Hope Unchained: Can the deepest loss bring the greatest gain?

More adventure in the Roman Empire of Trajan in AD 106! The next volume in the Light in the Empire series releases December 2, 2019.

Hope Unchained can be read stand-alone, like all the books in the Light in the Empire series. But if you enjoyed True Freedom set in Rome in AD 118, you’ll get to spend some time with Leander’s beloved sister Ariana twelve years earlier when Rome’s armies conquered Dacia and made them both slaves.

Come join me again for dangerous times, difficult friendships, and lives transformed by forgiveness and love!

Hope Unchained cover

Coming December 2, 2019. Available as ebook, paperback, and hardcover at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and local bookstores by special order.

Hope Unchained by Carol Ashby
Volume 7 of the Light in the Empire series

Can the deepest loss bring the greatest gain?

Rome’s conquering army took Ariana’s family and freedom, but nothing can take her faith in Jesus. When she rescues a tribune’s wife from certain death, her reward is freedom and a chance to free her brother and sister. But first she must catch up with the slave caravan before they vanish forever, and tracking them from Dacia to the coast seems impossible for one woman alone.

Discharged from the legion with a hand crippled by a Dacian knife, Donatus faces a future without hope. When the tribune asks him to escort Ariana on her quest, it’s the only work he can find. It means four weeks with a Dacian woman and a gladiator bodyguard, but it takes money to eat. A man without options must take what he can get.

But a lot can happen in four weeks. Even battle-hardened men can be touched by love and forgiveness, and it’s easier to face an enemy with a sword than to face the truth. When his moment of truth comes, what will Donatus choose, and what will that mean for all of them?

Light in the Empire Series: Dangerous times, difficult friendships, lives transformed by forgiveness and love

Hope Unchained is the seventh volume in the Light in the Empire series, which follows the interconnected lives of four Roman families during the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian. Each can be read stand-alone. The nine novels of the series will take you around the Empire, from Germania and Britannia to Thracia, Dacia, and Judaea and, of course, to Rome itself.

True Freedom: The Chains We Cannot See Can Be the Hardest Ones to Break

Come join me again in the Roman Empire of Hadrian in AD 118! The next volume in the Light in the Empire series releases May 27 with pre-orders starting May 18.

True Freedom can be read stand-alone, like all the books in the Light in the Empire series. But if you enjoyed Forgiven or Faithful set in AD 122, you’ll get to spend some time four years earlier with some of the characters you may have liked or loved…or hated.

Come join me for more dangerous times, difficult friendships, and lives transformed by forgiveness and love!

True Freedom cover

Coming May 27, 2019; pre-order May 18. Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and local bookstores as special order.

True Freedom by Carol Ashby
Volume 6 of the Light in the Empire series

The chains we cannot see can be the hardest ones to break.

When Aulus runs up a gambling debt to his father’s political enemy, he’s desperate to pay it off before his father returns to Rome. His best friend Marcus suggests they fake the kidnapping of Aulus’s sister Julia and use the ransom money. But when the man they hired kidnaps her for real, Aulus is catapulted into a desperate search to find her.

Torn from his childhood home by Rome’s conquering armies and sold as a farm slave to labor until he dies, Dacius’s faith gives him strength to bear what he must and serve without complaining. After a deadly accident makes him one of Julia’s litter bearers, he overhears Marcus advising her brother to kidnap her. When Dacius almost dies thwarting the kidnapping, a Christian couple pretend Julia and Dacius are their children to keep her brother from finding them before her father returns.

But pretending to be free again makes returning to slavery more than Dacius can bear, while acting like a common woman opens Julia’s eyes to dreams and destinies she never knew existed. With her brother closing in and her father almost home, can she find a way around Roman law and custom to free them both for the future they long for?

Light in the Empire Series: Dangerous times, difficult friendships, lives transformed by forgiveness and love

True Freedom is the sixth volume in the Light in the Empire series, which follows the interconnected lives of the members of four Roman families during the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian. The eight novels of the series will take you around the Empire, from Germania and Britannia to Thracia, Dacia, and Judaea and, of course, to Rome itself.

Return to the Roman Empire for Second Chances

Come join me for more dangerous times, difficult friendships, and lives transformed by forgiveness and love in the Roman Empire of Hadrian (AD 122). The next volume in the Light in the Empire series releases November 26.

Second Chances can be read stand-alone, but if you’ve already read The Legacy, you’ll recognize some of the characters from eight years earlier (AD 114). You can probably guess who’s still up to no good.

Light in the Empire Vol 1-5 covers
Available in paperback and ebook at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and in ebook at Kobo.

Must the shadows of the past destroy the hope of the future?

In AD 122, Cornelia Scipia, proud daughter of one of Rome’s noblest families, learns her adulterous husband plans to betroth their daughter to the vicious son of his best friend. Over her dead body! Cornelia divorces him, reclaims her enormous dowry, and kidnaps her own daughter. She plans to start over with Drusilla a thousand miles away. No more husbands for her. But she didn’t count on meeting Hector, the widowed Greek captain of the ship carrying her to her new life.

Devastated by the loss of his wife and daughter, Hector’s heart begins to heal as he befriends Drusilla. Cornelia’s sacrificial love for Drusilla and her courage and humor in the face of the unknown earn his admiration…as a friend. Is he ready for more?

Marriage to the kind, honest sea captain would give Drusilla the father she deserves…and Cornelia the faithful husband she’s always longed for. But while her ex-husband hunts them to drag Drusilla back to Rome, secrets in Hector’s past and the chasms between their social classes and different faiths erect complicated barriers to any future together. Will God give two lonely hearts a second chance at happiness?

Dangerous times, difficult friendships, lives transformed by forgiveness and love

Second Chances is the fifth volume in the Light in the Empire series, which follows the interconnected lives of four Roman families during the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian. Each can be read stand-alone. The eight novels of the series will take you around the Empire, from Germania and Britannia to Thracia, Dacia, and Judaea and, of course, to Rome itself.

Join some of the people you met in The Legacy eight years later in this tale of hope and a future never imagined until God opens the door.

The Legacy that Matters

last will and testament

Legacy. It’s a word that calls up images of wills and lawyers, of our parents’ house or the family farmland, of stocks and bonds and bank accounts, of family heirlooms and…the list goes on.

But we leave behind a legacy much more important than material possessions. Is there a person alive who doesn’t want those they love to share the highest values that inspire and define their lives?

I can think of no greater legacy that I could pass on to my family and friends than the knowledge of how much God loves them and how Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross opened the door to eternal life, if they only choose to accept the forgiveness and salvation He freely offers.

But what if the ones you love embrace the culture that questions and rejects what you long to share?
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Living in a Disposable World

Mannequin

Every trash day, it’s obvious we’re living in a disposable world. So much of our garbage exists because someone found a way to make something quicker and easier so we have more time to do something else.

Those single-serving plastic cups for brewing coffee without measuring out the grounds or cleaning up the pot after the coffee’s ready. The plastic cooking trays that are part of a nukeable boxed dinner. Single use…then into the trash (or recycling bin if we try to live “green”). They did what we needed; then out they go.

But do we ever approach people with that attitude? If they no longer fulfill our own needs, are they “disposable,” too?
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When Yes Means No and No Becomes Yes

 jumping between yes and no

When someone asks me to do something for them, my natural inclination is to say yes. When it’s someone in authority over me, someone with the right to command instead of ask, the “yes” is almost automatic.

It’s not that I’m a pathological people-pleaser, but I find no pleasure in disappointing people when what they ask is reasonable.

But do you ever find yourself saying yes when you plan to avoid doing what was asked? And what about when you say no but decide to do it anyway?
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When Danger Lurks in an Appealing Package

snake's rattle

My husband came in to tell me he’d killed it. I had to go see.

By the side of the house, on the path between the front door and the side gate in the adobe wall that surrounds the pond, I found it. A western rattlesnake was still slowly coiling and uncoiling, but it was dead, its head crushed by a blow from a two-by-four. (Don’t ever touch a freshly killed rattlesnake. It can deliver a reflex bite for up to an hour.)

How sad. If it had been well away from the house and shop, I would have enjoyed seeing it. I like snakes, even rattlesnakes, but an ambush predator that might inject you with venom if you surprise it can’t be allowed to stay where people walk all the time.

As much as I appreciate the elegant design and graceful beauty of a rattlesnake, I won’t let it stay too close. I might walk by it safely a hundred times without even noticing it, but when it decides to strike…

How often do we not see the hazard in something before it’s too late?
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The Blessing of Our Fathers

father and child

Father’s Day in the US is a celebration of the role of fathers in our lives. It’s a chance to reflect on our own fathers, giving thanks for what has been good and seeking to understand and forgive what may not have been.

My own dad died in November of 1990. I was blessed to be at his bedside as he crossed the threshold between life and death. He was a man who loved God, and his passing was peaceful, even beautiful in its own way, despite the tears because there would be a dad-shaped hole in my heart.

It doesn’t seem like a quarter of a century since the last time he drove up our road, the last time he told me a joke, the last time he called me Sweetie.

He was a wonderful dad. He taught me so many things: how to ride a bike, how to use hand tools, how to fly fish.

More importantly, he taught me about honesty, responsibility, and faithfulness. He taught me about making choices and how those can have consequences far beyond the moment I make the choice.

Dad taught me about the importance of keeping God as the reference point for making life’s choices.
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When Two Become One

wedding reception

There are a few events in life that are pure treasure. One took place a week ago when my daughter married her middle-school, high-school, and college sweetheart, the man she calls her best friend. Another took place 42 years and a day ago when I married the man who is my best friend, too.

As we walked our daughter down the aisle to give her to the man of her dreams, I couldn’t have been happier. He’s a fine young man with a heart for God and a deep love for her―a good combination for a marriage that can go the distance.

One good thing about watching your grown child prepare to marry is how it can focus your own attention on what marriage ought to be.

If I want a marriage that can last until dissolved by death, I won’t find the model in what American media portrays as the ideal love. I can find it in what God tells us about the kind of love that can bind two into one for a lifetime.
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Giving Our Best to God

hands

As I sit at my laptop rejoicing over getting my second novel, Blind Ambition, to market last Friday, I think about the gifts God gives us so we can serve Him.

I’m reminded of Bezalel and Oholiab. When it was time for the people of Israel to construct the tabernacle in the wilderness, they were chosen by God as craftsmen to make what was required and to teach others who would help them. The way in which Moses introduced them to the Israelites is found in Exodus 35:30-36:1 (ESV):

Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft.

“And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.

“Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the LORD has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the LORD has commanded.”

God called them by name. He knew exactly which person He was going to equip for the service He wanted from them. He called them to the task and filled them with the Spirit and everything they would need to do the work He called them to.

God still fills each of us with skill, ability, and knowledge to serve where He calls us.
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