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

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

Someone is adjusting to life after a big transition.

Someone is struggling to pay bills.

Someone is grieving the loss of a loved one.

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

Someone is battling disease or struggling with pain management.

Someone is feeling rejected, lonely, forgotten, insignificant.

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

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

You may know that someone who is hurting this Christmas.

You may even be that someone today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hallelujah!

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

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REVIVE Your Prayer Life!

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

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

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EXCLUSIVE BOOK GIVEAWAY FOR MY BLOG SUBSCRIBERS!

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

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Thanks for being a member of my blog family!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I look forward to growing with you!

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endorsements

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

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

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

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

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

Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Agape love isn’t conditional or used to manipulate.

Agape love never fails (v. 8a).

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

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

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

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

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

Are we patient?

Are we kind?

Are we free of envy?

Do we refuse to boast?

Do we live without pride?

Do we avoid dishonoring others?

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

Do we avoid being easily angered?

Do we refuse to keep a record of wrongs?

Do we refuse to delight in evil?

Do we rejoice with the truth?

Do our attitudes, words, and actions always protect?

Do we always trust, always hope, always persevere?

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

Love does.

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

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

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

Agape love cannot be contained or experienced apart from community.

Agape love cannot help but overflow into our relationships.

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

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

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

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

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I hope you enjoyed the Representation Matters blog series.

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

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

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

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

Dorina Gilmore-Young @dorinagilmore

Dorena Williamson @dorenawilliamson

Tina M. Cho @tinamcho

Xochitl Dixon @xochitl.e.dixon

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

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ANOTHER GREAT SERIES?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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To join the conversation, please leave a comment below.

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

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

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

Suggested Reading: Acts 1:1-11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wouldn’t be traveling to China that year.

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

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

I started to dream again and repeated my 2001 prayer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would be smuggling Bible verses into China!

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus is coming again.

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

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

Hallelujah!

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BIG NEWS

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The Lord has blessed me with another wonderful ministry opportunity.

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

Worship Expressed offers Christian apparel and accessories that I design.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I need Praying-Peeps and Patron Planters.

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

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

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

* Church Events

* Bible Study Group

* Pastor Appreciation Day

* Church Staff Appreciation

* Ministry Leader Appreciation

* Family Reunions

* Ministry Teams

* Writers Groups

* Writers Conferences

* Fundraisers

* And MORE!

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

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

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BOOK GIVEAWAY

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

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

1. Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young

2. Different Like Me by Xochitl Dixon

3. Breakfast with Jesus by Tina M. Cho

4. The Celebration Place by Dorena Williamson

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

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

@DorinaGilmore

@xochitl.e.dixon

@tinamcho

@dorenawilliamson

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

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

I look forward to connecting and growing with you!

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Making Room at the Table

Suggested Reading: John 20:30-21:25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Power of Belonging to God

Suggested Reading: Psalm 100

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hallelujah!

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

Hallelujah!

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

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

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

 In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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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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