My Super Fun and Exciting News!

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Well, folks, I’ve been teasing about it for days, so here it is– my big news!

I am super crazy excited to announce that I have signed a contract with Thomas Nelson publishers to collaborate on a writing project with none other than the amazing Max Lucado!

If you’ve read Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer by Max Lucado (released last year) then you are familiar with his idea of “pocket prayers.” The whole book is about how prayer is a heartfelt conversation with God– that you can invite him in without the flowery words or flashy show, and God shows up. It’s about being free to connect with God in a powerful and simplistic way, without feeling like you need a big vocabulary or a “wish list” a mile long.

Coordinating with this book, Thomas Nelson will be releasing a series of prayer books geared toward specific groups (moms, dads, military, friends, etc.)–six books in all.

I am very honored and delighted to say that my name will be on the cover of Pocket Prayers for Teachers, releasing in May of 2016, just in time for Teacher Appreciation Week! (Is that divine timing, or what??) 🙂

Obviously this is outside of my usual writing genre (I’m usually writing fiction of the romantic, sometimes historical, sometimes contemporary, sometimes YA variety). However, if there are two things I know a lot about, it’s teaching and prayer.

As I work on this prayer book, God is reminding me of so many things– including just how much he loves teachers and what an amazing mission opportunity he’s given each teacher within their own school setting.  DSC02709

To say that I am honored to be working on anything associated with Max Lucado would be a gross understatement, as I have read and admired his work for years and years.

My heart is super grateful for this opportunity and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead on this writing journey. There’s never a dull moment and God is always doing things that surprise me. He’s amazing and awesome like that.

Don’t worry– I’ll be reminding you (a lot) to pick up a copy of this prayer book for all the teachers in your life closer to the release date.

Thanks for your support, friends!

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When Hatred Becomes Necessary In America

hatred in America

What a weird few weeks it has been in America. Genders and races are changing right in front of the whole world. There has been tragedy and a response to said tragedy that has dwarfed even the events themselves and created a debate all its own. There have been some very important and remarkable Supreme Court decisions. Politics and emotion have collided and created a hurricane of debate about very serious issues.

And among it all, the word hate keeps being thrown around, whipped from both sides, hurled toward anyone who would dare disagree with the “mainstream.”

“Don’t hate.”

“That’s hate speech.”

“You’re hateful.”

“A hate crime.”

“Keep your hate to yourself.”

“Stop hatin’.”

“Haters gonna hate.”

“Your opinion is proof of your hate.”

Some of this hate is expected, born of disbelief and anger; born of revulsion to crimes that are unimaginable and viewpoints that are unbelievable.

I’m not one to shy away from a political or religious debate. I never have been. But I’m learning now how to make my opinions and views work for more effective change in the hearts of people rather than just temporary agreement in an argument. I like my opinions. I stick to my convictions. I’m not backing down and I’m okay with voicing my dissent.

But even if I end up shaking my head in bewilderment at your viewpoint, my opinion is proof only of my disagreement. And I am 100% capable of disagreeing without any hatred at all, as most people of faith are. Hatred is an emotion. Opinions should be based also on fact, whether that fact is drawn from scientific evidence, historical proof, or religious belief (which, to many, is fact).

So please, don’t mistake my dissenting opinion for hate. I. don’t. hate. you.

But I’ll tell you what I do hate—I hate sin.

I hate the way it twists and turns, weaving is way into willing hearts. I hate the way it defiles and deceives, and I hate the way it manifests itself in evil acts that serve to divide and destroy.

I hate how it abolishes tradition. I hate how it revises what is allowable. I hate how it murders and destroys families, leaving nothing but sadness and devastation it its wake.

I hate what it’s doing to our country, our neighborhoods, our relationships. I hate what it does to me.

And I think it’s 100% okay to hate sin. In fact, it’s encouraged. Even the Bible talks about how God himself hates sin.

We need to hate it, but before we can hate it, we need to know what it is.

“People are afraid of what they don’t understand.” How many times have you heard that or a variation of it?

Ladies and gents, you need to understand sin. (The more you read about and understand Christ, the more you will be able to recognize sin).You need to not be afraid to stand up against it. And you need to hate it. You need to hate it with the joy of knowing that one day it will be destroyed.

But until that time when sin is finally obliterated, what do we do? What about when something happens that walks all over our moral convictions, heats our emotional coil and threatens to spew words from our angry and frustrated mouths?

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. –Psalm 6:16

Proof right there from the scripture that God himself hates much of what has happened in this country over the last few weeks. Plug those events right in.

How have you added to it?

Sure, you didn’t pull a trigger inside of a church and spill innocent blood (in fact, like most of America, you were probably deeply saddened and repulsed that such a thing could happen). You didn’t spout racist propaganda, placing yourself above others. You didn’t sit on the Supreme Court. You didn’t issue court rulings or devise the very court cases that brought the rulings.

But did your reactions leading up to and after these events add to the hatred listed above?

Did you lie to support your side of the argument? Perhaps you pulled at half-truths just to feel like the victor?

Were you conceited and disdainful, filled with self-righteousness because of your views?

Did you run headlong into a conversation full of nasty words and vitriol?

Have you stirred the pot, making the angry, heated words flow even faster rather than cooling the situation with words that heal and encourage?

You don’t have to agree with the other side of the argument.

Once again, disagreement is not hatred and disagreeing with sin is not only encouraged, it’s necessary.Rick Warren

The winner of the disagreement is the one who leaves with his or her integrity intact, having soothed the angry mob with words that present the only version of Christianity that some people will ever see. The winner is the one who refuses to fuel the fire with more sin, but instead stokes it with the love of Christ. Sometimes this means walking away from the debate all together. Sometimes it means keeping your mouth shut, even when that is a difficult thing to do.

So seriously consider if you want the best version of you, as you present Christ to the world, to be the version that also adds to the very things that God himself detests.

Hate can be a good thing.

Hate sin. Hate what it does to the world. Hate how it lies and destroys. Hate how it misleads people into believing that they don’t need God.

Hate sin with such ferocity that introducing people to Christ and his loving forgiveness of sin becomes more important than winning an argument.

Stick to your convictions.

Hate sin.

But don’t be its vessel.

 

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Finding Motivation When You Just Don’t Wanna

Motivation

I’ve been suffering from a severe case of “lack of motivation” lately. Like, severe.

And not just for writing.

For the household projects I’d planned to tackle this summer, including painting the bathroom. For following my workout routine. For planning meals and grocery lists. For working on some projects for the various things I do at church. For all of the “fun summer” things I had planned to accomplish with my boys.

It’s been bad, y’all. So bad that I purposefully acknowledge it right now, in public, before all the world.

I have no motivation.

It probably has something to do with the fact that I’m tired, my list of responsibilities is too long, and that my summer break is pretty short and therefore my brain is already on the things I will need to do when I get back to work in a couple of weeks.

Whatever. No excuses other than I just don’t have the motivation to get anything done right now.

Ever been in a place like this? Your To Do list is a mile and a half long and yet you have no desire to tackle the first thing on it?

This is unlike me. Usually I’m finding serious joy in accomplishing things. So it has kind of been worrying me that I’m suffering from such a lack of motivation.

So here’s what I’ve decided to do:

  1. Just do it. No, I’m not encouraging you to buy Nikes, I’m just saying that this post is my first step in making the most of what’s left of my summer—I’m diving in and doing it. I marked off something small on my list today first, decided to write this post, and let the momentum push me along through the afternoon. I actually accomplished quite a few things today and it. Feels. GOOD.  Hallelujah. Let’s hope and pray that this momentum rolls into tomorrow.
  1. Look to others for inspiration. I have some seriously awesome friends who mostly rock at life. Just reading through their Facebook pages or sending a simple “I don’t want To Do anything but sit on the couch and read” text is totally helpful.
  1. Listen to the wisdom of those friends. One might say, “C’mon now, you can do it! Accountability!” while the other friend, also wise, might remind me that the occasional day of doing nothing but sitting on the couch and reading is actually healthy for both body and mind.
  1. Remind yourself of the commitments you’ve made. Some of those things on my To Do list must get done because they affect other people. For those particular items, it’s not about me and what I’m feeling or not feeling—it’s about the commitment I’ve made to someone else and the follow-through. I committed to following through, and I believe in keeping commitments. Whether it’s family, church, work or other, the items that affect others move up the list (my family has to eat…don’t they?).
  1. Hack up that To Do list. When you’re feeling unmotivated, shred that To Do list and start over. Put only the vital things on it. Put only the doable things on it. Put your commitments that affect other people, work items, and things that involve a time-table. Make it short and concise. Start there—you can add the other stuff back later.
  1. Show yourself a little grace. Claim some days off. Sometimes your body needs to re-charge. Sometimes your brain needs a break. Sometimes it’s totally okay and acceptable to step away from the To Do list and simply do something else.

So here’s to momentum that carries into the next days and weeks. Here’s to a summer filled with sun, completed projects, and precious memories with my family. That I will document and organize. Someday.

Share with me: What projects or items are on your summer To Do list?

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