Posted in Growing in the Lord, the importance series

the importance of recognizing your influence

While foreign missions are an exciting and valuable way to fulfill The Great Commission, we don’t have to go far to make an impact. All that most of us have to do to be in the mission field is to step outside our front door.

We as Believers are all missionaries when we spread the Gospel, whether by actions, words, deeds, or a combination of all three. It has been said that we could be the only Jesus that some people see.

Thought-provoking. Humbling. And something that should spur us on with a vigor to share the Good News about our Savior.

So how are we using our influence?

And yes, we all have influence.

If you are a parent, grandparent, employer, employee, pastor, author, speaker, grocery shopper, neighbor, singer, actor, business owner, medical professional, patient, teacher, student, blogger, or a social media user, you have a platform and a sphere of influence.

Everyone can make a difference for the Lord. We just have to be mindful of our actions, words, and deeds. Here are a few examples:

The parent. Raising children is one of the most important responsibilities we parents will be entrusted with. And the most important thing about raising them? Teaching them about the Lord and praying that they will surrender their lives to Christ. Each day, we set examples for them. Do they see us reading the Bible? Making church a priority? Praying often?  Helping those in need? Do we read the Bible to them on a regular basis, or if they are older, spend time reading and studying the Bible with them?

The grandparent. Grandparents, you truly have no idea the impact you make on your grandchildren. Even if they don’t live nearby, you can still exhibit a heart for God. Sharing your testimony, reminding them of His love for them, texting Bible verses, and being there to talk through the tough times are just a few ways to encourage your grandchild in the Lord.

The employer. As an employer, you can show the love of Christ by being an honorable boss who makes your employees a priority.

The employee. Bosses know when they have an employee who stands out from the rest. Being reliable, punctual, dependable, loyal, and with a good work ethic can go a long way. Yes, a nonbeliever can have those traits as well, but as Christians, we should exemplify them. Do you stand out from the other employees? Are you the one who doesn’t resort to swear words or hateful rhetoric? Who takes pride in your duties, no matter what they are?

The pastor. Pastors, a majority of the people in your congregation on Sunday only hear about Jesus on that day during your sermon. Are you using that time wisely, to carefully explore the Bible in a way that pleases God? Or are you using those few precious moments for other less important matters or to further your own agenda?

The author/writer. Authors and writers, you have an invaluable platform. The written word reaches hearts and minds in a way that the spoken word can’t often do. You don’t only have to write Christian novels to have an effect on your readers. Your bio and the things that matter to you are also impactful.

The medical professional. Healthcare professionals who are Christians approach things from a different perspective. You have the awesome opportunity to pray for (and with if they are agreeable) your patients, to offer reassurance, and your calming presence can do wonders for someone undergoing a medical procedure or one who is scared about a painful diagnosis.

The patient. On the flipside of the medical professional is the patient. My mom has multiple health issues and is confined to a wheelchair. The chronic pain she experiences on a constant basis is often unmanageable. Yet, I have never seen anyone so strong in her faith, and that faith doesn’t stop when she visits the doctor. She has offered to pray for medical professionals (not one has turned her down), has asked them to join her in prayer when she’s about to undergo an excruciating procedure, and has praised the Lord for His goodness in their presence. Will my mom ever be able to do the things she once was able to do before an accident changed her life forever? No. But God is using her to make a mighty difference.

The blogger/social media user. Bloggers and social media users, we have a huge platform for the Lord! Where else can we share the love of Christ to people in multiple nations around the world? While not every post or update needs to be a Bible verse, (I blog on many other items including writing, homeschooling, humor, and movie reviews) our words can encourage someone having a difficult day or shine Christ’s light.

Realize your influence. Whether by visiting with the grocery store clerk and inviting her to church or as an employer treating your employees differently than the worldly employer, you can be the Jesus people see.

No, we won’t do this perfectly. Of this I can personally assure you. But with the Lord’s help, we can seek to share the love of Jesus and the life-giving Gospel no matter what our occupation or role in life.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

the importance of Christmas

The importance of respectful disagreement

Book News & Giveaways

Kids write the funniest things!

For such a time as this: finding stability in an unstable world

28 verses for uncertain times

how to survive in an out-of-control world

How to Start a Sisters in Christ Group

Posted in devotionals, Growing in the Lord

11 ways we become our culture

I recently had a conversation with a young relative who works in an office where profanity, nasty jokes, and bizarre religions abound. Every day as she sits behind her desk and diligently does her work, she struggles with the atmosphere. While she enjoys her job and her boss is easy to work for, the days can wear on her. This young person asked for prayer that she would not become like her culture as it can be tempting at times to just give in and adhere to it. She also asked for prayer that she would be a “light” in an increasingly dark world where she is the only Believer in her office.

My relative’s dilemma is not unique. Most of us work in an atmosphere that is contrary, or even hostile at times, to our Christian faith. It’s not a stretch to one day wake up and realize we’ve become just like the ones we spend most of our time with.

We become like our culture when:

There is no difference between us and the world. It’s unfortunately becoming more difficult to differentiate between Christians and those who are not Christians. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

We “sell out” for the things that matter to the world, but not to God. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Matthew 16:26

We focus on the temporary rather than the eternal. It can be easy to center our attention on things that matter in the “here and now”. It can be tempting to idolize people, fancy cars, money, and things, rather than the One deserving of our worship.

We don’t guard our eyes and hearts against things that could damage our testimony. Social media and the internet, while amazing in so many ways, have opened up a new door to temptation. We must be diligent in praying God would help us to guard our eyes and hearts.

We are afraid to share the Truth of salvation and that it can only be found in Jesus.

We aren’t discerning about who we align ourselves with and/or who we are influenced by. Yes, in order to reach a dying world, we must interact with, be kind to, and befriend those outside of our Christian faith. We are not to live in a bubble. However, when we are closest to those whose behavior is in direct opposition to the Word of God, we may soon find it is their behavior that impacts us, rather than the other way around (1 Corinthians 15:33). In addition, when we don’t practice discernment in the pastors, podcasts, music we listen to, movies we watch, and books we read, we can find ourselves influenced by false theology.

We aren’t mindful of what we share on social media. Does it glorify God? Will what we share cause someone to stumble?

We see the Bible as some in the world see it: an antiquated old book with vintage ideas rather than the Holy Word of God.

We don’t use our sphere of influence for Him. Are we using every opportunity available to us?

When we focus on hopelessness rather than the hope that is found in Him. As Believers, no matter how bad things get in the world around us (and there are some horrific and awful things taking place in our world right now) we have the hope of eternal life. We know it ends well. As such, we can’t live like someone with no hope.

We allow bad habits to manifest into permanency rather than pray for God’s assistance in overcoming them. Bad habits are a challenge and without the Lord’s help and the guidance of fellow Believers, they can be difficult, if not impossible to overcome.

In general, we become our culture when we conform to that culture.

How do we combat becoming like our culture?

Stay steadfast in prayer.

Surround ourselves with Bible-based Believers.

Pray continually for God’s protection (Ephesians 6:10-18) and pray for the protection of fellow Believers.

Keep our focus on Jesus.

Spend time in His Word each day.

Be in this world, but not of it. We reside here, but we needn’t subscribe to the culture’s morals and concepts.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

seeing the potential

the power of prayer: surviving Papa’s driving

what to do when it’s difficult to love others

is Forgotten Memories the book for you?

conquering the joy zappers of life

how to start a sisters in Christ group

subscribe to my newsletter

Posted in devotionals, Growing in the Lord, the importance series

the importance of new beginnings

new beginnings

At the beginning of every New Year, many make resolutions that they aim to keep throughout the year. Decisions to make them healthier, fitter, more organized, etc.

In the classic 80s song New Attitude, Patti LaBelle sings of starting a new beginning with a new attitude “from [her] head to [her] shoes.” Every time I hear that song, it brings to mind a crabby lady in need of a personality overhaul.

But what about a new beginning in Christ?

At any time of the year?

Paul in the Bible received a new beginning – a “start over”, if you will. A harsh man who made it his life’s goal to persecute Christians, Paul was the furthest thing from one who could be used effectively by God. Wasn’t he?

On the contrary. God used Paul in a mighty way. After Paul’s conversion, he was one of the greatest apostles who ever lived. He endured beatings and spent much time in prison for the sake of the Gospel.

Could you be used for God’s Kingdom?

Probably not if you have a “checkered” past, right? If you’ve done things you’re not proud of, sinned in ways you don’t care to admit, you certainly can’t be used. And definitely, God isn’t going to forgive you for all of those things you did. After all, we’re not talking “minor” sins here.

Again, on the contrary.

God can and will use you, no matter what you have done or who you have been.

We serve a  God who is One of second chances, and third chances, and fourth chances. Jesus took all of our sins, past and present, upon Himself when He went to the Cross. Your new beginning means your dry erase board is wiped clean from all of the junk that once cluttered it.

Ezekiel 36 26 a.png

So how can you have a new beginning?

Commit your life to Him. If you have not made Jesus the Lord and Savior of your life, that is the first step.

After you have made a decision for Christ, you are forgiven. You have a new beginning. You also have eternal life and will spend eternity with Him. Nothing can ever take you from His hand (John 10:28). But it doesn’t stop there. Find a Bible-based church where the pastor digs into the Word and preaches it each week. Find a mature Christian to mentor you in your walk.

Spend time in the Bible. The Old Testament is wonderful, and I would highly recommend reading it, but as a new believer, the best place to start is in the New Testament in the Book of John.

Turn your eyes toward Him. Listen and watch things that aren’t contrary to your new faith.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).

This year, spend time in prayer to dedicate your life to a new beginning for Christ. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “the old is gone, the new is here.” And that is definitely something to celebrate!

2 Corinthians 5 17 real


Before you go, check out these other posts:

the importance of gratitude

book news and giveaways

the importance of influence

the importance of avoiding the gossip trap

11 verses about God’s unfailing love

Movie Monday: Where Love Found Me

Posted in book giveaways, Growing in the Lord, importance series, making a difference, miscellaneous, the scripture series, top 10

The top 10 blog posts of 2022

I’m always excited to look back at the prior year and see which blog posts were most popular. For the past several years, the post how to train a deer was in the top ten. This post, written in 2013, was actually a devotional based on a humorous discussion I had with my daughters about deer. I have a hunch the reason for its popularity was because readers were truly interested in learning if—or how—they could train a deer.

This year, how to train a deer fell to the number eleven spot, just out of reach of the top ten, although it continues to garner impressive attention.

Below are the top ten most popular posts in 2022. Click on the “read more” button to read the entire post.

  1. 11 Verses About God’s Unfailing Love

We’ve all been hurt by someone we care about, whether that be a friend, relative, or fellow believer. The sting of betrayal is painful and not something that is easily overcome.

But there is One who will never betray us. He will never walk away from us when times get tough. He will never betray our confidence, share our most precious secrets, give up on us, spread gossip about us, or leave us for someone “better”.

2. Movie Monday: Fearless Faith

I’m always on the lookout for family friendly movies. If they have a great message, all the better. Such is the case with the movie Fearless Faith.

Fearless Faith gives an inside look at what our men and women in blue (and those who love them) face each day. Shep (Ben Davies) and Colton (Jason Burkey) are deputies whose daily agenda often includes drug users, domestic violence calls, hostage situations, and even murders.

3. 21 Awesome Family Movies You May Never Have Heard of

This was originally posted in 2015 and continues to maintain a top spot year after year.

Our family is always on the lookout for wholesome family films for our weekly Family Night. Some of the best movies we’ve ever seen have been undiscovered gems we’ve stumbled across by accident.

The 21 undiscovered treasures below are in no particular order. Some are newer and some have been out for awhile, but they all are must-see movies for your next Family Night!

4. In memory of Stacy Simmons

I just found out that a dear sister in Christ and fellow author, Stacy T. Simmons, died after complications from a surgery she had last week. This was so unexpected. Stacy was a sweet, sweet godly woman, an amazing writer, and so genuine.

5. The Importance of Aligning our Actions with our Words

Have you ever met someone and were astounded to discover that they were a Believer? Perhaps they live a life contrary to that of a Christian. Or perhaps they act flippant about Christianity in the presence of unbelievers

6. Leaving a Godly Legacy

According to Webster’s Concise Dictionary, the word “legacy” means anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor.

Several summers ago at my grandpa, Papa’s, funeral, I was asked to write a lifesketch and speech in memory of him. As I began to work on the speech, I was convicted once again of the importance of the legacy we, as parents, leave behind for our children.

7. 10 ways to Encourage Others

In a world of struggles and disappointments, pain and setbacks, one of the most important things we can do for others is encourage them. Below are 10 ways to do just that.

8. 13 Verses to Comfort the Fearful Heart

There is a lot to fear these days. At every turn, there is something to cause our hearts to panic, our thoughts to veer toward despondency, and our minds to wrestle with the “what-ifs”. At any given moment, trepidation hunkers down for a permanent residency deep within our spirits.

9. 14 Things for Girls to Consider Before Dating

As a mom of daughters, we’ve had many great discussions about things to consider before they choose to date someone.

Everyone will have their own personal likes/dislikes. For example, my girls have mentioned they would never date someone who has a man bun, wears skinny jeans, or has body piercings.

While hair, clothing styles, and body piercings are all a matter of preference, some things are non-negotiable, and while we need to remember no one is perfect, being aware of the following attributes (or lack thereof) will help you make a more informed choice before you choose to date someone.

Below are 14 things to consider before dating that cute guy.

10. 5 Ways to be Your “Sweet Self”

From as far back as I can remember, my mom has always used the saying, “just be your sweet self.”

Whether in day-to-day life or dealing with a difficult situation, my mom reminded my siblings and me that being our sweet selves was, in essence, treating others as we would like to be treated and loving our neighbor. Even when someone was unkind, our response was not to be one of retaliation or revenge, but of kindness.

The five top pages in 2022 in order of popularity were as follows:

  1. Subscribe to my newsletter
  2. Book News and Giveaways
  3. About Me
  4. Mom-Approved Movies
  5. How to start a Sisters in Christ Group

Thank you for joining me for this special “Top 10” list. I’d love to hear which post was your favorite. Happy 2023!

Posted in Growing in the Lord, health and fitness, miscellaneous how-to

tips for keeping your New Year’s resolutions

It doesn’t seem possible that we’re already ushering in the New Year. Most of us can agree that 2022 flew by faster than ever. May, June, July…they all seem like distant memories.

Each year, New Year’s resolutions are made, and each year, New Year’s resolutions are broken, some within a month or two of making them. Below are some suggestions for keeping your New Year’s Resolutions.


Resolution: Exercise more.

How to fail: “I’m going to exercise every day for two hours without fail.” or “I’m going to run twenty miles a day.”

Tips to succeed: Beginning an exercise program doesn’t have to be daunting. Make it a goal to join one class at the gym and stick to it. Choose a class that is not too intense and is within your abilities. You can always move on to the next level at a later time. If you aren’t a gym member, plan to start a workout program (check with your doctor first) tailored to something you enjoy for up to 30 minutes a day, a couple of times a week to start. Some suggestions include a workout video (either the old-fashioned DVD way or through streaming); jumproping to several of your favorite songs; going for a walk each day through the neighborhood or in a nearby park; investing in a mini-trampoline; taking a swim at a nearby indoor pool; turning on the tunes and dancing; or purchasing some inexpensive dumbbells (or water bottles) and do a weight training routine. Whichever exercise you choose, be sure to warm-up first and start slow. It’s far easier to start slow and work your way up than to start with zest and burn out.


Resolution: Eat healthier.

How to fail: “I’m going to only eat healthy foods without fail.”

Tips to succeed: Start small. Choose one unhealthy food to eliminate from your diet or decide to add one healthy food to add to your diet. This past month, I added pumpkin to my list of healthy foods to eat on a regular basis. A few months ago, I added a “green drink” that consists of kale, spinach, and broccoli. Plan to give up an unhealthy food choice each month until it becomes a habit. If you “accidentally” consume the unhealthy food, no worries. Try again the following week. No pressure.


Resolution: Get organized/declutter

How to fail: “I will organize and declutter my house all in one day and will never, ever again succumb to the temptation of purchasing useless items again.”

Tips to succeed: Begin with manageable portions of organization. Tackle one room or space at a time. To do otherwise will be overwhelming. My plan for getting organized and decluttered consists of starting in my home office (where I spend a lot of time) beginning with my bookshelves, then my desk, then my exercise equipment. After my home office is completed (and giving myself ample time to finish it), I will move on to the kitchen, starting with countertops, then cupboards, and so on.


Resolution: Making your relationship with God a priority.

How to fail: “I will read the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation fourteen times in two months”.

Tips to succeed: Make growing your relationship with the Lord less a list of “to-do’s” and more of a sincere time to grow closer to Jesus. Spend time with Him first thing in the morning in prayer and in His Word. Pray throughout the day and without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and keep a prayer journal. Choose a book of the Bible to read and study each month and read a chapter each day for a month. I read a chapter each day, and when I run out of chapters, I start over again in the same book until the next month. For instance, in December, my book of choice is Romans. It has 16 chapters, so I will read each chapter almost twice in one month. My goal? To become a more knowledgeable student of His Word by really allowing the chapters to “sink in”, which will take me more than just one time reading them. I am working my way through the entire Bible this way, slowly and at a manageable pace, not because I have to, but because I want to know the Lord more fully.


Resolution: Save money/spend less/get out of debt.

How to fail: “I will never, ever buy anything, except the absolute necessaries and, if I do buy something extra, I’ll return it right away.”

Tips to succeed: For saving money, skim an amount off the top of your paycheck each month (or start with most months and work your way up). This can be a manageable amount to be increased in reasonable increments. To spend less, make a handwritten budget (handwritten is more intentional), make a grocery list with most important and necessary items at the top and lesser important (but not frivolous) items at the bottom for if your budget allows. To get out of debt, add an additional amount to pay on a debt each month. For example, pay extra toward your credit card, medical debt, or mortgage each month. Even if the additional amount seems minute, it adds up fast.


Resolution: Spend less time on social media/the computer/my phone or device (for things other than actual work projects).

How to fail: “I will give up all social media and only use my phone to call people”.

Tips to succeed: The all-or-nothing approach sets us up for failure. Instead, choose one or two social media platforms to spend your time on and step away from the rest. You can change those one or two at any time. Set the timer and allow yourself that amount of time to catch up on posts, “likes”, “retweets”, etc. Do the same for returning emails.


Setting unmanageable goals for ourselves is never the key to success. Rather, set an attainable goal and allow yourself grace if you fail. You can always start again.

Happy New Year’s!


Before you go, check out these other posts:

9 ways to jumpstart your homeschool year

tools to help your child succeed in life

13 verses to comfort the fearful heart

what to stock up on this winter

resting in the arms of an unchanging God

10 Bible verses to start off your day

Posted in family/marriage, Growing in the Lord

Thankful for the small things…

It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is upon us. Christians everywhere will be giving thanks to the Lord for His goodness, His protection, and His Sacrifice on the Cross so we could have eternal life.

As I reflect on the past year, I think of the many things I am grateful for—Jesus Christ as my Savior, my husband, my daughters, extended family, friends, health, home, and employment. Sometimes, though, we only think of the “big” things we are thankful for like those things I mentioned above.

What about the seemingly “small” things we are thankful for that we sometimes overlook? Below are a few that came to my mind in no particular order:

I’m thankful for water. According to World Vision, “Globally, 844 million people lack access to clean water”. How many times do we go to the faucet and grab a glass of water without giving it a second thought? Praise God that when we are thirsty, that thirst can be easily quenched.

water

I’m thankful I can breathe. According to WebMD, millions of Americans have breathing problems, including asthma, allergies, COPD, and lung disease. This hits home, as multiple people in my family struggle with lung and breathing problems. How many times do we take it for granted that we can easily take a breath? That we can breathe freely and uninhibited?

I’m thankful for the ability to read. According to uis.unesco.org, “Despite the steady rise in literacy rates over the past 50 years, there are still 773 million illiterate adults around the world, most of whom are women”. Whether they were never taught or suffer from a learning disability, there are a high number of people who cannot read. Yet, I read things every day and don’t give it a second thought that some people don’t have that ability.

I’m thankful for those who risk their lives each day to bring the Good News to those around the world. We in the United States so far face minimal persecution when it comes to sharing our love for Jesus. Our missionaries in other nations are not so fortunate. As I read The Voice of the Martyrs website, my eyes were opened to the sacrifices our Christian brothers and sisters make each day to share the hope of eternal life with the lost around the world.

I’m thankful for food to eat. A couple of years ago, my husband and I were both diagnosed with multiple food allergies. At times, it can be a challenge to find things to eat, especially at restaurants. Yet, so many people in the U.S. and around the world have no food to eat —at all. They would love to only have allergies to a handful of foods—if it meant they had food.dinner

I’m thankful I haven’t been involved in a devastating hurricane, earthquake, or tornado. Several years ago, we suffered severe exterior damage to our home and vehicles during a bad hail storm. When we returned home from our vacation, our yard looked as though it had suffered a major catastrophe. Tree limbs were everywhere, our garden and fence were ruined, the new siding and roof on our house destroyed, and two of our vehicles totaled.

A few days after the hail storm, our church was seeking volunteers to assist with the devastation caused by a deadly tornado in the southern part of the country. As our family discussed being a part of this outreach, I was overcome with gratefulness and humility that it was only a relatively minor hailstorm we were dealing with and not a horrific storm where lives had been lost.

I’m thankful for dirty dishes. Yes, you read that right. I know, most people wouldn’t say “thanks” for the sinkful of food-corroded crusty dishes from last night’s dinner. However, I am thankful because if I didn’t have those dirty dishes, I wouldn’t have had food to feed my family. Same goes for dirty laundry. While it may not be my favorite task, I’m thankful we have clothes to wear, and therefore, clothes that get dirty.

I’m thankful for my church family. Sometimes I forget how blessed I am to belong to the Body of Christ and how thankful I am that I can walk through the doors of my church and learn about the Lord and share fellowship with other Believers. What is also amazing are the connections made through social media with Believers around the world. I have a prayer ministry on Twitter that allows me to pray for my brothers and sisters across multiple continents in their time of need.

We need each other. We need fellowship. Hebrews 10:25 reminds us just how important meeting together is and that we need to continue doing so. First Thessalonians 5:11 says it well, Therefore encourage one another and build each other up”. We are to come alongside each other, assist each other through difficult seasons, and pray for one another.

church

I’m thankful I can see and hear. As I sit typing this, my girls are in the kitchen laughing about something. Thank You, Father, that I can hear their joy! I’m thankful for sight too – the snow-capped mountains in the distance and the puffy white clouds in the sky are such a testament to His Creation. I’m also thankful that the Lord opened my eyes to see my need for Him!

That’s a shortened version of “small” things I’m thankful for. As I look back on my list, I realize they’re not “small” things at all, but big and important things.

What are you thankful for?

From my family to yours…Happy Thanksgiving!

Other posts on this blog that may interest you:

16 songs to add to your Thanksgiving playlist

15 verses for strength in challenging times

10 ways to encourage others

12 verses to encourage the burdened heart

scriptural antidotes for fear

Movie Monday: Beautifully Broken

11 verses of hope

10 encouraging blog post excerpts from the past 10 months

Posted in about my books, about the books, Book News, Growing in the Lord, miscellaneous

Writing Update: When One Door Closes

In Love’s New Beginnings, one of the main characters, Solomon Eliason, struggles with whether or not he’s where God has called him to be.

Have you ever wondered the same thing?

Yesterday I received an adorable gift from one of my awesome readers, Beth. She’d read my book, Hollyhocks, and found a stuffed animal that was an exact replica of Aunt RudyBee, one of the characters.

I started thinking about God’s plan for my writing career and how He has been with me every step of the way, even in times of doubt, and there were many.

In 2004, when I published Hollyhocks, I thought for sure God was planning to have me write children’s books. And continue as a photojournalist, a career I’d undertaken after I quit my career in social services to stay home with my young daughters.

But God had other plans.

In 2005, He redirected my path when a small publisher picked up a nonfiction book I’d written. Later, in 2008, when my second nonfiction book, 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others, was released by Beacon Hill Press, I figured God was leading me along the path of nonfiction. After a flurry of TV appearances, speaking engagements, and numerous radio interviews, it was all but confirmed. Plus, I was still writing nonfiction articles for my photojournalist job. Surely nonfiction would become the gig God wanted me to follow, right?

But God had other plans.

After a door closed on the next nonfiction book, I wondered where God was leading me. Did He even still want me to write?

My family was involved in a serious car accident that, only by His hand, we walked away from it with minor injuries. While I was recovering from those injuries and back-to-back bacterial infections, God redirected my path.

Toward Christian romance.

As I recovered from the injuries and infections, I began to write a historical romance novel, and soon McKenzie became more than just an idea in my mind. After much prayer, I reached out to a publisher. Whitaker House accepted McKenzie and contracted me, not for one, but for three books in the Montana Skies Series. Kaydie and Hailee soon followed.

But then there was a lull for a while after the series. Was God still leading me to write historical romance?

In 2013, I secured an agent, and in 2017 and 2018, I was blessed to be a part of two Barbour Publishing novella collections.

But then there was another lull. What were God’s plans for my writing? During this time, our family had been through a lot. I almost lost my husband after open heart surgery for a hereditary heart condition. The hospital who operated erred and my husband ended up with only one functioning lung. There were also a plethora of other health-related issues, including covid and shingles. My husband also lost his job of nearly two decades.

God is faithful and He brought us through that extremely stressful time in our lives. I’d given Him my writing to do with as He wished when I penned my first book.

But what were His plans?

The wait was hard.

In late 2021, the most exciting thing happened. After an extensive amount of time, Love Under Construction, my contemporary Christian romance novel was released and was the springboard for a barrage of books published in 2022. Historical romance has always been my first love, with a side of Christian contemporary romance, of course.

I recently entertained the thought that God might be calling me to write Christian romantic suspense in addition to historical and contemporary, and two novels were born. But after a couple of very obvious closures on big projects, I again wondered where He would redirect me.

I have those two suspense novels, and I do believe they will see publication someday, but for now, God has kept me on the path of historical romance with a side of contemporary romance.

And I’m fine with that. One hundred percent.

I seek to do what He calls me to and impact lives for Him through my writing. Historical romance is my favorite to write and favorite to read. I pray it’s His will for me to hang-out in the late 1800s (and early 1900s, as is the case for Love in Disguise).

The Lord has closed doors and He has opened them. I’ve received numerous rejections, but He blessed me with the opportunity to release six books in 2022.

And through it all, I pray that I glorify Him with every word written. My prayer is that readers see Him through the words I write.

And speaking of readers, none of this is possible without you.

So what’s next on the agenda? Lord willing, Love’s New Beginnings (Wyoming Sunrise Prequel) will be released on December 13 and Dreams of the Heart (Wyoming Sunrise Series#2) will be released March 7.

When I look back on the past several years of writing, God’s fingerprints on this journey have been evident.

No matter where He leads me in my writing, I pray I heed His direction.

Posted in Growing in the Lord, the importance series

the importance of decisions

Decisions.

They can be tough to make to make sometimes. At times we find ourselves procrastinating, dwelling, overthinking, and fussing to the point where the choice is never made.

Alternatively, what about split-second decisions? When words pop from our mouths at a fast rate of speed without any thought? When a split-second choice seemingly “happens” without any consideration toward the long-term effects?

Regardless of whether we’re making decisions that we’ve pondered or instantaneous choices, one fact remains.

Everything we say and do has a consequence. And not only do our decisions affect us, but they also affect others. And not only do they affect us and others in the short-term, but some choices affect us and others for years to come.

How can we be mindful of the choices we make?

*Stay in the Word. When we are setting our focus on Him, we will be more aware of seeking to glorify Him with our decisions, choices, and actions.

*Pray for guidance and discernment.

Surrender the decision to Him. I know it sounds cliche, but left to our own devices, our choices can often be filled with selfish motives. When we surrender that decision, no matter how big or how small to Him, we seek His will instead of going our own way.

Seek out a mentor.

Don’t make an immediate decision. Take a reasonable amount of time to evaluate.

Remember all choices have consequences. I’m reminded of a family we know who adopted a baby with severe fetal alcohol syndrome. This preventable condition is caused when the mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy. Her choice to drink while carrying the baby not only affected her, but also affected this baby, now a teen, who has serious health issues. Her choice had a consequence, not only for her, but for the child and the family.

As we make decisions, may we remember the wise words of Proverbs 3:5-6 and trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not lean on our own understanding. In all of our ways, let us acknowledge Him, and He will make our paths straight.

Posted in devotionals, Growing in the Lord, making a difference

are you a joy giver or a joy stealer?

Have you ever been in a group of people when someone walks in and the entire mood of the room changes whether for the better or the worse?

Have you ever had a difficult day and someone crosses your path and makes it better? Or, alternatively, makes it worse?

How can we be joy givers rather than joy stealers?

Be on the lookout for those we can encourage.

Show gratitude.

Keep our focus on Jesus and spend ample time in His Word, which helps us keep our priorities, and therefore our attitude, straight.

Do everything without grumbling and complaining (Philippians 2:14).

Think of others as more highly than ourselves.

Assist someone in need.

Make it a goal to make someone’s day better. This can be someone random such as the grocery store clerk or someone you know and love.

Bear another’s burdens.

We’ve all been joy stealers a time or two, crabby because of a bad day or reacting harshly when we should have shown grace. But we should strive not to make it a habit. Rather, with His help, we can speak into people’s lives and be joy givers instead of joy stealers. Joy givers who realize that our joy is not from happy circumstances, but because of the hope we have in Him.

Posted in devotionals, family/marriage, for the family, Growing in the Lord, making a difference, top posts

10 encouraging blog post excerpts from the past 10 months

It’s hard to believe it’s already October. It seems this year has gone faster than any year in recent memory.

Below, in no particular order, are 10 encouraging blog post excerpts from the past 10 months. To read the post in its entirety, click on the “read more here…” at the bottom of the excerpt.

Which one did you find to be most encouraging?

5 things moms need

Being a mom is the best, but sometimes hardest job.

We yearn to make a difference in the lives of our children. To be the best mom we can be. We love our children with all that we are and strive to bring honor and glory to God in the way we raise them.

But motherhood can be a challenge, too. The baby who doesn’t sleep through the night. The temper tantrums of a toddler. The drama of junior high. The teenage years with all of the frightening things kids have to deal with in today’s modern world.

No wonder we moms can become worn out and tired. I look back at the photos from when my daughters were little, and my eyes are almost consistently closed in those pictures. I obviously tried to catch a wink of sleep any time I could get it.

So what can a mom do? How can she refresh and rejuvenate? What things do moms seriously need in the best, but hardest years of our lives?

Read more here…

how to be kinder in 2022

It’s hard to believe how fast this year is going. It wasn’t that long ago that we welcomed in a new year. And when a new year arrives, we make resolutions. Lose weight. Exercise more. Eat healthier. Stick to a budget. Declutter.

These are all excellent resolutions, but what if this year, we resolved to be kinder? More giving? More gracious? Less impatient? Not so quick-on-the-draw to find fault in someone who doesn’t see eye to eye with us? Less inclined to make others feel they have to align with our standards if we’re going to like them.

What if this year we made it a goal to be kinder? Here are 11 ways to do just that.

Read more here…

9 ways to show your kids you love them

When I first became a mom, I was shocked to discover the realization that God loved my children even more than I did. As much as I loved them—He loved them even more!

Of course, we, as parents, tell our children we love them, but how can we put actions to those words? Here are nine suggestions to show your kids how much they mean to you.

Read more here…

10 reminders of God’s enduring love

In a world of uncertainty, fickleness, and chaos, there is one thing we can always rely on…God’s enduring love. It is everlasting, true, and unending. Others may walk away, betray us, let us down when we need them most, but our Lord’s love will remain ever steadfast.

Below are 10 reminders of God’s enduring love.

Read more here…

10 ways to encourage others

In a world of struggles and disappointments, pain and setbacks, one of the most important things we can do for others is encourage them. Below are 10 ways to do just that.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “encouragement” as “something that makes someone more determined, hopeful, or confident.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, the Bible tells us, Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.

What are some simple ways we can encourage others?

Read more here…

conquering the joy zappers of life

All we have to do is live in the world for a day and it becomes evident there are joy zappers. We ourselves, other people, and even things that attempt to, while intentionally or inadvertently, steal our happiness seem to lurk around every corner.

Perhaps you recognize some of these joy zappers:

Illness. Ranking toward the top of joy zappers is illness. According to the National Health Council, “About half of all adults have a chronic condition”. Chronic illness, chronic pain, and chronic disease are tough and can feel unmanageable, frightful, and depressing.

Mean people. Mean people are akin to weeds in a garden of flowers. It can be beyond difficult at times to react in a God-glorifying manner with “weedy” folks.

Read more here…

10 ways to persevere through these challenging times

We live in a crazy world. Inflation is soaring, gas prices, groceries, and property taxes are all increasing. Violence is more prevalent. Things we never had to deal with as children are being thrust upon our own kids. The world is looking darker and darker everyday.

How can we persevere through these challenging times in our nation’s history?

Read more here…

are you an encourager or a discourager?

On the online thesaurus, there are over 50 synonyms for “encourage”. Words such as support, inspire, enliven, revitalize, and strengthen are just a few on the lengthy list. It seems a simple thing to, yet why is it often easier for us to discourage someone rather than encourage them?

Make no mistake, our words are powerful. But just how powerful?

There’s a quote that states “Words are powerful. Use them wisely.” They can either build someone up or tear them down.

Below are eight ways we can be encouragers.

Read more here…

14 things for girls to consider before dating

As a mom of daughters, we’ve had many great discussions about things to consider before they choose to date someone.

Everyone will have their own personal likes/dislikes. For example, my girls have mentioned they would never date someone who has a man bun, wears skinny jeans, or has body piercings.

While hair, clothing styles, and body piercings are all a matter of preference, some things are non-negotiable, and while we need to remember no one is perfect, being aware of the following attributes (or lack thereof) will help you make a more informed choice before you choose to date someone.

Below are 14 things to consider before dating that cute guy.

Read more here…

the importance of living out your faith

A friend recently told me a very inspiring story. When she first moved across the country for a new job, Lynn wasn’t sure what to expect in her new town. Her first Sunday there, she headed to a church, hoping to fellowship with like-minded believers and find a church home in the process.

No one welcomed her. No one said “hi.” No one even acknowledged her presence. And this was a small church.

Throughout the week, Lynn visited a local business. A woman who worked there invited Lynn to her church. “And I’ll be waiting by the front door for you so I can show you around,” she told Lynn.

Sure enough the woman was there. She showed Lynn around the church, introduced her to others, and encouraged her to come back the following week.

Lynn did.

When Lynn was diagnosed with breast cancer a short time later, the congregants of her new church drove her to her chemo appointments 95 miles each way, brought her meals, mowed her yard, and prayed with and for her. All with only knowing her a short amount of time.

Read more here…

Thank you for joining me today. Have a blessed rest of your week!

Before you go, check out these other posts.

Movie Monday: Sabina

tools to help your child succeed in life

Saturday Spotlight: Iron

how to become an undercover prayer warrior

31 songs to encourage you in difficult times

Forgotten Memories Blog Tour: Is Forgotten Memories the book for you?