Why All Readers and Writers Should Watch The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I don't usually write movie reviews.

But after watching The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society last night, I feel like I have to get this out and encourage all readers and writers to watch it as soon as possible (or read the book, which, surprise, surprise, I hear is better. I didn't realize there was a book before watching the movie or I would undoubtedly have read it first. I'm correcting that omission very soon).

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Here are some straight talk reasons you should (I'll get to the good stuff soon):

  • It's charming and quaint.
  • The scenery is breathtaking.
  • The story line is heartbreaking.
  • The redemption is beautiful.
  • The characters are broken and deal with levels of brokenness few of us have lived through, but should strive to remember.

All the things a movie needs, it has.

But those aren't the reasons I want you to watch it. I'm not talking now to every day people who love movies to tell them about another one to add to their list. I'd like to spend a few minutes talking to my people about why they need to watch it: readers and writers. My people.

In the movie, our female star, Juliet Ashton, says this about books, "They saved me." When I heard those words a flood of emotions welled up in my soul and I knew that I was known. Our Juliet is a writer, and a passionate lover of words. She also happens to have lost both of her parents in WWII, so when she travels to the Island of Guernsey, compelled to meet other people who have been saved by books, she understands a piece of their great loss. Guernsey was not only attacked by Germany, but lived under its harsh rule for years before being freed. The main characters in the story have all lost something and someone precious to them, some characters more than one. They've lost pieces of themselves, and the passion for words—gathering around a common theme and discussing it—restores the piece of their humanity that died when Germany landed on their beautiful island.

I didn't live through the atrocities of WWII. I haven't had to send my children away for multiple years in order to protect them from evil. But I have lost. And in every major loss or life circumstance I have read. A lot.

Through rough patches in childhood, I read.

Through painful break-ups, I read.

When I didn't know how to be the mom of a newborn, I read.

When my uncles, grandmother, grandfather, and aunt passed away in rapid fire succession, I read.

When we lost our baby, I read.

I don't just mean I read a blog post, or a short story...I mean I read 5-6 books at a time in a matter of days. When I was struggling hard with my firstborn, my mom did the very best thing a mom could ever do—she brought me a bag of books. Every week. Every week, a new bag of books. And I read them all.

When we suffered a miscarriage, my parents took our boys for a weekend and I downloaded at least eight books in a series to my Kindle and read them all. Long books. And I had read 4-5 the week before sitting on the beach trying to process what was coming.

My precious husband, who hates to read, doesn't understand, and I know there are others who can't quite grasp why people like me love to read.

It's because books save me.

I mean no disrespect to my Jesus, Who quite literally saved me (and maybe it would be better to say books heal me), but apart from salvation, one of His greatest gifts to me has been books. Words. A passion to see the world through someone else's eyes and be changed by the new perspective.

And now, I'm a writer.

It occurred to me this morning that after spending so many years in a deep, committed relationship with words...after sitting on the hillside behind my parents' home dreaming of being a writer one day...after grief finally pushed the words up through my heart and out on the page like a geyser that couldn't be stopped...God was preparing me all that time to offer others the same comfort I'd been given.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ" 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.

I'm not a fiction writer, although that's what I always thought I would be. I don't tell grand, sweeping stories of loss that paint a vivid picture of redemption and forgiveness through characters that bring them to life. But I do write about A Grand, Sweeping Story of Redemption and Forgiveness, and One Main Character Who brought me life. And I know that the words God gives me the privilege of writing are meant for someone's comfort...maybe even just mine.

So readers, writers, go. Now. Rent the movie, read the book. And be healed all over again as you find your story woven throughout theirs.

 

How Essential Oils Can Support Your Prayer Life

I know.

The title sounds a little bit New Age, but hang with me on this one. There's nothing extra-biblical in what I'm going to share with you today (and you know I take that very seriously).

It isn't a secret that I love and use essential oils every day and that I count them as one of my top weapons for maintaining and supporting the health of my family. We use them as our first line of defense for most everything, including immune support, sleep support, muscle and joint support, and to affect mood, stress, and digestion...just to name a few.

Until a few years ago, I would've said using them as a part of my prayer life sounded a bit hokie to me. I don't support new age moralism or secular humanist ways of elevating the self over God, and I'm not trying to teach you to use scents to ascend to a higher plane or indicate that you can get closer to God because of them.

Here, in a nutshell, is what I AM saying:

God wired our brains to recognize and respond to smell.

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How many times have you walked past a rose bush, or a honeysuckle tree and felt your spirits lift simply because they smelled so delightful? Has a scent ever triggered a memory for you that reminded you of a happy time and instantly changed your mood?

This happened to me the other day when I was grocery shopping. I simply walked past someone in an aisle who was wearing Jergens lotion—the lotion my grandmother wore after doing the dishes (it always sat in her window sill above the sink)—and I immediately breathed it in deeply, closed my eyes, and smiled. My entire grocery trip was flooded with thoughts of my grandmother from as much as 25 years ago (she died when I was 16) and my mood and heart felt at peace.

That's all I'm talking about...the fact that God made our brains to respond to smell. The cells in your nose that smell are linked to your limbic system, which, you guessed it, governs emotions.

All I'm saying is that God knew what He was doing when He created us. Our bodies are intricately woven together in a cause and effect cycle that is absolutely breathtaking! Truly, we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)!

So how DO essential oils support prayer?

Go with me for a minute back to your Intro Psyc class freshman year where you learned about Pavlov's dog. (No, I'm not suggesting we're all dogs, or monkeys, or anything other than God's grand design, but I do believe this theory illustrates something about us that we can all relate to).  Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who realized that dogs salivated when he brought food into the room. Eventually, he made the discovery that his dogs salivated in anticipation of food even when he didn't have food with him.

Over time, the dogs learned to associate certain things (lab assistants, bells, etc) with food, and would drool at just the sight (or sound) of them. We are the same way. Right this moment, I'm thinking about a big, fresh loaf of bread. I haven't had a big, fresh, loaf of bread in over three years, but I love bread. Just thinking about bread makes my mouth water with anticipation. SMELLING the bread baking is a temptation I often can't resist (which is why I don't bake it anymore).

I'm not saying we're dogs, but this "classical conditioning," as Pavlov called it, is a real thing, and it can work in our favor to enhance our prayer lives.

Here's how it works:

  1. Choose a "sacred space" to hold your prayer time each day. I like to sit in my "green prayer chair" every morning. Same chair, same view of the mountains and creek in front of my home.
  2. Create an environment you look forward to. Make sure you're comfortable (but not too comfortable! Don't want to fall asleep!), and have your supplies (Bible, pens, your copy of the Book of Prayer, etc) close by.
  3. Choose an essential oil (or combination of oils—I like Balance and Wild Orange) whose scent you enjoy. For example, my son loves Wild Orange. I let him smell it the other day and he said, "I could literally stand here and smell this all day. This is a happy oil!" If there's an oil that produces that reaction in you, that's the one!
  4. Every day, when you sit down to pray, turn on your diffuser with your "Happy Oil" combo in it.

Over time, as you meet with God regularly, your brain will begin to associate that smell with how spending time with God makes you feel (hopefully good, peaceful, and at rest!). Then you can start using that smell to help prepare your heart and mind to enter into worship of and conversation with the King of kings and Lord of lords.

The scent triggers the correct response.

Actually, they work together in a beautiful, cyclical relationship where the scent triggers the response, and the response enhances the feelings associated with the scent.

Isn't God SMART?

To learn more about how essential oils can work to help support the way God made our bodies, consider joining me for one of my monthly essential oil studies! Click here to see if you're a good fit!

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How to Support Your Sleep Naturally

A few years ago I had the opportunity to sit in a day long seminar on the effect of sleep, or lack thereof, on our bodies.

I've recently turned 40, and I've noticed that I see more and more women my age complaining about insomnia (the inability to sleep or stay asleep) as they age. It's a common problem among women (and new mothers, ahem...) and one science says we really need to address. Actually, it's more common among women than among men...

Among other things, lack of sleep can increase our chances for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and depression (according to WebMD). It can also cause us to gain weight, affect our ability to focus, cause memory issues, trouble thinking, mood changes, weakened immunity, low sex drive, and poor balance (according to this article at www.healthline.com).

I don't know about you, but these things make me want to take my sleep habits a bit more seriously. My family, my ministry, my life is way too important for me to dismiss sleep easily.

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So I decided to do something about it.

One of the main ways I support my body naturally is through the use of essential oils (EOs). If you aren’t familiar with them, EOs are the natural, aromatic compounds found in plants and they have many uses for our health today, including helping us to support sleep naturally.

Most people who have otherwise normal issues with sleep can find all the support they need from using essential oils. They can be used to help you get the rest that you need and wake up feeling refreshed instead of groggy, like some OTC meds do, and they aren't addictive like most prescription sleep drugs. Calming the nervous system, reducing stress, and making a difference in the quality of your sleep are all benefits of using essential oils.

Join our Sleep Study

If you would like to learn more about using essential oils to help support your sleep naturally I invite you to participate in one of our upcoming national, online essential oil studies. We host a new one each month, and can accommodate a limited number of people each time.

Participants must fill out an intake form, attend an orientation, ending survey class, and must not have a doTERRA wholesale account already. Participants also may not already be working with another doTERRA Wellness Advocate (that’s what I am) simply because our goal is not to disrupt already established relationships and methods of support. Once accepted into the study, you’ll be sent free samples of essential oils scientifically proven to help reduce stress and access to extensive education to help you as you go through the study process.

If you’re interested in participating, please join our waiting list by entering your email address here. You’ll receive an immediate welcome email with a worksheet I’ve created called “Ways to Support Sleep Naturally with Essential Oils.” It contains much of the information in this article in easy-to-read, bullet point form (plus some fun extras)!

You’ll receive notification by email with details for our next study at the beginning of the next calendar month, so watch for it in your inbox!

Here’s to less stress and a healthier life. We can do this together for ourselves and our families! They're worth it!

 

How to Reduce Stress Naturally

Last Christmas I went totally off of my regular diet.

Several years ago, my husband and I made a Herculean effort to clean up our diets, and for me, that meant going mostly grain free. I don’t have any disorders that make me need to eat this way, I just get chronic headaches and digestive issues (that’s all I’ll say) when I eat specific kinds of grain. For years I endured these nagging headaches and treated them with ibuprofen. All the research I did kept pointing me back to removing grain from my diet, but, as you might imagine, I was reluctant to do it.

Removing grain is a HUGE deal.

Not at all easy. It’s time consuming, costly, and can sometimes produce a headache (stress and frustration) of a totally different kind. But at just 35 years old (at the time) I knew something needed to change. I was popping ibuprofen like it was candy just to try to get through life, and I knew my body couldn’t withstand that kind of abuse for another 35 years.

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So I went grain free.

Within about 2 months, my headaches were almost completely gone. I still get the occasional sinus or stress headache here and there, but my life has been completely changed because of that one decision.

Back to Christmas.

Part of our overall mission to clean up our health was reducing sugars, and trying to eliminate dyes and processed foods. I’m just a regular girl who struggles as much as anyone to keep to her “feel my best” food choices over the holidays, and the Christmas of 2017 kicked my tail. Seriously. I made lots of poor food choices in the name of convenience and, “It’s the holidays! Let’s celebrate!” and my body began to notice.

I was also very stressed out. I hosted lots of family for holiday meals (TWO Thanksgiving meals in ONE DAY!), juggled extra kids’ activities, and my ministry obligations had gotten a little out of control (not to mention the stress of parenting kids all by itself).

Very stressful things were happening behind the scenes, stretching me too thin and causing me to live in a constant state of “just get things done.”

Just after Christmas, I started noticing that my heart rate was much faster than normal (thank you, iWatch!). At the encouragement of some friends, I headed to the doctor, and went through a series of tests to help diagnose the problem. In the meantime, I began getting my eating and stress levels back to normal. I cut out most sugar and caffeine, got my nose and heart back into the Word of God regularly, started diffusing and using essential oils, and my husband and I began trying to get in 10,000 steps per day, something my naturally sedentary life makes it hard to do.

Over time, the heart issues went away, and I knew that my choices to reduce the toxic load in my life was not only a good thing, it was a very serious thing.

As a society, we’re living more and more stressful lives and calling it good. Rest, recovery, and striving for more peaceful lives seems to be an outdated pursuit of the past. In fact, many of us have bought the lie that if we’re not busy and stressed out, we’re not working at our fullest potential.

Stressed out equals success. Or so we think.

Actually, being overly stressed can lead to things like heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pains, and even irregular heart beats, like I experienced (according to medicinenet.com). The Mayo Clinic says that stress can effect headaches, muscle tension, chest pain, fatigue, sex drive, cause stomach and sleep problems, anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation or focus, anger, sadness, and overeating…just to name a few.

In other words, stress is big deal, it’s NOT the key to success, and we need to get it under control.

One of the main ways I supported my body naturally during this time was through the use of essential oils (EOs). If you aren’t familiar with them, EOs are the natural, aromatic compounds found in plants and they have many uses for our health today, including helping us to reduce stress.

Scent is a very powerful thing. God made our bodies to benefit from our sense of smell. I recently walked by someone in the grocery store who was wearing the lotion my grandmother used to wear. Just smelling that lotion lit up my brain and heart with sweet memories of her and my mood was instantly changed. When was the last time you walked by a rose bush or a honeysuckle tree and found your spirits lifted just because they smell so beautiful? That’s the way God made our bodies to work, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Join our Stress Study

If you would like to learn more about using essential oils to help relieve your stress I invite you to participate in one of our upcoming national, online essential oil studies. We host a new one each month, and can accommodate a limited number of people each time.

Participants must fill out an intake form, attend an orientation, ending survey class, and must not have a doTERRA wholesale account already. Participants also may not already be working with another doTERRA Wellness Advocate (that’s what I am) simply because our goal is not to disrupt already established relationships and methods of support. Once accepted into the study, you’ll be sent free samples of essential oils scientifically proven to help reduce stress and access to extensive education to help you as you go through the study process.

If you’re interested in participating, please join our waiting list by entering your email address here. You’ll receive an immediate welcome email with a worksheet I’ve created called “Ways to Reduce Stress Naturally with Essential Oils.” It contains much of the information in this article in easy-to-read, bullet point form (plus some fun extras)!

You’ll receive notification by email with details for our next study at the beginning of the next calendar month, so watch for it in your inbox!

Here’s to less stress and a healthier life. We can do this together for ourselves and our families! They're worth it!

 

On Christian Rights

A couple things need to be said before I really get started on this article.

  1. I intentionally labelled this article, "On Christian Rights," instead of "On Human Rights," because I want to speak to people here who call themselves followers of Christ. I believe the message of the Gospel is for everyone who has ears to hear it, but I'm not naive enough to think people who don't define themselves as Christians will agree with me on any level. Heck, I doubt many Christians will agree with me. But I think it needs to be said. So here goes.
  2. I'm going to try hard not to specifically mention any of the main issues or hot buttons of our day, but rather bring this from the perspective of sola scriptura, which basically means that I use the Christian Bible as my source of truth and revelation, and the foundation upon which I build all of my theology. You can apply what I say here to those issues yourself if you feel so inclined.

On Christian Rights

There's a sentence that's been rolling around in my head and heart for several weeks. I haven't quite known what to do with it, because I know there's a big chance it will come off differently than I intend it to. That's the problem with social media. You can't hear my voice, see my face, or know my heart. I know, I know, we think we know people online because we can talk to them freely, but I think most intelligent, rational people can agree that what you see online is only a snapshot of what people want you to see. When I first started writing, my parents asked me why in the world I wanted to spread my "business" all over the internet. The answer is because I feel called to make a difference in the lives of people. And if there's one thing I know to be true, especially with mothers—the group I most often serve—it's that they don't want to hear anything I say if they don't think I understand and can identify with their lives.

I see this as a "comfort others with the comfort you've been given..." type of relationship, perhaps on a large scale, and I feel complete peace with it. But what my parents were failing to take into account was that for every juicy piece of information I carefully and prayerfully choose to share with you online there are 100 I don't. Intentionally. Afterall, my life isn't just mine. My words might be mine, but the ones I choose to write affect those closest to me because their lives intersect so deeply and closely with mine. I'm discerning, and I don't like to add to a conversation just for the sake of writing words. There's too much fluff on the internet today and I don't want to add to it unless I really feel my words can help.

So the sentence...here it is:

When Christians focus mainly, or even solely, on fighting for our own rights, I think we've missed the point of the Christian life.

Now maybe you can see why I feared misinterpretation?

I believe all humans, regardless of...well...anything...have value and worth and should be treated with respect. I believe that because they were created by God, in His image, and because He found mankind valuable enough to send His Son to die for us. If He loves the pinnacle of His creation that much, I should too.

I also believe all humans have a right to be spoken to and about with dignity, whether to their face or online. The Bible says it's God's kindness that brings us to repentance. Kindness, not hatred. We, and by that I mean Christians, have been dancing way too close to the hatred line when it comes to people who believe differently than we do. Kindness. Speaking the truth in love. These are the things that win people over.

I believe these things about all human life because it's the example God has set for me in His word. It's the way He loves mankind, and so I strive—failing often—to love mankind that way, too.

But...

There's a piece of the equation I believe American Christians have completely forgotten. Maybe it's because we've lived so long in the land where personal rights reign supreme. We're used to having a voice, having free speech, and having the right to the pursuit of happiness. We might be tempted to look at those things and think they're consistent not only with America, but also with the Bible, while Christians in other countries look at them, flip the pages of their Bible, and go, "Hmmmmm. I don't see that here."

American Christians start a lot of sentences with, "You can't tell me..." or, "I have rights, too, you know!" or, "It isn't fair for you to treat me that way!"

I get it. I think at one time I've probably said those things myself. We undeniably live in a country where we have certain rights. We are, as Christians, undeniably losing those rights one by one just because we're Christians. It isn't fair. It possibly isn't what our founding fathers had in mind. We do need to fight for what's right in a way that brings glory to God. But when we remove our country of residence from the equation we realize that our theology has gotten wrapped up in our residence, and that our theology doesn't work on other soils. And if what we believe to be true about God doesn't work in China it doesn't work here. God never says in His word that these truths only apply to Americans. No, His truth applies to all people.

Here's what I'm getting at...

Jesus never asked us to come follow Him and have all our dreams come true. He never said, "Come, and I'll help you toward self-actualization...help you realize your potential. Give you equal pay. Fulfill your dreams." He didn't even say, "Come, let Me validate you and bring you happiness in this life."

What He really said was (or says is), "Come, and die."

I think we forget that these days...America is obsessed with getting what's rightfully theirs. Jesus calls the Christian—here or anywhere else—to lay down what's theirs and follow Him.

“The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with His death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ.

When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow Him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call.” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

I want to repeat myself, because by now I think you're starting to doubt me: I believe all mankind has the right to be treated with respect, kindness, love, dignity, honor, and...dare I say it again...kindness. You and I both should be treated this way and treat others this way because God treats mankind this way. He is our foremost example of how to treat others. But God's treatment of and love for mankind can't be defined the same way as ours. His love always comes with truth. Our love sometimes feels enabling. His truth always comes with love. Our truth sometimes feels like hatred.

God's Word says, in John 13:34-35, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another," (emphasis mine).

These verses make two very important points:

  1. We are to love others just as He has loved us. This isn't a license to define love however we want. If there's anything clear about the bigger story the Bible gives us about who Jesus is it's that sometimes...often...love means denying ourselves. No, love isn't mushy gushy feelings. If you want to love like Jesus did, you'll have to die—physically or maybe just emotionally—to yourself and loving the way you want to and do it the way He did it instead.
  2. Jesus gives the world the right to judge us, whether we are true Christians or not, by the way we love. I daresay many of us have left people wondering where our allegiance lies of late.

In conclusion, I'll say this. Being a Christian isn't just about being forgiven of our sins. It IS that in every way, but it isn't only that. There is a life after baptism that bids us come and die. Baptism itself is an outward sign that the men and women we were before Christ are dead. We emerge from the water new creations who are committed to following Christ wherever He leads. If no one told you that's what's baptism meant...what the Christian life meant...I'm so sorry, but now you know. Don't believe me? Study the Bible and see for yourself.

In essence, we give up our rights to lead our own life, and submit them to Jesus in response to the way He gave up His rights for us. What that looks like in practice is slightly different for everyone. Jesus may call you to die to your dream of marriage and be a single missionary. He may call you to die to your dream of being a top executive so you can be the father your children need while they're young. He may call you to die to the big life in order to lead a simple, quiet life serving others and leading them to Him. Or maybe it will be the other way around. Maybe He'll call you to the stage in order to proclaim His Name to the masses when all you want is to go hide in the corner.

The older I get...the longer I walk on this earth...the more absolutely and unwaveringly convinced I become that the ONLY way to live a life that honors God and draws others to Him is to love Jesus.

Love Him first. Love Him most. Love Him best. Love Him hardest. Love Him more than I love myself, my husband, my children, my friends, my rights, my personality, my strengths, my personal desires, my feelings, my emotions, my joys, my heartbreaks, my challenges, or my sin.

Passionate pursuit of Jesus as the greatest love of my life, regardless of other loves, is the only way. Bringing Jesus to the world is what's worth fighting for. I'm afraid we're wasting time fighting for our rights.

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If you're a mom, and this article resonated with you, you might enjoy my newest book, Gospel Centered Mom: The Freeing Truth About What Your Kids Really Need. It's a "Come-to-Jesus" book for moms, encouraging them to return to the truth of what the Bible actually says, instead of living what we wish it said. The Gospel is where our true hope lies! Learn more about it by clicking here.

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