Category Archives: Faith

All things faith related.

The Value of Old Age

I absolutely love hearing stories from older generations. My own grandpa, a WWII veteran, is a wealth of information. Yes, he’s alive and well in his 90s, raising horses, gardening, and reading in his down time. (I think he said his list of books read in 2021 topped 88.) He is full of wisdom, knowledge, and stories, but the funny thing is—he doesn’t seem to realize it. In his quiet, humble way, he goes about his days like anyone else, not realizing the value of what he has to offer from his wealth of life experience.

Not my grandpa…but likely someone’s. 🙂

ASK QUESTIONS

If we don’t ask questions and start conversations with the elders in our lives, they may never share their wealth of wisdom and experience! Isn’t that a tragic thought?

Several years ago, when I set out to write historical fiction, I had the privilege of interviewing my grandpa. Even though he’s quiet and unassuming, he’s happy to share when someone asks questions.

I learned loads about him and my grandma from that interview, including personal war stories you’d never see in a history book. In my opinion, knowing family history greatly enriches a person’s heart and life.

With age comes a special kind of wisdom and understanding that is only gained through living a long life. So let’s ask questions while we have the opportunity! Invite the ones who lived through the Holocaust, polio, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and all the conflicts since and in-between to speak into our lives. Let them give us things to think about that we’ve never before considered. Let them say things that challenge our current opinions and assumptions.

MAKE GOD SMILE 

It’s never too late to start conversations with those of advanced years. We might just be surprised what we learn. And not only does it show them they are honored and valued; I think it makes God smile. Not only do I think he smiles, I think he’s deeply pleased because this has been his plan all along. Take these verses, for instance:

Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. –Leviticus 19:32a

Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.  –1Kings 12:6

WE ALL HAVE MUCH TO LEARN

I recently released a free historical romance novella here on my website (www.jessiemattis.com) called LOVE ON A WHIM. The idea for the plot was sparked by a one-paragraph blurb I read about one woman’s experience during World War II. Her story of meeting and exchanging addresses with a Europe-bound soldier passing through Ohio when his train made a quick stop was enough to ignite an entire story in my mind. This was a starting point I could never have thought of myself, as I’d never even heard of the canteens that were set up at train stations to serve soldiers passing through at the time. I’m so thankful I had a glimpse into that woman’s personal story from the 1940s.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we all have a lot to learn, and our elders are a great starting point. God’s design of families and different generations is a beautiful gift in so many ways. Let’s use his gift well.

Do you enjoy chatting and gleaning wisdom from older people in your life? Tell me more in the comments – I love these types of stories! And if you haven’t already subscribed, I’d love to have you join my monthly newsletter list. You’ll get my free LOVE ON A WHIM ebook as well as monthly inspiration and humor delivered right to your inbox. Thanks for reading, and have a great week!  

Good News for Those Longing to be Known

I rarely spoke during class in high school. If I wasn’t talking to one of my very few close friends, my nose was buried in a book. Why? Not because I didn’t like anyone else, as everyone probably assumed. But because I was extremely shy and far more insecure than I would like to admit. It took me a long time to get to know someone well enough to be myself around them.

So there I would sit. Alone with my nose in a book in a noisy classroom full of students. Longing to be known so that I could feel comfortable enough to participate in the jokes and conversations around me. Longing for someone to dig deep enough to get to know the real me.

Christmas is around the corner, and for many it’s been a hard year. An isolating year, perhaps. Maybe your friend or family member is sick or passed away and you’re struggling just to go through the motions of life. Maybe you feel like you have no one to be real with because the people in your life (and you, perhaps) are on edge. Maybe life is going great, but you’re so busy doing all the December things that conversation with others never goes deeper than surface level. You don’t feel seen. You don’t feel known.

It’s been a challenging year, and part of keeping a healthy frame of mind means being in relationship with others. We were designed for relationship, and as wonderful as it is to have great friends and family, even they can’t fulfill our deepest longing to be known.

Only Jesus can do that. And boy, am I thankful. Having been a Christian all my life and having leaned on Jesus more times than I can count, it makes me sad to think of people not having that security and encouragement in their lives. Being known and loved by God himself is a great privilege of the Christ-follower. When no one understands, he does. When we feel all alone, we’re not. When we’re most in need, he’s there. That’s good news if you ask me.

If you don’t yet have this – the Relationship of all Relationships – it’s easy to get there. Simply go to him. He’s hoping you will. Try praying something like this:

“Jesus, I want to be known by you. Life is hard and I need you with me. Forgive me for living apart from you for so long. I give you my heart and my life. Thank you for loving me, saving me, and being with me always. Amen.”

And if you still need convinced or reminded that God himself knows and loves you, this is the way Psalm 139:1-6 puts it:

“Oh Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.” 

In God’s presence, we don’t have to bury our nose in a book due to insecurity. We are already loved, accepted, and known by him. We’re free to openly share conversation, sorrows, fears, and even laughter and jokes with him.

This Christmas season, I challenge us all to practice drawing near to the only One who will ever truly know us. The One who says, in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” Let’s be deliberate to open ourselves up to the One who drew so near, he physically came down to earth from heaven to show us his sacrificial love in a radical way.

Have a blessed Christmas, and I would love to hear in the comments specific ways you like to focus on Jesus during the busy Christmas season. Christ-centered Christmas music is one of my favorite ways! (And if you enjoy cozy Christian fiction, hop on over to my Books/Extras page to find out more about my new Christmas book!)

“Almost Christmas Again”… Thy Will Be Done

Not my will but yours.

This refrain appears throughout the story Almost Christmas Again—the heart’s cry of a young lady trying to find love, yet finding nothing but closed doors. (Did I mention? Almost Christmas Again is the title of my contribution to a recently released book of six stories: Christmas From the Heart: A Collection of Christmas Romances.)

If the woman in the story had pried open one of life’s earlier doors (figuratively) due to her own stubbornness, she would have settled for less than God’s best and most likely found herself living in regret.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We are all prone to inept human nature trying to take control.

Only by actively choosing to lay aside our will can we accept the perfect will of the One who created us, loves us, and works all things for the good of His people.

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.

-Luke 22:42

What a profound example Jesus sets for us in this verse as he pours out his heart in agony to the Father before his crucifixion. One mark of true Christian maturity is recognizing that our will may not be in alignment with what is best, and then begging God for His will to be done instead of our own. Let’s all focus on embracing this week with a thy will be done mentality and watch how God moves in our lives!

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And for all of you looking for a cozy, romantic, festive read with an eternal perspective, I hope you’ll consider checking out the story Almost Christmas Again in the compilation book Christmas From the Heart: A Collection of Christmas Romances. I personally love that the six different stories aren’t full length; less of a commitment, yet still a fun escape during the busy holiday season! 😊

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! Also, let me know what your all-time favorite Christmas book (or movie!) is. I’ll go first – to be honest, I haven’t read a ton of Christmas novels, but the movie White Christmas will always be at the top of my list! Now it’s your turn! 🙂

God’s Ultimate Goal & the Point of This Crazy Life

Doing, doing, doing…

Being 2021, I’d venture to guess that I’m not the only one whose head sometimes spins with all there is to do and learn and understand. So many expectations and obligations. So many good things we want to do. A never-ending list of things to research, discuss, and understand.

Sometimes it’s enough to tempt me to pack up my family and move to an isolated, technology-free mountaintop (although I hear that comes with its own challenges 😉).

Although my mountaintop backup plan frequently sounds appealing, I won’t be packing up anytime soon. Why?

Because then I’d be missing the point.

And what is the point, you may ask?

As a Christian, the point of this crazy life is to love and be loved by God, and then let that love spill out onto others as we attempt to lead them toward Him.

Hard (though maybe not impossible) to do from a mountaintop.

When I get too busy, I have to slow down and remind myself of these truths. If the things I’m busying my life and mind with aren’t furthering these main points, I need to reevaluate and prune some things off my to-do list to make space for the best things.

It’s easy to get bogged down. It’s easy to feel like God is silent. Like God is small.

In those difficult times, we have to remember. Remember his promises. Remember how he’s shown up in the past. Talk to others and hear their God-stories for inspiration. Remember that he is still active, present, and guiding our steps. Remember how much he loves you. Why is it so easy to forget?

Even if you’re not busy physically, you may be mentally exhausted—this is often harder to bear. Believe it or not, our brains aren’t designed to carry the burdens of the world or make sense of it all. Thankfully, that’s God’s job. But sometimes the madness of the world on top of our busy lives and minds is overwhelming. Life is hard. Why doesn’t he just make it all stop?

Because his ultimate goal is to bring all into relationship with him so that none shall perish. Because our comfort here and now is not the main goal. Because earth is not our home. Too often, people don’t pay attention until hard things happen. Hard things mean the harvest is ripening.

2 Peter 3:9 says it like this, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Like it or not, my pastor pointed out in a recent sermon that since COVID hit, more people have heard the gospel than in multiple previous years combined. God is working all things for our eternal good, even when the process here and now feels like a mess.

God knows best.

When I stop trying to steer the boat and get in step with his purposes instead of charging ahead with my own, the main goal comes into focus. Not that my personal goals or intentions are not good, they’re just not always the best. And he knows best, even when it doesn’t feel like it. And heads up—sometimes our feelings are liars. That’s why we need to be grounded in truth beyond ourselves.

That’s why we need to keep the main goal in mind.

Earth, pain, suffering, and busy lives and minds are temporary.

God is eternal.

Let’s put our focus on loving God, loving others, and reflecting him to those around us. We can trust him to guide our steps and provide as we faithfully keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Do you ever struggle to keep the main goals in sight? What have you found that helps you keep this eternal perspective? I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts in the comments below! And if you could use a reminder of the Holy Spirit’s power and goodness in the form of fiction, I invite you to check out my novel, Power Up. It is designed for tweens and teens, but adults have seemed to really resonate with it too.

Simplify by Cutting Down on Visual Noise

Noise isn’t always audible.

My sister doesn’t decorate her walls. She has maybe a picture or two up; probably gifts she feels obligated to display. I make fun of her (in jest). I threaten to sneak in and decorate while she’s sleeping. A shelf here, a photo collage there…I could make her blank white walls something beautiful.

But she resists. And I’m finally beginning to understand why.

Our world is noisy.

Recently it clicked with me that the noisiest parts of life usually don’t make a sound.

– scrolling.

– ads.

– clutter.

– inbox.

– all those digital photos you’ve been meaning to do something with.

Not only are our ears flooded with stimuli all day long (people, tv, music, podcasts), our eyes are flooded too. I read once about a woman who removes all the labels from products she buys in order to cut down on visual noise and have fewer surroundings screaming for her attention. I laughed at the time, but now I understand.

And now I understand my sister. (Well, sort of. 😉)

While carefully chosen items on the wall are soothing and inspiring to me, they are simply visual noise to her. She has wisely chosen to curate her home to inspire calm and simplicity in an otherwise chaotic world.

Our faith can be much the same.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the details of Christianity and start running ourselves in circles, spiritually. When, really, we simply need to remember to:

“Be still and know that I am God.” –Psalm 46:10

In what ways can you be intentional about the noise in your life? What can you tweak in order to cut down on the bombardment, whether it’s audible, visual, or spiritual? Maybe it’s time to undecorate your walls and enjoy the simplicity of your surroundings—physically and spiritually.

Leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts, and feel free to add how I can pray for you today! And if you haven’t already, scroll on down (or over) to sign up for my monthly newsletter and receive a free Parent’s Prayer Guide because I appreciate you! God bless!