Blog

Book Love, Christian non-fiction, Living in Faith

Traveling toward “Destination Hope”

Today I’m happy to share with you about Destination Hope: A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart by Marilyn Nutter and April White.

If you follow me on social media (and if you don’t, just click any of the links at the top of the page to connect) or subscribe to my newsletter, you might have seen some of my posts about Destination Hope. It releases on Sept. 28 (which is coming soon!), so I wanted to be sure you knew about it, too.

Why am I promoting Destination Hope?

Destination Hope: A travel companion when life falls apart
Destination Hope releases Sept. 28, 2021

I’ve been part of what’s called a launch team — a group of people who read a book before it’s published so they can help get out the word about it through social media, blogs, online book reviews, etc. This is the first time I’ve been part of a launch team. I’m giving it a try with Destination Hope because:

Marilyn and I have known each other for almost 20 years! We met when our first devotional books were being published by Extreme Diva Media. There were about 10 of us authors in that group and the publisher made a point to help us connect with each other through online chats (because there was no such thing as Zoom back then!) and even held a mini conference for us focused on marketing and other things. Marilyn and I have been on Facebook (and now Instagram) together ever since, and when a friend publishes a book, you want to help it do well.

Who doesn’t want (or need) a little more hope in their lives? We all have times when something completely unexpected crops up and knocks us for a loop. The question is, how do we regroup and move on rather than get stuck in that place of hurt? The answer is hope, but that raises another question: How do we dig deep enough to find that hope? Destination Hope helps give some of those answers through the lessons Marilyn and April learned when they found themselves in that spot, and through the stories of others. Grief over the loss of a loved one, a medical diagnosis that changes everything, a prodigal child, a jail sentence, a divorce — those are just a few of the stories people share in Destination Hope, along with things they learned and how they managed to regroup and move forward.

And, woven into the stories, are truths that these people — real people, like you and me — discovered during their struggles. A few of the gems I highlighted are:

  • This life change will not destroy me. I can have hope. I will live in hope. I am hopeful.
  • Surrendering total control to God was the simplest and scariest decision I’ve ever made.
  • God stepped into my world of chronic illness with His chronic presence.
  • Sometimes a detour is a pause, and there is benefit in the waiting. Waiting well is an important something, not a nothing. We grow and assess as we wait.
  • Satan is a master at turning our thoughts inward rather than upward.
  • Trusting God and clinging to hope is a daily choice, especially when that choice doesn’t come natural to a lot of us.
  • We can trust [God] every step of the way, even in the unfamiliar, rough, uneven places, and when we feel lost.

What a collection of wisdom, all tucked into a single book. If you’d like to learn more, here’s deeper dive into Destination Hope from Marilyn and April.


The hit that knocked you down is the one you didn’t see coming, but it doesn’t have to keep you there.

trust God Hope — we all want hope!

Destination Hope is a beacon of light to those who stumble along the tearful trail of uncertainty and unexpected change.

Marilyn Nutter and April White, from two different states and representing two generations, have been knocked off course by challenging life changes. A dormant gene surfaced in mid-life and took April into the journey of chronic illness. Marilyn was blindsided by sudden widowhood two days before Christmas while visiting family 2,000 miles from home.

Although April retired her pharmacist’s lab coat to the back of the closet, and Marilyn’s wedding ring was placed in a jewelry box, each found purpose and hope in new path marked with significant changes. Together they offer readers encouragement in unwelcome life interruptions. April and Marilyn weave their personal stories along with narratives of other women knocked off course by events you may relate to — a prodigal, incarceration, death of a child, illness, widowhood, bankruptcy, special needs children, and other life challenges.

Destination Hope is arranged into six chapters called “Milepost Markers” that address losses, disappointments, or obstacles. Each entry concludes with a “Rest Area” for personal reflection, response to action, and/or opportunity to journal. A “Postcard” with a quote related to the topic sends readers off with encouragement, as they travel toward their destination of hope. An Appendix includes resources unique to various losses to guide readers in their travel plans.

It’s a tough topic many live out in real time, and Destination Hope offers camaraderie, reality, and insight for women who say, “I didn’t see this coming.” Destination Hope invites readers to link arms in friendship with April and Marilyn who have traveled a road they didn’t see ahead. Readers will discover in practical and personal ways, they can thrive, not merely survive. Hope can be their destination.

Destination Hope is available in print and Kindle format on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Christianbook.com.


Learn more about Marilyn and April on their websites (click their photos to visit):

author Marilyn Nutter
Marilyn Nutter
author April White
April White

 

 

 

Living in Faith, Scripture verses, What I've Learned Lately

Embrace the fact that you’re an encourager

I have always been a predominantly optimistic, glass-half-full kind of person. That’s not to say I don’t get discouraged or say negative things or sometimes play the “what if something terrible happens” game — because I do. Two important realizations related to this struck me a few weeks ago:

I’m not just a person with a positive attitude. I’m an encourager.

never feel bad about being an encouragerI need to own that fact and stop apologizing for being an encourager. And that includes no longer feeling guilty about looking for positive things when surrounded by negativity or stifled by the weight of situations. No more feeling “less than” when other people might think my mindset is ill-founded.

My ah-ha moments came while listening to a workshop from this year’s Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Author/editor Lisa Crayton led a workshop called “Writing to Encourage.” And although she was addressing writers, many of the things she said apply to each of us as Christians.

Here’s one gem:

“We are the keepers of encouragement,” she said. “We have the Spirit of God in us to encourage others.”

The keepers of encouragement. I love the perspective. Those of us who follow Christ have the best news in the world to share and the biggest reason to hold onto hope and help others do the same.

God wired us to be encouragers. And if ever there was a time when people need to be encouraged, it’s now. Click To Tweet

Bible verses in both the Old and New Testaments tell us to do this. Here are just a few:

  • Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
  • I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. (Romans 1:11-12)
  • And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
  • Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

I know there have been times when people viewed me as a Pollyanna who doesn’t want to acknowledge negative things. They’ve looked at me as less worldly or less mature, as someone wearing blinders to the harsh realities of life.

And I’ve let them do that. I’ve kept my mouth shut or downplayed the encouragement or optimism I could have shared because of how I believed they would view it. Because I didn’t want to see another round of eye rolls or “she’s clueless” glances or hear the “yeah, right” huffs.

Their attitudes toward me are wrong, but so is my response.

I can’t control what they think of me. I can control how I react.

We can make a difference in people’s lives by showing them the encouragement we know as followers of Christ. Click To Tweet

In her workshop, Lisa Crayton also said, “Christian writers are uniquely positioned … to lead readers out of their place of discouragement to finding the encouragement that they need.”

I agree with that statement 110% as a Christian writer, but also as a Christian trying to get through each day in this unpredictable world.

As Romans 12:8 says, If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. (NLT)

Encouragement doesn’t have to come across as preachy or goody-goody or out of touch. I’m not perfect at it and there are plenty of times when I don’t follow through on an opportunity as I should. But I — we — can get better at it if we’ll ask for God’s help.

be encouraging to othersWhy should we bother? Because God wired us to be encouragers. And if ever there was a time when people need to be encouraged, it’s now.

It can be as small as telling someone you hope they have a great day. Or sending a text to someone you haven’t connected with in a long time. Or letting the person in line behind you at the grocery store go first because they have five items in their basket and your cart is crammed full.

If “official” encouragement feels uncomfortable right now, we can encourage from behind the scenes. Prayers lifted on someone’s behalf can do wonders, even if they don’t know you’re praying.

So take heart, fellow encouragers! I believe it’s time for us to step up and share this gift we’ve been given without being timid or intimidated. Without apologizing or feeling self-conscious.

An unapologetic encourager. That’s what I want to be.

Will you join me?

We can make a difference in people’s lives by showing them the encouragement we know as followers of Christ. How can you see yourself doing that for the people around you? Leave a comment to share an idea and encourage others who stop by.

Be blessed today, my friends!


Don’t Miss a Post

Have posts delivered to your in-box so you don’t miss anything.

God sightings, Living in Faith, Scripture Lessons, Scripture verses

Slow down, see God, be changed

Busy, busy, busy. That’s how many of us tend to go through our days whether we’re at school, in the workplace, at home, or somewhere else. Even our vacations can sometimes be so full of activities that we feel like we need a vacation once we get home from vacation!

slow down and see God; see God and be changedAs crazy and scary as the past 18 months have been, one benefit for some people has been the realization that life doesn’t always have to be so busy. We saw that we can slow down … take a break … step back a bit … and the world will still keep turning.

What a refreshing reminder for some of us, myself included.

I’m a firm believer that God is all around us in big and small ways every day. After all, Scripture tells us so multiple times. First, we have the obvious example of the creation story in Genesis. A few other references to it include:

  • You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. (Nehemiah 9:6)
  • Thus says the Lord,the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: “Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hand? I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.” (Isaiah 45:11-12)
  • For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)

We can forget to notice those daily reminders as we rush through our days. What’s playing on our radio or in our earbuds drowns out the bird’s song. Our morning routine keeps us from noticing the sunrise. We’re checking things on our phone while waiting in a restaurant so miss the smile from the baby at the next table.

I’m not pointing fingers here; I’m just as guilty as anyone else. But I’m trying to do better. Why?

Because when we slow down, we see God.

And when we see God, we can’t help but be changed.

After all, how can we not be changed and be in complete awe of God once we see Him for ourselves?

That’s the kind of change I want to have in my life. But how do we do make it happen?

The best way I’ve found is to ask God to open my eyes and ears so that I’ll see or hear Him around me that day. When I do this, it’s amazing how many ways I notice Him. It’s as if He’s just waiting for the opportunity to show off. 😊

I also try to write down some of the things I see or experience. Then on those days when I’m struggling or questioning or doubting, I can look back and see how many ways God has reminded me of His presence.

Sometimes I see Him in big, obvious ways like the pillars of cloud and fire that God used to guide the Israelites while they were in the desert (Exodus 13:21-22). Other times it’s in subtle ways that are easy to overlook, like when God spoke to Elijah in the still, small whisper instead of the earthquake or fire (1 Kings 19:9-13).

Either way, it’s God. He’s in the biggest of the big and the smallest of the small because He created it all. He wants — and deserves — our praise for every bit of it, from the tallest mountain or most complex creation to the everyday things in life that feel inconsequential.

As Christians, we’re told to continually praise God. Learning to slow down so we can see Him in everything around us is one way to do that, one way to keep Him as an important part of our day.

It doesn’t become habit overnight and there are plenty of days when I don’t focus on it as well as I could. The world still clatters all around me, pulling my attention in too many directions. But I keep trying and hope you do, too.

We’re all works in progress, no matter how old we are or how long we’ve been following God. How do you set the world aside long enough to see God in your everyday life? Have you found a way to keep track of those moments so you don’t forget them?

Leave a comment to share what you’ve learned and help someone else in their journey. We can all use help along the way.

Be blessed, friends!


Don’t Miss a Post

Have posts delivered to your in-box so you don’t miss anything.

God sightings, Living in Faith, Scripture verses

Blessed to be me — blessed to be you

Sometimes God shows up in my everyday life in ways I don’t expect, especially when I’m not looking. That happened last Friday night at our nephew’s football scrimmage.

I was sitting by the aisle but wasn’t paying too much attention to the people who walked past. Once when I did look up, it was just in time to see the message filling the back of a man’s t-shirt as he walked down the stairs:

Blessed to be me.

What a powerful perspective in a time when so many people seem to always want more.

We see people with more money, more followers, more friends, more social life, more of all sorts of things that seem bigger or better than what we have — and want it for ourselves. As you read this, please know I’m not just pointing fingers at other people. I fall into the same trap myself.

But the truth is, I’m blessed to be me. And you’re blessed to be you.

We’re blessed to be created in God’s image exactly how He wanted us to be.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

Blessed to be gifted with abilities that can be used to serve God and help other people.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 14:4-8)

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:10-11)

Blessed to be part of a plan that God mapped out specifically for us before we were even created.

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

Blessed to be part of God’s family and treated as one of His children.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)

The way we were made, the opportunities we have, the people whose paths we cross are all for a purpose. The reasons behind it are beyond my comprehension so I need to stop trying to figure it out.

As flawed as we are, God still loves us and has a purpose for us. And that’s worth more than any number of followers or amount in the bank.

I’m blessed to be me. You’re blessed to be you.

How will you remember that this week? Drop a note in the comments so we can encourage each other.


Don’t Miss a Post

Have posts delivered to your in-box so you don’t miss anything.