30 Things You Need to Hear Today

Dear Fellow Sojourner,

I’ve made a list of some things I want you to hear… you know how I love lists! Maybe it’s the additional introspection of recently becoming a grandmother that incited the list (in case you’re wondering, I’m warming up to the name Nana).

Holding Monty - 11 days old

It could be that I’m a mom and can’t help but bequeath my vast wisdom to my children, and grandchild! Of course, the obvious is that my blog’s purpose is to offer encouragement to those—you included—who may stumble upon it. Whatever the case, I’m hoping this list will provide a few important life reminders that we can all stand to hear from time to time.

Here goes, in no particular order except the last one!

  1. Stop stressing.
  2. You have overcome 100% of your worst days.
  3. You will get through this.
  4. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
  5. Stop worrying about what other people think of you. 
  6. Start caring about what God thinks of you.
  7. Don’t ignore your pain. It has tons to teach you.
  8. Write down your worries then hand them over to God.
  9. Pray all the time, even about the smallest things.
  10. Courage is not the absence of fear, it’s walking forward despite the fear. 
  11. You don’t have to feel happy all the time.
  12. Feelings aren’t always an accurate representation of reality.
  13. You’re going to make mistakes. 
  14. Forgive always—yourself, others, and, if necessary, forgive God.
  15. Look for beauty. If you can’t find it, create it.
  16. Cheer for, pray for, and bless others—especially those you dislike.
  17. Be thankful for everything—even the hard bits.
  18. Comfort rarely builds character (or anything for that matter). 
  19. Be patient. Change doesn’t happen overnight. 
  20. Talent only goes so far. Nothing replaces effort.
  21. It’s better to try and fail than to never have tried at all.
  22. Just start.
  23. Don’t judge. Everyone is scaling an invisible mountain.
  24. Be kind to everyone, including yourself.
  25. Don’t underestimate the power of a kind word.
  26. Give hugs. Receive hugs.
  27. There’s only one you.
  28. Keep going.
  29. Find things to celebrate!
  30. Trust God.

Now you’ve read the list, why not start at the top and pick one a day to focus on during the next 30 days! And if you’re looking for me, well, I’ll have my hands full.

Holding Monty 2 - 11 days old

Oh, and in case you were wondering, you’re amazing! Imagine what God thinks of you! xo

Click here for a copy of my daily devotional, Soul Focus.

Click here for a copy of my novel, One More Tomorrow

I’m Officially a Grandma!

Watching my firstborn son and daughter-in-love undergo childbirth this week—a common yet profoundly miraculous event in our human experience—burst my heart wide open. Gazing at my first-born grandson stole any last reserves. I’m undone.

Mel and Monty
Holding a tiny miracle—Montgomery Jake.

The sight of our two families, woven by marriage, crowded in the waiting room made me smile. We sat in a row with anticipation scrawled across our faces, each with our own memories, our own brand of overcoming, our own hopes and dreams all converging in this monumental moment amid a miracle about to transpire.

This moment, and many others, strung together to form a lifetime. Continue reading “I’m Officially a Grandma!”

I’m Almost a Grandma!

I’m about to become a first-time grandma. Even as I type this, I can hardly believe it. Since our son wed a year and four months ago, it feels as though time has unfolded like a map falling open all at once and I’m fumbling to neatly fold and navigate my sped-up life. One wedding, two published books, three grown kids relocated, one child attending ‘real’ school, and one grandchild, well… almost. 

Mariana and Me
Mariana and I – Christmas 2019

And now a grandma. Me? Already? Woah! Can we dial back this getting older thing a tad? I’m honestly thrilled at the prospect of having a grandchild, although I really do NOT appreciate the title (I am currently taking suggestions for other names). It’s just that some things happen sooner than you expect. I’m feeling vastly underprepared. I thought I’d be a stronger knitter by now and possibly NOT simultaneously have an eleven-year-old child still under our roof. 

All joking aside, there’s profound beauty in the fact that Mariana, our daughter-in-love, is pregnant. Before I explain why, a small sidebar. Mariana is an absolute treasure. Oddly enough, it struck me she was possibly ‘the one’ for Kurtis even while he was dating someone else (I know that sounds weird, but it happened). On the day of this uncanny revelation, I quietly mentioned to God in my prayer journal that if she happened to be the one for Kurtis could He (God) just sort that out. Then I stayed out of it. 

Mariana Pregnant

As it turned out, three and a half months later, without my uttering a word, Kurtis and Mariana began dating. Apparently, she too, even while he was dating someone else, thought that they were meant for each other. Around the same time I was scrawling in my prayer journal, Mariana was confidently relaying to her girlfriend that one day Kurtis was going to be her husband. 

The beauty in this story is compounded by the fact that Mariana learned she had cancer at age fourteen and spent the next three years fighting for her life. That sort of near-death experience makes you approach life differently—you tend not to take it for granted. 

Mariana - Cancer Book
Mariana holding the book Our New Normal which includes her cancer story.

With this bold approach to her second crack at life, and armed from the get-go with a peculiar assurance that Kurtis was going to be her husband, she didn’t hesitate to tell him she loved him on their first date. She maintains Kurtis is her best cancer perk because if she hadn’t gotten cancer, she would never have been homeschooled and would not have met him at the homeschool co-op they attended.

It is also profoundly beautiful that Mariana is pregnant because it’s only six years since her body suffered and survived the ravaging effects of cancer and chemo. Ironically, she had her last cancer check-up while already pregnant. To me—grandmother title denial aside—Montgomery (their soon to be born baby) is a miracle—a sacred life birthed out of a saved life. 

Mariana and Kurtis
Kurtis and Mariana

And I can’t help but think this story is also our story. 

Our lives were also snatched from death’s grip. We may not have had cancer, but our sin was eating us alive. We had no hope in hell that when we die, we would make it into heaven… but for Jesus. He knew we couldn’t manage to conquer death, so he gave his life in place of ours. He was the substitute and paid our sin-debt on the cross to secure life-eternal and more abundant life here and now. 

So, I guess the question is, what are we doing with our second chance at life, and how are we making a difference to the sacred lives around us? 

While you think about that, I’ll be over here writing (or knitting) from my rocking chair with spectacles perched on my nose!

Let Your Yes be Yes, and Your No Be No

 

shutterstock_792456682

I had an epiphany this morning. It went like this: what should I be saying yes to that I’m saying no to, and what should I be saying no to but have been saying yes to? I took a mental inventory. Upon entering the new year, or really any time, this sort of yes/no check-up is a worthwhile endeavor. After all, an unexamined life lacks direction and purpose. 

Let me take a small detour. About two years ago, I exacted a thorough decluttering of my life. I called it ‘The Year of No’. Once everything was stripped away, delightful ease arrived in determining the things that should never have been there in the first place, as well as other things that were healthy to allow back in. The fruit of this effort was a calmness and rest I’d never before experienced, as well as time to release two books! Continue reading “Let Your Yes be Yes, and Your No Be No”

A Love Like No Other

It’s not like you’ve imagined. Probably unlike anything you’ve been told, taught, or experienced. Being with Jesus isn’t a prescribed program or a series of have-to’s. It’s not a checklist of holy duties or a list of rules to follow. It’s not polishing yourself shiny or hoping you’ve been good enough.

It’s so easy that some find it hard.

Jesus extends his arms, pulls us in, and wraps us in HIS holiness, offering us forgiveness, rest, peace, joy, love—all the things we’ve been striving for but couldn’t manage on our own. His is a put-your-feet-up, cease-striving sort of love that beckons us to just BE. Be ourselves in his company. Be still. Be undone. Be made new. Continue reading “A Love Like No Other”

Fearless in 2020

This year brought numerous new and exciting adventures for my family and me. In September, I released my first novel, One More Tomorrow, and shortly after my devotional, Soul Focus – Trials, launched. In the spring, my son and daughter-in-law announced that they are expecting their first baby which means my husband and I are about to become first-time grandparents! This past summer, my daughter moved out to pursue her acting career, and this fall, I have been busy with other firsts such as book signings, podcasts, radio interviews, and a TV segment on See Hear Love alongside Ann Voskamp. watch episode here

On set at See Hear Love

 

Ann Voskamp and I share a hug on set at See Hear Love.

70677009_942471942768363_6252895968300105728_n
My husband and I at the book launch of my novel One More Tomorrow.

All these changes have brought unknowns and the opportunity to camp out in fear or choose faith. As 2020 dawns, I am determined to dwell in peace. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I chose “Fearless” as my word of the year. To find out why you can read my blog entitled Fearless featured on See Hear Love. read Fearless blog

It is my hope that this year you too will find ways to intentionally live out of God’s peace as you ground yourself in his love, his word, and his presence. May we choose to hand over our fears to the one who offers to carry them for us, to make inroads of peace in our lives and the lives of all those with whom we connect.

Imagine what this year would it look like if our decisions were made by faith, imbedded with peace and hope instead of fear? If the words from our mouths were spoken void of fear? If our actions were not tainted by fear?  I hazard we will live more fully in the abundant life God promised and generously shower the overflow on others.

May you traverse into 2020 fearlessly and be blessed with mountain-moving faith!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

_________________________________________________

If you are looking for a devotional to start out the New Year, consider Soul Focus – Trials, my 31-day devotional/journal. It offers nuggets of encouragement as you navigate through your unknowns and struggles. buy Soul Focus here

SoulFocus_Book_Trials_071619
Now available ISBN: 978-1-4866-1539-1 8-1 Description: If you’ve picked up Soul Focus, you may be facing significant trials of your own or are well-acquainted with the heartache they bring. It is my prayer that within these pages you’ll find comfort and hope as you face your hardship or tackle the mourning process that comes after. I began writing devotionals after being healed of nearly two years of intense physical pain. Soul Focus is the fruit of that pain. Through various trials, God proved himself faithful, and I discovered that joy and peace can be found during the darkest nights of the soul. Soul Focus offers daily, life-giving encouragement to help remind you that you’re not alone. Journaling pages are included throughout to record personal inspirations and reflections on the path to healing and hope.

(Un)Tidy Christmas

christmas-tree-e1576380559953.jpgYou’ve heard me bemoan it before, my propensity to be imperfectly tidy. I admire organized living environments, but, being a recovering perfectionist, I’ve never quite managed the feat. 

I blame it on my artistic side that dominates the majority of my endeavors. I’d rather write a blog (or an entire novel), paint a painting, or plant untold numbers of flowers before applying the Marie Kondo Method to a closet or dragging a vacuum around a room. 

Being the Christmas season, I think about the birth of Jesus. If I gaze at the serene nativity on our side table, I’m tempted to see tidy. In reality, the whole thing was messy and imperfect. No planned pregnancy, no elaborate travel itinerary to Bethlehem, no opulent hotel reservations, not even a sanitary spot to deliver a baby.  Continue reading “(Un)Tidy Christmas”