Posted in My Faith, Uncategorized

Christmas Traditions during COVID-19 Pandemic

This year, the holidays look much different than they ever have. Not many are traveling to see loved ones. As a result, families are forced to reevaluate their Christmas traditions, or have to scale them back.

As for my family, I have four little ones to account for. I can’t skip celebrating Christmas just because I can’t see my extended family. My kids are counting on me, to have a nice Christmas.

How Our Traditions Changed

Throughout the month of December, we have accomplished many common Christmas traditions. These are not all of our traditions, but by far my favorite ones. Despite COVID-19, we have made the best of this wonderful time of the year.

Christmas Baking

As a family, we’ve made and decorated sugar cookies and attempted to make gingerbread houses. Instead of gingerbread, we used graham crackers, but had no milk cartons to support our structures. The kids loved to eat them, anyway.

As a small group of women, we had a cookie bake. It was fun to see what other kinds of cookies other families make at Christmas. We made enough cookies for the elderly and shut-ins of our church. I loved including my daughters in the project, taking the chance to teach them giving and generosity.

Buying and Wrapping Gifts

Since my family and I were in quarantine late October, early November, I got this done fast! Thanks to Amazon and online shopping, I was done with my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving!

christmas gift boxes under fir tree
Photo by Oleg Zaicev on

For those of you who know how much I procrastinate, this is a Christmas miracle!

As a result, I still felt a sort of guilt inside.

When shopping for household things or groceries, I would find something that could have been a perfect gift for a loved one, but I’d for sure overspent my budget. In hind sight, I should have made one for Christmas gifts.

Despite my previous notions, I didn’t feel done or a sense of relief to be done shopping.

No idea why I still feel this way, but it has been a good lesson in self-restraint.

It isn’t responsible for me to empty our bank account just to attempt people-pleasing success. Can you relate?

Wrapping Gifts

Don’t get me started on wrapping! Imagine an entire table full of gifts, halfway to the ceiling – and I wrapped them all! Well, most of them. Now that I think about it, I have run out of at least five rolls of wrapping paper, and used probably ten overall.

In my defense, some of them were used last year, and most were the character-printed, skimpy kind of wrapping paper rolls. I love wrapping gifts, but for the first time in my life, I actually got sick of wrapping. I still have to wrap two late coming gifts, and I just don’t want to. Pathetic, I know.

Christmas Caroling

Last but not least, is my favorite tradition. Whether it is at church, with friends, or with my family, I love singing Christmas carols.

black father playing piano with little daughter
Photo by Any Lane on

Yesterday, after church, a small group of us went caroling at the local nursing homes.

As a group, we went window to window, singing of our glorious Savior, Jesus, and the celebration of Him.

This by far, was the most impactful.

The joyous faces of those trapped in their room, waving and so excited to see other people, singing to them. I can’t tell you how good it felt to see my kids understand the reason we sang to them, and to feel compassion and cheer towards them. That is priceless!


adult birthday birthday gift box
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on

In hindsight, I think this is God’s way of teaching me a lesson.

Teaching me to be content with keeping things simple, not overdoing it, and not worrying about the impression I make.

Instead, focus on teaching my kids giving, generosity and putting others first, etc.

Most of all, teaching them Christmas isn’t about gifts or decorations or cookies.

people standing inside church
Photo by Blue Ox Studio on

Christmas is just that, celebrating Christ.

His miraculous birth and coming to us as a humble baby, so someday pay for the sins of the world, for all time!

Now, He worth celebrating!

Posted in My Faith, Uncategorized

Grief During the Holidays

Today, as I casually scrolled Facebook, I came across a post from a college friend of mine. Back in the day, he was on my brother floor in college, and married my college roommate, Jill.

In Memory of Jill

A year ago today, he became a widow. Jill lost her battle with cancer, and joined her Savior for eternity.

While I reflect today, about her life, and her impact on others, I am blessed to have known her – even for a short time.

Precious Memories

Remembering our talks in our dorm room. Her dumping as much white powder on the floor, to keep the bed bugs out of our room, it looked like a gingerbread house! Although, it worked!

The time she found a large black and yellow spider in her bed. As she had the top bunk, she jumped down so fast and screamed so loud, I couldn’t help but laugh so hard!

Even her suddenly streaking into her last floor meeting, as she was a senior that year, and the look on my female R.A.’s face was priceless!

I’m engaged!

In the words of Jill, “my roommate is freakin engaged! …alright ladies…this will be my 3rd roommate to get married, who wants to be next?!!! 😃 congrats Adrianne Meier!” I’m so glad she got her chance to be married to such a wonderful man.

One of my favorite memories, is being in gospel choir with her. She sang the solo in “Revelation Song” and I will never forget the power and authenticity in her voice.

Gospel Choir 2011-2012

Secondly, was her love for dance parties and late nights investing in the girls on our floor. Jill was a true friend and leader.

Finally, the time I delivered flowers to her, from her future husband, and the chance to see first hand how she felt about him. To watch their relationship grow was truly remarkable.

As a result, I realized why I feel so melancholy during the holidays. It is because I’ve lost so many people in my short life.

Those I’ve Lost

Following, is a list of the people I’ve lost in my lifetime:

  1. My paternal grandfather – I was two weeks old.
  2. My paternal grandmother – at the age of 6
  3. My uncle – cancer, died two days before Christmas
  4. My former pastor – home church
  5. My future father-in-law – cancer
  6. My maternal grandmother – right before I conceived my first child
  7. My cousin – died suddenly
  8. Two MS classmates in the same summer – one to cancer, one a blood clot
  9. Third HS classmate – ATV accident, Jr. Year
  10. Fourth HS classmate – missing and unknown cause of death
  11. Fifth HS classmate – suicide
  12. College roommate, Jill – cancer
  13. Miscarried our third child
  14. My husband’s paternal grandfather – one month after our 2nd child’s birth
  15. My husband’s paternal grandmother – in the same month her husband did, a few years later
  16. Husband’s uncle – cancer, during COVID
  17. Husband’s paternal grandmother’s sister-in-law (his great aunt) – during COVID
  18. Countless church members, from past and present churches

Sadly, I’m not even sure this is the complete list, but these were the pinnacle deaths I can remember.

Life Reflection

Ultimately, life is too short. Don’t waste your opportunities to love on someone, family or not. You have no idea how short their time here on Earth truly is.

Thankful for Jill

In San Diego

Back to my college roommate, I had no idea her life would end so soon. I’m thankful we’d visited her and her husband when we had traveled nearby.

I do regret not spending more time with her in the moment at college, but am so thankful God provided the opportunity to see her one last time.


As Thanksgiving is approaching, I’m reminded to be thankful. Thankful for each and every one of those people I’ve lost. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to know them and be a small part of their lives.

However, I’m most thankful God has provided a way for us to see them again. How different my grief would be if not for Heaven and for eternity with God. I cling to that hope and have faith in what I can’t yet see.

Posted in Book Reviews

“Handle with Care: How Jesus Redeems the Power of Touch in Life & Ministry” by Lore Ferguson Wilbert


Handle with Care: How Jesus Redeems the Power of Touch in Life & Ministry by Lore Ferguson Wilbert, is a rare book about the role of appropriate touch in the Christian ministry.

Wilbert’s premise is based on Matthew 8:3, “Jesus stretched out his hand and touched…” showing Jesus Himself used touch in His ministry.

“Handle with Care” is based on her theology of the beneficial and necessity of “healthy, pure, faithful, ministering touch” (Wilbert).

Wilbert’s purpose is to combat culture and the churches’ fear of touch being threatened or threatening.

In her ten chapters, Wilbert goes into detail about a variety of topics. These include: the types of touch, abuse, miscarriage, singleness, physical discipline, sibling violence, etc.


Personally, I like how Wilbert includes questions for reflection or conversation in the back, both for groups or individuals, concerning each chapter. Wilbert is authentically passionate about this topic.

She even goes so far as to write a letter specifically to victims of abuse. I love how Wilbert acknowledges those victimized by touch, etc. and wrote the entire book with them in mind. How compassionate and considerate!

Other Author Reviews

About the Author

Lore Ferguson Wilbert has lived all over the United States but will always be most at home in the Northeast. She holds a degree in English from Lee University.

She has been published by Christianity Today, Fathom Magazine, LifeWay Leaders, LifeWay Voices, The Gospel Coalition, Revive Our Hearts, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and more, on spiritual formation, faith, culture, and theology in life.

She also teaches writing and edits on the side. You can read more of her work at

She and her husband live with their Wheaten, their books, their gardens, and a stocked tea box at all times.

Posted in Book Reviews

“Fight for Love,” by Rosie Makinney

Fight for Love, by Rosie Makinney, is a profound book about the effects of pornography addiction in marriage.


As a wife of a porn-addict herself, her experience and research combined, is a “life-changing resource” for wives of porn addicts (Josh McDowell, author).

Makinney focuses on how porn affects men, their wives, and kids – providing families tools to fight back and make recovery possible. She has packed her ten chapters with neuroscience research findings, Scripture, a biblical battle plan, and her personal, informational memoir.

“Fight for Love” debunks cultural norms and lies associated with sex and pornography. Highly researched and supported by sources, Makinney even suggests both men and women’s brains are susceptible to pornography.


“Fight for Love” is highly recommended by author, Josh McDowell. Personally, it was hard to face this topic, but quite insightful. I appreciate the author & her contributor’s honesty about their struggle with pornography.

Lastly, I admire the author’s goal in publishing this book. You’re not alone in this marital struggle. I highly recommend this book as a resource for couples. This book will equip you and your spouse with the tools needed to find healing, recovery and restoration.

About the Author

Main Author

Rosie Makinney is a writer and speaker who ten years ago entered the fight against her husband’s compulsive porn use. Through her faithful and uncompromising stance and his repentance, counseling, and group work, their marriage is now porn-free.

Rosie Makinney

From the very beginning of her journey, Rosie has been bold and relentless about reaching other wives struggling with porn-invaded marriages and has built a recovery community on the central coast of California.

Together with her husband, Mark, a certified sexual addiction therapist, Rosie founded Fight For Love Ministries, which takes a message of hope and truth into churches.

Rosie is passionate about kick-starting this discussion among women to empower them with both the facts and the faith to fight against porn addiction and its effects on them, their spouses, and their families. Connect with her at

Forward Only

Josh McDowell, internationally known for his books on apologetics (Evidence That Demands a Verdict) and youth culture (Right from Wrong) as well as his innovative mission outreaches into the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, would tell you in a minute what his first ministry is–his family. He and Dottie, his wife of more than thirty years, still keep tabs on their four children from their home.

Posted in Book Reviews

“For All Who Wander: Why Knowing God is Better than Knowing it All” by Robin Dance

For All Who Wander: Why Knowing God is Better than Knowing it All, is written by Robin Dance, who is also an (in)courage author.


Dance has a corresponding journey guide/journal that corresponds with the book. Dance’s goal is to “help others find hope and healing in their own story” while reading hers.

Her book includes 25 chapters, which correspond to the journey guide.

Dance’s purpose in providing the journey guide is so readers can read, reflect, resolve, and pray – enhancing their reading experience.

Her book includes highlighted key points, relevant quotes from written works, etc., incorporates Scripture and shocking statistics.


As for myself, I loved Dance’s creative chapter titles! She shows a great deal of creativity in crafting her writing.

As a fellow blogger, I enjoyed her description of her blogging journey and the impact it had over her life. Dance is relatable, open and authentic.

She effectively uses the teachable moments in her life to teach, help and encourage others. Incorporating media and literature of today with her story, was a treat.

I enjoyed my journey through her book and would highly recommend it for Christian women.

About the Author

Robin Dance

Robin Dance

Robin Dance is a writer, speaker, and contributor to the (in)courage community and The Art of Simple.

She’s traveled to India as a blogger and child sponsorship advocate for Compassion International, and her writing has been featured in ten book compilations as well as HomeLife and Mature Living magazines.

She and her husband, Tad, are enjoying newfound freedom as empty nesters, but they keep their fingers crossed and the back door open for their three adult children.

As Southern as sugar-shocked tea, she currently lives in Macon, Georgia, and online at


At (in)courage you are welcome to a place of faith, connection, and friendship, where you will always find yourself among friends.

Founded in 2009 by DaySpring, the Christian products subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, Inc., the vision for (in)courage was to create a new home for the hearts of women, where women take turns pulling up a chair to share their stories of what Jesus looks like in their everyday, gloriously ordinary, and often messy lives.

Since then, (in)courage has grown into a vibrant community that reaches thousands of women every day, welcoming them just the way they are, offering a space to breathe, loving support, and resources for meaningful connection.

Posted in Book Reviews

“Modern Parents Vintage Values: Instilling Character in Today’s Kids” (Revised & Updated) by Sissy Goff & Melissa Trevathan


Modern Parents Vintage Values: Instilling Character in Today’s Kids (Revised & Updated) by Sissy Goff & Melissa Trevathan, and both are certified counselors.

Goff and Trevathan’s purpose in writing this book to address the issues parents struggle with the most when it comes to raising children.

Examples of these issues are technology, disrespect, entitlement, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, etc.

Not only that, the authors teach parents “how to cultivate kindness, gratitude, integrity, responsibility, and more.”

This book is broken into three parts, and includes quotes from authors, lists, suggestions for parents, children, and teach steps of application at the end of each chapter. As you can imagine, this book is highly supported by research and sources.


This book is also highly recommended by authors, professors, speakers, and actress Candace Cameron Bure.

I admire the authors’ mission to help parents by teaching how to instill “true, foundational, vintage values, built on faith and hope in Jesus Christ.”

The authors are passionate and offer a practical and professional perspective for parents to reference. They offer helpful, specific advice.

This advice is applicable and organized to each stage of childhood and adolescence.

Primarily, this book is encouraging to struggling parents and gives them valuable tools in their parenting tool box.

I highly recommend this valuable parenting resource, for whatever stage of life your kids are in.

About the Authors

Sissy Goff

Sissy Goff, M.Ed., LPC-MHSP has worked as the Director of Child and Adolescent Counseling and the Director of Summer Programs at Daystar since 1993. She also has been a guest on television and radio programs across the United States and in Canada.

A sought after speaker to parents and girls of all ages, Sissy is also a regular speaker at LifeWay’s You and Your Girl events. She has written for CCM Magazine, ParentLife magazine, and a variety of other periodicals.

She and Melissa Trevathan coauthored The Back Door to Your Teen’s Heart, Raising Girls, Mirrors and Maps, and Growing Up Without Getting Lost.

Melissa Trevathan

Melissa Trevathan, M.R.E. first became a youth director at the age of 16. Since that time, she has been a teacher, retreat leader, head of spiritual life at a private school in Nashville, and is now founder and Executive Director of Daystar Counseling Ministries that began in 1985.

Melissa has spoken across the country, including teaching graduate courses in counseling adolescents and has been a guest on television and radio programs throughout the United States and in Canada.

She coauthored The Back Door to Your Teen’s Heart, Raising Girls, Mirrors and Maps, and Growing Up Without Getting Lost. She is a regular speaker at LifeWay’s You and Your Girl events as well as a popular speaker for parents and kids of all ages.

Posted in Book Reviews

“Resuscitating Evangelism” by Jordan Easley & Ernest Easley


Resuscitating Evangelism by father-son duo, Jordan Easley & Ernest Easley, who are both pastors and evangelists. Their shared goal is to “share a biblical strategy for obeying Jesus and bringing new life to evangelism.”

The authors debunk excuses of Christians and churches as to why they don’t evangelize regularly.

This book includes eight chapters and an interlude, which rare feature I’ve never seen in a book before. the Easley’s integrate Scripture, quotes, highlight key points, lists, comparisons, personal experiences, etc.

All of their content is heavily supported by sources and research.


As for me, I liked how the authors pointed out, over discipling the church kills it, if lacks evangelism outside the church. Now that they point that out, i’ve definitely witnessed churches plagued with this perspective.

I admire their passion and drive to promote evangelism to today’s Christians.

I love the authors creativity in using health/medical terminology throughout the book, to unify the book as a whole. The imagery was quite effective and a unique angle to this important topic.

As an author, I can tell these two authors, pairing up, elevates the book, by offering and highlighting their own expertise.

I highly recommend this book to any Christian or church, to further equip them for evangelism.

About the Authors

Ernest Easley is the teaching pastor over evangelism at First Baptist Church in Cleveland, Tennessee.

Ernest Easley

He served as a lead pastor for over thirty-one years in Texas and Georgia and professor of evangelism for three years at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.

He studied at Baylor University, Dallas Baptist University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Luther Rice Seminary.

Ernest is the author of Through the Valleys and contributor on and He and his wife, Julie, have three children and seven grandchildren.

Jordan Easley is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Cleveland, Tennessee.

Jordan Easley

He holds degrees from Dallas Baptist University in Dallas, Texas and Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, and also attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

Jordan is the author of Life Change: Finding a New Way to Hope, Think, and Live.

He and his wife, Audra, live in Cleveland, Tennessee and are the proud parents of their two children, Jailee and Asher.

Posted in Book Reviews

“You Are What You Do: And Six Other Lies About Life & Love” by Daniel Im


You Are What You Do: And Six Other Lies About Life & Love by Daniel Im, is quite the fascinating read. Im focuses on the seven lies of identity, describing the context in which these lies flourish, through personal stories, research and pastoral insight.

Im’s purpose is to reveal the truth that leads to freedom; from surviving to thriving. According to Im, “truth unlocks a life of purpose, adventure, meaning and destiny.”

Each chapter focuses on one of these seven lies: You are What You Do, You are What You Experience, You are Who you Know, You are What You Do, You are What You Own, You Are Who You Raise, and You Are Your Past.

Im describes the lie, with relatable examples, the effects of the lie, and refutes the lie with biblical truth. As well as charts, lists and quotes to support his theories. What an intriguing concept?!


I like how the author challenges readers to think about life, work and love in a fresh way.

This book comes highly recommended by several notable pastors, speakers and authors.

I can feel the author’s passion and his desire to make a difference in people’s lives.

Not only does Im describe the lie, I love how he reveals the source and context from where these lies come – the reasons we believe them and the freeing truth.

I highly recommend this book for anyone seeking to further their self-discovery and development. Even for parents wanting to help their children find a higher sense of self-esteem, this is a great parenting tool to help you set and teach realistic expectations.

About the Author

Daniel Im is a speaker and leader who has traveled to cities like New York, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Sydney, and Seoul to teach, consult, and coach.

His podcasts have been downloaded over 3 million times. He has pastored in five major cities around the world in churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people. 

He has written two paradigm shifting books, No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, and Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (second edition). He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and is a Gallup Certified Strengths Performance Coach. 

Daniel lives in Edmonton, Alberta with his wife Christina and their three children. For more information, visit and follow him on social media @danielsangi.

Book Trailer

Posted in Book Reviews

“Younique” by Will Mancini with Dave Rhodes & Cory Hartman


Younique by Will Mancini with Dave Rhodes & Cory Hartman, is a great resource for anyone in ministry. The focus of this book is to find your specific calling and divine design for your life, vocation and ministry.

According to the authors, “God created you with unique potential and place you on planet Earth for a specific purpose.”

This book is broken into six parts, mapping out specific topics for readers, in the preface, so they don’t have to read the entire book to find what they’re looking for. How clever is that?!

These parts include: Your Journey, Your One Thing, Your Identity, Your Direction, Your Renewal and Your Destiny.

In addition, the authors effectively use visual diagrams, tables and figures to clarify points. Other tools throughout the book are side notes, quotes, web-links to resources and highlighted main points. What a helpful, all-in-one tool!


Younique comes highly recommended by several church leaders and participants of various ages, from all across the United States. I like how the authors utilized consistent symbolism and organization throughout the book.

What makes this book so interesting is the evident passion, professionalism, and focus shown by the authors. I find the intriguing title and topic, this book is an accessible learning tool for any Christian or church ministry training.

About the Author

Will Mancini

Will Mancini is the founder of Auxano, a non-profit, nationally-based church consulting firm, and the cofounder of Younique, a coaching company that delivers life design training through local churches.

He has written five books, including Church Younique and God Dreams, and enjoys speaking and writing about how to find clarity and live a life of meaningful progress.

Will lives in Houston with his wife Romy and their four children.

You can learn more about Will and his work at

Connect with him on Twitter at @willmancini and Instagram at @will_be_clear.