I’m still not sure where this year went. It was all a blur.

Looking back, here are some highlights:

In January, we considered three truths to remember when “Happy New Year” isn’t enough.

In February, I shared the news about signing a book contract for a memoir with Discovery House.

In March we talked about how to see God’s power in the midst of our limitations.

In April I got to crash portions of the Festival of Faith and Writing and met some of my favorite online friends in real life!

In May I shared some summer staycation ideas for families with kids.

In June I wrote about how Russell Moore’s response to Donald Trump challenged me.

In July, I compiled a list of 20 websites accepting writing submissions from Christian women.

In August, I celebrated two years hosting the fabulous Five Minute Friday community.

In September, we released the Five Minute Friday BOOK!

In October, the lovely Christina Hubbard hosted the third annual 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes.

In November, I got to interview one of my favorite authors, Lynn Austin!

And here we are in December!

What a year it’s been!

 

And now, since we’re rounding out 2016, here are the Top 16 Posts from Heading Home this year:

 

 

1. Secrets of a Charmed Life

This post continues to be the most read post on Heading Home. If you haven’t read the book yet, you might want to remedy that! Find it on Amazon here. (affiliate link)

 

2. The Song of the Motherless Daughter

A Facebook group called Motherless Daughters recently shared a link to this post on Facebook, and traffic surged overnight. I pray it was a blessing to some.

 

3. 20 Websites Accepting Writing Submissions from Christian Women

This was a fun post to compile. If you’re a writer (or an aspiring writer!), I hope you bookmark this list and refer back to it often.

 

4. I’m a White Girl from Michigan, and I’m #GoingThere

Originally written and posted in August 2014, this post is still getting traction. Wonder why … 😉

 

5. I Signed a Book Contract: Here’s the Back Story

Thanks to all who celebrated with me on the news of my book contract with Discovery House! A little update since this post was shared in February: publication date has been pushed out to 2018. Trusting that someone will need the words in that book at that precise time, according to God’s perfect plan.

 

6. Craving Connection: A New Book

Here’s a book that you won’t have to wait until 2018 to read! It was my privilege to contribute a chapter, and I can’t wait for it to release on January 10th, 2017! Pre-order here and get some fun pre-order goodies from the Craving Connection book website!

 

7. 12 Ways to Encourage Missionaries

I’m so thrilled that people continue to search for and read ways to encourage Christian missionaries. Maybe you could make it a goal to try one of the suggestions on this list in 2017?

 

8. An Open Letter to Grief

 

This post was first published in July 2013 and was the inspiration for my ebook, Letters to Grief. I wish there were fewer people who could relate to the intimate understanding of grief, but sadly, that is not the case.

 

9. An Interview with Author Susan Meissner

An interview with one of my favorite Christian fiction authors, Susan Meissner–who also happens to be the author of the book, Secrets of a Charmed Life (see #1 post above).

 

10. Sister, Let Me Be Your Servant

Why is it so hard for many of us to accept help from other people? This is one question I ask and seek to address in this post.

 

11. Five Words I Say to My Kids

I used to say these five words to my kids every day before school, but now my youngest usually beats me to it …

 

12. How to Make Your Blog Awesome: New Expert Advice

This was a fun post to share, with news about a fabulous course from Fistbump Media. Still available for purchase here! (affiliate link) Start 2017 off right with an awesome blog!

 

13. Why Pre-Marital Counseling is Not Enough

 

14. Racism: What I Learned from Two White-haired Ladies

 

15. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: How to Make the Most of Your Advent Season

A list of recommendations for the Christmas and Advent season.

 

16. My Love/Hate Relationship with Remembering

I wrote this guest post for the Mudroom blog weeks before it was posted–then it went live on the fifth anniversary of my mom’s death. Poignant timing for the words to surface.

 

That’s it! Which one was your favorite?

Don’t forget: There will be NO Five Minute Friday this week (or next week), but we WILL have another special edition link-up on December 28th.

The topic: Books I Read in 2016

Hope to see you there!

Thank you all for your faithful readership! You make this writing gig so worth it!

What were the most read posts on your blog this year? Share in the special edition link-up below!

 

 Loading InLinkz ...

Okay, so I have a confession to make.

I can’t listen to music while I’m writing.

I just can’t do it. I get too wrapped up in the lyrics of the song, and my fingers start typing those words instead of the words that are supposed to appear on the screen.

But I do love music, and several songs have deeply affected my writing in various ways.

So I’ve built a little list of my fave songs to share with you and I’ll even offer some categories and commentary below.

I’ll be linking up with the What’s Your Groove? writing playlist link-up over at Christina Hubbard’s place. We’d love to have you join us!

 

writingplaylist

(By the way, even if nobody reads this post or checks out the playlist I put together, I had a blast creating it. The solo dance party that went down in my kitchen while I was waiting for the brownies to cool was totally worth the effort.)

Okay, so here we go.

 

Here are some categories that songs naturally fall into for me as a Christian writer:

 

Songs that provide lyrical inspiration:

My Love, by Sara Bareilles: Gorgeous, gorgeous lyrics

Morning Light, by Josh Garrels

Bubble Toes, by Jack Johnson: I almost forgot how much I love this song (and Jack)

You Can Call Me Al, by Paul Simon: Because, of course

Travelin’ Soldier, by Dixie Chicks

Just to See You Smile, by Tim McGraw

Every Breaking Wave, by U2

 

Songs that energize me:

Brother, by NeedtoBreathe

Waka Waka, by Shakira: (Yes, I included Shakira in my list. What can I say? I lived in Cape Town when this was the theme song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. I can’t help myself.)

I Will Wait, by Mumford & Sons

Greater, by MercyMe

Drift Away, by Dobie Gray

 

Songs that motivate me to persevere in the writing life (specifically as a Christian writer who writes about heaven as our home):

Storyteller, by Morgan Harper Nichols: “This is the story I’ll tell …”

Messengers, by LeCrae: “Calling all the messengers …”

Where I Belong, by Building 429: “All I know is I’m not home yet, this is not where I belong; Take this world and give me Jesus, this is not where I belong …”

The House that Built Me, by Miranda Lambert

Worn, by Tenth Avenue North

No Man is an Island, by Tenth Avenue North

Take My Life, by Third Day

I Can Only Imagine, by MercyMe

Blessed be Your Name, by Tree63: (I have a strong emotional attachment to this song from a number of different seasons in my life, but for now I’ll just ask: Did you know that Tree63 is a South African band?)

He Will Hold Me Fast, by Keith & Kristyn Getty

 

I included some others just because. 🙂 

 

Find my full writing playlist over on Spotify!

 

What about you? Do you listen to music while you write? What songs have impacted your writing life?

Have you ever been frustrated by your own limitations?

 

Be still and know that I am God-2

 

This past December, I was sick in bed for three weeks straight, including two days in the hospital. I didn’t even see my kitchen for six days in a row.

On my best days, I managed to walk myself to the bathroom without help. On my worst days, I couldn’t even hold my phone while lying down.

Needless to say, it was a trying time. I was frustrated by how little I could do. I couldn’t even lift a book to read.

After 21 days of severe illness, I finally started to feel better. Then I promptly stepped outside, slipped on ice, fell backwards, and split my head open on a brick step. One ambulance ride, some internal stitches and five external staples later, I was back home with a decent concussion.

Days later, the post-concussion dizziness and nausea began. My vision blurred. My head pounded. I slept eleven hours a night, and could’ve slept more.

I worried about the many tasks left undone — looming writing deadlines and unread homeschooling books. Yet there was literally nothing I could do — my symptoms kept me from being able to read to my kids or look at my computer screen.

Despite my own desires, I had to force myself into habits of rest, sitting down or going to bed early for the sake of my own well-being and recovery.

Being bedridden for such an extended period of time, I became so much more aware of my limitations.

Join me over at iBelieve.com for the rest of this article:

How to See God’s Power When You are So Weak

 

How have you seen God’s power in the midst of your own limitations? 

Hi everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful, blessed Christmas. Thanks for joining us for this special edition link-up!

Today we’re sharing the most memorable blog posts we read in 2015.

Which words stuck with you? Share in the comments, or by linking up your own list below!

Last year I posted the Ten Most Memorable Posts I Read in 2014Katie Reid reminded me about it and asked if I planned to do the same thing this year, so here we go!

 

First, my two favorite podcasts:

Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach by Ann Kroeker

Reclaiming a Redeemed Life by Holly Barrett

 

Happy New Year!

 

Let’s Not Play that Game by Bronwyn Lea

A wise piece standing up for the conviction that “no means no”

Big News, OR, Just Call Me Halle by Anna Whiston-Donaldson

This news from the author of Rare Bird was a complete surprise. God works in such mysterious ways.

The Story I Didn’t Want to Tell You (But I’m Sharing Anyway) by Asheritah Ciuciu

Such a powerful testimony from Asheritah about her childhood experience and how God has written each chapter for His glory.

Broken Warriors, Brave Warriors: Slaying Dragons of Tragedy & Suffering by Dalene Reyburn

Dragons and Dirt was one of the best books I read in 2015. This post shares an excerpt to whet your appetite.

The Video of Our Making it Home Webinar by Emily Wierenga

This link isn’t an actual blog post, but you don’t want to miss this webinar. The wise women who share here are rich in grace and encouragement. Such a refreshing, uplifting recording.

Mother’s Day for the Motherless Daughter by Lisa-Jo Baker

Lisa-Jo gets me every time she writes about motherless daughters. This post is no exception.

By Degrees – Living and Dying by Kara Tippetts

This post over at Mundane Faithfulness hit a little too close to home: “I listened to my husband make the impossible phone call this morning. He called hospice. He told him that his young wife was dying, but they already knew.”

How to Recover the Lost Art of Dying Well: What Kara Tippetts Taught Us by Ann Voskamp

The world lost a beautiful soul in March this year. I wrote about it here. Ann Voskamp weighed in with this beautiful tribute that will likely bring tears to your eyes.

Your Dying Spouse — Alone in the Fight by Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

Andrew has been a faithful member of the Five Minute Friday community. On this particular week in August, we paused to pray for Andrew, as he is battling a terminal illness. If nothing else, read the comments on this post and get a glimpse of what the Five Minute Friday crew is all about.

Twenty Years by Karen Brown

This post was actually written last year, but was shared with me in July this year. Such a wise, insightful reflection on twenty years of motherhood.  

To Spanx or Not to Spanx. That’s the Really Dumb Question by Dana Bowman

The “Most Hilarious Post” Award goes to Dana Bowman of Momsieblog. I dare you to read this without laughing hysterically. 

 

Join us on Wednesday, December 30th for another special link-up where we’ll be sharing books we read in 2015!

christmas!

What were the most memorable blog posts or articles you read this past year?

Share in the link-up or comments below!

 Loading InLinkz ...

You know the days.

You’re laying in bed, wiping stray tears from your cheeks. Willing yourself to get up, but your body won’t budge any more than the crumpled tissues on the floor.

You watched your high hopes get dashed against unforgiving rocks, and your heart shattered right along with them. You know all too well just how much a hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12).

You’ve felt the sting of betrayal, the hollow ache of emptiness, the question marks left unanswered.

You’ve given everything you had, and it wasn’t enough.

You’ve been punched in the gut, and you’re doubled over from the shock.

You lay there, limp and defeated.

You’re ready to throw in the towel. To say to the world, “You win. I give up. Here I am, waving my white flag. I surrender.”

Before you raise that hand, pause for a moment. Stop and look with me down a different path.

What if, instead of giving up, we chose to give it all up to the One who holds all things in the palm of His hand?

 

ready to give up

 

In her new book, Girl Meets Change: Truths to Carry You Through Life’s Transitions, Kristen Strong writes this:

“The point of our breaking points? They are the perfect place for Christ to come and be what we cannot. They are the perfect place for us to remember we have a Savior who identifies with our weaknesses. He is not unfamiliar with what makes us wring our hands with worry. ‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin’ (Heb. 4:15, ESV).

Jesus knows weakness, he’s felt weakness, and he isn’t turned off by our weakness. He looked every weakness in the eye when he hung on the cross. And three days later when his eyes opened wide and his lungs inhaled oxygen, he conquered each and every one. In his own new life, he offers us new life by way of unlimited access to his throne of grace.”

Amen?

What would happen if we took our hurts, and our clenched, battered knuckles — and rather than waving them in fits of rage and disillusionment, we opened them up as an offering instead?

What would happen if, instead of surrendering our efforts as a loss, we surrendered our energy to the Lord, and asked Him to do as He sees fit?

Maybe you feel like you’re being poured out like a drink offering against your will. You’re lying in a puddle of grief and anguish, pain seeping into the hardwood floor.

You just can’t see how your present sufferings could ever be used for good.

Don’t despair.

For in the darkest of nights, that’s when the stars shine the brightest.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

“Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all,” (2 Corinthians 4:17), and “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

For “earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”

So we take comfort in knowing that this is not the final chapter in our story.

A day is coming when every knee will bow, not in devastation over earthly sorrows, but in worship of the one, true King.

He is Lord over all — even the days when we’re ready to give up.

Go ahead and give it all up — to Him.

 

***

Linking up with Holly Barrett for Testimony Tuesday and Jennifer Dukes Lee for Tell His Story.