Tuesday, December 22, 2020

New Devotion: Give Your Best Gifts

This Christmas devotion for iBelieve and Crosswalk was featured over the summer, but a Christmas event sparked its year-round reflection. I hope it helps center your holiday as we anticipate Christ's birth. The best gift we can give God is ourselves. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Interview with "Long Days of Small Things" Parenting Author Catherine McNiel

When New York Times bestselling author Ann Voskamp recommends a book, I take notice. When it's about my passion—faith and parenting—and it's by a fellow author in my writer's guild, I have to interview the author! I am delighted to introduce you to my new friend Catherine McNiel. I asked her several leading questions so that you can get to know her and her wonderful book. Also, register to win a signed copy of her book for Christmas at the end of this post! My questions to her follow in bold:

I just published a book on life purpose, so I'm particularly curious: What inspired you to write your book on the ministry of motherhood—how did God place that calling on your heart?

When my three children were very small, I kept hearing two messages over and over again. One, from Christan teachers and writers, teaching that anyone who was serious about their relationship with God would invest at least 30–60 minutes a day in solitude, silence, prayer, and study. As someone trained in Spiritual Formation (not to mention deeply committed to being a person of faith!) I knew the value in setting aside this time, investing in devotion to God. But I had two toddlers and was pregnant at the time. I was literally never alone! The baby I carried was always with me, and my little boys essentially were too. 

The other message I heard over and over came from my friends, my fellow parents of young children. This voice was one of despair and failure. The Christian life simply cannot be for us, for parents, for moms, during this season. I'm failing at everything. I'll just have to wait until another season of life. We had been trained to find God mostly in our "Quiet Times" but frankly, there was no time. There was no quiet. There was no 30–60 minutes to set aside. Even in the middle of the night, even in the bathroom, we were surrounded by demands. 

But I knew that this season was so full because we were already doing the things spiritual practices and disciplines are meant to lead us to. We were creating and nurturing alongside God. We were pouring out God's love. We were surrendering, sacrificing, serving, celebrating. We were too exhausted to serve...but only because we were so worn out from serving! I became passionate to show my fellow moms (and dads, and caregivers of all sorts!) that we were already practicing the spiritual disciplines of our faith, already offering our bodies and souls to God every moment of the day. The key, at least for me, was to silence the voices saying "You should do more! You are not doing enough!" and realize that God was already present in each moment, that each exhausting act of service and sacrifice was something God could use to mold my soul in Christ's image. 

Every mom knows a balancing act! What was it like juggling your calling, book writing, with three children?

Ah yes...this is my point exactly. :) I wrote this book while my youngest was in preschool. Literally, at a table in the foyer of her preschool. I would drop her off (the two older boys were in elementary school) and write until her three hour class was over and I picked her back up. But, also, writing is my job—not a hobby. So just as parents find time to work as accountants or barristas, my professional life is filled with writing. Always juggling, though, and there's always a trade off! If you read my book, you'll know that I'm more than happy to trade cooking and crafts for more time to write. :)

Your book honors the sacrifices we often make as parents behind closed doors. What would you say to the mom who feels invisible today?

Oh, I'm so grateful for the chance to see and speak to exactly that mom. I would say: Sister! You are exactly the one I had in mind as I listened for the Spirit and wrote this book. You are doing hard, hard, meaningful, necessary work. This is God-work. There is no list of shoulds you are failing at. God is right here, already with you. Take a deep breath and receive God's peace. You are creating life, alongside the Creator of life. God knows you, sees you, always. 

And, I would say: I wrote Long Days of Small Things to be readable even (especially!) when you are tired and unable to see straight. If it is not too much of an oxymoron to say "I know you can't do one more thing...so read this book!" (I get the irony!) I have heard from so many moms feeling exhausted, unworthy, and invisible who found life and help in these pages. Praise God. 

Do you have any wise words for parents who are navigating the unprecedented—this pandemic—in light of your book?

Oh my. Now more than ever we are in the long days of small things! My words are the same, just possibly more urgent: These are challenging times. Don't fill up a list of to-do's that set yourself up to fail. Take a deep breath and look around for God's presence, for God is already right here. You don't have to cherish this moment, and it won't last forever. You are creating life alongside the Creator. One day at a time. One breath at a time. Take heart, friend. Take courage. You are never, ever alone.

Do you have a new project on the horizon that we can watch for?

I do! My second book (not specifically about parenting) came out right before the pandemic, and it seems to have been perfect timing. All Shall Be Well: Awakening to God's Presence in His Messy Abundant World is about connecting with God through the cycles and seasons of the world he created—it's especially about finding hope in times of darkness, and life in seasons of wilderness. 

Also, I've spent the past several months writing my third book. It doesn't have a title yet and won't be out for another year, but I wrote about God's invitation to live out of love rather than fear with our neighbors, strangers, and even enemies. It has been quite the year to write this book! I'm grateful for all God has taught me along the way. You can find all this and more at www.catherinemcniel.com where you can also sign up for my periodic essay email called Everyday Epiphanies.

Author Catherine McNiel

If you want to win a signed copy of Long Days of Small Things for Christmas:

The contest ends this Friday the 18th, so don't delay! Also, I will be tweeting some of my favorite parts of the book this week and continuing the #12DaysofChristmas book selections on Instagram. Don't miss them!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

12 Days of Christmas Book-Buying Ideas

Looking for Christmas gifting ideas? Books are a great choice! They are affordable and further education—a gift that can never be taken away. In this case, they plant eternal seeds too! Here are a baker's dozen of books this Christmas to warm your heart and ignite your faith: 

For babies (0-24 months) I recommend:

The Beginner's Bible Little Lamb's Christmas 
        This is an adorable finger puppet board book that my one-year-old loves!
Baby's First Bible and Book of Prayers Gift Set
        This would make a cute baptismal gift too.
The Wonder that is You by Glenys Nellist 
        Glenys has been a repeat visitor on my blog. Her book celebrates the unique gift of a child, and its illustrations are gorgeous.

Toddler picture books:

I'm Going to Give Your a Polar Bear Hug! by Caroline Cooney
        Children love butterfly and eskimo kisses—this adorable book follows right in stride!
Pugato Finds a Thing by Sophie Corrigan
        This book inspires children to overcome self-doubt and believe in themselves. Bonus: It just might spark a child's love of vegetables!
Goodnight Manger by Laura Sassi
        This beloved Christmas title must be on the list! To see my favorite book spread of angels or hear more about the book, watch my interview with Laura.

Educational resources for preschool and early grade school children:

The Beginner's Bible Learn Your Letters
        This wipeable book encourages letter practicing with Bible-related pictures for each letter.
Tiny Truths Wonder and Wisdom: Everyday Reminders from Psalms and Proverbs
        This resource distills teachable lessons for children from the Bible's most popular go-to books. I cannot wait to read it with my children!
Clap Your Hands: A Celebration of Gospel by Toyomi Igus
        Christianity was a healing agent of voice, strength and change through the Gospel tradition. This book contextualizes Gospel music by relating it to black history.

Faith tidbits for the busy family:

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones
        I read this book often at the family breakfast table for a little inspiration to start the day. When I interviewed Sally, her wisdom was evident—this book condenses big faith thoughts into chewable nuggets. 

For tween girls:

Loved and Cherished: 100 Devotions for Girls by Lynn Cowell and Michelle Nietert
        I had Lynn and Michelle on my show—I hope you benefitted from Michelle's counseling wisdom amidst the pandemic, Lynn's parenting insights as a Christian mom of grown children, and the peek into their devotion! It's an excellent resource that would make a great stocking stuffer! 

For adults:

How to Live Your Life Purpose: The Six-Step Journey to God's Best by Noelle Kirchner
        What better gift is there than to help someone live into whom God destined them to be? Buying this book can help, and 20% of the proceeds go to World Vision.
Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline by Catherine McNeil
        Catherine's insightful book on the ministry of motherhood will inspire and edify you, especially when you're feeling invisible. NYT's bestselling author Ann Voskamp recommends it too! Stay tuned next week for more on Catherine's book! 

I am blessed to have a relationship with the Christian publisher Zonderkidz. They sent me many of these titles so that I could pass them along to you! I will be enjoying these books with my family, sending some to my niece and nephew in the Midwest, and donating a few to needy children this Christmas. Check out my Instagram feed (@noellekirchner) for the next 12 days for more on my picks (and others) and where they will go! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving, and WINNER!

Congratulations to L. White from California for winning Glenys Nellist's new book, Little Mole's Christmas Gift! We had registrants from across the country!

Though our 2020 Thanksgiving celebrations might look different this year, there's always reason to be thankful. In fact, gratitude is one of our most important spiritual muscles. I invite you to read one of my favorite articles on the power of gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving! Stay tuned for an exciting line up of new feature books in December—perfect stocking stuffers to build your family's faith!

Monday, November 16, 2020

Guest Post: Christmas Book Sneak Peak and Giveaway!

I am delighted to welcome back fellow author Glenys Nellist! Glenys has written popular posts for this blog like this one and a second Little Mole book for children, Little Mole's Christmas Gift. You might remember her first Little Mole book, which was geared to helping children process sadness and find hope. In honor of her new one's Christmas focus, I asked her the following questions. Since she's a mother, grandmother, and Christian Educator, she has a rich prospective to share:

What is your favorite Christmas memory from when your children were little?

My favorite Christmas memory with my children stems from a tradition that was passed down in my family. I am one of eight, and on Christmas morning we would all race downstairs and line up outside the living room door, anxious to see if Santa (or Father Christmas, as we called him) had been. None of us could enter the room until all eight of us were ready, and we lined up in order of age, with my youngest brother the first to go in. I was fifth in line, and it was always a magical moment to burst through the door and see the room full of shining gifts. This tradition, then, was carried over when our four children were born. My excitement watching my four little ones line up outside the living room door on Christmas morning was equal to that magical feeling I had as a child.

If you had to do it again, is there something you would tweak looking back on your Christmas celebrations?

Two things... Firstly, I might try to be more organized! Even though I tried, I always ended up wrapping presents late on Christmas Eve, which made it stressful. Secondly, I wish I had taken the time to celebrate Advent with my children, beyond the daily opening of the windows in their Advent calendars. There are so many good resources now that I wish had been available to me all those years ago.

Is there any activity that you would encourage families to consider integrating into their own holiday traditions?

Following on from the last question, I would encourage families to celebrate the whole Advent season together, especially since this year will be so challenging and different for all of us. Any resources or activities that will encourage families to bond during the whole month of December are to be welcomed. I love this interactive Advent Calendar from Beaming Books, and the recently released Faithful Families for Advent and Christmas from Traci Smith is just wonderful!

What inspired you to write Little Mole's Christmas Gift, and what do you hope will be the takeaway from your newest treasure?

In a world that so often encourages lavish spending and the buying of large gifts at Christmas, I really wanted to explore how the smallest of gifts, or those that can't even be wrapped, can somehow be the greatest. I remember several years ago when my daughter was a church custodian. It was Mother’s Day, and she couldn’t afford to buy me a gift. So instead, she sat in the sanctuary after everyone else had gone home and sang my favorite hymn as she thought about me. I’ve never forgotten that gift. It meant the world to me. In Little Mole’s Christmas Gift, Little Mole discovers that his kindness is the best, most wonderful gift his mama could ever receive—just like my daughter’s little gift was precious to me. This then is what I hope readers will take from the book...that kindness and generosity can be the greatest gifts of all. 

Thank you, Glenys, for sharing your thoughts with us. You made my eyes tear with your last response! Want to win a free copy of Glenys' book to share with your family? You might get an early Christmas gift if you:

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Why Jesus' Plan for Your Child Is So Much Better

little girl looking up happy, why god's plan for your kids is so much better

"I can think of no better parenting outcome than seeing my children as established difference-makers who are happy and secure. I want my boys to love, be loved, and thrive as men of faith. The reality is that gifting our children with the ability to pursue their purpose is the best possible determining factor toward that goal."

This is an except from my newest article for iBelieve. Join me in dreaming big for our children!

Read the full article here

Thursday, October 22, 2020

6 Ways to Make This Election Day Less Divisive

Election Day is around the corner, and millions of Americans have already cast their vote. The divisiveness of the country makes 2020 even harder. What can we as Christians do to lower the nation's temperature and help mend the country? I wrote this article for Crosswalk with that goal in mind—not to endorse any particular candidate. 

Our nation is wrestling with issues far deeper than any elected official. We have lost the ability to have constructive conversation and reach actionable compromise when the stakes have never been higher. When discourse is halted for fear of retaliation or is censored by social media or news outlets, it's concerning. We as a nation can do better.

Please join me in exploring the opportunity of this moment to model the change we want to see, compassion for our neighbors, and the light of Christ—it's never been more needed.

Read here

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

New On-Demand Episode: 'Cuties,' COVID, and Tween Faith

What are the signs of tween depression, and what strategies help fight it?

How can parents best support their children as school is impacted by COVID-19?

What messages does your daughter need to hear from you concerning body image and social media?

I was honored to connect with Proverbs 31 Ministries' Lynn Cowell, who is a speaker and author, and Michelle Nietert, who runs a counseling center out of Dallas, Texas. Both women are co-authors of a new devotional for tween girls and are passionate about tween issues and faith. They answer the questions above along with many others, including: How is parenting like packing a suitcase? (Thanks, Lynn!)

I hope you will tune in by watching here. Also, check out my latest article on tween issues that mentions the episode and is being re-featured on Crosswalk this week.

One more thing! Lynn and Michelle are giving away one copy of their new devotional, Loved and Cherished, to a girl in foster care for every copy sold. I love that! Want to win a free copy? REGISTER HERE by Sunday, 10/18/20 at 10 PM EST. I will choose one lucky winner! Happy watching (and registering)!

To watch other Chaos to Calm episodes on-demand, click here!

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Living Fully within the Storm

"Storms in life don’t have to be literal to be devastating."

This week, I'm sharing a piece I wrote for the October edition of my writer's guild publication, The Redbud Post. Join me in finding hope, choosing faith, and benefiting from God's peace in all of life's storms. I write:

"As the country braced for Hurricane Laura’s ensuing destruction, I followed the storm’s formation. I saw white, mammoth clouds spinning and churning through satellite images. There were purple flashes of lightning within the cyclone. Yet the center, the eye of the hurricane was different. It was a place of peace, a dark hole of rest visible all the way out in space as well. It made me wonder: How can we as Christians live in the eye of the storm, in a place of peace regardless of what is swirling around us?"

Find the article and continue reading here

Stay tuned next week for a new fall episode of HTTV's "Chaos to Calm with Noelle Kirchner," which will be available to watch on-demand here! I talk COVID-19 and back-to-school issues, rising tween anxiety, faith and sexuality, and more with a ministry and psychologist duo.

Also, I started a Bible study with fellow women at my church based upon my new book this past weekend. Check out their sweet faces on Instagram! 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Why We Need to Turn Off Cuties and 'WAP' Now

Cuties movie still, Netflix receives backlash for sexualizing children in upcoming movie

PLEASE read my newest article to learn about the controversial Sundance Film Cuties and the trending pop song "WAP" and why they're so dangerous. I include findings from the American Psychological Association (APA). 

Our hyper-sexualized culture is oppressing females—including young girls. Lives are quite literally at stake by what we support. Every voice matters as we raise them on behalf of our fellow women, the voiceless, and those whose voices are still forming. 

Read my article for Crosswalk here

P.S. Stayed tuned for the fall episode of my faith and parenting TV show, Chaos to Calm, in which I interview two authors of a new tween devotional for girls—we touch on Cuties and "WAP" too!

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.**


"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 

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