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

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?

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

I Learned to Hate: Guest post by Jaime Wright

I’m thrilled to have the talented and coffee-crazed (and not ashamed to admit that) Jaime Wright with me today! Mostly you see the silly and sarcastic side of Jaime and it’s a beautiful thing, but Jaime’s deep spiritual insight always messes with my mind and leaves me wanting more. (Is that stalker-ish?) She inspires me and encourages me and today, I hope you’ll feel the same! Take it away, Jaime.
I have learned to hate.
Hate is a driving force that spurs
me to action, opinion, and determination. Weirded out yet? Yeah. I guess that’s
not your typical opening statement for a devotional. .But hate — in the correct
context — can make a lot of sense.

the Apostle stated it best when he said: “For I do not
understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing
I hate.” (Romans 7:15 ESV)
I do the very thing that I hate. There is
so much of my sinful self that I have come to despise. My impatience is one of
them. When I have projects to complete, I become driven — focused — and my two
year old suffers. The other night she was following me close on my heels, like
a needy little puppy dog. I turned and snapped “go watch Bubbleguppies!”
Like really — what kid doesn’t want their
mother to tell them to watch TV? The look in her big baby blues just about
killed me. Sadness. Mommy didn’t want her help, or her prancing on tiptoes
singing, “I may never march in the infary, toot in the tootery”. Mommy was too
busy. She hung her head and without question returned to her banishment on the
couch and the cheerful cartoons went over her head as she buried her face in
her Blanky.

I have
come to hate the darkness inside of me.

“For I
know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the
desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” (Romans 7:18
As humanity, we have formed a culture that
fights for the right to act on our fleshly impulses. But as Paul defines, those
impulses are “nothing good”. Strangely enough, in our fight for human rights,
we have also fought for the right to damage, wound, impale, break, and scar
those around us. For sin does not only affect ourselves. It does not only
affect our relationship to God. It touches others in a rippling effect of pain.

“I have
the desire to do what is right…” — I do. I really do. “…but not the ability to
carry it out.”
Failure. Morbid utter

man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ
our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25a ESV)
I stared at my daughter while I was
consumed with hatred for the sin inside of me that caused me to selfishly snap
at my child, wounding her spirit of joy and creating even a smidgeon of doubt
that I wanted her presence in my life.
“Are you mad at Mommy, honey?”
She nodded.
“I’m sorry.” I whispered it. She turned and
her cheeks stretched into a smile. Sitting up, she patted my knee with all the
motherly love she could muster.
“It’s o-tay, Mommy.”
She understood. Why? Because she’s already
been there too. In her own tiny sinful self, she knows what it’s like to wound.
She knows what it’s like to ask forgiveness.
Thanks be to God … to Jesus Christ our Lord
… for in and of myself, I will continue to wound, to scar, to walk in darkness.
But in Jesus, I find life, healing,
strength, and the ability to claim His victory over my sinful self.
I have learned to love. I have learned to
love life — and the righteousness found therein.
What have you learned to hate about your old nature and/or what new character has God recently taught you?

Come by to chat and encourage others today! I’m
hosting at Living By Grace on facebook

From the Ground Up

I can’t explain the
strange phenomenon going on outside of our subdivision. It’s enough to raise my
eyebrows though.
As you pull onto the
main road once you weave your way through my neighborhood, you’ll find a Dollar
Tree to our right and to the left a Dollar General, but what made it even
stranger is the brand new building that’s been going up next door to the Dollar
A Family Dollar.
How many dollar
stores can one person have on the corner?
Apparently three in
my case.
I zip through to
take my kids to school, run errands, or head to church and pay little
attention. Just another building in an ever growing community.
But my 8 year old
son finds it enthralling.
When the bulldozer
came out and dug up the ground, he pressed his nose to the glass and studied
it. “What are they doing?”
“Breaking up
the ground to pour a foundation.”
“What’s a
“It’s the base
of the building that gives them what they need to create the rest of the
“I guess.”
And off we’d go.
Each day was like
warp speed. It amazed Myles how much they accomplished. “Are they working
at night?”
“No, just
during the day, but they’re working together and they know their job.”
“Cool. They
look sweaty and tired.”
I glanced at the
dozen or so workers. “Yeah, they do.” It was 100+ temps.
The beams went up,
the bricking, and then the parking lot. “What are they doing
“Making a place
for people to come. It’s a parking lot.”
Then trucks
“What’s all
I explained they
were filling the shelves in the store so people would have something to buy.
“Can we go
today?” He asked me that for the 4 solid days it took to stock shelves.
“They’re not
ready yet. They’re preparing and probably training their workers.”
“Oh…” You
guessed it. “Cool…Well do you think if our whole family goes we’ll get
some kind of discount? It is the Family Dollar.”
That cracked me up.
“I doubt it.”
“Then that kind
of makes the name dumb.”
Finally the store
was up and running. Yesterday I took him in there. As if he’d leave me alone
until I did. We walked on the polished tile, admired the merchandise that
wasn’t falling off shelves, but in proper order. I guess we spent thirty
minutes perusing. Walked out with Cheese-Its, cookies, dividers for a binder
and a card.
“Dude, mom,
that place–“
“I know,
“Yeah. Can we
go back?”
“I’m sure we
This morning
(Tuesday) I was thinking about that building and the awe of my son as he
watched its progression and I think that’s the kind of enthrallment God takes
with us as he breaks the ground in our life, preparing to lay His foundation of
Jesus Christ in our lives.
As He works in unity
with the Son and the Holy Spirit to place the right beams in our lives to hold
us up, provide support and strength so we can hold up under pressure and tough
weather. The process takes time, but they move quickly when we allow them to do
their job.
As we read our Word,
our shelves are stocked and put in order, making us a place people can come and
receive things they need i.e. ministered to.
But I also think
it’s like the church. If we work together we can build anything. And we can
accomplish things quickly when we’re unified. Just remember the tower of Babel!
Our church body
should be a place people can come and receive. Feel special. After all we’ve
built a place just for them! We should show them customer service with a
friendly smile, a warm welcome and make sure we see to their needs. Especially
if we catch them floundering down the aisles, unsure of what they came in for
in the first place.
Family Dollar.
“According to the grace of God which was given to
me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on
it. ” 1 Corinthians 3:10
 Tell me, how good are you at welcoming people into the
church body? Or being the church outside the actual building? Are you a place
people feel comfortable hanging out?

Jesus is a Tree Hugger

I had a dream and in
this dream, I was in an orchard. The citrusy smell of oranges, the fragrant
smell of apples and pears made me happy. Rows of trees for miles stretched out
before me.

Some of the trees
were huge with ripe fruit and some were only budding blossoms, not yet ripened,
and then I heard a rustling from the trees. I wasn’t afraid. My heart sped up
and my stomach did a pretzel twist. From the trees I saw what looked to be black
work boots, but they were knee high. A cross between riding boots and work
boots, though I’ve never seen anything like it before. And as my gaze traveled
upward, I recognized a smile on the face of the One who owned the interesting
boots. Dazzling white teeth. My hands trembled and I think He knew how giddy I
was that we were together. In this orchard.
“Come,” He
said and I grabbed his hand–peace washed over me. “What do you think of
my orchard?”
I don’t think I said
anything, but the feeling of beauty and love surrounded me. He led me to two
smaller trees. One had a few blossoms, the other was a tad smaller and bare,
but beautiful. They fascinated me.
“Sit while I
work. I want to show you something.”
I did as I was asked
and took shade under a large tree, ripe with fruit. I nestled against the trunk
and security filled my chest. He looked at me and all I saw were dark eyes.
Strange how I could see His face, yet I couldn’t at all. Never once was it clear.
But the feeling I took away from the way he looked at me was as if He was
amused at how I felt nestling under this large fruit tree. As if he knew
something I didn’t.
He reached up and
started to break wilted blossoms off the taller tree, running his hands along
the buds with loving care. “This is beautiful, don’t you think?”
I did. I almost
cried from the overwhelming beauty. Somehow I knew this tree was special.
“All trees need treated with care, Jessica. But the young ones need
I nodded and watched
as He skillfully tended the tree. He opened his palm and rays of sunshine
glistened around the tree like a halo. “Let My light shine.” He
smiled. I only saw the smile.
Then he moved to the
next tree. Pale green leaves, small–showing how tender it was stood next to
the tree basking in the light of the Tender and I continued to sit under the
giant tree that seemed to shade me with love and protection. As if its branches
cherished me. I reached up and brushed one of the leaves before turning my
attention back to the young tree.
He knelt and began
to smooth the grainy earth around the tree, covering young roots that exposed
themselves. His hands moved gently, and he whispered to the small tree then
stopped to laugh as if they were having a conversation, but I couldn’t hear
what was said. He chuckled again and nodded then opened his palm and rushing
water burst forth and the  leaves grew
vibrant. A green I’ve never seen before. Not emerald but even more so!
Tears filled my eyes
and I crawled near, careful not to upset the freshly cultivated soil that
protected the roots of the bare baby tree.
“Do you see how
I gently tend?”
“Yes,” I
“Do you know
why you love these trees so much?”
I did not.
“They belong to
you.” He stroked my cheek. “I’ve given them to you. Gifts. We’ll tend
them together.” And in that 
instant, I knew those two trees, one older than the other, were my
daughter and my son.
I turned back to the
great tree with much fruit and heard the Him laugh, a soft, whispery laugh.
My husband. I’d been
leaning against my husband, learning how to tend my young children.
To help them grow
and bear fruit. Fruit that lasts. This week was their first back at school. I
always  have apprehension. I get nervous
for them. I know they’ll hear things that will make me cringe–new phrases, new
words. Pollution.
But I also know
these times are opportunities to trim their trees and teach them what the Word
of God says. I know my Savior will be filling them with His light and watering
them, tending to them alongside me. Or more like me alongside Him.
And I am comforted.
“I am the true
vine; my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that does not
produce fruit. And he trims and cleans
every branch that produces fruit so
that it will produce even more fruit.”
John 15:1-2 (NCV)
Have you ever been to an orchard? What’s your favorite fruit?
And how does it make you feel knowing Jesus is tending to you–to your
children, your spouse?

I’m hosting today! Come
by and let’s chat!

photo credit: freedigital photos

His Banner Over Me Is…

The title reminds me
of the song I sang as a child in Sunday school. I loved the motions to the
song, the verses. I had no clue what it all meant, other than it was  fun and it was about God. What else did you
need on Sunday morning, right?
As I’ve become an
adult, I know Jehovah-Nissi,
When Moses went to
war with the hardcore Amalekites, by lifting his arms overhead (sometimes his
friends had to lift them for him) he realized something new about God. He built
an altar after they gained the victory and he called it The-LORD-is-My-Banner
because the LORD has sworn; the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation
to generation.” Ex. 17:8-15
But what is a banner
all about?
In war times,
someone  carried the flag into battle.
The soldiers could see it and be reminded who and what they were fighting for.
It gave them a focal point. Hope. Encouragement.
This morning I got
up with a pinch-and-thump in my heart.
Yesterday wasn’t
exactly a great day for me. I let some disappointing news dictate my evening.
Yes, I had family night. We played Apples to Apples and yes, I laughed and
played along. Then we watched a movie and yes, I stared at the TV, but I’m
certain I heard nothing. Saw even less. Less than nothing. It’s possible.
This morning, as I
laid out my Bible and switched on my computer, not feeling much like digging
into the Bible. A little put-out with God. A little frustrated. He reminded me
who He is.
I closed my eyes and
saw the billowy white robe majestically blowing on the wind of the Holy
Spirit’s moving on my behalf. I saw the pole the robe was attached to. Old,
splintered wood.
The crimson insignia
flashed vividly against the hem of the flowing robe.
“Keep marching,
Jess. It’s not over yet. Not while I’m still over you.”
brought me to His banqueting table, His banner over me is love.”
I cracked open my
banquet and chewed and savored, rich and delightful, calorie and fat free.
This is what He fed
“I waited
patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also
brought me up out of the horrible pit, out of the clay, and set my feet upon a
rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth–Praise to
our God; Many will see it and fear, and will trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:1-3
*photo credit: freedigitalphotos 
What has God fed you with during disappointing times? Share a verse! 
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facebook women’s
community and let’s chat!

Piece by Piece

In my newest story, the hero loves puzzles. It’s why he became a detective. He’s patient. Observant. And doesn’t seem to get in much of a hurry…for anything (including the heroine). As I was thinking about him, watching him sit at his table spreading out all the pieces, propping the puzzle box in front of him to help guide his actions, grazing his fingers along all the pieces, examining each one with care, I thought how opposite we are.

Me and Christian (Not Gray).

I’ve never been one to sit still long enough to put a puzzle together. I’ve tried. Small puzzles are easy. I’ve helped my kids with them. But the 1000 piece puzzles, uh, not so much. I get frustrated. I think it should be easier. 

And you know what I end up doing? 

Forcing pieces that really aren’t meant to be together, together. 

Wrecking the whole thing.

Because each piece has a fit. And when one piece gets jammed somewhere it shouldn’t, the rest of the puzzle suffers.

My husband is similiar to my book hero. Loves puzzles. Good at them. Patient with them. We bought one once, a lion in Africa. I bowed out early, also his barbs at my pitiful lack of puzzle playing encouraged me to quit sooner. Even if they were in flirty fun gests.

When it was all done, after a week of working. A gorgeous, powerful lion graced our kitchen table. Thank Heaven we ate off TV trays, right?

It was such a beautiful sight to see.

Does your life ever feel like a big 1000 piece puzzle? Jumbled. Messy. Out of order. Are you ready to give up? Put pieces where they don’t belong? 

I think God is very much like my hero in the book, as He is observant, patient and careful about fitting the right pieces in the right place. He gives us a picture of what He wants our lives to look like and then guides each one of us. Each step of our day, events in our lives…are one piece of the puzzle. 

When we’re obeying and trusting, the pieces fit. They lock one into another and yes, it takes time, patience and observance to fit them in place. 

If we get in a hurry, make a mistake, try to fit things where they don’t belong, we slow it down. As if it weren’t already slow.

But after a time, a long time we’ll see ourselves and our lives in His image on the puzzle box! A beautiful sight to behold!

“But we all, with
unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being
transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of
the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

Do you like puzzles? Why or why not?

*I’m still holding the name-that-dog contest on my facebook page! If you’d like to participate, “Like” my page and give me a unique name for a Saint Bernard for the new story I’m writing. No limit to the names! Winner gets a $10 Amazon/Starbucks card (your choice). If I pick a name many have shared, I’ll pick the first one who said it. Share with others! Tweet! Facebook! Thanks! Contest ends Friday at midnight.

*photo credit: freedigitalphotos
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Grateful Heart

Everyone gets their study, CD, Bible,
steno pad, and a pen. All set!

I wouldn’t say I’m ungrateful. I could say, I don’t think about being grateful. I’m a take-it-for-granted kind of person at times. I suppose we all are. 

Lately, I’ve been acutely aware of how blessed I am. I wrote a blog post titled FORWARD several weeks ago. You can read it and see all the cool pictures HERE! I talked about letting hurts go. How I had to let some of mine go and when I did, God opened up an amazing opportunity for me at my church.

The last few months, while still working on my novels and getting them off to critique partners, I’ve been writing a study for new and growing believers. If you’ve been around the last couple of months, here or on fb, you know this. (Plug: Please stop by and “like” my facebook page. You can click “like” on the sidebar right here on my site!)

The week before I went on vacation, my BFF “Jane”, and I printed the studies, coversheets, bound them  and then burned and labeled CDs. Yep, I made a mixed tape (giggle) for my class. One or two worship songs that go along with the chapters of study I wrote. 

As Jane handed me the books and I bound them, we listened to the CD. And in the middle of it God, with a powerful force, stopped me in my tracks. 


And this is what I heard inside me.

“This will be the first Bible study most of these people have ever done. And they’re your words. My words. Our words.”

The weight of that overwhelmed me like a tidal wave. At that moment it was like the song says, “If grace is an ocean we’re all sinking…”

I looked at “Jane” and she stopped gathering books and stared at me. I couldn’t even speak what I’d heard, the raw emotion had gathered in my throat and squeezed. But somehow she knew. And she cried with me. For me. Because of me.

I seriously doubt any of those people coming to this study will ever know the magnitude of gratefulness I feel or the love I have for them. I so desperately want to see them succeed to live a consistent Christian life. I want them to find the treasure of God’s Word to see it vividly come alive in their hearts, in their minds, and in their lives (same in fiction). I know it’s what “Jane” wants as well. 

I doubt they will realize how blessed I am and will be to see them work through the pages of the study. 

I don’t deserve it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be used. 

And you know what? 

I can honestly say, that while I’ve been writing fiction–I haven’t been discontent. I haven’t whined and wondered, “When Lord? How much longer will I have to wait to see our message, our stories in print?” (Because as an inspirational writer, I feel like God nudges me in the right direction and gives me ideas and words to say so they’re mine and His–Ours.)

Tonight Jane and I will start our first class. We might have five, we might have 25. I’m not sure. We might have 1. Doesn’t matter. 

What matters is growing and maturing in God. Learning and living His Word. Knowing Him intimately. Using what He’s given you to bless others. And whoever shows up in that class tonight has made their first step forward. 

“I’m not saying that I have this all
together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for
Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong:
By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on
the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and
I’m not turning back.” Philippians 3:12-14 MSG

What have you been doing to bless others in your church, to move forward? What has someone done to bless you? 
Join me over at Living By Grace on Facebook and encourage other women. Come be a blessing! (You can find and “Like” Living By Grace to sidebar of the site!)

Big Daddy Does It Again

I’m keeping it short because I truly want you to hear the words to this song. It says it all. That’s what I love about Big Daddy Weave. 

I heard my husband playing this on his acoustic the other day  and fell in love with it. 

Perfect today, to celebrate freedom. Happy 4th!

Could be singing about me. Could he be singing about you? 

*I’ll be over at Lisa Jordan’s blog tomorrow talking about romance and what it has to do with dog poop. If you know me, you’ll know my dog is involved and I’m going to make a decent point…maybe!