Books · Discipleship · Holidays · Parenting

The Old Wooden Frame – The Center of Our Advent Season

Over the years of having children, we have used the same old wooden window frame to display our homemade family advent calendar. What started out as a piece of junk sitting outside of a friend’s garage, has become a discipleship tool in our home as we share, year after year, the coming of the Christ-child, the prophecy fulfilled. Something discarded and abandoned has become something set apart. Curiously, I wonder, whose house did this window frame once belong, who lived there and what was their story? And did they ever know that their old window pane would one day become a family heirloom that would, year after year, become something almost sacred as it housed the story of a baby’s birth from creation to His visitation? What wonder!

Back in the days when we lived in our first and only purchased home, on a half acre lot with chickens and a garden that was overwhelmingly large for what we could manage, I had painted this frame snow white and hung soft red ribbon. With folded pockets made of fancy Christmas paper and a library stamp for the dates, I enjoyed creating our own family advent tradition. And when its not an Advent calendar, that dear old wooden frame holds pages of our favorite hymns. Through the years I have used different family devotions for the readings and this year I’m doing something a little bit different.


A year ago, I was trying to find a set of readings that would connect more easily with our kids. When I saw that Sally Lloyd Jones’ Jesus Storybook Bible had a set of printable cards and matching stories and reading set up for an Advent devotional of sorts, I thought this would fit us so well. Our children have heard these stories since our eldest was a year old, its been used in all their Sunday school classes and we still read it to them to this day. Doing Advent with the Jesus Storybook Bible would be such a familiar way to continue to reach the hearts of our children with the gospel story through the advent season (there’s a series of readings for Lent too!)

One of the reasons why we love to do Advent readings as a family is because it is an intentional time of discipleship for our kids. Its a unique season of the year and the kids can’t wait for the frame to be transformed. Taking turns, the children pull out a reading to share with the family. And if I’m super organized (which I’m not always), I may have an activity in the pocket for each day to do as well (making a gingerbread house, christmas play doh, watching a Christmas movie, reading a Christmas book, drinking hot cocoa, driving around to see Christmas lights, etc). Its Dec 1, the first day of our readings and I don’t have activities on the board… yet. Real life in the midst of great ideals! I may or may not get to that list this year, and its okay.


The daily reading through the gospel story is an intentional way of focusing our children’s eyes on the gospel, that their Creator loved them so much that He set in motion a rescue plan for their own souls. This is one way parents can be intentional this season in creating their own family traditions that mean so much to them and their children as they grow up. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it won’t be. Most years, we have missed many of the readings, sometimes opening up 2 or 3 of them at once or skipping ahead to the day we are on. The point is not to be perfect at it, but to be intentional.


Today I set up the Advent calendar with my littlest excitedly bouncing around me wanting me to take a picture of the gingerbread house. As he settled down for his nap, I sat down with my Kindergartner to read library books by our hobbit-sized Christmas tree, filled with special ornaments we carry through the years, many now broken so its a little more sparse and enjoying the cozy Christmas quiet while the older two were finishing up at school. Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas!


My encouragement is to find your own Advent tradition for your family that will become a special heirloom and memory for your children through the years. If you are not the creative type, there are many on Etsy and other markets that you can easily purchase. Your kids will not remember the days that you missed some readings, and they will not remember that it wasn’t perfect. They will just know that it was theirs and they learned about Jesus, and family, and tradition, and love. And by God’s grace, they will take that same message with them into their families when they are older. From generation to generation, let the mighty acts of God be proclaimed!

One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.
All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your saints shall bless you!
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
Psalm 145:4-13


Christmas books are being pulled out of the library book basket daily while Mama recovers from a cold…


Our real live hobbit-sized Christmas tree is up, and just perfect for this Tolkien-loving family. Decorated with our favorite decorations… the ones that haven’t broken yet, plus the homemade ones which I cherish!


One of my favorite ornaments each year is this little guy…


And a nativity scene that is just perfect for my littlest hobbit…


Blessed Advent to you!

Books · Christian biographies · Discipleship · Rooted in Christ

Lilias Trotter: Soul Into Blossom {Deeply Rooted Magazine}

Over a year ago, I wrote a piece describing my journey of delight in learning about and researching the life and work of missionary and artist, Lilias Trotter.

When I first met missionary and artist, Lilias Trotter, it was in the pages of a book given to me by a dear friend who is now, herself, a missionary to Ireland. This book, Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God, is written by Noel Piper and is a collection of short stories about the lives of five women and how God used them in their unique circumstances, giftings, and callings. With a love for Christian biographies, I dove into this book ten years ago to learn the life stories of these five women. One of them was Lilias.” Read the rest of the post here.

When I write, I pray that God will use my writing to bless the people He wants to bless with my words. Like dandelion seeds blown from the palm of my hand, those seeds go out into the world and I pray the Lord will cause those seeds to land on the soil He desires. He also determines how He will cause the growth. We have only to be faithful with the gifts He has given us to steward.

A year later, during our summer trip to the Pacific Northwest, I was invited to write an article for Deeply Rooted Magazine on the life and work of Lilias Trotter. At the time, I was researching even more about her through Miriam Huffman Rockness’ biography, A Passion for the Impossible. At the beginning of the summer, I asked the Lord to guide me to the books He wanted me to read this summer. As we packed for our summer in the Northwest, I picked up this biography and stuffed it into my backpack along with several children’s books, journals, and my Bible.



When asked to write this piece, I was overjoyed to see how the Lord orchestrated all these threads into one woven tapestry, and to have the opportunity to reach so many women around the world in an effort to continue to share Lilias’ legacy of art and ministry in Northern Africa. Below is an excerpt from this biographical piece.


When the Lord calls a soul to Himself, there is an unmistakable dying that occurs at the same time as there is a supernatural giving of life into union with Christ. At this point of receiving that resurrection life and power, the new child of God begins a life-long journey of hearing the continuous call in God’s Word, through the Holy Spirit, to die daily to sin and live to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24). That call of God demands a response. The question then becomes, how will you respond to this Christ-life dwelling within you? This is an account of a young woman who responded to that call with great sacrifice and with a passion for the impossible.

The young Lily became a woman with a way of seeing in regards to spiritual matters, the natural world, and human relationships. Much of this can be attributed to her mother and father, Isabella and Alexander Trotter. The Trotters were an influential and economically prosperous family in mid 19th century England. A dynamic couple, they each possessed a love of nature, adventure, travel and most importantly a love for Christ. In their travels, Lilias’ mother was known for her prayers and evangelism both in England and across the ocean in the New World of America. Their fascination with various subjects, peoples and cultures, prepared Lilias for her future ministry working with people who lived in very different circumstances and contexts than she was accustomed to.

Lilias grew up during an era of celebrated writers, theologians, poets, and artists including the likes of George MacDonald, Bishop Wilberforce, Christina Rossetti and famed art critic, John Ruskin. Perhaps the most spiritually influential of these voices were those of Dwight L. Moody and Hannah Whitall Smith whose writings, devotional material, and evangelistic meetings became for Lilias a source of discipleship that would develop the inward journey of her soul to a deep and abiding surrender to God, and propel her outward as she prepared for a life of serving others.

-Jennifer Harris, Soul Into Blossom: The Life and Work of Lilias Trotter, Deeply Rooted Magazine – Issue 12 The Calling, pg 37

To read the rest of this biographical sketch and savor the artistic talent on display in Lilias’ watercolor paintings, you can purchase Issue 12 – The Calling at Deeply Rooted Magazine.

With joy and delight,



Little Book, Big Story – An Interview

{Photo credit: Felicia Marie Photography}

About four years ago, my dear friend, Thea, and her family came to visit us in the desert valley of central Washington. Our children enjoyed the reunion of friendship and fun, playing in their toddler ways, enjoying the nearby old city park and playground, and, us parents, enjoyed the familiarity of good and true conversation about all sorts of things. And whether they were deep theological thoughts, recollections of days gone by, or the tantalizing sharing of book titles and wine, we were content and happy. On a visit to the nearby Franklin Park, sitting on the grass, my friend shared with me something that had been on her heart. “Hey Jen, so… I started a new blog!” Now, to rewind the cassette tape just a few years, my friend and I both love to write, we’ve both had several blogs already, trying our hand at social media, the ups and downs of what we are really after in our writing, and the constant submission to the Lord as He develops our respective writing habits. Little did we know, we would one day share space in Deeply Rooted Magazine together, and that has been one of the sweetest fruits of our labors together, thus far.

Visiting her new blog, a children’s book review website, I saw the familiar favorites listed in her beginning posts, the likes of Winnie-the-Pooh and The Chronicles of Narnia! Delightful, engaging, and inspiring. Over the years, I have shared her blog with many others. Isn’t it great when you can trust someone’s recommendation of a certain book, and because they say its wonderful, it gives you the confidence to try it out for yourself?

Below is a brief interview with my friend, Thea, because I would love to introduce you to her. So sit back with your cup of tea or coffee and see what beautiful things may come!

{Photo: Ten Books About God for Toddlers}

Thea, thank you for being willing to join in this interview! I know you have had several interviews in the past, mostly for your years in music, so this might be a blast from the past! But this time, it is about books, stories, and the One big story it all points to.

To start out, what is the background story behind the title of your blog, Little Book, Big Story and what inspired you to begin this work?

Thank you, Jen! I am so grateful for our cross-country, almost decade-long(!) friendship, and I love reading your beautiful blog posts. It’s a treat to have the chance to visit with your readers (who are, I suspect, kindred spirits).

I have always loved reading children’s books and started building a library for our family when our oldest daughter was a baby. I wanted beautiful books—well-written and creatively illustrated by artists striving to glorify God—but what I found, instead, was that many Christian books had a lukewarm quality to them: too-cute rhymes, bland illustrations, and no Gospel. Reading those books to my daughter was like trying to drink tepid lemonade: I could do it, but it didn’t satisfy.

Around that same time, a friend introduced us to The Jesus Storybook Bible, thereby restoring my hope for our home library and for the Christian publishing industry in general. If there were books like that available, I needed to find them! I did find them—many of them—and I began urging my favorites on close friends at playdates, Bible studies, dinners. (It could have been awkward, but I have really patient friends.)

By the time I started my blog, we had two more daughters and a library that spilled into every room of our house. The blog became a sort of vent for my enthusiasm—a way to share our favorite books with everyone, all at once. The name Little Book, Big Story came from the idea that these “little,” underestimated picture books written for “little,” sometimes overlooked people often convey the big story of the Gospel with a simplicity and clarity that can be hard to find in books written for grown-ups.

{Photo: Ten Chapter Books to Read Aloud with your Daughter}

When did you become a reader, or book lover, and which books whetted your appetite in those early years as a child and young reader?

I read a lot as a child, but I remember only a handful of books that shaped me in a favorable way: A Wrinkle in Time. Matilda. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I’m sure there were others that I’ve since forgotten.

But when I was in college, I started collecting books to read after graduation (when I would be a free woman, able to assign my own reading list!). I found myself accumulating lots and lots of classics, because—despite majoring in creative writing—I just wasn’t being assigned them in school. David Sedaris: yes. Dostoevsky: alas! No.

After graduation, I submerged myself in Russian novels—and classic children’s books. That is when my appetite for reading really awoke. (It hasn’t slumbered since.)

What are you looking for when setting out to find new titles to review?

I love this question! Because I only review books that I absolutely love on my blog, my criteria for what gets a review and what doesn’t is pretty subjective. I look for moments of truth in a story, moments that hit the string in my heart that rings with the Gospel. I look for beauty and for originality, too, in the way a book was written, illustrated, and constructed.

I look for books by Christian authors, because I want to save families the work of reading those “tepid lemonade” books and guide them, like a trusty librarian, to true and beautiful Christian books. But many of the books I review are not explicitly Christian in content. These books may present a clear picture of a character loving the outcast at a great cost, or of a character reaching the end of his own strength and appealing for outside help. Or they may just be so delightful that I must share them.

When I choose titles to feature on my blog, my hope is that each one will help families build the sort of library that nurtures, in children and parents alike, a love of the Great Author.

Which children’s book author has become your favorite and why?

Sally Lloyd-Jones. There are many truly gifted authors out there, but I say Sally Lloyd-Jones without hesitation because she writes to kids with humor (but no cuteness), grace (but no mush), and honesty (but no cynicism). She clearly respects the kids she writes for, and she writes wonderful, Gospel-rich stories.

You list various age categories for books on your website, if you could pick, which is your favorite age-related book category and why?

I love middle-grade novels (typically for readers ages 8-11). I read them on my own for years before I had kids, so many of my own favorite books fall in this window (A Wrinkle in Time, Anne of Green Gables, The Chronicles of Narnia). When my oldest daughter reached this age and we were able to start reading these books together, it was a big moment for me.

{Photo: Ten Chapter Books to Read Aloud with your Son}

What is currently on your “night stand”, literally or figuratively?

Middlemarch. I am a bit compulsive about finishing books, but I put this one down last year when it hit a particularly dry stretch—I was sleep-deprived and just couldn’t do it. When I picked it up again this summer, I still came perilously close to stopping (right around that same dry stretch), but this time I pressed on and I’m so glad I did! I’m only about halfway through the book, but so far, I love the story, the characters, and that bit of sass that comes through in George Eliot’s writing. (I may never leave a book unfinished again.)

I remember in one of your blog posts, you wrote about the need to find time to read. At times, you read while cooking, or out in the yard while the kids are playing or early in the morning. As a mother of four children too, I know how intentional one has to be to carve out time to pursue habits such as reading, music, crafts, or even exercise. How has your reading time developed over the years and how do you fit that into your daily life?

Even before having kids, I read at bus stops and in waiting rooms—I’ve always been an opportunistic reader. These days, it is harder for me to find time to get lost in a story or follow a book’s complex argument, but we have instituted a whole-family quiet time in the afternoons while our youngest daughters nap. That is often (but not always!) my chance to sit out on the front porch and read, underline, and mark passages in my notebook.

When can we expect to see one of your own stories in print? I fully expect to be purchasing children’s books by Thea Rosenburg one day! 🙂

Ha! I would love to write books for children. As I’m sure you can imagine, I’m not in a stage to pursue that right now, but I do scribble on scraps of paper and paint tiny paintings and read a lot of great books in the hope that, if that’s something God calls me to as my children grow older, I’ll be ready!

You can follow Thea and Little Book, Big Story on Instagram: @thearosenburg and at her blog

2015-05-20-047-1024x683{Click here for the Little Book, Big Story Book List!!!}

(All photography featured here is from Little Book, Big Story.)

Books · Motherhood · Parenting · Rooted in Christ

Planting Seeds of Wisdom {Deeply Rooted Magazine}


Stepping off the weary airplane that had been my cocoon for the twelve-hour flight from Glasgow to Vancouver, I scrambled through the immigration line with overstuffed luggage and declaration card in hand. My eyes scanned the bustling airport for the customs booth where I could declare the precious item I was bringing back. I told the officers that I had one package of sunflower seeds from Scotland, but it would take a while for me to find them in my luggage. I knew my parents would be waiting for me just through the double doors. It was hard to leave my home away from home that I had grown to love, but I was eager to see them and settle back into the familiar. At long last, the officers said I could keep my small package of seeds. I was thrilled. I heaved my backpack onto my shoulders. And after five months of serving a church on the Ayrshire coast where the sea waves meet the heather that grows wild across rolling green hills, I was finally home. And I had brought seeds for planting.

I still remember one of the first songs I wrote as a young child… it had something to do with rainbows and a suitcase, I think. Stories about Ricky Raccoon and his woodland friends are still tucked away in a box somewhere. With a love for words, story, poetry and song, I have always loved to write.

This past winter, one of my friends who also loves words and language and is by far, in my opinion, one of the greatest writers I have personally ever read and who inspires me with every piece she composes, asked me if I’d like to contribute a piece to the magazine for which she is editor. Now if that’s not a run-on sentence, I don’t know what is. So I’d like to introduce those who are so gracious to read my essays (blog posts), to my dear friend, Thea at Little Book, Big Story. She is also my personal editor!

It was a joy to receive her invitation and I may have done a happy dance, as we writers like to call it! I set to work this past winter to write a piece on planting seeds of wisdom in our children’s hearts. My husband helped me to carve time into our winter break here at seminary. With my favorite chocolate and wine in hand, candles lit, and a soundtrack of ocean waves to get me into the mindset of preparing this little article, I set to work.

When we talk about planting “seeds” of wisdom in children, we are dealing with beginnings, a genesis of sorts. Seeds simply have the potential and the capacity for growth. They are not the end result. These seeds need to be given an environment in which to thrive so that they can grow into maturity.

I am not a perfect parent, and I am not at all the wisest amongst women. I am faced by my brokenness and need for Jesus every day. It is why I pray for new mercy every morning, that I may live a life that is faithful and honoring to Christ, that gives Him glory and brings Him delight.

But God does not wait for His children to arrive at a super-spiritual, incredibly wise point in our lives before He starts to use us. He simply desires for us to be willing to be used and He takes us as we are in our weakness, and then uses us the way He desires. He touches the lives He wants to touch with our willingness to serve Him, and then gives us sheer joy in being used by Him, every day, in big ways and small ways.

Undergirding all our efforts to be faithful to God’s command to train up our children in his holy ways, we must de- pend upon the Holy Spirit and be diligent in prayer. It is on our knees in prayer where the most work is done. Years ago, when our children were babies and toddlers, a friend told me of how there were many nights when she would stay awake in prayer, interceding for the souls of her children. That has stayed with me all these years and through many sleepless nights, I have asked the Lord to work mightily in the hearts of my children. Just like the man in Luke 11:5–8 who persistently knocks on his friend’s door in the middle of the night, asking for bread, God wants us to be persistent in prayer.

It was a joy to write this piece and to share a bit of what I’ve learned in these early years of parenting, things I’ve learned from God’s Word, from my parents, from friends, and  authors of long ago.

To read the rest of the article, you can pick up a copy of Deeply Rooted Magazine in two ways, either a hard copy of the magazine which reads like a coffee table book with beautifully designed layouts on thick matte paper, a collection of readings and inspiration to point you and others to Christ, or you can purchase the digital copy.


Deeply Rooted Magazine exists to glorify God in womanhood. Thank you, Thea Rosenburg and Dianne Jago for this opportunity!

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17)


Books · Holidays

Holy Week with the Jesus Storybook Bible


Spring has emerged these last few weeks and what a flurry of activity has begun outside our patio doors. The cardinals, red-breasted robins, and chickadees are joining us again at our Woodland Hollow. Blossoms unfold and are whisked away by spring winds and rain. Chipmunks and squirrels once again climb the pole of my bird-feeder to steal away the seeds I’ve placed for the birds. And so, the battle between Mommy and the squirrels begins again as seed gets scattered, gluttonous squirrels get chased away, and Crisco gets smeared on the pole to hold them back for another day.


Along with Spring, Holy Week has arrived; a holiday that calls for remembrance, solemnity, preparation, celebration and feasting! This is our favorite time of year and we love to celebrate in meaningful ways. We enjoy celebrating Lent, to focus our attention for a period of time on praying for something specific, perhaps fasting from something to bring my attention to more focused prayer, with readings and even kids’ activities. This is our ideal, although reality often looks a lot different. This did not happen this year. I had full intentions to go through a reading plan with the kids, but I didn’t even get to the point of printing it off my computer.

Sometimes life is like that. And perhaps for some of us, life is often like that!

If you are like me this year, with lack of energy, preparation, and time (for the Lord has placed many things on our plates this year), then may I be completely honest and share that we are starting our Lent reading plan today, on Day 37. That’s right! We missed the first 36 days and we are opening our Jesus Storybook Bible today to prepare for Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday using Sally Lloyd-Jones’ free lent reading plan.


Sally Lloyd-Jones is the author of the Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. This year marks the 10th anniversary of this beloved story Bible that takes the truth of Scripture and presents Bible stories in a way that connects with children, and even adults! Our daughter was just a wee baby when I first heard of this book. When a friend shared that she, herself, was deeply impacted every time she read one of these stories to her children, I decided to check it out! Its been a part of our family now since our daughter’s first birthday. By the wear and tear of it, you can see how well loved it has been. In fact, this Easter, I decided to purchase a new copy for our family to enjoy!


As well, for Lent and Easter, Sally lovingly put together this reading plan to help parents walk their children through this most meaningful season in the Church calendar using The Jesus Storybook Bible and the corresponding Scripture passages.

So if you are like me, and life is a little messy right now, literally and figuratively, why not just jump right in on Day 37 and share with your kids how Jesus jumped right into the messiness of a broken and sin-filled world to rescue them, and to show them that…

 “Nothing can ever – no, not ever! – separate us from the Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love of God he showed us in Jesus!”
~Sally Lloyd-Jones

Perhaps next year, the blossoms will stay a while longer on the bushes before the wind sweeps them away. Perhaps next Spring, the squirrels will be a bit more generous and leave more seed for the birds. And, perhaps, next year, we will start our Lent reading plan from the very beginning, on Day 1!

IMG_2530Happy Easter! Our Rescuer has come and is alive forevermore!

Books · Friendship · Rooted in Christ

Book Review: Messy Beautiful Friendship


Almost eight years ago, my husband, myself, and our baby girl were planning an international move… 45 mins from home! As we prepared for my permanent resident interview, including a short, and very sweet, trip to Montreal, Quebec to become a legal immigrant, I began praying for the friendships I would make in our new hometown. Though I was excited and eager for yet another adventure that God was calling us to, I was sad to be separated from dear, life-giving friendships that had been established and nurtured through regular three-hour-long coffee dates every other week. It was so hard to leave these friendships that began during my single years, supported me in early marriage, walking through the grief of miscarriage, and rejoicing with me in the joys of life with a long-awaited newborn. Even though I was moving a mere 45 mins away, I couldn’t bear not to have these ladies by my side, or just down the road! But that separation of a border and another country made it seem that much further away! Thankfully, those friends came and visited once or twice a month and I was able to go and visit as often as I could as well. We found a favorite coffee place in my new hometown, a new favorite walking path along the bay and, thankfully, we were able to keep up our friendships in this new season of life, stateside!

As time went on though, and as we got more settled in our town and in a new church, I knew I had to start making deep friendships there too. So I started to pray for an “American Lisa” and an “American Karen”. That God would bless me with deep friendships in our new town that were as deep and life-giving as those I had in Canada. And, through time, playdates, and mutual initiation, those friendships did come and continue to this day as well. We know that when we do get together and see each other again, we will be able to step into that closeness and like-minded friendship and conversation again. I know that these women are my sisters in Christ, they rejoice when I rejoice and mourn when I mourn. And I do the same for them. We are each other’s cheerleaders and prayer warriors and will be throughout the span of our lifetime. I’m thankful for these friendships. They are lifelines that point me to Christ and I need them.

I’ve written before about how I’ve needed to hold my friendships with open hands as God has called me to a nomadic life of serving Him in various locations. Perhaps this is why I’ve put much thought and prayer into my friendships over the years, as I know that I need community wherever God calls me, and now us, as a family. We have at least one more move before we settle down for hopefully what will be the place where we settle and put down roots for the foreseeable future, perhaps ten, twenty years or so. I’m starting to pray again for those friendships, the women who will be in my circle, serving with me, praying with me, and loving our community together for Christ.

Perhaps it is quite timely then, that God led me to read Christine Hoover’s new book, Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships. As I flip through the book, it is looking rather yellow! I have marked it up quite thoroughly with my yellow highlighter. Reading so many thoughts and ideas that have echoed my own through the years was like finding a kindred friend who knew exactly what I was thinking!


Something awakens in us when we find someone who can relate to a shared value, struggle, or lesson learned. That is what I found when reading Messy Beautiful Friendship. The book is laid out in short, concise chapters, much like a devotional book, focusing on specific themes. Each of the five sections leads the reader through a pilgrimage of facing the very real challenges of friendship while leading the reader on to a gospel-centered perspective on friendship that reflects how we are to live in community as Christians.

Far from a worldly, static perspective on friendship, Christine offers water for the parched soul that is longing for friendship that goes beyond mere surface talk, common interests, and vacationing together.

“… the goal of friendship is to secure ourselves to the sure, steadfast anchor of Christ and, while holding to that anchor, give and receive the gift of friendship as we have opportunity. The goal is to enjoy God together with others and, as we move through life, to sharpen and allow ourselves to be sharpened by friends. We imitate Jesus with one another, willing to face the stark realities and consequences of sin, all the while persevering in our efforts to offer love, grace, forgiveness, reconciliation, comfort, and care to one another. In doing so, we display to one another and the world how God loves and, through this, bring him glory. This is our destination, the point on the map we move toward: bringing God glory.” pg.39

Interspersed along the way are quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, Life Together. I love it when authors find an old, Christian classic like this and weave the wisdom of those from another time and place into a message that is meant for our generation today. It not only reinforces what God was doing in a community from a culture and political climate of years gone by, but also shows that what God was doing then, is what He is continuing to do today, bringing the redemptive power of His Son to a hurting, broken world, a world that He will one day make new. We need the messages that are written for today as well as those words, sometimes ancient words, that connect us to times past.

Throughout the book, Christine unravels many of the reasons our friendships get so messy. It is that unspoken wish-dream of friendship that hinders so many of our relationships and prevents us from embracing the people who are right in front of us. Our idealistic expectations for community get shattered every time we put that wish-dream on its pedestal. She delves further into why its so important to enter into that messiness to find the beauty of friendship on the other side of our “ashes of insecurity”.

“In our envy of other women and who they are and what they have, we have chosen not to celebrate them or allow them to get close. In our childishness, we’ve been inconsiderate in thinking that friendship is for us and about us and should be what we want. We’ve been inwardly critical, and outwardly too, though we might not have dared to address the person directly. We’ve been judgmental and partial and argumentative and a million other things that sting and divide. These are ashes of our own making.” pg. 59

A wake up call like a back draft from an inferno rushes through my heart as I read those words and remember the times I’ve silently held back my offer of rejoicing with another in her joys, as well as the pain I have felt in my own heart when others have not rejoiced with me in my blessings. We all struggle in this way. Our insecurity breathes its venom from silent smiles when we choose the ways of the world, instead of following the Lord in his outpouring of a life of sacrificial love, obedience, and service. Our eyes need to be ever on our Lord, drawing strength from the Holy Spirit to actively listen, celebrate, and rejoice with others. Slowly, our insecurities fade away like the deadness of winter being engulfed in the new life of spring foliage. Our friendships become fruitful and life-giving to others and we find the safety of a community that lives and breathes the gospel of grace.

“But we are people of life! We can use our words to bring dead things to life, mirroring the resurrection of Christ and our own.” pg. 133

As I mentioned, my book is filled with yellow highlighting. I could write many reflections, perhaps on each chapter, as I have read this book. I will leave you with one more quote from Christine as she challenges us to enter into the hard conversations and the messiness, while seeking God’s glory and our joy in the beauty of friendship.

“We are to observe our friends. What are her gifts? What stories has God written in her life that could become an impactful ministry to others? What lies and patterns of behavior are hindering her relationship with God? What does it seem God is trying to do in her life? As we observe, we use our words to confirm her gifts, exhort her to ministry, encourage her growth, and excite her as to what God is doing in her life. Our honey-words have the power to stir up love and good works in the lives of our friends.” pg. 132

As part of Christine’s launch team for this book, I invite you to visit her book launch page, order the book before its release date next week for a sweet deal, and get those preorder goodies before they’re gone!


You can purchase her book on Amazon!


Books · Friendship · Rooted in Christ

Messy Beautiful Friendship – There You Are!


It was midnight when we rolled into the driveway of a city hotel under the cover of pitch darkness and a brooding storm that had escorted us into our new state, half way across the country. For months as we were planning to move, I couldn’t envision this new place and so in my mind, the state of Missouri was completely dark. And when we arrived to our hotel where we’d be living for a week as our new apartment was being prepared, I opened the handle of the driver’s side door into blackness which was lightened only by the hotel’s inner brightness and some funky pop music to usher me out of my stressed out, post traumatic state of having driven for about 15 hours straight, the last few hours having been pummeled by a thunder and lightning storm. Darkness. What I had envisioned about this state was still true in my perception. Our family was alone, isolated, with no friends or family, and without a clue as to what we would wake up to in the morning.

The morning did come. We awoke to blue, sunny skies overlooking a city, although all I could see from our hotel room was trees for miles. Trees! Now I knew two things about Missouri… storms and trees! The light was beginning to dawn on the beauty of the new land we had come to and our perception of this amazing state was getting into focus.

As we bravely left our hotel room to visit the campus, we were met by strangers who would become dear friends and neighbors. We were met by introductions, small talk, and “what’s your phone number? I’ll give you a call and we’ll get together!” More light was coming into view and our vision of what our home could be for the next three years started to become clearer. In fact, there was one woman on campus, Liz, who had been silently preparing for my arrival for several months and when we finally met in person, she was like a magnet that drew me in and connected me with other women, giving me much to look forward to in friendships here and what God might do in the life of our family here.

That’s what I call a friendship magnet. Like Christine Hoover says in her latest book, Messy Beautiful Friendship,

The truth of the matter is that we all have the ability to be friend-magnets when we enter a room with the words, intentions, and body language of seeing others–There you are!–rather than saying Here I am! Everyone look at me! Everyone listen to me! or the opposite, false humility response, I hope no one notices me. I will feel too self-conscious. We esteem others as more important than ourselves. We keep an eye out for the one standing on the fringe of the circle. We move toward the outside and pull those we find there into the mix. And let’s face it: Don’t we all feel like we live on the fringes in some capacity? Haven’t we all felt like an outsider at some point? We all know the relief of someone pulling us from the outside to the inside. We’ll be their friends for life.

In fact, I’m pretty sure my dear friend did say those exact words several times, “There you are!” She was so outward-focused and so eager to serve and connect me to the community that she invited me and our four kids out to the zoo with her and her kids while still living at the hotel that first week! We weren’t even in our new place yet. After that, she sent her older sons to collapse all our moving boxes that were strewn about on our patio. She sent food, invited us for dinner, play dates, and since then, many more coffee dates!

Christine writes,

Keep an eye out for the marginalized, the fringe, the new, the lonely, the quiet and unsure ones. Your influence pointed in the direction of an outsider can have great impact. It doesn’t take much—a word of welcome, an invitation to a playdate, a thoughtful encouragement about a job well-done, or remembering her name—and a whole new world opens up for the one who needs a world, any world, to open up.

I’m so thankful for this friend who reached out to me during a time of great need, even before I stepped onto the campus of our new home away from home. It meant the world to me! With the stability of a growing friendship with her, I was then able to, slowly, reach out to other women here and begin to offer the same kind of friendship I had received from her, to them.

Blessings on your journey of friendship,



I am a part of Christine Hoover’s launch team for her new book, Messy Beautiful Friendship. One of my favorite things to do is to share great Christian resources with other women, as well as promote or share the creative work of other women as they use their divinely designed gifts to serve God and the Church. It is an honor to pair these two loves into helping promote her new book which will be released on April 18th. Below, you will find one of these excerpts. Enjoy, and be blessed in the gift of friendship!



How to Be a Friend Magnet

Perhaps you’re one of those people with friends coming out the wazoo. I am friends with people like you. You are likable, fun, considerate, helpful, and all-around good human beings. You are awesome. I flock to you.

These friends of mine, upon hearing that I was writing a book on friendship, asked me to tackle these questions: How does one foster intimate, true friendships and remain hospitable without becoming cliquish? Is it even healthy to cut off the number of friendships you have?

The friends that I mention are women using their influence to serve others, honor others, seek out the best interest of others, and love others in a way that brings glory to the Lord. For those who are jealous of the friend-magnets in your midst, to be fair, I don’t think it’s as cut and dried as it seems. I believe these women are a real-life chicken/egg scenario: do people come toward friend-magnets simply because of who they are, or do these friend-magnets consistently go toward others ready to bless and honor? I see my friend-magnet friends working hard at friendship and being extremely others-centered. They are genuinely interested in others, honor others, and listen to others. My friend-magnet friends all have wildly different personalities, so it’s not that they have a charisma necessarily, although I think they are delightful people. They are simply people who consistently go toward others, no matter who they are, and seek to make other women feel comfortable.

If you are a person who attracts friends easily, please know that you’ve been given a gift from the Lord. You’ve been granted a magnetism and a way of making people feel loved. Thank Him for this gift, but please also recognize that this gift is not about you. The gift you’ve been given is the gift of influence, and it’s important to consider how you will use it.

If you are a woman who attracts friends easily, my encouragement to you is to use your influence to serve the outsiders. Keep an eye out for the marginalized, the fringe, the new, the lonely, the quiet and unsure ones. Your influence pointed in the direction of an outsider can have great impact. It doesn’t take much—a word of welcome, an invitation to a playdate, a thoughtful encouragement about a job well-done, or remembering her name—and a whole new world opens up for the one who needs a world, any world, to open up.

The truth of the matter is that we all have the ability to be friend-magnets when we enter a room with the words, intentions, and body language of seeing others–There you are!–rather than saying Here I am! Everyone look at me! Everyone listen to me! or the opposite, false humility response, I hope no one notices me. I will feel too self-conscious. We esteem others as more important than ourselves. We keep an eye out for the one standing on the fringe of the circle. We move toward the outside and pull those we find there into the mix. And let’s face it: Don’t we all feel like we live on the fringes in some capacity? Haven’t we all felt like an outsider at some point? We all know the relief of someone pulling us from the outside to the inside. We’ll be their friends for life.

An honoring person who looks for the outsider soon becomes a safe person for many, many women. In other words, her opportunities for friendship are abundant and overflowing. This is why my people-magnet friends are asking, “How does one foster intimate, true friendships and remain hospitable without becoming cliquish?” and “Is it even healthy to cut off the number of friendships you have?” Because a person who honors others will eventually have to navigate these things.

And I say, in response, that part of honoring others is connecting others. There is a special kind of joy in connecting two women we think will hit off or who share a story, interest, or life circumstance in common. We don’t have to be everyone’s bestie, and just because we’ve included someone doesn’t mean we have to become their intimate friend. We can help foster community among women by being a bridge between them.

So, for my darling friends who are worried about having too many BFFs to handle, this is what I would say: honor all and be deep friends with some. Be friendly and hospitable to all and give intimate attention to a few. Welcome all. Keep an eye out for all. Love all. You don’t have to be close friends with everyone, but you can certainly use your God-given influence to bless others and connect women with one another. Be a friend magnet and you’ll attract joy too.

This post is an excerpt from Christine Hoover’s new book, Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships, which explores the joys and complexities of friendship among Christian women. Find out more about Christine at

To preorder Christine’s new book, click here! As well, watch this wonderful interview with Ruth Chou Simons of In it, Christine and Ruth talk about overcoming hurts in friendship. This 30 minute video is packed full of godly, Biblical wisdom and truth.