Category Archives: Life

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!)

When I Say, “Thank You for Your Service”…

Dear Veteran,

How many times have you heard the familiar words, Thank you for your service? Hopefully many times. But do you ever wonder what the person speaking those familiar words truly means?

So that there’s no question, I want to tell you what I mean when I say Thank you for your service

Thank you for sacrificing your life for ours. Maybe your sacrifice wasn’t to the death, but because of your experiences, your life will never be the same. And on the flip side, neither will mine. That is a powerful sacrifice.

Thank you for believing that freedom is urgent. That freedom is a cause worth the sacrifice. Thank you for believing in the cause of freedom from the depths of your soul, to the point that you were/are willing to stop at no means to provide it.

Thank you for the bravery just to put one foot in front of the other at times when you feared for your life. Thank you that you kept going when everything within you screamed to give up. Thank you for the sleepless nights, riddled with explosions … artillery fire … worry … nightmares.

Thank you for not giving up.

Thank you for never giving up even though your precious family missed you with all of their hearts, and you, them. For not giving up when things looked hopeless. When your buddy didn’t make it back. When you secretly disagreed with your commander’s orders.

Thank you for moving forward and living life, in light of all you’ve seen and done. May the Lord free your soul of the burdens you carry...of the things you’ve done that you don’t want to talk about. Of the things you’ve seen that no one should see. Of the things you’ve learned that you wish you never had to know. May the Lord bless you in your mental and physical sacrifice.

Thank you for making hard decisions. Decisions that still leave you wondering. Thank you for making tough calls. For protecting others above yourself. Thank you for carrying the pressures you carry that no other human can fully understand.

Thank you for bearing the burden of freedom on behalf of all Americans. Whether or not you saw combat, you lived on the edge of your seat never knowing what would be required of you next, but you were willing. You did what you had to do.

And you are seen.

You are loved.

You are worthy.

When I say, Thank you for your service, this is what I really mean: You are an American hero, loved by God and appreciated by those around you. Yes, even when we don’t speak up because we just can’t find the right words. Thank you.

Veteran’s Day is close to my heart; I hope it is to yours, too. Use the comments below to give a shout-out to a veteran in your life! I’ll go first. While there are several in my life I greatly appreciate, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to my WW2 Navy veteran grandpa, David J., and my Vietnam War Army veteran uncle, John H. You have both made the world a better place.

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!

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.