February 26, 2020



The following is an excerpt from the new book by Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller, God’s Intriguing Questions: 100 Devotions Revealing God’s Nature and Our Motives

Are you sometimes impatient with your Christian growth? The biblical story of Jesus healing the blind man shows God’s patience in our transformation process.

In John 9:17, the healed blind man is grilled by the Pharisees who want reasons to kill Jesus. “So they said again to the blind man, ‘What do you say about him since he has opened your eyes?’ He said, ‘He is a prophet.”

This nameless man is limited in his knowledge. Jesus put his own spittle mixed with dirt to make mud for the blind man’s eyes. Then Jesus tells him to “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (9:7). His eyes are still unseeing as he walks away. He doesn’t know what Jesus looks like, who he is, or where he is. He obeys and is healed, yet he is attacked by the leaders.

Jesus steps in to support him. Jesus gives the man an opportunity to learn the truth, asking, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

He replied, “‘And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.’” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. (John 9:36-38)

We can’t but help envision a huge joyful smile on Jesus’s face as he says, “It’s me.” The next time you feel discouraged by your lack of spiritual growth, think of how Jesus has already taught you and how he will continue.


The Millers have been in ministry since 1978 as speakers, authors, and lay counselors. They married in 1970 and God empowered them to overcome the dysfunctional marriage and family they had developed early in their marriage. Larry is a retired police lieutenant from Huntington Beach Police Department. Both individually and as a couple, they have authored over 55 books and spoken in nine foreign countries. They live in Southern California and are parents and grandparents. Visit them at www.KathyCollardMiller.com


Want to know God better? Want to know yourself better?
God asks many questions in the Bible—Old and New Testaments. Why? His questions serve the purpose of revealing who he is and the motives of the person he is addressing.

Can you see God’s intention when he asks Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” He helps them realize he knows their physical location and the condition of their hearts.

Can you see twelve-year-old Jesus’s purpose when he asks Mary and Joseph, “Why were you looking for me?” Jesus reminds them he is God and points to their distrust of his Father God.

Those are only a few of the insights you’ll gain from the 100 devotions in God’s Intriguing Questions: 100 Devotions Revealing God’s Nature and Our Motives authored by Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller. These devotionals make biblical stories come alive and provide both inspirational and practical ideas, along with biblical depth. Two discussion questions are included with each devotion, along with a short prayer.

This book is perfect for both individuals and couples.

February 24, 2020



 A good bargain is something I search for on every shopping trip.

Before leaving for the store, I read the weekly circulars, check for digital coupons and clip paper coupons to have ready in hand.

In the past, before my husband caught on to my extreme couponing, he would see the amount due for our items and say, “Are we really spending that much?”

After a time, he began to listen when I put up my hand, pointed to the screen at checkout and said, “Wait, wait. The amount due will go down. Just watch.”

Store clerks have often chuckled at the expression on his face, knowing coupons were preparing to be applied.

Recently, we paid 27 cents for a five-dollar card all because of coupons.

Couponing isn’t time-consuming if you know what you are planning to purchase. Just a few minutes here and there and I am ready for a trip to the local store.

Buy one, get one free. Buy two, get three free. Half price items. Rewards bucks. Cents off coupons. All work great for my shopping adventures.

Then, comes a very special day. Senior Citizen Discount Day. Some stores consider a person a senior if they are at least 50 years old. Other places won’t give the discount unless you are 60 or older.

An awkward experience occurred last week. Shopping at one of our regular stores, a new sales associate was behind the register. The usual greetings of “Hello. How are you?” by both the clerk and my husband and me. Continuing the conversation with “It seems like we always have things that weren’t on the list. Good thing I have coupons.”

Laughter followed.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
A momentary pause. A shy look from the cashier. Head bowed, she whispered. “Ma’am, I need to ask you a question. Are you a senior citizen? If you are 60 or older, you get an extra discount today. I hate to ask. Some people get upset because they aren’t 60 yet. But, I have to ask if I’m not sure. It’s our procedure.”

“Dear one, don’t worry. I look 60 but I am only 59 until September. Don’t worry about that discount.” Her posture straightened, and a huge smile came over her face.

“But, wait. My husband is 62 years old. He’s a senior. He can get the discount.” My sweet husband grinned and shook his head in the affirmative.

Yes, couponing is fun. Don’t miss out on any discounts, even if someone has to ask your age. Be happy and proud of the years God has given you. And, yes, I’ll be looking for that discount in September.


Melissa Henderson is a writer of inspirational messages. Her first book for children, “Licky the Lizard”, was released in 2018. She also has a story in the compilations “Heaven Sightings” and “Remembering Christmas”. Her passions are helping in community and church.

 Melissa is an Elder, Deacon and Stephen Minister. She and her husband Alan moved from Virginia to South Carolina to be near son, daughter-in-law and first grandchild. The family motto is “It’s Always A Story With The Hendersons”

Follow Melissa on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter

Website and blog: http://www.melissaghenderson.com

Twitter: @mimionlife
Other works:

“Heaven Sightings” http://www.amzn.com/B07NDMCRZC
“Remembering Christmas” http://www.amazon.com/dp/1604950595


Licky the Lizard is one nice lizard, and just like you and me, he’s one of God’s own creations. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget that we’re really all the same—because He created everything in our world. We feel afraid because of our differences.
Buy link: “Licky the Lizard” http://a.co/d/0a3COnd

February 21, 2020



Copyrighted material

Irina hung back a few meters behind the redheaded woman, whose businesslike heels clicked furiously on the slick sidewalks as if speed could diminish the increasing chill in the early evening air. As Irina approached her, standing stiffly among the crowd waiting in the shadows for the tram, she braced herself for the scolding she was sure to receive.

“There you are, finally. Such a slowpoke for one so young and—what is that on your back? I told you just one bag.”

Irina ducked her head. “It’s my violin.”

“Your what? Speak up, girl. Look at me when you talk.”

Irina raised her chin a few centimeters. “My … violin. I am studying to be a musician … like my papa.” Her throat thickened again with stifled tears and painful memories. She swallowed and sighed. The woman possessed not a grain of compassion under her smart wool coat and hat. What good would it do to explain her need to have this precious, irreplaceable treasure with her?

“There is no place for such a valuable thing in a boarding school. Someone will ruin it or take it from you when you aren’t looking. You should have left it in the flat, young lady. You will regret your rash decision.”

Irina lowered her chin and shivered. How could taking her violin with her be a mistake? Music was her life—her comfort—her connection to her father. How was she to even breathe without her violin?

“Yes, of course,” she finally replied, just to silence the woman. Irina grasped the strap of her violin case and gave it another tug, trembling as the gloom enveloped her, Why didn’t I grab my favorite wool scarf. It was right by the door. Too late now. Besides, wasn’t it a bad omen to return home for something forgotten? She didn’t need any more bad luck.

Cigarette smoke swirled around her head as person after person lit up against the cold and dusky darkness. Irina coughed and buried her nose in her jacket sleeve. Where was the tram? Why was it always late when the air is freezing at the stop? She tugged her jacket up around her throat.

Five minutes later, the familiar clacking of wheels on the track pulled the waiting crowd en masse from the curb into the center of the street and toward the narrow boarding platform.

“It’s ours. Let’s go,” the redhead commanded.

Irina hesitated, dreading that scary moment of rushing to the tram while dodging oncoming cars and taxis, and then pushing and shoving to get up the stairs.

The tram’s brakes screeched, and a flood of passengers burst through the unfolding doors. “Hurry up, Irina. Hurry up!” The redhead turned around and grabbed the satchel from her hand.

Irina didn’t want to hurry up. A part of her hoped Tram 22 would move off without her. But the stern woman held the bag containing all of Irina’s earthly possessions—well, almost all of them. As she hoisted herself up the tram steps, her violin case bumped against her, reminding her that she wasn’t completely bereft.

As usual, weary passengers muttered complaints about Irina’s size as she bumped and jostled her way toward an empty seat. She sat on the edge, protecting the violin case still strapped across her back, avoiding the accusing stares and ignoring the rude comments from her so-called comrades.

Comrade. The word was rarely heard since former President Gorbachev had declared his reforms of glasnost and perestroika in 1986. “Uncle Misha” had promised that “openness” and “restructuring” would bring freedom and democracy to the USSR. Eight years had passed, and Irina could see only desperation, pain, high prices, empty shelves, and people doing horrible things they never would have dreamed of doing before. For her, it meant no more summer camps or Young Pioneers. No kopeks for candy, No holidays to the Black Sea. And no more Papa. With perestroika, her life had not been restructured at all. Instead, it had crumbled.

As the tram left the city center and picked up speed, so did the thumping of Irina’s heart. Every minute, every kilometer, took her farther away from her mama, her home, and even the nosey granny. Irina stared at the tram floor and cringed at the sight of her muddy boots. Papa had always cleaned her shoes. Oh, how she missed him, his joyful Soviet songs and contagious laughter.

The tram stops came and went. One passenger after another bumped and pushed into the seat next to Irina, each one, in turn, glaring at her or making a grunting sound in the back of the throat when she didn’t slide over to make more room. Her stomach gurgled with hunger and despair.

“Next stop, Cher … imshanska … ya,” the garbled recording stuttered. Her captor stood next to her, motioning with her head to move and stand by the door.

Irina peered out the window to get a glimpse of the buildings as the tram slowed. Between the dirt streaks on the glass and the darkness, she couldn’t see anything familiar. She pressed her way into the aisle as the tram jerked its way to a stop.

Once down the slippery steps and safely on the curb, she searched the handful of people milling around the kiosks for a familiar face, then caught herself. Impossible that anyone out in this remote district would know her. She was now at the mercy of the redhead, sure to be dropped into the pit of hell.

“Caution. The doors are closing,” the recording gurgled.

Yes, Irina agreed. They are.


A massive, four-story building loomed ahead, dark and foreboding in the misty evening air. Scattered lights flickered behind barred windows and ratty curtains on the upper floors. Near the entrance in the shadows, a pinpoint of amber light glowed bright, then dimmed.

Irina and the redhead approached a dozen concrete steps leading to closed double doors. Out of the shadows next to the steps, a tallish boy appeared and fell in next to them as they ascended. The odor of tobacco stuck to his black fleece jacket like fresh earth on a forest mushroom. Irina coughed and glanced at the steel plaque on the concrete wall to the left of the main door. “Internat #128. Samara City, USSR.” The sign needed to be replaced. The USSR had ceased to exist, along with her normal, happy life.

“You gonna live here?” the boy asked, exhaling warm, rancid tobacco breath in her face. A shock of black hair hung low over dark eyes. His the question sounded more like a challenge than a welcome.
Irina sneezed and stepped back from him. “So it seems.” She wiped her nose on her jacket sleeve.

“Huh,” he grunted. “You’re unlucky.”


Fourteen-year-old Irina Kotova’s life as a promising violinist collapses in sync with the demise of the Soviet Union. After her father is killed in a bar fight, her ailing mother is hauled off to jail without explanation. Now considered an orphan, Irina is forced to live in a boarding school where Russia’s throwaway kids are abandoned and forgotten. Irina is constantly tormented by Vadim Solokov, a mean-spirited hooligan who takes great pleasure in reminding her that nobody cares about them. Irina is convinced he is right, and the not-so-mysterious theft of her precious violin seals her resolve to escape the school or die trying. Her despondency over losing her parents and bitterness toward Vadim threaten her very existence. Only the kindness of Anastasia, an interpreter Irina met by chance, sparks a glint of hope that life could possibly be worth fighting for.

Buy Link:https://www.amazon.com/Her-Shining-Eyes-Jeanette-Morris-ebook/dp/B07XC2M7JB


I am a freelance writer/editor, traveler, fisherwoman, missionary to Russia, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, voracious reader, and slow-but-sure knitter. In my second-half adventure, I'm writing novels, exploring the world, trying to stay fit and healthy, and letting go of past labels and failures. It may be my "golden years," but I believe the best is ahead. My story is still being written!
The story of Her Shining Eyes would not have been written had it not been for the encouragement of mentors like Bill Myers, Kay Marshall Strom, Mary DeMuth, Allen Arnold, and so many others who saw something in me that I hadn’t yet embraced. In addition, the personal testimonies of my Russian friends who lived through the tumultuous decade of the 1990s—and their insistence that this little-known history be told—became the drumbeat of faith that moved me forward. Glory to God!

Website:   www.jeanette-morris.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jeanette.a.morris.7/
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/jeanette.a.morris.7/
Twitter: www.twitter.com/jemorris1  

February 19, 2020



Potiphar’s wife soon began to look at him lustfully. “Come and sleep with me,” she demanded. Genesis 39:7 NLT

She stood there smiling…waiting…tempting.

A lunchtime radio interview about my latest book meant leaving work early. Since I planned to leave around the same time my grandson got dismissed, my wife asked if I would bring him home so she wouldn’t have to get out in the cold weather. This meant an early morning stroll to the elementary wing to let his teacher know I would get him a few minutes early.

I entered the elementary hallway and saw my grandson’s teacher standing in the hallway, talking, and imbibing on a donut. I followed her into her room and told her I would pick my grandson up fifteen minutes earlier than normal. As I was leaving the room, another assistant teacher stood just outside the doorway…smiling…and holding a box of donuts.

“Dr. Wiles, would you like a donut?” she asked.

“Do I look like a donut kind of a guy?” I said. Before she could answer, I continued, “Of course, I do.”

She offered the box, and I pulled a large dripping-with-sugar donut from the box. For the next five minutes, I relished the sugar…the dough…the calories. And I didn’t feel guilty. After all, I don’t do this very often, but I admit…I’m a sucker for a donut, especially if it’s Krispy Kreme, which this wasn’t. A local pastry shop had bought a truck and was parking it in a vacant lot on one day each week and selling donuts. The kind teacher had stopped by and bought a couple of dozen to share with teachers and staff. I wasn’t about to be rude and refuse, although some who were still on their New Year’s diet did.

When it comes to eating, I follow what some doctors are brave enough to say: “Everything in moderation.” Just as I wasn’t worried about my grandmother eating a few Little Debbie’s every day when she was in her eighties, so I’m not too worried about imbibing in less-than-healthy food occasionally. I didn’t feel guilty, nor did I see my sugar indulging as sinful.

Joseph, on the other hand, had a larger problem. God considered sleeping with a married woman a sin. Wisely, Joseph didn’t try to reason his way out of the temptation—which wasn’t the sin—but ran as fast as he could in the opposite direction. Even when he did the right thing, he still had to face the consequences of a scorned woman.

Temptations come to us all. The temptations aren’t the problem; it’s what we do with them. Giving in puts us in the sinful category, but we don’t have to. God’s Spirit indwells us, giving us the power to say, “No,” as Joseph did—and as I would have had the kind teacher offered me a second donut.

Watching our p’s and q’s—and preparing ahead of time by keeping ourselves away from things we know will tempt us—shows wisdom. And it also helps on those days that are just donut kind of days.
Days when everything wrong seems to jump in our path and beckon us to partake.
Think of a few things you can do to prepare for the inevitable donut days.


Martin Wiles lives in Greenwood and is the founder of Love Lines from God. He is a freelance editor, English teacher, minister, and author who serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as a proof-editor for Courier Publishing. He is the author of six books and has been published in numerous publications. His most recent book, A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Busy World, released in December 2019.

Social Media and Website
Website: http://www.lovelinesfromgod.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/martinwilesgreenwoodsc
Twitter: https://twitter.com/linesfromgod
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lovelinesfromgod
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/martin-wiles-5a55b14a
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/martinwiles

A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Noisy World was birthed from Martin Wiles' numerous treks with his two children and his middle brother in mountainous areas on the eastern coast of the United States. Through these hiking and camping experiences, God taught him valuable lessons that have seen him through many difficult life experiences.
Martin's weekly devotionals found in A Whisper in the Woods take the reader out of the noise that often accompanies living in this world and into the quiet escapades of wooded areas where the voice of God is more clearly heard.
As you walk with Martin through the mountain valleys and over the high summits, you too will hear God whisper words of comfort to you.

Buy links:
A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Noisy World https://www.amazon.com/Whisper-Woods-Quiet-Escapes-Noisy/dp/1620208652
Grits & Grace & God https://www.amazon.com/Grits-Grace-God-Heaven-Southern/dp/1645261379
Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church https://www.amazon.com/Grits-Gumbo-Going-Church-Martin/dp/1798510375

February 17, 2020



Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

I pulled out my recipe for snickerdoodles, an old-time favorite for the holidays. As I put in the shortening, butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla, the recipe said to blend until creamy. My mind flashed to when I first learned how to bake, back in the day when cake mixes were a novelty or used for last-minute church suppers.

The kitchen was my mother’s paradise and her instructions were gospel. To deter meant banishment from the stove.

First: “Wash your hands. No good cook comes to the kitchen with dirty hands.”
Next: “Now read the recipe, and put all the ingredients on the shelf.”
The third step, to my mother the most crucial in the whole process: “cream the shortening, butter, eggs, and sugars.”

I stuck in the rotary beaters, set it on high and splashed wet globs from one end of the kitchen to the other. “Done,” I said.

Mother knew better, knew I was always in a hurry to get to the end of a project. “Nope. It’s too grainy. Set the beater on low, scrape the sides frequently, fold the batter together and repeat. Let time and the ingredients do their magic.”

Reluctantly, I started again, following her directions blowing out my frustration all the while. “This takes too long.”

“Creaming is the most important step in the whole process,” Mother said. “If you hurry the creaming, the cookies will come out crumbly. Creaming is what makes them chewy and delectable. Don’t rush the creaming. It takes time but the result is worth it.”

I slowed down and watched with wonder as the goo gradually melded into a creamy, light texture, the ingredients transforming before my eyes.

As I carefully creamed for the snickerdoodles, Mother’s words came back to me. I thought about our instant society, how we crave immediate results, the growing tendency to hurry through life in the fastest checkout line. In our haste we blunder through the mix of it all, leaving globs of broken dreams in the muck of our speed.

I thought how the creaming principle is true in all the rooms of our lives, not just the kitchen. We tend to rush for pleasure without enduring the process. God has given us the recipe for a rich, textured life. If we take the time to cream it, not be satisfied with grainy goo or toss it aside because of its unpleasantness—if we repeatedly scrape, fold, and beat for as long as it takes, the grimy gook of our shattered hopes will become that creamed foundation that awakens the flavor of our human experience.


Linda Wood Rondeau is a retired social worker and resides in Hagerstown, Md. Readers may visit her blog Snark and Sensibility  (also found on her website www.lindarondeau.com.) The author may be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads. The author has written ten books, primarily contemporary fiction. Watch for her short contemporary novel, Second Comings, to be released in late winter as well as her non-fiction, Who Put the Vinegar in the Salt, to be released late spring. The author enjoys teaching at writers conferences and serves as Senior Fiction Editor and Senior Fiction Acquisitions Editor for Elk lake Publishing, Inc.

Her latest non-fiction release,  I Prayed for Patience God Gave Me Children, a study as well as a devotional, explores the meaning of being God’s child.

February 14, 2020


Happy Valentine’s day!
The story behind Off the Ground

My grandfather opened a jewelry store during the Great Depression. His honesty, skill at repairs, and friendliness helped him succeed in spite of an unemployment rate of twenty-five percent. Courage must have played a role too since he became a father a month after the stock market crashed.

Grandpa told of selling a black diamond to the manager of the local Montgomery Ward’s store. Why had the man chosen such an unusual stone? he’d asked. The wife’s father had been a jeweler in Council Bluffs or Omaha and had a black diamond.

Interesting, but not enough for a full-blown novel. What else was happening in those days?

The time between world wars became known as the Golden Age of Aviation. Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic in sparked the interest of every red-blooded male… and quite a few females.

Amelia Earhart rode across the pond in 1928, then, the next year, she and eighteen other pilots competed in the Women’s Air Derby. Records for endurance, speed, and altitude were set and broken. Airlines inaugurated service. Aircraft manufacturers built innovative and elegant new models. Cities opened airfields. Wings, a movie about fighter pilots, won an Academy Award.

The Roaring Twenties was a time of Prohibition, gang violence, and jazz. Women voted, drove, and worked outside the home. The population moved from farms to cities. Radio and national magazines spread fashion, music, and slang. 1929 had the goods for Off the Ground!

She wants to race Amelia Earhart. He's afraid of flying. Will their relationship ever get off the ground?

As the Roaring Twenties come to a close, Mac McFarland falls head over heels for live-wire Corrie Tinley. Now that she’s graduated, they’re allowed to date. But before he can sweep her off the dance floor and into his life, her father gives her a winged death trap—a biplane. Refusing to stick around to see her crash, Mac leaves without saying goodbye.

Corrie’s family treats her like a dumb Dora, but her former basketball coach is respectful and attentive. Mac has a noble air like Lindbergh and dark hair waving over his forehead like Gary Cooper. She can’t wait to take him flying in her new biplane, but he’s disappeared. If she can’t find him, is she destined to fly solo for the rest of her life?

CatherineRichmond.com, https://www.facebook.com/catherinerichmondfans
Off the Ground is available from these booksellers: https://books2read.com/u/mZBVdD

February 12, 2020



Lead me … unto Thy way, the way everlasting. For Jesus’ sake; aye for man’s sake too.
~ S.D. Gordon[1]

Anytime we strive to be more transparent before God, to be more Christ-like, to follow God’s path, we invite God’s blessings and experience His pleasure. But we are not the only ones to enjoy that experience. God’s presence and blessings showered on us extend from us to others and they are blessed as well.

We can enhance our’s and others’ lives and extend God’s presence when we:

remain patient in an impossible situation,
go out of our way to help someone in need,
smile at a homeless person we would otherwise avoid,
stop to talk to an elderly neighbor who is lonely.

Inexhaustible ways to bless

The list of ways we can extend God’s blessing is endless. It is perhaps human nature to think some of the things we do for others are pretty insignificant. Yet we run the risk of missing how God’s presence is being revealed when we discount the effect of what we do.

God has called each of us as believers to be a part of a local body of Christ. That’s why Jesus prayer is called the Our Father, not the My Father. He has gifted each of us to fulfill a need within that body. Our contribution to the body is not only an act of obedience but for the betterment of the body of believers.

Jesus, help me each day to choose you, to choose your ways and your path. Help me know myself as well as you know me so that I may release, renounce, and reject all within me that is not of you. Remind me that what you call me to is not only for you but for the sake of those around me as well. Amen.

[1] Donna Maltese, 365 Devotions on the Power of Prayer, (Uhrichsville, OH, Barbour Publishing, Inc., 2019), Day 29


The Christian Living Bible Study Series is designed to assist readers in their relationship with God, help them understand difficult passages, shed new light on familiar verses, and gain an appreciation for statements made within the confines of ancient cultural practices. Through these books, readers not only learn about the life and work of Jesus Christ, but also personally experience the love, grace, mercy, and redemption offered by the Father through the sacrifice of His Son. Learning more about the history and purpose of each verse will enable readers to grow in wisdom and knowledge.



Trina has a Masters of Arts in Christian Ministry from Ashland Theological Seminary and is a passionate Bible teacher and writer. For over 20 years, she has shared Biblical truths in compelling and memorable ways as a Bible study leader and a member of the Restorative Prayer Team at her church. Her trip through Turkey visiting historic sites including Istanbul, Ephesus, Cappadocia, Haran, and Antioch, as well as two trips to Israel’s holy sites bring reality to Trina’s teaching and writing. Additionally, Trina is an avid birder, loves to cook, travel, work in her garden, and knit.

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

February 10, 2020



How thrilled I was when I received this complimentary copy of The Jesus Bible Artist Edition in exchange for an honest review and as a partner of BibleGateway Blogger Grid (#BibleGatewayPartner). I knew I’d be happy. However, I did not know that I would be ecstatic and eager to delve into the richness this study book offers.

I notice there are several editions of The Jesus Bible using various translations. I was given the newest one, The Jesus Bible Artist’s Edition. (https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Bible-ESV-Leathersoft/dp/0310453097/ref=sr_1).

The first thing I noticed was the soft, colorful, imitation-leather cover. Next, I noticed how the whole Bible shows the central theme: how Jesus is present in the entirety of Scripture—from Genesis to Revelation. Jesus is the Word of God Incarnate. The Forever King.

I liked the layout of the edition. Each book is prefaced with the primary theme. For example, 1 Thessalonians is prefaced, “Jesus: Our source of comfort.”  Also, each book has an article discussing the main concepts in the book supporting the theme and includes historical information to aid understanding as well as a key verse. For example 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

The commentary contributors explain the Church of Thessalonica struggled with the seeming delay of Christ's second coming. Concerned by the numbers of martyred believers, they were led astray by false teachings.

 Relating Scripture to our current Christian experience, the expositors explained how Christ’s resurrection gives hope in light of the awaited return of Christ.

“The one who made this promise is faithful, as he has been throughout history,
and he will surely accomplish all that he sets out to do.

In addition to an easy-to-study layout, the commentary is written simply so that even the untrained Bible student will be able to understand the truths within God’s word. Cross-references are not only listed but explained as to how the Scripture section relates to Jesus as the central theme of the Bible.

Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash
If you are looking for an additional or new bible study, I recommend this edition.

Bible Gateway is the Internet’s most-visited Christian website and seeks to equip people to read and understand the Bible wherever they are.

You can download the Bible Gateway Bible Audio App. Also, you are invited to join Bible Gateway Plus (www.biblegateway.com/pus).

February 7, 2020



Day Ten, Morning
Lavender Raines

Wrapped in my ratty robe, I sat in George's recliner with my feet dangling off the raised end in equally shabby, fluffy slippers. Savoring my first mug of coffee, I watched a favorite home buyer’s, renovators, and flippers cable show. On this morning's episode, a petite woman with aqua combs in her frosted hair, and an artistic bent, shopped for a tiny house.

My mother waltzed into the living room in her kimono, carrying a steaming mug.

I pointed at the home improvement show. "Isn't that A-frame adorable? I can see myself in it."

"Oh, sure. I see you bumping your head when you climb that silly ladder trying to get into the loft to go to sleep." She sat on the sofa.

"It's got wheels. I could move anywhere I wanted. There are so many places I'd like to visit."

"And just how would you haul that thing around?" Her laugh conveyed skepticism.

"I'd buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee and tow it wherever I went."

My mother stared at me. "Lavender, I think you've lost your mind since George died."

I lowered the sound. "Why? Tiny houses are the new rage. Lots of people, from all walks of life, buy them or build them."

"Well, Strickland's don’t do that sort of thing."

"Mother, I'm no longer a Strickland. Haven't been one for a long time. I'm a Raines." What she could never be told was why I longed to run away. The problem was, I'd take the image of George's tortured body with me wherever I went.

She placed her mug on the coffee table. "Lavender, darling, for your own good, I think you should come live with me for a while."

I turned off the television. "Mother, I appreciate your offer. I do, but I'm going to stay right here. I'm not running off in a tiny house on wheels, as appealing as that might seem."

"You exasperate me. I'm worried about you."

I walked over to the sofa, sat beside her, and hugged her. "I love you."

"I never doubted that. I love you too." She stood and swiped at a tear. "How about some more coffee?"

I followed her into the kitchen and sat at the table while she brewed a fresh pot.

She turned to face me. "Kendall and I will be leaving this morning. She can't miss any more classes.

 Duke will be only so forgiving."

"Yes, she has to get back to school." I stood and wrapped an arm around my mother's waist. "Thank you for chauffeuring her."

She stepped back and took a long look at me. Her head bobbled for a moment. "Really, Darling, you must do something with your hair. That bun is falling apart."

"It's a loose chignon. It's a mess right now, and I don't care one bit." I laughed and gave her a quick hug.

"Darling, I swear, somebody switched you at birth. You can't be mine." She emptied the old coffee out of our mugs and filled them with fresh brew.

I placed two percent milk and artificial sweetener on the table, added a splash of the milk to my coffee, and doused hers with both the sweetener and the milk.

We sat at the table in somewhat companionable silence, drinking coffee.

I placed my mug on the tabletop. "I have to review our finances to see if Kendall can remain at Duke next year. We're not broke by any means. George always did the responsible thing and, of course, had a life insurance policy. That only goes so far, and we don't have George's salary coming in."

Mother blinked twice.

Oh, my, I didn't dare laugh. She'd already put on her false lashes.

She stared and blinked again. "I'll pay for Duke. Kendall is not going to some state school."

Resisting her would be emotionally exhausting, and she'd drag Kendall into it. "Thank you, Mother. Kendall loves Duke. I know she'll appreciate your generosity." I took a sip of coffee. That was one thing off my plate.

Kendall would be happy at Duke. That left two things.

How I was going to get the information, I didn't know, but I had to find out what had happened to George. Agent Lightfoot had stopped returning my calls.

And what was up with Randall Creston? Why was he intimidating Abigail and Olivia?

Day Ten, Morning
Mac "Mackey" Mackenzie

The water sluicing over my body was bracing, but in an abbreviated wetsuit, not frigid. I kept swimming out to sea. The waves were with me. I caught a big one and rode it farther out. The return would be the trial.

My dive watch told me I'd gone far enough, so I stopped and treaded water.

Through a pair of military-grade goggles, I fixed my eyes on the shore and began the strenuous swim back. My thigh muscles strained as my legs sliced through the waves, which were now against me. I hadn't worn flippers intentionally, to make the swim more difficult. When I reached the shore, I was winded.

Sunrise Boulevard ran north and south along the beach. It had a bike path and sidewalks on either side but no parking along the road. Three large public lots intruded onto the beach, having hard-packed sand due to constant vehicle usage. They were spaced evenly apart along the beachfront. I walked to my graphite colored Jeep Wrangler, parked in the lot at Sunrise and Beaumont.
I shed my wet suit, slipped a pair of jeans over my swimming trunks, and fastened a clip-on holster to my belt. Then, I stowed my wetsuit in the four-by-four's cargo space.

A seagull swooped low over the vehicle as I opened the driver's side backdoor. I removed the floor mat, punched a code into a tiny panel, and lifted the cover of a custom-built secret compartment beneath the floor. I pulled out my Berretta and secured it in my holster. After I threw on a black untucked, long-sleeved shirt, I was good to go.

That's when I noticed Lavender Raines walking on the sidewalk next to the bike path. The early morning sun, rising over the ocean, played with an occasional red strand of hair in the bun that looked as if it was about to fall apart. Her hair was lush and dark, but not quite as dark as I had thought.

"Mrs. Raines." I waved. No time like the present to do as The Old Man requested. Check up on her.
She stopped and placed the flat of her palm over her eyebrows, to ward off the morning sun, as she tried to figure out who I was. Then she smiled.

I trotted to her. "It's good to see you. How are you doing?"

She clasped her hands together. "I'm fine. Thank you for asking. Mackenzie, is it?"

"Yes, ma'am. It's so good to see you again." I'd never been accused of having a way with words.

"So kind of you." She backed up a step.


A kid on a skateboard propelled himself forward by repeatedly striking his foot on the sidewalk. He lost his balance and the skateboard left the pavement, flying six inches off the ground, directly at her.
She let out a small, frightened cry.

I grabbed her and turned her away from the wooden missile. We both staggered backward.

The skateboard grazed my calf. I winced.

"Ouch, my ankle," she cried.

The kid ran after his board, and we never saw him again.

"I'm sorry, ma'am. I tried to get you out of the way."

She held onto my arm. "Don't apologize. I'm grateful to you. Are you hurt?"

"Nothing much at all." I'd have a bruise and would feel it for a while.

She took a halting step but found it difficult, painful. "I think I twisted it."

Her leg buckled. As she collapsed to one side, she tried to break her fall by grasping my waist. Her head jerked and her eyes opened wide. She withdrew her hand from my weapon as if a snake had bitten her. If she hadn't known I carry concealed, she did now.

I lifted her, holding on to her until she was able to stand up more-or-less straight. "Keep your weight off your foot."

"I'll do my best."

"If I brace you on one side, can you hobble to my Jeep?"

"I'll try."

We took a faltering step, then another. A three-legged dog could've done much better. When she whimpered, I scooped her up in my arms and carried her to the Jeep.

Once I got her comfortably settled, I ignored her protests as I untied her running shoe, slipped off the sock, and examined her foot. "There's nothing major broken. Still, you could have a hair-line fracture. Would you like to go to the emergency room?"

"No. No, thank you. I was on my way to my friend Emmi's house. It's on Beaumont off of Catalina-- not far from here. If you could drop me there."

I shimmied the sock back onto her foot over pale-pink painted toes that matched her fingernails.

 Then, I slid the shoe back on. After I tied the laces, I gently patted the shoe. "All done."

When I got behind the wheel, she looked directly at me. "A lot of men in Florida carry concealed, but you're more than you appear to be. From what George told me, Mr. Agard, he's pretty important in the government."

I looked straight ahead. "I don't know that much about what Mr. Agard does." True, very true.

"At the funeral, you said you knew my husband. Do you know what happened to him? He said he was going to New Orleans and they found his tortured body in Caracas?"

"I can tell you with absolute certainty, it had nothing whatsoever to do with another woman."

"I already know that," she snapped. She closed her eyes and took a breath. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to take it out on you."

"No apology necessary. Your world has been turned upside-down. I'll take you to your friend's house." I fired up the engine, determined now more than ever to learn what had happened to George Raines. The man should be home with his wife.


A taut and compelling classic murder mystery with a national security underlying theme.

Interpersonal relationships, greed, dry humor. Unrequited Love. Uplifting.

Lavender Raines gets the 'doorbell ring' no wife ever wants to get. Her husband has been brutally murdered, and the FBI is more secretive than helpful. The problem is, his body was found in Caracas when she thought his business trip had taken him to New Orleans.

Mackenzie just opened a second beach resort-town restaurant, this one in Ribault Beach, Florida…but now the clandestine national security organization that from-time-to-time sends him on covert missions wants him to find Lavender's husband's killers.

Forces from within the "Deep State" have shaped circumstances that will alter the course of both their lives. Then a local man is murdered. Lavender and Mackey are polar opposites. He is emotionally shut down about his life, but protective of others. She is a pillar of strength in her family, but distrusting of Mackey and guarded around him. Can they find common ground amidst this treachery and turmoil?


Nike N. Chillemi writes classic murder mysteries/detective novels. It's been said she writes literature that reads like pulp fiction. Plenty of action, a dash of grit, wry humor as her characters navigate through situations and relationships. There's usually a national security/public safety underlying theme to her work with an uplifting message. She likes her bad guys really bad, her good guys smarter and better. Her newest endeavor is ACTS OF MALICE.

Nike is the founding board member of the Grace-Filled Fiction Spotlight (formerly the Grace Awards) and its Chair, a platform to promote excellence in Christian fiction. She has been a judge in mystery and thriller categories in the Carol Awards, Genesis Awards, First Impressions Awards. And also, the Inspy Awards. She has a very active blog that delves int murder mystery writing, Christian fiction, and many of the challenges we all face in life. She lives in NE coastal Florida and revels in being a Floridian. She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the John 3:16 Marketing Network.  https://nikechillemi.com/

Purchase ACTS OF MALIC on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Acts-Malice-Lavender-Raines-Mackenzie-ebook/dp/B0817846KG/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=Acts+of+Malice%2C+nike+n.+chilli&qid=1573665381&s=books&sr=1-1-fkmr0

Nike N. Chillemi Amazon Author Page:   https://www.amazon.com/Nike-N-Chillemi/e/B0050ZD44O?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1557057271&sr=1-1-spell

Blog:  https://nikechillemi.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/nike.chillemi

Twitter:  @NikeNChillemi

February 5, 2020



So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything,
but only God, who makes things grow.  1 Corinthians 3:7  

For the past few weeks, I have been watching my scrawny plant daily with anticipation. Two years ago it had dwindled to two leaves, thanks to my cat who decided chomping on it was a good idea. I put it high on a shelf in order to hopefully save it. My cat passed, and I didn't have the heart to throw this poor abused pant in the dumpster even though I wasn't sure it was recovering. I brought it down and placed it closer to a diffused light source. Would it thrive? I fed it, watered it, talked to it, and waited...

Every morning I'd curl up on my couch, hugging my coffee cup, and observe this little, green struggling Chinese Evergreen sitting on my end table. Then, I noticed a tiny change. It started as a small "bump" and when I saw it I caught my breath in my throat. Could it be? After almost a year, a new leaf?

Yes! Within another few days, it was confirmed. Then the stalk began to get longer and longer. Soon, a tightly-wound leaf began to stretch from the tip of the stem and slowly unfurl. It only took a few days before the newly-opened light green leaf darkened as the sun shined on it, spurring the chlorophyll to flow.

If I can root (no pun intended) for a little leaf growing, how much more does God get excited to see growth in me?  Understand that I mean spiritual growth, not my waistline and hips. I can almost envision Him smiling and encouraging me. It made me realize anew that any growth is celebrated. It means progress, no matter how slow.

That thought led to another. How impatient am I in watching for growth in others? Do I become frustrated with them, assuming they are on my timetable and are not putting out the effort they should in order to become more Christ-like? Do I scoff and judge their faith walk? Or do I celebrate whatever tiny revelation I detect in their thoughts or behavior?

If I can celebrate a new leaf growing on a scrawny plant, how much more should I acknowledge the work God is doing in those I know...and in me as well?

And by the way, my Chinese Evergreen now has three, new healthy leaves!


Besides being an award-winning novelist of 15 books, Julie is a devotional writer for several publications. Her own blog, Where Did You Find God Today? has readership in over 50 countries. She also leads women's and writer's workshops. Visit her website at www.juliebcosgrove.com.


Is Book 3 in the Relatively Seeking Mysteries

Four days ago, all Shannon Johnson, owner of Pampered Pets and Plants had to worry about was Fluffy eating a fizzy antacid while under her care. Then, her Bible study mentor enters hospice and asks Shannon and her husband, Jayden, to locate her long-lost nephew. By trying to fulfill her wish, Jayden may have lost his job, and a suspected murderer, who doesn't want his secret revealed, knows where to find them.


PLEASE WELCOME KATHY AND LARRY MILLER TO DEVOTIONAL WEDNESDAY The following is an excerpt from the new book by Kathy Col...