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Trusting God with the Moment That Matters Most

Moment That Matters“Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.’” –John 4:39-42

One of my college professors used to say that faith is more caught than taught. I saw this in action when my children were little. As a mom who loved Jesus, I looked forward to the day when I could pray with my children, leading them to invite Him into their hearts, knowing they were saved and walking heavenward with me.

It didn’t happen quite that way. We took our boys to church—that was a given, us being a ministry family. But we would have done that anyway. We studied the Bible together. My husband and I shared our testimonies. We prayed with our boys regularly. As my oldest son entered fourth grade, though, that longed-for moment had not yet come . . . his decision to give his life to Jesus . . . at least as far as I knew.

Then he brought home an essay he’d written for school. He was attending a private Christian school at the time, and his teacher had asked the kids to write their testimonies. Justin told how he’d been alone in his room when he decided to invite Jesus into his heart. He’d prayed all by himself. And I knew from both his character and the words he’d written, that his young faith was absolutely real.

That’s probably when I first realized that God works differently in different people and that Jesus doesn’t enter people’s hearts when they say a few prescribed words. He brings salvation when they believe that He does. Each individual knows when that moment comes, whether another leads them directly to it or not.

Not that we didn’t lead our children to it. Like the Samaritan Woman in Luke 4, we told our children what we’d experienced, what we believed. But like the people of the woman’s community, our children had to hang out with Jesus for a while in order to decide they believed for themselves. This is something all people must do! I still love the sweet sentiment of a mother or father praying with their children to lead them to Christ, but it’s that moment of belief in a person’s heart that’s really the most beautiful thing.

Does this mean we shouldn’t tell others about Jesus, instead leaving them to find Him for themselves? Absolutely not! The Samaritan Woman couldn’t help herself; Jesus had told her everything she’d ever done! We can’t help ourselves either. If we walk and talk with Him daily, Jesus will amaze us on a daily basis! And so, we tell. Who He Is. What He has done. How we experience Him. What we’re learning from His Word. We live it; we talk it. It’s what we do!

Then we pray. We pray that people who hear our stories will invite Jesus to hang out with them for a while, so they can get to know Him, too.

And then we trust that the God Who has done so much for us, the One Who told the Samaritan Woman everything she’d ever done, will speak to our children, our friends, our acquaintances, too. We may not be there for the moment of belief, but the One Who matters will be, and He Is faithful to save.

Jesus, help us to live what we believe. Give us opportunities to show and to tell. Then help us to trust as we pray. You’ve invited everyone into Your Kingdom. Now You’re waiting for everyone who will to accept that invitation. Please wait patiently. There are many yet to be saved. We thank You, Lord, for speaking to each heart—through us and all around us. Use our lives as You will to honor Your name. Amen.

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Book Review: “The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist”

Atheist Who Didnt ExistThe Atheist Who Didn’t Exist by Andy Bannister (with a foreword by Ravi Zacharias) is a brilliant read. Parts of it were laugh-out-loud funny. In fact, as I struggled not to laugh out loud again and again one afternoon, my husband became quite concerned. I haven’t had that much fun with a book in a while!

At the same time, Bannister’s points are absolutely serious. Each chapter takes on one of new atheism’s arguments against the existence of God and shows where the argument fails. With subtle skill, Bannister takes readers from entertaining analogies to clearly made points.

In the first chapter, he tells readers the purpose for the book. If you are a Christian, he is equipping you to defend yourself against evangelistic atheists who love to debate and would like nothing better than to convert your way of thinking to theirs. If you are an atheist, his aim is “to clear away some of the weeds of bad arguments so that a more sensible dialogue can be had.” His hope is that you will “at least commit to being a thought-through atheist—perhaps a doubter, rather than a sceptic; somebody who is willing to think deeply and think well.” In other words, both Christians and atheists can benefit from reading this book. Agnostics and people of faiths other than Christianity will find ideas worth considering, too.

I thank Kregel Publications for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I enjoyed reading it and will refer to it again.

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A Snippet from Luke 12

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Dear Readers, Friends, Family, People Who’ve Just Stumbled onto This Blog and Who are Just So Welcome to Do So—

I realize my posts this summer have been a little more scarce than usual. Sometimes life gets crazy and steals all the words away. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking of you. I just had to give myself a bit of space through a busy, and sometimes emotional, summer break.

But now we’re all moved into our new home. We’re done travelling for a bit—a little bit. Our cantankerously sweet, little dog has travelled to his final resting place. (Sniffle. Tear up.) Our home-from-college son has returned to his studies. (Choke back tears and smile for his joy–which is our own. We miss them, but we’re so proud of our boys!) Now I’m ready to reclaim the order of my quiet, little world and write again!

I know, I know. Experts say that real writers write through chaos. That may be so for some. Me—I journal through chaos, process experiences, then write, really write, when everything settles down. That’s how I roll. I’m pretty sure I’m still real.

But I’m not really reclaiming the order of my quiet, little world. Instead I’m going to have to learn how to write through chaos. I raised three boys while writing my first book, so I’m sure it can be done. Stay with me as I get around to telling you what’s going on . . .

When my husband and I first became empty-nesters, I thought I’d have hours and hours and hours of time to write. (When the established empty-nesters stop laughing their silly heads off, I’ll continue . . . any time now . . . we’re waiting . . . okay, that’s enough!)

My first clue that those hours of time weren’t going to materialize came when our family scattered. Seriously, my immediate family, i.e. children, parents, siblings, are a whole new diaspora, currently dwelling in seven states, covering three, almost four, corners of the US. This may not be as unusual as I think. But there just aren’t enough hours to spend with them all, so when we find time we visit because we love our people!!! And we savor every moment with them.

Which brings me to the new reason those hours of time aren’t going to materialize:

Soon, we hope and pray, we’ll have another person to savor moments with!

Yesterday we turned in our applications and other paperwork in order to adopt. That means we’re officially expecting another child now! An older child; not a baby. A daughter! And I’m just as nervous about making this announcement as I was about announcing the expected arrival of our biological children. I know a lot will be different, but I’m amazed at how much is the same.

  • We can’t even begin to imagine what life with this new person will be like.
  • We know she’ll turn our lives upside-down.
  • We know we’ll cherish her no matter what because love is a choice and family is precious and each child is a hand-picked gift from God.
  • We cannot wait!

We’ve wanted to do this for a long time. We actually started the process back in Colorado in 2005. But God slammed all the doors shut back then. He knew there was a storm coming, that our energy was needed elsewhere, that maybe we weren’t as ready for this new adventure as we thought we were. We thought those doors were closed forever, but . . .

Now, we feel as if we’re waking up and finding ourselves in the waiting room we didn’t even realize we were still in. We’re noticing that the doors are all wide open now, and we’re peeking through with anticipation, almost disbelief. Can this be real? After all this time, we can proceed and prepare to bring our daughter home!

Of course, we’ve only just started the process, so we’re still in the waiting room. But soon, hopefully very soon, we’ll have a new child! Please keep our family in your prayers.

Sometimes when we’re watchful and ready, it seems the doors will never open, the Master will never come. But how amazing it will always be when He finally does, whether He’s bringing the answer to a prayer, fulfilling a dream, assigning a task, or taking us home.

Father, thank You for sweet surprises. Please keep us watchful and alert, ready to act. Show us Your way—in Your time. Amen.

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The Roundabout Straight Way

Finding Home“He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.”Psalm 107:7-8

Psalm 107 starts with a call to thank God for what He has done and a command to testify. I especially love verse 2: “Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies” (NLT). The Psalm goes on to do just that—to speak out and tell. The rest of Psalm 107 is a collection of testimonies about what God has done to redeem His people.

The psalmist starts this collection of testimonies with a summary of the Israelites’ forty-year journey through the wilderness, ending this section of the Psalm by thanking God for leading His people to a place where they could settle at last. This is what I’m focusing on today. I find it interesting that the psalmist tells us the Israelites’ wandered for forty years yet also says God led them by a straight way. How can both be true?

Where Janet Has LivedHere is what I think: if I look at a map with each location my husband and I have lived in marked with a green dot and lines showing movement from place to place to place, I see what looks like a tangled mess of wandering. But when I remember each place, I know God led us straight there. Deliberately. With clear intent (sometimes only revealed to me in hindsight, if at all). I also know that had we skipped any of these places—and the experiences we gained in each—we wouldn’t really be where we are today. And we wouldn’t be able to go where we’re headed tomorrow. From His unique vantage point, God sees the only straight way.

In other words, what looks straight on a map, physically, may not be the most direct route in the spiritual, emotional, mental realm. Physically, I could have traveled straight from California to Texas without experiencing any of the places where I lived in between, but I wouldn’t have experienced Texas in the same way—and the people I know now wouldn’t have met the person I am today. God led me where I am and made me who I am by leading me straight here—in the perfect, roundabout way.

He did the same thing for the Israelites.

He’s doing the same thing for you—whether you move often or are currently living in the same place you’ve known all your life.

God defines point A and point B differently than we do. Who we are becoming and how we influence the people we meet along the way are more important to Him than travel between two dots we can see on a map.

So what does this information mean to you and me?

1. We know that God is preparing us and the people around us now to settle in His heavenly kingdom forever. So we can trust that He’ll use every stop along the way as part of this process. We may not know what He’s doing or why, but because of Who God Is and what He knows, we can gratefully accept the opportunity to learn and serve in each place.

2. We can view each place, even if we know it’s temporary, as a place to settle, do just that, and be thankful. The Israelites settled in the Promised Land, but only temporarily. God moved them again because they still had a lot to learn. He’s in the business of preparing His people for the ultimate Promised Land. He has lessons to teach and character to develop. He leads us where He must, so we can grow closer to Him.

3. As we settle in each temporary place, we can joyfully anticipate that final place. Wherever God leads us in this world, Heaven is straight ahead.

Father, thank You for leading us by the straight way, according to Your perfect point of view, to a place where we can settle. We’re following with confidence. Prepare us for Heaven and use us to help others get there, too. We love You, Lord! Amen.

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God Reveals His Truth and Love

God Reveals His Truth and Love“Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.” -1 Kings 17:24

First, Elijah showed up on her doorstep as she was preparing to make a final meal for herself and her son. She had thought her little family would eat a final meal then starve, but Elijah asked her to include him in that final meal. The last of the widow’s flour and oil lasted until the drought came to an end!

Then her son became ill and died. The woman went to Elijah to complain, asking if her son’s death was punishment for sin. Elijah didn’t answer. He just asked for the boy—and asked God to bring him back to life. (You can read the whole story here. It’s found in 1 Kings 17.)

I found it strange that this was the point where the woman came to believe that Elijah was a man of God and that God’s Word from his mouth was the truth. Why wasn’t the miracle of the flour and oil enough to convince her?

As I thought about it, I wondered if maybe she thought the only reason the flour and oil lasted was for Elijah’s sake. Maybe she saw herself and her son as coincidental, maybe just useful, beneficiaries of Elijah’s blessings.

But the resurrection of her son was personal—a gift just for her. God knew what she needed. He showed her He cared—not only for His prophets but also for lonely widows and their sons.

Father, we know You care. You see our pain and suffering. You listen to our prayers. You answer according to Your mysterious but perfect Will. You are preparing us for something better someday: eternity with You—and with no pain or suffering.

But there are many out there who don’t yet know this truth. Please reach out to them as you did to the Widow at Zarephath. Get their attention. Reveal Your love. Use us as You used Elijah. In anticipation of such, help us live and speak Your truth always. We thank You, Lord. Amen.

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Stumbling in the Dark

Finding Home“He inquired of the Lord, saying, ‘Shall I go and attack these Philistines?’
The Lord answered him, ‘Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.’” -1 Samuel 23:2

I felt a bit frustrated when I read these words. David asked God a question and got a direct answer! A few verses later, he asked again, because his men didn’t quite trust God the way David did, and God answered directly again. He made it very clear that He wanted David to save the people of Keilah.

But how unfair! I’ve asked God for direct answers, for absolute clarity. Which book project should I focus on? Should I continue to self-publish or try the traditional route? Which house should we rent in our next location?

Mike and I agonized over that last one for weeks. I kept hoping that God would make the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood glow for us or something.

He didn’t.

We researched. We prayed. We made a decision. We’re moving forward by faith.

By faith. As opposed to hearing an audible voice or seeing a neon sign glow or even having a deep peace within.

Sometimes God is silent.

When the movers came to pack up our stuff for this move, a three-day process, we continued to live in the house. On the first day, one of the packers grabbed all of the night lights and packed them together in one box. I admire her organizational skills. I probably would have done the same thing.

Problem is, I tend to be a bit of an insomniac (my husband would tell you that’s a bit of an understatement), and I’ve learned that when I wake up in the night, getting up and taking a quick lap around the house helps me fall back to sleep more quickly than lying in bed staring into nothingness.

Have you ever tried to take a lap around your house . . . full of boxes . . . in the dark . . . without even any night lights? It’s kind of like living by faith. It was a bit of a problem that first night.

Stumbling in the DarkSo you can understand why reading these verses frustrated me. Sometimes I would really like it if God would answer me verbally. I’m not asking for great illumination . . . a night light would be enough. But He continues to let me stumble through the dark. I asked Him about this. How I am supposed to know the right path to take when God refuses to speak up?

The thought came to me, no audible voice, just a thought in my head that could have been my own or placed there by God’s Spirit – I believe the latter but have no proof, that maybe it isn’t always about finding the “right” path, that maybe it doesn’t matter to God which project I pursue first or which house I choose to live in. He knows what the outcome will be either way and how to lead me based on whatever decision I make. Maybe living by faith, prayerfully making decisions that matter, is more about prayerfully making the decision, seeking to do what I believe God wants me to do, and trusting Him come what may. It’s stumbling through the dark, trusting God to gently nudge the “more than I can handle” troubles out of my way – or to gently nudge me toward safety or even through whatever peril He allows. It’s talking to Him and listening for answers and doing my best for Him, knowing He’s doing what’s best for me and those around me as I do.

It’s a harder way to live, but maybe it strengthens me. I know it keeps me talking to God, and I know that’s a good thing.

Interestingly enough, as I continued to read through 1 Samuel 23, I discovered that after David and his men rescued the people of Keilah, they heard that Saul was coming to town. David asked God what to do. God told him that the people of Keilah were going to turn him over to Saul to protect themselves. (Nice, people. Real nice.)

So even after God gave David clear instructions, David ran into trouble. And God knew he would and steered David safely away. I guess even clear answers, should God choose to give them, are no guarantee that things will go the way we want them to. But either way, we can know God sees what’s coming and watches out for us. It was His Will that David rescue the people of Keilah. It was His Will that David live to be king. His purposes were accomplished then, as they will be today. That is something we can believe!

Father, I’m doing my best, and I believe You’re leading me – even when You refuse to do so audibly or even by granting me absolute certainty. Thank You for Your Presence. Thank You for Your love. Thank You for teaching me to live by faith. Amen.


For more lessons from moving, I invite you to read my book on this topic, Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway.

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Book Review: “Against the Flow”

Against the FlowIf you’ve ever really wanted to dig deeply into the book of Daniel, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism is the perfect book for you. It’s intense. It takes time to absorb. But it is worth the work. Author John Lennox will lead you through every chapter Daniel, carefully explaining the culture, the events of the time, research and opinions of other experts, and the book’s application for Christians today.

Lennox’s explanation for the arrangement of the book was especially helpful. His insights into the work God was doing in Nebuchadnezzar’s life, especially as compared to His choice of treatment of other gentile rulers in Bible times, revealed much about God’s gracious character, plan for all humankind, and attention to individual lives. Lennox’s analysis of Daniel’s visions and prophecies is useful and hopeful. His comparison of Daniel’s response to the culture he’d been taken into to what our response can be to some of the issues in our own society makes this book especially relevant.

This is the second book by John Lennox that I have read, and I was greatly impressed by both. This author has a gift for seeing and presenting truth clearly. He knows the Bible and the God Who gave it to us. We live in a world full of confusing ideas. Lennox helps his readers sort them out and, firmly, but respectfully—as Daniel did—stand on truth.

I thank the Litfuse Publicity Group for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this honest review.

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Book Review: “A Sparrow in Terezin”

A Sparrow in TerezinA Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron is both a new story and a sequel, contemporary and historical. The contemporary story of William and Sera, including their association with Sophie, is the sequel to what was begun in The Butterfly and the Violin. Arrested at his own wedding, William is facing a decade in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Sera must travel to Europe to learn what he refuses to tell, to find the evidence that will clear his name and a brighter path for their future.

Kaja Makovsky’s story, set in 1942 is new to readers of this book. Sent by her parents from Prague to Palestine and then, through her own efforts, to London at the beginning of World War II, Kaja is desperate for news of her parents’ fate. When she learns through her job of atrocities being committed against Jews, she returns home intending to rescue her parents, only to be caught up in the horror herself.

As in the first book of this Hidden Masterpiece series, the stories are tied together by artifacts present in both. The peril of the characters is intense, leading readers to wonder if all hope is lost. A Sparrow in TerezinYet there is beauty and grace in the midst of it all. I found so much to love about this book in spite of its tragic setting. (And I’d never heard of holocaust ghettos, so I learned something new. Cambron’s note at the end of the book about the historical discoveries she’d made through her research that led to the creation of this book were enlightening.)

I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of A Sparrow in Terezin for my honest review. I would rate it among the best of historical Christian fiction available now.

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Living in the New-Covenant Kingdom Now

Purple Flower“But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” –Deuteronomy 8:18

A new thought came to me when I read this verse this morning. When we compare the old and new covenants of the Bible, we talk often about the fact that anything accomplished by the old sacrificial system was temporary, so that those sacrifices had to be offered again and again and again. Jesus’ sacrifice, the sacrifice of the new covenant, happened once for all people for all time. No sacrifice for sin will ever be required again.

Deuteronomy 8:18 hints at another difference between the two covenants, though. Whenever the old covenant is referred to, the rewards for honoring it are temporary things. Throughout the Old Testament, God promised His people wealth, land, long life, big families, and status. Jesus, in the New Testament, didn’t promise any of those things. In fact, regarding this life, He promised suffering!

Don’t get me wrong. People in the Old Testament suffered, too—and sometimes for reasons they couldn’t understand. But when they did, their restoration or “happy ending,” so to speak, involved only temporary things. Joseph became a ruler, second only to Pharoah, and was reunited with his family. Job got his wealth, family, and reputation back. The Israelites in exile looked forward to the day when God would restore His Kingdom on earth.

But God had a bigger plan. Jesus talked about it all the time before His death and resurrection, but His followers couldn’t understand until after those events. When Jesus died and rose again, He brought the hope of eternal life into the picture in a whole new way! He tore the veil between the physical and the spiritual. Because of Him, we live with a dramatically different understanding of what it means to be saved. Before the resurrection, people expected to be saved for this life. After, they knew Jesus had saved them for eternity!

None of the disciples got a “happily ever after” ending like Job did. All were martyred except for Judas, who took his own life, and John, the beloved disciple, who probably suffered more than any who were killed! At the very least, he had to wait the longest to be reunited with Christ in that promised heavenly home.

New-Covenant KingdomBut none of them were looking for Job’s happy ending. Their hearts were set on eternity. Yes. Jesus promised them suffering, but He also promised freedom from sin, comfort, strength, character, wisdom, His Presence, the fruit of the Spirit, citizenship in His Kingdom, adoption into His forever family, a new name, an eternal home in Heaven, crowns they’d be honored to throw at His feet and so. much. more.

If we’re looking for wealth, health, and status in this world, we’re living with an old covenant mindset. Jesus invites us to follow Him and His disciples into His New-Covenant Kingdom now.

Jesus, this life can be confusing, disheartening, even hurtful sometimes. But we choose to trust You. Our hope is not for the rewards this world can offer but for the eternal ones that You promised. Help us to keep our focus on eternity with You as we faithfully serve you here. Help us to boldly follow the example those early Christian set, knowing that eventually, just like Your beloved disciple did, we’ll see You face to face in our new home. Nothing can separate us from Your love! Amen.


Giveaway news!!! If you have a Goodreads account, there’s a Home Is Where God Sends You giveaway going on now! Click here to enter.

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Book Review: “Soul Friends”

Soul Friends“You have been invited into deep-spirited, soul-altering friendship, into a communion with the sisterhood of traveling saints walking the Jesus journey all around you.” –Leslie Parrott

This beautiful sentence from the benediction of her new book, Soul Friends, is the purpose of the book: to invite its readers into this friendship, this communion with the sisterhood of saints. After reading it, I feel as if I’ve been to church again this week. I feel inspired to go forth and get to know some of my sisters much better (aptly timed since I’m moving again this year and need that little bit of extra inspiration to boldly join another new community). This book has encouraged me!

In its pages Leslie explores four phases of our life journey, phases we’ll grow through repeatedly. In fact, we may even be in more than one at a time. Yet her collections of essays in each of these four sections of the book help readers recognize and understand each phase. They also show how friends and family members influence each other, consciously or sub-consciously, through each phase. We’re connected, and God uses those connections, when we let Him, to draw us all closer to Him.

Leslie’s personal stories, Bible references, and quotes and stories from Christian women throughout history all worked together to convey her message. Her choice of The Message version of the Bible was perfect because of the poetic nature of the book. Her frequent references to Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends added an extra touch of fun.

I recommend this book to women of any age who want to grow closer to God while building stronger relationships. This is one I’ll read again soon!

I thank Zondervan for sending me a complimentary copy in exchange for this honest review.