Category Archives: Life

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!

And if you haven’t already claimed yours, I’d love to send you a Seven Day Prayer Guide for Parents, which is FREE just for signing up to receive new posts and updates (which usually occur 1-2x/month). Just enter your email in the sign-up box (either to the side or to the bottom of the page)!

Listening to Our Kids is Important -How to Listen Well

I am SO excited to share today’s super relevant words of wisdom by middle grade author Meghan E. White. Meghan is a Christ-follower, homeschooling mom, and a sweet friend. In her novel, Joey Flynn’s Extraordinary Tale, an eleven-year-old boy moves to a new state and encounters all sorts of exciting and unexpected adventures as he learns to trust God. My son absolutely loved this book (sequel, Meghan??), and I’m sure your kids will too. Show her some love by checking it out here and following here online (links at the end). Okay, now on to Meghan’s encouragement for Christian parents, or really anyone with kids in their lives…

Don’t touch that!

Keep your hands to yourself.

Clean your room.

Do your homework

Do your chores.

Brush your teeth.

Wake up.

Go to bed.

Time to go.

Say you’re sorry.

Say thank you.

Do this.

Do that.

Don’t do this.

Don’t do that.

From the time our children are born until they leave our homes, we give them so many directions, orders, and instructions. It’s all part of the parenting gig. These tiny humans are our responsibility. We want functioning, contributing members of society. There’s a lot of pressure on moms and dads.

Christian parents want our children to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. So we take them to church, and teach them the word, and how to pray, and how to walk out following Jesus. More pressure. Thankfully we are not doing any of this alone. Christians have the Holy Spirit living inside, guiding us, and reminding us of all truth.

In the middle of all the teaching, guiding, and disciplining, it’s imperative to listen to our kids. We are so busy filling them up, which is essential, that we can lose sight of who they are. Our children are individuals. Made in the image of God. They may physically look like us, but they are God’s children first and foremost. It’s really hard to keep that in check.

When my boys were babies I felt so protective of them. God designed that instinct in parents. That’s a good thing. The negative side of that protective feeling is thinking our kids are ours alone. Our children belong to God, and we need to daily hand them back over to Him. I know, I know, not easy to do. When we hand our precious babies and big kids back over to God it frees us up. The load gets lighter. God loves our children more than we do.

Now that we’ve handed our kids over to God, we can be better listeners. Every single person wants to be heard. Our kids are no exception.

Listening to our kids is important.

  • It builds their confidence.

This world would love nothing more than to take our kids, chew them up, and spit them out. Our children’s confidence comes from who they are in Christ. The more they know that what they say matters, the more confident they will be to speak up against evil.

  • It builds our relationship with them.

 Our kids need to know that we are a safe place for them. That we love them no matter what they say or do. If we refuse to listen, or shut them out, they will not open up to us.

  • It builds their relationship with God.

Kids learn how to relate to God as they learn how to relate to us. If they know they can safely come to us with absolutely anything, they will be more likely to come to the perfect Father, God, with anything as well.

How to Listen to our kids.

  • Create a relaxed environment.

Hang out with your kids. If they are little, get on the floor and play with them. If they are teenagers, listen along to the music they like. You have to spend time in their world with the things they enjoy, even if you don’t like the same things.

  • Ask lots of questions.

This is your child’s chance to tell you some things, instead of you telling them. Let them be the expert on whatever the subject is, favorite toy, band, sport, etc. Ask them about what they are really excited about. Listen.

  • Remain calm if they say something shocking.

If you want your kids to feel safe talking to you then you can’t freak out on whatever they tell you. Listen first. If it’s something really controversial like from a teenager, just stay calm before you respond. Be honest. Pray before you speak.

We can’t force our kids to share with us. But we can create a home and family environment where they feel safe sharing.

Father God is safe. He lets us come freely to Him with anything, and everything. We need to show that same unconditional love to our children.

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

James 1:19, NIV

Love you all,

Meghan

Thank you for reading my post!

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Parents, Here’s Why I Admire You.

            I don’t know about you, but I’m greatly inspired by parents at every stage of the parenting life. I have three children of my own (8, 10, and 12), and I learn more every year about the special strength it takes to parent well. Read on to hear just how I admire you, parents!

First of all, to the parents by heart but not by children. You who long for a child to call your own. You shower young relatives with love, and your affection is evident to every young life that intersects with yours. God’s purposes for you are higher than high. Your heart does not go unnoticed. Though I can’t answer why things are as they are, I can assure you that you’re admired for your strength and dignity. Your love and your grit. Though it may feel hidden right now, you are blessed in profound ways that will one day be made clear.

            And dear parents with young ones. You are sleep deprived, learning to sacrifice your own interests, schedule, and desires on behalf of another being. You feel as if you are putting yourself on hold as you navigate all the firsts and tears, yet really you’re growing in leaps and bounds in ways you can’t yet see. You reside in an entirely new world. A world of endless questions and snuggles. Scary, exhausting, wonderfully rewarding, and so full of love. I applaud your determination.

            Parents of grade-schoolers. Your children are transitioning from needing physical protection and attention to needing emotional and intellectual attention. This transition is hard. You appreciate the extra hours of sleep, but hit the pillow hard after answering philosophical bedtime questions. Thanks to world events, you may suddenly have more time in close proximity with your children than you’ve ever had. Maybe you love it. Maybe it’s so hard you wonder if you’re strong enough to keep your cool. But you press on without giving up because you know these are crucial moments in your child’s life. To you I say, well done. You are strong enough. Thank you for loving your children well.

            Parents with teens. For you I have much respect. I’ve yet to raise teens, but I know well and good these are independence-forming years. Everything you tell them is wrong and experience is now their favorite teacher. If only they knew how right you truly are. Someday they will. So today you love them, you do your best, and you shed some tears. You show them grace and pray they honor you with the same. You’ll gradually release your child into the world of cars, friends, and the opposite sex. This might be the stage that frightens me most of all. And yet there’s hope and joy in the midst of new, difficult things. There’s laughter and connection on a new level. Teens need their parents no less than toddlers. Don’t let them pull away too completely. Not just yet. They don’t realize how much they need you. You, parents of teens, are wonders of the power of the human spirit. Keep on doing your best, reminding yourself there’s grace for the times when you’re less than your best, and forgiveness must flow from all sides. And don’t forget to find the joy. Your consistent love in an upside-down world is stabling to your teen.

            Dear parents of grown children. I used to think once kids left the house, life would resume similarly to pre-children days. Oh how laughable I ever dared form that thought. Your heart now lives outside your home; possibly in several states or even countries. Grandchildren come, and the same holds true. The hopes, the worries, the prayers…they only compound. While your house may be neat and quiet, your heart and mind are full to bursting. You may long for the mess and the noise of years past. You’re well aware life could never return to any semblance of pre-child days. You are forever changed, forever balancing new versions of relationships once so straightforward. Keep running the race; your children still need you in wonderful new ways, and old ways alike. Prayers for deep breaths and joy for you.

            A prayer for all parents:

            Lord, thank you for each parent’s heart. You know their struggles and you know their joys. Meet them in the middle of both. Encourage where there’s doubt. Give peace where there’s fear. Give us grace as we seek to do right by the children in our lives. Make us bold and strong, showing us where our children need us to step in and where they need us to step back. Let us never forget that our precious children belong to you. You are their good, good Father. You’ve gifted us with an opportunity to grow in ways we could have never imagined, learning new depths of love, and new depths of leaning on you and your promises. Hold us close as we endeavor to point our children to you. Lighten hearts and let the laughter flow as we seek to do our best and enjoy the ride. We love and praise you, Jesus. Amen.

I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a comment below to let me know what’s on your mind!

One last thing. My novel, Power Up, released last year. Although intended to inspire tweens to embrace the adventure of partnering with the Holy Spirit, over the past year I’ve realized it’s been just as inspiring to adults as the younger crowd. I’ve concluded that many adults (myself included) process simpler messages better than messages that get weighed down with theological jargon and drawn-out sentences. It’s simply more accessible. I encourage you or anyone age 8+ to check out Christian Indie Award-winning Power Up if you’re feeling like your Christian walk has become “hum-drum.” There’s another exciting level that awaits you. Embrace it and refresh your spirit as you see the world through new eyes! (Kindle version only $3.99.)

Be Encouraged: Diamonds from Pressure

Have you ever received a note of encouragement from a friend or relative? Something that really speaks to you and gives you the strength to keep going for another week, day, or even hour? It can be a game-changer, can’t it? Sometimes all we need is to be seen. To be reminded that our plight matters. That our struggles aren’t in vain.

While my encouragement may not be as effective as receiving it from someone who knows the individual ins and outs of your heart, here is my best attempt to encourage you when life feels overwhelming…

Dear Friend,

I know things are hard right now and it stinks that you have to go through it. But don’t lose your hope. What the enemy means for evil, God promises to use for good (Romans 8:28). Whether you’re dealing with fear, the death of a loved one, scrambling to figure out your child’s schooling, having relationship difficulties, struggling with work, family, or the lack thereof, God wants to cover your soul with peace and assurance. He wants to provide you with that deep soul-rest you’ve been craving that you just can’t seem to attain through your own efforts (Matthew 11:28).

You know how you feel like the demands on your time and energy will never end, and you’re left emotionally wrung out and frustrated? I understand; life is heavy sometimes. But maybe it’s time to reevaluate. Say no to extras. Prioritize. And yes, kids’ activities like soccer and cross-country count as extras.

Minimize. Breathe. Remember these three words: You Are Enough. And no, I didn’t say you are doing enough. Regardless of what you’re doing, you’re already enough because you’re you; not because you baked two hundred cupcakes for the bake sale or spent all your free hours volunteering.

God made you because he delights in you. Soak in that for a second.

The God of the universe delights in you. Not for what you can do for him, but because of who he made you to be.

Be.

There’s beauty in that tiny, simple word. Freedom, even.

Be. Just be.

Parents, remove the pressure you’re carrying. Tear it off like a sweater on an August day in Indiana. You don’t need it. What you (we) need instead is an active partnership with the God who made you and your child from scratch. Walk alongside him minute by minute, seek his wisdom and provide for your children, but take off the pressure. Throw the guilt away in the same manner—like a long-john shirt under your sweater on an August day in Indiana. It’s unnecessary; hindering, even. You don’t want the guilt, you don’t need the guilt. Instead, move forward. Pray.

Yes, there will be things you miss and forget. There will be gaps. You’re not perfect. No human is besides Jesus himself. Stop expecting so much from yourself. You know how you extend grace to others so often? Do that for yourself.

Be thankful. Even in seasons of difficulty we all have things to be thankful for, whether big or small. Whether it’s cozy socks, five minutes to yourself, coffee, clean water, or your family, start listing things you’re thankful for out loud.

Thankfulness begets thankfulness.

You are only one person and you are enough, whether other people recognize it or not. This is between you and God. You and that inner voice.

Turn on some inspiring music, youtube something to laugh about (Brian Regan is a great, clean comic if you need somewhere to start), whisper a prayer of thanks, and take a deep breath.

You’re doing great.

And when you’re discouraged, remember this: a diamond is formed only through intense amounts of pressure.

Your Friend,

Jessie 😊

PS — Here are a few links to some of my favorite means of encouragement/rest. Brian Regan, Live From Radio City Music Hall (he never fails to make my entire family laugh), Lauren Daigle, How Can It Be (my go-to worship album for encouragement), Power Up (a novel to bring spiritual encouragement to ages 8+). Leave me a comment to let me know your favorite sources of encouragement — I’d love to hear from you and check out some new ideas! And while you’re at it, go ahead and drop your email in the subscription box–you’ll automatically receive a printable of my top 10 favorite quotes for encouragement, and I’d be honored to send you new blog posts and encouragement straight to your inbox!