Category Archives: Life

5 Great Reasons to Read Christian Fiction

We all know someone out there who doesn’t like to read, doesn’t have time to read, or only reads non-fiction. Maybe that someone is you! I obviously have strong feelings about Christian fiction or I wouldn’t spend hours a day reading, studying, and writing it, so I thought I’d share with you five good reasons to pick up a Christian novel and give it a go:

  1. Stress relief. Anxiety, depression, and overall stress levels have risen dramatically over the past few years. According to WebMD, a 2009 study from the University of Sussex found that reading was able to reduce stress levels by 68%. That makes reading more effective at reducing stress than other restful activities like taking a walk or listening to music. (https://www.webmd.com/balance/health-benefits-of-reading-books).
  2. Get to know yourself and others better. How can that be when you’re reading about made-up people, you ask? In every Christian novel I’ve ever read, the characters are like true-to-life people, representative of you and me. Observing their interactions with God and life provides new layers of insight and understanding regarding real people, and has even been shown to increase empathy.
  3. Exercise your brain. Every part of the body needs exercise to stay healthy, and reading stimulates the brain, providing benefits like reducing the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. It also helps you develop better vocabulary and writing skills.
  4. A refreshing break. Like any form of entertainment, reading provides a temporary break from the pressures of real life. Most of us seek out entertainment in one form or another, and grabbing a Christian novel is a healthy, uplifting break, rather than a mind-numbing escape like other forms of entertainment can be.
  5. The Bible says people are glad when they read encouraging messages. *throat clearing* “The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message.” –Acts 15:31. Okay, maybe they were referencing a letter to the Gentiles and not fiction, but I stand by my claim. 😉

Are you convinced yet? Let me know below if anything in the list surprised you! And if you already love Christian fiction, let me know what your reasons/benefits are for reading it. Thanks so much for stopping by, and happy reading!

(And if you aren’t already subscribed to receive my monthly newsletter full of contests, humor, and updates, I’d love to have you join me! As a thank-you, you’ll receive my WW2 home front novelette, Love on a Whim, for free! You’ll find the sign-up on the side or bottom of this page.)

Snoozefest to Fascinating: 6 Reasons to Care About History

History used to be my least favorite subject. I’m talking all through grade school, high school, and college, I had zero interest in it. Zero.

As far as I was concerned, the whole subject was a giant snoozefest that I had to pass to get through school (much to my parents’ chagrin). Afterall, it was in the past. What difference did it make?

Imagine my family’s surprise when, five years ago, I decided to start writing historical fiction. Suddenly, they saw me become obsessed with the Revolutionary War (thank you, Hamilton!), World War 2, and Vietnam. (Shout out to my supportive husband who listens to me excitedly spout all my newfound knowledge as I learn!)

I now laugh, and feel a little bad for, my former history-hating self.

If you or the kids in your world fall asleep whenever history comes up, I encourage you to consider the following points, and maybe you’ll learn to love history too:

  1. An understanding of history is empowering. Remember — there’s nothing new under the sun, and since history is cyclical, studying how and why things occurred in the past gives us insight on how to move forward. This broad depth of understanding is empowering!
  2. It’s okay to not know everything. There is a LOT of history to learn, and while I want to be sure to understand certain main events, there’s no way I’ll ever know it all — and that’s okay! So dive into whatever you deem relevant or interesting. There’s no scoresheet. (Thank goodness!)
  3. Videos can help. Here me when I say I love to read. I really do. But for some reason, it’s difficult for me to digest history books and remember anything I read. I engage and retain better through video form—at least when it’s a substantial chunk of information. So hit up YouTube or the library or wherever you can find trustworthy videos, pop some popcorn, and settle in!
  4. Look for parallels in modern society. It’s always fun to connect the dots of what you’ve learned to something relevant today. Like I mentioned in point number one, history is cyclical, so it shouldn’t take too long to find a comparison!
  5. Know that those with an understanding of history are forward-thinkers. Teaching kids the importance of history (not just teaching them history, but the importance of it) means raising empowered, forward-thinking kids. We can only move forward in a healthy direction if we’re able to first look back to understand where we’ve been and why. Remembering is the only way to avoid the same mistakes that were made in the past.
  6. Knowledge of history helps set the stage as you read historical fiction! 🙂 It’s a lot easier to get into the flow of your book if you’re already somewhat familiar with the context and events.

You may not have the same reasons I do for diving into history (historical fiction writing and an interest in family history), but I’m sure you have reasons of your own. Every person on the planet can benefit from an understanding of history in some way, shape, or form.

Now what can you do this week to learn something new? Try doing an internet search for something you’ve always heard of but never quite understood. Maybe something like “Stonehenge” or “the War of 1812.” Anything that comes to mind. And then dive in—for two hours or two minutes; it’s up to you.

And if you don’t care to read fifteen-page articles, let me share with you my little shortcut. Try searching like this, for example: “the war of 1812 for kids.” Adding for kids to the end of your search term will lead you to more abridged sources, but still give you the meat of the issues. You’re welcome. 😉

And what does the Bible have to say? “Remember the days of old, consider the years long past; ask your father, and he will inform you; your elders, and they will tell you.” –Deuteronomy 32:7

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, as well as what topic you plan to dive into soon!

If you’re new here – welcome, and thanks for reading! I’d love for you to stick around by signing up for my monthly newsletter, which includes updates, a short video to make you laugh, and my latest blog post. And as a thank-you, you’ll get my WW2 homefront romance novella, Love on a Whim, delivered right to your email!

The Price of Freedom…for Our Land and Our Souls

How was your Memorial Day? Did you enjoy a three-day weekend or a get-together of some sort? Maybe you wore your special patriotic shirt for the day or made your famous strawberry pie to kick off the summer. (Sounds like a good day to me!)

Along with all these fun things, I hope you were also able to slow down. To remember. To honor those who gave all so we could live our lives in freedom.

Memorial Day is personal to my family. We gather almost every year to attend the local service at the cemetery. Each year, my grandpa, who served in the Navy in World War Two and never slows down to this day, stands up front in uniform and participates in the traditional three-volley salute before Taps is played, echoing its haunting, beautiful tune across every ear and every grave.

Now that my kids are 15, 13, and 11, they don’t ask about the tears in my eyes anymore. They don’t have to. It’s expected. And it’s understood. They’ve heard my reasons before…and before that…and before that.

They understand that my dad’s oldest brother, David, was shot and killed serving with the Marines in Vietnam. They understand that he decided it was his duty to fight for freedom and that he died with honor. (Yes, this was a messy war, but its intent was worthy, and the soldiers who served will always have my honor and respect.)

My kids understand that my grandpa joined up during WW2 to fight for freedom. To stop the bad guys. He made it home alive, but his sacrifices were great overall—especially the sacrifice of his oldest son (David) as he died fighting against communism in South Vietnam.

They know my other grandpa fought in Korea, having to leave his new wife behind, pregnant with their first child. He made it home alive, but missed the birth and all the “firsts” that came with raising their first baby because he was off fighting hard for other people’s freedoms.

My kids understand that one of their other dear great uncles fought hard in Vietnam, though he did make it home in one piece. They know his sacrifices include living through painful experiences there as he fought for freedom.

They know that war is monstrous, but freedom is a cause worth fighting for. They know that soldiers are brave and worthy of gratitude and respect.

My kids know that when my eyes fill with tears, as they do every single Memorial Day without fail, it’s because my heart is too full of gratitude, appreciation, and memories to keep it inside. America truly is the land of the free and the home of the brave, and only by remembering and teaching upcoming generations these truths will it remain so.

How do the children in your life view Memorial Day? Do they slow down in between hotdogs and popsicles to pay respect to our nation’s fallen heroes? If not, it’s never too late to remind them of how we gained the freedom that enables us to enjoy a day off.

One last thing. During the annual Memorial Day service, the speaker often reminds us that freedom is paid in blood, and only by honoring the fallen can we truly appreciate all God has blessed us with here in America…

Sound familiar…? Freedom paid in blood…? Of course I’m beyond grateful for my American freedoms, but how much more grateful I am for the freedom that was bought for each and every one of us across the globe with Jesus’ blood on the cross. Spiritual freedom was paid for once and for all by Jesus and can never be taken away. Now that’s something to really remember and honor.

Who were you remembering this past Memorial Day? Let me know in the comments; I’d be honored to share these memories with you!

And if you aren’t already receiving these posts from me monthly, I’d love for you to join me by signing up at the bottom (or side) of this page. You’ll receive my historical romance ebook, Love on a Whim, as a special thank-you gift!

Chasing a Moving Target? Here are 5 Steps to Help.

Ever feel like you’re chasing a moving target? You accomplish one task only to have three more fill its place. Your knee heals just before your back goes out. You do what you’re told is required to accomplish X, Y, or Z, only to find the requirements have changed just when you think you’re done. You wipe the counter only to find a scattering of crumbs ten minutes later. You make progress in your marriage only to have a new issue arise. How do we keep moving forward when the end goal never quite seems to be within reach?

If we’re not intentional, burnout and discouragement (or even depression) will sneak up on us for sure. Here are five ways to keep moving forward when it seems there’s no end in sight.

  1. Remember your “why.” Why is it important to work toward this goal in the first place? What good will come if you keep moving forward?
  2. Visualize success. How will it feel to succeed? How will life change for the better? Focus on the good that will come from pushing through and achieving your goal. (And click here to check out my post on how crucial it is to hold on to HOPE.)
  3. Visualize failure. What will happen if you give up? How will life change for the worse? Remember why you don’t want to let this happen. (Not sure I’ve ever seen this in a list of how to succeed, and I don’t want you to linger in this place in an unhealthy way, but I do think there’s merit here.)
  4. Pray. Draw near to the one who made you and ask for direction. Maybe God wants to guide you down a different path or to a new resource to help in your journey, or maybe he simply wants to give you a hug and an extra boost of strength and encouragement for the path ahead. Give him the wheel.
  5. Remember your eternal reward. Life is not always within our control, as I’m sure we’re all too aware. Keep your eye on Jesus to guide you into what he has for you here on earth, while also remembering that all will be made right and just in Heaven—and our time on earth is truly just a blink of an eye compared to eternity.

Sometimes the path ahead is full of life and possibilities, but sometimes it feels just plain confusing and difficult. Allow God’s strength and grace to fill in the gaps as you put one foot in front of the other. What are you pushing for these days? Let me know in the comments—I’d love to partner with you by lifting you up in prayer!

I write fiction with relatable characters who depend on God’s strength to overcome real life struggles. If you’re interested in monthly Christian encouragement and a free historical romance novella, sign up for my newsletter and get Love on a Whim delivered to your email instantly!

7 Promises of Ridiculous Hope

Successful people are hopeful people. Over the past 30 years, research has shown that hope, not skill mastery or optimism or grit, is the most important determinant of success (according to Pattison Professional Counseling and Meditation Center). Does this fact leave you cheering or sighing?

I’d venture to guess that many of us would call ourselves generally hopeful people. If this doesn’t describe you, I believe that hope is both a gift from God and a skill that can be developed, so you’re not out of luck – stick with me!

In the 1946 book Man’s Search for Meaning, Holocaust Survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl explains (in a much more grandiose way) that humans always need something to look forward to. This statement may sound basic, but it’s actually incredibly deep.

Frankl tells of being imprisoned in a concentration camp and noting that death rates of prisoners always increased the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

Why?

He concluded these excess deaths were because these prisoners had held on to illogical, ridiculous hope that they would spend Christmas with their families. When Christmas Day came and went with no sign of their loved ones, so did their will to go on. Their ridiculous hope had a direct impact on their frail physical well-being; it literally kept them alive.

Sometimes we don’t realize the hope we’re holding onto is ridiculous until later, and this is a good thing! People living in a state of hope are more likely to achieve their goals and live with a sense of purpose.

For instance, others might chuckle if I say I believe the novel I’m writing could one day change the world, but that ridiculous hope is precisely what it takes to accomplish the difficult task of completing the novel. Anything less than ridiculous hope would result in an unfinished manuscript.

After I complete my manuscript, I may then be able to look at it more objectively and see that it might not change the entire world, but it still might change a few lives – lives that wouldn’t have been changed without my holding onto such hope. Hope gives us drive toward our goals and enables us to push through difficulties. Ridiculous hope keeps us pressing on long after others have given up on our vision.

Hope (or the lack thereof) also clearly affects our physical health, as noted above. Not only does Frankl give several examples of this in his eye-opening book, but in a recent chat with a medical professional friend, I was told that the patients who beat cancer nearly always have a hopeful attitude. He said the physical difference between hopeful versus hopeless patients is stark and obvious.

Hope is not the same as optimism, although they are certainly related. While optimists believe good things likely await in their futures, hope-filled people are driven to make those good things happen rather than sitting passively by.

God has a lot to say about hope, too. Here are seven of God’s many promises about hope:

  1. We have hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
  2. Jesus Christ is our living hope. (1 Peter 1:3)
  3. Hope anchors the soul. (Hebrews 6:19)
  4. Hope in the Lord allows us to be strong and take heart. (Psalm 31:24)
  5. Our hearts are sick without hope. (Proverbs 13:12)
  6. The eyes of the Lord are on those who hope in him. (Psalm 33:18)
  7. Hope makes us bold. (2 Corinthians 3:12)

If we take these seven truths about hope and use them to chase after our God-given goals, I’ll be surprised if we don’t start seeing significant change in our lives. There’s no magic formula (after all, who can know the ways of God?), but ridiculous hope is certainly a life-attitude that will deliver results, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.

If you want to read more about the psychological benefits of hope, I found this article helpful: Want More Success in Your Life? Have Hope.

And have a peek at my middle grade novel, Power Up, if you want to share with the children in your life about the ways the Holy Spirit can bring them hope. (Grown-ups have found hope through it too!)