Monday, September 21, 2020

A Prayer for a New Purpose for a New Day

flower meadow title image for prayer for new purpose new day

I'm sharing my heart in this special prayer on purpose that I wrote with my new book in mind. Will you pray with me today?

"Loving Creator,

I affirm that you created me with a purpose that began before I was born. 

You have numbered each hair on my head (Luke 12:7).

Scripture tells of how you long to cradle me under your wings like a mother hen (Matt. 23:37).

Remind me of your devoted care and reveal your intention for my life. 

Gentle Potter,

I know that you are shaping me.

Sometimes I feel your watchful hand upon me, and sometimes it feels like I am broken in pieces on the floor.

I affirm that you know how to put every piece of me together. Help me to see myself as you see me—as your masterpiece.

I offer the clay of my life into your wise hands (Isaiah 64:8)..."

Pray the entire prayer with me on iBelieve

If your link was broken in last week's subscription email, you can find my guest post here. I shared the *inside scoop* on my book with author Laura Sassi! Congratulations to Ginny N. of VA for winning a free, signed copy of my book last week, and to Sandy M. of MO for winning the week prior!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

My Behind-the-Scenes Book Glimpse with Laura Sassi

This week I'm guest posting on the celebrated Christian children's book author Laura Sassi's blog to give you the *inside scoop* behind my new book! Laura is no stranger to my blog, and I am delighted to share special news regarding my book on hers! She asked me five questions whose answers I can't wait for you to read! PLUS, to win a free, signed copy of my new book, register by leaving a comment on my guest post by the end of the day TOMORROW:

Read my guest post

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Guest Posting with Author Glenys Nellist This Week!

This week I am excited to be over on Glenys Nellist's blog. She is a celebrated children's book author who is no stranger to mine. I wrote a special post for her blog on five scripture promises for living your life purpose as I introduce my new book to her audience! I hope you click the link below and stop by. BONUS: My guest post is accompanied by a giveaway for a free, signed copy of my book that you could win! 

Read my guest post 

Thursday, September 3, 2020

7 Biblical Characteristics of Risks Worth Taking

woman jumping over a rocky chasm


On a trust walk, you’re asked to follow the directions of your guide while blindfolded. The guide’s job is to lead you on a journey that successfully navigates obstacles. Your job is to carefully listen to your guide’s instructions and rely upon his or her advice. It’s scary but thrilling, and you learn something about yourself in the process. For instance, is it easy or hard for you to trust?

Imagine how a faith walk is similar. A thrill often awaits, and self-learning too.

The difference is that the terrain is trickier and the stakes are higher than a simple outdoor exercise. Lucky for us, we have the best Guide. He asks us to obey his voice and respond—to take that leap and initiate adventure. Whether it concerns a job, move, relationship, or a new course of study or opportunity, perhaps you’re considering stepping out of your comfort zone.

Here are seven characteristics of godly risk to help you discern and follow the voice of your Guide, based upon my new book on life purpose:

1. Godly Risk Is Rooted in Identity

Abram risks in the Old Testament and becomes Abraham. Saul becomes Paul in the New Testament and risks for the kingdom. Biblical characters are often renamed in conjunction with their purpose.

Theological risk should be rooted in whom God created you to be and his intention for your life. Ask yourself if what you are considering falls in line with what you know about yourself—and how you sense God wants to advance his purpose through you. 

For Characteristics #2-7, click here to find the article on Crosswalk!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

5 Tips for Raising Boys to Be Good Men

Cartwheel! Hooray! Crosswalk.com just commissioned my first piece especially for them, and this one couldn't be closer to my heart. While I am knee-deep in boyhood, there is something here for every parent. Tip #5 is a favorite. If you want your child to dream big, lead with wisdom, and have an open heart, I hope you read this!

My one-year-old at the beach recently

I always thought my first child would be a boy. My second son was a surprise. Fast forward several years later, and I am the proud mother of three growing boys, including a preteen and toddler. 

I still recall the day a friend of mine and I were talking about having boys while our oldest children, who were still infants, played nearby. “I want to raise gentlemen,” she said. “The world needs more gentlemen.” And just like that, a mission of mine was born. 

Raising sons who will become men is an adventure, especially for me who only had a sister growing up. I have been indoctrinated into a world that knows surprisingly less drama, or maybe it’s just masked in building challenges and wrestling.

Regardless, the enterprise of raising boys to be gentlemen has high stakes amidst a national backdrop of growing division, disrespect, and estrangement.

As a pastor and host of a faith and parenting TV show, I have distilled five tips for encouraging parents to raise gentlemen at such a time as this: 

1. Leaders Are Cultivated, Not Opportunists

As I examine my Twitter feed on regular occasion, I notice the loudest voice often wins. Snarky comments boost followings but also add to the growing divide. 

People are thirsty for strong leadership but are often drawn to places that end up dry. I have unfollowed more than one person recently who seemed more bent on sparring with others than leading with patience, humility, and wisdom. 

When I examine the Bible, I am reminded of Moses who had his calling right, but his reaction wrong. He wanted to lead his people away from injustice, but his immediate reaction was murder, which sent him into hiding. 

After decades in the desert, God matured him and enabled him to take a firm, patient stand to lead God’s people to deliverance from slavery. 

I want to impress upon my sons that kingdom growth is slow and abiding, and what happens behind closed doors is more important than what’s flashy

If God has tucked you away and is working on you, it’s not lost time, even if you have a heart for impacting more. Entrust your preparation to the Lord and trust his timing. 

2. Listen and Connect with Others

I recently had the Emmy-award winning journalist Linsey Davis on my show. Linsey is the bestselling author of a Christian children’s book on inclusion, and she shared her book’s backstory with me. She noticed how her young son naturally chooses friends based upon common interests (like Legos) rather than differences (like skin color, religion, or political views). While children notice differences, they don’t assign value to them like adults often do. 

I was challenged by her call to intentionally expose children to diversity. She said that she pulled her son out of a great school because he was the only black student. She said that that shouldn’t just matter to her as a black mother; it should matter to the other parents, too. 

Having the opportunity to interact and connect with different people is important learning for everyone. She notes that it’s relationships—not facts—that change people regarding any important social issue, like race.

I’m encouraging my sons to broaden their exposure. They can explore differing perspectives in their coursework, through books, or in relationship. It’s an essential step for their own development and leadership, and it resonates with the work of our Creator God, who must love difference because he made every single one of us. Linsey agrees.

Read Tips #3–5 Here

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

New Devotion: Train Your Focus


In this devotion, God says, "Do you trust me?" Read on for a fresh take on a familiar passage.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. —Genesis 3:1–6

Our Bibles begin with the familiar accounts of creation and original sin. While much has been written about the Garden of Eden and the events that transpired there, I have recently seen the temptation in a new light.

I can imagine Adam and Eve walking through the garden of plenty. They know God personally. They eat from abundance. They have no shame and experience true contentment—at least until the snake puts into sharp relief the one thing that they cannot have.

It’s interesting that God designed a garden of perfection knowing that there would still be one thing that Adam and Eve could not have. Today, God whispers to you and me: Do you trust me? Can you make your home amidst the many blessings that I have bestowed upon you and trust me with the one—or many—things you do not or cannot have?

Click here to continue reading, and discover the blessing and challenge of your trust walk with God today!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

3 Important Grief Resources—Share with a Friend!


Last week, I posted a devotion on comforting someone mourning. I got an email in my inbox from a woman whose friend had suffered a sudden stroke last week. She was spinning from the shock of it and searching for more resources to help. 

As I checked my Twitter feed throughout the week, I was surprised to see many posts on grief from writers whom I respect. 2020 has certainly landed us in uncertainty, and perhaps an offshoot of that is a need to process grief with greater acknowledgement and responsibility. People are hurting.

I wanted to pass along the resources that I suggested to her in my email back. I also wanted to include a prayer for support that I find particularly meaningful. It references the feminine nature of God in scripture, a nature that might feel especially healing when suffering poses more questions than answers:

Hidden God,
You are midwife who works with those in pain to bring 
about new creation. May your healing support us
in our struggle.
You are mothering bird who shelters those in difficulty
under the protective shadow of your wings. Hover over
our troubled hearts.
Come to our help. Bear us up. Be with us in our confusion
and sorrow. Deepen our sense of what remains to us amid
our losses. Strengthen our faith that your divine
compassion is present in ways we cannot see or understand.
We count on your love and mercy. Amen.

This prayer is from Healing Liturgies for the Seasons of Life by Dr. Abigail Rian Evans and is used with permission.

If you're looking for a resource to help you answer grief's questions from a faith perspective, I recommend Jerry Sitter's A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss. If you're looking to support someone who is sick or grieving, I recommend What Can I Say? A Guide to Visiting Friends and Family Who Are Ill by Simon and Karen Fox.

While I do not believe that God wills tragedy, we live in a broken world. Luckily, he experienced that brokenness firsthand too and resurrected. God offers that same power—beauty for ashes—to each of us by faith. No darkness is too dark. Keep straining toward the light; believe in God's promises (Eph. 1:18–21). If you do, God will startle you with his grace, perhaps when you least expect it. When that moment comes, your connection to him will feel realer than anything else. You will know that he lives.

Please share this post with someone who might need it. If you know someone who is looking for new purpose, especially during COVID, please pass along my new book too—its recent publication is timely!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

New Devotion: How to Comfort Someone Mourning

Blessed are those who mourn

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. —Matthew 5:4

I hadn’t heard back as expected from a friend. I later learned that she was overwhelmed with loss. Her neighbor’s husband had suddenly passed away. The young couple had no children, but they did have a beloved pet. Unfortunately, the pet had slipped out of the house during the funeral arrangements for the husband and had been hit by a car. The pet was killed on impact, leaving the widow doubly grieved.

When my friend tried to comfort her destitute neighbor, all she could do was cry. After she left the house, she was beating herself up about it. In her eyes, she hadn’t been the support she had hoped to be. Instead, she felt broken in the wake of such tragedy too. 

I quickly encouraged my friend. Simply crying with someone who is in pain can be a gift to them. Sometimes, there aren’t adequate words to speak. A hand to hold, a hug, or shared tears can be ministries themselves. 

When I served as a hospital chaplain, I visited patients in a multitude of trying situations. The patients heralded from different cultures, faiths, and backgrounds. It would have been impossible to have the perfect word for everyone, though sometimes I felt the Holy Spirit provide one. What I could always provide, however, was a ministry of presence.

A ministry of presence involves emptying our own goals, judgments, and opinions; by doing so, we lay the foundation for a safe space and ensure that the interaction will not be about us. Instead, we provide a listening ear and gentle encouragement to those who are hurting. We allow ourselves to feel with them, and that sensitivity invites connection. In turn, that connection often communicates God’s comfort.

To continue reading how you can help and what God offers you, click here

Thursday, July 23, 2020

5 Essential Insights on Inclusion from an Educator

I'm so excited to share this interview with a true teacher hero as a follow up to my TV show with ABC's Linsey Davis. If you're looking for ways to take inclusion further, these insights and books recommendations are not-to-miss!
multicultural kids standing together in front of blackboard, insights on inclusion from educator

I’ve been looking for ways to navigate the recent racial tensions in America in the spirit of Christ. Seeking to understand, respond with compassion and justice, and help usher the crisis in a constructive rather than divisive direction is key to real growth and change. I recently had the privilege of interviewing an Emmy Award-winning, African-American journalist who penned a bestselling Christian children’s book on inclusion. You might have seen Linsey Davis on ABC as a host for two Democratic debates for this election cycle, or as she covered the recent space launch or funeral for George Floyd. I asked Linsey about her perspective on race in America. I’m grateful that our interview strikes a healing tenor that provides practical steps for any parent, Christian, or concerned citizen in general.

Our sit-down inspired me to do more. I was hungry for more doable ways to affect change that would be supportive of all people. I decided to turn to one of my family’s favorite teachers, an African-American woman with an impressive background in education who has a passion for inclusion that’s fueled, in part, by her deep faith. Jane Attah is a graduate of the prestigious Teacher’s College at Colombia University, has taught in leading independent schools in America for eighteen years, and is the mother of two children. I’m excited to share five insights on inclusion from our interview—as you learn about her story, you’ll benefit from her wisdom, which includes vetted book selections for every age.

1. Build Relationships

I started by asking Jane about her background. Those who are committed to impacting lives today often have interesting pasts; she is no exception. Jane learned the importance of inclusion firsthand through her father’s work. She is the daughter of a Foreign Affairs Officer from Ghana. She explains, “My father’s job involved working in the embassies of commonwealth countries to create, build, foster, and maintain foreign relations between his native country Ghana and whatever country he was posted to live and work. Being a Foreign Affairs Officer entailed living abroad, usually for 4 years. My family moved a lot so growing up, I had to be able to adapt and welcome change. I was fortunate to experience different places, people, schools, cultures, and ways of life.”

When I asked Jane what impact her childhood has had on her perspective, she reflects, “I developed a fond awareness of and respect for people’s backgrounds and heritage. When you make it a point to want to learn all you can about someone who is different from you, that right there is the beginning of a relationship.” Jane’s insight resonates with one of my favorite points from my interview with Linsey Davis. Linsey remarks that it is relationships—not facts—that change people. Finding ways to establish bonds between people is key to meaningful change on any social issue, like race.

2. Appreciate What Everyone Can Offer

Encouraging participation runs deep in Jane’s approach to teaching. She notes, “I came into teaching because I am optimistic about education being a right and not a privilege, truly a right for ALL children. In the classroom, I highlight inclusion through the essential question: How does learning about myself and others help us connect?” Jane addresses this question in a range of ways as a second-grade teacher. She describes, “I do my best to create classroom norms where a diversity of ideas is welcomed through sharing how students solve math problems, celebrate holiday family traditions, write creative stories, greet in different languages for morning meetings, and describe their roses and thorns at the end of the day.”

Jane has one classroom tradition that’s particularly well-received. “One thing I have discovered to be successful is on a student’s birthday, each classmate writes an adjective that best describes the birthday boy or girl. This tradition is called birthday compliments, and for one day on their birthday every student truly feels he/she belongs, is included, and is significant.” This practice could easily be replicated in a variety of other contexts too, like in a Sunday school or youth group.

3. Ensure Everyone Feels “Seen"

A tradition like birthday compliments allows every child to feel “seen,” and feeling seen is an essential building block to creating an inclusive environment for all children. Jane expands, “Whatever the environment may be—the classroom, on the field, or while teaching, coaching, or mentoring—finding something that you can connect with a child on is necessary. This connection does not have to be academic. The goal is to create that trustworthy space where the child can lead, open up, and share his or her amazing talents that make him or her unique. When the child expresses interest to tell you their story, make time to listen and say, ‘Tell me more.’”

The way a child feels is more important than teaching content, for the former opens the door for latter. “When my students feel comfortable to take risks in the classroom without hesitation or fear of making mistakes, they are seen.” That comfort level allows Jane to stretch her students and expand their horizons for comprehensive growth as students and people.

4. Use Empathy-Building Resources 

Books are an essential tool that Jane uses to foster her students’ comprehensive growth. She notes, “Books are powerful and storytelling connects so I am intentional when I choose books to engage my students.” Linsey Davis, author of One Big Heart: A Celebration of Being More Alike Than Different, agrees. Linsey observes that books can provide children with valuable glimpses into worlds that are different from their own, especially when their everyday exposure to diversity may be lacking.

Jane divides her impressive list of children’s resources on inclusion, many of which are bestsellers, by age:

Infants – 5 year olds:
Same, Same, But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
Brown Sugar Babies by Charles R. Smith, Jr.
It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr
Chocolate Me by Taye Diggs
The Color of Us by Karen Katz

6 – 9 year olds (Jane's specialty): 
I am Enough by Grace Byers
I’m New Here by Ann Sibley O’Brien
Say Something by Peter H. Reynolds
The Water Princess by Susan Verde
And to Think That We Thought That We’d Never Be Friends by Mary Ann Hoberman
Throw Your Tooth on the Roof by Selby Beeler

10 – 12 year olds and up:
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Dictionary for a Better World by Irene Latham and Charles Waters
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
My Name is Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada

5. Model a Willingness to Engage Yourself

Jane not only offers book suggestions for children, but she actively mines resources herself. Here are four titles that she is currently reading: Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey, I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal, and Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. Books are a practical entry point for learning and meaningful dialogue at any age.

In addition to reading, Jane attends conferences, participates in the inclusion initiative at her school, and encourages relevant conversation. She is aware of the existing gaps in American education—access to quality resources and higher level education is not equal for all students, and minority students and educators often feel greater pressure to prove themselves. Jane urges, “Now more than ever, it’s necessary and important to have conversation about race. God created all of us in his likeness. When the conversation is started early, then we can be assured the next generation will undoubtedly be a more inclusive one.”

This article was published at iBelieve.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

New Devotion: What Does God Promise Us?


Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you. —Psalm 119:89-91

Maybe it’s about a lunch my boys really want when we’re out running errands. Maybe it’s about a movie they want to see at the end of a long day of getting chores done around the house. Or maybe it’s about sneaking in some time at the hockey rink in between their baby brother’s naps. As hard as I try to fit everything in, unexpected curve balls sometimes come up. When I am not able to do what we were planning on, I hear a familiar refrain:

“But Mom, you promised!”

Really, I hadn’t. I had said we’d try to do it. Yes, we had been planning on it, but every parent knows how the day can shuffle around with children.
 
What Are Promises?

Promises are more than a casual commitment involving day-to-day juggling. They are reserved for declarations that you can stake your life upon. Promises provide the scaffolding within which we make decisions and live our lives. For instance:

In marriage, I promise to love my husband and commit my life to him, even though some days are naturally bumpier than others.

In childrearing, I promise to always have my children’s best interests at heart, even though sometimes I make mistakes or let them down. 

In friendship, I promise to make time for the people I love and believe the best in them, although we might have disagreements and life gets busy. 

What God Promises Us

My examples are not exhaustive, but remarkably, the Bible records every single one of God’s promises. His promises are true, firm, and faithful, because they come from the one Perfect Promise Keeper. Our scripture passage today underlines God’s faithfulness. The complaints of the psalmist earlier in the chapter now give way to a crescendo emphasizing God’s sovereignty. God is sovereign for all time, in all places, and over “all things” in these verses. Further, the text gives us a clue as to the tenor of God’s sovereignty—it is merciful and conditioned by love. The Hebrew word for “faithfulness” used here is often paired with the one for “steadfast love.”

Click here to continue reading this devotion, and discover 11 things that God has promised you!

I have been excited to share this devotion with you from the spring! Summer is a great time to drink in the sunshine and remember God's promises. Stay tuned soon for an article coming soon on inclusion as a follow up to my interview with Linsey Davis. For the article, I interview one of my favorite teachers on practical ways that we can "be the healing" at this crucial time! Also, don't forget to snag a copy of my new book, How to Live Your Life Purpose!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Interview on Race in America with ABC's Linsey Davis


The recent news on race in America has been heartbreaking, challenging, for many, awakening. I urge you to watch my new interview on race to find out how it can be transforming too! ABC's Linsey Davis covered the funeral for George Floyd, and she is the bestselling children's book author of two books. Linsey's newest book, One Big Heart: A Celebration of Being More Alike Than Different, is on racial inclusion and has been a #1 bestseller on Amazon. Linsey shares a sneak peek of her book, her hope for America, and practical tips on how we can make a difference right now as parents, people of faith, and Americans in general.

Watch the interview here

Thank you to Zoom for making this interview possible during the pandemic. Exciting bonus! You can enter the giveaway here for a box set that includes both of Linsey's books and 10 art prints to frame, courtesy of the Christian publisher Zonderkidz! This is a find! One Big Heart was sold out on Amazon when we taped! This exclusive box set is only available for purchase at Barnes and Noble. The contest ends next Tuesday, and one winner will be chosen.


Did you know? My first book released this month! How to Live Your Life Purpose: The Six-Step Journey to God's Best is available on Amazon Kindle and in paperback. It's been a #1 New Release in each of its three categories and sold in the top five books in its categories this weekend! Thank you so much for your support!

Friday, June 19, 2020

8 Questions to Ask Yourself at the End of the Day

woman smiling sitting on couch with mug looking relaxed and peaceful
You’ve probably heard some version of the quote, “It’s not how you start that matters—it’s how you finish.” Indeed, the Bible confirms that we are all a work in progress; we are clay on the Potter’s wheel (Isaiah 64:8). As God continues to form us, each day is an important step along our journey. Each day grants us the gift of 86,400 seconds to use that we will never get back. To make the most of God’s gift of time, I wrote these questions as a benchmark to help us finish the day well.

1. What do I need to give over to God? 
For a good night’s sleep, we need to pray our concerns over to God. The Psalmist famously depicts how God guides him beside the still waters in Psalm 23. God offers each of us rest through refreshing stillness with him. Some things are too big for us to do, and some concerns are too heavy for us to manage alone. By entrusting our concerns to God, we acknowledge the ample power and tender mercies of our trustworthy Shepherd. Repeat these words before you sleep each night to affirm this truth: “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8, NKJV).

2. Did I do something outside of my comfort zone today?
That’s exactly what so many people in the Bible did. They weren’t perfect, but they were willing to step out in faith. While it may be easier to stay within our comfort zone, we squander a precious opportunity. God can use calculated risk, or the risk that he is calling us to take, to grow our faith and dependence on him, infuse our life with adventure, and further his plan for the world. One of my favorite Bible verses, Joshua 1:9, reminds us to be brave: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” If you’re interested in learning more about risk, see my new book on life purpose, which includes essential information on the risk worth taking and end-of-chapter Bible studies to help!

3. What remains to be done?
A to-do list often hits me at the end of the day—maybe it does for you too. Once the house is quiet and my children are asleep, my mind naturally takes inventory. I have learned to sleep with a pad of paper and pen beside my bed because of it. That way, I can write down any important items that I missed, and sleep with the confidence that I will not forget them tomorrow. If we do this, we’ll awake with focus while also remaining open to God’s lead. Proverbs 16:9 states, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”

4. Is there one thing that I could personally improve upon for tomorrow?
Truth be told, there are probably many things that we could improve upon, for no one is a finished product. Those who often make the most progress in their life purpose, however, are those who choose to refine their signature strengths rather than focus upon their weaknesses. Along that vein, it can be helpful to choose one thing each day to improve upon. The New York Times bestselling author of Atomic Habits, James Clear, advises his readers to simply get 1% better every day. This bite-sized challenge can make a monumental difference in time. The Bible echoes the fruit of persistence in Galatians 6:9 by stating, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

To read questions #5-#8, click here to continue reading on iBelieve.com.

Exciting news! My new book, How to Live Your Life Purpose: The Six-Step Journey to God's Best is now available on Kindle and in paperback too! I hope you check it out! It was an Amazon bestseller in it's category for one morning last week thanks to your support!

Stay tuned next week for an important and *timely* interview on race in America! I sat down with Linsey Davis of ABC, who recently covered George Floyd's funeral, and we talked practical steps for change, her hope for America, and her newest children's book on inclusion!

Thursday, June 4, 2020

New Life Purpose Book/Study Available on Amazon!


This week marks two important milestones: My blog reached over 250,000 views recently, and I just published my first book for sale! (Confetti!) None of this would have been possible without YOU. My life purpose series struck such a chord on the blog that I was inspired to supplement it with curriculum, add more stories, and make it available to everyone!

Amidst pandemic crisis, which includes 20% of the labor market out of work, many are turning to God for hope and new direction. Perhaps a change has been on your heart too. Publishing on Kindle has allowed me to hyperlink the book to my shows and articles, making it a more visual and interactive six-week group or personal study that can help. Here is the book's official description:

Whether you’re early in life and entertaining what’s possible, in midlife and bored with the comfortable, or suddenly needing a new beginning at any age, this book will help you connect with your purpose. Living your life purpose is not a trivial pursuit. It’s living the life your heart beats for. It’s the comprehensive expression of the roles and goals destined for you by the Creator. While it might involve a career, work inside the home, or volunteerism, it will look different for every person. Using it as the orienting principle for your life will unlock some of the richest fulfillment you can find on Earth—that’s the power of living in sync with your Creator. 

Pastor and popular TV host Noelle Kirchner expertly synthesizes scripture, media, and personal story to keep you captivated. This book is designed as a six-week personal or group study. You will feel encouraged to tune into longing, take healthy risk, and persist through the rough seasons. Each chapter ends with cultivated clips to watch from Noelle’s show, HTTV’s "Chaos to Calm," and other resources that are hyperlinked in the Kindle version. You’ll hear valuable life purpose insights from her show guests—one New York Times bestselling Christian author, one Emmy Award-winning journalist, one trending company founder, and one spiritual director with internationally-recognized quote jars. 

Sadly, abuse and poverty preclude some from the right to follow their life purpose and taste the joy that God yearns to give all his beloved. There is joy in serving a God who rescues people, and because he works through ministries and people who give, twenty percent of the proceeds of this book will go to the Christian non-profit World Vision.

Here's how YOU can help too:

1. Read the book!
2. Please leave a review to help others—I hope you love it!
3. If you like it, give it as a gift to someone else! Amazon allows you to gift easily. Maybe there is a friend whom you know could use this book already.

How to Live Your Life Purpose: The Six-Step Journey to God's Best is available on Kindle and in paperback now.

**If you do not have a Kindle device, you can download the app for free on your smartphone or computer.**

Praise:

"Had such fun chatting with the kind, wise, talented Noelle Kirchner."
—Platinum Book Award-Winning Jesus Storybook Bible and New York Times Bestselling Author Sally Lloyd-Jones, after appearing on Noelle's show, Chaos to Calm

"As both a mom and ordained minister, Noelle Kirchner is the kind of writer who inspires me to dig deep and contemplate the important matters of life. Her thoughtful essays and lessons are a blessing to me both as a writer and Christian."  
—Bestselling Children's Book Author Laura Sassi of Goodnight, Ark and Love is Kind

"Dear Friend, Wise Confidante, Prayer Warrior, and Spiritual Mentor, Noelle has a knack for knowing just what to write to guide her readers to dive into scripture and apply its message to everyday life." 
—Courtney Reed, Active Bible Study Leader, Former Teacher, and Stay-at-Home Mom of Three

"I have been enjoying and sharing Noelle's writing and TV shows for years, and I'm delighted that she's produced this study by popular demand! I cannot wait to "dig in" and start exploring life purpose by using this as a small group resource. Thank you, Noelle!"  
—Rev. Dr. Deborah Huggins, Associate Pastor, Contributor to Growing in Grace & Gratitude, a Christian Youth and Disability Curriculum Series

"Noelle's work and writing proves her to be a gifted communicator who is passionate to share messages of hope, faith, and encouragement. She doesn't hesitate to speak what Christians need to hear as they face the daily challenges of faith."  
—Sarah Martin, Editor for iBelieve, Salem Web Network 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

5 Tips for Raising More Teachable Children (Even during Quarantine)

5 Tips for Raising More Teachable Children (Even during Quarantine)
If you’re like me, having teachable children sounds especially good right now. First, many of us are finding ourselves in the new position of being our children’s actual teacher for the first time. With schools closed because of COVID–19, I’m wearing more hats (sometimes awkwardly) as I homeschool my two older boys with a one-year-old too. Second, while this situation offers the silver lining of increased bonding time as a family, it also has its challenges. Tensions easily flare in confined environments right when working together peaceably has never felt more important. If we can arise from this trying chapter as better parents with happier, more ordered households, that’s a victory.

Here are 5 tips that can help. 
Read the tips here in my newest article! 

This article went live last week, and I did a video backstory for it on Facebook. Have you seen it? It's been viewed over 13K times! I'd love for you to watch. Visit my Facebook page!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

New Devotion: 5 Reasons Why You Should Never Feel Intimidated to Pray


I was blessed in college to live with a friend who was passionate about the Bible. I was premed at the time, which meant a lot of nights studying. I can still remember tiptoeing into our dorm room and seeing her screensaver. The room was dark except for the colored, creeping words that floated across her computer screen: “Pray without ceasing…”

Continued prayer is an important reminder. As a pastor, however, I’m struck by the fact that so many people have told me that they feel intimidated to pray. Whether they’re at a hospital bedside looking to encourage a loved one who is sick, gathered around a table with family and friends awaiting mealtime, or confiding in someone about a problem and looking for prayer, they feel reticent. What if I say the wrong words? Will my prayer sound stupid? Can’t someone else do it better? 

While it’s natural to have different comfort levels with prayer, particularly when it’s in front of someone else, the Bible makes it clear that God wants to hear from you. There is power in the words we say and our testimony. As a pastor, I can pray with you, and I’m happy to do so. But it can be far more impactful for your loved one, child, or friend to hear the words coming from you. That act of faith can open the door for God to act in ways that you might never have imagined. 

The Bible extends an open, gentle invitation to each of us to consider stepping out in faith through prayer. The following are five reasons why you should never feel intimidated to do so: 

1. Prayer is an open conversation with God. 

The best way to alleviate the fear of saying the wrong thing is to consider prayer as a casual conversation with God. The Bible says to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). If we really did this, we would be talking with God throughout the day. Prayer is an invitation to draw closer to God through conversation like you would a friend. 

2. The best prayers are honest prayers. 

Rather than presenting God with perfect words, God wants to know your heart. When we use prayer as a vehicle to be honest with God, our intimacy with him increases. There have been times when I have wept on my knees to God. Afterward, I knew that he had heard me—I felt his peace and sometimes a conviction that God would grant my petition. Honesty in prayer gets God’s attention (Psalm 145:18).


For three more reasons not to feel intimidated, 
continue reading on Crosswalk.com.

Last week was the National Day of Prayer, so this devotion is timely. Prayer is always just a conversation with God away!

Friday, May 8, 2020

15 Things You Know as a Mom of Little Boys

In honor of Mother's Day weekend, here is an old favorite that's now featured on a new spot! Join me in checking out Red Tricycle, which features a trove of parenting resources that are especially invaluable now. Happy Mother's Day!

Fighting Darth Vader in Orlando

We have hunkered down over spring break due to the coronavirus, which meant lots of family movie watching. One of the first flicks we were sure to catch was the last in the Star Wars series, The Rise of Skywalker. It brought me back to this article that I penned four years ago and still holds true. I added a new point to the list as well. Moms of boys, I hope this makes you smile…

My boys, ages four and six, watched the Star Wars trilogy for the first time this winter. They couldn’t wait to reenact the scenes. They became proud owners of matching lightsabers, courtesy of their grandparents.

The sabers glow red and make a sound upon impact. One afternoon after jostling, my older son ran to me in amazement. Apparently, they had just fought with their eyes closed and their lightsabers still met. He proudly announced that they now knew the ways of the Force.

While I knew they needed an outlet for their energy, especially when it was too cold to go outside, I worried the sabers would miss their intended target and leave a welt on someone’s cheek. As I laid down the respective ground rules before their next jostle, like keeping their eyes OPEN, my older son said proudly, “Mommy, you don’t have to worry. We have training.” And there was no doubt in his mind that this was the case.

This experience, among many, has matriculated in the following list. Moms of little boys know the adventure of raising them is often one with distinct markings. Along the path of wanting to raise gentlemen, I’ve had to be an observer of a world that’s very different from my own. I balance every day the desire to mold them and let go, being respectful of their boyishness. Here is what I’ve learned while maneuvering their dynamic, yet endearing world:

1. What’s cool has nothing to do with conversation or pampering—it’s watching Star Wars and memorizing every line.

2. Sword fighting requires no rules or training, at least in the way that you view training. Yoda, can you help here please?

3. Boys often bond through sports and wrestling. Sometimes they remind you of puppies. In a cute way.

4. Hugs and playful punches express equal endearment.

5. The only drama they know is playing until someone gets hurt.

For the remaining 10 points, visit me on 
Red Tricycle—it's a fun site!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

New Devotion: Run Your Race

I wrote the following devotion this past fall, and it was featured last month. I hope it encourages you now as we navigate COVID–19, for its topic is timely. 


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. —Hebrews 12:1

My oldest son started Cross Country this fall at school. He did not perform as he had hoped at his first meet. The course was flooded with children who were older and unknown to him. The distance was double what he had been running. He didn’t know the trail. When his body started aching after his initial sprint, he decided to walk the course with friends. He finished the race frustrated with his placement.

As a mom who used to run Cross Country competitively, I encouraged him to stick to his sport choice because it would get better. The fall is a magical time to run outside as the leaves crunch under your feet, I said. Running is great cross training for other sports and promotes life fitness. Further, it releases natural endorphins that make you feel good. Despite these attractive reasons, he reminded me that there was still the pain.

Cross Country holds true to the motto, “No pain, no gain.” It’s difficult to build endurance. I remember pushing through painful cramps in my side, lungs that hurt from breathing cold air, spit that felt like Saran Wrap in my mouth, and legs that were so gassed that they wobbled. It would have been easier to walk, and some runners on race day make that choice.

That’s why Paul’s metaphor of running a race in our passage is so powerful. He encourages his readers to “run with perseverance the race marked out” for them. Living a life of faith will require perservance, sometimes right when we want to give up or walk...

Continue reading about how running teaches us to 
persevere by faith here


Author's note: While Hebrews is traditionally attributed to Paul, as reflected in my devotion, its official authorship has been debated by Bible scholars.
Also, if you need a laugh as you persevere, I hope you watch Christian artist Matthew West's hilarious new single, "Quarantine Life!" Stay safe, everyone!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

A Prayer for When Your Efforts Are Feeling Wasted

I wrote this prayer before the COVID–19 crisis, but its sentiment is perhaps even more applicable today. I pray this meets you where you need it most, whether it's concerning a job, struggle at home, or personal issue. 

A Prayer for When Your Efforts Are Feeling Wasted

Dear Heavenly Father,

I come before You in weariness. I have been pressing forward with the best of intentions only to come up dry. I know that You are a God of abundance. I call upon that promise in prayer through the power of the Holy Spirit.

It’s difficult to be doing the right thing and see the wrong things happening. It’s exhausting to work so hard and experience little progress. It’s deflating to remain hopeful when there are continually reasons to doubt.

I understand what the Bible means when it encourages believers to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). Sometimes it feels like faith requires that kind of persistence. Encourage me through your word.

I remember the psalmist who had many enemies and felt mercilessly pushed to his limits. As he recorded his anger and laments, he also praised Your deliverance repeatedly. He observed how You fought for him and drew him close in relationship (Psalm 91). I call upon that same support now.

I remember Joseph in the Book of Genesis whose life was riddled with setbacks and delays. He was forcibly separated from his family and wrongfully imprisoned for years. You used those experiences to uniquely catapult him into a high position, however. Help me to remain faithful and believe that all things will work for my good too (Romans 8:28).

Continue in prayer with me. 
Plus, you'll find 11 affirmations to build your faith!


P.S. Did you catch Hope Rising this weekend? My family watched this Christian concert together. We laughed. We cried. We felt the arms of Jesus. THIS is resurrection power at work. Watch a concert replay on demand on Facebook! Let God inspire you with his HOPE.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

7 Affirmations to Live By in the COVID-19 Crisis

A rainbow picture from our front window right now

I wrote this article because I needed seven "mantras" to live by to help guide me. I want to return to these, which are biblically grounded, instead of the worry and fear that can sometimes swirl in my head and on the news. I hope you find them meaningful too. They're featured as a slideshow on iBelieve, allowing for each affirmation to be its own thought.

I marvel at the fact that although this time is challenging, somehow I am also achieving a better balance in many respects. I am cooking more by necessity, spending more time on the floor with the baby, and enjoying virtual yoga. Other things require juggling, however, like keeping the house clean and finding space to write in a louder house while growing into my new role of homeschool teacher.

As we as a family mediate the stress of the new, wrestle through pandemic fear, and negotiate boundaries while under one roof, it occurs to me that my children in particular are learning valuable life skills. In addition, practicing gratitude has never been more important. It's a powerful grounding force that can help us lock onto the good that's occurring right now and equip us to weather future storms.

I mention gratitude and other topics in my affirmations article here. Stay safe, everyone!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Holy Week Inspiration: An Easter Prayer and Devotion


If we're not careful, we can surround ourselves with a lot of negative voices right now. We might have the best of intentions. We turn on the news to stay informed. We empathize with people who are struggling. We observe how things are very different—even scary—from our unique perches in the world. This active discovery is only part one, however. Part two is God's answer of hope. 

We need to bathe ourselves in light. Just like closing our eyes and tilting our face toward the sun until our eyelids warm, we need to flood our soul with the warmth of God's presence. He has an answer to our confusion, worry, and pain. "Don't stay there," he invites us. Holy Week is a timely reminder of the always-present, never-stopping hope we have in Jesus. Here are two ways to drink in God's hope this Easter—the latter includes a sweet poem to share with your kids!

An Easter Meal Prayer to Pray with Your Family 
(Read the prayer here)
"You hear us when we think no one is listening, You act when we think there is nothing more than can be done, and you shower grace upon us when we feel most unworthy. These examples communicate your unconditional love and are proof that you are alive and active today..."

Devotion: High-Flying Easter Hope
(I penned this back in January—read the devotion here)
"I like using a swing to illustrate what resurrection power looks like to my children. A swing may go low, but inevitably it comes back up. That’s the power of faith. God promises that he will never leave us in our lows, including death—we have the firm hope of coming back up. Pumping our legs is equivalent to exercising our faith muscle. We get to participate in Christ’s mystery by believing and experiencing the exhilaration of the high he offers—life in the present and life eternal..."

Stay tuned next week for more inspiration! In the meantime, watch my recent show or read inspiration to stay strong amidst the pandemic.

Monday, April 6, 2020

WINNER!

I hope you had a lovely Palm Sunday yesterday! My family and I read together from the Jesus Storybook Bible for my children's Sunday school. It's been such a treasure to read from Sally's classic during this time at home, as adults love it too!

I chose the winner for Glenys Nellist's precious and *timely* new release, Little Mole Finds Hope, this morning. Congratulations to K. Culp of Montana! It gives me such joy to see all of the states represented by our registrants—thank you for taking the time to register, and for your loyal patronage and bonus entries! I like to keep a running list of winning states, so now they are: Montanta, Arkansas, Kentucky, Georgia, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, Texas, Indiana, Kansas, Illinois, South Carolina, Arizona, Utah, and California. Several states have had repeat winners too!

Stay tuned on Wednesday here for special Holy Week inspiration. I'll be sharing my blessing to pray around your Easter table and Holy Week devotion, both through iBelieve.com. I can't wait for you to read them!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Guest Post: Glenys Nellist on Tips to Help a Child Who's Feeling Sad

Last week I aired an interview with bestselling children's book author Sally Lloyd-Jones, and this week I am delighted to welcome another bestselling author to my blog. Glenys Nellist is guest posting here again! She's back to blog about a timely topic as she launches her newest book, Little Mole Finds Hope. At the end of this post, you'll be able to register for a free copy of her book, which I will give away this week! Glenys writes:


When I picked up the pen over two years ago to write Little Mole Finds Hope, I never imagined how timely its message would be. In a world that just turned upside down for so many, we need signs of hope.

When Little Mole is feeling sad in his deep underground burrow, his wise mama knows that he needs signs of hope too. Together, they venture out, up towards the light. On the way, Mama shows Little Mole a daffodil bulb lying squashed and lifeless in the dark soil, bare branches looming above that have no signs of life, and a shriveled chrysalis hanging inside of a flowerpot. Each time when Little Mole insists that “It’s dead, Mama,” Mama invites her son to close his eyes and imagine the yellow daffodil, the leafy trees, and the beautiful butterfly that will one day emerge.

The central message of this spring-themed picture book is that hope can be found even in the darkest place. During this anxious time in our world, when our little ones might be feeling afraid or sad, you, the parent, are their primary hope-giver. Here are a few tips to help a child who is feeling sad:
  • Acknowledge how your child is feeling.
  • Ask him or her to talk about or draw his/her feelings. Listen and empathize.
  • Reassure your child that his/her sadness will not last forever.
  • Hug your child. Don’t stop until your child lets go.
  • Spend time together doing something enjoyable.
  • Teach your child gratitude. Find a way to record "things that made me smile today." Use a journal or "gratitude jar" containing slips of paper.
  • Adequate sleep, good nutrition and regular exercise all contribute towards your child’s emotional health and well-being.
Please download this free Activity Pack to accompany my book for more book-themed activities. Stay safe, be well, and look for HOPE!

—Glenys Nellist, Children’s Author

Register here for your free copy of Glenys' book. All entrants must have a US street address, no PO Boxes, for shipping purposes please. I will announce the winner on Sunday! P.S. Watch on social media this week to see how my children are spreading hope to others during this difficult time! Stay safe, everyone!

TODAY Video Clip