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


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 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!

    Sunday, March 29, 2020

    Sally Lloyd-Jones Winners Announced!

    Thank you to everyone who registered to win a Sally Lloyd-Jones book bundle! There were registrants from coast to coast! The two lucky winners courtesy of the Christian publisher Zonderkidz are: L. Black of Palo Alto, CA, and A. Aguilar of North Little Rock, AR. Winners, I will be contacting you.

    The list of states with winners from this blog has grown! It now includes Arkansas, Kentucky, Georgia, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, Texas, Indiana, Kansas, Illinois, South Carolina, Arizona, and California. Thank you all for your support!

    I hope you will still consider purchasing these finds yourself! I just sent several titles to my niece and nephew in Minnesota. Books are a wonderful way to make the faith invitation—they plant a seed, just like Sally mentions in our interview!

    Welcome to my new readers through the giveaway, and thank you to my loyal ones. Everyone please stay tuned for a guest post from bestselling author Glenys Nellist, who will be writing tips for helping a child who is feeling sad. What timely advice given the news! Her post is tied to her newest children's book release, Little Mole Finds Hope. You'll have another chance to win as I give away a free copy of her book this coming week!

    Monday, March 23, 2020

    New episode! Interview with Sally Lloyd-Jones

    Pinch me! In honor of Easter, I recently had the privilege of sitting down with New York Times bestselling author Sally-Lloyd Jones! Sally has written the best children's Bible on the market, the Jesus Storybook Bible, that's sold over 3 million copies and been translated into 44 languages and counting. 

    In this interview, you'll hear her talk about:

    * Her personal story, which begins in Africa
    * The unexpected road to her success
    * How her life as a little girl informs what she does today (including touring with Amy Grant!)
    * Tips for connecting with children
    * How to dispel coronavirus fears

    Plus, this episode includes TWO special treats:

    * Sally reads an excerpt of her Jesus Storybook Bible (Gather your children!)
    * I announce a giveaway of five of Sally's books for two lucky viewers, courtesy of the Christian publisher Zonderkidz! See the books up for grabs below—one is a set of two books. 

    You can register here or through the form on my website for the giveaway. I will announce the two winners on Sunday on my website and through social media. Don't forget to take advantage of the bonus entries! All entrants must be US residents with a street address, no PO boxes, for shipping purposes please.

    Also, next week I have another special treat! I will be hosting bestselling author Glenys Nellist as she introduces her newest treasure, Little Mole Finds Hope! She will share expert tips on helping a child who is feeling sad with us. This is a timely topic from a repeat guest on my blog!

    Want to watch more? Check out my episodes with other New York Times bestselling parenting authors: I interview Dr. Leonard Sax on modern parenting issues and boys' school and social problems, and Jessica Lahey on the importance of allowing our children to fail.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2020

    What Is the Christian Response to the Coronavirus?

    What Is the Christian Response to the Coronavirus? 

    The news is swirling with accounts concerning the coronavirus. So many are sick, some have died, and all are impacted by the resultant events in their local communities. God promises to be a safe refuge for us in times of trouble. Psalm 46 begins, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” The Lord is our strength who will never abandon us. We may not understand why things happen, but we can always trust that God will sustain us. The following are seven ways that we can respond to the coronavirus with confidence:

    1. Don’t Be Afraid

    It’s no mistake that Jesus says this phrase and its derivatives more than anything else in all of scripture (Mark 4:39–40, for instance). We as Christians are not to live in fear, regardless of our circumstances. The coronavirus reminds us that there are indeed some things beyond our control. It’s an invitation to remember that our times are in God’s hands—that hasn’t changed. Further, when we respond with fear and panic, the quality of our decision-making suffers right when we need clear-headedness the most.

    2. Take Preventative Measures

    It can be tempting to totally ignore a problem before it flares on the one hand, or become completely paralyzed with worry once it does on the other hand. Faith provides us with a third option, however: To actively approach a challenge by responsibly doing all that we can while confidently leaving the rest to God. The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30) reminds us to mine the resources that God has given us, which includes a sound mind in times of trouble. We can remain proactive by staying informedplanning ahead, and acting wisely.

    3. Be a Leader

    Curbing the spread to protect those who are more vulnerable in the population will involve some self-sacrifice. It demonstrates patience to postpone non-necessary travel or planned mass gatherings until the risk of infection has passed. It takes courage to get tested if you think you are sick. It shows responsibility to self-quarantine if you are positive. When we put others first, we reflect the love of Jesus in a world that is trembling (John 15:12). 

    Click here to read the conclusion of the article. 
    Point #4 is my favorite!

    Make sure that you didn't miss my prayer for the coronavirus earlier this week! Also, stay tuned for an episode of my show to watch on demand. I sat down with New York Times bestselling author Sally Lloyd–Jones and we talked children, her Jesus Storybook Bible, and even the coronavirus! A giveaway of a bundle of books for TWO lucky viewers will accompany the show release. I can't wait for you to watch!

    Monday, March 16, 2020

    A Prayer for the Coronavirus to Pray with Your Family

    Dear Heavenly Father,

    We come before you seeking your comfort, guidance, and protection. The news is swirling with accounts that are scary concerning the corona virus. So many are sick, some have died, and all are impacted by the resultant events in their local communities.

    For those who are feeling afraid, we call upon the strong name of Jesus. More than any other command in all of scripture, you instructed us to not be afraid. Our times are in your hands, and we trust in you. You can use even the brokenness of creation to bring you glory; we ask that your resurrection power be at work in this situation and equip us with your hope.

    For the individuals who are hospitalized, we ask that your protective care and healing be upon them. We know that your unconditional love continues to pull us near, even when others around us might be tentative or afraid. Be a felt presence with those who are fighting—help them to know the depth of your love anew.

    For those who are tending to people who are sick, we ask for an extra measure of your grace. Give them the wisdom they need to effectively administer care while safeguarding themselves and others. You are our Healer; we give thanks for all who serve as instruments of healing. Be with their hands and feet as they serve as yours.

    For the families who have lost loved ones, we pray for your peace. Welcome those who have passed on into the joy of your eternal home, a home where there is no more sickness nor pain. May they delight in your presence as we receive the comfort of that promise.

    Father, we hate that we have seen these deaths, and we ask that you put an end to this virus. Strengthen our immune systems in fighting it. May the seasonal turn to warmer weather eliminate it. Be with those who are working toward preventative measures.

    In the meantime, Lord, help us to make smart decisions. Guide us to do what we can to protect ourselves and our families, and then leave the rest to you. We offer our praise that we worship a God whose eye is on the sparrow. We know you are ever mindful of us and our wellbeing—that hasn’t changed. 

    As we as individuals pull closer to you, we ask that we as citizens of the world soften towards each other. The virus has impacted our common humanity, demonstrating that what unites us is stronger than what divides us. Help us to make inroads of connection with one another that will sow seeds of future blessing for all.

    Your hope—like your love—is unflappable, always giving us reason to offer you thanks. We pray these words collectively in the victorious name of your Son, confident that you have heard us, Amen.

    Want more inspiration? Read about the scriptural promises you can claim with confidence, or read this encouragement for scary seasons.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2020

    Want to Raise a Grateful Child? Do These 5 Things Regularly

    Want to Raise a Grateful Child? Do These 5 Things Regularly

    According to Harvard Health Publishing of the Harvard Medical School, “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” The benefits to giving thanks are proven and sweeping. Researchers have found that people who give thanks feel better, are more optimistic, exercise more, and have fewer trips to the doctor. One study found that a special thank you letter increased the happiness of the writer for an entire month.

    In an age when the anxiety level, depression rate, and demands upon our youth are concerning, nurturing gratitude can produce timely—and healing—results. Children are grateful when they are aware of their blessings. Helping to ground them, informing their lens of the world, and encouraging their recognition of God and others are essential to building that awareness. Accordingly, here are five lessons that you can use to grow a grateful heart in your child:

    1. Encourage Children to Help around the House

    The sighs are audible in our house when I ask my children to help fold the laundry, even though they produce the most of it! Regardless, my husband and I encourage household chores as a function of living in our home—everyone contributes and everyone makes a difference. Doing chores gives children a sense of accomplishment, prepares them for the future, and helps them appreciate the work that goes into family life. That appreciation, in turn, promotes gratitude.

    Do you feel like you are running yourself ragged in exhaustion while your children are increasing their requests? Asking children to help in age-appropriate ways will free you up for more while keeping them busy. Braun Research found that 82 percent of adults did chores as children while only 28 percent of children do them today. Giving children a free pass squanders a precious learning opportunity. By teaching them responsibility, we cultivate gratitude in the home, their primary place of teaching.

    For the other four lessons, continue reading here

    Monday, March 2, 2020

    New Devotion: Come to the Well

    Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” —John 4:13-14

    “Mom, it’s our first science test of the year. Will you help me review?” I sat down to help my oldest son study. His tests are getting harder, and a quick review always helps.

    For this test, he had to remember the chemical formula for photosynthesis. We talked about how water and carbon dioxide come together with light energy to produce sugar and oxygen. I taught him what it means to have a balanced equation; there are the same number of atoms on both sides of it. That’s a good way to check your work, I said.

    We know life isn’t possible without water, but the formula for photosynthesis makes it clear. My son traced how water’s atoms can be found in both products of the equation. The formula illustrates how plants become producers in the food chain. It allows them to serve as the base of the energy pyramid of life.

    Science reminds me of the intricacy of creation. The more I studied it in school, the more I saw the intentional hands of a Creator. The Bible teaches us about the Creator, but interestingly, Jesus takes up the metaphor of water to describe himself here.

    In our passage today, Jesus offers the Samaritan woman water. This water has a double meaning, especially since they are beside a well. “Living water” could mean fresh, running water or life-giving water. As readers who know who Jesus is, we know it’s the latter. But the woman assumes the former and is perplexed by Jesus’ lack of a bucket...
    Continue reading here.

    Thursday, February 20, 2020

    Infant Loss Support

    This week I'm at the TODAY Show Parenting Team sharing six tips on dealing with infant loss. How do you support a friend or loved one who has lost a baby? What do you say—and what should you definitely avoid saying? I initially wrote this article over five years ago based upon my work as a chaplain who served high-risk pregnancy mothers. Miscarriage has since touched my own life too. The article insights still hold true, so I hope you will read, share, "vote up," and mine the other heart-felt stories at TODAY.

    Wednesday, February 12, 2020

    First Radio Show!

    From the left: Kathleen, Kerry, and me the night we spoke

    Are you wrestling with risk? Perhaps you are wanting to take that first step and looking for inspiration. Maybe you are in the thick of it and needing some encouragement to stay the course. In this radio show, I share personal insights and spiritual inspiration that can help! LISTEN BELOW!

    I was delighted to be a guest on "Morphmom Moments" at the invitation of Morphmom Founder, Kathleen Butler-Smith. Kathleen is an attorney who left law to be home with her children. She later "morphed" into what she is doing now, which is inspiring women to think creatively about their time and passions!

    Kerry Barrett, Emmy Award-Winning TV Anchor and now consulting company CEO, joined the conversation. After these two women were guests on my show, Chaos to Calm, we felt the need to keep talking about risk! Find out why Kerry was so afraid to risk and do public'll hear her story about bullying, which she wrestles with to this day.

    After taping, Kathleen said that this was her best radio show yet! You can listen via this link:

    Click on the "Spreaker" show marked 1–30–20 on City World Radio. Please note that the show cuts out for a brief moment at the beginning, but I promise that it gets better and you won't want to miss it! (We spoke outside of the NYC studio because of my nursing schedule—I was morphmoming it even then!) A podcast for iTunes will be coming soon too!

    Tuesday, January 21, 2020

    New Year's Resolution

    It's a snow day today as I write. I had to take a deep sigh and release the appointments and plans I had made this morning. My children were home and excited to get outside. No school today meant an opportunity, and I'm glad I took advantage of it. We went sledding, threw snow balls, made snow angels, and ended the morning with hot cocoa. I remember my Mom making it for me on cold winter days. It's incredible to think I'm providing my children with the same memories with every stir of their hot drinks.

    Looking around at the newly fallen snow got me thinking. Everything changes with it on the ground. Not only do schedules sometimes change, but have you ever noticed how much quieter the world gets under a blanket of snow? It's almost as if God is beckoning us to slow down and pay attention.  

    The snow makes everything glisten. Even though it's covered in only white, it's far from monotonous. In fact, I love how Christmas lights burn brighter on green bushes under the snowflakes. The same scenery somehow takes on a totally different appearance. There is a purity to newly fallen snow on a field without footprints. There is a playfulness to the fluff as it collects on wispy branches. And there is the wintry reminder that it's a special time of year.

    In winter we celebrate the hope of Christmas and the New Year. The New Year in particular offers a calendar reminder of new beginnings. There is power in new beginnings, as symbolized by the making of New Year's resolutions. We seek to take advantage of the opportunity it brings.

    As Christians, we know about new beginnings too. A new beginning is offered when we pledge our lives to Christ and become his disciples. One is offered every time we pray for forgiveness. In truth, our souls become as clean as newly fallen snow through the power of the cross. For Isaiah 1:18 reads, "'Come now, let us reason together,' says the Lord. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow...'"

    As much as the calendar serves as a reminder, a true new beginning is only offered through the cross. Only Christ can make our hearts as light and free as children dancing in the snowflakes. Only God can love our souls enough to clean them with his own Son's blood so they are as white as snow. Only the Holy Spirit can allow us to harness that power as we go forth into our lives as new creations.

    Allow the New Year to remind you of what we have in Christ. New beginnings are always possible through him. Let's not just read the promises of scripture, but let's make it our New Year's resolution to write them across our hearts and live them! 

    This is a repost from my 2014 entry, "New Snow and a New Year." Stay tuned for an upcoming podcast, in which I will be a guest on MorphMom Moments! More devotions for iBelieve and Crosswalk will be forthcoming too. Happy New Year!

    TODAY Video Clip