All posts by Jessie Mattis

Memorial Day: Grateful for the Sacrifice, Grateful for Freedom

What is your experience with war, directly or indirectly? Having an uncle whose life was taken in Vietnam has kept Memorial Day close my heart since childhood (find his picture at the bottom of the post). Maybe you are in a similar position, either having lost a loved one to war or knowing someone who has been affected in that way.

Over the past few years as I’ve been writing historical fiction manuscripts, Memorial Day has taken on even more meaning. Writing about World War 2 and the Vietnam War has meant lots of research, and it’s been quite eye-opening and inspiring.

I’m now embarrassed to say there was a time when I confused Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. (In case this is you right now, no judgement: Memorial Day is to honor the fallen, Veteran’s Day is to honor the living).

It’s easy to see the holiday as simply a day off while giving a nod to the military. Let’s stop taking Memorial Day at face value, and think about war for a moment.

I mean, really think about it…

  • Imagine yourself in a foreign land at the mercy of your training and your instincts, the enemy potentially around every corner, a booby-trap potentially under every step you take.
  • Imagine living and breathing life or death situations every day…every moment perhaps.
  • Imagine watching buddies fall, knowing you can only do so much before you have to keep moving forward without stopping to grieve.
  • Now imagine coming home, living with all you’ve seen and done, knowing that nobody will ever truly understand your sacrifice. Nobody except those who fought by your side.

War is tragic, no question about it. So why do so many subject themselves to such nightmarish lives?

Freedom.

America has fought time and again for freedom. Over the centuries we’ve watched other nations rise and fall under oppressive governments, and we know that’s simply not an option for America. We’ve aided countries trying to push back against the tide of communism as it tries to overtake them. We’ve seen it over and over. We know how the dictatorship and communism stories end, and we don’t want it for our allies or for ourselves.

Those who have lost loved ones to the fight for freedom, and the veterans among us, live in this reality in a more visceral way than most.

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor our fallen heroes. If you have a veteran in your life, show some extra compassion on this holiday. Chances are Memorial Day brings to mind good buddies they fought beside who never got to come home to their families.

Not only is Memorial Day a day to honor the fallen, it is also a day to remember the why.

Why must war exist? Why must we have a Memorial Day to begin with?

Because, while no one of sound mind likes war itself, Americans know that fighting to keep America and her allies free is the only option. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. We refuse to let our loved ones live in a land of fear and control. We refuse to allow our freedom to worship God to be stripped away.

And so, in the process of holding onto freedom, lives are tragically lost. War is a reality that can’t be undone.

Some of us have grown up in an America that has always felt steady and free, but we need to remember that freedom is not a given. It is not a right. It is not something to grow complacent about.

Freedom is something we must acknowledge to be a hard-fought privilege, and we must collectively determine to hold onto it.

To all who have lost a loved one to battle, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Their sacrifice—your sacrifice—is not unnoticed, nor is it forgotten. You are seen. They are remembered. They will forever be honored as heroes of freedom.

A Memorial Day prayer…

Lord, hear our prayers on this Memorial Day. We thank you for each and every soldier’s life sacrificed in the name of making a better life for your people through freedom. Thank you for their bravery, determination, and ability to see a bigger picture than many of us see. Bless and encourage their families today. Thank you also for our veterans—comfort them today as they remember. Thank you for their many sacrifices as well. Bring us all into your light and help us embrace the freedom you offer us on a personal level, through Jesus. Amen.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Let me know in the comments what Memorial Day means to you, what your plans are this Monday, or any other thoughts you have! And if you haven’t already, I’d love to have you subscribe to receive future posts and updates to your inbox – you’ll receive a free 7-Day Parent’s Prayer Guide when you subscribe as a thank-you. Have a great weekend! 😊

Remembering my Uncle David, a brave Marine
who lost his life in Vietnam.

Living Victoriously in an Exhausting World

Raise your hand if you are simply exhausted. Yep—I see you. And no, I don’t mean the I got to bed too late or the baby kept waking me up kind of exhausted. That’s surface exhaustion. I’m talking deep, thorough exhaustion.

What in the world is going on? Well, this is my take; see if you can relate.

Everyone has their own physical busyness. For me right now it’s trying to wrap up the homeschool year well with my three kids, researching and writing my next novel (fun, but it does require time and energy), and tackling my stuff to figure out list. And yes, that list really exists.

Now insert your own life responsibilities and I’m sure you know what I mean. Life doesn’t stop.

Not only are our lives full of physical busyness, they’re full of emotional busyness. If you have any meaningful relationships, you can’t help but carry their burdens to some degree, along with your own. And if you have kids in your life, another layer is added as you help them navigate their emotions. Add to that difficulties you may be having reconciling differences with family, friends, school, and church, and that’s one heavy load.

And so far we’re only talking about normal, non-pandemic life!

Now let’s consider the impact COVID has had. Last spring, when COVID shut down the country, most of us were ready to buckle down, wear our masks, and social distance while things got figured out. The virus was unknown and therefore quite intimidating. We were and are team players, wanting the best for everyone.

As last year drew to a close, the shut-downs became frustrating. Yes, the virus is real, and yes, it has taken lives, and I don’t for a second belittle the tragedy in each life lost. But even as stats began to show that the vast majority of COVID patients never needed hospitalization, and of those who did, the vast majority of them survived, society remained in a state of panic…or at the very least, indifferent to the restrictions that were causing so many problems.

Businesses closed left and right—forced into closure by mandates which the people had no say over. Mental health problems skyrocketed. Job loss is a huge risk factor for the maltreatment of children; without diving into research, we can make some pretty solid assumptions in that department.

People were—are—hurting.

So where does that leave us?

We’re left with a society who is feeling beaten and bruised. It’s like swimming in a lake with your bratty cousin who keeps dunking you. You try to come up for air and immediately get your head pushed back under.

You rise to the surface for a breath, and the arguments between democrats and republicans push you back down.

You gasp for breath again, and people try to convince you that you’re racist…you find yourself back under water.

You come back up, and find people trying to teach your elementary-aged children that their families are racist and that they should explore changing their gender, and you get pushed back down. The water is up your nose now and you’re starting to choke.

The president steps on our free country as he declares you must get vaccinated or wear a mask indefinitely…maybe this time you sink back down voluntarily for a bit. It takes too much energy to rise back up only to be shoved back down.

Here’s the thing. Destructive viruses are not new. Biased media is not new. Overreaching government is not new. Agenda-driven radicals are not new. Read any history book and you’ll see these things time and time again.

These things may not be new, but boy, are they ever exhausting. We’re being required to carry heavier burdens than most of us have borne before, with no end in sight.

Thankfully, there are four simple strategies for keeping our heads not only above water, but planting our feet on solid ground. This is how we can live victoriously in an exhausting world:

  1. Run to Jesus. Plain and simple, this is the most powerful way to be revived when life is pulling you down. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” He’s not kidding; this is life-changing stuff. And don’t forget that spiritual warfare is real. We can be victorious by partnering with Jesus.
  2. Connect. We were designed for relationships and community, and without them we aren’t all we were meant to be. If you find yourself lacking these things, seek them out. It just might change your life.
  3. Refuse to give in to hate and fear. Racism cannot be healed with more racism, and hate cannot be wiped out with more hate. The only way we can move forward is with an abundance of love and grace—for everyone, not just those with whom we agree.
  4. Turn off the news. Don’t be ignorant about the world’s goings-on, but maybe give yourself a limit. The more news we ingest, the more cynical we become and the less likely we are to find peace.

Give these four things a try and let me know if you see a difference in your level of exhaustion. And remember what my mom always says: One day at a time.

I’d love to hear from you, so leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts! Tell me how you’re dealing with this world of ours, and how I can pray for you!

The Huge Truth My Characters Taught Me About Trusting God

I’ve spent the past two and a half years working on three manuscripts. What was first one historical novel with three parts has grown into three separate books, thanks to some wise guidance from my agent. Even if no one else ever sets eyes on these manuscripts, I’ve loved every second of all the hours I’ve poured into them. Writing this series breathes life into me. (I’m excited to still have most of the third left to write.) It’s amazing the lessons God teaches you when you are doing your best to partner with him to create something new. Exciting and humbling.

The other day I was browsing the internet for pictures of my characters. My story is set in the forties during WW2, and I’ve had years of developing my main characters in my mind and on the page, but had never had a true visual.

Then I found The Picture. A young couple from decades ago sitting across from each other in a soda shop, staring into each other’s eyes while sipping from the same soda with smiles on their faces.

I can’t tell you how excited I was. I felt like I had just found hidden treasure. Since discovering and saving the photo, I’ve pulled it up over a dozen times just to stare at it for a few seconds and smile. I feel like it’s them—the very people (well, characters) I’ve grown to know and love. Because as any fiction writer will tell you; their characters are so real.

You’re probably asking, what does this have to do with God? Good question. Stick with me.

The evening after I found this treasured photo, I was pulling laundry out of the dryer and thinking. I was thinking of the hard things my characters face as several different scenes flashed through my mind. In the photo, the couple appears blissfully happy and carefree. Aren’t we all, before?

Before the first big life tragedy strikes, most of us are pretty optimistic about life.

Maybe I’d just had a long day, but I found myself tearing up as I thought of my characters—who now had faces—going through such hard things.

But then.

Then, my thoughts turned to all the good that was going to come from the struggles. Because, of course, I get to make up the story, so I know nothing is for naught. No struggle within my pages is without purpose. All the loose ends are tied up in the end for a larger purpose. A purpose that never could have arrived without the struggles.

I had a sudden urge to speak to my blissfully happy characters from the beginning of the story. I wanted to tell them to hold on; that I had a big plan for them, but it was going to be a bumpy ride. I wanted to tell them bigger things were at stake; things they couldn’t see just yet. I wanted to tell them they could trust me to bring goodness from the struggle and redeem their situations.

And then I shut myself in the bathroom and let a few tears fall as the correlation struck me so vividly. Wow. I’d never shared such camaraderie with God before. If it wasn’t personal before, now it was.

How many times must God have thought similar things in regards to you and me? God is the author of each of our stories. He sees us in our struggles when we’re doubting, questioning, hurt, and angry. And he knows the only way to the goodness on the other side is straight through the pain. He hurts when we hurt, but he knows how the story ends. He’s weaving our lives through the hardships straight into his ultimate goodness for his purposes that we can’t understand from our place in the middle of the story.

And so we take another deep breath, remember God is good all the time, and determine once again to trust him as we move forward with our unpredictable lives.

Don’t judge your life story just yet. Remember you’re only in the middle, and whatever hard things you’re facing, just let God keep a firm grasp of the pen and let him tell the story to the end. I have a feeling the ending is going to make it all worth it.

When was the last time God surprised you with a deeper understanding of him? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below! 🙂


I really want to share the photo of my characters, but I also want to hold it close to the chest for a little bit longer. One day I’ll share it. In the meantime, as always, the publishing game is a marathon not a sprint, so say a prayer for my patience and for my agent to find my stories the right publishing home. Have a great week and thanks so much for reading all the way to the end!

The Truth About Boundaries in a Cancel Culture

Creating boundaries is all the rage these days. In the name of self-care, people say no to events, obligations, and even people (COVID aside).

This may sound all well and good, but as my husband recently pointed out when we discussed this very topic, “boundaries” have all too often become a euphemism for “canceling.”

Maybe since Valentine’s Day is near I should be focused on something more lovey-dovey than the way society has commandeered the meaning of boundaries, but…well, here we are.

Before I go any further, please hear this. I am in no way, shape, or form saying that creating strict boundaries with people is always bad. In cases of abuse or other extreme circumstances, please do separate yourself and get the help you need. Sometimes reconciling isn’t in the cards—I totally get that. But often, in regular circumstances (whatever that means), it is.

Cancel culture is all around us, and it extends well beyond politics and into personal relationships, although the practice is the same.

You don’t agree with my political candidate? I can’t talk to you ever again. You’re cancelled.

You dared to protest the most recent social issue? You just don’t get it. Cancelled.

You dared not to protest the most recent issue? You clearly don’t get it. Cancelled.

Something needs to change.

When the topic of setting healthy boundaries first entered my world a handful of years ago, I was all for it. At the time I was in the middle of raising and homeschooling three very young children and helping plant a church. It seemed there wasn’t one spare second in the day to call my own, which didn’t sit well with my mental health. I’m an introverted gal who craves me-time like chocolate.

When I started functioning more like a robot and less like a human, I finally read a book on setting prayerful, healthy boundaries, and it was super freeing. I totally encourage this sort of intentional boundary-setting. My entire family grew healthier because of it.

What I didn’t do was cut people and things out of my life based on what would make life easiest and happiest for me. In my boundary-setting, the focus wasn’t ME. My new focus was allowing God to guide my time and commitments. He loves to help people do that, by the way.

It saddens me to watch people today hijacking the word “boundary” to instead mean “cancel.” It saddens me to watch families split apart because of ultimatums and hard hearts; an unwillingness to look beyond one’s self to see the bigger picture.

The word “sacrifice” has nearly become a dirty word, and social media all too often cheers people on in these selfish behaviors. Why would I sacrifice anything for someone else if I could just cut them out of my life? Why would I put forth the effort it takes to reconcile relationships that don’t serve me the way I desire?

Because that’s what we’re called to do.

As Christians, we are called to serve others (1 Peter 4:10). We are called to forgive (Colossians 3:13). We are called to love everyone, including our enemies (Luke 6:27-28). We are called to share the gospel (Romans 10:14-15).

Here’s the Jessie-paraphrase: We are called to get over ourselves for the sake of others.

Admittedly, most of these callings do not come without struggle. So, what then? Do we cut these things out of our lives because they’re too hard? Or do we press on with the strength of Jesus, letting him guide us and carry our burdens as we go?

In the world of politics and in a society filled with strong opinions on all sorts of issues, sometimes we just can’t seem to win. Somebody, somewhere is ready to cancel (or set a “boundary” with) us as soon as we open our mouths.

Instead, what if we did whatever was in our power to find common ground and encourage reconciliation? What if we agreed to disagree without entirely writing off the other person? What if we tried speaking and listening with peace, holding onto the humble and forgiving notion that maybe, just maybe, none of us has it all figured out. There’s always more to learn and ways to grow in understanding.

If enough of us lived that way, our world just may be rocked. But it’s not something we can accomplish alone. Nope, we need lots of grace and strength from our Creator in order to march on, doing our best to show Jesus to the world through our lives.

Dear God,

Relationships can be so challenging. Please help us strive for peace, being willing to speak in love, ready to forgive, and willing to serve, rather than doing what’s easy. Where others have cut us out of their lives and we feel deeply wronged, wrap us in your comfort—the peace that truly does surpass all understanding. Help our hearts stay open to reconciliation where appropriate as you work in the hearts of all involved. We crave your mighty works in our relationships, Lord. Make the impossible possible, and give us strength to follow your example even in the storm. Thank you for being good all the time. Thank you that we can trust you with our lives and the lives of our families and friends. Thank you that your purposes are higher than we can see. Amen.

Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences on the matter of boundaries—just drop me a comment below!

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Why Jesus? A Blessedly Short Post…

At the risk of adding to the noise of the season, I wanted to say Merry Christmas and share a brief encouragement. I’ll keep it short, but make sure to stick with me until the end—I’m going to share something that I hope will make you laugh. 🙂

It’s been a hard year for many people in many ways, so let me first just say well done. Well done tackling this year, with all it’s ups and downs, and moving forward. Twenty twenty-one is approaching, waving flags of hope, change, and new opportunities. We’re almost there.

Like you, I’m looking forward to a new year, but keep in mind…hope, change, and new opportunities are ours for the taking here and now, even still in 2020. As Christmas rapidly approaches, I’m once again blown away by all God has done to reach down and love us. But why Jesus?

Immanuel. Immanuel literally means God with us.

God WITH us.

GOD with US.

Mind-blowing whichever way you slice it. God loves us so much that he came to us as a human to demonstrate his desperate love for us in a tangible way. He loves us and wanted a relationship with us so badly that he became sin, sacrificing himself in our place. Making us clean in this way created a way for us imperfect people to live eternally alongside an utterly good and perfect God, who is so holy he cannot be in the presence of evil. Cue Jesus. Thanks to him, we now fit the bill. That’s why Jesus.

That’s powerful love. Immanuel—God with us.

I pray you are filled with joy and gratefulness this Christmas as we celebrate the beginning of God’s master plan of salvation, but I know it can be a difficult season for many. I’d love to pray for you. Just leave a comment, or if you’re a subscriber you can simply reply to this email with your prayer requests, and I’ll be honored to lift you and your needs up to our mighty Creator and Savior.

Before I go, just for fun I want to share a video that has made my family and me laugh out loud multiple times over the past few years. Maybe you’ve already seen it, but either way, I hope it brings some laughter to your day. Here is: Christmas According to Kids…