Can I Be Sad and Still Have Strong Faith?

I’ve lost count of the days I sat alone, sometimes laid up in bed struggling with pain management and sometimes wrestling with guilt because fatigue sucked up more than half of my day. No one heard my sobs, except God and my service dog who tried her best to lick away the problem she didn’t understand. I shared my one-and-done work related post, so one missed me on social media.

Then, I wept.

Embracing the sadness, I surrendered to the tears. But why was I sad? I’ve struggled with depression in the past, triggered by a hostile work environment. These tears felt different, refreshing in a way. Still, I had no idea how to explain why I was experiencing this sadness.

Sure, my road is tougher than I would like it to be. But God has also blessed me with so many reasons to be grateful every day. I enjoy a full workload and mean every word I type as I invite others to join me in praising Him. So, why did I need to cry alone?

I didn’t have an answer, so I simply allowed my feelings to flow.

Some folks insist that everyone needs a good cry. I believe that statement. But for some reason, I knew these tears meant more than an overflow of feelings. As I sat in the quiet room, stroking my service dog’s soft fur, I thanked God.

The ministry of tears had once again brought me to the foot of the cross, eyes gazing at the unchanging truth that kept me rooted in faith.

I couldn’t share those tears. I had to let them finish their work of cleansing my weary soul, emptying my aching heart, clearing my jumbled mind. When the streaks of salty woes eased to sniffles, peace pressed into me, first in my chest then rolling over my shoulders and off my back as I exhaled.

Can I be sad and still have strong faith?

I used to struggle with that question. I’d always been quick to feel, open to sharing with transparency and boasting in my weaknesses while proclaiming the strength of Christ alone. Was I wrong? Did my easy weeping reveal a weak spot in my faith?

I’ve been told that people with strong faith can’t be sad because their hope is in Christ. I’ve been told that my faith is weak, that I don’t want to be healed, that I don’t believe God can heal, because I’m still battling chronic pain and fatigue. But my walk with Jesus and my sacred strolls through the Bible have proven those claims false.

As I wept today, for no particular reason, I looked to the psalms for answers and found a rock-solid foundation of hope.

I could hear the psalmist David sighing as he began his prayer with confident surrender.

“Answer me when I call to you, O God who declares me innocent. Free me from my troubles. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.” (Psalm 4:1)

David turned his words toward his offenders then announced what He could depend on with a shoulders-back and head-raised proclamation of faith.

“You can be sure of this: The LORD set apart the godly for himself. The LORD will answer when I call.” (Psalm 4:3)

Those are not the words of a doubting sinner. Those are the words of a victorious king reliant on the King of Kings.

Turning back to listeners, David encourages obedience and trust in the Lord before interceding in prayer then intimately speaking to God regarding his personal testimony without missing a breath.

“Let your face smile on us, LORD. You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.” (Psalm 4:6-7)

David acknowledges God’s ability to meet His needs while he is still in need.

His faith shines with a bold assurance in God’s promised provision. But it’s clear that David is still suffering. I can imagine his head bowed because I bow my head as I pray with David.

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe.” (Psalm 4:8, emphasis mine)

As I look around me, I see suffering that is hard to hide and suffering hidden behind a smile and a dismissive “I’m fine.” I’ve been guilty of the latter, wanting to protect God’s reputation by pretending everything was good in my life.

Now, I know better because I know God better.

Can I be sad and still have strong faith?

The psalmists would answer yes and prove their stance with their songs of praise and lament. The disciples would say yes and display their scars of faith like badges, as they willingly shared in the suffering of Christ. The Saints of the Old Testament would gather around and swap stories of God’s faithfulness, trustworthiness, and power through their toughest moments. They all knew sadness and had faith.

As I tried to understand the reason for my gush of feelings, I asked God for clarity. He took me to dictionary .com on a hunt for meaning.

Sadness is “an instance of sorrow.”

If that’s true, then sadness is also an emotion that will pass, not our identity.

Sadness is not a shawl of shame that needs to be denied or minimized.

Sadness proves that we feel, that we care, that we’re alive, that we’re still fighting, still trusting, still walking by faith.

How does God respond when we’re sad?

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 51:17)

We can stop fearing sadness and trying to avoid tears when we begin to understand the ministry God does as we surrender to the emotions He gave us to experience.

Our tears are prayers God hears, songs of worship God receives, and expressions of trust God accepts as He walks us to the promises He will undoubtedly fulfill.

Loving Lord, thanks for knowing how much we need to feel sadness, how much we need to experience the overflow of tears, and how much we need to encounter You in the instances of sorrow You use to deepen our dependence on Your enduring mercy and love. Help us trust that You never let a tear slip down our cheeks without Your acknowledgement. And help us rest in the surety of Your all-encompassing grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

Xochitl Dixon shares her personal stories and the experiences of others to help you reclaim your peace and joy, knowing God has not forgotten you.

You can order your copies of Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace from Amazon. Don’t forget to love your neighbor by ordering extra copies to share as gifts.

To God be the glory!

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God is Our Strength (Book Giveaway Recipient Announced)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hallelujah!

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

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Congratulations to Patti from Modesto, California.

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

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

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

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REVIVE Your Prayer Life!

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

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

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Thanks for being a member of my blog family!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Someone is adjusting to life after a big transition.

Someone is struggling to pay bills.

Someone is grieving the loss of a loved one.

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

Someone is battling disease or struggling with pain management.

Someone is feeling rejected, lonely, forgotten, insignificant.

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

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

You may know that someone who is hurting this Christmas.

You may even be that someone today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hallelujah!

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

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REVIVE Your Prayer Life!

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

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

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EXCLUSIVE BOOK GIVEAWAY FOR MY BLOG SUBSCRIBERS!

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

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Thanks for being a member of my blog family!

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I look forward to growing with you!

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endorsements

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

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

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

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

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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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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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Do You Really Believe God Loves You Unconditionally?

Suggested Reading: Luke 15:11-32

I grew up loved but feeling unlovable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He began to celebrate (v. 24).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve doubted His unending grace and unconditional love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you really believe God loves you unconditionally?

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

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

When have you wandered from the Father’s presence?

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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When We Can’t Seem to Catch a Break from Life’s Hardships

I didn’t even notice when the complaints started overtaking my thoughts.

Expected stress accompanied our move from Wisconsin back to California, but unexpected disappointments increased my grumbling capacity.

After hunkering down in a hotel for the first three weeks as we searched for a rental, we finally found a new apartment. Third floor. No elevators. Community living definitely required a few adjustments, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The furniture dealer didn’t deliver our recliners on the promised date. My struggles with pain management escalated as I adjusted to working with a new doctor. The perfect Thanksgiving feast I expected with both of our sons ended up being a quiet meal with our youngest son and his fiancé.

As the list of things that went wrong and things that did not go as I expected grew, my negativity nourished my complaining spirit.

I snuggled Callie and pouted as I prayed.

Can we catch a break from the hardships, Lord?

In His loving patience, God gently turned my eyes back to His Word.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

How am I supposed to rejoice or give thanks in these difficult circumstances, Lord?

On the surface, rejoicing felt impossible and giving thanks felt fake.

Until I took a closer look at what the apostle Paul was saying to the church of Thessalonica.

When I read each phrase separately, I missed the point.

I couldn’t rejoice always unless I prayed continually, which would lead to giving thanks in all circumstances.

When I focused on God, not myself or the temporary circumstances that affected me on this side of eternity, I could experience the biblical meaning of joy.

Acknowledging God’s constant presence helped me recognize the ways He was working in and through my life, in and through my relationships, and even in and through my trials and suffering.

My prayers became more focused on God, on His promises and His faithful goodness.

As His truth cleared my vision, I remembered all the Lord had done during my transition.

God had answered my prayers by allowing us to move from Wisconsin back to California.

He provided the funds for us to hunker down in a hotel with excellent customer service and given me plenty of opportunities to share His truth and love with the staff and fellow patrons.

Though many families were displaced by the fires and the pandemic, God led us to a gated community that would be safer for me to walk Callie when I wasn’t feeling well. My service dog learned how to navigate those three flights of stairs quickly.

Our furniture didn’t arrive before the holiday, but the Lord provided two temporary chairs that I could use for video interviews after the pandemic.

My struggles with pain management didn’t improve, but my family and countless prayer warriors continued supporting me.

On Thanksgiving, I video chatted with my amazing niece and nephew (Eliza and Emmett) before enjoying a tasty meal with our youngest son and his fiancé.

As the list of things that went wrong and things that did not go as I expected took back-seat to the blessings God showered over me, my capacity for rejoicing increased.

I stopped pouting and practiced the privilege of interceding for friends who were hurting, which helped me view my complaints with an eternal rather than an internal perspective.

Life isn’t going as any of us expected in 2020. But not one moment surprised God or threw him off His game plan.

Though we may not always feel like smiling or cheering, we can experience joy that supersedes our ever-changing circumstances when we rest in the center of God’s will for us ̶ an unceasing and intimate connection with Him, our unlimited source of strength, peace, hope, and joy.

Counting our blessings as we wait on God may sound trite, but I’ve learned it’s hard to keep grumbling when my heart begins bubbling up with gratitude.

Faithful Father, please help us to recognize and rejoice over every blessing that comes through being intimately connected with You.

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What is the hardest part about viewing life with an eternal perspective when faced with difficult circumstances?

How has God blessed you in the midst of a tough season or situation?

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For more biblical encouragement and Scripture-based prayers, check out Pause for Prayer: Thriving through the Wait, a video series on my brand-new YouTube channel. Here is the link to Episode 1: God Holds Us.