargain is an intriguing roller coaster of a book. I loved the characters and setting. The way Gansky builds up suspense is masterful. I’ve read most of his books and enjoyed them all. If you like suspense, read this book…

Click to tweet: The Bargain by Aaron D. Gansky runs over with riveting suspense. #suspense #Fridayreads


The Bargain
One man stands between a destitute town and total destruction.

Ten articles in eight days is a tall order for any journalist, even for Polk Award winner Connor Reedly. But with a dying wife and an empty bank account, the promised payment of $250,000 is hard to turn down. More so, his enigmatic employer, Mason Becker, has insinuated Connor’s acceptance of the job will result in a supernatural healing of his beloved wife. 

The people of Hailey, California—the subjects of Connor’s charged articles—are a secretive group, not willing to open up to strangers. When shots are fired and Connor is running for his life, he demands Mason answer his questions: Why are the articles so important? Is anyone going to publish them? Where is the money coming from? How can he be so confident that the completion of the articles will heal his wife? 

Nothing in Connor s vast journalistic adventures—not Katrina, not September 11th, not even his first-hand experience in the genocide in Darfur–could prepare him for the answers Mason gives. Now, it seems, the lives of everyone in Hailey—including his wife’s—are in his hands.

Small Acts of Kindness: Wedding Roses

By Sarah Van Diest

It was my wedding, well, it was my second wedding. I never dreamt I would have been divorced, much less get married a second time, but here I was, and ever so thankful to be here after such a long and difficult road.

I was nervous. And though I had an idea about how I wanted things to go, I didn’t have a solid handle on how to pull it off. I called in some friends to help make it happen. One did my hair. One did the food. One did the flowers. It was simple and it was perfect.

The wedding we planned was very small. Only family and a few friends were invited. Our pastor’s house served as our wedding venue. We had cheesecake and punch, the music was one guy with a guitar, and the kids played out in the backyard. It was cozy and sweet. I wouldn’t change a thing.

After our small ceremony, my wonderful groom took me off for our honeymoon and to the start of our new lives together. We left our five boys with various family member and went away for a week of learning to be us.

The boys were really the only thing I thought about back home.

But one of my sweet friends thought of something else. After the wedding, she grabbed my bouquet of red roses and dried them, preserving them beautifully for me. When we returned home from our honeymoon, she came over to deliver the bouquet. It was such a sweet surprise!

I had no idea how much that gesture would mean to me, but when she handed them to me, I cried. I’m still not exactly sure what the tears meant, but I think it was all things combined together: a second marriage, a blended family, a new start, and the knowledge of dear friends to support and cheer us on.

I still have those roses, 13 years later. I keep them as a reminder of that day and of my thoughtful friends and all they did to help make that day so special. They remind me that tiny gestures of kindness can be enormously impactful. They encourage me to be thoughtful of others. And they tell me that the kindness doesn’t have to be huge to be meaningful.

Click to tweet: Small acts of kindness. Kindness doesn’t have to be huge to be meaningful. #kindnessmatters #amreading


Sarah Van Diest is a writer and editor. She’s the mother of two boys, stepmother to three more, and wife to David. Sarah wrote this book as letters to a dear friend whose life was turning upside down. She’s done this for years for numerous friends and will continue to, Lord willing. It’s her gift to them. It’s hope written down.


God in the Dark

When you are in the dark places of your life, Sarah Van Diest offers a companion for the path you are walking. You will find a voice of comfort and truth to call you back to the light, to help you see that you are never alone, never too far gone, and never unloved. This collection of 31 devotions doesn’t minimize the reality of your struggles, but rather points you to where God is—walking right alongside you. Receive this hope in the pain, God in the Dark.

Why I Decided to Get a Tattoo-Part 2

By Jennifer Hallmark

**If you missed it, you’ll find part 1 here...

Hello, world! It’s Sunday, January 21. I’ve just left the church, and I’m driving home. After the service, standing in the parking lot, I showed my daughter my tattoo. I can’t help but smile because I’ve just totally shocked her. I didn’t think it was possible.

She asked if it hurt. In fact, even today, that’s the question I’m asked the most.

Yes, it hurt. A lot.

But really not as bad as I imagined. I’m a writer, and I have a big imagination.  I went in with a large cup of iced coffee and my friend, so I was ready. The artists were very professional and the parlor was super clean, which was the main thing I’d been researching for the last six months.

The lady and I discussed again what I wanted (we’d already been chatting on FB messenger), I paid her, and she went to get the template for the word “fearless.” I’d picked a specific font, one where the letters were in cursive, but the “r” wasn’t joined to the “l.” That way, it could read fearless or fear less.

In life, I’ve always been cautious, conservative, and reserved. Nothing wrong with that except when I let it affect my walk with God and my witness. Or it comes between me and my family and friends. So this year, I want to fear less and faith more.

I love the little story that says, “Fear knocked on the door. Faith answered. No one was there.” That’s how I want to live. I’m not there yet. Every day, I ask God to help me recognize fear and shut the door by my faith in Him.

Anyway, the whole process from when I entered the shop lasted about an hour and a half. I’d already purchased the soap and ointment and things for aftercare. It’s healed well.

Am I ready for another one?

No. I broke through that wall and it is enough. It’s taken me a few months to get up the courage to share it with y’all. I shake my head as I think how crazy I am to get so worked up over a tattoo. But one of my fears throughout my life has been fear of rejection. So, it makes sense.

Why have I shared this over the last two weeks? I guess it’s mostly for me. I have my first novel coming out in June of 2019 with Firefly Southern fiction, and I’m already struggling a little with what people will think of my book. Will they cringe? Laugh? Love it? Or reject it?

I give these fears to God. I like to say I don’t write for God; I write with Him. We laugh and cry together as I pen words that reduce me to a transparent, vulnerable state I’d rather not be in, at times. But it’s a healing place.

And it’s me.

Hello, world!

Click to tweet: Why I decided to get a tattoo. My daughter asked if it hurt. In fact, even today, that’s the question I’m asked the most. #tattoo #faith

Me signing my contract

Favorite Friday Fiction: Storms in Serenity by Fay Lamb

Storms in Serenity is a complex, engaging story by Fay Lamb. The way she weaves her characters brings them to life and makes you want to know what happens to them. The suspense is terrific and I didn’t want to put it down until I could see how it would end. Another great novel by Fay.

Click to tweet: Favorite Friday Fiction: Storms in Serenity by Fay Lamb. A tempest has been brewing for thirty years, with only one island town in its path. #FridayReads #suspense


Storms in Serenity

How can one man save the town he loves when he’s the reason for the destruction?

Serenity Key, Florida, has seen its share of hurricanes, but this time, one foul weather system is about to collide with another storm, and this one has nothing to do with atmospheric pressure. 

David New has guarded his secrets for years, but when two brothers, John and Andy Ryan, arrive in town and he gets news that the daughter he’s never told anyone about has disappeared, possibly the victim of a heinous crime, and the lives of many of the town residents begin to unravel in the gale force consequences of Jake’s past, he has nowhere else to turn.
God is the only one Who can calm the storms, but can David and the good folks of Serenity Key survive until He does?
A tempest has been brewing for thirty years, with only one island town in its path.

Small Acts of Kindness – A Child’s Prayer

By Betty Thomason Owens

My Dad died eleven years ago. It was unexpected. I was going to the hospital that morning to bring him home. Instead, I received a call that his procedure had not gone well, please come at once. By the time my mom and I arrived, he was gone.

The shock of the painful loss, and the fact that I hadn’t eaten all day, left me with a painful migraine. As my family gathered in the kitchen of my house to discuss Dad’s final arrangements, I lay in bed, too sick to move.

The door opened, letting in a sliver of light. My six-year-old granddaughter, Sophie, whispered to me. “Grandma, can I pray for you?”

Fresh tears filled my eyes. “Yes, of course you can.”

She stood beside me, laid her small hand on my forehead, and prayed. I don’t remember her exact words, but she prayed for my comfort, because I was “so sad,” then for my healing from the painful headache. “I love you, Grandma,” she said, as she left the room.

Now, I figured I had a problem. If I didn’t get up, she might think her prayer didn’t work. Or maybe God hadn’t heard. My head still hurt, and nausea still churned my stomach, but I got up slowly, went in and washed my face, then crept out to the kitchen.

Sophie and her sisters hugged me. Her daddy (my son), brought me ginger ale and crackers. Gradually, the pain subsided and I realized, it had gone. I was reminded of Peter’s mother-in-law in the Bible, the woman for whom Jesus had prayed (Matthew 8: 14-15). When I made the effort to rise and join my family, healing manifested.

Sophie never doubted. And though it seemed a small thing, her prayer of faith released me, and gave me the strength I needed to rise and join the living.

Click to tweet: Small acts of kindness. A child’s prayer makes the difference. #kindness #prayer


Betty Thomason Owens loves being outdoors. Her favorite season is spring, when she can work in the yard or take long walks, while thinking through a troublesome scene in one of her stories.

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

Her works include the Legacy series and Kinsman Redeemer series, published by Write Integrity Press, and Jael of Rogan two-book fantasy series in a second edition, published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.

You can learn more about her at BettyThomasonOwens.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Favorite Friday Fiction: Still Life in Shadows by Alice J. Wisler

Still Life in Shadows is another great book by Alice J. Wisler. Amish isn’t my favorite genre, normally, but I read anything Alice writes. I love how she combines both worlds with a wonderful plot and realistic characters. You’ll enjoy all her books…

Click to tweet: Amish fiction with a twist. Love it! #amreading #FridayReads


Still Life in Shadows

It’s been fifteen years since Gideon Miller ran away from his Amish community in Carlisle, Pennsylvania as a boy of fifteen. Gideon arrives in the Smoky Mountains town of Twin Branches and settles in at the local auto mechanic’s garage. He meets a host of interesting characters –the most recent acquaintances are Kiki, an autistic teen, and her sister Mari. Known as the “Getaway Savior” he helps other Amish boys and girls relocate to life in modern America.

One day the phone rings. On the other end is his brother Moriah calling from Florida. Of course Gideon welcomes his brother to stay with him and offers him a job. But Moriah is caught in a web which ends in his death and forces Gideon to return to the town of his youth, with his brother’s body in the back of a hearse and Mari and Kiki at his side. He must face not only the community he ran away from years ago but also his own web of bitterness. Will he be able to give his anger over to God and forgive his father? 

Small Acts of Kindness: The Right Encouragement to Soldier On

By Stephanie L. Robertson

The blue and navy bars mocked me from my computer screen.  Like a staggered row of dingy tenements, those statistics told me one thing:

Your posts are irrelevant.   Give up. 

I admit, I have shed tears of frustration over those metrics.  Since 2013, I’ve poured hours of work to create what industry professionals call a “writer’s platform.”  It’s supposed to assure folks in the publishing world that I’m marketable.  They can take a chance on my novel because people like to read my work.

The proof is in those little rectangles that indicate the number of visitors to my website.

Please forgive me if I sound cynical, but “build it and they will come” apparently doesn’t apply in the blogosphere.

Trust me, I have targeted, focused, spent hard-earned freelance writer funds, promoted, boosted, SEO-ed, and spent more money to promote my site.

And yet, sometimes it seems as though I’m wasting time and resources trying to build up enthusiasm for my site.

So I did what any self-respecting writer would do:  I begged and pleaded for site visitors in the post I wrote on March 1, 2018:  Pouring Out My Heart [http://www.sweetgumlife.com/2018/03/01/pouring-out-my-heart/]

In return, I received some small acts of kindness.

One of my brick-and-mortar friends (someone I know outside of the virtual world) offered up hope.  Essentially, she commented: Don’t give up!

An author friend sent me an entire paragraph.  Essentially, she commented: Don’t give up!

A close relative sent me a one-liner.  Essentially, she commented: Don’t give up!

And my dear father-in-law sent me a few short words.  Essentially, he commented: Don’t give up!

Sometimes, an act of kindness is simply a smile from a stranger.

At other times, it comes in a few comments, which reflect our Father’s love.

And gives us just the right encouragement to soldier on.

Click to tweet: Encouragement can help someone who’s about to give up. #kindnessmatters #smallactsofkindness


Stephanie L. Robertson is a writer and editor who maintains a southern lifestyle blog at www.SweetgumLife.com.

A busy Christian wife and mom, Stephanie and her husband of 19 years live in the Huntsville area with their teenage daughter.

Stephanie has a self-published short suspense story on Amazon and is working on adding a novel.  When not immersed in mom/wife life, she enjoys photography, Pinterest projects, coffee with family and friends, and immersing herself in a good suspense novel.

Small Acts of Kindness: Lunch with a Friend

By Kathy Cheek

My friend and I hadn’t met for lunch in a long time since she had moved across town and was going to a new church. After we were seated and were sipping our iced tea, I asked “How are you doing?” and her “fine” didn’t sound fine at all.

When her voice started to tremble and tears welled up in her eyes I knew something was wrong and when she began to spell out a difficult situation in their family she also shared that she hadn’t told anyone because she was afraid of what others would think.

She admitted that holding it in and not talking to anyone seemed to just make the stress harder to bear. She finally realized she needed to be open and we talked about the fact that when we don’t share our burdens we end up adding burden to burden.

What do I mean by adding burden to burden?  The best way I know to describe it is when we have difficulty sharing our burden with others because we think it is too much for them to handle, we are adding a new burden to our already existing burden. This happens when we are reluctant to open up with people and talk about what we are going through, not wanting to impose our problems on others. When we keep it in and think it is too much to put on others, we are adding burden to burden.

God made His family to have that desire to come alongside hurting people and help them through the hard times. This is part of His plan to carry us through those difficult times and out of the valley. God goes with us and brings others along to walk the journey with us.  Pain is not a journey meant to be walked alone. We don’t have to walk alone when we let friends and family help us in our time of need.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Click to tweet: Small acts of kindness. Lunch with a friend. #smallactsofkindness #kindnessmatters


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.

Kathy is thrilled to announce her book First Breath of Morning – A 90 Day Devotional is contracted to be published and will be out this fall! You will find info and a description of the book on her Book News page at Devotions from the Heart

 

Favorite Friday Fiction: Misstep by Deborah Dee Harper

Misstep by Deborah Dee Harper is a book I really enjoyed, laughing out loud at different parts of the book. Zany, believable characters and never knowing what is coming next made it another great read. Don’t miss this series. Book 2, Faux Pas, is good and I’m ready for Book 3. 🙂

Click to tweet: Misstep by Deborah Dee Harper. A laugh out loud fun read. #humor #FridayReads


Misstep (The Road’s End series book 1)

Winnie and Sadie are still fighting, and I’m still living in the strangest town on earth.

It’s December in Road’s End, Virginia, a tiny town long forgotten by anyone but its residents, where Colonel Hugh Foster and his wife, Melanie, have chosen to live—for better or worse. The jury’s still out on that one!

Road’s End is comprised entirely of senior citizens whose kids have grown and left for greener pastures. Hugh, Melanie, and Bristol (one of the few sane people in town) are faced with a crumbling church in desperate need of repair and renovation, a dwindling congregation of opinionated, ornery senior citizens, and a camel—yes, a camel. And if that’s not enough, the trio and the rest of the Road’s End residents, are soon mired in danger and intrigue when a group of gun-toting drug dealers arrive in town, bent on killing the church handyman, and conspiring to ruin the doggonedest record-breaking blizzard the town has ever seen.

Poor drug dealers.