With Fear and Trembling 7/23/2021

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by:  Staci Stallings

One of the dangers of writing outside the box, not following the formula, and going where God leads is that you get into situations that make you really question the wisdom of doing any of that.

You see, as an indie writer, I love the freedom of being able to write the stories the way God gives them to me. They don’t have to be a set number of words or pages or follow a strict pattern. The hero and heroine might meet in the first chapter or the sixth, and no one is at the bottleneck saying, “You can’t do it this way.”

That’s great when you’re writing because… freedom!

It’s when you hit the Sea of Publication that things become a whole lot more dicey.

Because it’s one thing to like or even love a story. It’s a whole other thing to put it out there and know that other people are not going to like your story because it so doesn’t fit the formula.

It’s like the other day, I got a review on a book of mine that I just love. The reviewer clearly did not feel the same way. The review said they could summarize the whole book in eight points, and then they did so. Hey, I could do it in three…

They meet.

They have issues.

They fall in love.

Why is that such a challenge?  I mean, come on. Of course there is a plotline structure to a story. Why is that news?

Then I got another review on a different book that said it was “too descriptive on sex scenes.” Uhm, there are no “sex scenes” in the book. They kiss, yes, like they love each other, but that’s it.

So, it’s in this environment of overly-picky and rather vocal reviewers that I’m sending my latest effort, “The Taste of Tears” out from the safe shore of my computer, knowing…. Oh, knowing it does not follow the formula. Knowing some readers are going to want to throw things at the end. Knowing already what could be coming my way in terms of reviews.

It’s crazy because this book is why I write—to try to break through the things holding people back from their greatest victories.  And yet, this book is also why I hate actually publishing stories that God said were a good idea to write.

I have to admit, there are times I feel like David. Do you think he ever once thought, “What am I doing? What was God thinking telling me THIS was a good idea?”

I don’t know if David felt that way. I know I sure do.

I guess we’ll consider this one a little peek behind the curtain of what it’s actually like to be an indie writer that could never have put these stories out this way through a traditional publisher. No way would this story have made it through in this form.  But it is with fear and trembling, I send my heart’s work away from the shore, out into the tumultuous sea of readers who may or may not be very kind to it. I guess as they say, Ready or not, here we go!

The Taste of Tears

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The Taste of Tears

About the Author:

Staci StallingsA stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Although she lives in Amarillo, Texas and her main career right now is her family, Staci touches the lives of people across the globe with her various Internet and writing endeavors.

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CrossReads Book Spotlight: The Road to Mercy

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CrossReads Book Spotlight

CrossReads Book Spotlight

The Road to Mercy

A Journey of Secrets, Survival, and Redemption

by Mary Hutchinson

The Road to Mercy

Silver Medal Winner in the 2020 Illumination Book Awards and 3rd Place Winner in the 2019 Xulon Press Christian Author Awards Contests, Biography/Memoir Category.

The inspirational true story of God sparing a young girl from being murdered and later transforming her life, as seen on The 700 Club.

By age twelve, Mary Therese Hutchinson had survived not one, not two, but four attempts on her life. Even worse, the assailant and man who had sexually abused her for years was no outsider but a trusted family member. Forced to keep much of what she endured a secret, Mary came to believe everything she’d been taught about God was a fairy tale. After all, what loving God would allow such horrible things to happen to a little girl? Or if he was real, then God had forgotten about her.
By adulthood, Mary was outwardly a successful, beautiful young woman. But unresolved trauma and hate for her abuser led to a downward spiral of despair and self-destructive choices. A stranger’s prayers became the catalyst that started Mary on a journey of emotional healing and spiritual transformation. She now knew God was no fairy tale but a loving, merciful heavenly Father who, far from abandoning her, had miraculously intervened to save her young life.
But when her assailant reentered Mary’s life, she faced her greatest challenge yet. Could she extend to her abuser the same mercy God had so abundantly extended to her? The heart-pounding conclusion to this story is one no reader will ever forget. It all began with one woman’s choice to step out of her dark nightmare and onto the road to mercy.

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My Thoughts on the Victoria Secret’s ‘Karen’ 7/20/2021

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by Parker J. Cole

Victoria’s Secret was in the news recently as most of us watched a video of a White woman attacking a Black woman. When it became apparent to the White woman that the Black woman was recording her, she proceeded to spend nearly twenty minutes screaming, hollering, chasing the woman around the store, calling the police, and a whole host of other shenanigans.  

The White woman, now called the ‘Victoria’s Secret Karen’, understood the ramifications of her actions – that she would now become a target of the unseen masses. Twitter would share, discuss, and condemn her actions. Many people stated, “Let’s make sure she loses her job.” I noticed that the White woman shut down all her social media accounts. Though there was other information available online that people used to identify her, as of today, the woman has gone silent. 

Smart move.  

The Black woman being attacked expressed her disappointment in the way the mall security personnel, the police of that town, and regular bystanders acted about the incident. Most critics who viewed the video made mention of how if this had been in reverse – had the Black woman done as the White woman did, attacking her, falling on the floor, screeching, running around the store – the reaction of mall security and police would have been much different.  

In the video, you can hear the Black woman discuss as its happening, how the White woman calls the police and tells them that she’s being threatened by the Black woman though the video shows different. When the Black woman goes to complain about the actions of the mall security and then police officers, both show professional distance about it – at best. Dismissal, at worst. In fact, in the videos shared online, you can see the Black woman, when one of the officers get snippy with her, says to the effect, “Why don’t you act like that with [the White woman]?” 

Good question. 

I’m still not sure what drew me to this incident. Truthfully, I stay away from these videos. They’re depressing for the most part. Lord knows, there are dozens of recordings of “Karen” videos, often depicting a White woman (although the term ‘Karen’ has been expanded to reflect a certain type of attitude of any person, man or woman, of any ethnic or identity group) feeling entitled to act however they wish without the idea of repercussions.  

I remembered my own ‘Karen’ experience last year.  

It was nothing as spectacular as some of the other videos of these interactions that have gone viral. During lockdown, Sarah and I went for a walk. As I walked, I saw a woman on the other side of the street going the opposite way with her dog. I remember saying “Good morning”, but she didn’t respond. Thinking nothing of it, after all, I was just being polite, I went on my way. I saw a man with two little dogs, and I said “Good morning” to him as well. We chitchatted for a moment and then went on. 

I could hear the woman who didn’t speak to me, speak the man I’d just said hello to. I do remember from the corner of my eye seeing the woman walk across to my side of the street, but I think that’s when she was talking to the guy. 

I’m not sure what made me look behind me. When I did, I noticed that the woman was now behind me. I walked for some more, maybe another ten minutes.  I looked behind me and saw the woman was still there. Figuring maybe her home was going the same way, I kept going. 

When I turned a corner and got almost down to where I knew I’d turn another corner, I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Someone’s watching you.” 

I glanced behind me and saw the same woman standing at the corner, watching me from down the street. The moment she saw me look back, she turned away in a huff and walked away. 

I realized then that she had been following me. 

There’s something so icky about when people do things like this. Based on some pre-conceived notion in their heads, a person is singled out as suspicious, dangerous, or untrustworthy. I was simply walking my dog like she was. Was it because she’d never seen me? Well, I’d never seen her, and I never once grew suspicious of her being on the street.  

Thankfully, that’s all there is the event. No words were exchanged (thank God) and nothing untoward happened.  

Often, the behavior of these people caught on camera can be confounding. In the Victoria’s Secret ‘Karen’, she attacked the woman, for whatever reason, but didn’t want to face the repercussions of her actions. Bystanders would tell the recording woman, “Why don’t you just take your camera away?” Another said, “Why not just go away? She’s sick.” But when you see the woman faking a faint, using her words in a way to try to make it look as if the Black woman was the aggressor, that’s not mental illness.  

That’s manipulation. 

No matter who the ‘Karen’ is, it’s all about the manipulation of the event. The need for control. There are people better than I am tackling the psychological basis behind these attitudes exhibited in these interactions. Theories abound from a history of racism in the U. S., to mental illness, to narcistic personalities, and more. However, I submit that those aren’t the root cause – merely symptoms. 

The root cause is sin. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” 

We can see certain pathways that lead to actions like this, but if you were to follow it down, you’d see a throbbing, pulsing core of darkness that is sin. What the cancel culture does to people is try to cancel them, to make them pay for their actions as the cancel culture perceives them.  I say perceive because not every interaction caught on video is a ‘Karen’ attitude. Some ARE mentally ill, others on drugs, and still others in some emotional pain. 

However, this doesn’t give anyone leave to get away with reckless actions.  

Reflecting on this, this doesn’t mean to stop recording. Recording protects yourself as well as give you some hope in proving your case. After all, some of these people will blatantly lie.  

We need to continue to pray for our world. I believe the pandemic brought out in bold colors the state of humanity for us to all to see just how bad off we are. Mankind is still sinful…and in need of a Savior.  

So it doesn’t matter if the symptoms are ‘Karens’ or police brutality. It doesn’t matter if the symptoms are racism or sexism. It doesn’t matter if the symptoms are human trafficking, or drugs. It’s all sin and we need to be saved from it. 

Jesus Christ is the only one who can and will.

About the Author:

Parker J ColeParker J. Cole is a writer and radio show host who spends most of her time reading, knitting, writing, cooking, and concocting new ideas for stories. Her first novel, Dark Cherub, won Best of Spring Reading 2013 from eMediaCampaigns. She lives in Michigan with her husband and beloved dog Sarah.

Visit her site at http://www.ParkerJCole.com

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CrossReads Short Takes: Open Your Heart & The DollMakers Daughter

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CrossReadsShortTakes

CrossReads Short Takes

Open Your Heart

How to Use Your Creative Superpowers to Attract Love

by Beth McGuffin M.Ed. CLAC

Open Your Heart

Certified Love Attraction Coach™, Beth McGuffin, M.Ed., CLAC, combines her experiences in book writing and creativity coaching with love attraction coaching to guide you on a heart-opening journey as you tap into the creative superpowers that you may be unaware you possess. In “Open Your Heart: How to Use Your Creative Superpowers to Attract Love”, she holds your hand and walks you through enjoyable processes that allow you to create a tangible vision of love. The F.A.S.T. Creative Love Method supports you in loving and accepting yourself as you embrace the love the Divine had in mind when He designed you. You can finally stop struggling with loneliness and start allowing love and acceptance into your life as you learn first to love yourself and open your heart to receiving soulmate-level love with grace and ease.

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The Dollmaker’s Daughter

by Izzy James

The Dollmaker's Daughter

Forgetful scientist Simon Morgan lost his chance with Amity Archer ten years ago. He knows there is no hope…until a sea captain trades a meal for an ancient stone reputed to have the power to give him his heart’s desire. Immediately after pocketing the stone, Simon runs into Amity. Did the ancient artifact cause this chance encounter or was it mere coincidence?

Like her favorite travel writer Mrs. Peabody, Amity Archer yearns for adventure, but she’s horrified when her father asks Simon Morgan to escort her on her first real adventure.

With Amity’s Aunt Clementine as a buffer between them, will Simon be able to prove that his love for Amity is real? Can Amity show Simon that her love for him has nothing to do with a so-called magical rock?

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CrossReads Weekly Devotional: Gems from Pastor Jim 7/19/2021

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by Jim Hughes

CrossMatt. 6:1 “Take care! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.”

It seems like much of the church has gotten pretty careless in this area. With the ready accessibility of mass media, there are so many who want to broadcast for the world to see their good deeds. There is so much self-promotion going on in the church that one has to wonder what is really going on.

We like to be noticed and we want others to be attracted to us. We want others to want to support our endeavors. We want to be the popular church in town. We want others to know what we are doing.

In light of our verse today, I wonder what the Lord thinks about the way we do things. I wonder how many of us do things that go unnoticed. I wonder if the Lord is pleased with our doings or if He has a problem with what we do because of why we do them.

We like to be admired, but if that is what motivates us in what we do, we are in deep trouble with the Lord. The praise of man will be the only reward we get for our labors. And, if we are not careful, feasting on the praise of others may cause us to drift away from the Lord and make it difficult to find our way back.

Whatever you do in the name of Christ, be sure you do it for the Lord’s glory and honor and not your own.

About the Author:

Jim Hughes

Spending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chapter on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

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First Impressions: And the Greatest of These is Love 7/16/2021

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by:  Staci Stallings

First ImpressionsOne of the things I think is strange about my writing life is how clear certain scenes are when they come out of me and how those scenes never really leave my memory.  Each book seems to have a few of these, and often, years after the book is finished and I’ve moved on, I still can put myself right back into that scene as if it really happened and isn’t just a figment of my imagination.

Recently, I’ve started watching The Adventures of Lois & Clark, one of my favorite TV shows from the 90’s, and as I watch, I remember why “Clark” inspired the book And the Greatest of These is Love.  The heroine was actually from another movie I fell in love with at the time. She was the best friend in Bed of Roses.  In the story that they came together for me, Clark’s name is now Andrew Clark, and he like his inspiration is a reporter for a big city newspaper (though he doesn’t actually have super powers in this one), and Gabriella, just like her inspiration in the film, works in an after school and daycare program for kids whose families are struggling to survive.

One of the things I so love about their first face-to-face meeting is that Gabi doesn’t wilt like a wallflower though Andrew’s societal position probably warrants it. This is one of those almost mistrust-at-first-sight books, which sets up their challenging road to relationship throughout the rest of the book.

So today, I thought I’d share their First Impression story with you. It’s kind of long, but I’d love to know what you think…

~*~*~

The Greatest of These is LoveAndrew’s heart soared as he looked at her, the leaves and twigs still clinging to her almost straight dark hair, and in his soul he knew without asking that she was the cause of the laughter he’d heard outside. He couldn’t have stopped himself from smiling at her if he’d wanted to— which he so didn’t.

“Gabi, this is Andrew Clark, the reporter from The Herald that I mentioned. Andrew, this is Gabriella Treyvillion,” Jerry said, tipping his head in introduction. However, neither of them moved as they both stood there, staring at the other.

“Oh. It’s nice to meet you, Gabriella.” Andrew managed to extend his hand though it took real effort to get himself to keep thinking straight.

“It’s nice to meet you, too,” she said, the final word catching in her voice when her hand touched his. She seemed to shake herself a little before she smiled the most amazing, heart-stopping smile he’d ever in his life seen. The dimple in her cheek stopped his heart with one brief appearance. “And please, call me Gabi.”

“Oh, okay, Gabi,” he said, holding her hand in his a moment more. He never wanted to let go. Why did he have to again? She looked at him and then glanced down at their hands still connected between them. A jerk of his thoughts, and he finally managed to pull his hand away. That didn’t stop the joy dancing in his soul as he noticed the leaves in her hair once again. Reaching over, he plucked one from the strands and held it up. “Looks like you’ve been attacked by an oak tree.”

“Oh, my…” Instantly Gabi reached up to her hair and swiped at it in utter humiliation. Her smile disintegrated as she realized how middle school she was acting. “The children and I were just playing outside. I…  didn’t have time to…” but explanations were useless at this moment because nothing was making any sense to her anymore anyway.

“Gabi, Andrew tells me he’s going to do a whole series on the center,” Jerry said, and there was a lilt in his voice she hadn’t heard in a long time. “I thought he might want to interview you as a start.”

“Me?” she asked. The swiping stopped, and she looked at Jerry in surprised panic. “Why me?”

“Because next to me you know more about this place than anybody,” Jerry said matter-of-factly. “I thought maybe I could take your class for a little while and give the two of you a chance to talk.”

“Now?” Gabi asked, her eyes widening as the air clutched her lungs.

Jerry leveled his gaze at her as if to express the gravity of the situation. “Yes, now. Is that a problem?”

Andrew pleaded with God that it wouldn’t be a problem for her. If he could just spend a few minutes with her, he would never ask another thing for as long as he lived. She was fascinating, amazing, beautiful.

“Well, we’re going to lunch in a few minutes,” Gabi said, glancing at him but only that. She seemed to be shrinking back or becoming angry, and he didn’t like either one.

“Oh. I can take them to lunch,” Jerry said quickly.

That stopped her and she verily glared at her boss. “You?”

“Yes, me,” Jerry said with indignation. “I run this place — surely I can take care of a few children for one lunch.”

Gabi looked at him, skeptically twining her lips, but she said nothing.

“You can use my office,” Jerry continued, without pause. A long conversation passed between them, only some of which Andrew could read.

“Okay,” she finally relented. “Just give me a minute to get these leaves out of my hair, and I’ll meet you there.”

“Okay. Great,” Andrew said, trying to keep the breathlessness out of his voice. It didn’t work.

Gabi stared at her reflection in the tiny mirror wishing desperately for make-up of any kind, but she only owned two pieces of make-up, and she reserved them only for important occasions — certainly not a normal day at the center.

“This is stupid,” she berated herself harshly in the mirror. “He’s a reporter. A reporter. He’s not here to see you. He’s here to get a story. Get a grip already.”

But her heart said differently, and no words were talking it out of anything.

Andrew studied the office as if his life depended on how it looked. Sad and dismal were the two best words for the place, and he wished with all of his heart he could change that. He had one shot at this, and he wanted it to go well. He turned the two extra chairs toward each other, then pulled them to the side of the room, then replaced them. There was no getting around the fact that this felt like a principal’s office — and that was definitely not the feeling he wanted to evoke at this moment. Candlelight and roses, wine and chocolate strawberries. That would have been so much better.

Suddenly she slipped in the door, and when he saw her, his heart stopped again. How could anyone be so amazing?  He fought with his mind to stay with him, but it was a battle he was losing quickly. There were no more leaves in her hair, and he kind of missed them. He smiled at her shyly, his eyes asking questions he didn’t dare say with his lips.

“Thank you for taking the time to visit with me,” he said as professionally as possible.

“Oh, you’re welcome,” she said as if she was both worried and intimidated. “I don’t know how much help I can be, but I’ll sure try.” The dimple was back, and its twin joined it.

“Oh, I’m sure you’ll do just fine,” he said, smiling at her, and Gabi’s breath caught and locked. How was she supposed to sound rational and intelligent when she couldn’t get her mind to work or the words to come out of her mouth when she looked at him? Gabi, get a grip!

“Would you like to go somewhere else?” he asked, seeming to sense her discomfort.

She shrugged and glanced around the tiny office. It was less than inspiring. “I don’t care. Sure if you want.”

“Maybe we could go outside or something.”

“Okay.”

He pulled the door open and held it for her. Gabi ducked her head to step through it and led the way outside. As they walked in silence down the hall, her mind struggled with the unavoidable impression that she knew him from somewhere. They had met before, but when? Her mind couldn’t quite come up with the answer. It wasn’t like she went all that many places. Home, church and the center. That was about it. No. She was wrong. She didn’t know him, but why couldn’t she shake this feeling?

Andrew concentrated on each step down the darkened hall, willing himself to stay calm and professional. Sure, Gabriella — Gabi — made his mind mush, but he needed to get a grip. He had a job to do here, and that took precedence.  They crossed through another door and entered the warmth of the sunshine outside. It was a beautiful day — one of the few remaining before the winter came.

“We can go over there to the steps,” she said like a breath on the air as she pointed across the playground.

“K.” He wished he could be cool about this like Bryan would be. Bryan would have her eating strawberries and drinking wine at his place by nightfall. As it was, Andrew hoped he would be granted five minutes.

She climbed the light, baby blue painted concrete steps and sat down pulling her long dark skirt in around her knees. Adjusting his medium gray suit coat, he sat down next to her and pulled out his reporting notebook. It was time to get serious.

“Before we start, I need the spelling of your name — so I get it right, you know,” he said formally, which was good. Keep it formal. Professional. To that end, he put his pen and gaze on the paper.

“Okay,” Gabi said and spelled it slowly for him, watching his hands intently.

There was no ring, she noticed in spite of her brain reminding her that this was an interview and nothing more. Besides, no ring didn’t always mean anything anyway.

“Okay, Gabriella — Gabi,” he said, glancing at her and then retraining his gaze to his notebook with only a slight adjustment of his glasses. He cleared his throat. “How long have you worked here?”

“Six years in January,” she said, looking around the sparse playground. It was so easy to grow wistful at the thought of the place.

She remembered the first time she’d seen it. Her first thought had been that she would make an immediate request for more equipment. That was six years ago, and not a single thing had been added since then. But she was still writing equipment requests in the hopes that something would change. It didn’t. It never would, but she adamantly refused to give up hope that it would.

“So, what made you want to work here?”

“A lot of things,” she said, still studying the grounds. It was far safer than looking at him. “I guess I thought I could make a difference, you know? It just seemed like this was where God wanted me to be at the time.”

“And did you plan to stay here when you came, or was this a stepping stone to something else?”

“You mean onto something bigger?” she asked, and he nodded. “No, not really, but I did think at the time that this place would get better…  But all it’s gotten is bigger — more kids, more parents, more problems.” Putting her elbows on her knees, she sighed the hopeless feeling back out of her spirit.

His gaze drifted over to her and didn’t move. “So you know about the financial problems then?”

“Yeah.” She nodded, feeling his gaze on her but not being able to return it. “I knew about them when I started here. I just didn’t know how bad things really were until a few days ago.”

The pen stopped writing as if they were now just talking. “How bad are they?”

Gabi wondered how much to tell him. How much had Jerry told him? How much did he already know, and how much should he know? “Pretty bad,” she finally hedged. “Let’s put it this way, I may be looking for a new job very soon.” As the tears she hadn’t let fall threatened, she pressed her lips together and ducked her head away from him. Keep it together, Gabi. He doesn’t need chapter and verse of your sob story.

He wrote something down and let out a breath. “I see.  So, in your estimation how bad would it be for the community if the center had to close?”

A knife sliced through her heart at that thought, and the tears became much harder to hold down.

“The center and the schools are the only stable places most of these kids know. For them it would be devastating. For their parents too, I guess, but mostly for the kids.” Gabi’s gaze slowly slid out across the yellowing grass, and she shook her head and closed her eyes to the pain dredging up in her soul.

The depth of the sadness in her voice stopped Andrew cold, and he let his gaze fuse to her and hold.

“It sounds like this is pretty important to you,” he said, watching her hair blowing softly in the breeze. He wanted to reach out to it and her, gather her into his arms and keep every bad thing from getting anywhere close.

“Yeah, I guess so.” Her words were soft and barely audible. “I guess I know how much of a difference a place like this makes to these kids, and it’s hard to think what will happen to them if it does close.”

“Yeah,” he said with half-a-shrug, “but even with the center, how much of a chance do they really have? I mean look at what they come from.”

Gabi bristled instantly, and her dark, angry eyes knifed over to him. “The kids that come through here are good kids, Mr. Clark. They don’t have fancy sports cars or big houses, but that doesn’t make them bad kids.”

“Oh. I… I didn’t mean that like it sounded,” Andrew said, catching his mistake. “I just meant… that they have so much against them already.”

The anger dropped to an even more dangerous level. “Yeah, they do. And that’s why it’s important for them to have the center. It might be their only chance to get out of the life they were born into.”

“So,” Andrew said, wanting to steer the conversation away from this hot button subject. “Have you taught the little ones your whole time here?”

“No.” That worked as she half-smiled and then laughed. “When I started, Jerry put me with the ten year olds.”

He lifted his eyebrows in surprise. “I take it that didn’t go well?”

“Oh, it went well enough, but after six months we both agreed I’d do better with the little ones. Besides I was one of the only full-timers here, and he needed someone for the all-day four-year-olds.”

“Four-year-olds?” Andrew shivered at the thought. “That must be like going into war every day.”

“It’s not so bad.” Gabi smiled and leaned back with a shrug. “They’re great — most of the time anyway.”

Thankful that she didn’t look like she was about to shoot him anymore, Andrew nodded. “So, how many do you have?”

“Oh, anywhere from 20 to 25 a day. It depends on the parents. I probably have 18 regulars who are here most every day and then about six that drop in once or twice a week.”

“So, you don’t have the same ones every day?”

“Well, mostly, but these parents don’t always have set work hours so you just have to go with the flow and teach who you have.”

“That must be a challenge.”

“It’s all a challenge,” she said, sighing as the dark cloud that was never far away crossed her face once again. “The kids, the parents, the hours…”

“The hours?”

She came forward, putting her elbows on her knees once again as she glanced over at him. “Yeah, most of the time I’m here by at least 6:15. I try for 6:00, but that doesn’t always happen.”

“Six in the morning?” he asked in horror and dismay.

“Yes, six in the morning.” When she smiled, the dimples were back. “And if I’m really lucky, I’m out of here by 7:00, but most of the time it’s 7:30 or 8:00.”

“Wow. What does your family think of those hours?” he asked before he’d thought about the question.

Another bad question. She looked away again and said nothing for a long moment. “I don’t… really… have a family to worry about,” she said softly. “It’s just me.”

“Oh,” was all he could say. His heart broke for the sadness pouring from her

A second and she shrugged. “I guess you could say the people here are my family,” she said so softly he barely heard her. “It’s really gonna be hard to see them go.”

“So you think you’re going to have to see them go?” he asked immediately catching her meaning.

Gabi sat in silence, unable to put what was in her heart into words. It was the thought that kept creeping into her mind. The one she had desperately tried to avoid thinking about for three days.

“I think I’d really better be getting back to help Jerry,” she said, standing quickly and making sure to brush her skirt off. “He’s not exactly a natural with the little ones.”

“Oh.” A surprised second and Andrew followed her up. Even with him a step down, he was still taller than her by several inches, and this close, the magnetism of him pulled her inexorably closer. Lands, she needed to get away from him before she did or said something truly humiliating. Then with a soft smile in his dark eyes, he held his hand out to her. “Thank you for your time, Gabi. I really appreciate it.”

“No problem,” she said, swaying back and forth on the light breeze. She took his hand, praying she wouldn’t lose her balance with the swirling of her world. With him this close, anything was possible. A breath and she willed a smile onto her face. “I guess I’ll see you around?”

His smile was beyond amazing. “Count on it.”

Read more… Click here!

About the Author:

Staci StallingsA stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Although she lives in Amarillo, Texas and her main career right now is her family, Staci touches the lives of people across the globe with her various Internet and writing endeavors.

 

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CrossReads Book Spotlight: She’s Mine

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CrossReads Book Spotlight

CrossReads Book Spotlight

She’s Mine

A Mystique of Naultag novel

by Tammy Doherty

She's Mine

This summer is going to be explosive for Caitlin Harrington and Sean Taggart!

YOU DON’T BELONG HERE

Caitlin dreams of a quiet life teaching math at her hometown middle school. Except someone is leaving ominous notes on her door. It could be her ex-boyfriend or someone else who doesn’t want her back in town. Firefighter Sean Taggart thinks Caitlin is beautiful…and possibly crazy. When he finds out the truth, Sean wants to help. Can he save Caitlin before the stalker turns to murder?

“Don’t you worry about Sean,” Randy said. “We need to take care of you.”
Caitlin pushed him away and looked up the hill. The glow she’d assumed was work lights suddenly took on an ominous tint. As they all watched, flames shot up into the night sky.

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CrossReads Short Takes: Live and Have Faith Book 28 Grateful & Dial F for Family

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CrossReadsShortTakes

CrossReads Short Takes

Live and Have Faith Book 28 Grateful

by Robin Cocks

Live and Have Faith Book 28 Grateful

One child’s grateful heart touches the lives of others.

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Dial F for Family

Sweet Christian Contemporary Romance Novella

(You Are on the Air, Book 1)

by Lisa Prysock

Dial F for Family

Maddie and Brandon Kingsley have been happily married for fifteen years, but they begin navigating rough waters as Maddie decides to transition from stay-at-home Mom to owning her own antique shop. At the same time, Brandon’s career as an advertising executive brings additional stress when business travel and other demands increase. When their pre-teen twin daughters mistakenly think Mom and Dad are headed for divorce, they begin calling the local Nashville radio station for on the air expert Christian relationship advice from radio personality, Pippa Johnston, to save their parents’ marriage from doom.

Get your copy of this Sweet Christian Contemporary Romance novella today and begin enjoying all of the fun in this exciting new series filled with romantic comedy, heartwarming drama, and inspirational romance. Readers are sure to want to collect them all!

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Verse of the Day and Devotional 7/13/2021

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Verse of the Day

July 13th, 2021

Scripture

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. – James 4:10 NLT
 

Devotion

In Chapter 4 of the book of James, the author describes the struggles between believers within the Christian community he was addressing. He made it very plain that these struggles did not come from God, but “from the evil desires at war within you” (James 4:1). He told them, “You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them” (v. 2).

Instead of asking God for what they wanted, they fought each other for it. Even when they did ask, James said, “you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure” (v. 3). Although they were Christians, they were not acting like Christians. They were acting like people of the world. In effect, they were spiritual adulterers. Although they were married to Jesus, they acted as if they were still married to the world.

James identified the primary motivating factor behind these struggles as pride. Instead of submitting to God and the ways of God, they were struggling with one another in the pride of the flesh, in the pride of the sinful spiritual state. James made it very clear that God would not stand idly by while all this was going on. He quoted Proverbs 3:34 to show them that “God opposes the proud” (v. 6). God actively opposes all those whose actions undermine proper order in the church.

The struggles of the church in James’ day still happen today. The actions of the proud still undermine proper order in the church and God is still opposing them. The solution to the problem, from James’ point of view, is to “humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (verse 7). Instead of struggling with other members of the church for whatever it is we want, we should humble ourselves before God and seek His will and His ways in our dealings with them.

We should repent with tears for the things we have done and renew our loyalty and trust in God. Although God opposes the proud and brings them down, He gives grace to the humble and lifts them up.

In due time He will lift up the humble in honor.

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CrossReads Weekly Devotional: The Fragrance of Life 7/12/2021

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by Rebekah Beene

Well I woke up just a few days ago as an unemployed woman. After nearly 30 years in the same office I can say it’s surreal for sure. The last month has been a whirlwind of preparation. And there have been parties, outings and flowers! Yesterday afternoon the last bouquet came to the office for me. I keep remembering how good this bouquet smells. So fragrant! I’ve got to go smell those flowers again!

Oh beloved, your life is a sweet fragrance. You may be going through a huge change in your life. It might be hard. Walking out from a job where you are loved and respected isn’t easy. But you may be walking into something much harder than that. I wish I could tell you everything in life is sunshine and roses. But we all know if you live long enough there will be days you want to wish away.

But the Lord wants you to know this morning that your life is a fragrant aroma to Him. And as you walk through this world, out one door and into another, your life is a fragrant aroma to others as well. We can’t always pick the doors, but we can know the Lord is going with us, before us and He hems us behind as well. Nothing you are going through is permanent. Life ebbs and flows. But God is so real to you, even in the hard spaces of life. Even more so in the hard spaces of life. Even if you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, your life is holding such meaning. Don’t despair now. Breathe in the aroma of Holy Spirit comfort and abiding joy. And you can trust that God’s plan for you is still ongoing. What a blessing!

God loves you and He’s for you. Picture Him walking with you out one door and into the next appointment. Run to Him this morning and thank Him that you never walk alone and you never have to rely on self for comfort. And live, precious believer, with your eye on the sky, your heart in the heavens and your life as a fragrant offering to Him!

2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which ascends] to God, [discernible both] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing

Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Psalm 139:7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?

Psalm 145:18 The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.

About the Author:

Rebekah Beene

 

In a Christian Women’s meeting in 1983, Rebekah was given a prophetic message that she would write books. Several years ago she began writing stories about special holiday memories and travels, sharing God’s love and care through each story. God has gifted Rebekah with the ability to look at the natural and see the supernatural. Both Rebekah and her husband Danny have a heart to share the Gospel and the riches of life in Christ to everyone they meet. They have served in the local church and in ministry to motorcyclists. Danny is an ordained minister and they both have been Bible study teachers for many years. Rebekah also speaks at women’s retreats and conferences. Her tag line says it all “God loves you and He’s for you”.

My website is http://rebekahbeene.wordpress.com

My first book in print is Oh Beloved! Live in the Light of His Word.
Link to buying the book via paypal is on the website.
As well a link to purchasing the ebook on Amazon is there too.
I’m also on twitter @rebekahbeene, tumblr http://rebekah-beene.tumblr.com/
and of course facebook as Rebekah Beene (Warren) I included my maiden name for old friends.
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