A Perfect Fit by Karen Jurgens

A Perfect Fit

Formally titled Desire’s Promise – Newly revised and expanded.

Carlie Livingston is steering into her last year of college in Oxford, Ohio, confident that she and Lance Holloway are headed to the altar after graduation. Those plans are wrecked, however, by her dad’s infidelity, causing her parents to walk through a messy divorce. Will she have the same fate if she marries her college sweetheart who comes from a secular family? Her mother insists she will.

She tests God’s Word by letting Him take the wheel of her life. But if God is in control, why are all her close relationships crumbling?  Nothing makes sense.

Just when it appears hopeless, Clay McKinney two-steps into Carlie’s life, promising to provide everything she’s looking for in a Christian mate. But if he’s God’s answer, why can’t her heart release Lance? Where will her final destination be on this journey of trust?

Link to buy:   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0773Q1XC7


Karen Jurgens lives in the great state of Texas and writes contemporary Christian romance. Passionate about heavenly marriage on earth, she writes about how to find God’s peace through life’s storms at Touched by Him, her ministry blog. You can connect with her at http://KarenJurgens.com

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Small Acts of Kindness: No Kindness Unnoticed

By Christina Rich

Seventeen months ago, my husband went to be with Jesus. All the sudden, I was no longer a pampered, spoiled wife who was treated like a queen. All the sudden, I found myself… alone.

Not completely alone. The kids were around. My parents were around. My closest friends were around. But they had their lives and their own grief to deal with. I know the Lord says He’ll never leave us nor forsake us, but knowing scripture and trusting in it fully in the middle of losing the man you’d spent over half your life with is much easier said than done. I tried. Some days I succeeded, others I did not.

The March and April before my husband went to Glory, we were in one of the greatest seasons of our lives. We were in the middle of an on-fire ministry, ministering to the lost and broken. Looking back, it seemed as if we were at the beginning of doing great and mighty things for God. Little did we know it would come to a halt a few months later. The end of May he was diagnosed with cancer, by June 19th he abandoned his earthly tent.

During the few days he was in the hospital people came in to pray for us, but my husband always ended up praying for them, and on the occasion, he ended up ministering to them.

The few weeks we were home, people brought us things, like rocks with scriptures and flowers and meals.

The night before he was to meet Jesus face to face, many gathered around our bed and prayed over him until the ambulance showed up to whisk him away to the emergency room.

The next day, that last morning as his breathing became noticeably different, I prayed for strength. I asked God to send me help as we transitioned. I knew my husband was either going to be healed, in which we would need a support system as we declared God’s goodness, or he was going home, in which I would need a support system as I declared God’s goodness. I knew I couldn’t do what needed to be done alone.

A little after lunch, the hospital sent us to hospice and his room was flooded with family and friends. The few short hours we were there people came in and out. There were tears and lots of mourning. I wasn’t comfortable with the mourning. I don’t cry easy. I don’t like emotion, not from me. Although, as my husband said during his last sermon, “tears are good, they’re healing.” Anyway, a young couple we knew from a former church came in, having lost their newborn son a year and a half prior, they knew grief. They were my answered prayer. They rallied us to worship. They encouraged my husband to fight. I watched my husband’s demeanor change. It’s hard to explain, but he was ready to battle and to not except defeat. What I mean by that is that he wasn’t entering heaven sorrowful, he was going in victory.

The young couple left and a few minutes later my husband took his final breaths.

I’m not going to lie. This is hard to write, but each of those people, and the multitudes of people around the world that I don’t even know about, saw their ‘doing’ as a small thing. The visiting, the hours of praying, the fasting, the food, the gifts, the hand-holding… it wasn’t small. Not to me. Not to my kids. Not to God. It was huge.

My hope is this, if you feel the need to visit someone in the hospital, do. If you feel the nudge to send a thoughtful note, do. If you feel the urge to make a meal for a single mother, do. If you feel like taking a widow out for coffee, do. If you feel the Spirit moving you to pray, do. Those small things may mean the world to the very person on the receiving end, and you’ll be blessed too.

Blessings,

Christina


An Unlikely Governess

Bernadette Chambers has one last assignment before graduating Harris-Spotchnet’s Finishing School of the Peculiar Kind, and unfortunately, she’ll need more than her training has prepared her for when it comes to being a governess to a small child who witnessed her father’s kidnapping, but her lack of preparedness with the child is nothing compared to the sparks ignited by the child’s uncle and his desperate desire to keep his niece safe.

Retired Society Agent Isaac Clanton Willoughby, knew his brother was on the verge of a scientific breakthrough to cure a disease that took his late wife when he disappeared days before the cure was to be unveiled at Andropogon’s World Fair. Now it’s up to him to discern his brother’s secret codes, find out who took him, and ensure his niece’s well-being by hiring the perfect governess without becoming distracted by her beauty and intelligence. But when he discovers nothing is as it seems, can he push past his reservations and trust the woman to help him unravel the mystery left by his brother before it is too late?


 A mother of four children and a grandmother of one, Christina Rich is a romance author with Love Inspired Historical and Forget Me Not Romances, a speaker, a photographer, and painter.

You can connect with her on Facebook at Author Christina Rich, Twitter @Christinainspy, Instagram at inspyscribe, or at threefoldstrand.com

Favorite Friday Fiction: The Cat Lady’s Secret by Linda W. Yezak

The Cat Lady’s Secret is my favorite of several great books by Linda Yezak. This one focuses on acts of kindness, something very near and dear to my heart. The characters are fun, even quirky, the plots speeds along, and there are some interesting twists and turns before the story’s over. I recommend it as an enjoyable read…

Click to tweet: The Cat Lady’s Secret focuses on acts of kindness. #FridayReads #kindnessmatters

The Cat Lady’s Secret

Emily Taylor loves to help people, loves to ease their burdens and make their dreams come true. But when a conman ruins her reputation, she discovers that helping others is safer and easier from behind the scenes.

When one of Emily’s gifts captures the attention of an avid journalist, her identity as the town’s anonymous benefactor’and her renewed relationship with her high school sweetheart’are threatened. As her private life begins to unravel, she realizes the one hope for regaining control lies behind prison walls.

Favorite Friday Fiction: The Spindle Chair by Shellie Arnold

The Spindle Chair is a southern fiction gem in a genre I enjoy reading and writing. Arnold’s characters are deep and real, and the plot moves along well. I really connected emotionally with this story…

Click to tweet: Southern fiction that’s beautiful and haunting.  #FridayReads #fiction

The Spindle Chair

“At once beautiful and haunting … a story you won’t soon forget”. ~ Ann Tatlock, Award-winning author of Once Beyond A Time, a Christy Award winner

Laurie Crane is happily married, yet she aches to have a child. During her husband’s moments of quiet sadness she senses a void she believes only a child can fill. Pierce wants a child, too and has spent years praying alongside his wife. But he has no idea that a “yes” from God will unearth long-buried memories and bring their marriage to the brink of catastrophe. What happens when “happily-ever-after” becomes more than you can bear?

Small Acts of Kindness: “Honey-dos” with Sweetness

By Ada Brownell

I interviewed Dr. Joyce Brothers for the newspaper where I worked and she said something that caught my attention.

She believed married people should thank each other more often. Her idea was to stop nagging your mate to do a job that needs doing. You ask kindly and if or when the job’s done, say “Thank you,” Dr. Brothers said.  She emphasized mates treated in this fashion will help each other more, and the atmosphere in the home will change for the better.

I tried her advice, and it works.  No, it didn’t happen with the first couple of Thank yous, but when I showed appreciation I got more help. My own attitude also improved.

It’s been years since we started thanking one another for even little things, we’ve made it a habit. What an improvement giving thanks has made in our marriage.

God gave us similar advice in the Bible.  Paul said in I Corinthians 13 the loving person is kind, joyful, loving, patient, gentle, faithful and full of self control (Galatians 5:22). These are all fruits of the Holy Spirit, and need to be cultivated. Being thankful is the beginning of growing greater things in our lives.

Let us not be among those Paul told Timothy would live in the perilous last days: “For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money … unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NKJ).

Thanking one another, with kindness, separates us from that crowd.

Click to tweet: Married people should thank each other more often. #kindnessmatters #smallactsofkindness

First shared in-The Pentecostal Evangel, February 29, 2004


MEET ADA BROWNELL

The eighth child and the sixth redhead in a family of achievers, Ada Nicholson Brownell writes with stick-to-your-soul encouragement from her Missouri home where she lives with her handsome husband who is the father of their five children—not one of them with red hair or freckles.

Her latest novel is Peach Blossom Rancher.


PEACH BLOSSOM RANCHER

http://amzn.to/2arRVgG

The groans of a woman in the throes of birth pangs come from the barn loft of John Lincoln Parks. Who is it? He has enough to do trying to restore his horse herd and bring the peach orchards back to bearing fruit. Polly the cook/housekeeper delivers the baby, but John keeps finding people who need him or a miracle. The woman he hopes to marry is trying to get people wrongly held there out of the asylum for the insane. His neighbor, Edwina Jorgenson, is trying to run her father’s ranch since he was disabled, and now she has a peeping Tom. The peeper’s bootprints left under the windows are like those in John’s barn after a body was dropped there.

Will John achieve his goals and dreams, regain his faith, or be tried for murder? http://amzn.to/2arRVgG

Small Acts of Kindness: Reflections of God’s Love

By Maria I. Morgan

It wasn’t what I wanted to hear. An unusual shape on an x-ray prompted me to head to my gynecologist. Sure enough, following an ultrasound, it was confirmed: I had two large fibroid tumors – one directly behind the other. Because of the size of the fibroids, laparoscopic surgery was out of the question. I was scheduled for an abdominal hysterectomy.

The information from my doctor and every other article I read listed the recovery time as eight weeks. I was definitely not looking forward to so much down time. My surgery was scheduled for a Wednesday with an expected release date of Friday. Although my husband would be with me through the surgery and the weekend, he had an important conference he had to attend the following week. I wasn’t sure how I would manage to take care of our pets or myself so soon after major surgery.

Riley to the rescue. Although our daughter, Riley, and her husband live 4 hours away from us, as soon as she found out about the operation, she offered to come and help. Because she had limited time off, I knew it was a sacrifice for her. This was just the beginning of several small acts of kindness that were big reflections of God’s love.

Surgery went really well and I was taken to my room by mid-afternoon. That’s when the adorable bouquet arrived: Doggy Houser, M. D. – beautiful white carnations in the shape of a puppy complete with stethoscope and doctor’s bag. And the miniature floral version looked just like our grand-dog, Ollie.

Another act of kindness from our daughter and son-in-law.

Over the days and weeks that followed, the acts of kindness continued like ripples on water. One of our neighbors took care of our pets while I was in the hospital. My husband and daughter cleaned the house for me and ran to the grocery store countless times to make sure I had everything I needed. Some sweet friends from church made meals ensuring we wouldn’t go hungry. And one friend sent cards of encouragement every week – for eight weeks. Just to let me know she was thinking about and praying for me. Wow!

Such a great reminder of what it looks like to be the hands and feet of Jesus. It’s fitting to echo the words of the apostle Paul, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” (Philippians 1:3, KJV)

Each act of kindness – such a beautiful reflection of God’s love.

Click to tweet: Acts of kindness after surgery. A beautiful reflection of God’s love. #smallactsofkindness #compassion


Maria I. Morgan is an inspirational writer and speaker. She is the award-winning author of Louie’s BIG day! Regardless of the age of her audience, her goal is the same: to share God’s truths and make an eternal difference.

Connect with Maria
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*The 3rd book in the Louie the Lawnmower series, Louie to the Rescue – The Big Dig,” will be releasing on Amazon soon!

Louie and the gang are fired up about the neighborhood yard competition. But when a sarcastic shovel arrives on the scene, hurtful words cause big problems. Will the newcomer succeed in intimidating Louie and his friends? Or will her plan backfire? Join Louie and the others and discover whose words win.

Enter to win: leave a comment below listing a character quality you’d like to see featured in a future Louie book, along with your email address, and you’ll be entered in a random drawing to receive a copy of “Louie to the Rescue – The Big Dig.” (Open to U.S. residents only. Contest will run through Monday, November 6th. Winner will be contacted via email.)

Other books in the Louie the Lawnmower series:

Louie’s BIG day!

Louie & the Leaf Pile

Small Acts of Kindness: Give Thanks in All Circumstances

 

By Lindsey P. Brackett

I passed a church sign today. Give thanks in all circumstances. I use that verse in my debut novel, and when my main character, who’s had her share of tragedy, reads it, she wonders if it’s possible, really, to always give thanks.

Two years ago, our Thanksgiving was marked by similar questions. Two years ago this time was when we first began to suspect something was wrong with our youngest daughter. When we first took her to a doctor and were told we weren’t crazy. When we first realized this might be the beginning of the end.

Or the end of the beginning.

During those first six weeks of tests and blood draws and hospital stays and tears cried until my throat was raw and my knees burned from the carpet at the alter, I could not give thanks. I could not find a way to see gratitude because I was blinded by fear.

And then one day, I did.

I stood in the cold hallway of a children’s hospital and watched a man, a father of a child much smaller than mine, ask the nurse for toothpaste. They had left with almost nothing and found themselves confined to the neurology floor of a place where people spoke in whispers and used words parents are not always equipped to understand.

He caught my eye, this man who shared my fear, and he smiled. I had dirty hair and red-rimmed eyes and hands that shook around my coffee; I had no smile for anyone.

But he had one for me.

I began to make a list, Ann Voskamp style. A daily list of random acts of gratitude, of ways I still felt loved even when they sent us home and the neurologist called two days later and had us come back.

Someone brought us dinner. Gift cards came in the mail. My editor gave grace on a deadline, and so many other mamas stepped in for our three other children. The day we went across the state line to the Birmingham specialist, my husband’s truck broke down. The receptionist at the mechanic shop drove us to our appointment—and she picked us up.

Give thanks in all circumstances. It’s the only way to live thanksgiving, really. We gather around these feast-filled tables one day out of every year, but in reality, we should give the same thanks over the bowl of soup or peanut butter sandwich that graces our plates the rest of the time.

If we can give thanks in the bounty, we must also give it in the meager. If we can give thanks for the new home, better car, bigger paycheck—then we must also give it for the diagnosis and the doctors and the anxiety. Eventually, grace always overcomes. Just watch and you’ll see.

Somewhere in those darkest moments, those worst of times, there will be goodness, there will be kindness, there will be faithfulness. Give thanks in all circumstances—perhaps, especially, in ones that bring us fear.

Click to tweet: Finding thankfulness in all circumstances. #SmallActsofKindness #KindnessMatters


Award-winning writer Lindsey P. Brackett once taught middle grades literature, but now she writes her own works in the midst of motherhood. A blogger since 2010, she has published articles and short stories in a variety of print and online publications including Thriving Family, Country Extra, HomeLife, Northeast Georgia Living, Splickety Magazine, Spark Magazine, and Southern Writers Magazine.

In both 2015 and 2017, she placed in the top ten for Southern Writers Magazine Best Short Fiction. Previously, Lindsey served as Editor of Web Content for the Splickety Publishing Group, and currently she is a general editor with Firefly Southern Fiction, an imprint of LPC Books. In addition, she writes a popular column for several North Georgia newspapers.

Still Waters, influenced by her family ties to the South Carolina Lowcountry, is her debut novel. A story about the power of family and forgiveness, it’s been called “a brilliant debut” with “exquisite writing.” A Georgia native, Lindsey makes her home—full of wet towels, lost library books, and strong coffee—at the foothills of Appalachia with her patient husband and their four rowdy children.

Connect with her at www.lindseypbrackett.com, where she Just Writes Life, on Facebook as Lindsey P. Brackett, on Instagram @lindseypbrackett, or on Twitter @lindsbrac.


Still Waters

Cora Anne Halloway has a history degree and a plan—avoid her own past despite being waitlisted for graduate school. Then her beloved grandmother requests—and her dispassionate mother insists—she spend the summer at Still Waters, the family cottage on Edisto Beach.

Despite its picturesque setting, Still Waters haunts her with loss. Here her grandfather died, her parents’ marriage disintegrated, and as a child, she caused a tragic drowning. But lingering among the oak canopies and gentle tides, this place also tempts her with forgiveness—especially since Nan hired Tennessee Watson to oversee cottage repairs. A local contractor, but dedicated to the Island’s preservation from development, Tennessee offers her friendship and more, if she can move beyond her guilt over his father’s death.

When the family reunion brings to light Nan’s failing health, Cora Anne discovers how far Tennessee will go to protect her—and Edisto—from more desolation. Now she must choose between a life driven by guilt, or one washed clean by the tides of grace.

Small Acts of Kindness:  Sometimes in Three’s

By Beth Ann Ziarnik

Only one day stood between me and the big party I would host Sunday afternoon at church. Standing in my kitchen, I wondered how I would ever be ready. I was also a little sad that Jim would not be with me for that special day. He had died just three years before. It seemed like yesterday.

But people were depending on me, so there was nothing to do but keep moving. I grabbed my coat, ready to head for my hair appointment, when the doorbell rang. The poor flower shop man had chased all over, trying to deliver the beautiful bouquet from Sue and Becky.

As I quickly placed the vase on my dining table, it hit me. My Jim couldn’t give me flowers to celebrate my first novel’s book launch but, through the kindness of these dear friends, God had made the impossible possible. I wept all the way to my salon appointment.

Back home, while working on preparations, I thought about the kindness of my friend Jackie. I’d been terribly sick Tuesday through Thursday, and didn’t have the strength to run errands on Friday. Jackie put everything aside to be my chauffeur.  We ordered the cake, bought fruits and veggies, and picked up other last minute items. If not for her, I would have had zero chance of being ready.

Now late Saturday afternoon, I faced preparing all those fruits and veggies, as well as frosting one-hundred-and-fifty star shaped cutout cookies in various sizes. Overwhelmed? Absolutely!

The phone rang, my sister Shelly calling to see how I was doing. I filled her in. “Get yourself over here and help me,” I pleaded, knowing perfectly well that wasn’t happening. She lived several states away.

“Funny thing you should say that,” she said. “I’m just crossing the border into Wisconsin. We’ll be there in a couple of hours.” We included her daughter Nicole, baby Addie, and three-year-old Eli.

Two days before, Shelly had felt such a strong urging to attend my book launch that she chanced driving hundreds of miles in the middle of January, ignoring the snow and frigid cold. Before bedtime, the fruits, veggies and cookies were ready. So were the boxes of decorations, prizes, paper goods, and everything else we’d need.

Three acts of kindness. I will never forget the special friends and family who heard from God’s heart and came to my rescue that Saturday before launch.

Click to tweet: Through the kindness of dear friends, God had made the impossible possible. #Kindnessmatters #smallactsofkindness


  An avid fan of romantic suspense fiction and a firm believer in small acts of kindness, Beth Ann Ziarnik combines both in her debut novel, Her Deadly Inheritance. Besides reading, she enjoys fun times with family and friends and working puzzles.

https://www.facebook.com/beth.ziarnik

https://bethziarnik.wordpress.com


Her Deadly Inheritance

First a runaway. Now running for her life. Won’t Jill Shepherd’s family be surprised when she returns to Grand Island, Michigan to end their lies and scheme to have her declared legally dead? But when Jill exposes the mastermind behind her intended death, her family’s deception may kill any chance she has of remaining alive. 

Clay Merrick may seem to be little more than a handy-man restoring homes, but when the former Special Forces operative tracks a brutal killer to Jill’s historic house under renovation, he has most of the evidence he needs to bring the killer to justice … until Jill gets in the way. 

When the killer sets sights on Jill as the next victim, it’s not just Clay’s mission on the line, but his heart.

Small Acts of Kindness: Front Porch Friends

By Kathy Cheek

I had finished watering the pots of flowers on my front porch and just sat down in one of the chairs by the small bistro table. A soft breeze carried the scent of flowers across the way and I noticed my neighbor had walked outside and was going to her mailbox for the day’s mail. I called out to her and asked if she wanted to join me sitting on the porch.

Joann walked towards me and said in a half question half statement, “You actually sit on your front porch?”

“Yes, I do.”

She joined me on the porch where we chatted a little while and then she had to leave to check on her mother at the nearby nursing home. It was good to catch up with my neighbor, even if it isn’t as often as we’d like.

Many of our visits are brief encounters as one of us pulls in or out of our driveway or find the other one doing yardwork, or me on my way back from a walk with my hair a mess. I am often a mess when Joann pulls in or out as she catches me sweaty doing yard work or returning from a long walk around the neighborhood.

But this time, we indulged ourselves and sat on my front porch. We weren’t the Waltons in the hills of Virginia with their big inviting front porch where their large family and various neighbors often gathered. Instead, we are – American suburbia… or, Dallas, Texas suburbia to be exact.

Joann travels often with her job and we rarely have time to visit, which means the opportunity to relax on the front porch was a big deal. I could tell she needed this relaxing reprieve more than I did. Travel and tending to her mother who had been back and forth between the nursing home and the hospital had her overextended with no relief in sight. She admitted she had been running on empty the last few weeks with another emergency with her mom.

I couldn’t do anything to change Joann’s hectic work schedule or control any of her mother’s medical emergencies. But I could offer her something that would help. I could offer her a place to relax for just a little while and to leisurely chat with a friend. Yes, Joann is my neighbor. I also consider her my friend—a front porch friend.

Click to tweet: Small Acts of Kindness Sitting on the front porch with friends. #kindnessmatters #kindness


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.

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.