A Toddler Inspired Devotional

A Toddler Inspired Devotional

This beautiful fall season reminded me of a series of devotionals I never finished. I called it Devotions Inspired by a Two-year-old. If you all like it, I’ll share more. The boys in the picture are really mine, and no, it wasn’t staged. Thank you, Daniel Ryan Photography for the photo.


This morning my two-year-old ran alongside the double stroller while my infant slept cocooned in blankets to ward off the fall chill.

The oldest stopped and squealed. He stared down at an ugly brown leaf.

Millions of gorgeous leaves littered the ground, but he fixated on the torn, crackly leaf with a spot of mold growing on it…or maybe that white spot was bird poop.

He bent over to pick it up, but his puffy mittens prevented him from gripping it.

A bright red one touched his foot. I pointed. “Hey, look at that leaf. Isn’t it pretty?”

The tip of his tongue stuck out. He slapped his oversized hands together attempting to clutch the ugly leaf.

A unique three-toned leaf with red, yellow, and orange shifted in the grass a few steps away. “Oh my, look at this.” I picked it up and showed it to him. “It’s gorgeous.”

He ignored me again, focused on what may have been the most hideous leaf I’d ever seen. “I can’t get it,” he cried. Then whined. He grew louder and more frustrated.

His fits were annoying, and I didn’t want to reinforce it. So I ignored him and pushed the stroller toward home. He would follow and soon forget.

A blast of wind lifted my hair and cooled my face. How many times had I whined and cried to God to have something undesirable and insignificant in the whole scheme of things? Yet it always felt extremely important to me at the time. When God did pause and meet me where I was with either a lesson or by giving me my heart’s desire it meant a lot. Maybe teaching my child about our relationship was better than a lesson on not whining.


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I stopped and turned back. “Would you like some help?”

He danced in a circle and squealed. “Yes! Yes.”

I picked up the ugly, worthless leaf and handed it to him.

He clapped his mittens together and laughed. Then he dashed toward home in search of his next project.

I didn’t even know where to put the leaf since he never took it.

Grrrr. I pushed the stroller after him. How many times have I wanted something so badly then when I got it didn’t even thank God? Maybe I didn’t even realize he provided it for me. I just moved on to a new obsession, satisfied I’d achieved what I intended.

Not even picking the best leaf. How frustrating it must be for God to provide his children with so many good options, yet we often choose what’s right in front of us to covet and desire then scream and yell when we don’t get. How many times have you done that?

Maybe you keep choosing the same type of guy instead of getting off the easy path and looking for someone special, someone out of your comfort zone. Or maybe it’s your job you’re settling on, or plan for your life? Are you reaching for the ugly brown leaf—an ordinary life—or are you aiming for the bright, exquisite leaf, a life that takes more work to find but is infinitely better? The life God intends for you.


If our goal is directed toward the ugly leaf then eventually we may get it. God might take pity on our whining and crying and help us or allow us to achieve it. Then all we’ll have is dead leaf. We may have learned a little something about God’s nature, but we’ll still be holding tight to our own useless, unfruitful agenda.

Be brave, aim high, God has spread a beautiful world of options before you. Choose wisely. And remember to be grateful for Jesus even when the leaves you wanted are ugly.



New Writer Advice & Author Interview

New Writer Advice & Author Interview

This week I’m sharing about my writing on Amanda Wen’s blog. I hope you’ll check out the author interview here, and let me know what you think! For those of you just starting your writer journey, here are a few things I’ve learned.

Tips for New Writers

  1. Get involved with a professional organization. If you’re a Christian writer then check out American Christian Fiction Writers and get involved! So far, the best thing about my writer journey has been making new author friends like Amanda. We first met online when we made the finals together in several writing contests. Then we had a great time rooming together with Laurie Germaine at the 2017 ACFW conference.
  2. Join a critique group even if you think you don’t need the help. It’s impossible to identify the mistakes you don’t know you’ve made. Besides, if you happen to already be an amazing writer then helping someone else learn how to improve their skills is a great way to give back and strengthen your editor-eye. Through ACFW’s Scribes online critique group, I’ve connected with dozens of other writers and many have become close friends.
  3. Writing Contests are a great way to get anonymous feedback and see how your manuscript holds up among other authors. Amanda beat me in the First Impressions contest and even landed her agent after receiving a request for her full manuscript from a contest judge. Even though I didn’t win that year, I figured I was in good company!

Don’t forget to check out the interview, and if you enjoy reading contemporary or historical inspirational romance, be sure to sign up for Amanda’s newsletter and stay connected. She has written an incredible time-slip novel you’ll love!

Any advice to add? Share in comments!




Write Realistic Foreign Characters: Six Tips

Write Realistic Foreign Characters: Six Tips


When a member of my writing group asked how to make her British character authentic, I knew just who to approach. My good friend, Rebekah Millet, has done an amazing job creating a genuine, foreign hero. And I’m thrilled to share her advice with you here!

Continue reading “Write Realistic Foreign Characters: Six Tips”

Family: Defined By Trial

Family: Defined By Trial

This is dedicated to all my brothers and sisters in Christ.


A high school sophomore, I sit at my desk. The teacher asks the class, “How do you define family?” A twinkle in her eyes signals she’s looking forward to a good debate, but I can’t imagine a reason for conflict.

I’ve read our textbook, and I agree with its broad definition family.

Andrew sits next to me. He’s a handsome guy. Polite, but curt in the face of my friendliness. I can’t blame him, he is a senior stuck in Health.

Andrew answers the teachers question with the traditional definition of family.

My heart gives a little pang. In addition to my mom, it would be awesome to have a dad, brother and sister. No wonder he seems to be have it all together—designer clothes, new backpack, stylish clean-cut brown hair. Lucky guy. I bet he doesn’t ever use his babysitting money to purchase shampoo and toothpaste. He probably doesn’t even have to work. Not that I mind babysitting or my part-time job at Kmart. Actually, I rather enjoy them.

Continue reading “Family: Defined By Trial”

Do You Have Fiddler Faith?

Do You Have Fiddler Faith?

I’m excited to share a devotional thought set in one of my favorite places—the beach! Many of you will remember the author from my post titled, Wasted Time and God’s Blessings: The Writing Dream I Ignored. In addition to his historical novels, Jack has a new devotional book out and was kind enough to allow me to share an excerpt here.

Continue reading “Do You Have Fiddler Faith?”

Summer of ’67 Movie Review

Summer of ’67 Movie Review

Summer is the perfect time to catch a movie! And I’m so excited to share my thoughts on the awesome inspirational, historical movie— Summer of ’67!

 You know that feeling you get when you’re reading a novel, and the words make the visual come alive before you? Almost as if endorphins have been released, you gaze upon it and sink into it? That’s how I felt as I watched The Summer of ’67, as though art unfolded before me. Continue reading “Summer of ’67 Movie Review”

Five Ways Janette Foreman’s Historical Novel Touched My Modern-Day Struggles

Five Ways Janette Foreman’s Historical Novel Touched My Modern-Day Struggles

At first glance, Last Chance Wife may look like any other mail-order-bride romance, but it’s so much more. This novel touched my real-life struggles at the soul level like only excellent Christian fiction can. Continue reading “Five Ways Janette Foreman’s Historical Novel Touched My Modern-Day Struggles”