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Inspirational Fiction by Dr. Vivi Monroe Congress

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About the Author

Dr. Congress is a Best-Selling, Award-Winning Wordsmith, Literary Advisor, Publisher and creator of C.H.O.C. Lit™ Flavored Books (Christians Having Ordinary Challenges).
She holds a BA in Human Relations, Masters in Theology, Doctor of Ministry degree in Christian Counseling and is a Certified Christian Life Coach.

About the Book

O.C. Byrd is hard-working, handsome and newly married to the woman of his prayers. With his sights firmly set on becoming a Gospel recording artist, his determination is beginning to pay off, earning him a windstorm of recognition at the local level.
But will both his widespread notoriety and his marriage be jeopardized through the accidental discovery of his wife’s former lifestyle?

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Sneak Peak

Chapter Ten

“Okay, let’s hit that once more from the top,” directed one very perfection-driven recording engineer. Enoch “Z-man” Zimmerman is, by far, the most on-point dude I know; nothing No Conditionsgets by him—musically speaking—and if his name is attached to it, so is excellence. If I hadn’t known this about him beforehand, I would’ve ended this session an hour ago. Old dude is dipping into my pockets—deep. But, it’s all good. There’s no price tag on quality or knowing that your creative vision is being birthed and we did cover a lot of ground in these last two days. However, I was trying to come in under a budget since I still have to get updated headshots and that, alone, can cost a mint. Needless to say, the budget needs a budget.
From within the encapsulated sound booth, I quickly prepare myself for a retake by clearing my throat and rolling my head to work out neck and shoulder tension. This is the last track we’re recording, also my favorite, and I can’t risk anything getting in the way of my sound. I’ve reworked the lyrics and rearranged the music to Will Downing’s All About You and in a play on words, I decided to use the working title, All About Him, for my CD. Z-man, who was previously in a zone setting the levels on the control panel, gives me his ‘look,’ the one that says, any minute now…waiting on you.
Closing my eyes, I ease into the moment by thinking of the unending blessings God has poured into my life, most recently the love and devotion of a woman who loves Him as much as I do. I give Z-man a thumbs up, our non-verbal cue that I’m ready to record. Through my headphones, I hear the music intro and seconds later, Z-man‘s voice comes through in a word, “Rolling.”
Swaying side to side, I’m feeling it and without forethought, I take ownership of the musical moment and sing, “I’m not a perfect man, I do the best I can…”
Inside of four minutes, Z-man shouts, “Perfect!” and just like that we’re done. Demo complete, mission accomplished. Talk about feeling good … man!
Collecting my sheet music from the copy stand, I give the booth the once-over and scan the small space for other belongings I might have overlooked. As if handling a Ming vase, I carefully place the headphones on the overhead hang. Lord knows the last thing I need now is to have Z-man add something else to my currently swollen studio tab.
“You know, O.C., I believe your voice has gotten much stronger. Not at all like when I first recorded you a few years back. You’ve got a more mature sound.”
Beaming with pride, “Man, a lot has gotten stronger and better with me.” I strike an impressive bodybuilder crab pose, careful not to flash the shiny new article of jewelry that now resides on the ring finger of my left land. We both laugh and post up a high-five on it.
“Oh, I know that look. Had it once upon a time myself,” Z-man reflects. “That’s the look of a man who’s found his better half. Congrats again, man. I wish you the best.” His voice fades as though he’s been a casualty of love. And while his wound may still be fresh, he is no love reject; he’s recovering from the death of his wife earlier this year.
“Thanks, Z,” I respond. Placing a sympathetic hand on his shoulder which serves as a point of contact as well, I whisper a brief prayer for his healing. “That means a lot, man.”
“I miss her, O.C.” his voice slightly cracking, “I miss her a lot.” Z-man’s body slowly slumps in his chair, his eyes misting despite his best efforts to blink back the tears.
Identifying with his pain in the presence of my own joy is a real challenge, but I do my best to console him anyway.
“You and Maggie…watching the two of you was…was…well, inspiring. Y’all were so in sync. I’ve never seen anything like it except for my Mom and Pops, of course.” Although I did my best to encourage Z-man, Goddess is the pro at this kind of thing since she deals with death and sorrow every day for a living.
I watch as a nostalgic smile sweeps across Z-man’s face. I must’ve said something right. Unfolding his grief-tormented body, he sits straight up and releases a fraction of his pain through a loud exhale, “Remember this…if this were your last day on earth, what would you look at more closely, more intensely? What would you appreciate? What would you want to savor? What would really be important to you?” He pauses and appears to be thinking about his next words.

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My Author’s Page at Bettie Youngs Books and a Free Sample

I’m so honored to be represented by Vanessa Grossett and published by Bettie Youngs Books. Please take a minute to visit my author’s page. I can hardly believe that I’m in the company of so many accomplished wordsmiths! Afterwards, pop over to Amazon and you can pick up a copy of my ebook, or you can read a sample chapter here…

The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story.

Also, I still have a couple copies of Shades of Mercy – contact me quickly for your free copy!

Book Review, Whispers of Hope

Maybe it’s my ego, but I considered myself a prayer veteran. I mean, I’ve studied Kay Arthur’s, Lord Teach Me to Pray in 28 Days. I’ve read many of Stormie O’Martian’s books, I even own Beth Moore’s, Praying God’s Word, flash cards. I’ve been a Christian since I was seven and I’ve led Bible studies on prayer. I have over a dozen journals filled with notes from my morning conversations with God.

So, when I was asked to review Beth Moore’s new book, Whispers of Hope, I admit I wondered how it could possibly be different. Prayer isn’t exactly an evolving science and God didn’t suddenly change the rules. What is there left to learn?

I opened, Whispers of Hope, the moment it arrived on my doorstep, and read the introduction and Day One. Immediately, I knew that this book was less about teaching me to pray, and more about cultivating a habit of deep prayer. If a habit is formed in 21 days, Beth triples her bets with this book, offering the reader a full 70 days of gentle reminders, guidance and incentive to talk to God.

The first thing I appreciated about, Whispers of Hope, is the brief introduction. No ten page didactic on, “How to use this book”. Just a simple, one page spread explaining the journal headings and reminding the reader of the command and reward of consistent prayer.

Beth uses an acronym of the word PRAISE to designate six essential elements of prayer. How humbling to discover that in my frequent “popcorn” prayers, I often forget important aspects of communicating with the High King!

Each of the seventy days begins in with a Scripture reading and a one page devotional by Beth. Following, are two pages with three categories each for jotting down prayer notes.

Two aspects of my own prayer life, Acknowledgement and Intercession, were particularly strengthened by this book.

Acknowledgement: This is an aspect of prayer I often forget, assuming I cover my bases with praise and thanksgiving. Of course, I know God is in charge, but most days I still find myself questioning each interruption, flustered by changes in plans, or cross because a certain item on my to-do list takes longer than expected.

In this category, Beth reminds us to recognize God’s sovereign authority over the minuscule moments of our lives. This is the ground floor of humility; at the same time, it’s the epitome of freedom.

Taking Beth’s frequent admonition to use Scripture in my prayer, I found Psalm 15 to be an excellent guide for acknowledging God’s rule and goodness in my life.

Intercession: I am ashamed to admit that this is a topic I have brushed over lightly in the past. Sometimes, my intercessory prayers seem redundant, so I default to casual, passing thoughts, “Haven’t I been praying this thing for that person forever? God, you know.”

Beth points out a relieving truth about intercessory prayer that I have never considered before. Using Jesus’s mother, Mary, in John 2:3, Beth says that we don’t need to offer God a solution to the problem. We do not need to ask God to do something specific in an individual’s life or a certain circumstance. Instead, as Mary did, we can simply state the need. My part in intercession is to show a oneness with His heart, a sensitivity to the Spirit and compassion for the person in need. God is capable of solving the problem in His own time and manner. In fact, He already knows the issue.

As it turns out, there is much I can still learn about prayer. No, it isn’t an evolving science, but it is an ongoing conversation. As I child grows up and learns to participate respectfully in adult conversation, so I believe, as we grow in faith and intimacy with God, the tone, attitude and expression of our prayers will change.

Whispers of Hope, is an excellent, unique resource both for learning to pray and for maturing in our relationship with God.

Make sure you leave a comment on this post because tomorrow I will select the winner of a free copy of,
Whispers of Hope. Good luck!

Upcoming Giveaway!

Hello and happy Friday, All!

I wanted to let you know that on Saturday, Nov. 30, I will be publishing a review of Beth Moore’s newest book, “Whispers of Hope”.
Icon Media Group asked me to review the book and has graciously provided me with a copy to give away to my readers. This book will be an excellent Christmas gift. Or if you’re like me, with two anniversaries and two birthdays stacked right on top of Christmas, it will make a great gift for those occasions too. 

Make sure you leave a comment under that post on November 30th. I will do a random drawing from the names of those who have commented and announce the winner on Sunday, December 1. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Good For Explaining the Good News

Foundational, mind-boggling principles becoming clear.

Have you ever found yourself in such a conundrum: Someone you dearly love and long to share eternity with has questioned your faith?

Well, um… I believe that Jesus died for my sins. He was buried and rose again. Now he lives eternally, and as my sins have been paid for, I can spend eternity with him in heaven.

“Well, that’s just great,” they rejoin, “but what is true faith? Why do you call God ‘Father’ and why does a God who loves me let bad things happen to me?”

I distinctly recall being in that position about seven years ago. I worked with one of my best friends. I’ll call her Kelly. Kelly was never hostile to my faith, in fact she was genuinely curious. But she never lobbed easy questions at me. Whenever work was slow, we’d be organizing and checking dates on millions of supplement bottles (we worked at GNC) and she would begin asking the tough questions. Kelly wanted to know all about the Trinity. She wanted to know why Jesus had to die. She wanted to know if God really listened to and answered prayer. She wanted to know if he offered peace of mind concerning her husband who was currently deployed. Kelly wondered what made Jesus of the Bible any different from the founders of other religions.

I did my best to answer her questions. I remember going home at night and calling my mom tearfully. “What if I don’t have the right answer? I know what I believe, but how do I explain it?” Praise our good and loving God. He had already marked Kelly with his name. Despite my bumbling answers, two years later, Kelly called me with explosive enthusiasm. “I’m getting baptized tomorrow! I accepted Jesus as my savior! I know I’m going to heaven.” Convictingly, since that day, I have had to humbly accept rebuke, training, teaching and affirmation from this once baby Christian. Kelly has found the Bible to be the living source of nourishment that God promises His word is. She as grown like a tree firmly planted by streams of water and has borne much fruit.

As I have slowly plowed through Kevin DeYoung’s book, “The Good News We Almost Forgot” I have unearthed a wonderful resource for sharing my faith. DeYoung is a compelling author, making even potentially dry subjects seem humorous and interesting. However, I don’t recommend simply handing the book to your questioning friends and expecting the proverbial lightbulb to blink above their head. As a historic Christian document, the catechism employees many terms specific to the Christian faith. The questions themselves are pretty heady.

Perhaps the best use of the book is personal. A Christian (speaking to myself) has no business attempting to explain the good news of the Gospel, if he has lost its wonder in his own heart and mind. Read to remember. Remember that…

True faith is not only knowledge and conviction that everything God reveals in Scripture is true; it is also a deep-rooted assurance, created in me by the Holy Spirit through the gospel, that, out of sheer grace earned for us by Christ, not only others, but I too, have had my sins forgiven, have been made forever right with God, and have been granted salvation.

I trust Him so much that I do not doubt He will provide whatever I need for body and soul, and He will turn to my good whatever adversity He sends me in this sad world.

That I am not my own, but belong –  body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

These are just snippets of answers offered in the catechism and expounded upon my DeYoung. Additionally, the catechism addresses the 10 Commandments, one at a time, and the Lord’s Prayer. Each is afforded useful answers.

The Heidelberg Catechism is not an infallible document. And DeYoung does not profess to be a new source of truth. The Catechism is based fully and unashamedly on the infallible truth of the Bible. It is a trustworthy source of instruction and useful for training in righteousness – and for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. The Good News We Almost Forgot, takes this ancient resource and repackages it in a less-intimidating paperback. Don’t miss this. 

P.S. To make sure you don’t miss it, I’m giving away a copy at the end of this week. Make sure to comment and repost the link for a chance to win your copy!

Getting What You Could Be Giving

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? It’s almost embarrassing that of all the lavish Christmases and birthdays I have enjoyed, I can’t recall many specific gifts. Not that those gifts weren’t wonderful and appreciated at the time, but as they didn’t meet a sincere need I guess they were for the most  part – forgettable.

One special memory envelopes several Christmases. My mother is on an annual crusade to simplify Christmas. Especially when we were young, she tried to shrink the number of extravagant gifts and encourage us to be grateful, gracious and generous. One year, she decided to stuff all the gifts for every person into a few giant, black trash bags. Then, she pulled out the board game, Bible-opoly. She asked random questions from the game cards and the correct answer won the privilege of blindly pulling a gift from one of the bags. Then that person delivered the gift to the proper recipient and everyone watched with respectful attentiveness as the lucky one unwrapped their present.

Her  plan successfully slowed the mad dash to the tree and wild shredding of paper in disregard of gratitude. However, much to my husband’s chagrin when I brought him home for Christmas – the process drug gift-opening on for a ridiculously long time!

Recently, I read of another plan to reverse the focus of gift-giving and receiving. The leadership at Vine Wesleyan Church in NY surprised their parishioners with a backward offering. Instead of passing a red velvet plate, crooning about the rewards of being charitable – the church gave envelopes containing $100 each to it’s members 18 years and older.

“Traditionally we have taken a special offering at Christmas Eve and we have sent it to a Christ-centered ministry,” a note inside the envelope read. “This year the needs are greater than ever in so many places, including for some of us [in] our own families,” Rev. Christopher Baldwin said. (

The church gave away about $8500. Is this a reflection of the TRUE meaning of Christmas? Did this church just twist the concept of giving, LYING about their motives? Does the gesture reflect God’s gift of Jesus to the world?

TELLING YOURSELF (and us) THE TRUTH… what would you do if $100 appeared on your seat in church this Sunday?

Kylie Reese Gunderson

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Just in case I miss a day of communication here, I thought I’d post some pictures of Kylie so that you can understand how good my reason is! I do plan to keep up with the blog theme of mentoring, and I will catch up with Starbucks card giveaways as soon as I get home. I haven’t had a response for contact information for last week’s winner, so I may have to draw another name. Both sets of giveaways will go out next Wed.

Lastly, I’m sharing a poem that I wrote for Kylie:


A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.

So when fear strikes hold, your heart is a pawn,

In a ruthless game of chess.

When fear grants your heart no rest.


A baby is My Father’s opinion that the world should go on.

He bid me wait at least one more day

Till I bring you to our home to stay.

Dearest Kylie, learn to wait on your knees.


A baby is My opinion that the world should go on.

I want you, Love, to know me as your very own.

To learn to worship at my unseen throne.

To know me as your closest, sometimes only friend.

The grass will grow, sun wake and fall

Until my final trumpet call.

Wait, please wait – these days are mine for you.

Come grow up in my arms.

Love, Jesus