Guard the Fortress


There’s a lot going on in the world right now. Fires, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and storms have broken out all at once. Not to mention sudden, crazy weather patterns of intense heat followed by September snow.

We shouldn’t be surprised.

Jesus told us that all this would happen.

“Jesus answered, ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name claiming, ‘I am the Christ’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nations will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” Matthew 24:4-8

As the world becomes more desperate, I pray we will turn to Jesus. While the enemy attempts to destroy us and our belief in a good God who loves us, Jesus longs for us to run to him in our pain, fear, hopelessness. He will comfort and strengthen us and give us peace.

His word also gives instruction to help us in this time of crisis.

Recently, I read some encouraging instruction in the book of Nahum. In the second chapter, and the first two verses, this prophet warns the people to be alert when their enemy is advancing on them. While those words were meant for that time in a practical war sense, all of God’s word is relevant to us in some way even today. This is what I took from the passage that I believe can be helpful today.

  1. “Guard the fortress.” As believers in Jesus, our bodies are God’s “temple” where the Holy Spirit resides. I believe that God would have us guard our bodies and hearts against unhealthy living and the lies of the enemy. Fear is a spirit that is stirring up the world. Let’s guard ourselves against it, rather than letting it penetrate our bodies and minds.
  2. “Watch the road.” Our mind is what lets in thoughts and images like a road into our fortress. If we’re not careful about what we expose ourselves to, we may find that what we let in is infiltrating us in a destructive, poisonous way.
  3. “Brace yourself.” God’s word is the most powerful weapon we have. It is the “sword of the spirit” which is truth. The Bible is “living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword…” (Heb. 4:12) When we declare it, pray it, and speak it, we are bracing ourselves for battle.
  4. “Marshall all your strength.” Our only true strength comes from the Lord. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” In order to gain that strength, I must be in God’s presence. Worship, talking to him, and asking for his wisdom in every area will make me strong. It’s Jesus who strengthens us. (Phil. 4:13)

Battles aren’t without injuries or destruction, but the Lord will restore to us anything that is lost in battle. He makes us beautiful and splendid no matter what might be destroyed. Even in this era of the world going crazy, let us look to the Lord, God Almighty who is our only true refuge in times of trouble.

Praying for you as you consider where your help comes from. My help comes from the Lord God, maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-3)

Can You See His Beauty?


Today is a little stormy in my town in Southwest Florida. Not really cold, but with gusty winds, grey clouds crawling across the sky, and temperatures in the mid-sixties, I’m reminded that we’re in the middle of winter. I know it’s snowing in other places, but here in our tropical paradise I forget. Looking at the sun streaming intermittently between the clouds today, it’s hard to believe it’s a frigid winter elsewhere, and we’re already half-way through the first month of 2021.

Thankfully, due to our warmer weather, there is a tree in the area behind our townhouse that spans the view of my patio and living room window. The elongated, dipping branches stretch out a handful of magenta blossoms as if it’s handing me gifts. A blanket of fallen blooms covers the ground beneath the tree. I watch as the wind scatters a shower of them to add to the carpet covering the grass.

Beauty.

In the midst of a dark world, beauty still reigns. I’m grateful this morning for the view. Grateful for the sporadic rays of sunshine and the blustery winds. Grateful that God is on his throne seeing everything, knowing all, and in control.

Time doesn’t exist within his realm. We live according to the clock, but he has already been here this day. Already seen the events still to play out. Nothing surprises him. So I can rest and revel in the beauty he offers us.

When I sit in this place of peace, listening for God’s whispers in the wind, I am transported into his kingdom. He placed man in a garden, after all, didn’t he? His desire was for us to walk and talk with him in the beauty of nature. And God doesn’t change. That’s still his desire today.

I know evil in the world rages. Our voices have been silenced by media, social sites, and masks. Lies are being called truth, and truth is repelled as a lie. Children are discarded through abortion and trafficking. Various religious groups persecute those who choose to follow Jesus in his way of love. Political tempers flare. Those who claim tolerance are intolerant of anything having to do with God. Even those who say they love God, show hate across various platforms. As the Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:1-3,

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good…”

Sounds like our world.

But God still offers us beauty. Beauty for ashes, the Bible tells us.

God’s grace and mercy reach far past our sinful, prideful ways. His peace reaches out to us when we’re harried, hassled, fearful, and anxious. He longs for us with the love of a perfect father who wants our company, our input, our devotion, and our good. His call to us is to see him, know him, and love him in response to his immeasurable love for us.

He offers us so much. For so little.

Jesus paid such a great price so that we could belong and be with him forever.

Today, when a bit of beauty crosses your path—when the color of a flower, the majesty of a sunset, a blanket of newly fallen snow, the wave of the mighty ocean, or the towering of stately trees shows up—when the hand of God strokes his paintbrush across your landscape, will you take a moment?

Whisper a thank you. Consider the God in heaven who you may have overlooked, ignored, or forgotten? Recognize that in Jesus, you can live in a place of perfect peace in spite of the crazy ways of the current world. It only takes a moment to reach out in response to God reaching out to you. Quicker than typing out a text, we can say,

“Thank you for all you’ve made. Thank you for your love. Thank you for dying on the cross for me, Jesus. I’m sorry I’ve sinned against you. Please lead me into your kingdom today. I believe you. I trust you.”

Will you join me in beauty today?

If you say, “yes,” I’d love to know. Will you give me a thumbs up in the comments, or tell me your story? Or even just click like. I pray for my readers, and we all need prayer in these times, don’t we?

Unshakable Hope


A few months ago, a mysterious illness infiltrated my body. (No, not covid.) The signs were subtle at first. Some swelling in my ankles and aching in my arms. It rapidly progressed through my body and currently holds me hostage with severely swollen, aching arms and legs and sometimes debilitating stabs of pain. Test results are all normal. I have no other symptoms apart from fatigue and an occasional headache. The doctors are stumped. I am on a three month wait for a specialist.

Not fun.

But God.

Whether I am afflicted or healed, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has made every day, and I choose to rejoice and be glad in it.

As Jesus believers, we pray each day for healing, believing and claiming that by his stripes, I’m healed. And I believe I will be. It may not be today or tomorrow that my healing manifests, but it will be one day according to his plans. Plans I don’t understand, but that are always good.

So far, I’ve learned to trust him more. I’m learning to wait well. My mind is a battlefield, and I can choose to embrace God’s presence, hope, love, and joy, or I can believe lies and be filled with fear, anger, despair, and self-pity. Each day, and sometimes multiple times a day, I have the choice.

Days are better when I choose Jesus.

Today I watched the memorial service for a blogging friend of mine who went home to Jesus on December 30th. He wrote a blog called Unshakable Hope and lived with ALS for 24 years after the doctors gave him three to five to live. I met him because of this blog. He has been such a source of encouragement and faith building to me. As his two daughters shared some questions they asked him, and played his robotic responses while he was confined completely to a wheelchair with no voice and no ability to move, I was once again inspired.

Bill talked about the passage in Scripture where Paul asked God to remove the thorn in his flesh. He commented that our trials here are fleeting and temporary in light of eternity. Now as I wait on the Lord for healing to manifest, I am encouraged by this man’s incredible life. His wife, Mary, has been his caregiver all these years. Her grace and patience humble me. Bill reached tens of thousands of people through his blog that he wrote with eye recognition software. How can I live my life daily in this affliction so that it has eternal value?

How can I consider my current situation close to what he’s lived with? I only hope that I can live it with faith, grace, and unshakable hope like he did no matter how long it lasts. In light of eternity we live a fleeting moment.

Today is the only today we have. Tonight it will be gone, and tomorrow will come. What will we choose today?

I don’t know what the rest of my day or my tomorrows will be. We don’t even know how many tomorrows we’ll have. But today, I live for Christ in response to his love for me. No matter what comes, his love, his presence, peace, joy, and hope are beyond measure.

Will you choose him today? Whether you know him or you don’t, he loves you. He chose you. He has a plan for you.

In honor of my blogging brother Bill Sweeney. He chose Jesus.

If you’d like to see Bill’s site and posts, you can read here.

The Day After Christmas


‘Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, except for a mouse

He’s eating some crumbs from the day’s Christmas feast

There are cookies and biscuits, cheese crackers at least

The stockings are empty, the toys are in play

The parents exhausted and sleeping all day

Carols and movies are done for the year; farewell to the relatives

We’ve all shed a tear

We waved over Zoom to those stuck at home

Next Christmas we’ll see them – none left alone

The meaning of Christmas still rings in our hearts

A birthday for Jesus is only the start

What if we could share all the love we’ve been given

Not only on Christmas since we’ve been forgiven

The New Year is coming within a few days

It’s never too late to live in new ways

Resolutions we’ve promised may flee out the door

Within a few months, we may be as before

I’m grateful for Jesus.

He gives our lives meaning

A place in God’s presence; on His life, I’m leaning

So even though shopping is done for the season

Let’s focus on Jesus—He is the real reason.

Wishing you and your families  a wonderful Christmas season and Happy New Year!

A Thrill of Hope


“Long lay the world in sin and error pining; ‘Til he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices. For younder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees…”

Adolphe Charles Adam and Placide Cappeau (French composers)

These words to a favorite Christmas hymn, “O Holy Night” keep ringing in my mind this week as we approach this last week before Christmas.

Our world is weary.

It’s weary because it’s been pining away in sin, offenses, mistakes, and brokenness. Lies, disease, natural disasters, violence top the headlines. And that’s only if you can believe the headlines. The media isn’t our friend.

But I love what this song reminds us of. That in the midst of sin, weariness, and despair, Jesus appears. He comes to say “You’re loved, special, worthy.” His appearance, life, and later death and resurrection speak to us of how worthy we are to him. The Bible says it was for the joy set before him that he came and died and rose again.

That joy is me and you. Jesus came so we can be with him forever.

With God, there is always a glorious, new morning breaking through. He doesn’t leave us in weariness and despair. And we can rejoice.

When Jesus first came, the world had been enslaved and God was silent after centuries of speaking, giving the people what they thought they wanted, and offering them life in him. After 400 years, Jesus showed up.

400 years! We’ve been through nine months of a pandemic and feel as if the world as ended.

But regardless of the length of time in waiting expectantly, today as we celebrate, Jesus is still the same. He hasn’t changed. His message of love and hope is still the same. And all we have to do is one thing.

Fall on our knees.

Acknowledge him. Humble ourselves and confess that we don’t have it all together, don’t know everything, and can’t figure life out on our own. When we come to the end of ourselves, he brings the beginning of new life.

A new and glorious morning…

I’m praying for you this Christmas. May we all be falling on our knees and experiencing the thrill of hope.

Merry Christmas. Jesus loves you.

What’s So Exciting About 2020??


My word for 2020 was EXCITEMENT.

The end of 2019 promised new vision, strategies, success, and growth. My husband and I looked forward to exciting experiences the new year would bring. Only it didn’t come like we expected. Instead it came with grief.

God’s grief for the brokenhearted of the world—those who are weary in their perseverance through loss. His cries for those who have gone their own way into hurt, hatred, violence, and division—his children whom he loves that don’t want to have anything to do with him. I feel his grieving heart as I pray for our community, our nation, and our world.

I believe this year has allowed us to see and know who God is, and what’s important. Being forced to be at home, we’ve had time to spend time with God. We’ve been given a chance to reconnect with our spouses and children. Maybe we’ve learned how to work from home, setting our schedules to adapt to higher priorities. Conversation replaced hours previously spent watching sports or sitcoms. Many families have grown closer to God and each other.

Granted, nothing is what we expected. Disappointment and despair over job and family losses is real. But maybe the 2020 turmoil is what we needed to wake up to a different perspective. What if this year has actually brought more benefit than what we expected? When I choose to look at each day with gratitude, I’m suddenly aware of all we do have; all we’ve learned; new opportunities and strategies for change and growth. Maybe that’s what God has in mind. He’s our hope. Nothing but Jesus can bring us peace in the midst of these terrible storms. That’s what I’ve learned to cling to even more this year.

And that has brought excitement.

Looking forward with excitement as we celebrate Jesus in the weeks to come!

LAURA’S BOOKS

If you’re a book reader or have one on your list, you might be excited to hear of these Christmas deals!

My contemporary fiction, A Deadly Silence, is on sale now through December 15th. In it, Sara Maree Matley unpacks a box that challenges her family with the hardest decision she’s ever had to make. You can get the paperback version here. Kindle version will be FREE for a limited time this Saturday and Sunday December 12 & 13th by going here.

I also have a limited supply of paperback copies of my newest release, When the Wind Blows, that were slightly damaged in shipping. You can receive a signed copy for only $7! That includes media mail shipping in the US. (takes about 7-10 days). These copies have minor flaws such as a bent corner or page or marks on the cover. Use the contact form to order. While supplies last.

AND as my Christmas gift to you, my biblical fiction, Rachel’s Son, about a woman named Rachel who’s son is killed in the Bethlehem massacre, will be FREE in Kindle version from December 23-27th for some Christmas reading. You know how the day after Christmas you don’t know what to do? Now you do! Merry Christmas to you.

I think that’s pretty exciting news! Enjoy!

Let Hope Arise


The passage in John 11:17-27 tells the story of when Jesus found out his friend, Lazarus was dead. Had been dead for a few days. His sisters were lamenting and questioning his timing…

One of my former pastors and friend, Hilary Millikan penned this great post on hope based on this passage of scripture and graciously allowed me to re-post it here. Hilary is an exceptionally talented writer who gives us a great dose of “wow!” laced with humor. I hope you are encouraged by her words.

Let Hope Arise by Hilary Millikan

I had the privilege of writing and recording a message on Hope for the beginning of Advent at our church. Most of you know that hope is my main “lane” in life. There is always hope. But only because we have THE Hope. How filling it is to rehearse and articulate what we have lived and become convinced of in the Lord. May hope arise and re-arise for each of us…

Now hope… is tricky.

There’s that verse in Proverbs that says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when desire comes it is the tree of life.” So simple. So short. So catchy.

But anyone who has spent any time in the first half of that Scripture, who has lived out the carving of that first phrase is familiar with what a desperate, lonely, painful place hope can be.

The very presence of hope in my life means that I have unfulfilled promises, unanswered pleas, unhealed woundings. Especially right now, when my hope is basically on its “last leg.” The ropes that tether hope to my heart and keep it from flinging wildly away from my soul are strained because my everyday is now filled with unfamiliar and new “hopes” that I now have to navigate.

I hope my children come out of this pandemic emotionally unscathed. I hope this is just a cold and not something trying to kill me. I hope when I go to the store I don’t accidentally pick up an extra carton of COVID.

It’s hard to keep a “stiff upper lip” in my day-to-day, much less give any sort of trusting thoughts or faith-filled prayers to the deeper, longer-lived, farther away hopes. And as in this story, it is especially hard to hope when it is just plain too late.

I’m always struck by how Jesus asks Martha and Mary to trust Him even though Lazarus is ACTUALLY DEAD. There’s not much more to do here, nothing left to hope for. And yet, Jesus comes offering them hope–Hope in Me, can you trust Me, do you believe Me?

I don’t know how you’ve reacted to Jesus when He’s tried to touch your “too late” spot with His hope, but I’ve reacted much like Martha and Mary. “Lord,” they BOTH said, “if You had been here–if You had come when we called for You, if You’d answered us. You, Who we DO hope in, Who we DID hope in, because… You could have… I know You could have, if You’d been HERE where we are, where Lazarus was, where it was all going down, in that moment, if You’d been HERE WHERE I AM, then it wouldn’t have happened this way.”

The implication (at least in my heart) being, “But You weren’t. And I don’t understand why. I trusted You. I hoped in You. I put all of my hope in You. And You didn’t come when I needed You. It’s too late. You came too late.”

When things don’t go the way we had hoped, when things are so far away from what we believe would or should be true of our lives, it has a way of sometimes even making us question what is true of the Lord.

I remember a time when I just couldn’t reconcile the goodness of God with the gaping loss in my life. When I couldn’t put together this God that I had trusted my whole life and given my every moment with what had happened. How could He allow this to be? He could have stopped it. He could have fixed it. He could have… He could have… Why wouldn’t He… How can I trust a God who didn’t when He could have?

Jesus’ answer to Martha? Do you believe Me? Do you believe that I AM the life? Do you believe that I AM your hope? Not just something to hope in, but I AM hope itself? Do you believe this?Martha’s like “don’t come at me with all Your there’s-hope-in-the-end, it’ll-all-be-fine-in-Heaven stuff. That doesn’t help me NOW. That doesn’t help me HERE.”

Again, but before He has done anything, before anything has changed, Jesus stands before her and says, “Yes, but Martha… Do you believe Me?” Martha says, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are everything I hoped You were. You are God. You are my hope.”

The Lord asked me in my moment, “Do you believe Me?” And immediately my spirit cried out Yes! I believe You. I don’t know what to do with You, I don’t know how to trust You, but I know I believe You.

And it was enough.

Somehow the formation of what I DO believe quieted all the unanswerable questions that had caused me so much disbelief, and the faint whispers of hope began.

I also have experienced times in the midst of my darkest, farthest, not-sure-I-will-make-it-out-alive places, when the Lord’s words and promises, it’s like they hurt. There was a time when I was so desperate, so close to the edge of myself, that I told the Lord, Enough! Enough promises! Stop. I can’t take one more promise from You. I can’t take the presence of one more unfulfilled thing that I have to hold onto. I can’t… I can’t do it. I can’t hope. I’m like Lazarus, Lord. My hope is dead. And I’m not far behind it. I can’t hold on anymore.

I need hope to hold onto me.

Sometimes we say to our souls–like Martha and David and so many others–“oh my soul, trust in the Lord, hope in the Lord! Let hope arise!” And our souls respond.

Sometimes we are like Lazarus himself, where there is not even the option to hope anymore. Still Jesus stands outside the tomb of our heart and calls us forth. He calls hope to arise from places that feel long gone. Because, He has been there. That’s why He is our hope.

He has been to hell and back again. He has experienced the utter betrayal and abandonment of the Lord. He has born our grief, our sorrows. He has been unable to lift even His head. He has been to the unimaginable edges of His heart and life. He has asked God why. He has even heard nothing in return. He has been here. He knows this place. But more importantly, He knows the way.

He IS the way to hope everlasting.

He is the life to our long-gone places. He is the truth that makes that way. He is our morning star, a promise in the darkest of our nights that MORNING IS COMING.

He IS coming.

Though you be bones in a valley, though you be a body in a tomb, though you be grieving an unbelievable actuality, though you be living a hell. Do you believe Him? It is enough.

And may He who IS our Hope arise in your heart, in your situation, in your soul, outside your tomb, in your yesterday today and tomorrow. May hope arise.

“God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.” Psalm 46:5

To hear Hilary’s podcast of this post click here.

I’m grateful for the influence Hilary has had in my life and my family’s life. She is a woman of great faith and wisdom, not to mention fun and quirky humor. Thank you, Hilary!

Heart Sick?


“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

This has been a year of hope deferred, hasn’t it?

We had expectations of how this year 2020—the year of vision and purpose—would pan out. I think it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that most of those plans for this last year did not happen as expected.

I wonder if that’s how the 400 years of captivity felt to the Israelites.

We’ve been through eleven grueling months, but they had to hold onto the prophecies and promises of God for hundreds of years. Palm on face here. I can’t imagine it. Can you?

But here’s the great thing.

Jesus—Emmanuel, God with Us, Prince of Peace, King of kings and Lord of lords—was scheduled by God to arrive. That plan had always been in place. God knew way ahead of time what he was doing.

And it’s no different today.

I have no doubt that God has a plan. It may not look like anything we expect. Just like the arrival of a baby in a remote town, placed in a cave manger with angels singing and shocked shepherds ogling. Not what anyone expected, right?

But it was a longing fulfilled to replace sick hearts whose hope had been deferred for centuries.

As we look forward to the next few weeks leading up to Christmas, we’re in the same place. Looking for hope. Longing for promises fulfilled.

And just as Jesus was that hope a couple thousand years ago, he is still our hope today.

There are a couple of differences.

We haven’t waited for hundreds of years—even if this year of 2020 feels like it’s stretched on for decades or centuries. And also, they didn’t know when to expect Jesus, but we have already seen him. We have the opportunity to not only welcome him into the world as a baby, but welcome him into our hearts and lives as our Savior, Lord, and King.

No matter what the virus or election or protests bring, Jesus is our hope.

And he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Blessing in an “Annus Horribilis”


An author friend of mine from California writes great blog posts about hope. I swapped with her this week since we both share our findings of hope in our world from opposite places in the nation. I pray you’re blessed by her wonderful post this week. You can read more of her posts, and see mine this week on her site at www.carolshope.com.

Blessing in an “Annus Horribilis”

By Carol Nicolet Loewen

In a speech marking the 40th anniversary of her succession, Queen Elizabeth II referred to 1992 as an “annus horribilis,” a horrible year. Many of us would say the same of 2020.

Our country is in the midst of an ever-expanding pandemic as we wait and pray for an effective vaccine. We have isolated, masked, attended church, family, and business meetings on Zoom. We are hitting new highs for COVID-19 hospitalizations and are cautioned against being together with family members for Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa holidays. Fires and floods have taken lives, homes, animals, property. And our election results are still in question, with the media quick to step in with their interpretation before waiting for the final electoral vote in December.

We need hope. And out of that hope we need love that goes beyond our differences.

I heard a statistic recently that more than 80% of Americans–whether Democrat or Republican, Christian or non-Christian, church-goer or non-church goer–say they have no friends who see the world differently than they see it, politically and theologically. We prefer to stay in our own comfort zones rather than deliberately choosing to know and learn to love someone who is “unlike” us. And nothing divides us like fear. Fear of loss … of control, safety, rights, freedom, health, power, economic stability, and on and on.

We look for affirmation, security, and love in a variety of ways, many of which are not only unproductive, but potentially dangerous.

  • The sexually abused daughter who grows up to become promiscuous, believing physical intimacy is the way to gain security through the approval of men.
  • The son who has never been able to please his father, continues to push himself, trying ever harder to get an “atta boy”. He becomes a workaholic who is almost an absentee parent.
  • The tycoon who thinks his business success will buy him security. 
  • The perfectionist who continually beats herself up because she could have “done it better,” never satisfied despite awards and recognition.
  • The rioters and looters who attack and destroy businesses of those they claim to defend.

What we’re looking for is a blessing. “Blessing” is defined as God’s favor and protection; a special favor, mercy or benefit. Three thousand years ago, God gave Moses a blessing for the people of Israel, which my lovely mother sang at my wedding. It still carries deep meaning. 

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26

Only in the blessing of God do we find unconditional love which remains constant, not because of who we are or what we do, but because of who HE is.

“Thy love is uncaused and undeserved. Thou art Thyself the reason for the love wherewith we are loved.” (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 97)

God has chosen to delight in me. What an amazing, life-altering fact! I don’t have to earn His love. I can’t. I simply need to receive it, bask in it, find my security in it. And when I am secure in His love, I am able to love others and fear begins to evaporate.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4:18

So then how can I GIVE a blessing to others? In a video, an impatient man is given a pair of “all-seeing” glasses. People who before were irritants or interruptions are seen through a new lens—recognizing one needs a hug, a woman just lost a dear friend, a man lost his job. Seeing their pain, the man responds very differently than before.

I pray for eyes to see and ears to hear, so I can bless those around me … with a warm smile, a listening heart, a “thank you” to store clerks, health care professionals, and others. I want to intentionally affirm those I love and those who need encouragement.

I have needed a blessing these past weeks. Have you?

What choices will you make this week to receive and give the blessing? I’d love to interact with you at carolshope.com.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17b-19

Carol Nicolet Loewen writes of hope from the depths of her own loss. She resides in San Jose, California with her lovely second husband and their dog, Paige. Marrying a wonderful man at age 36 and losing him twenty years later taught her to value every moment, that we can survive loss, move ahead and even love again. It also allowed Carol to experience God’s faithfulness during the hardest time of her life. She is working on her first book, a historical novel of hope set in Bolshevik Russia, and loves to connect with her readers at carolshope.com.

What do Mr. Bill and the Bible have in common?


When I was in high school, Saturday Night Live often entertained us with crazy skits. It’s a show I haven’t watched for decades due to the change in content that seems less creative and more crude, but in those days we laughed our heads off at the ridiculous antics of the Coneheads, satiric sketches, and of course, the claymation characters of Mr. Slugo and Mr. Bill.

For you youngsters who may read my blog, a pair of real life hands would gesture according to a narrative in which Mr. Hands or Mr. Slugo would torment Mr. Bill and his dog with everyday situations, like showering or karate class that would destroy a clay figure. Mr. Bill would frantically cry out, “Ooohhh, nooo!” Believe me, it was only funny because it wasn’t real.

A number of years ago, a family member (Mom) sent me the little guy in the above picture as a joke. I wrote a post about it that you can read if you’d like.

But that’s not what this post is about.

Over the past year, Brendan and I have taken turns hiding Mr. Bill in various locations to get a laugh with each other. Here are some of Mr. Bill’s adventures:

We like to pretend the Mr. Bill got himself into these incredible predicaments, and keep a running joke of what Mr. Bill might be thinking. Lately, Mr. Bill has a thing for high places and spinning.

It’s a silly game, but it gives us a laugh. We’re a little crazy like that.

Here’s the thing…

While hiding a silly rubber man to play a game with my husband may be ridiculous, hiding something more important is not.

God says to hide his word in our hearts. And that is no joke!

Why should we hide God’s word in our heart?

  • So we won’t sin against God. (Psalm 119:11)
  • So we can learn and grow to be like Jesus, mature and ready for everything. (2 Timothy 3:15-17)
  • So we can give an apt word to someone who has a need for wisdom or encouragement, or wants to know about our source of hope. (Proverbs 15:23 & I Peter 3:15)
  • To allow the Holy Spirit to remind us of Jesus’ words and God’s great love for us. (John 14:26)
  • So we can wield it as a weapon against Satan. (Ephesians 6:17)
  • So if we are ever in a situation where we do not have a Bible, we will know what it says and be encouraged.

Hiding Mr. Bill may not make a lot of sense, but hiding God’s word in our heart is wise and advisable. Memorizing it is great, but even if we can’t remember the exact words or verse, the more we read, the more we understand the true character of God. And the more we can apply it and rely on what it says.

What’s a verse you have hidden in your heart? Mr. Bill wants to know.

Can you guess who conspired with Mr. Bill on the Aussie high dive?

And Then There Were Five…


“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

When my last book was in its finishing stages, I sensed a stirring in me to write a sequel. I’ve never been a series writer, and haven’t considered it before, but the wind blew this mysterious woman into the end of When the Wind Blows, and I knew I had to tell her story.

Her name is Tyrina Lousie Duvall, and her story isn’t easy, but it will offer hope and healing to someone.

It’s interesting how book ideas materialize. No sooner had I thought about the mystery woman, than I realized Bailey Crenshaw, a twenty-year-old character in When the Wind Blows would need a book of her own as well. So a third book in the now series will follow Tyrina’s story. The two characters will end up being intertwined so how could they not both have a book? Besides, some who have finished When the Wind Blows want to know more about how Jessica’s character has changed too. She’ll pop in here and there in both books.

But the two new books, Where Blows the Wind – Tyrina’s story and Winds of Change – Bailey’s tale (the current working titles that may end up changing) were added to a list of books I’ve already started. I’m pretty sure the word I sensed from the Lord was prolific writing. Wow. Here we go!

Faith’s Song, based on the best friend of Sara Matley in A Deadly Silence, walks with Faith when she receives devastating news and can’t seem to rally her faith to handle it. How will she deal with the ramifications of this shocking news?

And then there’s The Fisherman’s Wife. Simon Peter is impulsive and brash, spending long hours fishing in often stormy waters. When Jesus calls Peter to follow him, how will Abigail handle another one of Peter’s crazy plans – this time to leave her for an undefined time? A couple of readers mentioned that they hoped I’d write more along the lines of Rachel’s Son. Here you go.

Bed and Breakfast isn’t what it seems. Two activist inventors clash in a contemporary romance when they each believe they have the perfect answer to create housing for the homeless. Can they combine their talents and innovations to alleviate one of the world’s worst problems?

And that’s not all! The list continues…oh, my!

On the back burner is Silk Stalkings, Out of Egypt, a possible yet-to-be-named sequel to Voices of the Past, and a couple of middle school series featuring Perry Trotter and Justin Case.

Not to go crazy or anything about book writing, but Beyond the Miracle: When the Fairy Tale Meets Reality, the continuing saga of my Aussie husband, Brendan, and me is also in process.

That said, let me take a survey. I”m curious. Of the books I’ve mentioned here, what would be your first choice? Anyone who responds will have their name entered in a drawing for a signed print copy of A Deadly Silence. Let my know in the comments below that you submitted your vote.

Thanks for participating! From my desk chair of piled notes, proof copies of books, and computer manuscripts, I thank you. Thank you for reading, commenting, voting, and following! It means so much.