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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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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If you are reading this message via email, please DO NOT REPLY to this email. Instead, CLICK HERE to leave a comment under the original article on my blog. You will have to scroll down to the end of the article to join the conversation.

 

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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Why I Wrote Different Like Me and Blog Tour Mega Giveaway

What are you?

That question used to trigger anger, frustration, and sadness, especially when people responded in disbelief because my answer didn’t fit the stereotypes they’d accepted as truth. My insecurities deepened, causing me to hate my own light-but-not-white reflection.

Years later, when I became a mom of two black sons, I didn’t want them to suffer similar insecurities. I didn’t want them to think their worth as people could be determined by the opinions, expectations, or biases of others.

I wanted my sons to love God, to love the way God created them, and to love all the people God created.

But my desires and best-intentions couldn’t protect them the ignorance and hate so prevalent in our fallen world.

One day, during a trip to an ice cream shop, an adult male glared at my five-year-old son and said, “What are you?”

The sting of his words ripped the scar off the wound on my heart that I thought had healed.

Asking God to help me forgive, I sought ways to help my sons rejoice in their uniqueness and God’s creativity in designing all of His people. While studying my Bible, I began learning how to embrace my identity in Christ.

The more I learned about God’s love for me, the more I began to accept I worth loving and the more I began to love others.

I wrote Different Like Me in 2001, shortly after receiving Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

Originally, I had planned to use the poem to teach my sons how to celebrate our differences and our sameness as God’s beautifully diverse and purposefully connected people. But the Lord kept nudging me to share the story with others.

God didn’t roll out His plans at the pace I’d expected.

In 2016, my agent and an editor read Different Like Me, loved it, but couldn’t move forward with publication.

The following year, I signed a contract for my first full-length devotional, Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace.

I set Different Like Me aside as I worked on the other projects the Lord had entrusted to me.

In 2018, shortly after submitting Waiting for God to my editor at Our Daily Bread Publishing, my agent and the editor who had loved Different Like Me in 2016 requested a complete proposal for the manuscript.

I scrambled to prepare my first children’s picture book proposal with the help of my friend and prolific children’s book author, Crystal Bowman. I submitted the proposal to several editors before prayerfully deciding to accept a contract from Our Daily Bread Publishing.

Then, I began praying for an illustrator who would avoid stereotypes and include children with special needs as heroes, not sideline characters.

Bonnie Lui (pronounced Louie) did a fabulous job. She weaved her own beautiful story into the gorgeous illustrations that breathe life into the whimsical rhyming text I’d written almost two decades earlier.

Bonnie even created a character inspired by my service dog, Callie, a Border Collie/Hound mix we rescued in 2018 from a kill-shelter and trained through Tails for Life after God moved us from California to Wisconsin.

Earlier this year, as I prepared for the August 2020 release of Different Like Me, tragedy divided our world.

I truly believe God delayed my path to publication so that He could prepare hearts to receive the message of love, unity, peace, and hope that He has brought to life through each page of Different Like Me.

This week, Celebrate Lit is going to be hosting an exciting blog tour with a mega giveaway!

The Different Like Me Celebrate Lit Blog Tour Mega Giveaway includes: a signed copy of Different Like Me with a bookmark and sticker, an exclusive coloring page signed by the illustrator, Bonnie Lui, a Different Like Me full-color 8 ½ x 11 poster, one box of Crayola’s Colors of the Word crayons (24-pack), a 4-pack of crayons, a Different Like Me fish shaped key chain, a fish-out-of-water finger puppet and lollipop, Swedish Fish, a colorful fish book bag, a custom made Different Like Me cup, and a $25.00 Amazon gift card to encourage readers to build up their collection children’s picture books that celebrate diversity.

Be sure to comment on the blog stops (posted below) for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Inklings and notions, September 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 15

Texas Book-aholic, September 16

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 17

Splashes of Joy, September 18

deb’s Book Review, September 18

For Him and My Family, September 19

A Reader’s Brain, September 20

Simple Harvest Reads, September 21 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Mary Hake, September 21

Book Love, September 22 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 23

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 24

Artistic Nobody, September 25

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, September 25

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 26

Sara Jane Jacobs, September 27

 

I’m looking forward to interacting with you in the comment sections of each blog post!

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Join Me On the Award-Winning Timothy Hodge Show on Blog Talk Radio! (Book Giveaway)

(Book Giveaway: Details in this post.)

God blessed me with a wonderful opportunity to chat with Mr. Timothy Hodge from The Timothy Hodge Show on Blog Talk Radio.

The Timothy Hodge Show started in August 2008 and was announced as the winner of the prestigious Hal Jackson Radio Award from the National Radio Alliance in Las Vegas on June 20, 2020.

This American talk radio show hosted by DJ Timothy Hodge shares live music, celebrity interviews, current events, entertainment news, live media events and much more. You can listen to the show on Power 93.4 FM and on the Blogtalk Radio Network, a subscription based internet radio service.

The Timothy Hodge Show is one of the highest rated syndicated radio shows on the B.T.R Network and has featured a variety of guests, including but not limited to: Montell Jordon, Keith Murray, Yolanda Adams, Jesse McCartney, Gloria Gaynor, Brandy, Regina Belle, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Winans, Mario Winans, Jasmine Guy, Nia Long, Oleta Adams, Evelyn “Champange” King , Stephanie Mills, Cissy Houston, and Regina King.

I enjoyed a great conversation with Mr. Hodge, who happens to be a fellow dog lover!

We discussed my children’s picture book, Different Like Me, our shared love for dogs, working to change the perception of people with special needs, and advocating for mental health awareness.

We also talked about how to stay encouraged and make a positive impact as we navigate through the pandemic and continue standing against racism, discrimination, and injustice.

Join me on The Timothy Hodge Show by clicking here.

Please leave comments on the show’s page and under this post.

I’ll be giving away one free signed copy of Different Like Me on Sunday, September 13, 2020, at 8 pm Central.

To be entered for your chance to receive that signed copy of Different Like Me, please listen to my interview on The Timothy Hodge Show then return to my website and let me know what you thought about our discussion (in the comment section below).

I look forward to hearing from you!


PRAISE: As of today, Different Like Me is still the #1 New Release on Amazon’s Christian Children’s Social Issues Category and the #1 New Release on Amazon’s Children’s Special Needs Category. Different Like Me has held that spot numerous times since its August 4, 2020 release date.

You can order your copy of Different Like Me or love your neighbors by ordering extra copies to share as gifts on Amazon today.

If you enjoy Different Like Me, please write a short review on Amazon and any other review platforms you enjoy. Every review makes a difference and can to help place God’s message of love and unity into the hands of more readers around the world.

I thank God for your prayers, your encouragement, and your help spreading the word about Different Like Me so that more children will learn to celebrate our differences and our sameness as God’s beautifully diverse and purposefully connected people!
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Valuing the Beauty of God’s Masterful and Diverse Workmanship

Years ago, my son raced out of his kindergarten classroom and into my arms and shared a story that I’d long expected but wished we could have avoided. An older student had hurled racial slurs at him during recess.

A white woman interrupted our conversation. “Oh, honey,” she said. “We’re all equal. God doesn’t see color.”

Before I could respond, she smiled and walked away.

My son frowned. “God doesn’t see me because I’m brown, Mama?”

“God sees you and loves you,” I said, trying to conceal my anger. Why didn’t I tell the woman that her words hurt me and could have hurt my son if not addressed? Cupping his face in my light-but-not-white hands, I met his gaze.

To read more, click here to join me as I serve as a guest writer on the (in)courage blog today.

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Today is the release date for Different Like Me!

You can love your neighbors by ordering extra copies to share as gifts on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, ChristianBook, Our Daily Bread Publishing, or wherever books are sold.

You can encourage me and partner with me in ministry by writing a review on Amazon or any other review platforms you enjoy.

Thanks for your prayers and encouragement as we celebrate our differences and our sameness as God’s beautifully diverse and purposefully connected people.