Saturday, April 28, 2012

Right Living Over Sacrifice

The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices. (Proverbs 21:3 NLT)

In today's society, relationship with God and living a godly lifestyle has been replaced with doing good deeds. A lot of Christians have lost focus on right living and instead, focus on volunteering in church and other organisations. Whilst these are essential, necessary and commendable, we often see individuals in such positions living lives that are less than stellar. In this verse, Solomon is reminding us of what is most important. Offering sacrifice in those days was essential, however, offering sacrifices and then not living right cancel each other out.

A Christian is called to live a life that is an example. We ought not to preach and live different from how we preach. It grieves God to see us going about busily doing many things FOR him, but not living WITH him. God is more please when we decide not to take the $100 that has been left in plain site and could easily be taken up without any one seeing us, tan when we volunteer to feed 100 homeless people. Feeding the homeless is a great sacrifice, but if you're feeding the homeless with a tainted heart, God is not even looking at you.

What God requires from us is  righteous living followed by sacrifices of ourselves and our time in response to need. So as we go about today, busily doing things FOR God, let us remember to couple that with obedience to his word. Remember it is not by works we are saved, but by grace through faith. Maintain your relationship with God though right living. Follow his commands and maintain a lifestyle that is holy.

Be Blessed. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Interview with Author Valerie Commer

 Hey Folks, Please welcome fellow author Valerie Commer as she shares a little about herself and her work with us. 

Joana: Valerie, welcome to my blog! I’m so excited you could join me for a chat. When did you first decide to submit your work to be published? Tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.

Valerie: Thanks, Joana! I appreciate the invitation. I started writing in 2002. It always seemed logical that if I was going to do this gig, getting published was the goal I should work for. I may be a slower learner than most, but I knew that my first few books were not good enough. I started entering (and finaling in) contests in 2007 and seriously seeking an agent in 2009 with my seventh novel. So I guess you could say it's been a process!

Joana: Please tell us a little about your book/one of your books without giving too much of a spoiler away.

Valerie: At the moment, I have only one release. My debut, a novella from Barbour Publishing, releases on Tuesday! Only a few more days. It's called "Topaz Treasure" and is the first novella in a 4-in-1 called Rainbow's End. The over all premise of the collection is:

Join a geocaching adventure in the spectacular Lake of the Ozarks wilderness, with Lyssa, the reluctant volunteer whose former nemesis is now her chief sponsor; Madison, a city girl paired with an outdoorsy guy who gets on her very last nerve; cautious Reagan, who meets an equally cautious guy; and Hadley, who doesn’t know enough about guys to realize she’s met a womanizer. Will they find the treasure they’re looking for … or something else entirely?

My novella features Lyssa, a closet believer who steps out of her comfort zone to help run her church's geocaching challenge, but runs into her former humanities professor who made fun of Christians, only to discover he's seeking truth--and romance.

Joana: Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?

Valerie: I'm a believer in understanding my characters' GMC before I start writing. Not the truck! Goals, motivation, and conflict. I have to know what they want, why it matters deeply to them, and why they can't easily get it. It also helps if the main characters' goals collide.

I know many authors who do detailed character sheets before writing. I don't. As I write and discover certain things--like what kind/color of car they drive--I make a note of it, but I don't try to figure everything out in advance. Where's the fun in that?

Joana: How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?

Valerie: I write contemporary romance, but there's still always something that needs researching. For "Topaz Treasure," my main research was setting oriented. I haven't been to the Lake of the Ozarks area in a lot of years, so I tracked down information two ways. One, through their Chamber of Commerce. The gal I emailed with was very helpful and put me in touch with the owner of On the Rise Bakery and Bistro, which is the setting for a scene or two in each of the four novellas. She couldn't help me with the specifics of a particular trail in a nearby state park, but I tracked someone down through a Facebook group who was eager to give me the details I needed.

Joana: What is your writing process? Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?

Valerie: I'm a combo writer. I "pantsed" my first novel, and it was a disaster. Then I tried plotting the next few, and that didn't work so well, either. I found I was forcing characters to do what I needed them to do. After nine full length novels (and a novella!) I'm still trying to find the happy balance of how much information I need ahead of time. In Real Life I'm a bit of a control freak, so it's hard to trust that my muse will come up with all the good stuff if I just let it roll!

Joana: Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer or still do?

Valerie: God really blessed me with the perfect job for a writer. I'm the only employee in a small-town flooring shop. Most weekdays I have 5-7 hours to myself, so long as I get the door and the phone, etc. My bosses got me internet and are delighted that I can occupy myself. So you could say I write full time.

Joana: Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example….get coffee, blanket, paper, pen, laptop and a comfy place.

Valerie: I arrive at work at 9 am. I plug in my laptop and open up the shop, check for messages, etc. Sometimes I have a few business phone calls that need to be made right away. But I'm usually at my desk by 9:30 with the mocha I brought from home in my thermal mug at hand. After a quick look at my email and Facebook, I'm ready for the day's task, whether it's working on my newest story, doing edits, answering interviews, or other marketing-related work. Lots of that right now with THE BOOK about to release! :)

Joana: Describe a typical writing day for you.

Valerie: I do most of my actual writing during work hours, as that's when my mind is the freshest. I try to use evenings for setting up blog posts, research, and cruising other people's blogs. It sounds like I'm really productive, and I wish I were. In reality, I spend way too much time on Facebook and Pinterest.

Joana: Please give us a sneak peek at your future books. What’s on the horizon?

Valerie: There's nothing I can share at this time. My agent has sent out several proposals on my behalf, and I continue to write while I wait.

Joana: What is your favorite genre to read and who is your favorite author?

Valerie: For many years I read mostly speculative fiction. Two of my favorite authors there are Jill Williamson and Kathy Tyers, though I cut my teeth on Anne McCaffery. More recently, I read a lot of romance, and my favorites make me smile. If I had to pick ONE go-to author, it would have to be Sandra D. Bricker, but others I gravitate to include Janice Thompson, Jenny B. Jones, Mary Connealy, and Lorna Seilstad. Life is short and full of hard stuff. A smile makes everything better.

Joana: Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers we have not touched on?

Valerie: My novella is part of the Romancing America series from Barbour Publishing. They hadn't been doing non-seasonal 4-in-1 collections for several years, and then relaunched the line. I worked with the marketing department at Barbour to create a website and blog for all things Romancing America. Each book--and its four authors--are featured for four weeks with a variety of posts that include anything from research tidbits to setting photos to excerpts and interviews. It was great fun to kick off this venture, and we'll be starting in with posts about Rainbow's End in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, there's lot of cool stuff from the preceding books. Come visit!

Joana: Where can the readers learn more about you and find your books on the web?


Thank you Valerie for sharing with us today. I wish you all the best with your future endeavours. 
 Here's some more information about Valerie: 

Valerie Comer's life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie grows much of her own food and is active in the local food movement as well as her church. She only hopes her imaginary friends enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, gardening and geocaching with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters. Check out her website and blog at

Rainbow's End (4-in-1 collection published by Barbour, May 1, 2012):

Join a geocaching adventure in the spectacular Lake of the Ozarks wilderness, with Lyssa, the reluctant volunteer whose former nemesis is now her chief sponsor; Madison, a city girl paired with an outdoorsy guy who gets on her very last nerve; cautious Reagan, who meets an equally cautious guy; and Hadley, who doesn’t know enough about guys to realize she’s met a womanizer. Will they find the treasure they’re looking for … or something else entirely?

"Topaz Treasure" (first novella in Rainbow's End) by Valerie Comer

Closet believer Lyssa Quinn steps out of her comfort zone to help coordinate the Rainbow’s End geocaching hunt her church is using as an outreach event. She’s not expecting her former humanities prof–young, handsome, anti-Christian Kirk Kennedy–to be at the Lake of the Ozarks at all, let along in a position to provide sponsorship to the treasure hunt. How can she trust someone who once shredded her best friend’s faith?

Kirk’s treasure hunt takes him down a path he hadn’t intended as he searches for opportunities to connect with Lyssa and her intriguing sparkle. How can he convince Lyssa there is more than one kind of treasure? And can she remind him of the greatest prize of all?

Buy Rainbow's End: (various links)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

From Redemption to Maturity - Free Today

If you enjoy the devotionals I post on this blog then you'll enjoy this little collection.

From Redemption to Maturity is a small collection of devotionals that are meant to encourage, strengthen and stir the hearts of Christians towards maturity.

Many times we know exactly what the Bible says about a particular situation, but when we go through it ourselves, we find it hard to cope. This devotional touches on topics such as True Freedom, Child-like Faith, Christian Maturity, Trusting God, Waiting on God and more.

With every story, I have included my own person testimonies and experiences. I wouldn't share something with the world that I don't believe or haven't experienced myself.

The purpose of this devotional is to see Christians blossom and grow, so may you flourish with each page.

It's free today, so grab yourself a copy and be blessed. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Delay is NOT Denial


Today's blog post is to remind you of a few things:
1. You are not insignificant, Don't believe lies that the devil as told you
2. God has plans for you and He WILL bring them to pass
3. Delay is not denial.

 I know that sometimes we can find it hard to hold on to faith when nothing seems to be happening in our lives. It may be that you have waited several years for a certain kind of breakthrough and though you've waited and prayed and trusted God, you're not seeing results. It may seem like the enemy is kicking at you from every side. It may seem that every one else around you is moving forward and you feel stagnant. It may feel like God has forgotten you, but trust me Child of God, He has not. If anything, He is getting ready to launch you from your stagnant position. When God is ready for you, he is going to blow your mind. His plans are so great that you'd probably stop believing if He told you all of it. But don't worry, your patience will be rewarded.

Trust God, trust Him, trust Him. Don't lose hope, don't lose faith and above all; don't believe the lies of the devil. You are not insignificant. Man may overlook you but God is setting you up for awesome things. Man may think you're too small to accomplish anything, but God is setting up your launching pad. Man may think that you're not educated enough, or your parents are not rich enough or that your past is too soiled, but remember, God does not need your education, He is your father so your natural lineage does not matter and He forgot your past the day He forgave you so even that does not matter.

Don't look at your delay and see denial, but stand firm on God's promises to you, I know that you have heard many as God speaks to all of us in some way shape or form. Know that the God that keeps watch over you will NOT leave you to suffer. Delay is NOT denial child of God. Fight! The last thing the enemy wants is to see you move forward! Fight! Fight! Don't let his lies take away your fight or your faith. Trust God.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

Remember, Delay is NOT Denial! 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Don't Blame God!

One of my favourite things about the bible is how raw it really is. I mean, get a load of this verse.

Proverbs 19:3
People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.

It is the truth, plain and simply put with no flowery language to mask it.

As human beings, we have the tendency to find somebody else to blame anytime something goes wrong, be it at the workplace or at home. We find it hard to accept responsibility for our own actions. Over the years you’ve often heard, “where is God, people are suffering all over the place.” Or “where is God, why did he let the bank take away my property?” or maybe even “where is God, why did he let my son die?”

The unfortunate truth is that our circumstances are a direct result of choices. It may not be our own choice, but the choice of another person could have a bearing on our lives. God gave us the bible and a set of rules. Do this and you will have that, don’t do this and you will get that… We’ll most  of us have decided that those rules are not for us. We make our own decisions based on whatever “feels” good at the time but we don’t like the consequences of our choices.

A couple of the instructions we hate to follow are those that say we should not fornicate or commit adultery. These rules are set up mainly to protect us, but we see them as a restriction of our freedom. So we say “forget the rules” and go ahead and behave promiscuously. Then, when we contract aids, (by our own doing or by our partner’s doing) we ask “where is God?”. Or when an unwanted pregnancy comes along, we decide to go for a bigger sin – Murder and we call it abortion, an expression of a woman’s freedom to choose. Seriously?

The fact of the matter is that we humans have behaved so badly that our world is a mess. There are plenty of hungry children all over the world, but our governments are spending billions on war and on space programs. Now whose fault is it that kids are starving again? God’s? Hmm….you tell me.

Next time you’re tempted to blame God for your circumstances, take a look at the situation and try to determine what you could have done differently. All is not lost if you made a mess, God is good at cleaning that kind of stuff up, but remember that He was not the one who put you there in the first place.

May God bless you as you trust him to clean up the messes. :-D 

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret  

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Foundation of Wisdom

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom
Knowledge of the Holy One results in good Judgement. 
Proverbs 9:10(NLT)

As a child growing up in church, I heard this verse repeated several times, but it wasn't until I was a bit older that I realised the importance of it. The Fear of God really is the foundation of wisdom for three reasons.

1. God is the author of all Wisdom. God is omniscient, meaning He knows everything. Therefore it stands to reason that if He knows everything, then He's the only one who can directly us wisely. Wisdom comes from having a clear picture of what's around you, circumstances and their outcomes. So if God knows everything, then He has the best picture of our circumstances and their outcomes and can direct us best.

2. Fear of God makes us act more carefully. A healthy fear of God means that we act with total consideration of what He would think of our actions. Think about this: Children tend behave better when their parents are around, not because they are afraid of their parents, but because they've been taught to behave a certain way and are sometimes fearful of the outcome of negative actions. The same is with us and God, a relationship with God brings reverential fear, and with that reverential fear, knowing that God is ALWAYS watching, we change our behaviour and act more wisely.

3. Good Judgement comes even easier when we follow God's rules. God has laid out several rules for us in the Bible. Not because He felt like restricting our lives, but because He wanted to enhance it. Upon close examination we see that all those rules are really meant for our protection. Take for example the commandments that say we should not fornicate or commit adultery. Those are sins that are powerful enough to destroy not only our lives but the lives of others as well. When you fornicate, you sin against God, but you also harm yourself. There is always the possibility of contracting an STD, getting pregnant without planning to or being seriously hurt emotionally. Things such as one night stands or maybe sleeping around hurt our reputations and destroy us eventually. Conventional wisdom says to stay away from those things, but have you noticed that conventional wisdom comes from Godly wisdom. God knew how these things could devastate us so the rules were set from the beginning. Good Judgement definitely comes from a relationship with the Holy One.

My encouragement to you today is to seek relationship with the Author of Wisdom. He is single-handedly the best source of wisdom and good judgement. If you already have a relationship with Him, then follow His rules, they are really meant to protects us.

Go with God and be blessed! 

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Bunnies

So, it's almost Easter. On Sunday, countless children will be running around with little baskets hunting for Easter eggs. Everytime I think about me it hurts a little bit more. To think my saviour's sacrifice has been overshadowed by a creature who really does not lay eggs.

A little over 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ, saviour of mankind, son of the living God was crucified; beaten to near death, nailed to wooden posts in the shape of a cross, pieced with a spare, cut by a crown of thorns and given vinegar to drink when he was thirsty. And today, we've turned the whole thing into a spectacle about bunnies and eggs. How sad.

My reason for this post is not to put any one on blast, but to remind us of the incredible sacrifice that was made for us.

In the beginning, when man sinned, we immediately became seperated from our Holy God; a God who cannot  dwell in the presence of sin. Our sin caused Him to have to stay away. For many years, man had to constantly attone for their sins with the blood of bulls, goats, sheep and other animals. This was painstaking and required absolute obedience to a difficult law that was really like a yoke about our necks. Christ was the answer to all of that. When his blood was shed, we no longer had to make continual sacrifices for our sin, instead, we could come bodly to the throne of God and obtain mercy for our sin. Cleansed by Christ's blood we can now commune with the father. We can return to fellowship with him. That's the real meaning of Easter. And whilst we're here, let me just say that Christ died ONCE and for ALL. He does not die every good friday and then rise up again on Easter Sunday. A long time ago, someone decided it was a good idea to commemorate this sacrifice on a weekend such as this. So let us treat it as just that. This weekend, don't send your kinds hunting for easter eggs, instead, teach them the truth. That a loving God gave up his only son for them.

Be Blessed.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:16-17

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret  

Thursday, April 5, 2012

God is always Faithful

Sometimes I just sit back and marvel at the faithfulness of God. Seriously, have you ever wondered how God could still go on caring for you, helping you, teaching you and loving you even when you've cheated on him, shunned him, grieved him, ignored him and pushed him away. The answer is simple...God is incredibly faithful. No matter what we do to Him, He will continue to be faithful.

He's made many promises to us and He keeps them all. The only ones you may not see fulfilled are the ones where you have been given a condition for. God is true to his word and He is always faithful. We can be comforted by that knowledge. Knowing that the God who seems after you will always remain faithful to you, no matter the circumstance. In the midst of your trials and traumatic situations remember that your God is Faithful and He WILL look after your situation. Don't worry when things don't work out the way you wanted them to. God knows all things and He knows how to work things out for you in the best way.

Trust that your God is Faithful and WILL come through for you, even after you may have failed him in one way or another.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philipians 1:6

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret