Apr 30, 2019

You Are Meant to Shine

There's mist, drizzling down outside my bedroom window.  It's grey and white, somehow at the same time.  Soft.  Cold.

I look further.  In the distance, there's a tall structure standing silently.  It's probably a cell-phone tower.  But over the last few weeks, I've stared up at it and wondered.

Because it used to shine continually.  Every morning, every evening, the tower would shoot out a blinking light.  In the thickest storms when I could only see blackness, it would radiate.  In foggy mornings, I could push open my window and see the light.

But recently, the tower stopped shining.  Maybe the cell-phone company shut down or the tower has an electrical issue.  Yet I still look at it, hope to find it shining through this dreary mist.  Hope one day it will shine again.  Sometimes it does, fleetingly, and then turns off again.  

I used to think the phone tower was like Jesus, the way He always shines in our darkness.  Now I look at it differently.  The tower is a lot like me.

If we're followers of Jesus, we have a lot of responsibility.  The Bible calls us ambassadors for Christ.  We are light.  We are children of God.

I look at the tower outside my bedroom window.  That's us; that's me.  I'm standing in a dark world, a representative of the very Light of the World.  This life is my opportunity to radiate Jesus to a broken culture.  To broken hearts.  Not because of my own power but because of the strength He holds.

There are problems though.  Sometimes it's fear.  Pride.  Weakness.  Sin.  And my light flickers off.

I become a candle hidden under a basket.  The fog comes, the wind, and I'm an ugly grey tower, standing with my light turned off.

All my reasons for failing to represent Him are silly, especially when I look at what He has done.  Especially this last Easter.

I read about how strong Jesus' love is.  How He agonized because of what He would go through.  How He was abandoned by every friend.  How the entire city chanted His death.  He was flogged and mocked and beaten and struck and murdered.

Because He loved me.  Because He loved you.

When Jesus died, light fled from its Maker, and "there was darkness over all the land" (Matthew 27:45).  Are we doing the same?

Do we stand here in our age and hide our lights?  When He prompts us to share our faith, call our hurting friend, wake up early to spend time with Him, sacrifice ourselves and live for Him, do we do it?

Is Jesus our all?

I don't want to forget His story or let it become so old that it seems to lose its power.  I don't want Easter to have been a time we just skimmed through a tale we've heard a thousand times.  Jesus has given us life, a future, and a hope.  And He bled so we could have it.

You have a purpose.  Go shine your light in this broken world.  Listen for His voice and obey.

Jesus wants to be King, Lord.  That means He receives all the glory, honor, and praise.  That means He is ultimate in your life.

Yes, it's hard.  But, dear friend, He died for you.

This is a letter to myself, a reminder that my comfort isn't priority.  Because I often live like it is.  I live like my light doesn't need to shine when the wind blows, when darkness comes, when no one is looking.

I look outside my window where the cell phone tower sleeps in the mist, and I don't want to be like that.

Keep shining, friend.  He is the reason.  ♥


And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

(ps)  Over the course of Easter, I enjoyed this music album that offers an instrumental approach to the story we celebrate... as you listen to it, remember the love that bled and the reason we shine.  For Him.

God's got this.  *hugs*


Apr 11, 2019

Cover Reveal Summary + Giveaway Winner

Hello Friend!

I'm here, typing out the words that say The Torch Keepers' cover reveal is over... but, for me, it's not.

I'm still incredibly blessed.  If you joined the reveal team, prayed for this novel, sent an encouraging note, or even smiled when you saw the cover - thank you!  I wish I could send you a letter, hand you a copy of the book, thank you in person.  But instead, I pray for you.  ♥

I hope you're the winner of the giveaway, but, either way, here's a fun, quick video my brother made for the cover release.  And yes, it was raining when we made it.  =)

Ahh!  Guys, God is so, so good.  All the time.  And I'm not just saying that; it's true.

In every single victory, every single pain, He is good.

God blessed me by bringing you here.  And also through all the amazing people who helped share The Torch Keepers' cover!  I already knew the cover by heart, and their posts still excited me.  XD

These are only a few of the eager people who helped, but to everyone - thank you!

AHH!  And now to announce the winner of a signed copy of The Torch Keepers (coming out September 1)!

The winner is...






Sarah Faith!

CONGRATS!!  I can't wait for you to hold your own copy!!  *cheers*

And a last announcement:

The Torch Keepers is on Goodreads;  for you book-lovers, hop over and add it to your shelves!

I will love You, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer...
- Psalm 18:1-2 

Apr 5, 2019

Unplanned movie review

Two weeks ago, I sat in a theater where we waited for the premier of Unplanned to begin.  I heard it dealt with hard topics.  I heard it was hard to watch.

I didn't know it would be this hard though.  And so powerful.

As one of the youngest Planned Parenthood clinic directors in the nation, Abby Johnson was involved in upwards of 22,000 abortions and counseled countless women on their reproductive choices. Her passion surrounding a woman's right to choose led her to become a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, fighting to enact legislation for the cause she so deeply believed in. Until the day she saw something that changed everything.


110 Minutes
By Pure Flix
Directed by Chuck Konzelman + Cary Solomon
Rated:  R
Released: (currently in theaters)

Negative Elements:

If you're looking for an easy watch, this isn't it.  (spoiler alert)

Unplanned is rated R, and, although many debate if it deserved that rating, it's hard to watch.  The movie portrays abortion on camera, and at least three intense scenes made me want to crawl under my chair.  There's blood - a lot.  It's graphic.  Unplanned depicts a woman going through an abortion, showing the baby on the monitor as it's stolen out of the womb.  It reveals what happens when the abortion pill goes wrong (aka, intense cramps, blood clots).  It shows a girl who nearly bleeds to death.

Graphic, yes.  But it's powerful (more on that later).

There were also a handful of crude words thrown in that I didn't appreciate.  No profanity but some un-tasteful language.

There are other elements that are hard and better for solely older viewers (such as pregnant teens, references to adult-level issues).  I definitely wouldn't recommend this for anyone under 16.  Even teens and adults might want to use discretion in knowing if they can handle this hard topic.

Heads up:  you'll probably cry too.

My Review:

The movie starts out with a quote, "My story isn't an easy one to hear. I think I probably ought to warn you of that up front."  And it was true.  One scene shows a large barrel being wheeled away from the abortion clinic, and the viewer instantly knows what's inside: aborted babies.  It's impossible for me to see that and not hurt.

Abortion is a theme that breaks me.  Through the movie, I experienced so many emotions:  horror, disgust, laughter, tears.

And it was amazing!  The movie, the music, was so strong.  Scenes gripped me, cut into me, held me tight.  It hit hard and impacted me in a way that few movies do; I won't ever forget Unplanned, and it's one of my favorite movies.  I mean talk about a movie that makes viewers go from victorious cheers to crying in a few minutes (it's so mean).

One of the best aspects?  After the movie, some of the behind-the-scene people and an actress came forward for a Q+A.  The story behind the movie is incredible, guys!  And there was such a big prayer team during the production; the makers described times where volunteers lined up, praying as the team recorded.  Wow.  That's how movies should be made - with Jesus in the center of it all.

To summarize:

Unplanned is hard to watch.  But in doing so, I was challenged, impacted, and encouraged.  It. is. so. good.

It's also based on a true story!  That blows me away.  And I just pray that this movie saves precious, unborn lives.

Other Notes:

If you're interested in seeing Unplanned, I recommend you check out this thorough review by Plugged In.

And guys, life is so, so beautiful.  That includes you.

God has a purpose and plan for your life; don't ever give up on that.   ♥

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
- Psalm 139:13-14

(ps)  If you didn't enter in the giveaway for a signed copy of The Torch Keepers, you only have a few days left!  Hop over to this link before it ends!