Dear 20-Year-Old Self, Live Like You're Loved

Driving home from campus today, Hawk Nelson's song, "Live Like You're Loved," played on the radio. I was thinking through the lyrics as I listened and found myself so happy that I am so well loved by my Lord Jesus. I couldn't help but think of different seasons throughout my life and realize I have been "loved" in so many different ways by various people (all types of love, not just romantic love). But, what is love? How do people in our society think of or define love? How did I view love when I was twenty? 

What would I say to my 20-year-old 
self about love if I could? 

I would tell myself that "LOVE SETS YOU FREE."

I would also say, "Engrave 1 Corinthians 13 on your heart! Hardwire it into your brain!" 

The Way of Love - 1 Corinthians 13

13 ... Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ... 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(ESV, via, to see what else the chapter says about love.)

These verses provide a great tool of measurement whereby you can examine yourself and how well you love others. At the age of twenty, I did use it as such.  Where I failed was in not using it to measure the love of those who claimed to love me. If I could, I would drill this need into the brain of my 20-year-old self.

Is the one who claims to love you patient and kind? Do they envy others or boast in themselves? Are they arrogant or rude? Do they insist on their own way? Are they irritable or resentful? Do they rejoice at wrongdoing or do they rejoice in the truth? Do they bear up under things? Do they believe in and hope in and endure all things in faith? Do they have faith and hope and love abiding in their hearts in such a way that the fruit of the Spirit is displayed in the day to day way in which they live? 

Do you expect this high and holy way of love from yourself? And do you also expect it from others - especially from the one with whom you think you want to spend the rest of your life? Do not let the temptation to settle for less EVER WIN! 

To my 20-year-old self I would say, 
"Live like you're loved, because you are!

Be Strong and Courageous...

The cover of this book tells a story no one knows but Jesus and me. I doubt I could ever tell the whole of it. Too much would be lost in translation. But I will tell the story of the day I found this journal.

It was the last day of finals of my Sophomore year at CIU, December 8, 2017. My last final being at 5:00 p.m. I met three of my boys in town for dinner. After a very long day of going in and out of the cold, wet weather, I wanted to go straight home. My youngest, however, wasn't ready to call it a day. He wanted to stop at one of his favorite shops on the way home: BAM (Books-a-Million) or World Market. BAM won out.

Perusing the inspirational book aisles, I decided to peek at the journals. This one caught my eye. I reached for it, and as I did the Word printed on it took hold of my heart. Like tossing a pebble into a pond, my mind and heart rippled back to a young girl of 13 reading a letter from a pen pal who had shared his life verses during a time of desperate need for her. Joshua 1:8-9. Paul had no idea the profound affect that letter and those verses would have on me. 

The amazing thing about ripples is, they are never in one direction and I found this verse rippling into my future, as well as my past, seamlessly connecting them by a beautiful thread called promise. At the close of my first Sophomore semester, it was as if God were saying, "Look! See everything I have brought you through? KNOW that the same courage I have given you throughout all your yesterdays is the same courage I give you both today and all your tomorrows. Be strong. Be courageous. Do not be discouraged. I am Jesus. I am your Father. I AM and I am yours. I will be with you wherever you go, every step of the way." 

There is power in the Word of God and I felt His power that night. With His power came peace that only He can give. I admit that I am not particularly looking forward to a Spring filled with difficult classes. I want to learn, yes. Learning in such a time crunch is another matter altogether. But, just as my Father has been with me through every other semester, I know he will be with me in this one, as well. He loves me. He is the one who called me to this path. He will not call His servant to a place where He does not go or where He will not provide all that is needed. 

"Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." Mark 9:24

Part of my calling is to to become a professional counselor so I can help others in ways I have been helped. Another part of my calling is to share with others, through writing fiction, articles, or blog posts, what the Lord has taught me through my personal experiences. A question one of my dear writer friends put forth on her wall this week was, "If you could tell your 20-year-old self one thing you wish you'd known then, what would it be?" My answer to her question was this:

"I could write a book on things I would tell my 20 year-old self. The biggest thing would be to keep obeying God no matter how much pain it brings into your life because that pain is far easier to bare than suffering the consequences of even one disobedient choice."

I had no idea this would set my mind to listing several things I wish I could advise myself at the age of 20, but when I sent a list of seven things to her via messenger, she said, "That's a blog!!" And so here I am, blogging about it. There's a story behind the answer I've given here. It's the story I refer to in my opening paragraph. There's too much to tell and, if I told you, too much would be lost in translation. But, perhaps I can tell you parts of my story a little at a time. Are you game?

Linnette R. Mullin is the author of Life-changing Romance. Her debut novel, "Finding Beth," is a multi-award-winning novel which may be purchased at or It is available in paperback and Kindle. You can visit her full website by going to or clicking the "Home" button. You can also find her on Facebook. Linnette is a mother of four amazing sons, the owner of one beautiful mini-rex bunny, and a full-time student working toward her Masters in Clinical Counseling. Jesus is her Hero!

Does Jesus Really Give Abundant Life?

What does Jesus mean when he says he has come not only to give us life, but to give us life abundantly? I've pondered this question more times than I can count. Life is filled with pain and destruction and loss and so many tragic, traumatic things. How can your life possibly be abundant when you've just lost a son to suicide, or you find yourself pregnant and alone, or your daughter has entered into a life of substance abuse, or you find out your husband has a porn addiction, or your wife leaves you for another woman, or you suffer daily with chronic pain or fatigue or a strange illness nobody understands, or you've suddenly lost your home to flood or fire, or you have to forgo medical treatment in order to buy food, or you wake up one day and realize you're neck deep in an abusive marriage and wonder how you got there? I could fill a book with scenarios of evidence displaying lives seemingly filled with anything but abundant living. So why do Christians suffer such atrocities when Christ promises abundant life? 

In one of my sociology classes, we studied cultures all over the world. As my view of the world expanded, I began to see a very clear trend. In every culture void of the Gospel, a culture of domination and subservience, of abuse and death thrived. Sometimes the cultures were ruled by the matrons - the female heads of house. But usually, the cultures were male dominant to the point that women and children were possessions. (Bear with me. This is not an anti-male rant.) Women and children were not cherished. They were not respected. They were not protected. They were not human. They were possessions to be used up, abused, and discarded as garbage. However, cultures in which the Gospel was brought in and embraced, women and children were freed from slavery and domination. They became regarded, protected, and even cherished. The culture became safer for all to live. People thrived, communities were built up, and progress flourished. Could this be at least in part what Jesus was talking about? No longer does hatred and arrogance and the evils of men prevail, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ frees us all from such bondage. 
Jesus brings a culture of life where once there was only a culture of death. Jesus brings freedom where once there was oppression. Jesus brings fullness of heart where once there was poverty of the soul. Yes, we still suffer the ravages of sin. Yes, death still takes away our loved ones. Yes, people still get sick and deal with devastating illnesses. Yes, people still commit adultery and still abuse the ones they should love most. Yes, people still suffer hunger and deprivation. Yes, tragedy still comes through the ravages of nature. Yes, people still die at the hands of evil men and sometimes BECAUSE OF Jesus. But with Jesus there is the strength and ability to embrace life in the midst of all its devastations. With Jesus there is hope of a better day. With Jesus there is the ability to conquer in our adversities. It is the thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But in the midst of all our trials, distresses, tribulations, and persecutions, Jesus' love gives hope when we would otherwise have none. He frees us from the sin and evil of our own hearts. He gives us faith to believe when there seems to be nothing in which to believe. He gives us love to conquer when hate would otherwise destroy. Jesus gives us life and he gives it abundantly. 

I continue to ponder the mystery of it all. I must continue to remind myself:

what seems to be 
not always is.

I know the character of my Savior. I trust that he never makes empty promises even while I too often struggle to believe his promise over my circumstances. Do you find it difficult to believe Jesus gives you abundant life in the midst of your adversities? What does abundant life mean to you and how do you believe Jesus fulfills this promise in your life?