Posted in author interviews, Saturday Spotlight

Saturday Spotlight: A Heart to Cherish by Judith McNees

It’s Saturday and I am thrilled to once again welcome a fellow author to my blog!

Judith McNees is joining me today to celebrate her new release. Read on for all of the details and be sure to scroll to “The “Story Behind the Story”. Judith is an amazing person who has, and continues to, make a difference in the lives of children.

Be sure to join me again for another spotlight and later this week for my regularly scheduled blog posts.


Everyone leaves…including God.

That’s how Julia Price feels after years of being passed over in foster homes. All she has ever wanted is a family, but when she finds herself pregnant and homeless, her dreams seem further away than ever.

Strait-laced good guy Alex Morgan has waited his entire life for the woman God has prepared for him. When he makes it his mission to help Julia, he wonders whether she could be that woman. But why would God lead him to a pregnant non-believer?

As Julia struggles with issues of self-worth and trust, can she open her heart to both God and Alex? And can Alex trust their relationship to the One who holds Julia in His hand?


Contemporary Christian romance author Judith McNees lives in southwestern Michigan with her husband and four of their seven children, along with their three dogs. Her family loves to travel together, but she still believes that her home state is one of the most beautiful states there is. She is a proud stay-at-home mom, stepmom, foster mom, adoptive mom, and grandma, which gives her plenty of fodder for her writing. She holds a B.A. in English from Western Michigan University and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. You can connect with her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

The Story Behind the Story: Why I Wrote A Heart to Cherish

The first seeds for A Heart to Cherish were sown in my heart over a decade ago when my husband and I decided to become foster parents. In Michigan, all prospective foster parents are required to take classes called PRIDE, which stands for Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education. Part of this training involved listening to a panel of former and current foster parents and foster children. During that panel, I learned that thousands of children “age out” of foster care without being adopted into families who can help them transition into adulthood. This puts them at a higher risk of experiencing homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, incarceration, and unwanted pregnancies.

This was a sobering revelation for me, as I’d had it in my heart to adopt older children for years prior to starting the foster care process. These are the forgotten orphans…the ones who were left orphans by a legal decision that stripped them of both their homes and their identities. Unfortunately, at the time our “birth” daughter was only three years old, and we were discouraged from taking in children who were older than the ones we already had in the home. God since gave me peace that the children we adopted were the group he had for us, but at the time, it was difficult for me to let go of the dream of adopting a teen.

Over the course of the next five years, we fostered a total of five children, three of whom we adopted, until our adopted daughter’s therapist recommended we stop due to her past trauma. In that time, I joined a number of support groups and advocacy groups and met other foster parents and former foster children who had been completely traumatized by a very broken system. I think that most social workers are doing the best they can, but with enormous case loads and legal constraints, the consequences of spending an extended amount in foster care, both for foster parents and children, can be quite damaging.

My heart went out to, and still goes out to, the children who are not adopted. My goal for my writing is to shed light on social issues that people go through in a way that is sensitive, yet still points to the hope of the Gospel. Since the book is ultimately a sweet Christian romance, it may not be as “hard hitting” as a story written for another genre or audience, but in writing my heroine, Julia, I was attempting to spotlight the extreme need for loving homes for these “system orphans,” even though the character herself is a true orphan who spent time in the system.

Former foster youth like Julia may be fortunate enough to be “adopted” into a found family as adults, but if you spend even a short amount of time looking up statistics for these kids, you’ll see that they aren’t always good ones like the fictitious family in A Heart to Cherish. If I can spur even one family into changing the narrative for a child in foster care, my work on this novel will have been worth it.

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27 (NKJV)


Penny Zeller is known for her heartfelt stories of faith and her passion to impact lives for Christ through fiction. While she has had a love for writing since childhood, she began her adult writing career penning articles for national and regional publications on a wide variety of topics. Today Penny is a multi-published author of over a dozen books. She is also a homeschool mom and a group fitness instructor. When Penny is not dreaming up new characters, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters and camping, hiking, canoeing, reading, running, gardening, and playing volleyball. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and loves to hear from her readers at her website,, her blog,, and through her newsletter via

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