Monday, March 30, 2015

Aim for Perfection

by Andrea Renee Cox

Is it all right to aim for perfection?

Take a look at what Jesus said while teaching on a mountainside:

Google Images

How can we, in our humanness, “be perfect … as [our] heavenly Father is perfect”?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Three Little Words by Melissa Tagg

by Andrea Renee Cox

“Sometimes we have to let history rest to make way for what’s coming next.”
- Three Little Words, by Melissa Tagg

After being turned down for her dream job, Ava Kingsley struggles to understand how to let her history rest in order to give God room to put her future into place. When her email buddy and old college classmate, Seth Walker, invites her to stay in the empty apartment over the restaurant he’s opening in his hometown, will she see this opportunity as an open door to a new dream or just a pit stop along the way? Will these two friends debate their way into a romance or go after their individual dreams?

Well, Melissa Tagg did it again. Her trademark comedic timing in a sweet story about small-town love and big dreams translated so perfectly in her first novella ever. I’m really looking forward to seeing more of these e-shorts from her.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Be My Guest: Elizabeth Maddrey

by Andrea Renee Cox

Something that always fascinates me is where different writers find the inspiration for their books. Today, Elizabeth Maddrey shares her source with us. And stay tuned at the end for news about her latest book!

Spur Readers On
by Elizabeth Maddrey

When I was mulling the idea of inspiration, the following passage from the book of Hebrews jumped into my mind: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25). What more could inspiration possibly be than “spurring one another on toward love and good deeds” and “encouraging one another”? That, right there, is the best kind of inspiration in a nutshell. And it definitely feeds into my writing.

Consulting Mr. Webster’s fabulous publication (the dictionary – though, for nickel knowledge, Webster is indebted to Samuel Johnson for the idea), inspiration is defined as “the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions; the act of influencing or suggesting opinions.” Viewed in such broad terms, any book is going to be a source of inspiration – for good or ill. And so, as a Christian, I refer back to Hebrews as I write so that I keep the kind of inspiration I want to provide right there at the forefront of my mind.

Generally speaking, I’d classify my books as being written for folks who are actively trying to live out their Christian walk – those of us who are struggling with that delicate balance of being in the world but not of it. If you’re anything like me, you’ve made some bad choices, you’ve wrestled with God, you’ve stood on the sidewalk (maybe metaphorically) and shaken your fist at Him, you’ve identified with David and Job and Jacob (at their low points) much more than you care to admit. But you also have this sinking, sneaking suspicion that you’re not supposed to feel that way. That somehow or other, you’re doing something wrong because...wasn’t the Christian life supposed to be easier than this?

And so it’s my background, my struggles, which inspire my books to hit on topics in the Christian life that sometimes aren’t pretty. The things we run into as we navigate our way through this fallen, sinful world. All the while, it’s my prayer that I can, through my characters, do as the writer of Hebrews encouraged us to do, and spur readers on toward love and good deeds while encouraging them to know that it doesn’t matter if your life isn’t the picture perfect dream you expected it to be. God can and will use whatever broken pieces you have to offer Him.

Elizabeth Maddrey loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace. She lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website or on Facebook

Here's the scoop on Elizabeth's newest release:

A Splash of Substance

She doesn’t vote. He works for a Senator. Is it a recipe for love or disaster?

Paige Jackson has always stayed out of politics, leaving it to God to govern the world. She has enough on her plate as the owner of a catering company founded on convictions to buy local, sustainable fare. Jackson Trent works on Capitol Hill for Senator Carson, putting his beliefs in action to help shape national policy.

Hoping to find high-end clients to keep her business afloat, Paige bids on a contract to cater the Senator’s next fundraiser. Shake-ups in the Senator’s staff leave Jackson grudgingly in charge of the event. After Paige is chosen as caterer, she and Jackson must work together despite opposing beliefs on how God calls Christians to participate in government. As Paige introduces Jackson to sustainable fare, it’s not just the food that piques his interest.

When Senator Carson becomes front-page news in Washington, Paige is sucked into the whirlwind of scandal. Can Jackson convince Paige he wasn’t complicit and win her back or has politics burned his chance at love?

You can find A Splash of Substance at all of these locations:

Thanks for visiting Writing to Inspire today, Elizabeth! I love how you're using your inspiration and background to spur your readers into a brighter future. A Splash of Substance sounds very exciting. I'm adding it to my to-be-read pile right now!

Readers, what books have spurred you on lately? Is there anyone in your circle of friends that inspires you to make positive changes in your life?

Thanks for stopping by today! I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below. And don’t forget to drop by next Monday for my latest article.

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Praying for Your Future Husband

by Andrea Renee Cox

As you know from my recent articles about the season of waiting (read Part One and Part Two), I am currently single and working on learning to be content with that. What I'm about to share with you is an article written by Tricia Goyer (it was originally posted here) that shares how to pray for your future husband. I hope you find it helpful and encouraging.

How to Pray for Your Future Husband: Understanding

by Tricia Goyer
I started praying for my future husband when I was 17 years old and pregnant with my son. I wanted someone who could love both me and my child. I wanted someone who loved God. God brought me an amazing man. John and I have been married for 23 years now. We had two more biological children, and we’ve adopted three more . . . making that six kids total! God has done more than I’d ever hoped or imagined.
My friend Robin Gunn and I wrote Praying for Your Future Husband a few years ago. The fun part is getting photos from some of the young women who prayed—wedding photos!
Of course there are women who are still praying and waiting, and we’ve gotten letters from them, too. They tell us they are drawing closer to God as they wait . . . and that is exactly what we hoped for!
In the moment, though, it’s hard to understand the wait. It may be hard for your future husband to understand, too. The best thing to do while you wait is to pray.
(And if you’re a mom, grandma, aunt or friend join the young women you love in prayer! Also considering picking up a copy of Praying for Your Future Husband for the young woman in your life!)
There are many things to pray for, but one of them is Understanding. Understanding means trusting that God has a plan. It means being willing to be open-minded about past mistakes, knowing that God’s grace is available to everyone.
Here are 6 ways to pray for understanding.
Pray for Understanding for Your Future Husband.
  1. Pray God’s Word will flood his heart.
  2. Pray your future husband will seek God and try to understand what God is doing in His life.
  3. Pray he has a tender heart that will be understanding of your past mistakes.
  4. Pray you will be understanding of his.
  5. Pray that if he has his heart broken, he will be surrounded by good friends who will support him during the healing process.
  6. Pray that in each of his relationships, he will develop an understanding heart and will always believe God has a different and better plan.
When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart. John Bunyan
Friend, God has good plans for your future. Keep trusting. Keep praying! And I’ll be excited to hear where He leads you!
Tricia Goyer
USA Today bestselling author Tricia Goyer is the author of more than 50 books, including the novelization for Moms’ Night Out. She has written over 500 articles for national publications and blogs for high traffic sites like and Tricia and her husband, John, live in Little Rock, Arkansas, where Tricia coordinates a Teen MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. They have six children.

Tricia Goyer has a new book coming to a bookstore near you. Here's what it's about:
Teen Mom: You're Stronger Than You Think by Tricia Goyer
Everything changes the day you discover you’re going to be a mom. It’s not just yourself that you think about—you have a child to care for, too. While you wouldn’t trade your child for the world, some days are just hard. Baby-daddy drama, dealing with your parents, and worries about school, work, and your future slam you. Your friends can’t relate to your little family, and you wonder if God has turned His back on you, too.
Tricia Goyer understands. A mom at age 17, Tricia remembers what it felt like to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. She’s also been the coordinator of a teen mom support group for over twelve years, and she’s cheered on many young moms—from all walks of life—through their journey.
In Teen Mom, Tricia pours out her heart and shares advice for the hard things you face. She also longs to provide encouragement, reminding you that you can be the mom your child deserves—not in your own strength, but in the strength God provides.

Readers, is there a teen mom (or dad) in your life who could use a breath of encouragement? Consider giving them a copy of Teen Mom the next time you see them.

Coming soon:
March 16 - Be My Guest: Elizabeth Maddrey
March 23 - (yet to be decided)

Thanks for stopping by today! I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below. And don’t forget to drop by next Monday for my latest article.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

The Prayer Box

by Andrea Renee Cox

A couple weeks ago, I read a beautiful story from an author I’ve never read before. Lisa Wingate’s The Prayer Box captured the essence of a lifelong faith in one character (Iola Anne Poole) and the seedling of hope in another (Tandi Jo Reese). There were times I wanted to wring Tandi’s neck for the choices she was making. But other times I wanted to wrap her in a hug and tell her everything would turn out right in the end. And I’m pretty sure I would love hanging out with the Seashell Shop gals! All in all, Lisa crafted a charming story that seemed timeless and real. I didn’t want to set the book down to proofread another, and now that I've finished both of those books, I’m already enjoying the next Wingate book on my list (which happens to be The Story Keeper; I’m sure a review of it will be appearing on Writing to Inspire soon).

In The Prayer Box, Tandi Jo Reese learns a thing or two about faith and family when she becomes responsible for cleaning out the large Victorian house of her recently deceased landlady, Iola Anne Poole. One day, while cleaning, Tandi discovers a closet full of mysterious boxes, but it’s what’s inside the boxes that holds the power to change her life … if she chooses to grab on to the opportunity. But her past has a stranglehold on her and threatens to keep her chained to the pages of the history she’d rather thrust aside. What will this struggling young mother decide to do: step toward an unknown future with a God she doesn’t understand or remain dependent on the bad habits she learned from her undependable mother?

When a book inspires me to ponder my spiritual life, I know it's found a permanent spot on my bookshelf. The Prayer Box did just that.

One of my favorite lines in this book came in chapter seventeen. “The trouble with drowning in the mess of your own life is that you’re not in any shape to save anyone else.” It reminds me of the verse in the Bible that says (I’m paraphrasing) to take care of the plank in your own eye before attempting to remove the dust from your neighbor’s (Matthew 7:3-5).

Have you ever looked in the mirror and seen your mistakes staring back at you? I have. It’s not easy to admit when you’re wrong. Nor is it always simple to correct your mistakes. The way I approach this challenge is: Once I realize what my mistake is, I take it to God.

While on my knees, I pour out my heart at the foot of the cross. I admit my mistake, ask for forgiveness, and ask God to help me learn how to make better choices (or whatever it takes to fix the mistake or avoid it next time it tries to crop up).

Courtesy of FrameAngel and
Do I hear back every time? Not always right away. And not always in the way I expect. But God is faithful to answer my prayers when I come to Him with a humble heart.

With God’s forgiveness washing me clean and a new determination to improve my character and fix the area(s) of my life that were messy with sin, I then thank God for His blessings and for helping me during the weak moments in which I make mistakes. From there, it’s about maintenance, the continuous work to improve my character (with God’s help and guidance, which sometimes comes in phases) and to upkeep my relationship with God.

Being part of God’s family means learning from your mistakes and trying your best every day. It means working at gaining characteristics that will be useful and pleasing to God in the work He has planned for you to accomplish. And then, of course, doing the work He sends you to do.

That’s my daily goal. What’s yours?

Readers, how has faith whispered into your life? How do you proactively seek it out? What book(s) have you read lately that got you thinking deeper about your spiritual life?

Coming Soon:
March 9 - Praying for Your Future Husband
March 16 - Be My Guest: Elizabeth Maddrey

Thanks for stopping by today! I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below. And don’t forget to drop by next Monday for my latest article.

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