What Does God Consider Priceless Worship?

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Suggested Reading – Mark 12:38-44

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

Your work has no value. Your words are worthless.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

She didn’t announce the sacrifice she made.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, what does God consider priceless worship?

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for being a part of my blog family!

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Committing to Truly Loving and Following Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, I began to ask God a simple question:

How can I truly love and follow Jesus?

My search led me back to the basics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hallelujah!

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

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

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

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

 In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Give the Gift of Radical Forgiveness for Christmas

(Suggested Reading: Luke 23:32-43)

As Christmas approaches and our world continues seeking some sense of normalcy during this pandemic, some people are not social distancing from family because of the virus. Some are grieving over unresolved family conflicts. Some have given up on broken relationships long before the pandemic. And some are licking their wounds and widening divisions over differing opinions on masks, politics, and tension caused by racism and an idolatrous sense of nationalism.

Instead of singing carols about Jesus’ birth, some are crushing hearts with careless words and graphics shared on social media.

Not many of us can escape the crossfire.

The enemy doesn’t have to work hard to divide God’s people when we do most of the legwork work for him.

As I prayerfully prepared to write this Christmas article multiple times, I couldn’t get past the first paragraph. After a few personal attacks I endured over the last year , I’d allowed resentment and bitterness to take root in my heart.

How could I write about celebrating the birth of Christ if I couldn’t obey the Greatest Commandment ̶ to love God and to love my neighbor as I love myself?

The Bible clearly explains God’s command to love our neighbors includes all people who are created in His image no matter what their beliefs, differences, or sins.

When I truly love my neighbors, I’ll treat them as Jesus would treat them.

It’s easy to love the kind neighbors, the neighbors who agree with me, who encourage me, who understand me, who stick up for me, who don’t rub me the wrong way.

But Jesus calls me to love the neighbors who need the most grace, the neighbors who are as depraved and dependent on God’s mercy as I am.

How can I do this if I allow pride and hurt to fester until gaps of resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness feel too wide and too deep to repair?

I cried out to God, trying to justify the list of people I had tucked in the dark corners of my unforgiving heart. “What do You want me to do, Lord?”

Forgive.

But I’m angry.

Forgive.

But I’m tired of forgiving when there seems to be no remorse, no repentance, no willingness to listen to learn or even empathize.

Forgive.

But I’m still hurt.

Forgive.

But I’m afraid to get hurt again.

Forgive.

As I wrestled with God, He reminded me of the countless times He’d extended undeserved mercy toward me and led me to Luke 23:32-43.

While Jesus hung on the cross, He willingly submitted to the nails that pierced His hands and feet. As an atonement for my sins, He paid the insurmountable debt my wickedness earned.

What does this have to do with Christmas?

Our loving Savior intended on offering us radical forgiveness before He left His heavenly throne, put on flesh, and allowed Himself to be wrapped in swaddling cloth and placed in a manger.

During Christ’s earthly ministry, He had countless reasons to hold grudges, to become bitter, to seek revenge, to refuse to forgive . . . especially when He chose to endure the suffering on the cross.

But as He looked on the ones who cheered for His execution‒those who mocked the King of Kings without remorse or repentance‒Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34, NIV).

The ones Jesus loved, the ones Jesus asked the Father to forgive weren’t remorseful . . . at all.

In Total Forgiveness, R.T. Kendall states that “[asking] the Father to forgive them showed that not only had [Jesus] forgiven them and released them from their guilt, but also that He asked His Father not to punish them or take revenge on them . . .” (p. 3).

Though I’ve read this book over half a dozen times and have read through the Bible yearly since 2005, I still choke up when I consider the words Jesus cried out while hanging, bruised and bloody, on the cross . . . paying the price for my sins.

Am I truly willing to love with such selflessness?

Are you?

When we think of Jesus in the manger, we cannot forget Jesus on the cross.

 So this year, would you join me in asking God to help us give the gift of radical forgiveness for Christmas?

No more pleas for payback.

No more daydreams of dishing out a cold bowl of revenge.

No more harboring resentment.

When we ask God to help us release our offenders into His loving and merciful hands, we can trust Him to work in and through their lives as He continues working in and through our lives.

The more we pray blessings over our offenders, the more God helps us see them through His eyes of loving grace . . . and the more peace reigns in our hearts.

When we offer radical forgiveness, we’re not condoning, minimizing, or even forgetting an offense. God is righteous and just. He is full of compassion and understands our need to process, heal, and sometimes close the door on a relationship.

But when we place the offense and the offender into God’s trustworthy hands, we no longer have to carry burdens that don’t belong to us.

We can choose victorious freedom through right relationships with God and others instead of insisting on being right, gloating in someone else’s remorsefulness, or demanding apologies before forgiving.

As imperfect humans in desperate need of our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ, we will need to forgive others and ask for forgiveness all the days of our lives. We’ll need prayer and encouragement every step of the way.

Radical forgiveness requires an ongoing commitment to surrender to the Holy Spirit but begins with the choice to love Jesus and love others like Jesus loves us.

Will you give the gift of radical forgiveness for Christmas this year?

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Lord, thank You for forgiving us and for empowering us to forgive. Please prepare our hearts to receive and submit to Your truth and love. Show us our wickedness and lead us into the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24). Help us recognize, confess, repent, and turn away from our sins. Please help us reconcile, even if restoration of a relationship isn’t possible, as we embrace the peace and freedom of living in radical forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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I ordered a revised and updated copy of Total Forgiveness by R.T. Kendall, a book God has used to help me understand what forgiveness is and isn’t, as well as what He says about forgiveness in the Bible.

I’ll be reading Total Forgiveness as I read through the Bible in a year with the Our Daily Bread Ministries reading schedule, which is posted with each day’s devotion starting on January 1, 2021.

Please let me know if you are going to join me in reading Total Forgiveness and/or if you are going to join me in reading through the Bible in 2021, which only take 15 minutes per day (30-45 minutes if you read slow like me).

I look forward to growing with you!

Merry Christmas!

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To inhale God’s truth, exhale prayers and praises, and rest in God’s presence, please join me for Pause for Prayer: Thriving through the Wait by subscribing to my new YouTube Channel today.

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Exciting Change of Venue for Flourish: Thriving through the Wait

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the First Baptist Church Vacaville Women’s Ministry will no longer be hosting Flourish: Thriving through the Wait on their Facebook LIVE page.

But God . . . Hallelujah . . . God quickly affirmed that nothing would stop me from sharing the message He’s placed on my heart to share with you.

If you registered in the month of October or before for Flourish through the FBCVV Women’s Ministry, the lovely leadership team has already given me your contact information.

You do not need to register again. You will receive the Zoom link via email so you can join me for this spirit-refreshing time of worship, fellowship, biblical encouragement, and prayer.

If you haven’t registered yet, please click HERE and fill out the form.

You will receive the Zoom link and instruction via email. All registrants will automatically be entered for a chance to receive one of the exclusive giveaways I’ll be offering during this FREE LIVE Zoom Event.

That’s right! FREE LIVE Zoom Event!

As I prayed over the change of venue, the Lord nudged me to make this event more personal.

I am looking forward to connecting with you via Zoom on November 14, 2020 from 10 am to 11:30 am (Pacific).

After the message, we’ll connect and celebrate with some fun giveaways.

Here is the original invitation with more details:

Are you feeling tired, frustrated, discouraged, stuck, lonely, or simply longing for a deeper connection with God and other women?

If you answered yes, you are not alone.

Please join me for Flourish: Thriving through the Wait.

We’ll enjoy a spirit-refreshing time of worship, fellowship, biblical encouragement, and prayer as God equips us to thrive through the wait with our hope, joy, peace, and our identities rooted in His unchanging and infallible Word.

If you pre-register and attend the FREE LIVE ZOOM EVENT, you will be eligible for a chance to receive one of two signed copies of Waiting for God, or one of two copies of God Hears Her, an Our Daily Bread bestselling compilation.

The grand prize will include: a signed copy of Waiting for God, a copy of God Hears Her, and a signed copy of my first children’s picture book, Different Like Me, with some fun swag.

Register for Flourish: Thriving through the Wait today!

If you cannot make it to this FREE LIVE Zoom Event on November 14th, I still want to connect with you in the comment sections on my blog and on social media.

I will be recording Flourish to share as the kick-off video for my brand-new YouTube Channel, as I prepare to present the second season of Pause for Prayer.

On November 21, 2020, you’re invited to Pause for Prayer: The Waiting for God Video Series.

 This stand-alone series, designed to complement the 31 chapters in my devotional, Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace, will include Scripture reading, biblical encouragement, and prayers.

 You do not need to purchase a copy of Waiting for God to enjoy this season of Pause for Prayer videos.

Join me on November 14, 2020 for Flourish: Thriving through the Wait and for Pause for Prayer, from November 21, 2020 to December 21, 2020.

I’ll share more information on this blog and through my social media pages.

If you haven’t connected with me on social media, please check out the links in the purple section at the bottom of my website pages.

I’m so excited to see what the Lord has in store for us!

Father God, thanks for assuring us that You have a purpose for every second we spend waiting for You. Please align our hearts with Yours and fill us with wisdom, courage, and confidence rooted in Your Word and Your proven faithfulness.

When the days feel way too long, fuel our perseverance with Your enduring hope. When the road ahead is covered in a fog of frustration, discouragement, loneliness, impatience, selfishness, fear, insecurities, or doubt, clear our vision and sharpen our hearing so we can discern Your directions.

Help us recognize our desperate need for You as we submit to the plan and pace You’ve set for our growth and our good. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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SPECIAL EVENT:  If you want to join me in reading through Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace while we enjoy the Pause for Prayer: Waiting for God Video Series, I’ll be hosting a book discussion and prayer time on Tuesday, December 22, 2020 at 6 pm (Pacific).

I’ll share the registration information on my blog and on social media soon.

Love your neighbors by ordering extra copies to share as gifts on Amazon, at Barnes and Nobel, from Our Daily Bread Publishing, or on the Christian Book website today.

If you’ve read Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace, please prayerfully consider writing a short review on Amazon and any other review platforms you enjoy so we can reach more readers with this empowering message of hope.

Thanks for your loving support and encouragement!

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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.

We’re So Close to Bringing Solomon and His Service Dog Together!

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When 4-year-old Solomon was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in April 2020, we started a fundraiser to help him raise the money he needed for a professionally trained service dog.

We started fundraising on June 10th. By June 14th, God’s amazing people had donated the $10,000.00 necessary to secure Solomon’s puppy from the next litter.

Hallelujah!

We still had to raise another $12,000.00 before we could secure the pup’s training spot.

Are you ready to celebrate?

God has used His generous people to help us raise a total of $14,038.9 between June 10-27, 2020!

Solomon has secured his puppy from the next litter and only needs $7,969.31 to secure his training spot!

I look forward to sharing photos and more about Solomon’s story as we continue supporting him on his journey. BUT TODAY, I’m asking for your help.

Will you join us by doing one or more of the following:

  1. Praying for Solomon, his family,the Tails for Life trainers, and the puppy God has already chosen to serve Solomon.
  2. Prayerfully consider making a tax-deductible donation in any amount directly to Tails for Life to help us reach our final goal.
  3. Share this post on social media and encourage others to donate and/or share the post, so we can reach more people.

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You can make your tax-deductible donation online or send a check, made payable to Tails for Life with a note in the memo: “Solomon Henry’s Service Dog.

Please send checks to:

Tails for Life

Attention: Jacob Guell

W7074 Penny Lane

Fond du Lac, WI 54937

If you have any problems making a donation online and adding “Solomon Henry’s Service Dog” in the notes section, please make your donation online then email Jacob Guell at tailsforlife@gmail.com to let him know your donation is for Solomon.

I am praising God now for the wonderful way He is going to provide for Solomon and his family, just like He provided for me and my sweet Callie Mae.

Please feel free to leave a comment below to encourage Solomon and his family, as well as the Tails for Life team members who have dedicated their lives to serving God by providing well-trained service dogs and ongoing training support to those in need.

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Working Together Can Change Solomon’s Life – June 22, 2020 Update

On June 10, 2020, I shared Solomon’s story with you. This four-year-old boy with a contagious love for God has inspired all of us. As his family processes their emotions while praying for guidance regarding his medical treatment, sponsors have been blessing them with tax-deductible donations paid directly to Tails for Life for Solomon’s service dog.

Over the last twelve days, Tails for Life has received $7,773.69 in donations to help bring Solomon and his service dog together.

We’re only $2,226.31 away from our 1st goal of $10,000, which will secure a puppy for Solomon from the next litter.

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

Your generosity, words of encouragement, and prayers have overwhelmed the family.

They are facing some difficult decisions as they consider treatment options. The sooner we can get Solomon’s dog in training, the sooner he and his whole family will benefit from our gift.

I’m in tears as I type this message, thanking God for each of you who have donated, prayed, or shared this post.

It is a pleasure and privilege to see people coming alongside this family to help.

When the litter is born, the owner of Tails for Life will help the family choose a puppy.

The basic training begins before the breeder even releases the puppy to the trainers. Then, the Tails for Life family dedicates time around the clock to caring for this special dog they have committed to love and train so that he can serve the handler God has chosen for him ̶ Solomon.

As Solomon grows, he’ll need this service dog to help him with balance and mobility. The dog will be able to help him stand up when he falls. He will pick up and retrieve items for Solomon. And when Solomon transitions into a wheelchair, his service dog will remain by his side and ready to work.

A service dog will also alert family members when Solomon needs their attention. He will bring comfort and peace of mind to all of the family members as they lovingly serve as Solomon’s caregivers.

If I would have had my service dog when I served as my mom’s live-in caregiver, Callie could have helped me physically and emotionally.

I wouldn’t have had to use a cane to walk. I wouldn’t have hurt myself when picking up dropped items, which would have prevented me from caring for my mom while on crutches for six weeks.

With Callie, I wouldn’t have felt so alone when I was trying to be strong for my mom.

God strengthened me each day, but physically caring for my mom while trying to care for myself during my daily battle with chronic pain was hard and emotionally draining.

As Callie reaches the end of her first year in training with Tails for Life on July 9th, I sure would love to celebrate that special day by announcing that Solomon’s service dog is paid in full and ready to begin training!

With a service dog, the Henry family will be able to serve Solomon without depleting all of their mental, physical, or emotional strength.

We can’t change Solomon’s diagnosis. But, as we continue donating to help bring Solomon and his service dog together, we can be a part of what God is doing to change their lives.

Any donation amount will help and be appreciated.

Every dollar counts and helps us get closer to the goal of $22,000.00 so Solomon can begin his adventure with the service dog God has already chosen for him and his family.

Will you please join me in praying for the Henry family and prayerfully consider making a donation directly to Tails for Life today?

Please make checks payable to Tails for Life, write “Solomon Henry’s Service Dog” in the meme, and send to:

Tails for Life

Attention: Jacob Guell

W7074 Penny Lane

Fond du Lac, WI 54937

If you have any problems making a donation online or adding “Solomon Henry’s Service Dog” in the notes section, please make your donation online then email Jacob Guell at tailsforlife@gmail.com to let him know your donation is for Solomon.

Please also consider inviting a friend or two to help so we can secure Solomon’s dog and training spot as soon as possible.

I thank God for all of you who sponsored Callie’s service dog training and who continually pray for us as we share God’s truth and love to the ends of the earth.

I am praising God now for the wonderful way He is going to provide for Solomon and his family, just like He provided for me and my sweet Callie Mae.

Please feel free to leave a comment below to encourage Solomon and his family, as well as the Tails for Life family members who have dedicated their lives to serving God by providing well-trained service dogs and ongoing training support to those in need.

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As of July 22, 2020, Tails for Life has received $7,773.69 for Solomon’s service dog!

 

Callie’s Birthday Wish: We Have a Hurting Friend Who Needs Our Prayers and Our Help

Callie turned two today!

I shed grateful tears when I think about how the Lord has used Callie, a mixed breed rescued from a kill-shelter, and the trainers at Tails for Life to improve my quality of life physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually.

When we followed God from California to Wisconsin in August 2018, I couldn’t even walk to the end of the block with my cane. I couldn’t endure more than an hour out of the house without hunching over with stabbing pain in my upper thoracic back.

Though I still struggle with daily nerve pain, fatigue, muscle spasms, and headaches, my doctor’s helping me improve my pain management and Callie’s helping me improve my independence and mobility.

I can now walk Callie, without a cane, 2-3 times a day. Hallelujah!

When I’m having high level pain or spasms, Callie stays by my side and offers pressure therapy upon my request. She helps me get out of my chair and picks up things that I drop. She helps me balance when I’m walking and slows down when I have a flare-up during an outing.

Callie has flown across the country with me and served the Lord by my side during multiple book signings and speaking events. She lays next to me when I’m writing and rests under the table when I’m working at my desk.

I feel more confident and courageous when I’m serving the Lord with Callie by my side.

None of this would be possible without God, the New Pawsibilities rescue shelter, our first Wisconsin-friends, Gary and Carmen, and the group of generous readers who sponsored Callie’s service dog training with Tails for Life.

As I thank God for allowing us to serve Him together, I enjoy sharing our adventures at Callie the Service Dog with Xochitl Dixon (Facebook).

Callie is also building friendships and serving the Lord online at @callie.the.service.dog with Xochitl Dixon on Instagram.

But nothing is more rewarding than helping others who would benefit from a service dog. 

Four-year-old Solomon needs our help today!

On April 16, 2020, one of the families in our church discovered that their son, Solomon, was diagnosed with Duchenne (pronounced “do-shen”) Muscular Dystrophy.

My friend, Lara, explained how Solomon’s diagnosis will impact his future.

“This is a disease that doesn’t have a cure. My son’s body cannot make the protein properly to sustain his muscles. As he ages, his body will slowly become weaker.

The mutation on the X-Chromosome means nearly all who are affected by DMD are males.

Boys will typically need a motorized wheelchair by middle school. Eventually they will need help with the most basic needs of life.

Life expectancy varies between DMD boys, some pass as early as their teenage years – some live longer – but most pass in their 20’s.

I’ve grown closer to Solomon and his family as I pray for them.

Solomon is a bright and happy boy. He’s curious, funny, and kind. He likes playing with tools and Legos.

And he loves Callie!

Lara shared how this disease is already impacting her son’s physical abilities.

“Solomon is unable to run or jump. Stairs are hard work. He struggles to pick his feet up high enough off the ground, so they don’t drag. He literally trips over his own feet.”

But Solomon’s disease is also effecting his whole family.

While her husband works to support their family, Lara tries to stay right by Solomon’s side, constantly fearing he will fall and injure himself.

“His sister, Addy, loves him very much,” she said. “Although she doesn’t fully understand what “Duchenne” means, she knows enough to run and get his favorite blanket or stuffed animal when he falls and hurts himself.”

But Lara proclaims that Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy has not left Solomon’s family without hope.

“The God who stopped the sun in the sky for the Israelites, the God who parted the Red Sea for Moses, the God who raised Lazarus from the dead . . . that is the God I believe in. And that is the God who could have reached into my womb and healed my son before he was born. He is the God that could heal my son right now.

But He doesn’t.

And I HAVE to be okay with that. It is now more important than ever for me to have hope in Him and in His promises.

Is it easy?  Definitely not. Do I do it consistently? Nope. But, after the hardest of days when the tears won’t stop flowing, do I come back before His throne on my knees? Sure do. I have to believe in God’s goodness, in His power, in His might. I have to believe that He loves my son. I have to believe that it will all be okay, regardless of the pain now.

Because if I don’t believe all of that, what am I left with? Belief that God that doesn’t love Solomon? Belief that God isn’t all-powerful or all-mighty? Oof. That puts me in a very dark place. I don’t want to be there. So today, in spite of the pain and the grief, I choose to believe. I choose to have hope in the future.”

Jacob Guell from Tails for Life explains how a service dog can help brighten Solomon’s future.

A professionally trained service dog will help Solomon balance and can provide a sense of independence for Solomon, even as his muscles weaken.

The dog will help Solomon stand up from his chair or the floor, if he’s sitting on the floor or after a fall.

When Solomon drops something, the dog will pick up the item he drops. He can even retrieve and carry items.

The dog will be able to work with Solomon when he is in a wheelchair, too.

A service dog would also offer support to Solomon’s family.

The dog will alert a family member if Solomon needs help. He will stick close to Solomon and offer physical and emotional support, so family members don’t have to be so worried about leaving his side to keep him from falling.

The dog would also know how to get assistance from someone if Solomon is in need of help, at home or in public.

I know from my experience with Callie that a service dog brings so much more to the handler and the family.

The sense of comfort and confidence that comes through working with a service dog is a priceless gift.

A professionally trained service dog will allow Solomon and his family to have a better quality of life physically, emotionally, and mentally as his disease progresses.

How can we help bring Solomon and his service dog together so they can begin their life-changing journey together?

Tails for Life works with reliable breeders to ensure their service dogs have a specific temperament that will make them successful as they work with their handlers and families.

Securing a puppy and the two-year training spot with ongoing support from Tails for Life costs $22,000.00.

I know from experience that the Tails for Life team works with integrity and goes above and beyond to serve the families God has entrusted to them.

The sooner Solomon can secure a dog and a training spot, the sooner he will be able to begin working with the service dog.

Tails for Life needs $10,000.00 as soon as possible to reserve a dog and a training spot for Solomon.

The remaining balance of $12,000.00 is due when the training begins.

Tails for Life is already booking training spots for next Spring. They work on a first come first serve basis, so they cannot reserve spots without the funding.

Sponsors can make tax-deductible donations directly to Tails for Life via their website (click here).

Donations must include a message in the notes section to inform Tails for Life that their donation is for Solomon.

Tails for Life also accepts tax-deductible donations via check (instructions below) with a note informing them that the money should go directly to Solomon’s dog and training.

Donations over $250.00 will receive a special form in addition to the receipt everyone receives with their life-changing donation.

Tails for Life has trained Callie and me since July 2019, but they have been making a difference in the lives of children since 2013.

This team has provided well over a dozen service dogs to families across Wisconsin and Illinois, along with a few other states.

They have helped many children with rare disorders or diseases, children who were turned away from other organizations because they didn’t fit the organization’s criteria.

For Callie’s birthday, I wanted to spread God’s love and hope to this family in need. But I know Callie and I can’t do this alone.

Any donation amount will help and be appreciated.

Every dollar counts and helps us get closer to the goal of $22,000.00 so Solomon can begin his adventure with the service dog God has already chosen for him and his family.

Will you please join me in praying for the Henry family and prayerfully consider making a donation directly to Tails for Life today?

Please make checks payable to Tails for Life, write “Solomon Henry’s Service Dog” in the meme, and send to:

 

Tails for Life

Attention: Jacob Guell

W7074 Penny Lane

Fond du Lac, WI 54937

 

If you have any problems making a donation online and adding “Solomon Henry’s Service Dog” in the notes section, please make your donation then email Jacob Guell at tailsforlife@gmail.com to let him know your donation is for Solomon.

Please also consider inviting a friend or two to help so we can secure Solomon’s dog and training spot as soon as possible.

I thank God for all of you who sponsored Callie’s service dog training and who continually pray for us as we share God’s truth and love to the ends of the earth.

In the photo above, Callie is “praising the Lord.” (Yes. I taught her how to do that, so we could praise Him together!)

And today, I am praising God for the wonderful way He is going to provide for Solomon and his family, just like He provided for me and my sweet Callie Mae.

Please feel free to leave a comment below to encourage Solomon and his family, as well as the Tails for Life team members who have dedicated their lives to serving God by providing well-trained service dogs and ongoing training support to those in need.

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June 15, 2020 UPDATE:

PRAISE the LORD! Every single donation is making a difference!

As of 8 am Monday, June 15, 2020, only five days into our fundraising efforts, God has blessed us with a total of $5,144.69. Hallelujah!

We may not be able to change Solomon’s diagnosis, but we are helping change his life by donating today!

Please SHARE this post, so we can reach more people!

Thank you for your prayers and support! To God be the glory, the honor, and the praise, praise, praise!

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