Seeing My Neighbor (Anniversary Book Giveaway Recipients Announced)

Suggested Reading: Mark 12:28-34 and Luke 10:25-37

 

When the pandemic started, someone asked if I thought God was testing the Church.

 

I smiled. “No,” I said. “I think He’s dispersing the Church.”

 

During our conversation I explained how God had equipped the Church to fulfill His mission. In the New Testament, the Greek word for Church (ekklesia) means “an assembly,” “to call out,” or “the called ones.”

 

“Church” was never intended to be defined as a meeting place or time.

 

The Church is a living organism made up of living organisms ̶ God’s image-bearers, believers in Jesus who are commanded to love God and love people.

 

Though I didn’t attend a service in-person during the pandemic, God provided plenty of opportunities to assemble with His people online.

 

He also presented me with opportunities to talk to people in person, as we honored the social distancing boundaries and wore masks as an expression of love toward our neighbors.

 

As the Lord called me out, I spoke to my neighbors, the people God loves who lived in my neighborhood, the people I’d only waved at in the past . . . sometimes as I rushed to worship Him with other believers at Sunday service.

 

I slowed down and saw my neighbors as I walked to the park, shopped at the grocery store, smiled with my eyes, and sent air-hugs as we stood six-feet-apart.

 

I saw my neighbors as they walked or drove by our home.

 

Seeing my neighbors led to praying for my neighbors, as God taught me to truly love my neighbors as He loved them and me . . . selflessly and sacrificially.

 

How had I lost sight of my mission as a disciple of Christ who desired to be obedient to His calling?

 

I found answers by reflecting on the responses of two men, one in Mark 12:28-34 and the other in Luke 10:25-37.

 

In Mark 10, a teacher of the law approached Jesus and asked which commandment was the “most important” (v. 28).

 

Without missing a beat, Jesus said:

 

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (vv. 30-31).

 

This man answered wisely, knowing Jesus had simply affirmed what was written in the Scriptures (what we now know as the Old Testament). The Bible doesn’t tell us what that man did after his conversation with Jesus. I like to think that he went out and fulfilled his calling, to love God and people.

 

In Luke 10, another man approached Jesus. This expert in the law wanted to “test Jesus” (v. 25).

 

When he asked what he needed to do to inherit “eternal life” (v. 25), Jesus asked him to interpret the law (v. 26).

 

Correctly, the man repeated what we have come to know as the Greatest Commandment (v. 27).

 

Jesus called the man to fulfill his mission: “Do this and you will live” (v. 28).

 

Sadly, this expert of the law seemed to be looking for a loophole in Jesus’ command. I sense a hint of sarcasm when I read the man’s response in verse 29: “And who is my neighbor?”

 

Jesus gives the man a clear image of how to love God and people when He shares the Parable of the Good Samaritan (vv. 30-35). He then asks the expert in the law to identify which person in the parable reflected the heart of a neighbor toward the injured Samaritan (v. 36).

 

“The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him’” (v. 37).

 

“Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise’” (v. 37).

 

Like this man, we are called out of our comfort zones to go and do likewise. We are called out of our self-centered pits of despair and discontent. We are called out of everything that hinders us from loving God by loving our neighbors selflessly and sacrificially.

 

God calls us to Him, to be transformed by His unconditional love.

 

He calls us to love our neighbors by turning away from everything that distracts us from seeing our neighbors, especially those who are different from us, less privileged than us, or carefully shoved out of our field of vision so we can forget about the things that make us feel uncomfortable or don’t personally affect us.

 

When everyone goes back to Sunday services, I pray we enjoy the fellowship as we grow closer to God and each other.

 

However, I also pray we remember that the buildings are not “the Church” and the times we assemble together for weekly services are not the main objectives of our mission.

 

Times of assembling with believers are meant to equip and encourage the Body of Christ to become more spiritually-matured disciples who are ready to be dispersed, so we can fulfill the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission . . . wherever God leads us in person and online.

 

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Loving God, thank You for empowering us with Your Holy Spirit who enables us to know You and love You.

 

Please help us see all of our neighbors, especially those who are different from us and those we are more comfortable ignoring.

 

Empower us to love our neighbors the way You love them, selflessly and sacrificially, unconditionally and compassionately, intentionally and genuinely.

 

Show us how to love with our words, our actions, and our attitudes in person and online.

 

Please remind us that You never asked us to change our neighbors, to make them more like us, or to expect them to fit into our vision of acceptable.

 

Make us more like You, Jesus, so we can reflect Your character as we reach out to others and point them to You so that You can transform them through the power of Your Holy Spirit, as You are transforming us.

 

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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As I ask God to help me see my neighbors so I can love my neighbors, I’m excited to be a part of a group of authors who celebrate God’s intentional diversity and inclusivity.

 

Throughout the month of August, I’m working with Dorina Gilmore-Young, Tina M. Cho, and Dorena Williamson to help others see their misrepresented and under-represented neighbors in the pages of children’s books.

 

This week, I would like to introduce you to Dorina Gilmore-Young, the author of Cora Cooks Pancit.

 

When asked about the lack of representation of BIPOC characters in Children’s literature, Dorina writes:

 

“We have tasted progress, but we have not yet arrived. Representation still matters. As an author, an educator, and a mother of three brave girls, I want to be part of carrying the torch.” 

 

Dorina’s family has teamed up with Dr. Lucretia Berry, founder of Brownicity, to present a membership program called Global Glory Chasers. Each month they highlight a specific country and introduce a list of books, movies, music, and recipes to help families learn about different cultures.

 

To read Dorina’s article in the Representation Matters Series, “Mosaic Voices: Why Representation Matters in Children’s Literature and Beyond,” click here.

 

To learn more about Global Glory Chasers, click here.

 

To follow Dorina on Instagram, please click here.

 

We have a special announcement to share at the end of August, so I hope you’ll stay connected.

 

I look forward to growing with you as we seek to love God and our neighbors together!

 

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Congratulations to the recipients of the Anniversary Giveaway!

 

Michelle Vegara, you will be receiving a signed copy of Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace.

 

Karen Condit, you will be receiving a signed copy of Different Like Me.

 

I will email the winners to request mailing information.

 

Thanks to all of you who took time to read and respond.

 

Stay tuned! We’ll have another special giveaway SOON!

 

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Thanks for being a part of my blog family!

 

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Representation Gives Readers a Glimpse of Heaven

I still remember the expression on my mom’s face when she caught me holding the scissors and black Sharpie.

Her eyes widened as she looked at the blonde Barbie dolls splayed on the floor in front of me and then stared at me. “Why?”

Picking up one of the dolls, I stroked her freshly cut and dyed Sharpie-black hair. “I wanted them to look like me.”

My mother, a few shades darker than me, pressed her lips together and sighed. She remained silent as she gathered my dolls and confiscated my cosmetology supplies.

At that time, I didn’t understand why she hugged me so tight.

I didn’t understand when or why I started thinking I was ugly.

I didn’t understand why I felt caught between two worlds that didn’t want me. I wasn’t “really Mexican.” I wasn’t “Mexican enough.” And I was “light but not white.”

I didn’t understand why I avoided speaking my native tongue after a woman told me to stop speaking “dirty Spanish” because she didn’t approve of my accent or occasional dips into Spanglish.

I still don’t understand why I have to endure the repeated punch-in-the-gut question: What are you?

And I still don’t understand why I wanted to assimilate into a world that rejected me and lacked positive representation of people who were different like me . . . until I became a mom.

As a first-generation Mexican American married to a Black man, I didn’t want my sons to share my struggle with identity or to begin hating their reflection.

I packed our personal library with books that celebrated Black and Mexican history, though we had limited selections. I explained negative stereotypes and exposed our sons to BIPOC inventors, scientists, activists, and other great leaders. Almost every nationality was represented in our friend circle.

Determined to empower our youngest son with a strong sense of identity, I convinced my husband that we had to enroll him in a Dual Immersion Kindergarten.

Through the pilot program, designed to integrate Spanish and English speakers, Xavier would learn about the culture I didn’t have a chance to embrace. He would study the culture I couldn’t find when I surfed channels on television or scoured shelves in the library.

My son would have a chance to become fluent in the “proper dialect” of the language I had been convinced I should only speak when absolutely necessary and definitely not with confidence.

That same year, in 2001, I surrendered my life to Jesus.

I began a journey to discover my true identity as God’s child ̶ an identity that included and celebrated the culture that my parents’ well-intentioned desires for assimilation erased.

Old scars became fresh wounds when my kindergartener told me a fellow student called him a racial slur.

How could I teach my sons to respond to racism with confidence in their value as God’s image-bearers when I still struggled with insecurities?

How could I teach them to respect others who were different from them and rejoice in the ways we were the same?

As I continued learning and teaching them about our identities in Christ, I negated the lies and the images that screamed they weren’t worth enough to be seen or known.

Then, one day as I was praying for my sons, I wrote my first picture book.

Different Like Me celebrates our differences and our sameness as God’s beautifully diverse and purposefully connected people, a message I was still learning to live out with bold faith.

Eighteen years later, God placed Different Like Me into the hands of editors at Our Daily Bread Publishing. Two years after that, He began using the message to empower readers internationally.

The lack of BIPOC representation and rejection stunted my confidence as a child. Deep-rooted insecurities distorted my view of myself and others, twisting my thinking with lies that followed me into adulthood.

As readers continue responding to the message in Different Like Me, a 2021 ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist, I’m beginning to understand I’m not alone in my struggles.

Growing more secure in my identity as a child of God increased my desire to empower others with God’s truth and love.

What am I?

I am a Child of God, fearfully and marvelously made, purposed to fulfill the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission ̶ to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19, emphasis mine).

But I couldn’t love God with all my heart and soul and mind (Matthew 22:37) until I could see the face of Jesus, get to know Him in His Word illuminated by His Spirit.

The more I fell in love with God, the more my love for people grew, and the more I wanted to obey His command to love my neighbor as myself (Matthew 22:39).

The journey proved to be a bit more difficult than I thought it should be.

I couldn’t truly love myself or anyone else until I saw myself, my true identity in Christ and my reflection in the world around me.

Children who see themselves represented in positive ways in the world around them are affirmed as a whole person who is worth knowing and loving.

Accurate representation that destroys negative stereotypes honors God and gives readers a glimpse of heaven.

The apostle John wrote: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9, emphasis mine).

 I pray all my children’s books can paint this beautiful image of God’s intentional diversity and unifying love in the hearts and minds of His image-bearers.

As I continue to advocate for diversity and inclusion, I want to share this message with Spirit-empowered courage and confidence:

God made everyone different and special . . . like me.

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Loving God, thanks for creating each of us intentionally and purposefully. Thanks for choosing to make each person different and special. Please help us to love You and one another, as we serve You together. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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During the month of August, I will be teaming up with three of my favorite Christian picture book authors for a MEGA BOOK GIVEAWAY.

Join us as we celebrate diversity and explore why representation gives us a glimpse of heaven and makes a difference on this side of eternity.

The MEGA BOOK GIVEAWAY will include one copy of each of the following books:

Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young

Cora loves being in the kitchen, but she always gets stuck doing the kid jobs like licking the spoon. One day, however, when her older sisters and brother head out, Cora finally gets the chance to be Mama’s assistant chef. Cora and Mama work together to cook up pancit for the family in this celebration of Filipino heritage and foods.

My Breakfast with Jesus by Tina Cho

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.

The Celebration Place by Dorena Williamson

The Celebration Place shows children that church is not just a building; it’s a place where we come together to celebrate God with our different expressions of worship. Coming October 26, 2021.

Different Like Me by Xochitl Dixon

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 how God designed them to be better together.

I’m looking forward to introducing you to these talented authors and their beautiful books throughout the month of August.

Check back HERE on my BLOG and keep in touch with me on Instagram for details about the MEGA BOOK GIVEAWAY at the end of this series.

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

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Through the Good and the Bad (Exclusive Anniversary Book Giveaway)

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In August 2018, while I poured out my heart, emptied my tear ducts, and established a treatment plan with my new doctors, I finished writing Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace.

While struggling to adjust to the severe midwestern weather, I battled depression and signed a contract for my first children’s picture book, Different Like Me.

Busyness swept me off my feet, pulled me further from the stillness I needed with my Heavenly Father, and plunged me head-first into a spiritual drought.

I clung to God’s promises until I had no strength left and fell into His arms, exhausted and desperate for His Spirit to refresh my weary soul.

When COVID-19 hit the scene, I almost gave up under the strain of being too-close-to-my-spouse-for-too-long. I lost track of days as I ticked off just-one-more empty box on the calendar during the pandemic that lasted longer than I’d expected.

Amid hardships and heartaches, God unwrapped blessings right before my eyes.

When my doctor said pain management was the best they could offer me, God sent readers to donate the entire amount required for our rescue puppy, Callie, to complete her service dog training with Tails for Life.

When doctors diagnosed my friend’s four-year-old with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, God helped us raise the $22,000.00 required to reserve a fully trained service dog for him from Tails for Life.

When we said goodbye to our sixteen-year-old dog, Jazzy, God brought our sons to visit her for one last cuddle.

When the pandemic prevented me from building a solid launch team for the release of Different Like Me, God sent Mama Jana from Texas to help my ReachOut Bookstore family host the release party for Different Like Me.

As soon as we learned how to dress for midwestern weather and began deepening the genuine relationships we’d been building in Fond du Lac, God provided my husband with an interim position in Napa, California . . . thirty-one minutes from where our youngest son lived.

Good. Bad. Joyful. Sad.

Life happens.

The whirlwind of life’s ever-changing circumstances reminds me to walk in the present ̶ one breath at a time ̶ rejoicing in the presence of God and relying on the power of God.

How could I keep moving forward when I couldn’t seem to get a firm foothold?

Throughout Scripture, the Lord beckons us toward living each day with an eternal perspective.

In response to the Israelites cries for mercy and pardon, the Lord used the prophet Isaiah to remind them that He has always been able and available.

“The Lord says, ‘I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am. Here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name.’” (Isaiah 65:1, NLT)

God’s people rebelled against Him and rejected His image-bearers with hearts infected with self-righteousness (vv.2-5).

He promised judgement (vv. 6-7) and mercy (vv. 8-10), while assuring the Israelites they would suffer consequences for their actions and inaction (vv. 11-14).

Gentiles, the marginalized people the Israelites considered not-enough and not-good-enough, would be invited into God’s Kingdom (vv. 15-16).

“Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore” (v. 17).

God’s “true servants” would thrive in the driest valleys, through the fiercest battles, as they trekked through the rockiest terrains in the Meantime Mountains, and as they enjoyed the fragrant fruit of their labor in His vineyards (vv. 18-23).

God would care for His people in all circumstances.

“I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” (Isaiah 65:24, NLT)

Through the good and bad, peace will reign on God’s “holy mountain” as His people walk in the present, rejoicing in His presence and relying on His power.

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Mighty and Merciful Creator and Sustainer, thanks for knowing us and our needs intimately. Thanks for knowing our prayers before we even know what to pray.

 Thanks for interceding on our behalf, for fighting for us, for hemming us in and having our backs. Thanks for never abandoning us and never forgetting us.

 Loving and compassionate God, thanks for never giving in when we demand our way because we have no clue how much better Your way is for us.

 Please use every hardship to draw us closer to You and refine us so that we look more like You and respond like You.

Give us an eternal perspective as we move forward by faith, dependent on Your power and delighted by Your presence.

 Give us hearts that long to please You and submit to Your will with courage and confidence, through the good and the bad, trusting You and praising You with all You have given us.

 In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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To celebrate the first anniversary of Different Like Me and the second anniversary of Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace, I’m hosting an exclusive Anniversary Book Giveaway for members of my Blog Family.

Please DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL if you’ve received this message in your email inbox.

Subscribers to my blog can ENTER the Anniversary Book Giveaway by CLICKING HERE to scroll down to the bottom of the original blog post, “Through the Good and the Bad,” and answering the following questions:

  1. Where do you live?
  2. How did you find my blog?
  3. Would like a signed copy of Waiting for God, Different Like Me, or either book?

On August 11, 2021, I will announce the names of the blog family members chosen to receive either one signed copy of Waiting for God OR one signed copy of Different Like Me.

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If you want to help me spread the love, you can order extra copies of Waiting for God and/or Different Like Me to share as gifts today!

You can also encourage me by writing a short review on Amazon for Waiting for God and Different Like Me.

To write a short Amazon review, all you have to do is share what you liked about the books and why you would recommend the books to other readers.

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Thanks for being members of my blog family!

I look forward to growing with you!

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Because God Is

Suggested Reading: Psalm 145

“Why should I trust God when He doesn’t seem to care about me?”

When my friend asked that question, I understood her struggle. I had asked the same question before. I had grappled with accepting the goodness of God when His actions or His inaction resulted in grief. I had cried out, “It’s not fair.” I had sobbed prayers filled with variations of disbelief: Why, God? Why not, God? When? How long? Do You hear me? Do You care?

My friend didn’t need encouraging platitudes. She didn’t even need answers or a plan of action.

She simply needed to know she wasn’t alone.

So, I led her to one of the psalmists who understood the pain of waiting, the frustration of not knowing which way to turn, the discouragement of wondering how much longer the rough waters would last, and the heartache of dealing with the negative consequences of his own poor choices.

In Psalm 145, the psalmist David demonstrates the reasons we can trust God.

 

  1. We can trust God because He is worthy of all our praise.

David begins Psalm 145 with an intimate prayer, speaking directly to the Lord. His first utterance is not a list of demands or complaints. He starts off praising God as King, declaring a commitment to praising the Lord “for ever and ever” (v. 1).

“Every day I will praise You and extol Your name for ever and ever” (v. 2). Extol, to worship, to praise, to lift up, and revere. And with his next breath, David exalts the Lord.

“Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom” (v. 3).

 

  1. We can trust God because He has a reputation of faithfulness.

David says God’s generations will be talking about His mighty acts (v. 4).

He will not allow anyone to worship God alone. When they speak of “the glorious splendor” of His “majesty,” he will “meditate” on God’s “wonderful works (v. 5). When they “tell of the power” of His “awesome works,” David will “proclaim” His “great deeds” (v. 6).

Together, they will “celebrate” God’s “abundant goodness” and “joyfully sing” of His “righteousness” (v. 7).

 

  1. We can trust God because He is gracious and good.

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all’ He has compassion on all He has made” (v. 8-9).

David had experienced God’s mercy time and again. He had been wrapped in God’s loving patience, overwhelmed by God’s forgiveness, and comforted by God’s all-sufficient grace.

 

  1. We can trust God because He is always working in the lives of ALL His children.

The testimonies of God’s goodness and faithfulness in the lives of others penetrate our present struggles with an aroma of enduring hope.

So that “all people may know of [His] mighty acts and the glorious splendor of [His] kingdom” (vv. 10-12), His “everlasting kingdom” and sovereign reign that will endure “through all generations” (v. 13).

 

  1. We can trust God because He is consistent.

David declares God is trustworthy in all [He] promises and faithful in all [He] does” (vv. 13-17).

God holds us up, lifts us up, and provides “at the proper time” (vv. 15-16).

He hears us and cares for us, even when we feel unheard and left to fend for ourselves.

 

  1. We can trust God because He is intimate.

 David had been on the run, hiding from Saul and trying to deceive himself after falling prey to temptation through idleness.

He had wept bitterly, felt abandoned, grown weary, and seen his own wickedness destroy those he loved dearly. Still, God remained close and comforting.

“The LORD is near to all who call on [Him], to all who call on [Him] in truth” (v. 18). He knows our deepest needs and transforms our greatest desires to align with His heart as we draw nearer to Him each day.

 

  1. We can trust God because He is just.

 Though God doesn’t rescue us from the consequences of our deliberate sins, His compassion and forgiveness transforms our wounded hearts and even uses our past to draw others closer to Him.

David sings a final prayer and testimony that inspires others to praise the Lord.

“My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise His holy name for ever and ever” (v. 21).

 

  1. Like David, we can trust God because He is . . . God.

 

Mighty and merciful Jesus, for remaining the same and being with us yesterday and today and forever.

 Please help us praise You, simply because You are God.

 Transform our minds and our hearts so that we will want to live in alignment with Your flawless Word. Empower us to love You and others with our words, our actions, and our attitudes.

 Thanks for blessing us with the privilege of praising You and proclaiming the goodness and faithfulness of Your mighty name.

 In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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If you need a burst of enduring hope as you continue waiting for an answer to prayer, for a trial to pass, or for a door to open or slam shut, join me for 31 devotional readings filled with biblical truth and Scripture-based prayers that will empower you to trust daily in God’s plan and pace.

Invite a friend and meet with me as we inhale God’s Word, exhale prayers and praises, and rest in God’s love through each chapter in Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace.

If you’ve already read Waiting for God, please help me spread the word and reach more readers with God’s truth and love by writing a short review on Amazon today.

Pause for Prayer with me by subscribing to my YouTube channel today.

I’m looking forward to growing with you!

Taking a Spiritual Inventory

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I don’t know when the complaints started seeping into my mind and spewing out of my mouth.

I’d experienced cabin fever during the harsh winters and the too-hot-and-rainy summers in Wisconsin. I’d grown accustomed to the loneliness that comes with living with pain and limited mobility. I’d even managed to thrive during the mandatory isolation during the pandemic.

But when God answered our prayers and brought us back to California, the obstacles we faced triggered an unexpected bout with irritability. My husband caught the bug, too.

Our journey has included more than a few challenges, but the Lord has provided for us in amazing ways since our return.

So why did we allow frustration to spice too many of our conversations? Why did we gripe a-little-too-much about the negative aspects of apartment living?

Last week, The Lord answered those questions with a gentle prick of conviction.

I mentor two beautiful teenagers via Zoom. We meet weekly to pray and study the Bible.

After finishing the book of Matthew, I had planned to lead them through the book of Romans.

God had other plans, better plans, a bit more uncomfortable but absolutely necessary plans.

I challenged the girls to read through the book of Galatians, one chapter a day. I believe in teaching in the trenches, so I also read a chapter each day.

When we get comfortable with reading Scripture, we can be tempted to forget that each word is God-breathed, infallible truth from the heart of our sovereign and good God.

 As I read Galatians 5, the Lord reminded me of the heart-transforming power of His Word.

He affirmed my desperation for constant connection and total submission to Him.

He also pointed a spotlight on my sinfulness.

“If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:15, NIV)

I couldn’t deny that I’d succumbed to the “acts of the flesh” (v. 19). Discord, dissensions, and factions (v. 20). Yep. There they were. In my own home. Caused by my own attitude.

Being isolated from people didn’t affect me as much as realizing I’d severed my own connection with God.

Plunging myself back into His loving arms of grace, I repented then asked God and my husband to forgive me. Then, I said a prayer I hadn’t uttered for years.

Lord, please make me more like You.

I needed some fruit, some ripe and fragrant fruit of the Spirit that would make me look more like Jesus.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

So when the neighbors didn’t follow the apartment complex rules, when my husband snapped at me, when something didn’t go as I planned, I had a choice.

Would I react in frustration? Would I lash out in fear? Or, would I respond like Jesus?

If I depended on my will, my strength, my ability, I would never be able to respond like Jesus. So, I needed to reconnect with my Power Source.

The apostle Paul charges us to “walk with the Spirit” so we “will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (v. 16).

But how? How could I walk with the Spirit if I wasn’t connecting with Him constantly?

Reading through Galatians with those two teenagers reminded me to go back to the basics, to return to the foundation of my faith ̶ an intimate relationship with God.

I desperately needed to approach God like a child again, with innocence and willingness to trust, with a longing to please Him, with a reliance on Him to provide everything I needed.

I began praying through the Scriptures each day with a hunger I haven’t felt in a long time.

I invited the Spirit to be my strength, to guide my steps, to change my heart and mind so that He could empower me to walk in alignment with God’s Holy Word.

I’d like to say I immediately checked my attitude at the door, but I would be lying.

I did, however, feel convicted when I allowed sin to seep into my attitude, my words, and my deeds. I did become quicker to apologize when I messed up and acted in the flesh. I started to respond with more compassion and understanding.

The process of transformation takes time and the power of the Holy Spirit.

 God affords us all the time and power we need to become all He’s planned for us to be.

We do not have to do things in our own strength.

We can call on God immediately when we’re in need.

We don’t have to complicate our spiritual lives by trying to look more spiritual.

As we lean into God’s loving embrace, we can listen for His heartbeat and know that we are loved, cherished, and purposed for His glory.

We are empowered by the Holy Spirit, who lives in us. So we never have to be disconnected from Him. Never.

As we invite the Holy Spirit into our daily living, breathing prayers and praises throughout the day, we can ask Him to take a spiritual inventory.

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

Spirit of God, thank You for being our Power Source. Please increase our ability to love selflessly. Make our joy contagious. Give us peace that transcends all understanding. Let forbearance and kindness seep into our relationships. Change our character so we can reflect goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as we honor You with our attitudes, our words, and our actions each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Dig Deeper

I am asking the Holy Spirit to increase my self-control so that I will be quicker to listen, slower to react, and wise with the words and attitudes that I allow to impact my relationships.

If you were going to take a spiritual inventory, what fruit would you want the Holy Spirit to cultivate in your life?

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Callie’s Birthday Book Giveaway

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Thanks to my blog family members who left comments and birthday wishes for Callie.
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Congratulations, Roxanne Baker from Keewatin, MN (Waiting for God) and Barb Dawson from Smithville, OH (Different Like Me). I’ll be contacting you via email.
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Original Blog Article with Giveaway Details from June 12, 2021 is Posted Below
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BOOK GIVEAWAY: To celebrate Callie the Service Dog’s birthday, I’m giving away one signed copy of Different Like Me and one signed copy of Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace.
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To enter for your chance to receive one of the signed giveaway books, please share your city, your state, and what title you want to read in the comment section.
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If you already have a copy of both of these books, thanks for your support. You can STILL ENTER and, if you’re chosen to receive a signed copy, donate the book to your local library, an afterschool program, a classroom, a Sunday School teacher, or your neighborhood Little Free Library.
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Recipients must live in the continental United States to be eligible for this giveaway.
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Different Like Me celebrates our differences and our sameness as God’s beautifully diverse image-bearers. My first children’s picture book is a 2021 ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist, the 3rd place winner in the 2021 Selah Awards’ children’s book category, and has been placed into the hands of over 4,300 readers between August 2021 and March 2021.
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Waiting for God empowers readers with hope and an eternal perspective. Each chapter invites readers to inhale God’s Word, exhale prayers and praises, and rest in God’s love while He works in and through life’s inevitable waiting seasons. My first full-length devotional won 2nd place in the 2020 Selah Awards’ devotional category, was a 2020 Cascade Awards Finalist, and has been placed into the hands of over 25,200 readers between August 2020 and March 2021.
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To God be the glory, the honor, and the praise, praise, praise!
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Do you enjoy fun dog photos and videos?
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Are you interested in learning more about life with a service dog?
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For exclusive updates on events, special giveaways, and lots of fun photos of Callie the Service Dog in action, please join us on Facebook and on Instagram.
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I look forward to connecting with you on Callie the Service Dog’s social media pages.
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Thanks for celebrating Callie’s birthday with us!
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I’m Praising God and Thanking You!

Different Like Me (Our Daily Bread Publishing, August 2020) is a 2021 ECPA Christian Book Award® Finalist in the Children’s book category.

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

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association is an “international non-profit trade organization comprised of member companies that are involved in the publishing and distribution of Christian content worldwide. Since 1974, ECPA has strengthened Christian publishing by building networking, information, and advocacy opportunities within the industry and throughout multiple channels so that our members can more effectively produce and deliver transformational Christian content.”

“The Christian Book Award® program recognizes the highest quality in Christian books and Bibles and is among the oldest and most prestigious awards program in the religious publishing industry. Presented annually to the finest in Christian publishing since 1978, the Christian Book Award® program honors the best of the year in twelve categories.”

Different Like Me is one of the five children’s book finalists. Hallelujah!

I would like to thank all of the ECPA and Christian Book Award members who organized and participated in the selection process, as well as those who are faithfully serving in various roles within these organizations each year.

I’m excited to announce that my mentor and friend Crystal Bowman, the author of I Love You to the Stars: When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembers, is also a finalist in this category.

Praise the Lord!

Crystal wrote a beautiful endorsement for Different Like Me and has offered me wise counsel, encouragement, and prayers as I continue following God’s leading through the wonderful world of children’s book writing.

I’m thanking the Lord for every person who helped me prepare Different Like Me to be placed into the hands of readers.

Special thanks to Bonnie Lui, the amazing illustrator who put the heartbeat in Different Like Me, to my Our Daily Bread Publishing family, and to my Credo family.

I’m grateful for every book reviewer, bookstore, public and church library, teacher, children’s ministry leader, nursery leader, little free library steward, and patron of the arts.

Thanks for helping me spread the word about Different Like Me on your social media pages, for writing reviews on Amazon and any other platforms you enjoy, and for loving your neighbors by ordering extra copies of Different Like Me to share with God’s little image-bearers.

Please continue helping me spread the word about Different Like Me by sharing photos on your social media pages, writing reviews, letting people know what you enjoyed about the book, and considering Different Like Me whenever you need a gift for a little one.

Every review makes a difference and helps place Different Like Me in front of potential readers.

The Children’s Book Award® ceremony will be hosted by Max Lucado on May 6, 2021 at 1 pm Central (11 am Pacific).

I’ll share an update on my blog and on social media as soon as I receive the results.

No matter what happens, I’m grateful to be included on a list alongside so many respected partners in ministry.

I am especially excited to share this honor with some of my personal friends who I have learned from and served alongside over the years.

Congratulations, Crystal Bowman (I Love You to the Stars), Michelle Medlock Adams (They Call Me Mom: 52 Devotions for Every MOMent), Pam Farrel (Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament), and the beautifully diverse writers of the (in)courage ministry (Take Heart: 100 Devotions to Seeing God When Life’s Not Okay).

Please join me in praying for every author and publisher on this list and for those who are not on this list but are faithfully sharing God’s truth and love through Christian publishing. It is a pleasure and privilege to serve with you all!

You can pray over the complete list by clicking here.

I thank the Lord for you, Blog Family!

I can do nothing without God or without your ongoing support, encouragement, prayers. I thank God for the opportunities He gives us to be rooted in His Word while growing with His people.

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Click here to write a review or order your copies of Different Like Me today!

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What’s NEW?

Join Me for a New Pause for Prayer Video Available on My YouTube Channel!

 

In “How Fear Can Lead to Faith” (Matthew 10:26-31, CSB), I shared how God used His definition of fear and the reputation of the sparrow to help me understand the extent of His love for His children.

 

If you haven’t already, please take a moment to subscribe to my YouTube channel.

 

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Thanks for being a member of my blog family.

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Do You Really Believe God Loves You Unconditionally?

Suggested Reading: Luke 15:11-32

I grew up loved but feeling unlovable.

I didn’t think people could express love in different ways. I didn’t understand that wounded hearts didn’t really know how to show love in healthy ways. I didn’t even know that I was clueless when it came to showing love or recognizing and receiving love from others.

When I heard about God’s unconditional love, I immediately started looking for loopholes.

How could a good God love someone who was so far from good?

I’d read the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) countless times before I figured out that I’d been missing a big point in the story by only focusing on the main character ̶ the lost son.

As God drew my eyes toward the father in the story, I stepped back and looked at what the Lord chose to share before and after the story of the prodigal son.

When Jesus shared “The Parable of the Lost Sheep” with a crowd of “tax collectors and sinners,” the religious leaders criticized His choice to keep company with such riffraff. Jesus knew if they were ever going to get to that righteous sweet-spot, they would need to be in His personal space.

Jesus knew the religious leaders had grown accustomed to judging those who they considered too-far-gone to be invited into God’s Kingdom. The religious leaders must have plugged their ears when Jesus proclaimed “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (v. 7).

In “The Parable of the Lost Coin” (vv.8-10), Jesus affirms each lost sinner is just as valuable and irreplaceable as the sinners who fluff their feathers and flock to prestigious religious events.

When Jesus introduced “The Parable of the Lost Son” (or the Prodigal Son), I focused on the biggest sinner in the story, the guy I could relate to most, the lost one, the messed up one, the one who knew he wasn’t worth a second chance.

But the father in this story had two nameless sons and I had no idea that I resembled both at different times in my life.

The younger son demanded and received his “share of the estate” from his father (v. 12).

For years, I read those words and bristled. Give me? Whose estate? Pause. Rewind. Does someone need a little home training? I know our sons wouldn’t dare demand we give them anything. (Let’s pause so I can adjust my crown of self-righteousness.)

After a while, God showed me how often I’d approached Him with similar demands. (Let’s pause so I can slip that crown of self-righteousness off and slink away with my head hanging low.)

Just like the father in the story, God didn’t let me wallow in shame or guilt. He turned my eyes to the father and helped me realize what I’d been missing for years.

Some parents understand the heartache of watching an adult child make decisions that we know will lead to painful and sometimes scarring consequences.

Some of us have held on so tight that we squeezed the life out of our beloved children.

Some of us have let go and watched the horizon, desperately praying for God to bring our prodigal children home before they hit rock bottom (vv. 13-16).

Some of us have even gone to retrieve our adult children when they discovered no one else wanted to help them.

Some of us have been rejected even after retrieving those adult children who suddenly realized they didn’t need us after we’d rescued them.

Like all rebellious souls, the lost son eventually had nothing left and nowhere to go. He “came to his senses” and realized that his father’s “hired servants” were living better than him (v. 17). He devised a plan, prepared a speech filled with begging and self-deprecation, and headed home (vv. 18-20).

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (v. 20).

The father had been watching the road, expecting him to return, wanting to welcome him home.

I imagine the son reeked of sweat, dirt, pigs, and anything else he picked up along the way.

Did he fear rejection because of his filthy presence . . . or worse, his filthy past?

Did he consider cleaning himself up before returning to the father, making himself more presentable, proving he deserved receiving another chance?

How would the father respond to his son’s reeking, sin-scarred life?

Before the lost son could spill out his well-rehearsed speech, the father welcomed him home with joy (vv. 21-23). The father didn’t chastise him, demand an explanation, scrunch his nose at the stench that must have been quite ripe.

He began to celebrate (v. 24).

When his older son returned and heard the party in full swing (v. 25). He didn’t ask if his brother was okay or rush to see him. Scripture says he “refused” to go into the house . . . so his father “went out and pleaded with him” (v. 28).

He complained about the father’s grace toward his brother while ignoring the father’s grace toward him.

Blinded by bitterness, he listed the ways he’d been faithful to the father over the years and griped about the things he did not have (v. 29). He referred to his brother at arms-length, calling him “this son of yours” instead of my brother (v. 30).

Instead of chastising or rebuking the older son, the father affirmed the security of his inheritance, which would be of even greater value as time passed (v. 31). He encouraged his son to acknowledge the greater meaning of his brother’s return (v. 32).

The father valued both sons equally, not for what each did or didn’t do but for who they were born to be . . . his beloved children.

As I consider all of my sins, past and present and those yet to come, I know I am always desperately dependent on the Father’s goodness and unconditional love for me and my reeking, sin-scarred life.

My heart aches as I recognize my similarities to the lost son.

I’ve ended up knee-deep into the muddy fields of disobedience and self-indulgence when I wandered from my Father’s presence.

I’ve squandered the gifts He’s given me, made selfish demands, taken Him for granted.

I’ve doubted His unending grace and unconditional love.

My heart aches as I recognize my similarities to the older son.

I’ve compared my sins to the sins of others, as if comparison could make my offenses more acceptable.

I’ve been bitter when someone received grace after hurting me, even when I knew I’d be begging for grace if I was the one crawling back with nothing more to lose.

I’ve focused on what I didn’t have instead of thanking the Father for all He has given me and promised me.

I’ve forgotten that nobody needs to work a little harder or be a little better to be worth loving.

As we prepare for Good Friday, it’s important to recognize how God’s unconditional love led to Jesus hanging on that cross in Calvary.

He cleared the debt caused by our sins in full and in advance, so that we can have a new life in Him.

Jesus did all the work necessary for our redemption and reconciliation with the Father.

But our good, good Father will never try to force Himself on us.

He lets us go when we’re determined to be rebellious, but never leaves us alone or loses sight of us.

He understands we’ll be tempted to wander into the darkest corners of disobedience and disbelief but keeps reaching for us.

The Father loves us all equally, not for what we do or don’t do but for who we were born to be . . . His beloved children.

His unconditional love can heal raw wounds and soften old scars, transforming us into beacons of hope and using us to help others find their way home to Him.

When we grow accustomed to traveling the rocky roads of rebellion, seeping our hearts in resentment, bitterness, and fear, we can become trapped by the lies of comparison and works-based faith.

But as we celebrate how the Father proves His love for us in all three of the parables in Luke 15, we can take Him at His word and answer yes to this question:

Do you really believe God loves you unconditionally?

(Please pause to place the crown of life securely on your head as you shout or sing, “YES!”) James 1:12, Revelation 2:10

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Which brother in the parable do you most relate to and why?

When have you wandered from the Father’s presence?

How did you respond to God’s unconditional love upon your return?

When has it been difficult for you to believe God’s love and grace are freely given to you?

When have you compared your sins to the sins of another to justify rejecting them?

When have you refused to extend mercy toward someone else who returned to the Father’s loving embrace after a season of rebellion?

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Loving Father, thanks for reminding us that You are always with us and always ready to welcome us into Your loving embrace. Please bring all of Your lost ones home and help us to love them as You love us. Forgive us for the times we’ve tried to earn Your approval, work off our guilt or shame, or judge others for their sins as if our sins were more acceptable.

Please purify our hearts and our motives so we can build healthy and holy relationships with You and others. Give us the courage to come alongside one another as we invite You to transform us with the heart-healing power of Your infallible truth and unconditional love.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Please join me for the Pause for Prayer video series and subscribe to my YouTube channel today by clicking here.

Thanks for your loving prayers and support. I look forward to growing with you!

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Have you read Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace?

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.

 

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 order your copies of Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace and love your neighbor by ordering extra copies to share as gifts today (click here).

 

If you’ve already read Waiting for God, I want to thank you and ask you to please bless me by writing a short review on Amazon (click here). The more reviews a book receives, the more Amazon shares the book with visitors.

Thanks for helping me spread God’s truth and love in this simple way. 

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

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What Does God Consider Priceless Worship?

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Suggested Reading – Mark 12:38-44

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As the woman’s words nestled into a deep crack in my scarred heart, I had no idea they would cripple my thinking for years.

Your work has no value. Your words are worthless.

When I closed my eyes, those messed-up mantras morphed into the real fear this woman’s cruelty stirred up.

You have no value. You are worthless, insignificant, inferior.

As I wrestled with discouragement, God gently nudged me to move forward in obedience, to keep sharing His truth and love to the ends of the earth.

God reminded me that only He could determine the worth of His creations and all they offered to Him through their faithful service and acts of worship.

Even though I was still writing with a limp caused by the wounding words of a person I barely knew, I started my Facebook Author Page and began sharing God’s truth and love through mini-devotions, prayers, and graphics.

In His loving and humorous way, the Lord encouraged me while I encouraged others who were battling discouragement or debilitating doubt.

No one should have to wonder if the love-offering they are placing into God’s hands is enough . . . if they are enough.

Writers are not the only ones who struggle with insecurities, doubts, and fears that can keep us from serving God courageously, faithfully, confidently, and obediently.

God has gifted His people according to His perfect plan and uses each of us according to His perfect pace.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV)

So, if God created us and intended us to do the good works He planned for us in advance, then why would we wonder if what we have to offer Him is good enough?

As I considered this question, I thought of a poor widow in worn clothes walking through a crowd of rich people, adorned with jewels and New Testament name brand outfits.

Scripture says Jesus watched the people “putting their money into the temple treasury” (Mark 12:41, NIV). The widow “came and put in two very small coins, worth only a few cents” (v. 42).

The poor widow didn’t drag her feet, bow her head in shame, or peer over shoulders to compare her offering to anyone else’s gift.

She simply walked into the temple, prepared to give what she had already determined to give, and worshiped the Giver of all good things.

She minded her own business, because she remained focused on her Father’s business, and “put in everything ̶ all she had to live on” (v. 44).

Jesus made sure his disciples realized this poor widow had “put more into the treasury than all the others” (v. 43).

They didn’t have to be great mathematicians to realize God’s math doesn’t work like the numerical system of man.

Jesus didn’t say the offerings of the rich people were worthless, but that their offerings were worth less than the widow’s sacrificial gift.

Why?

Could it be the widow’s humble posture of confidence?

She didn’t care what anyone said about their perceived value of her gift.

She didn’t announce the sacrifice she made.

She didn’t seem to want any attention drawn toward herself, which is in stark contrast to the image of the “teachers of the law” that Jesus shared in Mark 12:38-40.

Jesus said they “like to walk around in flowing robes” and “have the most important seats,” using prayer as an opportunity to show out and show off. Their offerings may have been substantial in amount, but the substance of their hearts lacked compassion and humility (v. 40).

Jesus measures the motives of the givers, not the amount or type of the gifts offered.

Our loving Lord knows the deepest intentions of our hearts, whether we’re worshipping Him with a financial offering or by using the time or talents He’s entrusted to us so we can serve Him.

The person who prays for a hurting friend and the person who pays a hurting friend’s rent are both valuable.

The person who makes people feel loved with a smile and a kind word and the person who passes out meals to the homeless every holiday are both valuable.

The person who helps a neighbor in a practical way and the person who faithfully volunteers overseas or commits to a consistent schedule to impact their community are all valuable.

And yes, the person who shares a hefty sum of money, the person who shares a small sum of money, and the person who cannot contribute financially so they serve in another way to support God’s Kingdom work and help those in need . . . each of these people are valuable.

No gift is too small or too large to give in the name of Jesus and for the glory of Jesus when our focus is fixed on serving God and others.

So, what does God consider priceless worship?

Anything we willingly and cheerfully give to please Him, to show our gratitude for all He’s done and all He is, to express our total devotion to Him, to honor Him, and to shine a light on His sovereign goodness, faithfulness, and love.

In today’s Pause for Prayer video, Heart Lifter Series Episode 1, I share the story that inspired this post and helped free me from debilitating doubt fed by the harsh critics in the world and in my head.

Click here to see how the Lord used my story, “Priceless Worship,” to encourage millions of readers around the world, proving that He can use anything and anyone in ways we never dreamed possible. 

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You can subscribe to my YouTube channel or  give me a cyber hug by “liking” or “sharing” my Facebook Author Page today.

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If you enjoy cute dog photos and videos, check out Callie the Service Dog on Facebook and on Instagram. I share different content on both platforms.

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If you’re a Christian writer, please join me on Write to Worship, a Facebook page that allows me to share biblical encouragement with others while reminding myself the encouraging words God had me sharing with them applied to me, too. I share writing tips, submission opportunities, and conference information on my Write to Worship page, too.

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If you enjoy a video, please share the link on your social media pages.

I can’t do anything without God or your ongoing prayers, support, and encouragement.

Thanks for being a part of my blog family!

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Committing to Truly Loving and Following Jesus

As I watch the divisions in the United States and within the Church widen, I cry out to the Lord.

My personal problems seem so small as I weep for the Church, asking God to reveal my wickedness, to purify my heart and mind so I can live in alignment with His life-transforming truth and love.

Still, I’m wrestling with God as I witness hate infesting communities and dividing people.

I watch in disbelief as well-known Christian leaders, blinded by idolatry, add checkmarks on evil’s scorecard by condoning, excusing, minimizing, and contributing to the sins that make folks want to run from Jesus instead of to Him.

I don’t want to drive people away from Jesus.

I don’t want to stray from Jesus, either.

So, I began to ask God a simple question:

How can I truly love and follow Jesus?

My search led me back to the basics.

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20)

Jesus Himself said that loving Him is synonymous to obeying Him (John 14:15). He clearly declares the theme of love with the greatest commandment, too:

“Love the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

As I studied Scripture, I began to realize that truly loving and following Jesus results in the Spirit-empowered obedience to sacrificially love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Selfless and sacrificial love protects “our neighbors,” all the people God created and loves, more fiercely than we protect our earthly rights, our biased opinions, our political beliefs and affiliations, our traditions, and our need to be right instead of being right with God.

Christ followers cannot love sacrificially or selflessly if we’re content with cowering in the dark corners of our comfort zones, hiding behind apathy, indifference, or approval through silence to avoid conflict or criticism.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus commends the Good Samaritan for having mercy on his fellow man and commands His disciples to “go and do likewise” (v. 37).

Oh, Lord. Forgive me! Change me and make me more like You, merciful Jesus.

How often have I chosen the sin of indifference, refusing to love someone with my words, actions, thoughts, and attitudes?

How often have I chosen the sin of idolatry, placing myself above You and everyone else?

The more I studied the Bible, the more I discovered God’s repeated emphasis on loving our neighbors as a commandment not an option:

“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” (James 2:8-9)

When we choose to truly love and follow Jesus, we can begin a wave of healing that ripples through our homes and into our communities, in person and online.

We may not experience physical restoration of a relationship or guarantee an offender’s change of heart when we’re the ones forgiving and choosing to love, but we can rely on God’s just and merciful love to work in and through the most painful circumstances.

Though the road toward change and healing will not be easy or short, our mission as Christ followers is clear.

If we say we love Jesus, we are commanded to love all people as Jesus loves us ̶ selflessly and sacrificially ̶ because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

As we live for Jesus and love like Jesus, we can draw people to the hope we have in Christ and make disciples of all nations by being true examples of disciples of Christ (Matthew 28:16-20).

Love will always prevail because our victorious God Himself is love.

But as I cry out to Jesus today, I’m praying He’ll change my heart and transform my thinking so that I can prevail by living a victorious life in Christ ̶ truly loving and following Jesus, which will be evident in the ways I love others who are different from me, who believe differently than me, and even those who refuse to love me back.

What a glorious day it will be when God uses our loving obedience, our genuine and selfless love for Him and others, to draw others closer to Him, to inspire others to dig deeper into His Word, and to encourage others to delight in His love as they enter into His eternal Kingdom!

Hallelujah!

Lord, thank You for loving us, forgiving us, and empowering us to love and forgive others. As we watch the atrocities unfolding right before our eyes and grieve over the blatant hatred destroying lives, it is ever apparent that we need You, Lord.

Please reveal our wickedness so we can repent, turn away from our sins, and represent You while living as foreigners on this earth.

Help us place offenders in Your hands, so that we can be freed to make a difference in our world by refusing to be indifferent.

As we rest in the surety of Your constant presence, give us all we need to seek peace, celebrate diversity as we stand in unity, and love selflessly, sacrificially, and generously all the days of our lives, starting today.

 In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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Who, besides Jesus, loved you into the Kingdom of God?

The Lord used so many people to love me as He prepared my heart to surrender to Him. However, I would like to thank Ms. Virginia, Winona, Barbara P., Cendy, and Miriam for loving me like Jesus before I’d even seen a “real Bible,” and while I was deliberately unloving and unlovable.

Who is God asking you to love into His Kingdom as you share the Gospel with them?

How are you loving Jesus by loving others in the against injustice?

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As I seek to fall head over heels in love with Jesus more and more each day, I am reading through the Bible in a year with the Our Daily Bread reading schedule. If you would like to join me, please let me know in the comments section or send me a message.

For more biblical encouragement, please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Please join me in loving our littlest neighbors by ordering extra copies of Different Like Me to share as gifts today.

I would appreciate your help spreading the word about Different Like Me, too.

One easy way to make a huge impact is by writing a short review on Amazon today. All you have to do is share what you like about the book and if you would recommend the book to other readers.

I look forward to being rooted in God’s Word as we grow closer to God’s people together!

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