Sunday Sabbath: The Duck in the Lake


It’s so easy when we look around to absolutely freak out at what we’re seeing, hearing and believing.

The God that created the duck also created you and me.

As I watched this little guy travel around the lake in Speculator, New York, I realized what a picture of peace he is.

And he might look lazy but I think under the water where I can’t see, he’s getting the job done.

I might not be the loudest voice on your newsfeed but I can say this: underneath the water, I’m praying.

For the root cause behind the flags and the rainbows. For wounded people wounding people. And so much more.

Prayer is key.

Prayer changes things.

Prayer gives peace.

May Christ’s peace be yours today.

Independence Day: Before You Have Another Hot Dog

Ah, Independence Day.

I am pretty sure my blood is red, white and blue. I cry during patriotic things and I believe in this country.

So as things lately spiral so off the axis, I wanted to pause and listen to what I think is the greatest rendition of The Star Spangled Banner out there. I get chills, I cry, it gets me in the gut, I mean this is how to remember our country and her roots today. Take five minutes to gather your family and friends around and thank God for the United States of America.

Take the Plunge 2015 Summer Challenge

Julie’s note:

Don’t forget that Unlikely Merger is FREE on Amazon Kindle through July 5th. Pick up your copy here.

Take the plungebanner banner

Summer . . . a time that kids pine for during the school year and parents may anticipate with something akin to dread. Fearing refrains of “I’m bored” or hours spent on the couch playing video games can make moms and dads nervous about the long, hot months stretching before their family. Focus on the Family’s Odyssey Adventure Club offers an answer, encouraging parents and kids to embrace faith and fun with the Take the Plunge Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse magazine’s Summer Challenge.

Take the Plunge

The Take the Plunge challenge features:

  • Master Mind Monday — commit God’s Word to memory
  • Ways to Play Wednesday — spend active time with your family
  • Faith Sharing Friday — share God’s love with others

The Take the Plunge challenge helps families memorize at least five verses, engage in five activities together and share their faith with five people before the school doors swing open again. Those who sign up will receive an 11-week plan with suggested verses to memorize, activity ideas (such as visiting a war memorial) and ways to witness (such as passing out popsicles at the park with an invitation to your church), making this challenge the perfect tool for parents who want summer to be a time of spiritual and social stimulation for their kids.

“Research tells us that the more senses we involve when teaching children a principle, the more likely it is to stick,” Plugged In editor and Adventures in Odyssey podcast host Bob Smithouser says. “Bible memorization by itself is great, but it becomes even more powerful when put into action. Know it. Share it. Live it.”

Families who sign up to take part in the challenge at will have access to weekly verses to memorize, ideas for family fun and suggestions for service projects that allow a family to share their faith. Additionally, anyone who signs up to participate in the Take the Plunge challenge will receive a free scene from the latest Adventures in Odyssey album, as well as a free story from the book Strange Journey Back.

Unlikely Merger is FREE on Amazon Kindle through July 5th

11391536_858579607541022_8504991036842170166_n The wait is over! Readers voted, the winning hero got their happy ending and now

Book Description:

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

This is Book Three in the Heart Seekers series. Book One was A Dozen Apologies and Book Two was The Love Boat Bachelor. Unlikely Merger can stand alone but don’t you want to find out how all the stories tie together? It is quite the fun ride.

I wrote Landon Gates, Chapter 3, from Watkins Glen in Unlikely Merger. My heart was to honor the area I grew up in and create a character that represents the people. I named him after my nephew, and named his sister, Kaili, as the name we would have chosen had our son been a daughter. :)

All the heroes are swoon worthy and we heard at one point one vote separated five characters. Well, the votes are in but we can’t tell you who won Mercy’s heart.

Why not read on and find out? And once you’re done, if you enjoyed it, leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads? Thank you!

To purchase Unlikely Merger and leave a review, click here.

To review Unlikely Merger on Goodreads, click here.

Book Review: Burning Justice by Helena Smrcek

Book Description:
Romantic suspense, set in French Lick Indiana, first in the Alicia Yu, FBI series.Between a beacon of hope and redemption, comes Jacob. Nora’s future hangs in the balance of his past.

Pacifist Mennonite social worker Nora Martin is on the verge of opening a residential facility for first-time offenders. After years of planning, she’ll finally be able to rescue young men from the violence of prison…or what has been their only other option, the violence of the military.

But then a stranger in camouflage and combat boots marches through her front door and claims to own her house. And he’s not interested in letting Nora change it.

Who is Petty Officer Jacob Schwartz, and why does no one in the close-knit town of French Lick, Indiana want to acknowledge that he exists? What are they hiding? What had seemed like a safe community is now full of secrets and old heartaches, and Nora is caught in the dangerous middle. Her only ally is her best friend, FBI agent Alicia Yu (who readers first met in Glitter and Sorrow), but even Alicia can’t protect her from the way Nora’s heart races every time Jacob’s in the room.

Can she trust a man in uniform?

Nora and Jacob’s choices have taken them down different paths, but God may still show them a safe way back.


Burning Justice 2***
The mark of good romantic suspense is constant conflict. Chemistry. A push-pull reaction in every chapter, every scene. Burning Justice has all of these things and more.

Alicia isn’t the star of Burning Justice as much as Nora Martin is. Nora’s about peace but nothing in her life is peaceful. Especially when Jacob comes back to town.

The two battle through plans for the farm, whispers about them that threaten the plans for the farm, whispers about his past, fears she has about her own past. There is sorrow and pain, but there is also fun self talk from Nora in the first person POV.

I found this book to be one I knew I should put down to get things done around the house, but I couldn’t. All the things above impressed me so, right down to the dramatic ending.

Each year I share my favorite reads of the year and right now, Burning Justice is in the running. I highly recommend.

(I received Burning Justice in exchange for an honest review.)

COTT: In Firefly Valley by Amanda Cabot Wins Latest Clash

I know, technically Summer just started,

Thank you all for participating in our
special May releases Clash of the Titles.
We appreciate the efforts of all of our fans, and
particularly our authors this month:

, Jennifer
, Heather Day
, and Sarah Loudin



Some of the very encouraging words from our readers include:

–Love reading your books. Can’t put them down.
–Great looking
reads. All new authors to me. So, looks like I have great TBR pile for the
rest of the summer.
–Love all of Amanda Cabot’s books. I have Firefly
Valley here ready to read.
–I love Heather Gilbert’s books. She
writes in such a fresh and wonderful way, I feel I’m right there with her
characters. I especially love Tess’s character!
–Sarah Loudin Thomas,
I have loved both of your books! Keep ’em comin’!
–Trial by Twelve
is a masterful suspense novel. I love that it is set in West Virginia and
has a married couple as main characters. I hope there is a sequel! Bravo,
Heather Gilbert!
–Blue Columbine is a favorite and can’t wait for
more of Jen’s books to come out.
–Rachel James is an exciting new
author of engaging historical characters.

And the champ of this clash is…

Amanda Cabot, In
Firefly Valley


She’s lost her dream job—but has she found the man of her dreams?

Devastated by a downsizing, Marisa St. George has no choice but to return
to the small Texas town where she grew up. Though it means a giant step
backward, she accepts a position as business manager at the struggling
Rainbow’s End resort. The only silver lining: Blake Kendall, a new guest
who might make her believe in love at first sight. But will Marisa’s dreams
of happily-ever-after be turned upside down when she discovers Blake’s real

This warm and witty story of dreams deferred and mistaken identity will
have you believing in second chances.

Buy the book on Amazon,
and Noble


My heartfelt thanks go to everyone who helped make In Firefly Valley the
winner of this month’s Clash of the Titles. Your support means so much to
me! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you’re the reason I write.
Thank you for your belief in me and my writing.

I’ve been delighted with the response to this book. A number of you have
told me you think it’s even better than the first of the Texas Crossroads
stories, At
Bluebonnet Lake
. Since I hope that my writing improves with each book,
hearing that has been the encouragement I need to work even harder on the
next book.

I’ve also been pleased with the praise reviewers have given In Firefly
Valley. RT BookReviews rated it a page turner and said, “Cabot’s heartfelt
storytelling rings true as she addresses the pains of bitterness and
resentment, as well as the hard fight to love again and forgive all hurts.
…Charming secondary characters and the beautiful Texas Hill Country
setting cap off a story that is a delight to read.”

Blogger Trudy Shiroma Koeffler had the following to say:
“To say I have a new favorite author is an understatement! This book was
absolutely fantastic on so many levels! First of all it brought deep
spiritual truths into the story naturally and realistically. The love story
was the sweetest one I’ve read in a long time, but it was not a predictable
love story at all. It had twists and turns, and nail biting episodes that
had me guessing till the end. I was impressed with the mature way love was
displayed in this story on all fronts with the various characters. This
book is not some fairytale romance but rather a tale of characters with
real issues, fears, heartaches and hang-ups. The author deals with each
issue in a detailed, emotionally healthy and spiritual rich way. The
description of landscape, cabins, cooking and friendships will make you
wish you could take a little trip to Dupree and visit Firefly Valley

Thank you again for your support. I’m excited, overwhelmed and more pleased
than I can ever say at having In Firefly Valley win this award. And, for
those of you who’ve asked “what’s next?” the third of the Texas Crossroads
books, On Lone Star Trail, will be released in February 2016. If you’d like
to learn more about that and my other books, I invite you to sign up for my
online newsletter. It’s simple: just send me an email. You’ll find the
address on my web page. I look forward to hearing from you.

About Amanda: Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than
thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds
series, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology,
she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT
professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages. Amanda
is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living
happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming.

Visit her website and Facebook page Twitter Blog


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