22 October 2017

Stolen Time -- A "Symptom" by Carrie Fancett Pagels


Stolen Time -- A "Symptom" by Carrie Fancett Pagels

I've been wanting to write this post for a long time. But so much of my time has been "stolen" that I didn't even feel well enough to write a blog post on how with autoimmune diseases a common symptom is in losing time. You're not really losing the time. It passes. But its as if it is stolen, because you can never get it back. And you're unable to do much. 

Don't get me wrong. I agree that all of our time, every bit of it, belongs to God. And He has His purposes. But as a mom, wife, and author it often feels as though that time I could be doing something good for my family and for God is snatched away by the devil. I don't know why God allows it. 

For people with autoimmune problems there are ups and downs in energy and in pain. When I've had several decent days in a row (which for a healthy person would probably seem like a slow few days) then I (being the type who can tend toward denial) start making "big" plans for myself. I'll admit it, sometimes I don't consult God, and that's when I can get in trouble.

I am truly blessed to have a teenaged son, whose days at school help me keep track of the days as they progress, because I sometimes have weeks, like this one, which seem almost as if they didn't happen. Then I look at the calendar and go, "How did it get to be this date? Is that right?" My poor husband tells me, "Yes." It feels like the time has been stolen away from me.

In my latest published work, "Love's Escape", in The Captive Brides Collection from Barbour (October, 2017), my heroine, Lettie, has had her life stolen from her. She's a slave. So she's not been free to make choices for any of her time. Lettie has no reason to trust in a God who has kept her enslaved. So when she finally has the chance to escape, who can she rely on? 

God is the author of our time and our lives, if we lean into Him. In my story, Lettie has to accept God's love and trust Him to restore her. I'm the author of Lettie's life and I know I can give her back not only twofold but multi times over what was taken from her. And God's Word tells us He will give us back double for what we have lost. I have found on some of my "good" days that it is as if God is doing the work, doing the writing for me as my fingers fly over the MackBook keyboard. And I'm amazed and grateful. Maybe instead of focusing on the lost time, it would be better to celebrate what He is going to do when He restores that time! He certainly did that in July during our trip to Mackinaw City and I'm trusting in Him to do what He would have done in my life.

Giveaway: A paperback copy of The Captive Brides Collection with my novella, "Love's Escape," Lettie's story. Answer this question: When have you felt like your time couldn't be restored and then God gave you extra help and/or energy to accomplish His will?



19 October 2017

Lift Your Spirits with "Merry & Bright" Audiobook by Debbie Macomber


Lift Your Spirits!!!
Merry & Bright by Debbie Macomber -- Audiobook Review by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Five Stars! *****
I listened to this novel as an Audible.com download. I may listen to it again before Christmas. This was a great listen. The narrator did a super job bringing Debbie Macomber's excellent story to life. The heroine, Merry, is very sympathetic. Her mom has serious health problems, her father is on the road a lot for his job, and she has a younger brother with a disability. Merry has taken a break from her studies (given her age in her mid-twenties I assume she was working on her graduate studies but I didn't hear where it was specified) and she is working temporarily at a large company. She's doing a great job but with her generous spirit and kind ways, and her need to be frugal, Merry frequently runs into issues with her boss.

A lot of stories leave me with feeling of loss as I consider all the trials the characters have been through. I mostly listen to historical romance. But this contemporary romance left me feeling very upbeat, uplifted by the positive story. It's a lot like a Hallmark movie and would make an excellent one. I wouldn't be at all surprised if that happens.

This is a clean read with some mild faith elements. If you're put off by the online dating premise, don't be--the hero and heroine end up there by a few twists and Macomber has her characters realistically deal with the potential pitfalls of going that route for romance. You'll be caught up in the story before you can even say, "Merry and Bright!"

Highly recommend!

Here's the blurb from Audible:
Merry Knight is pretty busy these days. She's taking care of her family, baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, and hoping to stay out of the crosshairs of her stressed and by-the-book boss at the consulting firm where she temps. Her own social life is the last thing she has in mind, much less a man. Without her knowledge, Merry's well-meaning mom and brother create an online dating profile for her - minus her photo - and the matches start rolling in. Initially, Merry is incredulous, but she reluctantly decides to give it a whirl. 
Soon, Merry finds herself chatting with a charming stranger, a man with similar interests and an unmistakably kind soul. Their online exchanges become the brightest part of her day. But meeting face-to-face is altogether different, and her special friend is the last person Merry expects - or desires. Still, sometimes hearts can see what our eyes cannot. In this satisfying seasonal tale, unanticipated love is only a click away.












































15 October 2017

Kelly Goshorn Author Interview

Author Kelly Goshorn

Kelly, welcome to Overcoming With God.  We appreciate your willingness to share your testimony of overcoming with our readers. 

Would you tell us about the one of the most difficult things in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help? 
I’m going to tell you something that I don’t like admitting about myself. Most of my life I’ve been a quitter. Not because I’m lazy or afraid of hard work, but because I had allowed the fear of rejection and failure to rule my life. I’d learned to settle for second best, achieving the lowest bar rather than shooting for the stars. Mediocrity became my norm.
This worked for a long time and I was reasonably happy until my mid-forties when God placed the desire to write fiction on my heart. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. Completely hooked, I pursued my new God-given passion vigorously until I made an uncomfortable realization. I’d have to let others read what I wrote and evaluate my work—evaluate me

What had God gotten me into? In true God fashion, He had used this new passion he’d placed on my heart to lead me into a head-on collision with my biggest personal and spiritual obstacle—my fear of failure. I discovered that I’d never really trusted God to come through for me. Yes, I prayed and believed God would answer my prayers for others but would He do the same for me?

Conviction set in. I had to pour out my heart and confess to God that I believed He would meet others needs but not necessarily my own. I repented for believing that the finishing work of the cross wasn’t enough. That I didn’t trust He was faithful to do what He said He would do—for me.

The results have been liberating! I am no longer living what I call a ‘small life.’ I pray expectantly, believing God is who He says He is. He wants to work in and through us to accomplish His purposes. When we get out of the way, and trust God, He will work in and through us and His name will be glorified.

I can’t imagine living a more abundant life than that!

 What passages in the Bible have been most helpful to you in those times?
As odd as it may sound, reading about Gideon. The Bible tells us in Judges 6:15 that Gideon was the least in his tribe and his tribe was the least in all of Israel. In other words he was big ‘nobody,’ just like me. God used this “nobody” to accomplish his mighty purpose and equipped him to fight the Midianite army with only 300 men! What a great story and it is a great story because God used a plain, ordinary man. I realized how much I’m like Gideon. I mean the man was hiding in a wine press. I could relate! I’d spent most of my life staying in the shadows hoping not to be noticed by God. And now that He was calling me to write I was terrified. I had no special writing skills, no formal training. I had no idea how to plot a story or what a character arc meant, but God had other plans for me. He wanted to teach me to fully rely on Him, not just in writing, but in every area of my life. I began to pray that God would raise me up a Gideon and use me however He wanted. For the first time in my life I truly believed that God would do this—for me!

What helped you get through or helped you cope with this difficulty?
The encouragement of the body of Christ. So many times I considered quitting—again. I cried over my keyboard and asked God to take this desire away, that I couldn’t do it. Every time He sent a word of encouragement from a critique partner or friend. I started an “encouragement file” so I could remind myself of the positive things people said about my story or my characters. Like most people, I have a tendency to focus on my shortcomings. I thanked God for this encouragement and promised to continue writing until he released me from this calling.

BIO:
Kelly weaves her affinity for history and her passion for God into uplifting stories of love, faith and family set in nineteenth century America. Kelly has been enjoying her own happily-ever- after with her husband and best friend, Mike, for 26 years. When she is not writing, Kelly enjoys spending time with her young adult children, scrapbooking with friends, board gaming with her husband, and spoiling her Welsh corgi, Levi. Her debut novel, A Love Restored, is under contract with Pelican Book Group.

 You can connect with Kelly through FacebookTwitterPinterest or Instagram.
Book blurb for Kelly’s upcoming release A Love Restored (Pelican, 2018):
She was nothing like the woman he’d envisioned for his bride, but he was everything she’d ever dreamed of—until a promise from his past threatened their future.
 Twenty-year old Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to society’s vision of a perfect lady. She would rather read Jules Verne or teach Negro children to read and write than join the Women’s Benevolent Aid Society or practice her voice lessons. Her pert opinions and less than perfect figure keep many suitors away, but when Ruth Ann accepts a position teaching at the new Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer she is likely to receive. Should she risk life as a lonely spinster or reinvent herself to accept a proposal from a man she does not love?
Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earn him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad—a position that will garner the respect of other men. All he needs now is a woman to share his promising future. When Benjamin has a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, he is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality. When others ridicule his choice, will Benjamin listen to his heart or put ambition first?

Question you’d like to ask readers: Do you struggle with the fear of failure? If so, do you think it might be a type of perfectionism?











































12 October 2017

To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden -- Audiobook Review by Carrie Fancett Pagels


To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden
Narrator Angela Brazil

A Pearl of a Story!
Audiobook Review by Carrie Fancett Pagels

It broke Jenny Bennett's heart when Ryan suddenly left her six years ago with no explanation. Now he abruptly reappears at the Presidio Army base without explanation. Lt. Ryan Gallagher had accepted a highly classified overseas assignment at great personal cost. Bound by honor, he must never reveal where he was during those years. Will she forgive him when he can't be honest with her?

I listened to this book as a download from Audible.com. As with other stories by Elizabeth Camden this novel offers a complex intellectual plot full of historical information. With a backdrop of the early development of the cultured pearl industry and of the presence of US spies needed in Japan.

Jenny is a bitter young woman who takes a very long time to soften up in the story. She's a little hard to listen to sometimes and the narrator doesn't help her out too much. And Ryan doesn't realize love takes sacrifice and one's significant other must have priority. Will either of these two overcome their own backgrounds and foibles to be able to have a happily ever after together or not?

This is a long slow listen heavy with information. The narrator, Angela Brazil, plays the downtrodden Jenny a bit too heavy. I think she could have lightened up more. But the story was worth the listen. The novel is available in multiple formats, which is always nice. 










































08 October 2017

Toni Shiloh Interview -- Praying to Battle Sickle Cell

Author Toni Shiloh
Toni, welcome to Overcoming With God.  We appreciate your willingness to share your testimony of overcoming with our readers. 
Thank you so much for having me.

Would you tell us about the one of the most difficult things in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help? Answer:  I’m so thankful for God’s love and the gift of prayer. It has seen me through many illnesses with my youngest son, who has sickle cell. He’s only seven but has been through a lot these few years. At almost two years of age he had his first spleen crisis where it swelled up, causing intense pain and dropping his blood count in the low anemia stage. (Since he has sickle cell, he’s always anemic.) He spent a few days in ICU, got pneumonia from the stay, and finally a blood transfusion to make him feel better. After that he had pain crises in his legs and arms. I’m talking about the kind of pain that needs morphine to manage it. He’s had multiple spleen issues that finally had the doctors decide to remove it at age 5. Fevers that go over 103 and earn a trip to the ER for IV antibiotics.

This past summer he was diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea. Since he really needs oxygen (low oxygen can cause a pain crisis and other sickle cell related issues) they decided to remove his tonsils in hopes it will correct the issue. So surgery number two under his belt and another hospital stay (he’s had one every year except for one year since he’s been alive).

Through it all, I’ve prayed. Prayed that God would heal him. Pray that my son would feel God’s presence and rest in Him. Pray that my son would pray to God on his own free will. And most importantly, others have prayed for us. I can’t tell you what it means to feel the Body at work, knowing countless people are praying for your child. It’s comforting beyond measure and fortifies my strength. And I know it’s prayer because I’d be a nervous wreck without it.

So as I sit in a hospital room with my son, I know we will overcome illness with prayer.

What passages in the Bible have been most helpful to you in those times? Philippians 4:6-7 is my go to verse. It reminds me to prayer with a grateful attitude and the beauty of the peace that follows.

What helped you get through or helped you cope with this difficulty? Prayer has always helped me. That and the love and prayer from friends and family. Knowing they are praying blesses me.

In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?  In Returning Home, Evan loses his leg and has to deal with the struggles that brings. He also has to decide if God will be the forefront in his life. I hope that his struggles will help readers trust in God and look to Him through all things.

BIO: Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.



Toni’s Links: 


Blurb for Returning Home
Jo Ellen Baker is shocked to find out that the boy who teased her mercilessly throughout high school, has returned to their hometown of Freedom Lake, and he’s missing a leg. When his mother asks her to renovate their carriage house to give him a place to gain his independence back, she wants to say no. But one look at him brings a rush of forgotten feelings.
Evan Carter can’t believe he has to return home and live with his parents. Every hope and dream he ever had dissipated in a car crash that cost him his leg. Stuck in a wheelchair, he’s forced to reexamine his relationship with God and the local carpenter, Jo Ellen Baker.

Will renovating his home open the door for a mended relationship, or are some wounds too deep to heal from?  

Question: Have you experienced the power of prayer?
Giveaway: Toni is offering an Ebook giveaway (in Mobi, Epub, or PDF format) to one of our readers.



06 October 2017

Cover Reveal of Susanne Dietze's "A Mother for His Family"



Blurb:
Lady Helena Stanhope’s reputation is in tatters…and she’s lost any hope for a “respectable” ton marriage. An arranged union is the only solution. But once Helena weds formidable Scottish widower John Gordon, Lord Ardoch, and encounters his four mischievous children, she’s determined to help her new, ever-surprising family. Even if she’s sure love is too much to ask for.

All John needs is someone to mother his admittedly unruly brood. He never imagined that beautiful Lady Helena would be a woman of irresistible spirit, caring and warmth.
Or that facing down their pasts would give them so much in common. Now, as danger threatens, John will do whatever it takes to convince Helena their future together—and his love—are for always.

Susanne Dietze shared her Inspiration behind the cover in saying: "I love marriage of convenience stories and always wanted to write one! It’s always fun for me to read a book where the wedding happens at the beginning and things progress out of order with the couple: marriage first, then love.
I was able to offer three scene suggestions for the cover, and the wedding was my first choice so I’m thrilled the amazing art department at Harlequin chose to work with it. It’s a hopeful scene, since both the hero and heroine, John and Helena, think getting married will be the answer to their problems: he needs a mother for his three kids and niece, and she needs a respectable home.
However, they learn right away that saying “I do” might provide solutions to their immediate issues, but not all of them, and forging a family can be a challenge—one that both breaks and heals their hearts!
I love looking at them in this scene and knowing they have adventures ahead that will bring them closer together!"

Connect with Susie at: WebsiteFacebookTwitter, & Newsletter
Historical Charm, Timeless Heart.

03 October 2017

Audiobook Review of "The Writing Desk" by Rachel Hauck


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Dress comes a new captivating novel of secrets, romance, and two women bound together across time by a shared dream.
Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration?
With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.
A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.
Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

Will Be on OWG's Best of 2017
I listened to this audiobook as a download from Audible.com.

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck will be on my 2018 Best of the Year list! Rachel's new novel and my own were on the Romantic Times Book Reviews Top Picks for July 2017  -- what an honor for me, and now that I've read her book I'm pretty blown away that My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring had that opportunity. Rachel's talent shines in every bit of this novel.  I loved it!

Be prepared for Tenley Roth's spiritual arc to be a little different. Tenley isn't a believer. Jonas is a devout young man and talented craftsman. Their sparks are wonderful.  And Birdie (whom I thought was Bertie because of the narrator's pronunciation) is darling. I was rooting for both her and Tenley all along.

There are wonderful twists and turns in this story. You'll be holding your breath in parts and sighing in relief in others!

The narrator made occasional errors in pronunciation. She also used a Southern accent for this New Yorker heroine but if you can overlook that, you're golden.

What a wonderful listen! There are two time slip stories -- a golden age and a contemporary, both connected by a writing desk. At first I wondered if I could listen to the story because of the author aspect of the story, I was worried I'd feel like author intrusion but I was able to get past that because there was so much more story involved that pulled me in.



I like the look of this writing desk at the left! If you could pick a writing desk, what would yours look like?  Mine is a glass and aluminum picnic table with outdoor chair and that works fine for me!



01 October 2017

A War Within by Guest Andrea Boeshaar

Author Andrea Boeshaar
A War Within
By Andrea Boeshaar

 When I began researching my novel Lily’s Dilemma, for the “My Heart Belongs” series from Barbour Publishing, I was surprised to learn that the War of 1812 is often referred to as the Second War of Independence. During this conflict, we were fighting against British constraints on American trade so the war was largely fought at sea, although our Capitol was burned and harbors in Baltimore and Alexandria were attacked. Moreover British ships were attacking American vessels and impressing Americans into serving in His Majesty’s Royal Navy—an act that enraged Americans all the more.
            But as much as I love history, I wanted my novel to address Atychiphobia (the fear of failure). I won’t lie: I struggle with it from time to time. I believe everyone does.
            Before writing Lily I all but believed that God took away my ability to write because of a bad experience with an editor who erased my voice out of my book and inserted her own. Her comments throughout my manuscript demoralized me and left me feeling unsure. The publisher then let me know just how disappointed the higher-ups were with me and that was all I could take. My literary agent stepped in to defend me and negotiations ensued regarding ending my relationship with that particular publisher. At that point, I was certain I’d never write another book.

            But then while reading a novel that touched my heart, I decided to reach out to the author. We corresponded and I confided in her about what was going on. I further explained that I had a contract to fufill (Lily’s Dilemma). We decided to become critique partners and my prayers, her encouragement, along with other friends’ kind words helped me to see that God hadn’t pulled His gracious gift from me. In fact, God had never given up on me even if a Christian publishing house did. I believe God used my sweet critique partner to help me move forward, both in my writing and in my spiritual life. I soon realized it was my fear of failure that hindered me from writing, so I decided to address it – Atychiphobia – in my story. You’ll find my character Mac struggling with the fear of failing as he sets out to make a life for himself in the Shenandoah Valley.
 To date, Lily’s Dilemma has gotten wonderful reviews on Amazon. Readers have stated, “Excellent Story,” “I love historical novels and this one did not disappoint…” and “this story was amazing and was brilliantly written.” 
What? Really? Such encouragement has been like salve to my wounded heart.
What about you? Are you your own worst enemy? Is your fear holding you back from accomplishing great things for the kingdom of God? If so, face your fears by acknowledging them in prayer. Do a search in the Bible and find out how many times God says, “Fear not…”

Then strap on your spiritual seatbelt because the Lord has a wild and wonderful ride ahead!

Giveaway: A copy of My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley: Lily's Delimma.

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