Love Like Jesus

When I woke up on January 14, 2022, I couldn’t sit up, stand, or walk without excruciating sharp pain in my lower lumbar back.

Xavier picked Callie up while Alan called for an ambulance. Paramedics arrived soon after. They used a special chair to tote me down to the ambulance from our apartment on the third floor. As Alan followed the ambulance, I prayed.

I inhaled peace, grateful and confident that God was in control as the young man took my blood pressure and comforted me. I thanked him profusely. By the time I arrived at the emergency room, I’d learned the names of the two paramedics who rolled me into the emergency room. I encouraged them and promised to pray for them.

God gave me plenty of time to pray for the paramedics, the nurses, and the doctors who cared for me while Alan and I spent all day and most of the night in the emergency room.

When I laid flat on my back, the pain subsided. Any other position caused sharp pain on the left side of my lower back.

In my stillness, God helped me see beyond myself.

I saw my hurting husband, who had recently torn his Achilles heel. He wore a large boot and used a cane, as he hobbled around and tried to care for me.

I saw the medical staff, zipping in and out of my small room, and offered a word of encouragement then prayed for them as they rushed to the next patient.

After running a few tests and reviewing my x-rays, the team of doctors decided to admit me into the hospital.

A herniated disc was only one of the issues they identified as the culprit causing my pain. But my symptoms weren’t consistent with the normal patients suffering from herniated discs. My older injuries in my upper thoracic back, shoulders, and neck complicated things, too.

I saw a team of angels dressed like doctors, nurses, and hospital employees from custodial to nutrition, as they worked to admit me into the hospital.

Every person who stepped into my room showered me with compassion and love.

I couldn’t move without causing my pain levels to increase. So, I lay flat on my back and began praying for the people God allowed me to see while I let Him handle my discouragement, fear, anxiety, and despair.

By the time the Northbay angels asked Alan to leave for the night, God gave me a plan that placed peace and joy back in my peripheral vision.

I asked my husband to bring my artillery for the spiritual battle I was already fighting.

As the enemy worked hard to make me doubt the goodness and faithfulness of my mighty and merciful God, the Holy Spirit fueled me with persevering faith and empowered me to fight back.

When my pain overwhelmed me, I released my frustrations and fears through mini-meltdowns. My tears fell into the capable hands of my Savior. I felt His presence and heard His promises lifting my spirit as I read His Word and listened to worship music.

Be the end of the fifth day, I saw God’s love being poured out through people.

I saw my Facebook and Instagram families standing in the gap with prayers.

I saw nurses showing love by going out of their way to help me with pain management.

I saw doctors from three cities showing love by listening to me and working together to plan my next steps.

I saw my husband pouring love over me by caring for me selflessly, while dealing with the pain from his torn Achilles’ tendon and a few unexpected medical issues that required a biopsy and more tests. He is still waiting for test results and preparing for a surgery this month, while insisting he will take care of me!

I saw our son, Xavier, committing a selfless act of love when doctors mentioned moving me to a live-in care facility to avoid the three flights of stairs at our apartment complex. Without even being asked, Xavier offered his home as a place to heal.

During my hospital stay, I loved my doctors and nurses by offering encouragement, praying for them, and giving out over 25 copies of God Hears Her, over a dozen copies of Waiting for God, and over a dozen copies of Different Like Me.

I left the hospital knowing that my journey was only beginning, my pain would still need managing, my bills would still be mounting, but my God would still be good, faithful, able, and loving.

The Holy Spirit helped me see beyond my pain, past my current struggles, and through my worries, so I could see the mission field with people desperately needing to see the love of Jesus.

He helped me see the people sent to love on me, while I loved on them from my hospital bed and while using a walker on my way home.

Some moments were harder than others.

Sometimes I failed to love well.

Sometimes I didn’t want to respond to negative people in love. (I know I’m the only one who struggles with being stubborn and disobedient. Right?)

Sometimes I didn’t feel loved.

But every day provided opportunities to choose and receive God’s love, which always flows into our relationships.

The apostle John confirmed God’s call to love and demonstrated the power of love in 1 John 4.

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8, NLT, emphasis mine)

Love is a sacrificial and intentional choice we make day by day and an overflow of the Spirit of God’s love in us.

“This is real love ̶ not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (v. 4:10)

We cannot receive or give real love apart from Jesus.

“No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” (v. 12)

God’s children can be recognized by the way we speak, the way we act, the way we think.

John says, “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (v. 16)

Then John goes for the jugular and forces us to face ourselves in the mirror.

“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.” (vv. 20-21)

When we’re hurting physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually, we may not feel lovable or loving. But real love isn’t about our forever-fickle feelings.

With Jesus, we cannot help but love.

Our pain may not stop. Our problems may not go away. Our struggles may get harder. Our wait may seem longer. And our faith may feel weaker.

But our God never fails us, never forsakes us, and never forgets to love us so we can love Him and others with the same love that overflows from His abundance. (emphasis mine)

Love changes everything and everyone, starting with us.

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Who have you failed to love well?

How can you show love to that person selflessly this week?

How has God showed you His love this week?

How have you shown your love for God by loving people this week?

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Loving God, we cannot love without Your help. Please give us all we need to submit to Your loving Spirit as He empowers us to respond in love through every circumstance we face. Help us to love like Jesus as we live for Jesus one day at a time. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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You can love your neighbors today by helping me spread God’s love!

Give a gift that will have lasting spiritual impact on that special someone you love.

Different Like Me, one of five children’s books chosen as a finalist for the 2021 ECPA Christian Book Awards, celebrates our differences and our sameness as God’s beautifully diverse and purposefully connected image-bearers. In Different Like Me, a diverse group of children join forces to help a friend and discover that God created everyone to be different and special so we can serve together for His glory!

In Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace, I will guide you through 31 days of spirit-refreshing devotions. We will inhale God’s Word, exhale in prayer, and rest in God’s as we trust Him for healing, for provision, and for miracles when the wait feels endless.

You can shower me with love by leaving a short review on Amazon and any other review platforms you enjoy and by tagging me when you share about my books on social media, too.

Oh, how much that would bless me! The more reviews each book receives, the more Amazon places the books in front of people I can’t reach outside my sphere of influence. To God be the glory the honor and the praise!

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Thanks for being a member of my blog family!

If you are reading this article in your email, please join the conversation in the comment section on my website.

I moderate comments for the safety of our community, so your comment will not show up right away. However, I will read, reply to, and approve every comment that is appropriate to share under my blog articles.

I’m looking forward to growing with you as we remain rooted in God’s Word and growing with God’s people.

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God is Our Strength (Book Giveaway Recipient Announced)

When we have no strength left, the ever-growing weight of discouragement, frustration, fear, and pride can tempt to call on our will power instead of the power of God.

In chapter eleven of Waiting for God, I explored some of the names of God that helped deepen my understanding of His character.

The first name I mentioned was: El Shaddai, the Lord God Almighty (Psalm 91:1).

“The Lord God Almighty reigns, omnipotent and supreme with unlimited power” (Waiting for God, p. 62).

When we live as if God reigns, we view Him as the ultimate authority.

We invite Him to occupy the throne of our hearts and minds so that our attitudes and actions align with His expectations.

We delight in pleasing Him and long to obey Him, not because of obligation or obsession, but because we are overwhelmed with His love for us and overflowing with love for Him.

When we live as if we know Gods alone maintains control of every detail in our world, we will live as if He alone can influence us.

The Lord Almighty knows all we need and gives us all we need, so we can trust His decisions.

We can depend on Him to pave the right path for us, to set the right pace for us, to determine the best delays and detours for us.

We don’t need to feel strong when we know God is strong.

We can trust God to be our strength, be our peace, and be our everlasting hope.

He hasn’t failed us yet. And He will not begin failing us now.

Hallelujah!

El Shaddai, thanks for reminding us that You are Lord Almighty, unlimited in power. Help us walk by faith, like we believe this truth impacts every aspect of our lives as your disciples. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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Congratulations to Patti from Modesto, California.

I will be sending you a copy of 7 Ways to Pray: Time-Tested Practices for Encountering God by Amy Boucher Pye.

I will also be sending you a signed copy of Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace.

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Stay tuned for another exclusive giveaway for my blog subscribers in January!

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REVIVE Your Prayer Life!

Pause for Prayer with Xochitl Dixon introduces Revive Your Prayer Life: An Interview with Amy Boucher Pye, Our Daily Bread writer, speaker, spiritual director, and author of the award-winning Finding Myself in Britain, The Living Cross, Celebrating Christmas: Embracing Joy through Out and Reflection, and 7 Ways to Pray.

Join me for Revive: 31-Days of Spirit-Refreshing Biblical Encouragement and Prayers on my Instagram page and subscribe to Pause for Prayer, my YouTube channel, today!

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Thanks for being a member of my blog family!

If you are reading this article in your email, please join the conversation in the comment section on my website by clicking here, scrolling down to the comment section, and writing your message.

I moderate comments for the safety of our community, so your comment will not show up right away. However, I will read, reply to, and approve every comment that is appropriate to share under my blog articles.

I’m looking forward to growing with you as we remain rooted in God’s Word and growing with God’s people.

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Are you looking for a gift that will have lasting spiritual impact on someone you love?

Different Like Me, one of five children’s books chosen as a finalist for the 2021 ECPA Christian Book Awards, celebrates our differences and our sameness as God’s beautifully diverse and purposefully connected image-bearers. In Different Like Me, a diverse group of children join forces to help a friend and discover that God created everyone to be different and special so we can serve together for His glory!

In Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace, I will guide you through 31 days of spirit-refreshing devotions. We will inhale God’s Word, exhale in prayer, and rest in God’s as we trust Him for healing, for provision, and for miracles when the wait feels endless.

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Join me for Revive: 31-Days of Spirit-Refreshing Biblical Encouragement and Prayers.

For more information or to subscribe, please visit www.xedixon.com today!

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Finding Comfort When Christmas Comes with Heartache (Special Book Giveaway)

Somewhere, someone is hurting as the world around them revs up for the holiday festivities.

Someone is adjusting to life after a big transition.

Someone is struggling to pay bills.

Someone is grieving the loss of a loved one.

Someone is wrestling with fear or anxiety after an unexpected health diagnosis.

Someone is battling disease or struggling with pain management.

Someone is feeling rejected, lonely, forgotten, insignificant.

Someone doesn’t know how to tell their family they just lost their job, their home, their spouse, their unborn child.

We can add so many things to this list of circumstances causing someone to suffer.

You may know that someone who is hurting this Christmas.

You may even be that someone today.

If not, we can be sure that any one of us could be that someone tomorrow.

So, how can we find the comfort we need when Christmas comes with heartache?

“My comfort in suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” Psalm 119:50 (NIV)

As I prayed over this verse, I thought about the physical and emotional pain my family endured over the last year. Some of our heartaches and trials will roll over into the coming year.

Longing to gain a deeper perspective, I prayed over the psalmist’s declaration of faith, searched other translations, and found a spirit-refreshing nugget of hope that solidified my peace.

The New Living Translation says: “Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.” Psalm 119:50 (NLT)

The English Standard Version says: “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” Psalm 119:50 (ESV)

The International Standard Version says: “This is what comforts me in my troubles; that what you say revives me.” Psalm 119:50 (ISV)

The Word English Bible says: “This is my comfort in my affliction, for your word has revived me.” Psalm 119:50 (WEB)

God’s promise is what He says . . . His Word!

Yes!

God’s promise revives ̶ renews, restores back to life, makes operative again, brings back ̶ my life.

God’s promise preserves ̶ keeps alive, makes lasting, keeps safe, protects, maintains ̶ my life.

God’s promise assures us that He loves us and never leaves us.

His love is unconditional, “absolute, free from imperfection, pure, complete, without limits”  (Dictionary .com).

His presence is unrelenting, “not yielding or swerving in determination, not easing or slackening” (Dictionary .com).

God alone is able and available to handle anything and everything that happens to land on our list of afflictions.

Even while we are right smack in the middle of heart wrenching circumstances, we can trust God to be our strength, our peace, our enduring hope, and our constant and complete Giver of comfort.

Hallelujah!

God of All Comfort, thanks for using Your Holy Word to reveal Your unchanging character, Your unconditional love for us, and Your unrelenting presence with us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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REVIVE Your Prayer Life!

Pause for Prayer with Xochitl Dixon introduces Revive Your Prayer Life: An Interview with Amy Boucher Pye, Our Daily Bread writer, speaker, spiritual director, and author of the award-winning Finding Myself in Britain, The Living Cross, Celebrating Christmas: Embracing Joy through Out and Reflection, and 7 Ways to Pray.

Join me for Revive: 31-Days of Spirit-Refreshing Biblical Encouragement and Prayers on my Instagram page and subscribe to Pause for Prayer, my YouTube channel, today!

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EXCLUSIVE BOOK GIVEAWAY FOR MY BLOG SUBSCRIBERS!

TO ENTER: Let me know where you are from when you leave a comment under this blog post and you will be entered for your chance to receive a free copy of 7 Ways to Pray: Time-Tested Practices for Encountering God, written by my fellow Our Daily Bread Writer Amy Boucher Pye, and a free signed copy of my 31-day devotional, Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace. Must be a U.S. Resident to be eligible for this giveaway.

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Thanks for being a member of my blog family!

If you are reading this article in your email, please join the conversation in the comment section on my website by clicking here, scrolling down to the comment section, and writing your message. (This link only works if you are reading this blog post as a subscriber via your email inbox.)

I moderate comments for the safety of our community, so your comment will not show up right away. However, I will read, reply to, and approve every comment that is appropriate to share under my blog articles.

I’m looking forward to growing with you as we remain rooted in God’s Word and growing with God’s people.

*

Are you looking for a gift that will have lasting spiritual impact on someone you love?

Different Like Me, one of five children’s books chosen as a finalist for the 2021 ECPA Christian Book Awards, celebrates our differences and our sameness as God’s beautifully diverse and purposefully connected image-bearers. In Different Like Me, a diverse group of children join forces to help a friend and discover that God created everyone to be different and special so we can serve together for His glory!

In Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace, I will guide you through 31 days of spirit-refreshing devotions. We will inhale God’s Word, exhale in prayer, and rest in God’s love as we trust Him for healing, for provision, and for miracles when the wait feels endless.

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Revive: 31-Days of Spirit-Refreshing Biblical Encouragement and Prayer

“You are not alone. That’s not easy to remember, especially when we’re going through difficult days that stretch into months, maybe even years. When the wait feels endless, the frustration is real and the weariness can overwhelm at times. I’ve tasted the bitterness of hopelessness. How long do I have to wait, God? But I’ve also witnessed the sweetness of the Lord’s unchanging goodness and loving faithfulness as He showed me that patience has nothing to do with waiting for Him.” (Excerpt from Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace, Our Daily Bread Publishing, 2019)

Shortly after I penned those words in 2018, God planted my husband and me in an unfamiliar town right smack in the middle of the tundra and changed my perspective on waiting as an act of worship.

After our world hit pause during the pandemic, He led us from Wisconsin back to California. I would miss the new friends God sent me in the Midwest, but I couldn’t wait to return home.

I never expected our first year back would deplete me physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually while shoving me right back into the pit of loneliness, discouragement, insecurity, and hopelessness.

My health took a downward spiral. We stayed in a hotel for almost a month because we couldn’t find a rental house with a yard. Once we found a place, my husband and I quickly began dreading the three flights of stairs that led to our small apartment.

Though blow after blow of unexpected trials and disappointments hit us from all sides, God didn’t hold back on His blessings during those trying months.

Since our return to California in September 2020, God led us to multiple closed doors before unlocking the bolted door to our new home, which is not yet move-in ready, and a new job for my husband.

God provided a new doctor in California who is working to improve my mobility. He gave me more opportunities to use writing as a tool to serve Him, too.

I’ll share more about those praises and prayer requests later this month.

Though this year has been strained with trials, each day has been sprinkled with triumphs that make it tough not to praise the Lord.

Still, the walk hasn’t been easy. A few weeks ago, I couldn’t even walk from my bathroom to the bedroom. I’m still recovering from my last procedure.

So, here I am again . . . waiting for God and trusting daily in His plan and pace . . . . again . . . one painful step at a time . . . and sometimes . . . one strained breath at a time.

As I wait for God expectantly, submit to Him completely, and rely on Him intimately, I am practicing the art of rejoicing as He restores me through each moment of surrender.

I’m asking Him to help me draw nearer to Him and open up to Him with courageous honesty and confident faith.

I’m looking forward to sharing this journey with you.

Through the month of December 2021, I will be reading one chapter a day of Waiting for God.

I hope you will join me for this special time of reflection as we explore keeping in step with the Spirit when our strength is depleted.

Connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and here on my blog December 1-31, 2021 for Revive: 31-Days of Spirit-Refreshing Biblical Encouragement and Prayer.

I look forward to growing with you!

Merciful Creator and Sustainer, thanks for being my strength, my peace, and my enduring hope as I walk with You when I feel like I have nothing left to give. Revive my faith with Your God-breathed words of Scripture and Your promised presence in all circumstances. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 If your heart is weary and longing for answers—for healing, for provision, for miracles—Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace renews your hope with strong biblical truth and encouraging Scripture-based prayer. Guided to inhale God’s Word, exhale in prayer, and rest in God’s love, you will be restored, able to worship the Lord even when the wait feels endless.

 

I share personal stories and the experiences of others to help you reclaim your peace and joy, knowing God has not forgotten you.

 

You can love your neighbors by ordering extra copies of Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace to share as gifts. To God be the glory!

If you are looking for the perfect story to show your child that being different is okay, Different Like Me is what you need.

Take a fanciful, colorful journey with a diverse group of children as they collectively work to bring a large fish balloon toward a surprising conclusion in Different Like Me. While encountering the differences that could divide them, they also discover what brings them together.

Different Like Me, one of five books nominated as a 2021 ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist in the children’s book category, is perfect for children ages 3 to 7 and shows children with physical disabilities, communication limitations, and cultural distinctions coming together.

Empower young readers to embrace their uniqueness and rejoice in God’s beautiful and intentional diversity.

You can love your neighbors by ordering extra copies of Different Like Me to share as gifts!

Endorsements

Written with whimsical rhyming text, this book celebrates and embraces diversity and uniqueness, yet emphasizes the ways we are all alike. It’s relatable to all ethnicities and belongs in every home and school library.  ̴ Crystal Bowman, award-winning, best-selling author of more than 100 books for children 

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Different Like Me is just the book to help children understand the value of each and every child of God. Its powerful message will help children of all ages embrace their own God-given uniqueness and that of other children around them.   ̴ Elisa Morgan, Author, Speaker, Media Host Our Daily Bread Ministries

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Do they like me? Are they like me? Could we be friends?

This lyrical book gently invites readers to recognize that we are each God’s beautifully unique image-bearers. He Hand-crafted us for His pleasure and glory, for friendship, and to love one another. Every child will find themselves on the pages of Different, Like Me. I look at my bookshelf, what do I see? Sweet affirmation, of you, and of me.   ̴ Sandra Byrd, author of the best-selling, The One Year Be-Tween You and God: Devotions for Girls 

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Do You Have a Heart of Love?

Suggested Reading: Ruth 1

The nurse placed my newborn son, Xavier, on my chest. I stared into his dark brown eyes. When His chubby cheek jiggled when I kissed him. At that moment, I began to understand the meaning of unconditional love. Nothing could make me stop loving that tiny human. Nobody mattered more than Xavier.

My doctor was still caring for me when the nurse took Xavier from my arms. I turned toward my husband. “Go with him,” I said. “Don’t let him out of your sight.”

He had stopped at my bedside. “What about you?”

“He’s the only one who matters now,” I said, waving him away. “Go. Please.”

Another nurse helped me until I was ready to join my husband in the nursery.

The moment I first saw Xavier’s beautiful face is seared into my memory. I’d never loved any human as much as I loved Xavier.

That obsessive love led to a child-centered marriage, which was not healthy.

I still remember the day when my husband said, “After Xavier was born, I stopped existing in your world.”

Sadly, he wasn’t wrong. We struggled but agreed to stay together . . . for Xavier.

Marital problems led to a legal separation. For three months, Xavier and I lived over seven-hundred and fifty miles away from my husband and my stepson, AJ.

One night, my sweet boy packed up his toys and a few choice snacks. “I need a ride to the airport, Mommy,” he said. “Daddy needs us to be home.”

After allowing Xavier to talk to his dad, I sang him to sleep. I had an honest conversation with my husband later that night. We agreed some things had to change and decided to work things out . . . mostly for Xavier.

But when Xavier was five years old, I surrendered my life to Jesus.

As I studied God’s Word, I grew closer to Him and began to understand the meaning of selfless love. God has used His Word to help me better understand the way He loves me and the way I need to love Him and others in a healthy and holy way.

When studying the book of Ruth, I naturally gravitated to the main character. I admired Ruth’s strength and her dedication to loving and caring for her mother-in-law.

But sometimes, I wondered why she didn’t want to go home. Why would Ruth leave her family to follow Naomi into a life of struggle and sacrifice that she’d undoubtedly face with Naomi?

As I learned to look closer when studying Scripture, I began to focus on other details that could easily be skimmed over when approaching the Bible with a one-track mind.

During one deep dive into Scripture, I discovered Naomi’s heart of love.

In Ruth 1, Naomi demonstrates what our lives will look like if we have a heart of love.

  1. A Heart of Love remains committed, regardless of how difficult the road ahead may be.

Naomi followed her husband to an unknown country. The famine probably made it easier to leave the familiar place she called home. But what else did she have to leave behind?

Scripture says her husband took his family with him (v. 1). They walked away from everything they knew, everything they depended on, and everything that they had once called home.

“And when they reached Moab they settled there” (v. 2)

Moab means “land beyond the Jordan,” a land “just short of the Promised Land,” or “from the Father.”

In the ten years they stayed in Moab, Naomi experienced great heartache. Scripture affirms her husband died but doesn’t give the ages of her sons when he passed (v. 3).

How long was he alive after they reached Moab? How did this single mom survive in the middle of a land that was historically considered an enemy of Israel? How often was Naomi reminded that the Promised Land was just beyond her reach?

When her sons got married to Moabites, they didn’t have children for about ten years (v. 4). Then, her sons died and “left Naomi alone” (v. 5).

How did Naomi feel when she looked around and realized she was all alone in a land she couldn’t really call her own? Did she want to give up, to run away, to lash out at her daughters-in-law?

While we can’t figure out what Scripture doesn’t share about Naomi, we can see what she did.

  1. A Heart of Love places the needs of others first.

Naomi obviously had a good relationship with her daughters-in-law. They wouldn’t have wanted to leave their homeland if they didn’t trust her love for them.

Though she was alone, a widow with no sons who would have no one to care for her as she grew older, Naomi placed the needs of her daughters-in-law before her own. She urged them to return to their families and acknowledged that they had been good to her, her husband, and their husbands (vv. 6-8).

With a heartbreaking goodbye, Naomi prayed they would find new husbands to care for them (v. 9).

“No,” they said. “We want to go with you to your people” (v. 10).

But Naomi knew she had nothing to offer them, so she begged them to leave her (vv. 11-13). Even though she would be left with nothing if her daughters-in-law returned to their homes, Naomi chose to protect them from suffering.

The mutual love seems evident as Naomi begs them to go back to their families and the women weep as they struggle to say goodbye (v. 14-15).

And Ruth outright refuses to leave her mother-in-law (vv. 16-17). This act of devotion is often what seems to stand out when readers first approach. But if we remain focused on Ruth, we miss out on Naomi’s expression of love toward her daughter-in-law.

  1. A Heart of Love has compassion for others and willingly compromises for their good.

“When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more” (v. 18).

No nagging. No “told-you-so” comments when the situations got too hard.

Naomi traveled with Ruth and continued her grieving process with vulnerability and transparency, which seemed to only strengthened their bond (vv. 19-21).

Though Naomi wanted to spare Ruth the suffering she knew single women would have to endure, she showed compassion for her daughter-in-law. She embraced Ruth and compromised so they could move forward.

“So Naomi returned from Moab, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth, the young Moabite woman. They arrived in Bethlehem in late spring, at the beginning of the barley harvest” (v. 22).

Naomi had compassion on the young woman and compromised what she wanted for the good of what her beloved daughter-in-law needed.

When they arrived, the harvest was beginning, their new life was unfolding before them as they lived with hearts of love.

As we face changes in our lives, we may have no choice but to process our grief, face our fears, and wrestle with loneliness.

Blaming God and pushing others away, even when we believe it’s for their own good, can keep us from enjoying the harvest of new beginnings within a community.

When we let our guard down and surrender to being loved by God and others, we can experience peace as we walk through trials and victories.

We can’t avoid processing our feelings. But we can avoid doing life on our own.

How has God helped you learn to embrace His love through someone who is relentless in loving you?

Loving God, thanks for reminding us that we can love because You love us first. Please give us Spirit-empowered courage as we shake off anything that hinders us from receiving Your perfect love and loving others in healthy and holy ways. Help us to see others with compassion as we learn to live day-by-day with Hearts of Love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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CELEBRATING GOD’S LOVE THROUGH COMMUNITY

I am excited about the opportunity to celebrate God’s love with three of my fellow 2021 ECPA Christian Book Award Finalists and, Tessa Afshar, the 2021 ECPA Christian Book Award Winner of the Bible Study Category.

Each week in the month of September, I will be sharing a devotion about God’s love and introducing one of these authors with a short introduction to their award-winning book.

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This week, I would like to introduce you to my  friend, award-winning and best-selling author Pam Farrel.

Pam Farrel is the author of 54 books including the 2021 ECPA Finalist for Bible Study of the Year:  Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament: A Creative Bible Study Experience (co-authored with Jean E Jones and Karla Dornacher). Pam is an international speaker and bestselling author. Together with her husband, Bill, they run Love-Wise ministry, helping people with their most vital relationships.

In Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament: A Creative Bible Study Experience, you will discover all God has planned since before the foundation of the earth. Through compelling instruction and motivational devotions, each chapter reveals God’s redemptive plan from the beginning of creation. Explore:

-Timeline icons to help you track God’s plan through the Old Testament.

– Key questions at the beginning of each section to guide your focus.

– Opportunities for creative expression, including full-page graphics and bookmarks to color.

– Sidebars that offer fascinating historical insights.

– Practical application questions to guide and deepen your walk with Christ.

– Online opportunities for connection and interactive community

As you discover new ways to engage with God’s Word through this in-depth approach to studying Scripture, you will gain wisdom and understanding about his incredible, unchanging love for you.

You can also connect with Pam on her website, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

Please CLICK HERE to love your neighbors by ordering an extra copies of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament: A Creative Bible Study Experience (co-authored with Jean E Jones and Karla Dornacher) to share as gifts.

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Earlier this month, I invited you to check out Worship Expressed, our brand-new family ministry. Worship Expressed is an online store where you can purchase Christian apparel and accessories that I have prayed over while designing. We even have a few designs created by our son, Xavier.

WE are adding to our product line and will be working with Christian authors to create a few special collections before the holiday season arrives.

Please help us invite others to worship God through our attitudes, our words, our actions, and the Worship Expressed apparel and accessories we choose to use and wear every day.

How can you partner in ministry with the Worship Expressed family?

  1. Click here to “LIKE” the Worship Expressed with Xochitl Dixon page on Facebook, then “Like” and “Share” some of our posts.
  2. Click here to “Follow” the Worship Expressed page on Instagram, then “Heart” and “Share” some of our posts.
  3. Click here to visit, shop, or join the Worship Expressed family by creating an account.
  4. Take photos of you enjoying your Worship Expressed apparel and accessories and tag us on social media.
  5. Contact us through the Worship Expressed website to share your testimonies about how God used your Worship Expressed apparel and accessories to help you invite people to talk about Him, praise Him, and share the Gospel with others.
  6. Love your neighbors by ordering extra Worship Expressed apparel and accessories to share as gifts.

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Do you need spiritual refreshment today?

If your heart is weary and longing for answers—for healing, for provision, for miracles—Waiting for God renews your hope with strong biblical truth and encouraging Scripture-based prayer. Guided to inhale God’s Word, exhale in prayer, and rest in God’s love, you will be restored, able to worship the Lord even when the wait feels endless.

Love your neighbors by ordering extra copies of Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace today!

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Thanks for being a member of my blog family!

I hope you will connect with me in the comment section under this blog post.

If you are reading this article in your email, you can reply to this email OR join the conversation in the comment section on my website by clicking here, scrolling down to the comment section, and writing your message.

I moderate comments for the safety of our community, so your comment will not show up right away. However, I will read, reply to, and approve every comment that is appropriate to share under my blog articles.

I’m looking forward to growing with you as we remain rooted in God’s Word and growing with God’s people.

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Living Like a Masterpiece

Suggested Reading: Ephesians 2:1-18

As I celebrated my 51st birthday, I reflected on how my life has gone nothing like I’d planned!

I’m also admitting that God’s plan is way better than anything I could have imagined. And I have a pretty active imagination.

Though some seasons have seemed a bit too-stormy and some roads have felt a bit too-long and too-hard, God has always brought me through.

He’s never wasted an experience, good or bad. He’s refined me in ways I never realized I needed. And, oh how He’s blessed me beyond what I dared to dream possible.

Still, sometimes, I don’t live like I believe what He says about me.

If you’ve ever struggled with believing what God says about you, please check out the Worship Expressed God Says I Am . . . Collection today.

Then, check out Ephesians 2, where the apostle Paul explores the benefits of being made alive in Christ.

Paul writes: “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil ̶ the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.” (Ephesians 2:1-2, NLT)

I can imagine the apostle grabbing his fellow believers by their shoulders and giving them a good shake.

“Why are you insisting on living as if you’re still dead in your sins?”

Paul reminds us that none of us can escape the reality of being dead in our own muck before Jesus.

All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature” (v. 3, emphasis mine).

Then, Paul uses one of the most powerful declarations in the Bible: But God!

But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved.)” (vv. 4-5, emphasis mine).

Paul reveals the link between life and death is our wholehearted belief in who Jesus was and is and always will be, as well as what Jesus did when He died on the cross and rose from the tomb three days later.

Our complete dependence on God the Father secures our ability to live like we believe the reality of our new-life status through our intimate connection with God the Son, Jesus Christ, which is only possible through God the Spirit.

“For He . . .” signifies a reliance on God, not self.

The pressure to live for God with loving obedience and faith is not on us, in our weakness, but on our willingness to surrender to God and rely on the strength of His Spirit who dwells in us.

Because of God ̶ of who He is and what He accomplished through the cross and the resurrection of Jesus, as well as from before He created the world and into all eternity ̶ Paul’s following statements stand on firmly established truth.

For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us who are united in Christ Jesus.” (vv. 6-7)

God’s work is finished.

God’s plan is, always has been, and will always be in motion, but His destination has already been reached.

We already have a secured spot, a place at His table, a guaranteed reservation that impacts our lives on this side of eternity.

The life-transforming power of Paul’s message is clear.

“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:8-10, NLT, emphasis mine)

We received God’s gift of salvation because we are His masterpiece . . . “we” being plural.

In our me-centered world, it’s tempting to take these verses to encourage ourselves, build up our self-esteem, pep-talk our way into not giving up. When we do this, we miss one vital aspect of Paul’s main point.

Paul draws our attention to our union in Christ and with one another when he affirms that we, as the community of believers ̶ the Church ̶ are God’s masterpiece.

Once singular and self-centered, we are now made “anew” as an interdependent body of cherished children. God has entrusted each of us individually and us collectively with gifts intended for us to steward with Spirit-empowered wisdom, courage, and commitment to Kingdom-Building.

God planned our paths long ago and has been guiding our steps, molding us through refining fires, and empowering us to live like a masterpiece ̶ connected to Him and others through Christ’s life and sacrificial love shown on the cross and as He rose from the tomb.

“Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of His death on the cross, and our hostility toward one another was put to death.” (v. 16)

Because the fruit of the Spirit cannot help but be evident in the life of believers in Jesus, those who truly place their faith in Christ simply cannot be hostile toward one another or toward nonbelievers.

“We are carefully joined together in Him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.” (v. 21)

We are a masterpiece . . . together.

We can ask God to help us believe what He says about us in the God-breathed words of Scripture.

We can ask God to help us surrender to Him as we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.

God is waiting for us to lift our arms high with confidence in His ability to empower us to live like a masterpiece ̶ each one dependent on God and interdependently serving God and others.

As active members of the Church, dedicated to bringing Him glory, we can fulfill His greatest commandment and the great commission.

What can you do this week to live like a masterpiece ̶ as a loving member of the Church God loves and uses for His glory?

How has God changed your perspective on your need for Him and the Church over the last year? 

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Last month, I served alongside three talented Christian Children’s picture book authors to explore why representation in children’s literature matters.

This month I am celebrating God’s love with these wonderful Kingdom-Builders who have been honored, along with me, as 2021 ECPA Children’s Book Award Finalists and a Winner.

This week, I have the privilege of being the highlighted author as these phenomenal women of God lift me up, encourage me, and help me reach more people for Jesus by helping me spread the word about Different Like Me.

I need your help, too.

If you have read Different Like Me, would you please write a short review on Amazon?

Reviews can help Amazon place Different Like Me in front of more readers.

To write an Amazon review, please click here, sign in, and answer the following questions:

  1. Why do you like Different Like Me?
  2. Would you recommend Different Like Me to others?
  3. How have you shared Different Like Me with others?
  4. (Optional) How has God used Different Like Me to encourage you or your little readers?

You can also partner with me in ministry by helping reach readers in your personal sphere of influence in the following ways:

  1. Invite me to an in-person or Zoom author visit, during which I will read Different Like Me and visit with the children at your church, school, homeschool group, afterschool program, and kids’ event (i.e. Vacation Bible School, MOPS meeting or event, AWANA, Harvest Festival, Angel Tree Party, etc).
  2. Connect with me to gather sponsors who will donate signed copies of Different Like Me to give away to all the children who participate in your kids’ event (i.e. Vacation Bible School, MOPS meeting or event, AWANA, Harvest Festival, Angel Tree Party, etc).
  3. Love your neighbors by ordering extra copies of Different Like Me to share as gifts.
  4. Keep an extra copy of Different Like Me in your car and ask God to show you who He wants to receive your gift.
  5. Donate copies of Different Like Me to your local libraries, Little Free Libraries in your community, local churches, local schools, individual classrooms, afterschool programs, foster care centers, children’s hospitals, and more.

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God is working in amazing and surprising ways this year as I team up with more folks who are dedicated to sharing God’s truth and love to the ends of the earth!

My husband, Alan, our youngest son, Xavier, and I have said “yes” to an wonderful outreach ministry opportunity.

In September we launched Worship Expressed, an online store where you can purchase Christian apparel and accessories that I have prayed over while designing. We even have a few designs created by our son, Xavier.

Worship Expressed is adding to our product line and will be working with Christian authors to create a few special collections before the holiday season arrives.

Please help us invite others to worship God through our attitudes, our words, our actions, and the Worship Expressed apparel and accessories we choose to use and wear every day.

How can you partner in ministry with the Worship Expressed family?

  1. Click here to “LIKE” the Worship Expressed with Xochitl Dixon page on Facebook, then “Like” and “Share” some of our posts.
  2. Click here to “Follow” the Worship Expressed page on Instagram, then “Heart” and “Share” some of our posts.
  3. Click here to visit, shop, or join the Worship Expressed family by creating an account.
  4. Take photos of you enjoying your Worship Expressed apparel and accessories and tag us on social media.
  5. Contact us through the Worship Expressed website to share your testimonies about how God used your Worship Expressed apparel and accessories to help you invite people to talk about Him, praise Him, and share the Gospel with others.
  6. Love your neighbors by ordering extra Worship Expressed apparel and accessories to share as gifts.

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Thanks for being a member of my blog family!

I hope you will connect with me in the comment section under this blog post.

If you are reading this article in your email, you can reply to this email OR join the conversation in the comment section on my website by clicking here, scrolling down to the comment section, and writing your message.

I moderate comments for the safety of our community, so your comment will not show up right away. However, I will read, reply to, and approve every comment that is appropriate to share under my blog articles.

I’m looking forward to growing with you as we remain rooted in God’s Word and growing with God’s people.

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How Can We Tell if We’re Loving Like Jesus? (Giveaway Winner Announced, Too!)

Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

I walked into the senior living center with my son, then a kindergartener. Breathing a prayer, I entered the password that would open the locked door that kept the Alzheimer’s patients safe inside. Visiting my mother-in-love after church had become a regular part of our Sunday schedule.

Xavier didn’t notice his grandmother couldn’t remember his name. He just enjoyed her company. She seemed interested in everything he showed her. She listened to his stories and responded in animated ways. She laughed at his jokes. And she hugged him.

We never stayed long. I didn’t want him to realize that she thought we were just some nice people who had dropped in for a visit.

The weekly trips weren’t always easy or enjoyable for me.

She’d served as an elementary teacher for decades and used to tell me stories about her students. I missed her witty sense of humor, the glint she’d get in her eye when she dropped knowledge to help me navigate life as a wife and mother.

I missed the way she said she was proud of me, that she believed in me when I shared my dream of being a writer one day. I missed hearing her talk about Jesus, even though I’d brushed off her attempts to share the Gospel and rejected her invitations to church. I missed knowing she was praying for me, for years before I surrendered my life to Christ, even though I pretended I didn’t care.

She wouldn’t understand if I told her that God had answered her prayers, that I was finally head over heels in love with Jesus.

She’d faithfully given me copies of the Our Daily Bread quarterly booklets and invited me to church, even though I mocked her and asked her to keep her God out of our relationship.

I often imagine how excited she would be to read my Our Daily Bread devotions, if she was still alive. I imagine how she would tell her friends at church that I was her daughter-in-law, invite me to her church events, and tell everyone to buy my books. I would go.

Alzheimer’s took my mother-in-law away from us years before she entered the loving arms of Jesus.

When I think about those weekly visits, how hard it was for me to go when I knew she wouldn’t remember me . . . how I eventually stopped going every week . . . I wish I would have loved her more like Jesus.

I wish I would have worried more about how hard the situation was for her, instead of griping about how hard the visits were for me.

I wish I would have told her how much I loved her, how much I appreciated her . . . before and after the disease started tugging her away from our family.

I wish I would have known what Jesus-love . . . selfless love . . . really looked like.

The apostle Paul gives us a clear picture of love in 1 Corinthians 13.

Paul tells the church of Corinth that their abilities, their knowledge, their kind deeds or good intentions were worthless if not motivated by, executed in, and saturated with love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

He gave them, and us, a clear and concise definition of love.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (vv. 4-7, emphasis mine)

The love Paul speaks of in these verses is the kind of love God has for the people He has created, selfless love rooted in choice and commitment not fleeting and unreliable feelings.

Agape love doesn’t demand anything in return, but instead gives generously and sacrificially.

Agape love isn’t conditional or used to manipulate.

Agape love never fails (v. 8a).

Paul affirms the futility of our gifts, talents, and knowledge when they are not firmly established and generously extended toward others as sacrificial expressions of love.

The apostle acknowledges that we can’t possibly understand this depth of love in all its completeness on this side of eternity or while we’re spiritually immature (vv. 8b-10).

But he gives us hope in our ability to grow in the way we experience and express sacrificial love (v. 11). With a bold confidence, the apostle proclaims we will know agape love when we “see face to face” . . . when Jesus returns or calls us home (v. 12).

Agape love can be seen and felt on this side of eternity when we look at Jesus and use the love-barometer found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

So, how can we tell if we’re loving like Jesus?

Are we patient?

Are we kind?

Are we free of envy?

Do we refuse to boast?

Do we live without pride?

Do we avoid dishonoring others?

Do we serve others selflessly instead of being self-seeking?

Do we avoid being easily angered?

Do we refuse to keep a record of wrongs?

Do we refuse to delight in evil?

Do we rejoice with the truth?

Do our attitudes, words, and actions always protect?

Do we always trust, always hope, always persevere?

Can we answer “yes” to all of these questions when we’re giving generously and getting nothing in return, when someone is gossiping about us, when someone betrays us, when someone reject us?

Love does.

The apostle John reminds us that we cannot love this perfectly on this side of eternity without the supernatural power of God in us, without constant and intimate connection with God.

“God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. God is love and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (1 John 4:16)

John is speaking of an ongoing relationship, a never-ceasing acknowledging of God, dependence on God, a living and breathing intimacy that transforms the way we think, the way we speak, the way we interact with God and others.

Agape love cannot be contained or experienced apart from community.

Agape love cannot help but overflow into our relationships.

Agape love doesn’t demand or even consider deserving accolades or reciprocation.

What would happen if all of God’s people loved all of our neighbors, all those God created, loved, and died for on the cross at Calvary with agape love?

 How does knowing God loves us with agape love change us and inspire us to love Him and others?

God, thanks for loving us, for loving the world, so much that You sent Your one and only Son, Jesus, to save us. Thanks for loving us so much that You gave us the Holy Spirit, who loves us as we are but loves us too much to allow us to remain the same after we experience the transforming power of agape love. Help us love like Jesus every day because we are loved every day in every way. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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I hope you enjoyed the Representation Matters blog series.

Congratulations to Rachel Cho, who will be receiving a copy of Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina Gilmore-Young, My Breakfast with Jesus by Tina M. Cho, The Celebration Place by Dorena Williamson, and Different Like Me by me (Xochitl Dixon).

We appreciate every person who entered by following our pages on Instagram.

If you haven’t connected with us on Instagram, I hope you will do so today. We all have some great books already out and some wonderful projects to be released soon.

If you don’t want to miss the book updates and any other giveaways we’ll be hosting, please connect with us by clicking the following links to our websites and Instagram pages.

Dorina Gilmore-Young @dorinagilmore

Dorena Williamson @dorenawilliamson

Tina M. Cho @tinamcho

Xochitl Dixon @xochitl.e.dixon

AND if you want to enjoy lots of adorable service dog photos, please follow Callie on Instagram @callie.the.service.dog today

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ANOTHER GREAT SERIES?

I am excited about the opportunity to celebrate God’s love with three of my fellow 2021 ECPA Christian Book Award Finalists and, Tessa Afshar, the 2021 ECPA Christian Book Award Winner of the Bible Study Category.

Each week in the month of September, I will be sharing a devotion about God’s love and introducing one of these authors with a short introduction to their award-winning book.

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This week, I would like to introduce you to my mentor and friend, award-winning and best-selling author Crystal Bowman.

Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books for children and families. She is the creator and co-author of Our Daily Bread for Kids, M is for Manger, and the 2021 ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist I Love You to the Stars—When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembers. She is also a conference speaker, freelance editor, and contributor to several blogs.

More than 3 million copies of her books have sold internationally, and her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. She is a regular contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and writes lyrics for children’s piano music. She and her husband enjoy spending time with their grown children and seven huggable grandkids.

In I Love You to the Stars ̶ When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembers, a young boy is happy when his grandma comes to live with them, but when she starts forgetting things and acts differently, she needs to move to another home. The boy learns that their love continues even though her memory is fading.

I interviewed Crystal for the Pause for Prayer series on my YouTube channel. We laughed. We cried. We praised God. And we prayed together. We discussed selfless love and how God’s love impacts the way we love others. Crystal also shares a story that inspired me to persevere when I was feeling depleted and discouraged. Click here to watch the video.

You can also connect with Crystal on her website, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

Please CLICK HERE to love your neighbors by ordering an extra copy of I Love You to the Stars ̶ When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembers to share as gifts.

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Thanks for celebrating God’s love with me, Blog Family! I am grateful for each and every one of you!

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To join the conversation, please leave a comment below.

If you received this blog post in your email inbox, I would love for you to join the conversation on my website.

Please CLICK HERE and scroll down to the comment section to leave your reply. I am looking forward to connecting with you!

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My Dream of Being a Smuggler (Big News, Invitation, and Mega Diverse Book Giveaway)

Suggested Reading: Acts 1:1-11

Have you ever had to release your grip on a dream?

When I first surrendered my life to Christ in 2001, I wanted to share His truth and love to the ends of the earth. I dreamed of serving the Lord through mission trips. My husband said mission trips were not for him, so I decided to wait until our sons grew up. I secretly prayed our sons would have missionary hearts and join me in international ministry.

After watching a video showing a group of people in China receiving Bibles smuggled into the country in suitcases and weeping as they savored the God-breathed words of Scripture, I dreamed of becoming a Bible smuggler.

In 2011, I attended a Christian writers conference and spoke with a well-known agent about using writing as a tool for ministry. He asked me if I wanted to use writing for ministry or if I wanted my name on a book.

I said, “I want to share God’s truth and love to the ends of the earth and I don’t care how.”

He said, “Don’t forget the ministry of magazine writing.”

God used that conversation to lead me into a mission field I never considered possible.

But in September 2012, when I turned to pick up a paper from my desk, I ended up writhing in pain on the floor. My overcompensation to ease the pain from my 1992 upper thoracic back injury caused damage in my shoulders and neck. I had my first back procedure and shoulder surgery before the end of the year.

In January 2014, after numerous back procedures and two months before my second shoulder surgery, my mom fell while walking through a parking lot. When doctors reviewed her blood samples in preparation for her procedure, they diagnosed her with Leukemia. They placed her on bone marrow transplant list and sent her to Seattle for treatment in June, just a few weeks before our youngest son graduated from high school.

As we celebrated his achievement, I prepared to move out-of-state to serve as my mom’s live-in caregiver.

I wouldn’t be traveling to China that year.

A few of my aunts visited us in Seattle in September. They helped me celebrate my birthday by paying for me to attend a Christian writers conference the following year, to celebrate my mom’s remission.

After my aunts left, my mom encouraged me to continue using writing to encourage others and point to Jesus. She believed in me and didn’t laugh at me when I shared about my dream to become a Bible smuggler.

I started to dream again and repeated my 2001 prayer.

Lord, I want to share Your truth and love to the ends of the earth and I don’t care how!

My mom danced into the arms of Jesus in October 2014.

I went to that Christian writers conference, still tender with grief, and heard Robin Jones Gunn share about how she had dreamed of being a missionary.

She shared how God kept closing doors when she took the steps enter the mission field and how, years after allowing that dream to die, a young girl from the middle east sent her a letter. The reader thanked Robin for sharing Scriptures in her teen novels. She said she would never be allowed to read the Bible and asked Robin to add more Scripture into her novels.

Then, this young girl said she had prayed to receive Christ as her personal Lord and Savior with the character in the story Robin penned.

God allowed Robin to become a missionary as He sent her words to this young reader.

Weeping, I wrote these words in my notebook: Lord, please use the words I write to share Your truth and love to the ends of the earth . . . and I don’t care how!

During that conference, I received an email informing me that I’d been accepted to serve as a contributing writer for Our Daily Bread Ministries. I found that same agent and shared my news with him.

I would be smuggling Bible verses into China!

God is still allowing me to serve as a missionary, sharing His truth and love to the ends of the earth in ways I never dared to dream possible.

On July 22, 2021, two years after China banned online sales of Bibles, Our Daily Bread Publishing informed me that Different Like Me, which includes Genesis 1:27 and Psalm 139:13-14, is being published in Simplified Chinese.

To God be the glory, the honor, and the praise, praise, praise!

In Acts 1:1-13, moments before His ascension, Jesus establishes the disciples’ purpose and their Power Source.

“He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8, emphasis mine)

Jesus is coming again.

Until He does, we have the pleasure and privilege of sharing His truth and love to the ends of the earth . . . however and whenever He gives us the opportunities.

AND when we work together, we can reach more people for Jesus.

Hallelujah!

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BIG NEWS

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The Lord has blessed me with another wonderful ministry opportunity.

Alan, Xavier, and I are excited to announce the launch of our new family ministry.

Worship Expressed offers Christian apparel and accessories that I design.

I pray for those who will be joining me to worship God through our attitudes, words, actions, and the apparel and accessories we choose to use and wear every day.

Worship Expressed currently offers T-shirts, totes, mugs, steel water bottles, and journals in a variety of styles and colors

I’m currently designing sweatshirts and a few home décor items.

A percentage of all profits from Worship Expressed will be donated to Our Daily Bread Ministries and Compassion International.

Worship Expressed will also host periodic fundraisers to raise awareness for Muscular Dystrophy, childhood cancer, autism, and other ministries that serve children with special needs.

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Would you like to partner with me in ministry as the Lord continues to allow me to share His truth and love to the ends of the earth?

I need Praying-Peeps and Patron Planters.

Praying-Peeps commit to praying as God opens doors for me to serve Him.

Patron Planters join me in planting seeds of God’s truth in the hearts of readers by:

  1. Loving your neighbors by ordering Worship Expressed items and extra copies of Waiting for God and Different Like Me to share as gifts.
  2. Sharing photos of you with your Worship Expressed items and with copies of Waiting for God and Different Like Me on social media.
  3. Host an Author Reading or invite me to share a message at your next event.
  4. Order Worship Expressed items or contact me to inquire about designing custom items for:

* Church Events

* Bible Study Group

* Pastor Appreciation Day

* Church Staff Appreciation

* Ministry Leader Appreciation

* Family Reunions

* Ministry Teams

* Writers Groups

* Writers Conferences

* Fundraisers

* And MORE!

  1. Donate Waiting for God and Different Like Me to public libraries, school classrooms and libraries, free little libraries, church libraries, ministry leaders, and community programs that serve children and adults in need.

I thank God for your partnership in sharing His truth and love to the ends of the earth!

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BOOK GIVEAWAY

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I hope you enjoyed the “Representation Matters” blog series.

That special announcement I told you about is actually a MEGA BOOK GIVEAWAY, which includes signed and personalized copies of the following 4 books:

1. Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young

2. Different Like Me by Xochitl Dixon

3. Breakfast with Jesus by Tina M. Cho

4. The Celebration Place by Dorena Williamson

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How do you qualify to be considered for this Mega Book Giveaway?

Follow ALL FOUR authors on Instagram by clicking on the links below:

@DorinaGilmore

@xochitl.e.dixon

@tinamcho

@dorenawilliamson

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This giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram. All ages can win the giveaway if they have an Instagram account.

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One winner will be chosen at random and announced on Instagram by noon PT/3 pm CT on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. Prizes will be shipped to one winner at a U.S. address only.
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If you received this message in your email inbox, click here to join the conversation by making a comment under the original article on my blog.

I look forward to connecting and growing with you!

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Making Room at the Table

Suggested Reading: John 20:30-21:25

For most of my life, my family spent holidays with people who weren’t related to us by blood. If we found out someone didn’t have a place to go, we invited them to join us.

After my husband and I got married, we continued the tradition. Our sons became accustomed to enjoying fellowship over food with others.

When we became Christians, we even rang in the New Year at church with a family game night.

My Bible study groups worked the same way. We always added an empty chair to the circle, as a reminder for everyone to invite and welcome new people.

We learned to consider making room at the table a pleasure and a privilege, as well as acts of obeying and worshipping God.

Life happened over the years. We moved out of our close-knit neighborhood, experienced our first heartbreak within the Church, and followed God’s leading to a new church family.

In 2018, we moved out-of-state and, two years later, returned to our home state to live in transition . . . for over a year . . . during a pandemic.

I can’t pinpoint when we stopped being as committed to being intentional about making room at the table.

But as we wait for our new home to be ready for move-in, I’m asking God to help us connect with the people He chooses to be our neighbors as we settle into a new community.

I’m asking God to help us commit to being intentional about connecting with our family and with people in all areas of our lives.

Having a full life as a believer in Jesus requires nurturing intimate relationships with Him and others.

These relationships will look different for all of us, since we are uniquely designed to function and fellowship with God and others in different ways.

For these same reasons, these relationships will also be complicated and sometimes include conflict.

However, the apostle John gives us four things we can do to help us navigate these relationships so we can live as Kingdom-Builders, people committed to living and loving for Jesus in every aspect of our lives.

  1. Engage with Purpose (John 20:30-31)

In John 20:30-31, the apostle defines his purpose in writing what we now know as the Gospel of John.

“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30-31, emphasis mine)

Believing in Jesus becomes the foundation that anchors us when we’re navigating through the various seasons of life. This belief also secures our purpose . . . our calling.

According to Jesus, we are called to obey the Greatest Commandment ̶ to love God and others ̶ and to fulfill the Great Commission ̶ to share God with others (Matthew 22:36-40; Matthew 28:16-20).

When we engage with purpose, we will approach our relationships with hearts committed to love and expanding the Kingdom of God.

We won’t have time for comparison, jealousy, or unforgiveness because our purpose will become more important than anything that can threaten Kingdom advancement.

  1. Embrace Obedience (John 21:1-14)

After Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples went back to using all of their own resources and coming up short. When they were ready to give up on their fishing day, Jesus approached with a simple command. After the disciples obeyed Him, they experienced the power of His provision (John 21:1-6).

Jesus connected with them over food, demonstrating a deep intimacy and willingness to remain present in their lives (vv. 7-14).

As disciples who are commissioned to live as fishers of men (Matthew 4:19), we can be tempted to use our own resources. We will come up short. Only God can save people. Only God can transform people. Only God!

But we have hope because He has empowered us with the Holy Spirit.

God promises to remain close to us, to connect with us intimately, and to provide as we rely on Him to help us live out the purpose He’s entrusted to us as Kingdom Builders ̶ those committed to loving God and others as we share His truth and love to the ends of the earth.

  1. Empower with God’s Truth (John 21:15-17)

Jesus checks our hearts to ensure that our motives are rooted in love for Him and others as He trusts us to fulfill our mission to lead others to Him (John 21:15-17).

He warns us to avoid comparing ourselves with others as we follow Him, individually and collectively (vv. 18-23).

When we engage in our purpose and embrace obedience, we won’t have to be concerned about what God is doing in and through the lives of others because we’ll be so excited about what He’s doing in our lives.

This perspective won’t make the journey easy or short, though.

  1. Endure with Perseverance (John 21:18-25)

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (v. 25).

We have been given the gift of time to share God’s truth and love to the ends of the earth. We can’t do this great task without God or each other.

Each of our stories will make a difference in the lives of those within our sphere of influence. God will give us opportunities to fulfill the Great Commission and the Greatest Commandment in our day-to-day living.

As we encourage one another and remember that we are better together, we can reach more people with the life-saving message of the Gospel of Christ.

With Spirit-empowered boldness and complete reliance on Him to serve as He created us to serve, we will be able to endure with perseverance.

There will always be room at God’s table, an empty chair waiting to be filled by a person He has placed in our lives and entrusted us to love.

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How have you made room at the table for someone else who is committed to Kingdom Building?

How have you invited someone to the table and shared God’s truth and love this week?

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Mighty God, please help us live for You as we learn to love You and others with Spirit-empowered and Spirit-refreshing faith and compassion and Kingdom-building commitment. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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There are so many ways we can make room at the table, building others up as we serve the Lord together.

During the month of August 2021, I have had the privilege of serving with three talented BIPOC children’s picture book authors as we’ve shared our personal stories through the Representation Matters Series.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Tina M. Cho.

Tina is the author of Rice from Heaven, a picture book from Little Bee Books August 2018, Korean Celebrations, a nonfiction picture book from Tuttle, August 2019, My Breakfast with Jesusa nonfiction picture book from Harvest House June 2, 2020, The Ocean Calls: A Mermaid Haenyeo Story from Kokila, an imprint of Penguin Random House August 4, 2020, and her first middle grade graphic novel in verse, The Other Side of Tomorrow by Harper Alley Fall 2023.

Her book, My Breakfast with Jesus, invites readers to travel the world and explore the different ways God’s image-bearers eat breakfast.

“For more than 2,000 years, people have started their day with a delicious meal in their bellies and the love of Jesus in their hearts. From bacon and eggs in the heart of North America to fresh baked bread in Antarctica, believers from each continent gather in the morning to share good food and conversation, giving thanks to God for all the wonderful things He’s done.”

You can check out Tina’s other books on her website and encourage her in the comments under this original article, “Making Room at the Table.”

Tina shares a snippet of her personal testimony in her article, “Stories Shape Who We Become.” You can read the entire article and leave an encouraging comment under the post if you click here.

If you are reading this article in your email inbox, please  CLICK HERE and scroll down to the comment section to join the conversation.

I’m looking forward to connecting with you, hearing from you, and growing with you as we celebrate how God is using each of us to build one another up in love as we share His truth and love to the ends of the earth.

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The Power of Belonging to God

Suggested Reading: Psalm 100

“Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3, ESV

As a teen, I got one pimple on the tip of my nose once a month. Only one. Only once a month.

God had blessed me with a clear complexion, so that one pimple would go away in a few days. Yet, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop dreading the arrival of that flaw I was certain everyone would be staring at when talking to me.

Over the years, I learned how to focus on other flaws, other failings, other things that made me feel insecure.

I truly didn’t understand what it meant to feel accepted and acceptable, until I discovered my place in the heart of God.

When I realized I belonged to God, I began to understand and believe that He created me with love, on purpose and with purpose, that I was accepted and acceptable simply because I was His . . . and that He called me good because He made me in His image.

This realization didn’t lead to arrogance. Instead, this truth brought me to my knees in gratitude and taught me how to see others through eyes cleared by God’s grace.

Belonging to God empowered me to love Him, the only perfect One, and to love His imperfect creations ̶ others and myself ̶ with a full appreciation of God’s sovereignty in designing every person, place or thing in His glorious creation.

How did we lose sight of celebrating the creativity of God?

Why did we begin defining normal, determining a standard for beauty, doubting our worth as God’s image-bearers?

As I explored this question, God led me to Psalm 100.

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.” Psalm 100:1-2

The psalmist invites God’s people to celebrate Him, to worship or serve Him with gladness . . . with contentment.

God is beckoning us to honor and acknowledge Him as we approach Him, draw near to Him, with joy.

This display of closeness hints at an established relationship developed enough to be rooted in trust.

“Know that the LORD is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.” Psalm 100:3

The psalmist turns our attention away from self to God and His unchanging character and role as our Creator.

By establishing we are created by the one we belong to, the psalmist declares we are acceptable, valuable, and intimately tended to as followers of God.

After affirming the surety of our belonging, the psalmist reminds us of our purpose, our inherited gift of intimate and mutual relationship.

We can rejoice in all circumstances because we have access to the One True God at all times.

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Psalm 100:4

Hallelujah!

God gives us an open invitation to a victorious life of celebrating Him with gratitude for who He is and always will be, for all He’s done and will do.

Why?

“For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:5

God is good and His love, His kindness, His steadfastness lasts beyond our personal space, through the lives of those yet to come.

We are acceptable and accepted simply because we belong to God and have value based on His qualifying traits not our own.

Embracing these truths causes sparks to fly as our love for God is ignited.

Hallelujah!

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Loving God, please help us love You completely and trust You courageously as we settle into our place as Your beloved children.

Help us accept that we are valued because of Your unchanging goodness as our loving Creator.

 Help us see others in the same light of this truth, especially when we struggle with the differences that threaten to divide us as Your precious and purposed family.

 In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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In this week’s article for the Representation Matters Series, Dorena Williamson affirms the power of belonging and realizing the extent of our worth as God’s beloved created ones.

She shares a personal story about her sweet little girl who picked up a book that God used to help her see herself as He saw her . . . likeable, acceptable, purposed and perfectly placed in this world He designed with His limitless creativity.

If you’ve ever doubted your value or struggled with insecurities, if you’ve ever faced others who deemed you as less-than, seen others as inferior or felt unseen or inferior, please take a moment to thank God for creating you and loving you . . . for creating and loving those who are different from you.

When we feel like we belong, we will begin to understand that God intended all of us to belong and to be represented in light of His truth and love.

ColorFull, GraceFull, and ThoughtFull are three of Dorena’s first children’s picture books that celebrate diversity through inclusion and positive representation.

In October, Dorena will be releasing The Celebration Place, a story that will “give children a window into the beauty of diversity in our church experiences.”

To check out Dorena’s article, “The Impact of Representation,” and to subscribe to her blog, please click here. To connect with Dorena on Instagram, please click here.

The Representation Matters writers will be sharing a special announcement and hosting a giveaway at the end of this August series, so please stay in touch.

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If you have received this article in your email inbox, please DO NOT REPLY. Instead, CLICK HERE to leave a comment below the original article on my website and join our conversation as we seek to be more rooted in God’s Word while growing with God’s people.

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I’m looking forward to growing with you, Blog Family!

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