Category Archives: Life

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.

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.

Not the pic I’m referring to, but cute nonetheless. 🙂

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 on the journey 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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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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