We’ve come to another Easter weekend.

And it’s so easy to just go through the motions, to walk past the pastel-colored Easter baskets and candy-coated chocolate eggs on our way to the toilet paper aisle.

It’s so easy to just be thankful for the day off from school on Good Friday so we don’t have to set alarms.

But if that’s all we see … we’re missing everything.

If the entire world were polled, I have a suspicion that a large segment of the population — if not the majority — would describe themselves as “empty.”

Would you?

I read reports of celebrities who, in the world’s eyes, “had it all” — and still felt hollow and unsatisfied inside.

It makes me so sad, when we miss the One who offers to fill us up, to pour His abundant grace and love into us, to literally fill us with His Holy Spirit.

As Christians, we should be anything but empty.

Why?

Because the tomb is.

 

***

I did things a bit backwards this week for Five Minute Friday … The words above are my offering, written in five minutes flat, for our weekly link-up.

If you’re new to FMF, welcome! It’s always a delight to see new faces and meet new friends!

Learn more about this delightful community by clicking here.

A huge thank you to all who completed the FMF Survey the past two weeks! I had SO much fun reading through all of your replies, and I’m so excited to start implementing some new ideas based on your input!

For one, stay tuned for a FMF Facebook group coming soon! 😀

As you may have guessed, this week’s prompt is:

empty

Join us with your own five minute free write by linking up below, and don’t forget to visit your link-up neighbor to leave some comment love!

And psst … Could you use a weekend away?

If you’re craving connection, come join us at the Five Minute Friday Retreat, happening July 21-23, 2017 in Kansas City, MO!

Space is limited and registration closes June 1st! 

Learn more about the retreat and register here.

Praying that all of you have a blessed Easter, friends! So grateful for each one of you!

 

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Hey there! How are you? Good week so far? I hope so!

Welcome to another round of Five Minute Friday, where we write fast and free and throw encouragement in the air like confetti.

If you’re new, we’re thrilled to have you with us! You can learn more here.

Before we kick things off, a HUGE thank you to all who completed the survey last week!

If you haven’t had a chance to fill it out yet, I’d love to get your input!

Complete the survey by midnight EST on Monday, April 10th, and you’ll be entered to WIN one of these three amazing books!

 

** Must have U.S. mailing address to win.

 

Also: We still have 12 spots left at our Five Minute Friday RETREAT!

 

 

I’m *so* excited for July, I can hardly wait!

Does one of those spots have your name on it?

Learn more here and secure your place today!

 

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is: 

enough

 

Ready? Setting my timer for five minutes, and … GO.

 

It’s a phrase that seems to have become somewhat trendy in recent years:

You are enough.

Ever since the first time I saw those three words strung together, they grated on me. I bristled at their proposition. Why? Because I know I’m not.

I’m not enough. 

And sometimes that bothers me and I feel the weight of it, the weight of giving, giving, giving, and always coming up short.

But eventually God pulls me out of the fog by His grace and reminds me of the truth:

I’m not supposed to be enough.

If I were designed to be enough on my own, I wouldn’t need Him. I wouldn’t need a Savior. I wouldn’t need a Lord. I wouldn’t need a Redeemer.

It’s like Paul says, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Paul knew that if he were enough, if he were sufficient to meet his own needs, He wouldn’t need Jesus.

It’s not easy to boast in weakness. It certainly doesn’t come naturally. Not to me, at least. It’s not easy to boast about the fact that I’m not enough. I want to be enough. But that’s not what I’ve been created to be.

I was created to be a worshipper — and in order to fulfil my God-given identity, I need to worship the only One who is enough. The One who is more than enough for every need I’ll ever encounter.

He is more than enough for me.

 

STOP.

 

 

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April is a good book month, hey?! I’m super excited about the release of these four new books, from authors that I’ve either met in person, on video chats, or via email. Join me in celebrating with them, and check out these great offerings!

A quick note: This post does contain affiliate links, which means if you choose to click through Amazon to make a purchase, I’ll receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. Thanks in advance for your support! Happy reading! 

 

Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships

by Lisa-Jo Baker

new books

From the description on Amazon:

In a world where women can unfriend each other with the swipe of a finger, how do we find friendships that we can trust to last? Maybe by first becoming those kinds of lasting friends ourselves.

Lisa-Jo Baker has learned that no one can make us quite as unsure about ourselves as another woman. And nothing can wound as deeply as unkind words from a friend. While we are all hungry for friendship, it’s the fear of feeling awkward and being rejected, left out, or hurt (again) that often keep us from connecting.

But what if we knew we could never be unfriended? Would we risk friendship then?

Starting with that guarantee from the most faithful friend who ever lived—Jesus—this book is a step-by-step guide to friendships you can trust. It answers the questions that lurk under the surface of every friendship—What are we afraid of? What can’t we change? What can we change? And where do we start?—with personal stories and practical tips to help you make the friends, and be the friend, that lasts.

 

A Trail of Crumbs: A Novel of the Great Depression

by Susie Finkbeiner

new books

A Trail of Crumbs is the second book in a trilogy by Susie Finkbeiner.

From the description on Amazon:

Pearl Spence has been through more in her young life than most folks could handle. But through it all, her family has been by her side. They may not be perfect, but they love her and they all love each other, come what may. That’s one thing Pearl no longer questions.

But the end of her beautiful day signals the beginning of the end of her secure life.

Now her family is fleeing their Oklahoma wasteland. Pearl isn’t sure she’ll ever see home or happiness again. Are there any crumbs powerful enough to guide her back to the dependable life she once knew?

The strong narrative voice of Finkbeiner’s young protagonist from A Cup of Dust returns in this gritty yet hopeful sequel, sure to please her many fans.

One: Unity in a Divided World

by Deidra Riggs

new books

new books

From the description on Amazon:

Jesus didn’t say that the world would know we are his followers by our biting rhetoric, our political leanings, our charity work, or even by our knowledge of Scripture. He said the world would know us by our love for one another. Yet it’s so easy to put others at arm’s length, to lash out, to put up walls. Deidra Riggs wants us to put our focus on self-preservation aside and, like Jesus, make the first move toward reconciliation.

In One, Riggs shows readers that when Jesus offered himself up in our place, he was not only purchasing our salvation but also setting an example for us to follow. She helps readers understand that they are secure in God’s inexhaustible love, making them free to love others lavishly–not just in what they do but in what they say, what they don’t say, what they will endure, and what they will forgive.

Anyone who longs for unity in the church, in their family, and in their community will find in this book both inspiring examples of loving done well and encouragement to begin the often unnoticed hard work of building bridges with those around them.

 

A Bridge Across the Ocean

by Susan Meissner

new books

new books

From the description on Amazon:

February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Résistance spy.

Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark…

Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides—and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.

 

***

Which one will you read first? What books are currently on your To Be Read List? 

 

 

Hey there! Happy almost weekend! Anybody else looking at Spring Break square in the eyes?

I, for one, am downright giddy about not having to set the alarm for the next ten mornings. Can I get an Amen?

If you’re new to Five Minute Friday, welcome!! Find out what we’re all about here.

We still have 12 spots left for the Five Minute Friday Retreat! Help us spread the word!

 

In other news, look what JUST happened: 

 

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is: 

 

 

Ready? GO.

 

You’ve heard authors complain that they can write prolific paragraphs and pages filled with poetic prose unprompted, but as soon as it comes to penning their own bio? Nothing. They’re paralyzed.

Has it happened to you, too?

Why is that?

Maybe for you it happens at your husband’s company work dinner when a random suit asks, “So, what do you do?” … and the words don’t come.

What comes to mind first? Wife? Mother? Christian?

What defines you?

The verses come to mind, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3-4).

That’s pretty much what it comes down to, isn’t it? Sure, it’s exactly the opposite from what the world screams, but isn’t that the way of the Kingdom?

Didn’t He choose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise?

When I think of what defines me, I’m tempted to think of external appearance and accomplishments — but all of those will fade away.

When all is said and done, my identity better be hinged to something far greater.

Something eternal.

 

STOP.

 

P.S. We’re hosting a super fun giveaway from now through April 10th! 

To enter the giveaway, complete the survey below!

On April 10th, I’ll draw one winner for each of the books shown above.

Entrants must have a U.S. mailing address to win. 

Your response will help us define the Five Minute Friday audience so we can better meet your needs and desires in the future! Thanks in advance for your time and input!

Click HERE to take the survey and be entered to win the giveaway! 

 

 

 

Join the link-up below, and don’t forget to leave a comment for your link-up neighbor! Your challenge for this week is to go the extra mile and share someone else’s post on social media.

Happy writing! 

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This past weekend, I had the privilege of delivering a short message for a baby shower. I decided to share it here as well, in case somebody needs to read it:

 

 

Today I want to talk about the miracle of new life. About the wonder of God’s creation.

 

When I was 23 years old and living in a foreign country, I was nine months pregnant and had no idea what I had gotten myself into. My husband is a black South African, and I remember sitting on the edge of the bed about a week before my due date, sobbing.

 

My husband asked, “What’s wrong now?” (Because, pregnancy hormones.)

 

“What if it’s a girl?” I cried. “What will I do with her hair?!”

 

Well, it was a girl—and it took me nine years before I finally figured out what to do with her hair.

 

But let’s rewind to the day she was born. After an emergency C-section, they placed this unfamiliar bundle on my chest. She looked Chinese. Her face was pasty and wrinkly, her eyes were squinted closed, her lips were bright red. I didn’t know her. She didn’t know me.

 

Over the next few days in the hospital, we sat there staring at each other.

 

And I was utterly mesmerized by the creation I held in my lap. The straight, jet black hair. The black eyes. The tiniest fingernails and toes. And I thought to myself, “Who can look at a newborn baby and not be fully persuaded that the God of the universe must have created the world?” The intricacies and detail of a brand new human, fully formed, is remarkable.

 

In my mind at the time, she was perfect.

 

Fast forward just seven sleepless months, and my little bundle of perfection has learned how to army crawl. She’s squirming forward with determined intent, and her eyes are set on the outlet on the wall. She pauses and turns around to look at me. “No!” I say firmly, with my pointer finger extended like moms are supposed to do. I caught a hint of a smile in her eyes as she turned around and forged ahead, goal growing ever closer.

 

“No!” I said again, louder this time. She stopped crawling, turned around again, and smiled her charming smile. “I said, ‘No!’” I repeated. Fully aware of the meaning of the word, my precious angel resumed her mission, completely ignoring my command.

 

So I scooped her up, sat on the steps, laid her on her tummy across my lap, and was about to spank her for the first time. I pulled back her diaper—and got a hand full of poop.

 

Totally grossed out, all I could do was laugh, and my poor child was utterly confused.

 

Today she’s 11 years old and whenever she hears that story, she reminds me that she got the last laugh. She says, “Mom, you were trying to teach me a lesson, but I taught you a lesson instead!”

 

But the point of that whole story is to say that my innocent little newborn did not stay innocent for long—in fact, nobody had to teach her how to do wrong. Nobody had to teach her how to sin. She already had that capacity stored up within her.

 

Just like you and me.

 

In fact, in the book of Psalms in the Bible, David writes, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” David doesn’t say he became aware of his own sin when his mom told him a story about how he army crawled toward the outlet when he was seven months old. He doesn’t even say he became sinful after he was born—he says he was sinful from the time his mother conceived him.”

 

The Bible tells us that because Eve took the fruit in the Garden of Eden and gave some to her husband, who also ate it, sin entered the world, and as a result, every single one of us is a sinner. Without God’s intervention, we are all living in rebellion against Him and His Word. Without Jesus as Lord of our lives and without the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we’re not just army crawling toward the outlet on the wall – we’re running toward it. We’re sprinting head-on toward destruction.

 

So what are we supposed to do?

 

During Jesus’ lifetime, a man named Nicodemus had a similar question. In the Gospel of John, chapter three, it says:

 

“Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

 

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

 

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

 

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’”

 

A few verses later in the same chapter, we read,

 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

 

So how can we be born again?

 

By believing in God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, as the only way we can be saved from our sins, and by trusting in Him and His death and resurrection for our salvation.

 

I started by saying I wanted to talk about the miracle of new life. And while the birth of a baby is certainly a miraculous thing—it is not the most miraculous thing. The most miraculous thing is God coming in the form of a baby, being born of a human mother, so He could one day carry the sins of His people on the cross, take the punishment and die the death we deserve, defeat death and conquer sin by rising again on the third day so that those who put their faith in Him will have the gift of new life.

 

But here’s the catch—my daughter didn’t know how to be born. She had no part in the process, other than to gasp her first breath and let out a loud cry—and even that breath and that cry was placed in her by the God who created her.

 

In the same way, when we’re born again, it’s God’s doing. Before we accept Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we are dead in our sins—and we all know that dead people can’t do anything, not even reach up a hand for help. There is nothing you or I can do to earn our way into heaven. No matter how good we think we are, it’s not good enough. God has to stir in our hearts by the power of His Holy Spirit, and He is the one who causes us to gasp that first breath of new life and cry out to Him, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!”

 

I encourage you today, as we celebrate a new baby about to be born for the first time, and the gift and miracle of new life, to ask yourself, “Have I been born again?”

 

If the answer is no, or even if you’re not sure, I’d love to talk with you.

 

Becoming a child of God is the best decision you could ever make, and the best way to celebrate and thank Him for the miraculous gift of this new baby.

 

Related post: Trusting God with Our Children

Trusting God with our children