Books, Books, Books: A March Giveaway

Friends, Easter is coming! And though it falls on April Fools Day this year, this celebration is NO JOKE!

As 1 Corinthians 15:13-14 states, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is worthless, and so is your faith.” 

So, in an attempt, to get us thinking about how we want to remember and celebrate this special, more than an “egg-hiding, bunny-loving, chocolate-eating” holiday, I wanted to give you a resource suggestion as you ready your hearts and prepare your kiddos for this life-altering, game-changing historical event!

So what book am I giving away this month? 

I am giving away ONE copy of Mission Accomplished by Scott James.

And why am I giving away this book?

I am giving away a copy of this book because as believers, Easter is a BIG DEAL, and I want to share that BIG DEAL with my kiddos every. single. chance. I. get. I want them to hear the mercy of His sacrifice, the grace of His blood, and the power of His resurrection…over and over, and then over again. I want them to hear the Truth proclaimed and the Gospel exclaimed in a hundred different ways for the rest of forever…every Easter, every day.

And I want YOU to have that opportunity, too!

So what are a few of my favorite line(s) from this book? 

I couldn’t possibly pick my favorite line(s), so let me share how this Easter, family devotional is set-up.

Each day, for two weeks, there is a short, daily devotional for you to read with your family as you anticipate the remembrance and celebration of Easter!

In the first week, all of the short devotionals are centered around Walking with Jesus to the Cross. In the second week, the devotionals focus on The Risen King. 

Each day, there is a section of Scripture to study, accompanied with the following, short sections:

Think about It, Talk about It, Pray about It, and Sing about It 

Additionally, there are several family activities and crafts that are scattered throughout the two weeks–simple, easy, and nothing that requires a Pinterest tutorial!

So how can you win a copy of this book? 

In the comment section below, share how you remember and celebrate Easter with your little souls and at 10AM (EST) on Thursday, I will randomly choose one of you to win a copy of this book!

Happy coming of Easter!


Beauty in the Midst

When I look at the art work of my newly-minted four year-old, I see creativity; I see art; and I see lovely.

I see beauty. 

And not once do the following thoughts cross my mama-mind:

Wow, her sky looks a little skimpy. 

Hmmm…that grass looks rather disproportionate. 

What’s with that weird, stray pink streak underneath the yellow flower? 

Why is there a strange blob of green in the middle of the sun? 

Her brush strokes seem a tad uneven. 

Why didn’t she paint different colored centers in all four of the flowers? 

None of those thoughts cross my mind. N-O-N-E.

Because I believe beauty can exist in the middle of our imperfect strokes.  

We don’t have to be perfect moms to be wonderful moms.

We don’t have to be perfect spouses to be lovely spouses.

We don’t have to be perfect friends to be great friends.

We don’t have to be perfect employees to be excellent employees.

And we certainly don’t have to be perfect followers of Jesus to be holy and devoted. 

Perfect isn’t part of our nature this side of Eden and this side of heaven, and it’s certainly not attainable. And yet, so many times I find myself in that burdensome trap of “achieving and attaining perfection.”

I work to achieve, and I aim to be successful.

I strive to keep my failures at a minimum, and I struggle to keep my weaknesses hidden.

I yearn for the triumph, and I yank for the rungs of approval.

I work, and I strive, and I yearn for perfection, and yet I miss the goal of aiming for beauty in the midst of my broken.

Like my daughter, I want the picture to look perfect, or I’m tempted to crumple it up, hide it, or throw it away. I don’t want to work with an imperfect canvas, and I certainly don’t love moving forward in the midst of flawed strokes and faulty lines.

I want the blossoms without the mess of growing; I want the petals without the effort of tilling; and I want the fragrance of beauty without the discipline of pruning.

I resist the learning; I recoil from the faltering; and I retreat from the “less than perfect.”

I lose sight of the process when I become consumed with perfection, and I become defeated when I lose sight of the exercise in becoming. 

Oh, how we lose sight of our freedom to be hidden in the perfection of His grace when we yoke ourselves to the burden of our imperfect identities and our incomplete accomplishments! Oh how we lose opportunity to proclaim His perfection when we clamor to conceal ours!

How we labor and toil! How we run and scramble! How we obsess and clobber!

Because of His grace, I can’t be perfect. And because of His grace, I won’t be imperfect. For grace is what covers, clothes, and cloaks all of our sin, all of our struggles, and all of our screw-ups. Grace is the very thing that shouts to the botched and busted canvas, “You don’t have to be perfect because I am!”

And as I look from my set of earthly, mama-eyes, I can confidently exclaim to my daughter and of her masterpiece, “It’s beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.”

And because of His Son, and the perfection of His blood-stained body and crown-covered head, He can look at me us and perfectly say, “It’s beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.”

Friend, we don’t have to start over. We don’t have to throw away. And we certainly don’t have to hide our blunders and snafus.


Because we have a heavenly artist who sits enthroned in perfection who adamantly says of all His earthly creations, “I created her; I forgave her; I saved her; and I am using her…despite her.”

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9





Pogos and Pennies

Earlier this week, there was a TON of drama in our house. A ton.

Sister was gifted a new Pogo Jumper and though brother was perfectly okay that she got something and he didn’t, he was beside himself in a mess of frustrated tears.


Because brother decided that brother wanted to buy his own Pogo Jumper.

So, because we refuse to indulge him in every desire he has, we emptied his Piggy Bank and started counting his hard-earned monies (he earns .50 a week for set chores around the house and then is required to tithe 10% to the Church). When we were done sorting and counting (our own little mini math lesson), we had arrived at a total of $18.75.

So when we went online and were exploring the pricing options, he was a mess of frustration when he saw the price.


“But I will only have 7 quarters left?!?!”

“Yes, you’re right,” I explained. “When you spend your money, your savings decreases. You can’t spend and save at the same time.”

“But I don’t want to give it all up!”

“I understand that, and you don’t have to if you don’t want to. You can choose how you spend your money, buddy, but you can’t expect to get anything if you aren’t willing to invest something.” 

There were a whole bunch of other tears and complaints that followed and at the end of the conversation, he decided he wasn’t willing to make a decision until he had thought about it.

I was proud of him, and I was thankful for his willingness to count the cost and contemplate the sacrifice, and that was it. There was no more Pogo Jumper talk until the next day when he brought it up again.

“Mommy? I decided I want to spend my saved money on the Pogo Jumper. I think it’s a good way to spend my money, and I really want it.”

He counted out his money (8 1/2 months of saving) and that little saver proudly presented me with his stash of cash. Shortly after, we ordered the Pogo Jumper…in bright orange.

So when it arrived today (thank you, Amazon Prime), he was beyond excited (and super proud) to receive the fruit of his labor.

And as I watched him open up that Pogo Jumper, I couldn’t help but think of the many times in my own life when I, too, want the fruit without the labor.

I want the holiness, but I don’t want the hard.

I want the blessings, but I don’t want the burdens.

I want the growth, but I don’t want the grit.

I want the product, but I don’t want the pain.

I want the saving, but I don’t want the sanctification.

I want the outcome, but I don’t want the outpouring.

I want Christ-likeness, but I don’t want the cross.

I want the proverbial Pogo Jumper without the pennies required. 

And as I took a mental stroll through the times in my life when I have grown and produced the most fruit in my life, I realized that (most often) it came AFTER the periods of suffering, sacrifice, and surrender.

After I suffered through the panic and anxiety…

After I sacrificed my need for control…

After I surrendered my job…

After I suffered through the unknown…

After I sacrificed my idea of being loved…

After I surrendered my need for approval…

Friends, I don’t know what road you’re walking and what fruit you desire, but can I encourage you to continue to be faithful in your labor? The road may not be easy; your soul may be weary; the fruit may not seem abundant (maybe even non-existent at times); and you may not be guaranteed an earthly reward, but there is soul growth and eternal reward waiting.

Keep on keepin’ on. Press on toward the goal. Remain steady in the run.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12


Books, Books, Books: A February Give-Away

It’s that time of season in Ohio where a majority of the days are overcast and gray; the grass is wet and muddy; and the days of sunlight are few and far between. The weather is moody, and the days of warmer temperatures are a downright tease. And if I’m being honest, February is the month where I long for the days of lighter clothes, barefoot toes, green grass, a sky that shimmers with sun, and a reprieve from the viral germs.

These are the days where I long for FREEDOM from Winter.

So when I stumbled upon this book, quietly tucked away on my shelf (that happens a lot in a book lover’s house), I was excited when I read the cover of the brand-new, white and blue book.

I don’t remember purchasing the book, and I can’t remember why it ended up on my shelf, but I’m so very glad it did. And truth be told, the Lord knew I needed to read it the middle of February.

So what book am I giving away this month? 

I am giving away TWO copies of You Are Free: Be Who You Already Are by Rebekah Lyons.

And why am I giving away this book?

I am giving away a copy of this book because though I am in the middle of three other right now, I couldn’t put it down when my messy bun clad-self picked it up on a rainy afternoon in the cozy of my couch. The words rang true; they penetrated the soul; and I found myself excited for FREEDOM. Her writing style, her honesty, and her gut-wrenching transparency felt like a breath of fresh air. No matter what other books were left to be read, this one HAD to be started. And this is why I’m giving it to you.

So what are a few of my favorite line(s) from this book? 

When we become enslaved t o anything, we miss out on a life of surrender and peace. A life where we experience the truth that God is enough. A life where God is the Good Shepherd who gives us everything we need. A life where we lack nothing. 

So how can you win a copy of this book? 

In the comment section below, share an area in your life where you long for FREEDOM and at 10AM (EST) on Friday, I will randomly choose two of you to win a copy of this book!


“Mommy, I’m Scared.”

A couple days ago, our eldest and I were sitting at the table talking about our fears. I have absolutely no clue why the topic came up (I don’t remember anyone struggling with any particular fears that day), but before I knew it, my oldest was delving into all of his fears.

And as I listened, I heard a theme.

I’m scared when I wake up in the dark and I’m alone

I’m scared when you ask me to go empty the trash cans upstairs by myself

I’m scared when I go down by myself to the basement. 

I’m scared when I don’t know where you are

And though I could have guessed that going down to the dark basement, riding roller coasters, and speaking in front of people probably don’t land on his list of Top 20 Favorite Things To Do, I don’t think I would have known that being alone is one of his biggest fears.

He has never expressed concern about it being dark at night; he’s never had a bad dream that I know of; and he’s never shared any fears about monsters, bad guys, and creepers under the bed. So to be honest, I have never really thought of our son as being a very scared soul.

Anxious? Sure.

Scared? Not so much.

So as I listened to this little soul and as I thought back to the ways I’ve watched him struggle when forced to be alone, it all kinda clicked.

Our son does not like to be alone. 

He wants the presence of others. He craves the companionship of souls. And as I have said before and will say again, “He is the most relational introvert I have ever met.” So why I didn’t put it all together, I don’t know. But I did a few days ago, and now I know.

And as I thought about his fear of being alone and desiring the presence of others, my heart resonated in a sweet and tender way.

See, though I’ve never really been scared of being alone (Until maybe I became a mom and can never seem to even pee alone!), I have recently found myself fearful of taking a path without the presence of God. 

Now before it sounds like I obsessively fear the whole “perfect will of God” vs. the “permissive will of God,” let me explain.

Sure, I believe there are many ways to “displease” God (He is not a fan of sin and doors and roads that lead to sinful living and sinful behaving), but I also believe there are a million and one ways to please God.

I believe God calls us to love Him, love others, and share the good news. Apart from that, I believe there are LOTS and LOTS of ways we can love and honor Him with our lives. In short, I don’t necessarily get hung up on the whole “perfect way to follow Him.” As 1 Corinthians 10:31 states, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

God wants our hearts; He wants our trust; and He wants our obedience. Do I think I could have sung a love song back to Jesus by being a teacher? Sure. Do I think I could sing a love song back to Jesus by being a stay-at-home mom? Absolutely. And do I believe I am currently singing a love song back to Jesus by being a counselor right now? YES!!!

Again, I believe there are many, many ways to live lives that honor Him, and I think we get distracted from His kingdom purposes when we become obsessed with there being “only one right way” to do that. God loves us; He wants to use us; and He can do that in many capacities and in many ways. There is grace, and we can’t thwart His sovereign plans. End of story.

Wow. That was a lengthy disclaimer. 

I’m talking about the angst that comes when following any particular path (you name it) without (acknowledging first) the desire to follow and be in the presence of God.

One of my favorite Scripture passages that the Lord recently brought to mind (again) is a passage found in Exodus 33.

Moses is getting ready to lead the people of Israel. And though he’s not questioning where the Lord is asking him to go, he is questioning the who that is leading him.

Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me…33:12

And the Lord responds, My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 33:14

And the response of Moses just sends holy goosebumps right up my spine.

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 33:15

Moses doesn’t want to go without the presence of God. And every time I read it, I love it more. Why? Because Moses knew that it was the presence of God that would sustain him, no matter the path and no matter the walk.

Moses wanted God, not a path. 

Sure, I want my husband to get a new job. But if the Lord isn’t leading, I don’t want to go. 

Sure, I would be glad to foster again. But if the Lord isn’t leading, I don’t want to go. 

Sure, I will step out of fostering. But if the Lord isn’t leading, I don’t want to go.

Sure, I will step out of a discipleship relationship and into another one. But if the Lord isn’t leading, I don’t want to go. 

Sure, I will move houses and change cities. But if the Lord isn’t leading, I don’t want to go. 

Like our son, I don’t want to go alone. 

I don’t want the reigns…

I don’t want my agenda…

I don’t want my will…

I don’t want my path…

I don’t want “the things”…

I want His presence. 

And though I can be assured He never leaves me, I want to invite Him into each and every decision…seeking His face, asking for His presence to go before, and giving Him both the first and final say on the paths I walk.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

For He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5













The Hard of Hurting

As a parent, it’s hard to watch your children struggle. It’s hard to watch them wade through the heavy, sort through the sad, and grapple with the difficulties of grief. It’s hard to see their tears; it’s heavy to sit with their doubt; and it’s just downright painful to feel the angst of their souls.

It’s hard to walk a road lined with suffering; it’s painful to walk a path of sacrifice; and it aches to walk in a world where hurts still abounds and tears still exist.

Hurt is hard.

And as I’ve watched Caden and Evie navigate this road of loving and letting go, it’s broke my mama-heart in all kinds of gut-wrenching and unexpected ways. And if I’m being honest, I’ve wanted to rescue them from all of it.

I’ve wanted to wave my magic wand and make it all go away. I’ve wanted to lessen it, change it, and even take it away. I want to take those drippy eyes and tender hearts and wrap them in the largest roll of bubble-wrap I can find…refusing to let them feel the burn of heartache and pierce of struggle.

And as I’ve thought about my earthly tendency to rescue my children from the struggle of this planet and the hard of this life, I’ve realized that God has given us a special piece of Him inside of us.  In fact, I would suggest that it’s a God-given, Creator-placed quality that bears the image of His endless love. It’s that part of us that says, “I want your hurt to stop.”

And as I think about that, the Spirit takes my breath away.

Because doesn’t my struggle with my children’s pain mirror the pain of our Heavenly Father?

He didn’t want us to experience hard and hurt; He didn’t intend for us to struggle and weep; He didn’t plan for us to live on a earth when families break, hearts tear, and babies live in a world where they need safe homes.

He didn’t.

And when woman ate of the apple and man broke the command, I can’t help but think that a giant-sized tear fell from the face of their Father.

Children, this wasn’t what I intended. This isn’t what I wanted for you. 

From then on, just like the serpent promised, souls would know of good and evil. And with that evil would come a mixed bag of sadness, suffering, and struggle.

Struggle was never His design.

But because of His great love and because of His deep compassion, our Father saw our struggle and He saw our pain, and He said, “Son, let’s rescue them.”

Friends, if God has placed eternity in our hearts as Ecclesiastes 3:11 states, then I believe He has placed within each and every one of us a desire to rescue the hurting…a longing to stop the pain.

And though that doesn’t remove the pain or change the hard, it gives me a deep sense of thankful gratitude for a Savior that whispers right into the middle of our hurt, “I see you. I love you. And I will come to rescue.”

I can’t take the pain away from my earthly children, and I can’t stop their sadness, but I know the Holy One who can. And as I help them navigate the gravel road, carrying the sacrifice they don’t want to give, I can point them to the RAM IN THE THICKET–the ONE who died for our hard and bled for our hurt.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, [or saying goodbye to foster babies] for the former things have passed away. And the One seated on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Revelation 21:4

Praise be to Jesus! Praise be to our hope of heaven! Praise be to the One who has conquered the struggle and is coming for our victory!





Be a Mama Who Struggles with Jesus

Yesterday was hard.

The kids were irritating, climbing the walls like stir-crazy cats in the middle of Winter. The teething baby was refusing a nap and providing me with too-many opportunities to clean the carpet with Resolve. The To-Do list was greater than the hours, and the attacks of the enemy were coming left and right.

I was fighting discouragement, battling distortions, and resisting a million and one moments when I felt like raising the white flag of DEFEAT.

I was tired; I was drained; and I was overwhelmed.

And just when I didn’t feel like it could get any more frustrating, I received a call from hubby sharing another round of hard and disappointing news.  Truly, it was one of those days where I empathized with Alexander and his “terrible, no-good, very-bad day.”

I was tempted to escape to the couch and retreat to the cupboard but instead, I turned to the treadmill and grabbed my iPhone. As I turned on the machine and scrolled to the first worship sing I could find queued on my phone, I begged the Lord to meet me in the middle of my messy day.

As my feet began to move and the words began to play, these lyrics reverberated both my ears and soul.

There is a truth older than the ages
There is a promise of things yet to come
There is one, born for our salvation 
There is a light that overwhelms the darkness
There is a kingdom that forever reigns
There is freedom from the chains that bind us 
Jesus, Jesus
There is a name I call in times of trouble
There is a song that comforts in the night
There is a voice that calms the storm that rages
He is Jesus, Jesus
The last line of each stanza seemed louder than the rest.
Jesus. Jesus, Jesus. He is Jesus. 

And as clear as day, the following thought popped into my weary soul:

Jessica, be a mama who struggles well; be a mama who struggles with JESUS. 

As I thought through this thought, I had a series of other thoughts that came quickly on its heels.

I want to be an Abraham who walks with faith up the hill. 

I want to be a Noah who believes the rains will come. 

I want to be a Joseph who responds with grace in the middle of evil. 

I want to be a Moses who trusts in the desert. 

I want to be a Joshua who confidently moves forward

I want to be a Hosea who loves when it’s hard

I want to be an Ezekiel who speaks the difficult word

I want to be a Daniel who prays through the threats and rests in the fire

I want to be a Paul who bears up under persecution

I want to be a Peter who walks on water. 

The heroes of the faith flooded my mind as quickly as the tread beneath me.

And what did all of these men of faith have in common?

God. God, God. He is God. 
Through the darkness, through the storms, and through the troubles, it was their faith in God that equipped them to face the battles and move forward in obedience. It was their steadfastness in the Lord and their belief in His sovereign hand that gave them them the courage to walk on and lay down.  It was their rest in His power and their trust in His plan that allowed them to pick up their proverbial bootstraps and continue on in persevering love and committed service.
Jesus. Jesus, Jesus. He is Jesus. 
That’s what I want my kids to see; that’s what I want my kids to hear; and that’s what I want my kids to remember.

I don’t want them to remember a strong mama; I want them to remember a dependent soul.
I don’t want them to remember an overwhelmed mama; I want them to remember a trusting soul.
I don’t want them to remember a fearful mama; I want them to remember a faith-believing soul.
I don’t want them to remember an angry mama; I want them to remember a loving soul.
I don’t want them to remember a discouraged mama; I want them to remember a persevering soul.
I don’t want them to remember an anxious mama; I want them to remember a resting soul.
I don’t want them to remember a perfect mama; I want them to remember a praying soul.
I want them to remember that in the middle of mama’s hard and in the midst of mama’s struggles, she claimed (though imperfectly), “Jesus. Jesus, Jesus. He is Jesus!”