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Coming Out of Hiding to Say Yes to God by Jennifer Slattery

Posted by Julie on July 6, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Coming Out of Hiding to Say Yes to God by Jennifer Slattery

From invincibility to hiding—for years, my life seemed to follow the opposite path God desires His children to take. He created us to live bold, brave, and intentional lives. He’s given us everything we need, in Christ, do this. I know this now, but for over a decade, fears and wounds from my past kept me in bondage.

 

You never would’ve known it to look at me. I went to church. Smiled. Served. Had friends for dinner and went to their place, all the while engaging in polite, acceptable … filtered conversation.

 

I felt like a fraud, convinced if they were to find out who I truly was, who I’d been, they’d want nothing to do with me.

 

Then came the call.

 

That sounds exciting, right? Except for when you’re spending your days hiding out, trying to play the part you believe is expected—by people. I’d kicked my people-pleasing up to such intensity, God’s still small voice faded into the background.

 

I felt certain the two were in opposition of one another. If I were to do this thing, to follow God with everything within me and surrender to Him, I might irritate a few folks. Maybe even turn others away.

 

It was the latter that scared me most, because God wasn’t just calling me to serve. I’d been doing that. He was calling me to serve Him transparently. To be completely real, with my sins, my struggles, my ugly side.

 

An ugly side that can be easy to hide when I all is going well, but when I feel squeezed or overtired? Those are the times when my ick, the part of me that God is working to chip away at, is most likely to rise up.

 

And yet, God was calling me to live authentically. To be real.

 

Not just real, but to put this transparency into writing, for all the world to see. Knowing some reading would judge me. Would see the worst in me. Would misunderstand. Maybe even choose to use my words against me.

 

So I hid. I continued to reveal only slivers of myself, and thus, only slivers of what God was doing within me—those things that made me look good, like I’d grown and conquered. And day-by-day, God’s still, gentle voice grew softer and more distant.

 

Until the chill between us became more than I cared to bear. I realized I craved intimacy with Christ more than anything else, even my pride. So I said yes, and have had to make that choice many times since, for pride never seems to stay dead for long.

 

What I found—the more I let God in, the more I say yes to Him, the more I begin to live.

 

Consider this quote by Gordon T. Smith, author of Courage and Calling: “Living our lives to the full is precisely what it means to be good stewards of our lives. … We live fully by living in a way that is deeply congruent with who we are.” (p. 18).

 

Congruent with who we are. Living authentically. No more hiding. No more pretending to be someone we’re not. No more trying to please others or avoid their rejection or judgment.  Simply leaning deeper into Christ and allowing Him to use as—our past and our present, our strengths and our weakness, our quirks and qualities—for His glory.

 

I believe that’s when we truly begin to experience the full freedom available to us in Christ and the peace that “surpasses all understand.” A peace no amount of ridicule, “failure,” or rejection can take away.

 

What about you? Are you living authentically, or are you in some state of hiding? Can you sense God saying to you, “Come out, my beloved, chosen by God. Let my Spirit flow, unhindered, through you as I use you to bring about my good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

 

Say yes, friend. I promise, you won’t regret it.

Bio and Blurb:

 

Author, speaker, and ministry leader Jennifer Slattery writes for Crosswalk.com and is the managing and acquiring editor for Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She believes fiction has the power to transform lives and change the culture. Healing Love is her sixth novel, and it was birthed during a trip she and her family took to El Salvador that opened her eyes to the reality of generational poverty and sparked a love for orphans and all who’ve experienced loss.

 

Her deepest passion is to help women experience God’s love and discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she travels with her team to various churches to speak to women and help them experience the love and freedom only Christ can offer. When not writing, editing, or speaking, you’ll likely find her chatting with her friends or husband in a quiet, cozy coffeehouse. Visit her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her and her Wholly Loved team at WhollyLoved.com 

 

Healing Love

Genre: Women’s fiction with a strong romantic thread

Dual setting—Southern California, and El Salvador

 

Blurb: A news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn’t on the agenda.

Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the orphans’ eyes. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.

Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translator, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out – education – and is determined to help his students rise above.

When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of “missional tourists” full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything?

 

Learn more about Healing Love by visiting Goodreads.

Pre-Order Healing Love HERE

 

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Surrender Story: It Isn’t About You, but Now It Is

Posted by Julie on June 8, 2016 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

This is one of those posts that isn’t fun to write because it takes me back to a time I didn’t love and of course, I don’t come out looking too great in it. But I know I’m supposed to share it, and I believe it will encourage someone out there.

Our newlywed years weren’t normal or easy.  I had chronic pain because of a severe case of PCOS. There were many days I was in bed because of pain as soon as I got home from work. I had to receive shots in the backside that were not easy to give or receive. And then there was the baggage.

I came into the marriage with low self esteem and huge trust issues. I was a wounded person who usually felt better wounding others.  It wasn’t a good place.

My husband worked a new job with a lot of hours. He was in community theater. We were new in our church and wanted to be active there together. We grieved his kids not living in the same state anymore and trusted God had them and us.

When he had a bad day from any of these stresses or even something else, I had one thought and one thought only.

It’s me.

I’m the reason he’s upset.

It’s my fault.

It will always be me.

It will always be my fault.

When he needed time to chill, I took that as a personal rejection. I didn’t get that men need their cave time. When he’s ready to talk, he will. But my own emotional baggage couldn’t allow me to see that. So I’d chase him down, causing more stress.

And guess what?

Marriage-When It isn't About You, but then It Is

Marriage-When It isn’t About You, but then It Is

It wasn’t about me until I made it about me. And that’s when real conflict started.

I had a lot of problems then, and a big one I didn’t realize was one I think a lot of young women are also dealing with: you want your husband to be your savior.

Sorry, ladies, he can’t. He’s human and he’s going to fail. The harder you pursue him with that expectation, the faster he’s going to retreat. I tell you from experience. Then your pain is that much stronger because you’ve got another man in your life who has rejected you.

How did I get out of that spiral? It wasn’t easy or fast. I had to hit a rock bottom and realize even when his bad day wasn’t about me, I had a lot of healing to take care of. I had people praying. I read a lot from Chuck Swindoll to Sheila Walsh. I went through two Bible studies that changed everything—Believing God by Beth Moore and Captivating by Sheila Eldredge. I started to see my Savior was there to rescue me, He is Jesus, not my husband. And when I put that in the right order, everything changed.

My view of a Heavenly Father wasn’t healthy because I was envisioning someone with closed arms disappointed in me. Pressing in through my relationship in Christ and giving Him everything about me re wired my thinking. God’s arms are open wide even when I goof up and it is about me.

Now that I’m healed from those hurts, I don’t rely on my husband to be the source of all my happiness. I have the discernment to know when he’s having a bad day when to approach and when to wait. I no longer have those internal alarms going off thinking he’s upset with me.

If this is a struggle for you, I pray something in this post gives you hope to seek healing as well. If you are not part of a Bible reading, Christ centered church, I pray you find one and surround yourself with people who can pray for you. I’m rooting for you!

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Julie Arduini, author and speaker_edited

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Write for the Reader by BJ Bassett

Write for the Reader

B J Bassett

“You write for the reader,” Dr. Sherwood “Woody” Wirt, founding editor of Decision Magazine, said during our one on one meeting.

When I left, my feet didn’t touch the path at the Mount Hermon Conference grounds. Instead, I floated to my room. Dr. Wirt’s words inspired me then and they still do today. His encouraging words were unlike any I’d heard before.

Beginning at an early age, the words I’d heard were, “Not good enough.” “Stand up straight.” “Don’t slouch.” “Why can’t you be like Linda?” “Four eyes.” And “Loser.” I was labeled a daydreamer in school because I’d rather gaze out the window than pay attention during class. Today, I’d probably be considered as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). If, in fact, I was ADD, I learned to live with it. Yes, I was a daydreamer. Is it any wonder I became a writer? I was primed for rejections. And I got them. Lots of them.

In high school I daydreamed about writing for the school paper. What was I thinking? My spelling, grammar and punctuation were horrific. After I was married and raising a family, the death of my brother in Vietnam was the catalyst that changed my life. I’d read somewhere that sometimes when you lose a loved one, you take on one of their characteristics. My brother, Danny, enjoyed writing.

I felt the nudge to take a writing class. The instructor discouraged me. Those familiar words of my youth echoed in my mind, “Not good enough.” “Loser.” I didn’t’ give up. Living on a tight budget, there wasn’t any money to invest in my passion. Fortunate to live near a large library, I checked out every book and magazine on writing. I devoured them, took notes and eventually began to write. I started a critique group and began to submit my work. I amassed a heap of rejections.

I was persistent—a lesson I learned from my dad. Before my dad became a building contractor, he was a carpenter who wanted to work for a big name builder in Beverly Hills, California. So Dad knocked on the builder’s door—once, twice. The third time Dad asked for a job, he was hired.

A personal experience piece I wrote about my daughter’s anorexia received twenty-two rejections before Focus on the Family published it. After publication, it continued to receive rejections. It’s also been reprinted in a dozen publications.

I’m a jack of all sorts, master of none. I write articles, book reviews, curriculum, devotionals, features, greeting cards and books. As a writer, speaker and teacher, my forte is to inspire others.

Like my anorexia article, I have other favorite projects. One of those is my historical novel, Lily. And like my anorexia piece, Lily was rejected over and over again. Words that brought tears to my eyes were when my daughter Melanie said, “If Lily isn’t published during your lifetime, I’ll make sure it gets published after you’re gone.” Melanie believed in Lily as much as I did. Maybe I’m selfish, but I wanted to see it in print during my lifetime.

Lily was self-published as a result of a horrific car accident. I used the money from an insurance settlement to publish it.

  Writing a book is hard. Promoting one is harder. Recently I told Melanie, “I’m not making any money from Lily.” Her response, “Mom, you didn’t write Lily to make money. You wrote it for the reader.”

She’s right. Her words remind me of what Dr. Wirt said all those years ago at the writer’s conference. “You write for the reader.”

BJ Bassett encourages others as an author, teacher and speaker.

Her books include a historical novel Lily; A Touch of Grace—The G.R.A.C.E. Ministries Story, and coauthor of My Time with God which sold 55,000 copies while in print. Her recently released contemporary romance, Gillian’s Heart, is now available. Visit her at www.bjbassett.com.

She teaches writing workshops at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon and at writer’s conference. As a speaker for Stonecroft Ministries, she tells her story of rejection and acceptance, not only in life, but as a writer as well. She also offers book talks, including discussion questions and shares the journey—from the seed of an idea to a publisher book.

She enjoys reading, jigsaw puzzles, knitting, munching warm scones oozing with butter and strawberry jam and sipping earl grey tea. A native Californian, she now lives with her husband of 57 years in Roseburg, Oregon.

GILLIAN’S HEART

In Gillian's Heart, BJ Bassett knew to Write for the Reader.

In Gillian’s Heart, BJ Bassett knew to Write for the Reader.

Abandoned as a child by her alcoholic parents, Gillian Grant was raised by her grandmother in a beach house in California. As an adult, in tribute to Gram’s memory, Gillian wishes to restore the house to its former splendor. But she can’t do it alone, and hires Dusty Bradshaw to help her.

Gillian and Dusty have nothing in common, except the restoration of the house. Gillian suffers from anorexia and is in denial. While she has a strong faith in God, Dusty is an unbeliever. Add to the complicated mess Gillian’s confusing feelings for Josh and the sudden, unwanted appearance of Gillian’s mother Betsy, who claims the house is hers. And she intends to sell it.

Gillian always dreamed of her wedding in her grandmother’s garden overlooking the Pacific. Will there be a wedding? Who will capture Gillian’s heart — her stable, longtime friend Josh — or Dusty, a new Christian, who has kept secrets from her? And who holds the deed to the house?

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An Act of Surrender by Paula Mowery

An Act of Surrender

My husband and I both loved children and planned that we would carry on the Mowery tradition of five. When we decided to start trying to begin our family, I struggled and found that I had infertility issues.

Depression set in and even bitterness when I would see women and girls in unplanned pregnancies. My husband and I would provide a home full of love and a mother and father who had planned for the baby’s arrival.

I was finally able to conceive and have one daughter. But I still held ill feelings as I struggled once again to give my little one a brother or a sister. It never happened. My wise husband said that obviously we had what God wanted for us.

I did fill that baby void with caring for children in my home. This was a blessing to the parents to have a safe and caring place for their little ones. It also blessed us to provide this for the parents and the babies.

Later when my daughter was in her high school years, I was approached by a woman in our church association who runs the local pregnancy center. She wanted me to become the devotional leader for their Thursday evening classes. I told her I needed to think and pray about this.

I went to God with an attitude of “I can’t possibly do this with my history.” God had other plans. I surrendered to His nudging.

For about two years I would deliver the devotion to the girls on their Thursday evening classes. As each girl related her story, those past feelings melted away. I felt honored and humbled that God would use me to share His unconditional love with them. They deserved it.

I’m so glad God nudged me into surrendering to do something I never thought I would do. But as God forgave my former bitter feelings, those girls brought healing for me.

Julie’s Note: Paula and I both shared our infertility journeys with four other authors in the book, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. It is in a workbook format so readers can journal their personal thoughts as they read along. If you know anyone with infertility and/or miscarriage history, PLEASE purchase this book for them. It is not about making money, trust me. We want to see women healed as Paula shares above.

DSC_0275 (2)_editedPaula is a pastor’s wife, mom to a college student, author, acquiring editor, and speaker. No matter the hat she wears, she strives to honor God’s plan even if it means going out on a limb and leaving comfort zones. Reviewers have characterized her writing as “thundering with emotion.” Her book, Be The Blessing, won the 2014 Selah Award in the novella category. Paula enjoys reading and reviewing Christian fiction, writing Christian romance and devotionals, and helping other authors realize their dream of publication.  

 You can follow Paula at www.facebook.com/pages/Paula-Mowery/175869562589187. Learn more about Paula at her blog at www.paulamowery.blogspot.com

THE CRUX OF HONOR

An Act of Surrender is Paula Mowery's story and inspiration for The Crux of Honor.

An Act of Surrender is Paula Mowery’s story and inspiration for The Crux of Honor.

Chelsea Wilson’s life is a constant reminder of what living dishonorably looks like. At every turn she continues to prove her mother’s shunning must be deserved.

Dr. Kevin Alley returns to the old home place to establish his medical practice. After running into Chelsea, he knows his love for her is still strong.

Chelsea is ousted from her small rented room when her mother bursts in, proclaiming Chelsea’s pregnancy.

Kevin takes Chelsea in, giving her space to live on the upper level of his house.

When Chelsea’s baby displays life-threatening symptoms, Chelsea must face her mother. Secrets unfold about Chelsea’s parents. Can Chelsea and Kevin uncover the secrets linked to Amish heritage in time to save the baby? Can the two find love together despite their history?

Purchase THE CRUX OF HONOR here

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Surrender to Prayer by Bruce Judisch

Being a seat-of-the–pants writer has its perks. Why? Because my characters are almost always several steps ahead of my keystrokes, often looking over their shoulders impatiently waiting for me to catch up. Little do they know the joke is on them. They don’t realize I’m writing into them my weaknesses—and, to be honest, also my strengths—just to see how they handle them in clutch situations. And I need to observe them from behind. If I outlined the story in advance, I would already know how they coped. So I would learn nothing from them. And very possibly, neither would my readers. Why? Because I would have contrived my lessons, not lived them and passed them on. Where’s the empathy in that?

Case in point. In my most recent novel, Quimby Pond, my heroine, Gwen Kelly, has lived her life in the shadow of God’s standards, but not in his love. She’s a “good person,” has an innate sense of what is “proper,” but remains tossed on the waves of human doubt as to why it’s proper. Her spirituality? Her childhood church experience? Here’s an excerpt from the book:

[Gwen’s] fondest recollections of Sunday mornings revolved not around church, but rather brunch at a local pancake house as a reward for not squirming too much during the boring services. Her success was usually gauged by the number of over-the-shoulder huffs from the dour Mrs. Olsen, who always seemed to select the pew directly in front of the Kellys. On a good morning, a steaming stack of blueberry pancakes, whipped cream, and warm maple syrup awaited, making Sundays bearable.

Excepting the fictitious Mrs. Olsen, this was largely my childhood church experience, and I bequeathed it to Gwen. How does she cope with this kind of a spiritual past in the midst of the clutch situations I foisted upon her in Quimby Pond? Her image of God and of communion with him—i.e., prayer—lacked understanding, substance, caring. How does one cope? How does one surrender to the love of God, not just perceive a notion of his standards? The story’s hero, Brent Newcomb, wondered the same thing. Here’s an exchange between Brent and Gwen:

As they neared the hospital, she cast a questioning glance at him. “You were praying last night, weren’t you? During the search.”

“I sure was.”

“Do you think it made any difference?”

“It made a difference to me.” He pulled into the hospital parking lot and into an empty slot. “And apparently to Hannah too. You realize that God answered the prayer through you, don’t you?”
She threw him a startled look. “What do you mean?”

He propped an elbow on the steering wheel and faced her. “It was your sudden idea to search near Quimby Pond, and that idea saved Hannah’s life. I’ve discovered that God is usually responsible for sudden ideas like that.”

She looked down again. “Do you pray a lot? I mean, you know, at regular times. Not only in emergencies.”

“Not as often as I should.” He offered a slight smile as he switched off the engine. “What’s your position on the subject?”

She shrugged and reached for her seatbelt buckle.

Will Gwen ever give in to the lure of prayer? If so, what will it take to bring her to the point of surrender? What does it take to bring any person to the point of “surrendering” to prayer, of recognizing that such communion yields solace to the person praying and joy to the One to whom the prayer is lifted. The answer to that question is different for every person.

Her lesson still teaches this author. And she did it all by herself.

Author Bio and photo

bruceBruce Judisch has been writing fiction for many years.  His first work, “A Prophet’s Tale,” is a two-part novelization of the story of the Old Testament prophet, Jonah ben Amittai, comprising The Journey Begun and The Word Fulfilled. A third part, The Promised Kept, is under construction. More recently, he wrote two novels with complementary contemporary and historical storylines: Katia, a Cold War novel focusing on the fall of the Berlin Wall, and its sequel, For Maria, featuring the Kindertransport.

Bruce lives in Texas with his wife and high school sweetheart, Jeannie, and their two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Charlie and Raleigh.  Bruce and Jeannie are the proud parents of three and grandparents of fourteen.

Book Cover and blurb

Surrendering to prayer is one of the plot questions in Bruce Judisch's Quimby Pond.

Surrendering to prayer is one of the plot questions in Bruce Judisch’s Quimby Pond.

Thursday, August 20, 1896, Marble Falls, Maine. A festively adorned bridal trunk arrives on the one o’clock train, but no newlyweds debark to claim it. Curious townspeople gather for the evening train, but again only to disappointment. Where was the happy couple? What became of the trunk? And what if it wasn’t a bridal trunk at all…?

Present Day:  Gwen Kelly comes to Marble Falls to escape a broken past, a past that revisits her when she begins to restore an antique trunk. A mysterious assailant targets her friends and fingers her as the only person who can stop him. Gwen is thrust into an awkward relationship with Officer Brent Newcomb as they race to stop the intruder from striking again. Could the trunk hold the key to this cloud of violence spreading over the peaceful Marble Falls region? If so, will they discover its secret in time?  If not, what have they stumbled into?

Purchase QUIMBY’S POND HERE

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SURRENDER STORY: Tanya Eavenson Interviews Characters from RESTORED

Posted by Julie on March 8, 2016 in ACFW, encouragement, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

Julie’s Note:
Throughout this year I’m featuring posts from guest writers on surrender. It can be on basically anything, and you do NOT need to be an author. To sign up, click here (to post between now and March 31) and/or here (to post between April and June 30.)

Today, Tanya Eavenson interviews her characters for her novel, RESTORED. Thank you, Tanya!

What’s the most romantic thing Elizabeth has ever done for you, Steven?

 

Steven raised a brow, meeting Elizabeth’s gaze.

 

“You can tell her.” Elizabeth smiled. “I had a feeling Julie was going to ask.”

 

“My sweet wife planned a surprise trip to St. Michaels, Maryland, for us to stay at the Inn at Perry Cabin, but we never made it. Anna Mae came down with a fever. She had also planned a trip for us on a yacht, something I had wanted to do since our college days. It was the most thoughtful thing anyone had ever done for me.”

 

What’s the most romantic thing Steven’s ever done for you, Elizabeth?

 

“I couldn’t believe it, but a month later he surprised me by booking flights to Maryland. The view from the Inn at Perry Cabin was stunning, but what stole my breath was the candlelight dinner we shared on the yacht I previously rented.”

 

Do you both have a favorite song?

 

“Yes,” they said in unison. Steven grinned. “Elizabeth got me hooked on Oceans by Hillsong United. It resonated with me, dealing with my cancer. God allowed me to go through the unknown. I felt like I was sinking and my faith was shaken. I couldn’t see a future, but even in my doubt, the Lord remained by my side. He made Himself visible by sending Elizabeth back into my life.”

 

What simple gesture does Steven do that melts you every time?

 

Elizabeth looked down at their joint hands. “It’s this, entwining our fingers. His touch.”

 

How soon after meeting Elizabeth did you know she was the one?

 

“We were in college.” Steven glanced at Elizabeth and chuckled. “Do you remember when we played Zechariah and Elizabeth, how awkward we looked?”

 

Elizabeth smiled. “Oh yes, I was a sight with that pillow stuffed under my dress. I can’t even recall how many times it slid out of place. I delivered the pillow several times and even fell once. I don’t think I did John the Baptist’s mother justice.”

 

“You captivated me. I had been working up the nerve to speak with you when we were casted together. Later that year when Mike set us up on that double date with John and Nicole, I knew you were the one. I had fallen in love with you.”

 

Who said, “I love you” first, you, Elizabeth or Steven?

 

“Steven first told me he loved me when we were in college. Then many years later when God brought him back into my life, I was the first to say that I loved him.”

 

What is the most caring thing Elizabeth has ever done for you, Steven?

 

“Being there for me through my cancer.” Steven kissed Elizabeth’s hand. “It was her strength, her support, the love she showed me, even seeing her in prayer. She spent hours in the waiting room at the cancer center. Love is more than words, it’s shown in action.”

Tanya Eavenson interviews her characters from RESTORED.

Tanya Eavenson interviews her characters from RESTORED.

About RESTORED:

Dr. Steven Moore is known nationally for saving lives. If only he could save his own. Unable to deal with his cancer prognosis, he retreats to a happier time in his past—to the woman who once stole his heart.

Four years after the death of her beloved husband, bookstore owner Elizabeth Roberts still struggles to sustain her faith and joy in the Lord as she raises her two sons. She strives to find a way through her family’s grief, never suspecting a man from her past might offer hope for her future.

But how can there be a future when he’s only come to kiss her and says good-bye?

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://ow.ly/YhprC

iTunes: https://itun.es/us/0XoMab.l

Barnes & Noble: http://ow.ly/YhpB1

DSC_0729b_edited~ Tanya Eavenson enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Word Weavers International, and writes for Christ to the World Ministries. You can find her at her website http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/ on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google, or on Amazon.



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