When Your Story Doesn’t Have a Happily Ever After

When your story doesn’t have a happily-ever-after

Once upon a time I told God that I would never write a book that would make people cry.

I should have known better than to do that. After all, I also recall, at different points in my life, telling God that I would never marry a man who couldn’t sing (my amazingly talented husband can do almost everything but sing!); live anywhere other than my home state of Florida (I now reside in North Carolina); teach Vacation Bible School (I not only taught it a few times, but ended up writing VBS curriculum for our church in NC); or ever do any public speaking (I recently spoke to 300 women at a women’s event).

So what on earth possessed me to tell God I wouldn’t write a book that made people cry? Actually, what I really said was that I would never write a book where an animal dies. In fact, I think my actual words to the Lord were, “I will not write Old Yeller.”

Let’s just say God seems to delight in moving me past my list of “I wont’s” in order to embrace his will.

And so…spoiler alert…I wrote a book where an animal dies. Ugh. I am so sorry! However, when you are writing a true story and the actual animal that you are writing about dies, well…what are you supposed to do?

I know what I wanted to do! I wanted to change the ending. I wanted to write the happily-ever-after scene that I had imagined and dreamed about. I had the ending all worked out in my mind. It was going to be glorious, inspiring, cheer worthy. But as I was hard at work writing about an amazing animal and how God was using him to lead others to hope and healing, the animal died.

He died!!!

I was devastated. “How could you let this happen?” I remember crying out to God. This story was supposed to inspire people, make them hopeful, bring joy into their lives. And now the main character of the book was dead.

After receiving word that he had died, I remember closing my computer, convinced my dream of writing his story had just died too. After all, who would want to read a book about a dead horse? And what publisher would want to market a book about a dead horse?

My computer remained closed for days as I grieved a multilayered loss.

I felt numb, broken, defeated. I attended a memorial service for the horse. Almost a hundred people came! For a horse! There are humans who don’t have even have half that many people come! As I sat in the back and listened to people share their stories of loving this horse, and of how the horse helped them heal and find hope, I felt God stir my soul to continue writing. I shook the feeling off. It would be too painful, to raw, to “un-happily ever after.”

But it would be real. I heard whispered to my soul.

I chewed on those words throughout the service as I watched the faces of those in attendance—most of whom were well acquainted with grief and loss, who knew first hand that happily-ever-afters really only exists only in fairytales.

As a hundred memorial balloons dotted the clear blue sky, I suddenly I knew what I had to do—write what was real.

That day I was reminded that loss is a part of life, and that the best way to honor a life is to allow yourself to grief the loss, and share what that life meant to others.

I was also reminded that hope does not come from happy endings, but from perseverance and determination that we can keep going even when life knocks us down.

Hope comes from knowing—from trusting—that One greater than us will hold us through the hurt and pain of this life.

I will confess that I still wish I could have written the happily-ever-after scene, but maybe in a way I did. Because now the world will know about a very special animal who made a huge difference in the lives of many people—people who are different because of him. People who now share the light of hope with others that they first saw reflected in his eyes.

Not every story will have a happily ever after, but maybe that’s ok.

Because maybe what people need more than a happy ending is….hope.

Much love,

[I was so honored that Tyndale House Publishers recently chose to share “When Your Story Doesn’t Have a Happily Ever After” in their staff newsletter! I just love Tyndale and am so thankful for their support!
And if you would like to learn more about JOEY or even help a new author out and buy a copy 😉 you can do so by clicking here.]

You’ve been called by God, but what if everybody else gets there first???

You’ve been called by God, but what if everybody else gets there first???

My daughter doesn’t just get hungry. She gets hangry! When that girl needs a meal, we all know about it!

Normally a sweet, loving girl, her entire personality transforms when her belly demands food. And when that happens…watch out! And get the girl some chicken nuggets!!!

And while she’s gotten much better over the years at controlling her hanger, her hunger is still fierce!

But she’s not the only one…..

I mean, don’t we all get hungry sometimes. Like really hungry!

But not juicy cheeseburger hungry.

Soul hungry.

The hunger of not being where we want to be in life.
The hunger that comes when others achieve your dream.
The sharp hunger pains that come from being passed over, ignored, left out, unwanted.

My arms wrap around my midsection. A phantom cramp from memories of recent hunger.

We want to serve. We want to write, and speak and share.
We want to achieve dreams and inspire others. We want to be bold.
We want to enjoy life.
We want our turn!

But all we can see is the line. The backs of all those in front of us. All of those more gifted, more noticed, more equipped. Surely there won’t be enough for us, right?

Our souls lurch with the hunger of uncertainty. The pain of doubt.

Our enemy sees an opening. He tries to get us to focus on our hunger—on our lack—so we won’t see the abundance the Father is preparing. 

Oh, if only we would open our eyes and LOOK!

Look backwards to a moment…and see ourselves there:

************(Cue the going back in time music)*************

Your hungry belly reminds you that lunchtime has come and gone, yet your heart will not let you leave the presence of the man who speaks with an authority you can’t explain.

A small boy approaches Jesus. The crowd is so large, you have to crane your neck to see what Jesus is doing. You can’t hear the disciples whispers, but they look confused.

As you try to decipher their expressions, you hear Jesus cry out His thanksgiving to the Father. You see Him raise His arms toward heaven. In them is the little boy’s lunch. The crowd begins to murmur. The scene suddenly chaotic.

What’s happened?

The disciples stand, faces transfixed on Jesus. Their expressions a mixture of fear, shock and excitement. The crowd begins moving forward.

The disciples shake their heads, as if coming out of a fog.

Something is being passed.

A basket.

A large basket is making its way back to you. You see people reaching in and taking something out. Your stomach surges with the realization that it is food. Food! The sweet aroma of bread mingles with the salty scent of fish. People greedily take what is offered. The basket is passed, and passed, and passed. Hands pulling out all of its glorious contents. Your heart drops.

There won’t be any left.

Too many hands have taken from the basket. Your stomach tightens, hunger wraps around your belly.

As always, you are too late, too far, too….passed over.

As if taunting you, the basket continues its journey back through the crowd. You can no longer bring yourself to watch as the last pieces are taken. With your gaze fixed on the grass beneath your feet, the basket is placed in your hands. Tempted to just pass the empty vessel to the next unfortunate soul, you decide to reach inside in the hopes a crumb remains. You thrust your hand in, intending to scrape from the bottom. However, your hand is stopped. Something is blocking the opening. Your hand opens, it touches… bread.

You close your fist around the loaf. Your free hand takes another.

The basket is taken from you, continuing it’s journey. Your mind swirling with questions.Another basket makes its way to you.


The basket is held for you as it travels. You quickly grab several small fish. Your hands are full, your is mind reeling. How did that just happen? You saw the baskets. You saw people taking from them.

They should have been empty.

You should still be hungry.

Yet, as you take bite after bite, you are full. Both stomach and soul.


The question whispers through your mind the rest of the day.



As the sun makes its descendent toward the horizon, the crowd disperses. Open space now dots the once packed mountainside.

You turn to face the water, still trying to process the abundance.

Your gaze catches His.

A knowing smile on his lips. As if He somehow speaks the words without moving His mouth, you hear the phrase, “With God all things are possible.” They are words you have heard Him speak before. Beautiful words. Powerful words. But now they are more.

Now His words have become life. 

Now His words sustain your soul.

He nods to you before beginning his journey up the mountainside. 

Never before have you felt more satisfied. For now you know with Jesus there will always be more than enough. 

Much love,



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