Author website: jillenglishjohnston.com

Super excited that I’ve finally taken the leap. I started planning it way too many years ago. The need to have an author website. But I kept putting it off for two reasons. First, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to make the investment it would cost when I’m not earning anything from my writing yet. And second because I felt like I wasn’t “there” yet.

Where’s there, you ask? The place of feeling authentic. Like a real author. A professional author. The place where many of my fiction books are still in formative stages—not ready to submit to an agent or editor. Although, I have pitched a couple of them at conferences and even submitted them to a handful of agents. I received some very kind rejection letters.

But three things occurred recently that made me realize I needed to stop being an amateur and act like a real author.

  • One of my short stories was accepted in an anthology!!! Super excited. Details will follow on once I get the marketing go ahead.
  • I type the end to the first book in my Space Trilogy!!! Again. Super excited. I’ve only been working on it for five years. I’m a very slow writer. Still some needed edits and rewrites before it’s ready for submission. But I already have book two half written.
  • I begin a concentrated and concerted effort on the sixth book in the Be Still photo devotional series. Which means I have five books available for sale on Amazon. (Six if you count the companion devotional I wrote for Explore.

Three BIG reasons to finally make the leap. That and I celebrated a “season of life” birthday recently. So, I’d say it’s time.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the soon to be live website. Just waiting for the domain name link.

And that blank space below my name. That will be the future home of the anthology book cover and information on where to order.

I have purchase links to all the Be Still photo devotionals and a little bit about the Space Trilogy I’m writing. I also have information of upcoming events where I’m selling my books and have a chance to meet you. I’ll provide status updates on the books I’m working on and there’s a place to sign up for my newsletter, which will have snippets of pages (inside look) from my stories.

Hop on over to jillenglishjohnston.com. Can’t wait to see you there.

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Cultivate a Heart of Faithfulness

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.

Psalm 36:5 (NIV)

  • lasting loyalty, trustworthiness, and steadfastness in relationships, especially marriage and friendship
  • the fact or quality of being true to one’s word, pledge, or commitments to another

loyal. dedicated. committed. dependable. reliable. consistent. steadfast. trustworthy.

In Hebrew, the word is emun/emunah and requires relationship. God’s character is one of faithfulness demonstrated through his persistent love and provision for his people. Scripture is filled with examples and testimonies of his faithfulness.

And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness
Exodus 34:6
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Psalm 86:15

Because he is faithful he calls us—his image bearers—to also be faithful. But what does that mean? What does faithfulness look like, act like, live like? How do we cultivate a heart of faithfulness?

To be transparent, I’m struggling with the idea. Being faithful when things become hard, when people are messy, when I’ve grown weary, or bored, or disappointed, or fed up, or preoccupied.

Even this blog series on cultivating hearts suggests unfaithfulness due to distraction. A valid one, I’d like to think, as I find it hard to be present with visiting family and also find time to write. But still. I had planned, hoped to weekly release the blogs in this series. And this week I am behind. Does that mean I’ve been unfaithful?

Maybe faithfulness also measures the cost when deciding between two commitments and calls for wisdom as to on which to place the greater value. After all, we have limited time, energy, and resources.

Maybe faithfulness means coming back around to who and what we’ve committed to. Picking up where we left off. Not giving up even when we’ve stumbled, failed, or faltered.

Maybe faithfulness means having patience and grace for ourselves and for others. Requiring endurance, perseverance, determination.

Maybe faithfulness means showing up again. And again. And again.

This week take a look at how you spend your time, energy, and resources? To what have you been most faithful? Ask yourself, is this where I want to be most faithful? Ask Jesus, is this where you want me to be faithful? If not, to what do I want to be faithful? Ask Jesus, where do you want me to be faithful? Then consider, how can I be more faithful in this area? In this way, you can begin cultivating a heart of faithfulness.

grace and peace

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Healthy eating: Surprise Tuna Salad

This one I call Surprise because it’s surprisingly not fishy and really good. Makes for a great lunch. I make it whenever we’re traveling for a light, healthy option and definitely when I’m doing our sugar fast.

Ingredients

  • 1 large can of tuna (12 oz), drained and flaked
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1/2 c golden raisins
  • 1/2 c mayonnaise
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans or walnuts
  • Romaine lettuce, separated into leaves

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Serve on romaine.
  3. Store in airtight container in refrigerator up to 4 days
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Chicken Mulligatawny

Another healthy, gluten free, option. I’ve combined several different recipes to come up with one we like. This one is a crock pot/slow cooker meal. Serves 6-8.

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 T curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • Fresh or frozen vegetables of choice (green beans, baby or sliced carrots, peas, sliced zucchini)
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, sliced

Directions

  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place in crockpot.
  2. Add green beans, carrots, peas.
  3. In a 4 cup measuring cup, combine coconut with onion, celery, garlic, mushrooms, and seasoning. Pour over everything.
  4. Cook on low for 5 hours.
  5. Combine cornstarch with 1/4 c warm water. Add to crockpot.
  6. Add zucchini and apple slices. (I add them near the end so they don’t break down into mush)
  7. Cook on low for 1 hour.
  8. Serve with cauliflower rice, if desired.
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Cultivate a Heart of Thanksgiving

I will give you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and offer my prayer to you.

Psalm 116:17 (GNT)

“There is this: We give thanks to God not because of how we feel but because of who He is.”

Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts Devotional: Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

G.K. Chesterton

Gratitude gets us through the hard stuff. To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse His accomplishments is to discover His heart. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and away from dread. So practice gratitude! As Ephesians 5:20 puts it, “Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Max Lucado, You’ll Get Through This

If having a thankful heart came naturally, if it was something we easily do, we wouldn’t need to be reminded to do it. Looking on Biblegateway/NIV, Scripture mentions giving thanks and thanksgiving 133 in the Old Testament and 72 times in the New Testament. Paul mentions it 46 times in his letters.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

God’s will for us. To give thanks. In all circumstances. Not just when things are going our way. Not just when we feel like it. Not just when God answers our prayers the way we want.

In. All. Circumstances.

That’s not easy. That takes cultivation. Work. A renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). A renewed spirit (Psalm 51:10). A new self (Ephesians 4:24).

It’s easy to be a grumbler, complainer, whiner, protestor, groucher, fusser, criticizer. Allowing negativity, cynicism, and a bad attitude to poison our thoughts, our hearts, our spirits. For that is what they are. Poison. Like an insect invasion to a garden destroying plant and fruit. Or fungus in the roots killing the plant’s ability to take in life giving nutrients. Or toxins leeched into the soil damaging the plant’s growth and health.

God’s prescription? Gratitude. Thanksgiving. Appreciation. Remembering the good things he has done. Trusting his promises. Acknowledging his gifts. Giving him thanks, not because he needs it, but because we do.

Ann Voskamp in her book One Thousand Gifts speaks of the first sin being “the sin of ingratitude.” The first man and woman, instead of giving thanks for all God provided, were painfully ungrateful and wanted what God did not give.

In the book, Ann tells of a dare she received from a friend: could she write a list of a thousand things she loves? Name one thousand blessings? One thousand gifts?

And so Ann grabs a scrap of paper and begins the list.

I encourage you to begin a list as well. Grab a piece of paper, a notebook, the next page in your journal, and number down the left hand side, all the way to the bottom. Today. Right now. Close your eyes. Picture the special moments from the week, think of the unexpected interruptions, remember the ordinary. Because they all hold that which you can be thankful. Write them down. See them as gifts from our Father. Blessings poured out. Expressions of his love.

  1. Crescent moon rising in the cool clear sky
  2. Little girls’ giggles late into the night
  3. Worship, music swelling, hands held high
  4. Sunshine splashing across the backyard deck
  5. Cuckoo clock striking twelve
  6. Wind chimes playing melody in the breeze
  7. Furry warmth curled up in lap
  8. Shelves stocked full at the grocery store
  9. Desk cluttered with keepsakes and mementos
  10. Growing list and filling heart
  11. Continue the list…

Receive these gifts, theses blessings, these things given to you in love. And keep going.

Now it’s your turn. Go and be thankful.

Grace and Peace

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