Saturday, December 23, 2023

God Gave the Best

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son….” -John 3:16 

We don’t often think of this well-known verse at Christmas, but this year I’ve been reminded of these basic truths again - 

God LOVES us!
God gave us His Son. 

One of my favorite ways to celebrate Christmas is to give gifts to others. It brings me great joy to give something, whether small or significant, to a loved one. It’s a way to communicate to them that I care, that I’m thinking of them, that I delight in them. 

I can only imagine how much greater God’s heart is than my human heart. He gave us a tangible gift so we would always know that He loves us, that He’s always thinking of us, that He delights in us. 

Not only that, but God didn’t just give us a “little” gift or a small token...He gave us the BEST He had. He gave us His beloved Son. 

Pause and consider that for a moment. 

Anytime I start to doubt God’s love or wonder what He’s doing in my life, I go back to this passage in Romans 8: 

"If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" -Romans 8:31b-32

God Almighty already gave me the very best He could ever give - Jesus! There is nothing greater than this gift! And along with Jesus, God gives us countless other blessings and gifts. 

So when it feels like life is too hard, the suffering is too much, or something I’ve prayed about for years isn’t happening…I think once again about Christmas, about the gift of a Savior—Emmanuel, and about the heart of my heavenly Father. And the doubts recede and my soul is filled with awe. 

This is our God - the Giver of all good gifts, especially the best gift ever: Jesus! 

Merry Christmas my friends! 

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Stories of Our God & New Book Release

Psalm 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story…” Sometimes it’s difficult to tell our stories. Sometimes we don’t know how to put it into words. Perhaps we’re afraid other people won’t understand or may judge us. Yet ultimately, telling our stories is telling about who God is and how He is at work in our lives. And that is powerful. It’s encouraging for us to remember as we share, and it’s encouraging for others to hear.

I’m very grateful that my new book was released this month! Crazy, Hard, Beautiful Journey is a book of stories from my life – stories that tell about who God is and what He has done. It was a very long, difficult process to write this book, but it was also healing and encouraging for me. I pray it will be a blessing and encouragement to many people, especially those going through difficult circumstances 

(If you know someone who might need this book of encouraging stories, it’s available on amazon, and it’s in kindle unlimited.)

Here is one chapter from the book. I hope it encourages you today. 


Excerpt from Crazy, Hard, Beautiful, Journey – Stories of God’s Unfailing Grace, Goodness, and Divine Purpose


Chapter 12





“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer….” –1 Peter 3:12

The new year didn’t start well for me. I was very sick for the last two weeks of December and the first two weeks of January. It did give me a lot of time to reflect and pray, which was good. I had planned a trip to Texas for a conference, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it. Thankfully by the middle of January I was up to traveling again, so I kept my plans and went. 

I ended up having another amazing trip to Texas! God not only provided for every detail along the way, He also gave me some special and unexpected blessings. 

During the ten days I was there, I felt a growing sense that I was supposed to move to Texas. Even though I’d been somewhat “homeless” and moved around for much of 2016, the idea of officially moving to Texas felt like a huge step for me. 

When I got back to Florida, I kept praying about it. I told God I needed three big things if I was going to move. I needed a part-time job in Texas. I needed a place to stay. And I needed a vehicle. 

Would you believe that in less than three weeks God had provided all three? 

First, I shared my thoughts about moving with my mom and asked for her prayers. A couple of days later she said she’d been praying about it, and she wanted me to use her minivan as long as I needed it! 


Second, a friend from Texas came to Florida in February for a conference, and I was able to visit with her. As we were talking, I said something like, “I think you need to hire me to help you. What do you think?” The next day she hired me, and I started working that week! 


Third, two different friends called and offered me temporary housing in Texas! I ended up choosing the place closer to my job, which worked out great. 


By early March I was packing and preparing to move my life to another state.


I was in awe of how God had done the three miracles I asked Him for so quickly and easily! It reminded me that He is God after all! He can do anything. Nothing is too hard for Him. Nothing is too small or too big for Him to do. 


Sometimes it may seem like certain things are too hard for God…but that’s actually because He is choosing not to do them. I’ve seen Him do too many miracles to ever question His power or ability. At times, though, I question His wisdom or His heart. If He can do anything, why doesn’t He do the things I keep asking for? 


Why doesn’t He ease suffering when we’ve prayed for years?

Why doesn’t He provide what seems so desperately needed?
Why doesn’t He fulfill the dream that’s been waiting so long?


If I could answer all of these questions easily, then God probably wouldn’t be God. The fact that we can’t understand all His ways reminds us that He is greater than we are. He sees everything, while we only see a small portion. He is working for the good of all, not just for our ease or comfort in the moment. 


There is, and always will be while we’re on this earth, an element of mystery to God. We know He can do anything and everything with ease. We also know at times He chooses not to do the things we ask.


I often wish God would answer my prayers the way He did in this situation. I wish every prayer was answered with a quick miracle, provision, and open door. In reality, I can’t imagine how different my life would be if God always did that – or more importantly, how different my relationship with Him would be. If He always gave a quick, easy answer to my prayers, would I have the same trust in Him? Would I have the same intimacy and fellowship with Him? I don’t think so. 


I think we need both experiences in our lives and our relationship with God – the quick, miraculous answers to prayer, and the waiting, wondering, praying-by-faith seasons. The miracles remind us how awesome and able God is. The waiting and wondering reminds us how wise, patient, and present He is. 


No matter what we need or how God answers our prayers, the eternal truth is that He is trustworthy. However He chooses to work in our lives, He is good. He is perfect in wisdom. He loves us! And He is working out His mysterious and perfect purposes for us and for His glory.  


“The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” –Psalm 145:13b



For Reflection –

How has your relationship with God deepened from both His miraculous answers to prayer and seasons of waiting on Him? 


What helps you to remember and believe that God is always trustworthy?

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

A Merry Heart

“A merry heart does good, like medicine….” –Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV)

When life is hard, heavy, frustrating, complicated, painful…it’s important to remember this verse. Jesus has given us ways to have a merry heart even when circumstances are anything but.

In addition to all our spiritual blessings, today I’m thinking about some of the random things that make me smile, laugh, feel happy or joyful. There are actually a lot of them…here are a few: 

Children’s laughter – so precious!

Giraffes, hedgehogs, and dolphins – God certainly displays His sense of humor, tender heart, and joy through these animals He created.

Christmas music – never fails to lift my spirits.

Reading funny children’s books – the classics never get old.

The opening of “The Lone Ranger” tv show, with the William Tell overture playing and the Lone Ranger racing along on his white steed – always makes me smile. 

Waterfalls – looking at pictures or experiencing them brings delight!

Snoopy cartoons, gifs, or memes – can’t help but love the little pup.

Chocolate, ice cream, watermelon (and other tasty foods) – they taste good and bring happy memories to mind.

Watching squirrels chase each other around the yard – highly entertaining.

Quoting silly movie lines with family or friends – can’t do it without laughing!

Rocking in a rocking chair – one of life’s simple pleasures.


What are some things that make you smile, laugh, or bring you joy? 

Ultimately, knowing Jesus is what gives me joy and happiness in the core of my being. I can’t help but feel joyful when I spend time with Him. 

“I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.” –Psalm 31:7


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Don’t Forget to Dance

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.” –Luke 15:22-25

This passage is found in the familiar story of the prodigal son. It gives a vivid picture not only of what our salvation is like – the best of everything when we deserve nothing – but also of the Father’s heart, and of the Father’s house. 

When was the last time you remembered that there is music, dancing, and celebration in the Father’s house? 

We are not yet dwelling in the Father’s house that He is preparing for us (heaven), but we have His Spirit dwelling in us. Because of Jesus, we have every reason to celebrate – even in the midst of trials, suffering, and pain. Because of Him, we have only celebration, joy, worship, wonder, music, and dancing to look forward to. 

I believe this heavenly reality is something we can carry in our hearts no matter our circumstances. Here’s a poem I wrote that helps remind me to do that. I hope it blesses you today. 


The Dance of Faith


When joy overflows,

When loved ones are near,

When God answers prayer,  

When faith triumphs over fear,



When sorrow overflows,

When loneliness weighs,

When pain inhabits your days,

When discouragement stays, 



Dance with your feet,

Dance in your heart.

Dance with a song,

Dance in the silence. 

Dance with joy,

Dance in tears.


Dance by faith,

Your offering of praise. 

Dance with Him,

For He is holding you.

Dance for life,

Eternity will soon be here. 


(Copyright Joanna K. Harris) 


Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Something to Think About

As I read various books, I like to collect my favorite quotes from them. Then I can go back later and reread them, think about them further, and remember to apply them once again. I thought I’d share some of my recent favorites with you today. 


 From John Maxwell: 

“It’s not over until you’ve learned from it.” 


“Failure is inevitable; learning is optional.” 


“Our perspective is not determined by what we see. It’s determined by how we see, and that comes from who we are.” 


“Who we are inside is much more important than how others see us.” 



From Amy Carmichael:

“He who begins, finishes. He who leads us on, follows behind to deal in love with our poor attempts…He gathers up the things that we have dropped—our fallen resolutions, our mistakes…He makes His blessed pardon to flow over our sins till they are utterly washed away. And He turns to fight the Enemy, who would pursue after us, to destroy us from behind.” 


“All the day long there is the pressure of life, and perhaps some inner strain to the spirit known only to God. But all the day long, too, there is the lovingkindness of God. And so all the day long the peace that passes all understanding…The peace of Jesus stood every sort of test, every strain, and it never broke. It is this, His very own peace, which He says, ‘I give’.” 


From Holley Gerth:

“We’re not supposed to have enough. We’re supposed to bring what we have, our clearly not enough, to Jesus and ask Him to meet us where we are.” 


“You’re not called to pursue goals. You’re called to pursue a Person. That’s what dreams are really all about—going with God.” 


“Every dream or desire you have that comes from God is an invitation for more intimacy with him.” 


“And there’s nothing ordinary about us or our lives because we have an extraordinary God inhabiting our hearts.” 



From George MacDonald:

“Thy will be done. I yield up everything.

‘The life is more than meat’—then more than health;

‘The body more than raiment’—then than wealth;

The hairs I made not, thou art numbering.

Thou art my life—I the brook, thou the spring.

Because thine eyes are open, I can see;

Because thou art thyself, ‘tis therefore I am me.” 



From Jay & Katherine Wolf:

“Celebration can be an act of worship and an act of hope and perhaps, in a way, an act of joyful rebellion against fear.”


“As much as we recoil from suffering, it has the potential to show us who we are and who God is in ways that dramatically alter the way we live our lives. We can gain precious wisdom and deeper appreciation for the lives we’ve been given as we learn to suffer well—not as victims, but as overcomers…each of us has the opportunity to thrive in situations we never dreamed we’d have to experience.” 



These are good words to ponder. I hope they are thought-provoking, encouraging, and a blessing to you today.


“…the tongue of the wise brings healing…Walk with the wise and become wise…” –Proverbs 12:18, 13:20 

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

What will you read and listen to this year?

While I’m not someone who makes new year’s resolutions, I do think the new year is a good time to consider what I’d like to do differently or accomplish this year. 

For me, a big part of that happens through reading. Books can be informative, entertaining, encouraging, and transformative. My goal last year was to read four non-fiction books each month. I didn’t quite meet that goal, but I did read a lot of good books. 

I’m happy to recommend some of the books that were my favorites last year. And feel free to leave a comment with some of your favorites as well! 




“The Magnolia Story” by Joanna and Chip Gaines


“Shaken” by Tim Tebow 


“Suffer Strong” by Jay & Katherine Wolf


“The ‘Do What You Can’ Plan” by Holley Gerth 


 “Entreleadership” by Dave Ramsey 





“The Lady Emily Capers” series by Regina Scott – lighthearted, Regency mystery


The “Poppy Creek” series by Rachel Bloome – clean, modern-day fiction


The “Paige Alder” series by Erynn Mangun – clean, funny, relatable Christian fiction


The “Class of Their Own” series by Jen Turano – lighthearted fiction set in the gilded age in New York


The “Hearts on the Heath” series by Kristi Ann Hunter – Regency fiction (includes race horses!) =)



If books aren’t your favorite media, perhaps podcasts are. I found several podcasts last year that I’ve enjoyed. Feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments as well. 




Your Move podcast with Andy Stanley – biblical wisdom and practical spiritual truths


Novel Marketing podcast with Thomas Umstattd Jr – great for authors!


Equip & Empower podcast with Christine Caine – spiritual encouragement 


The Alli Worthington Show podcast – interviews with different guests on various topics 


Joseph Prince podcast – messages from the pastor of New Creation Church 


I’m so thankful for the easy access we have to wonderful resources these days! These are some I’ve enjoyed, and I hope one of these recommendations will bless you as well. Let me know what resources you recommend for this new year. =)