I Can’t Get Enough Big Daddy!

Big Daddy Weave is one of my favorite bands. Besides the fact his voice is beautiful, their message through song is powerful and moving. I love feel good tunes for sure and some ballads move me. But Big Daddy always raises chill bumps on my skin. I feel their faith through the music and the lyrics. 

Seems I always find one or two songs in every manuscript I write that Big Daddy helps me bring to life. One day, I shall put them in the acknowledgment section of a novel, or all. ha!

I shared their song Redeemed on July 4th but I’ve been listening to this song on repeat for a while. I love the message even if it’s one of their older songs. Their new album is amazing! Check it out on Spotify and iTunes!

What have you been listening to? 

The Best Writing Comes from a Prison Cell

It’s a quiet
morning, I’m sipping my coffee from the mug given to me by my friend, DonnaPyle. And while I’m having my morning brew, I’m working through her  newest study,
The God of All Comfort.

This day’s lesson
was about how losers are better givers.
It’s such a great study as it uses real life stories from various people Donna
interviewed for each section of study.
This verse jumped
out to me: 
“Those things were important to me, but now I
think they are worth nothing because of Christ. Not only those things, but
I think that all things are worth nothing compared with the greatness of
knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him, I have lost all those things, and
now I know they are worthless trash. This allows me to have Christ and to
belong to him. Now I am right with God, not because I followed the law, but
because I believed in Christ. God uses my faith to make me right with
him.” Philippians 3:7-9 (NCV)
Now, I’ve read it
before. But this morning it stopped me in my tracks.
I’m not what you would consider a materialistic
person. I’m not a fan of shopping. I don’t care if I have designer
clothes. I only know some of the names because characters in my manuscripts
wear them. I don’t try to keep up with Jones’. I laugh behind the backs of
those who do. (That’ s probably wrong.)
I do like nice
things. I like my house to feel warm and inviting. But what I do whine about
most, is writing space. “Lord, I can’t wait for us to move because I know
you’ll provide me with a room of my own. A place where I can study, pray, and
write without interruptions from people or the TV.”
Right now, I have a
nice desk and sweet office chair in the corner of my bedroom. I have my dry
erase board and bulletin board tacked up. But I share my bedroom with my
husband and that’s where he likes to watch TV. It’s where he gets ready for
work. I’ve become accustomed to ear buds, but sometimes, it irritates me that
he’s there. Isn’t that selfish? It is. You can agree.
As I read this verse
this morning, it struck me that Paul penned his
best work and spent some of his most intimate time with the Lord in shared
prison cells with little to no lighting. And it’s possible he had crummy
eye sight. He wrote in chains. Seated on hard, cold, rock. No cushiony chair.
No heating pad for a bad back–and most of the time he was bruised, beaten and
bloody. Always interrupted by other prisoners and guards. Nothing to tune them
out. And he wouldn’t have wanted to, as it would have been a missed opportunity
to share Christ Jesus with them.
physical comfort.
But he was content. He was doing what he loved. And it didn’t
matter where he did it. As long as he had two hands and something to write with
and on, he had peace.
Paul didn’t have a
laptop, iPad, or iPhone that helped him with his social media efforts. He
didn’t have scrolls at his finger tips to reference what he was talking about.
He knew it from memory.
Having those things
are a blessing. Blessings that should humble our
hearts and be used to glorify Him. Blessings that can go at any minute
through theft, fire, or small children with wandering hands. Or adults with
butter fingers (not the candy).
Jesus stays. He
can’t be stolen away, burned off, cracked, broken, or lost. And truly, He’s the
greatest reward. He offers gifts that last.
I had a wonderful
wake-up call this morning. A refocus. And if God decides to bless me with a
home office all to myself, I won’t say no. But I’ll see it for what it is. A
blessing. Not a necessity.
Come by our women’s
facebook community and chat!
I’m hosting!

What about you? Do you need a nudge every once in
awhile to bring you back into focus on what is a need and what is an added

Donna Pyle’s
newest study

**photo credit freedigitalphotos

Going Under

Myles front and center.
His cousins behind him.
A family event on Sunday.
When he put this shirt on
he said, “Really?” Talking
about the length! lol

Many of you have probably seen the excitement on my facebook page through the week! Last Wednesday on the way home, my 8 year old son, Myles, said out of the blue, “Mom, when we get home I want to ask Jesus into my heart.”

My foot slammed on the gas as I drove at NASCAR speed. “Yeah, baby, that’s great.” I wondered, had they talked about salvation at church that night? “What did you learn at Royal Rangers?”

“About fire.”

Hell fire? Did they scare him into asking Jesus into his heart? lol “What kind of fire?”

“The kind that burns.” Smart-aleck “Stop. Drop. And roll.”

Okay, that wasn’t it. We got home and of course I had to let the dog out. I didn’t want to be distracted from leading my son to the Lord while the dog pooped on the carpet. I detest that dog. 

I sat on the couch. “Why do you want to ask Jesus into your heart?”

“Because it’ll be the greatest thing of my life.”

Tears spilled down my cheeks as I prayed and Myles repeated after me. Not because there’s a specific prayer or formula to get it right, he just needed some guidance. 

He looked up at me with his big brown eyes and smiled. “I felt a chill and tickle in my heart,” he said has he touched his chest.

More tears.

I told him Sunday was our next baptismal service and explained what baptism. It’s an outward picture for everyone to see what happened on our insides. We’re like brand new inside. Jesus died and rose for us, and that’s why we go under and come up. All washed clean on the inside. Just to let everyone know the decision we made.

“I want to be baptized this Sunday then!” 

Each night he’d pray, “God, help me have a good baptism on Sunday.” I’m not sure what that meant, but it was beautiful to my ears.

Sunday came and my husband, an ordained minister, had the privilege to baptize our son. When Myles came up out of the water and started climbing the steps, he threw his hands up in victory, Woohoo! It was so cute. 

As I dried him off he said, “I had a really happy feeling come over me, Mom. That’s cool. And, I think that’s about the most excited I’ll ever get over being dunked.” 

I laughed and cried. Tim laughed and cried. Myles grinned ear from ear.

Child-like faith.

Here’s a video. Many of you may have already seen it on facebook. 

God is glorious and asking Jesus into your heart is a free gift. Whether you’re 8 years old or 80  years old. I’m thankful today that all of my family knows Jesus Christ as their personal savior and Lord. My heart is overflowing.  

What are you thankful for today? 

I’m leaving on Wednesday morning for Dallas, Texas to attend the largest Christian writers’ conference, well anywhere I guess.  I will be taking a blogging break after today but will be back on Wednesday, September 26th!

If you’re going to the ACFW conference as well, here are some very important tips for the conference. I vlogged them a few weeks ago, but if you haven’t seen them, you can click on the link. ACFW TIPS And if you haven’t already, I’d love for you to subscribe to my YouTube channel! Thanks! 

Shut Up or Get Out: Coffee with Jess

Hey everyone! Today is a Coffee with Jess installment! Today’s question comes from Erica Vetsch! Thanks for asking such a fun question!

I’ll be here on Monday with some helpful and important tips for attending the ACFW conference, so come by! 

If anyone has any tips on helping me with my lighting on the vlog, cough it up! I think it’s the back light from my screen, but I don’t know how to fix it! Ack!

Ok, on with the show this is it! Have a great weekend. 

How to Balance Your Ministry and Spiritual Life Successfully



he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its
roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be
green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from
yielding fruit. ” Jeremiah 17:8

A friend of mine
stopped by the church last week to chat with me. He shared some of his
frustrations about his spiritual life and told me where he wanted to be.
What I found while
listening to him talk was he was trying to pour out, but he wasn’t being filled
enough to give anything of substance
away. He was tired due to a hectic schedule, work, lack of rest, and trying to
help in too many areas of the church.
“I appreciate
the love and passion you have for your ministry, for the church and the people
in it. But you can’t be effective if you have nothing to give. And if you don’t
take some time for yourself–to soak–you’re going to shrivel up and cough out
dust to the ones you want to saturate with living water.”
Sometimes we get so
busy ministering to others, we forget we need to be filled ourselves. You can’t
run a ministry and  never sit in the
service under the shepherd, skip small groups that will minister the Word, or neglect
personal time in the Word for whatever excuses
And I’m not saying
this person was neglecting his personal time with God. But he needed to sit a
little longer. Soak until his skin puckered.
Soaking is fabulous.
We need to soak in God’s word personally, from pastors, teachers, and other
Now, by telling you
to soak, I’m not giving you license to sit on a pew or in a chair and take and
take and never give. There’s a balance.
goes in, needs to come out. That’s the point of soaking.
Let’s look at trees
for a minute. Hang with me. Fascinating creations, aren’t they? Most every tree
branch raises its limbs to the heavens, except the Willow and I have to wonder
if it’s called Weeping because it’s not praising the Lord. I don’t know. Something
to think about.
When trees are
planted, water is taken in at the root and carried up with nutrients through
the trunk and into the leaves.
of tree water is eventually dispersed from the leaf stomata through
evaporation, into the atmosphere.
That beneficial loss of water from the tree is
called transpiration.
Transpiration comes
from the word “transpire” which means, “to come to light or be
known.” Latin trans + spirare = to breathe.
tree keeps 10%, enough to stay alive and healthy, the rest it breathes out for
others to breathe in.
We need the washing
of the water of the Word in our lives. We need to daily soak our roots in it. We need to let it travel from where we’re planted (by
living water), through the trunk of our body–saturating our stomach’s
desires,  filling our lungs with praise,
and protecting our hearts, until it reaches our limbs. Leaves like our
fingers and tongue. Letting Light be known. Breathing out and giving
life-giving air to the atmosphere around us.
Keeping enough to
stay healthy and strong.
Giving most of it
weren’t meant to hoard God. We were meant to give Him away.
we weren’t meant to give until we have nothing left to keep going.
90/10 ratio. If
trees can stay sustained at this rate. I think we can too.
grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so
that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”  Mark 4:32
do you fall? Is it time to give some away? Are you giving and skipping on
soaking up water in your roots? And do you have a favorite tree? Why do you
love it?

Faith Readers Group Review: Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas

A first time for all us, reading a Love Finds You line. But we chose Sandra D. Bricker’s Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas!

I made a Bavarian cream butter braid, well I at least let it rise and baked it. I can’t even braid my own hair, like I could do it with dough?

I was thinking about bringing those Snowball desserts by Little Debbie, but I hate marshmallow. I’m not wasting money on it for joke factor. Just sayin.

I also forgot to take our picture. But we had a good turnout and an array of opinion on this book. Here’s how it all went down…

“I was hooked from the first page. I laughed on the second paragraph.”

“I didn’t like the book at all. I thought the antics, and the fact the red-haired character named LUCY was a bit cliche and too much.”

“I thought the plot was predictable, but then it’s a Love Finds You so you know it’s going to be a HEA. But the dialogue and humor carried the predictability.”

“I took away that God has things right in front of us for our blessing, but many times we overlook them for things we think we want.”

“I didn’t even realize that message. Good eyes! And so true.”

“I don’t think she acted like a woman pushing thirty. Not in the journal entries, especially.”

“I liked the whole thing. I read for escape and this book was perfect to settle in with and just live someone else’s fun life. I try not to read into books. I just want an escape.”

“I think I laughed on every page. It could be a romantic comedy on the big screen. I’d go see it.”

“My only disappointment? She had ripe opportunity to say the phrase, ‘Not a snowball’s chance in…Arkansas.’ and she didn’t!” (that was me btw) lol 

“I’ll read more of her stuff.”

Star rating 1-5: 3 1/2 

Sandra Bricker
Here’s a sneak peek at Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas: 
So what if she can’t
hook a fish? This city girl has a plan to snag something else…and his name is
Lucy Binoche is
reasonably attractive, intelligent, and fit. She has French lineage and
better-than-average hair. So why is she nearly 30 and still single?
Gerard is the rugged hottie new to her church’s singles group. When he signs up
for a camping trip in the Ozarks, Lucy loses no time writing her name on the
line beneath his. Theres only one problem Lucy’s idea of “roughing
it” is suffering through a long line at Starbucks. She assumes she can
rely on the grace of God and the assistance of her friend to get through.
But at
the campsite in Snowball, Arkansas, Lucy bungles everything she attempts as she
tries to impress Justin. She can’t fish, hike, or ride a horse; caves make her
hyperventilate; and hot-air balloons make her ill. Soon, events are snowballing
out of control. Will Lucy pretend to be someone shes not just to snag a
boyfriend? Or will she discover someone who loves her just as she is?
Do you like reading romantic comedy? Ever read Sandra Bricker? Do you eat those nasty snowball treats?

After All: A YA Flashback


Sometimes the mood needs to be set. I’m setting it now. First click play on the youtube video and then read. You won’t get the full effect if you don’t. And well…that’ll be a real shame. 

Last week was picture day for my kids. When it comes to school pictures, they want their mugs in the year book, but as far as ordering them. Not so much.

On the way to school, I thought about my Dorothy Hamill hair cut or the year perms came out and all my friends had their waist length hair cut and permed. I thought if you were getting a piggyback perm, you had to cut your hair. I was torn. It was only a week later when a girl came to school, still waist length hair, and permed that I realized it could be done. I cried. Mostly I was mad at my mom for not clarifying.

But when pictures came, extra wallets were ordered. I wrote my name as neatly as possible and then cut them so the white edges were perfect. After stacking and placing them in a ziplock bag, I climbed on the bus full of anticipation. 


Trading day!


I don’t know why we traded wallets. We just did. And it got me all nostalgic. One of my all time favorite artists was Cher. You love her or hate her. I love her. Always have.  And one of my all time favorite songs was her duet with Peter Cetera. After All–which you should be listening at this moment!

I remember recording this song onto a blank tape so I wouldn’t have to rewind over and over. I’d listen to it in my room, in the car, as I drifted to sleep. And during that time, guess what I did? I made up a story. Played out like a video. 

A love story. 

Before High School Musical there was…

It involved a high school boy seeing me while on the court. That moment. When he knew it was meant to be, that’d he’d made a big mistake dumping me, but he turns away only to make the winning 3-pointer and instead of letting his team lift him on their shoulders, he runs to me. We tripped down the bleachers and tumbled onto the sweaty gym floor laughing, because it didn’t matter. We were together…after all. Suddenly his face turns serious and for the next thirty-five minutes of tape on repeat we’re kissing. And somehow no one is left in the gym, but then after two teenagers making out in a crowd, why stick around? (plot hole)

Remember this movie: Chance Are
This song was the theme song! I loved this movie!

Don’t laugh, you had a story like that!

Now I’d say, that’s great writing. Subtext showing their fall was how they stumbled through a rocky relationship and also adding comedic relief after the tension of me walking into the school full of anxiety. Will he even care I’m at the game? Should I even be here–and in flats? They’re pretty slick (foreshadowing). Did I put the pack of Chicklets in my purse? My new Guess denim purse–they just came out. Will it matter? 

He’s been zoning out during the locker room pep talk. Thinking about me. Why was the line busy every time I tried to call her and apologize? Was it off the hook? Was she talking to another guy? Will she notice I permed just the back of my hair? Did she get the note I left in her locker? It’s two whole pages, front and back! I was stupid to say I’d never date a freshman. And braces aren’t so bad. 

Readers would need the break. Right? That’s a lot of tension!

But in the end. Afterall. It’s just him and me. Point is:

There is no point. I just wanted to take you back in time with me a minute. After all, it’s Friday and there’s nothing left to say. Except…sorry have a great weekend! 

Did you love Cher? What was your favorite song by her? If not, did you have a perm? And more importantly, did you know you didn’t have to cut your hair to have one?

Trusting That He’s Got This

Not too long ago, Lindsay Harrel and I hung out at the beach. Virtual beach that is! And today she’s back to encourage you spiritually! Thanks, Linds!

Sunday, I got the awesome privilege of singing for all three of our church services.
I sang a
solo with the choir and orchestra, then I sang a complete solo song during the
offering, and then I helped to lead a few songs in our contemporary service.
I love
singing. There’s something about it that just fills me up inside like nothing
can. When I’m singing, I feel incredibly close to my Lord.
That is,
when I’m focused on the right things.
Because it
can be so easy to focus on me and how I sound. I worry…will I forget the
lyrics? Will I totally bomb this song? Will I get the opening rhythm right?
Will I…will I…will I?
what’s wrong with that picture?
considering the fact that I’m supposed to be singing as an act of WORSHIP…to
GOD…I probably should be much more focused on Him than on myself.
I get it,
it’s human nature, we are fallen, we’ll never be perfect. But that doesn’t mean
we shouldn’t constantly remind ourselves of how we SHOULD react…even if it
never becomes our NATURAL reaction.
I was
sitting in first service before I sang, worrying. I almost didn’t even want to
go up there on that stage. Because I was afraid of failure. Thankfully, I
wasn’t just afraid that I’d look like a screw up (although I’m sure that fear
is always part of it).
my main concern was whether I’d mess up an opportunity to share Jesus with
someone. That I’d mess up the lyrics that someone desperately needed to hear.
That my voice would crack and people listening would be too distracted by that
to hear the heart of the song.
In short,
I thought I’d inadvertently mess up my ministry…and God’s plan.
almost kept me from ministering.
But as I
sat fretting, our music pastor sang these words:
Then sings my soul, my Savior, God to Thee
How great Thou art, How great Thou art
And I
nearly cried.
Because He
was speaking right to me, saying, “Lindsay, don’t you see how great I am? So
great that I’m able to get you through each one of these songs in exactly the
manner I want you to get through them. And I will speak to people’s hearts. I
am able. I am great.”
I can’t
even tell you the freedom that came. How the fear dissipated.
Because He
doesn’t ask us to be perfect.
He only
asks that we’re willing. 
That we try our
best and draw near to Him.
Because He
is perfectly and totally capable of handling the rest.
Your Turn: Do you ever worry that you’ll mess up
in ministry? Do you find it hard to remember that He’s got it all under
Since the
age of six, when she wrote the riveting tale “How to Eat Mud Pie,” Lindsay
Harrel has passionately engaged the written word as a reader, writer, and
editor. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication and an M.A. in
English. In her current day job as a curriculum editor for a local university,
Lindsay helps others improve their work and hones her skills for her night
job—writing inspirational contemporary fiction. Lindsay lives in Phoenix,
Arizona, with her husband of five years and a golden retriever puppy in serious
need of training.
Connect with Lindsay! 
I’m hosting at
Living By Grace
A facebook community
for women of faith!
*Photo credit: freedigitalphotos