Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 30 - A Month of Gratitude

Day 30 in this month of 30 days to a thankful heart. How did you do? A friend who joined me in the challenge messaged me last night to tell me that her heart has been so much more joyful since she has been intentional in her gratitude. That's awesome!

And I have to agree with her.

Gratitude is a heart changer. It takes the moments and things we usually complain about, and refocuses us. When we realize how much we are blessed, how much we really don't need, and how much God is in control, our heart changes from one of negativity to one of gratitude.
Today, I'm thankful I took the challenge, but this challenge is far from over. I began this challenge with every intention of a permanent heart change. However, that will take intentionality on my part to continue to be thankful in all things. Jesus is about transformation, not temporary change. Just as a caterpillar enters a cocoon and emerges changed forever, so the Lord desires to do with us. He is worthy of our praise, and I don't credit Him nearly enough.

Habit builds character. I want my character to say that I have a joyful, thankful heart instead of constantly complaining and wanting that which I don't have. Let this month of thankfulness set the stage for a new beginning. Will you join me?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 29 - All Creation Cries

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands." 
Nature inspires me. It reminds me of my need for the Lord because it puts my worries in perspective. I have hiked beneath the Milky Way, scoured the Colorado and New Mexico mountains, filmed the sun breaking over the horizon, and rafted the white-capped river. I've spent sunsets on the beaches of California, driven for miles, snapping shots of the horizons and fields of west Texas, explored the highlands of Scotland, and the coast of Ireland, and sat on the edge of the Grand Canyon. I've sailed the Mediterranean and Black seas, stopped at the finest ports in Italy, France, Spain, and Ukraine. No matter where I travel, no land mark is the same and each bears the fingerprints of a God who is much bigger than me. It is this God I worship, and this God who can tame the oceans and calm the storms in my life. I'm thankful for the beauty of nature, that no sunset or sunrise is the same, and that man cannot duplicate the grandeur of the Lord's creation. He is good!

Enjoy the pictures...

"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised." Psalm 113:3
"You will go out in You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." Isaiah 55:12
"Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying bird." Psalm 148:7-10
"Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies." Psalm 148:3-4
"Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness." Psalm 96:11-13

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 27 and 28- The Urge to Write

Only a couple more days left in November. It's impossible to cram what I'm thankful for into a couple days. Cicero said, "A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues." Hopefully, this month has built a habit that I will continue to practice long after this month ends.

Today, I'm thankful for hypergraphia, or an overwhelming urge to write. I didn't even know there was a word for this condition, but thankfully I experience it without all the negative side effects. Last January, I began a course through the Christian Writers Guild to expand my writing skill while working one-on-one with a mentor, DiAnn Mills. She has been a Godsend, constantly coaching, encouraging, and pushing me to be better and stay true to who I am and my heart to write.

In the past year, I  attended a residency with DiAnn, Jerry Jenkins, and Doc Hensley, completed a lesson and phone chat with DiAnn every month, finished a book, and submitted it. And somewhere in the middle of all that, I regained my confidence, my joy in writing, and my creativity that disappeared for a year after college. Thanksgiving night, I was up after midnight because a story idea would not let me sleep until I recorded it.

I'm so thankful for the urge to write. Though I still have to develop it, the skill comes naturally to me. I'm thankful  that the Lord created me uniquely with this ability. I'm thankful for others who love to write and form a community I can encourage and call on for encouragement. I don't know what's next, but I commit to writing because it's how I'm wired and will allow the Lord to handle the results. Thoughts are rattling around in my head, so it's time to record them!

I'm thankful the Lord equips us all with different skills. What do you have the urge to tackle? How has the Lord gifted YOU?

I would love to hear from you!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 26 - An Apple a Day

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away," or so I've been told. We've experienced a few major health scares over the past couple of years in our family. A few months ago, my brother was in the hospital for some football related injuries. I'm so thankful that, to our knowledge, we are all healthy and whole this holiday.

I believe this is something I often take for granted when in reality I'm not guaranteed tomorrow or my next breath. Life is precious, and I'm treasuring the health of today and will trust the Lord with tomorrow. 

Sorry for the short posts, but the family is keeping me busy playing games and hanging out! Enjoy the weekend!

What are you thankful for?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 25 - Treasure Hunts

Black Friday has a very different meaning around our house. To my knowledge, we have yet to brave the stores on this day every year. Instead of shopping for presents to put under the Christmas tree, we turn on Christmas music, heat wassail, and pull out the Christmas decorations. This is one of my favorite days of the year, and I'm so thankful we are all home to celebrate. When the sun goes down, our house looks like Christmas exploded. Beautiful! Black Friday involves a very different treasure hunt for us.

The Christmas tree is my favorite item to decorate. Every year, we dig through a box of old ornaments. As kids, we picked out a new ornament every Christmas and recorded the date. It's fun to see the stages and our mentality at the time. I have a beautiful carousel horse from when I was 7 and Santa holding a cell phone when I turned 16. Our Christmas tree tells a story.

We also have a porcelain nativity that sits above the fireplace. When we were younger, we would fight over who would arrange it. Since I tend to break things, Mom usually monitored me when it was my turn. It's the first thing people see when they enter our house, and I love the message it sends. 

Move over ABC Family's 25 days to Christmas. Mom's version is better. As kids, we stuck Velcro felt ornaments on a felt tree every night leading up to Christmas. Each ornament contains a picture indicative of a piece of the Christmas story. We no longer sit around the tree every night, but each day I add another ornament to the tree and remember the story. I remember the reason we celebrate and decorate and give gifts.

Black Friday is a treasure hunt of memories. We remember where the Lord has brought us,  laugh at every discovery, remember why we celebrate Christmas, and we remember why we give gifts at Christmas. We were already given the greatest gift in a baby who became a Savior. I'm thankful for the reminder, for the memories, and for the joy of this season! Merry Christmas season!

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 24 - Thanksgiving

It's the day I've been leading up to all month. There is so much to be thankful for. I woke up this morning and jumped into the psalms. The heart of David amazes me. His joyful heart is directly tied to his determination to praise the Lord in all things. Even when David is in the depths of despair, he usually brings the psalm back to praising the Lord for who He is in spite of the situation. What an example to learn from! I hope this month will create that in me in a greater measure.

I'm thankful for God's goodness. I've often heard that if I was the only person on earth, Christ would have died to save me. I understand the concept, but today, I realized what it meant. My sins alone would nail Him to a cross. How humbling. I'm so thankful for the cross and for an empty grave. I'm thankful for a risen Savior who is Sovereignly in control over all. I'm thankful that He forsook His own life for me and for the sins of the world.

© Casting Crowns
I'm thankful for family. They've taught me about the Lord and what it looks like to pour into one another and others.

I'm thankful for my friends, for their constancy, encouragement, and the joy they bring to my life.

I'm thankful for the passion the Lord has given me to write. It's a weird gift to me at times, but I love seeing how He uses it.

I could keep going, but I'm taking a break from cooking to write, so time to go.

I hope your Thanksgiving is beautiful!

In Him,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 23 - Full House

This morning, I woke up to the sound of three huge dogs skidding across the hardwood floor. My brother and sister are home and their dogs! I'm excited to spend the next few days together cooking, watching football, and putting together the Christmas tree.

Our family is in a transition that I began 5 years ago when I left for college. Family time is few and far between. We are spread out all over Texas, and the holidays are precious. Today, I'm incredibly thankful for a full house and am excited to spend the day tomorrow really being thankful with my family.

Have a beautiful day! What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 22 - Muddy Jeans

I woke up this morning to muddy ground. Many people grumble as they grab their rain jackets and umbrellas while doing their best to side step puddles. But not me.
This past summer and spring, Texas received very little rain. Our lakes are depleted, fires have blackened many of the plains, destroying property and lives. Grass has crunched beneath our feet from lack of water, and foundations shifted in homes as the brittle ground cracked and spread.

We prayed and prayed for rain. Meteorologists predict next year's spring and summer to be equally as hot and dry. Hopefully, they are wrong as usual, but if that is the case, Texans will be in trouble. So, this fall, I'm thankful for the frequent cloudy, rainy days, even if that means the bottom of my jeans will remain muddy and wet. Last night's thunderstorm was an answer to pray, and I refuse to complain.

Enjoy the rain!

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 21 - Our Greatest Joys and Dad's Greatest Pain

Meet Wise Guy, Gunner, and Duke, the furry, four-legged members of our family.

Wise Guy is our 12-year-old golden retriever. From the time we brought him home as a puppy, he has been ever faithful to follow us wherever we go, except when he catches a good scent outside. He is protective, barking and charging the door when the doorbell rings. Every one who enters immediately finds him lovable and affectionate.When I'm typing, he sticks his nose under my arm bumps my hand so that it rests on his head. Can you say attention hog? He always knows exactly where I am, and will head butt my door to tell me good morning. He has been an absolute blessing the past 12 years, and I have loved moving home from college and having him constantly at my feet.

Gunner and I had a love-hate relationship when Toby first brought him home. He is the baby of the group at just over a year old. He is above all curious and lives to make us chase him. More than once, 4 of us have had to block him under the ping pong table and crawl in to pull a broken treasure from his mouth. Like my brother, he is constantly on the go and wants to be in the center of everything. He makes a valiant effort to understand our conversation, and delights in talking back. He is roughly the size of a moose, and has earned the nickname.

Duke is our almost-two-year-old big baby. We haven't the heart to tell him he isn't human. I like to call him Sneezy from the seven dwarfs because he has every allergy known to dogkind. He is even alergic to grass. Duke was a rescue and suffered abuse prior to my sister adopting him. He tears up carpet when he gets nervous, raids the trash can, and recently polished off two cakes my sister and her roommate baked. When we sit on the floor, he is instantly in our laps. He barks like Scooby Doo and refuses to let my sister out of his sight. Loyalty is intrinsic to Duke.

Our dogs form the remainder of our family. They occassionally tear something up, causing Dad to bite his tongue and run to Lowe's, but we love them and would be lost without them.
What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 20 - Bubba

My 6'4", tight-end-football-sized brother is still my little brother. He tells me people laugh when I introduce him with that adjective. Before my sister arrived to "complete" us, it was just my brother and me.

Mom calls him our gentle giant. He fits the title unless you mess with someone he cares about or treat them with disrespect. He is a defender of the underdog. He is unfailingly patient and pursues an idea wholeheartedly if he is convinced it can work. He is always an encourager.

Once upon a time, I could lay him flat in our wrestling matches. More often than not now, I find myself in the air and then flipped on my back on the couch. Memo to all big sisters out there - one day they will outgrow you.

Toby is determined. He knows what he wants and goes for it. He is unafraid of change and avoids drama at all costs. He is funny and invests in friendships that last. Dad has trained Toby what it looks like to be a man. He steps up to help my mom, my sister, and me with what needs to be done around the house. He gives up his Saturdays to go serve with Dad.

He loves working with youth, and is strong and encouraging with teen guys who are trying to find their way. He has a giving heart, rarely realizing it may leave him in a rough spot.

I love my big, little brother and am so thankful for him today.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 19 - Chapters

I view every stage of life like a chapter. Some last pages and pages. Others are the length of a few paragraphs. Regardless, each chapter leaves indelible marks that change me forever.

Today, I'm so thankful for these chapters. I often wrestle with change and kick and scream as one chapter closes and another opens, but I never regret the transition. By the time I go to bed tonight, I will have spent time with people from 3 different stages of my life.

I enjoyed a three hour lunch with a friend from Tech. It was so good to see a face from Lubbock here in Dallas. We haven't seen one another for a while, but we didn't miss a beat. I love to see how we have both grown and changed and can't wait to see where the Lord will lead next.

This afternoon, I will spend time with a girl in my Bible study. The Lord brought her into my life a little over a year ago, and He has grown our friendship by leaps and bounds over that time. She has become a confidant, a friend, and source of laughter and fun. She is always an encouragement and believes in me when I don't believe in myself.

Tonight, I will spend time with a childhood friend who has survived all these stages. She is a blessing. She speaks straight, weathers distance, time, and changes, and is a kindred spirit. I'm looking forward to time with her.

Each of these stages has changed me. The people have all been a blessing. I'm thankful for each chapter and am excited to see where the Lord will continue to lead.

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 18 - Parents

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means family time is here. Today, I'm very thankful for my parents.

My dad is a pastor on staff at a local church. He loves to work with people, and is constantly busy serving, doing the thankless tasks that many don't notice. He practices this at home, as well. I love his consistency, his strength, and his heart for the gospel. He didn't grow up in a home where the gospel was shared, and he was bound and determined to makes sure our home was chalk full of this message.

My mom stayed home with us when we were younger, quitting her teaching job when I was born so she could raise me. I can't tell you how much of a blessing this was. Dad worked hard so that we could be a one income family. Mom has been there for every moment, large or small. She was diligent to teach us scripture at an early age and constantly created funny songs or goofy games to play. She looks well to the ways of her household and is always there for a hug or encouraging word. Mom is a prayer warrior.

My parents blended the best of their very different homes to create ours. In college, they determined to help me through with no debt. We all worked hard to make this a reality. Now, they are intent on helping me achieve my dreams, and have supported me every step of the way. This has been an amazing blessing. The time is fleeting, but today, I will enjoy every moment with them.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 17 - Community

Yesterday was a no good, very bad day.

My community group made it better. We've been together for over a year now. In that time, strangers have became confidants and sisters in Christ became friends. We desire to encourage, challenge, laugh, cry, and grow together. Last night, they did all of those things with me.

We seek to celebrate the big moments and the small. So far, 2 out of our original 10 have walked down the aisle. Another found a place to serve that took her away from our weekly meetings. Several have lost grandparents, a couple have changed jobs, others have ended important relationships. Without fail, these women constantly weather it all and emerge stronger and closer.

All 6 of us have different personalities, interests, passions, and jobs. Every week, I love to see what each person will add to the group. Their walks with the Lord challenge mine. Their hearts to serve, motivate me. Their prayers encourage me. Their love strengthens me. I don't know what I would've done without them the past year. They bless me every day, and today, I am so thankful for them.

Who do you run to in the good times and bad?

I'm linking up with Dawn as we continue to find things to be thankful for every day this month.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 16 - Lessons from a One Year Old

She's my charge in the afternoons. Her black eyes take in every nuance. Delight lies in the little things...

-wind knocking leaves off tree

-thump of acorn falling on concrete

-drone of airplane

-the sound of her little shoes tapping the concrete as she learns to walk

-her body sinking into the thick blanket of grass that is her front lawn

-cackling of birds

-wet kisses from her dogs

-strains of music coming from my phone

-the rocking of the swing at the park

Everything is a source of wonder. At 23, I take those occurences for granted. I'm thankful that each day this little darling teaches me something about life, enjoying the moment, and seeing the world through the eyes of a child.

"Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 15 - Art

"I am still far from being what I want to be, but with God's help I shall succeed." Vincent van Gogh
Currently, I am working on my second book in which the main character is an artist. When creating a character, the writer must get inside her head, determine what drives her, shapes her, and what she's passionate about. I'm excited to delve into the mind of an artist. To help me with this, I am interviewing my friend, Amy, a Dallas arist who has a passion to paint for the glory of God. Every person has a story to tell, and an artist tells hers by imitating the world around her through recreation.

In high school, I had the privilege of traveling all over Europe, visiting Rodin's gardens, the British Museum, the Louvre, the Vatican, and several churches where Michelangelo's work is on display. Every piece of work I saw told a story. If a picture is worth a thousand words, art captures a memory, a moment, a story, a life. The goal is preservation and communication of a message to the viewers.
We were created by a master Creator, One who intended our lives to be a display of His glory. It amazes me that He has given people like Amy and my sister the mind to create. I am so thankful for this gift. While our creations are mere imitations, they point to the One who made the original.

What are you thankful for today?

Check out Dawn's blog for more posts on gratitude during this month.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 14 - Sisters

Day 14 of being thankful, and today, I am thankful for my little sister. I say little, but she turns 20 today. 

According to her, she completed our family. We would be lost without her. She is the constant chatter and laughter around our dinner table. She works hard and sleeps hard. She is well-liked and the life of the party. I am so proud of how she has jumped into college life, formed new friendships, found a church home, and is growing in the Lord. That takes a lot of courage, and she didn't fail the test.

Chasya is protective of those she loves. She works hard to maintain relationships, never eager to cut ties when she can fix the problem. She is quick to help others, giving of her time to make them laugh and brighten their day. She is gentle, yet tough.

She is our little mastermind. She sees a problem and can attack in such a way that it turns into a masterpiece by the time she finishes. Did I mention that she is an art major knocking it out of the park? Statement of a proud sister here. She can't write to save her life, but she can create better than most people I know. We balance one another out.

I love who she is. She's right: No one else could have completed our family the way she does. As dad says, "She's our caboose."

Happy birthday, sis!

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 13 - Church Family

Today, I'm so thankful for my church family. A little over a year ago, I began attending a new church. I knew no one and would come, sit by myself, meet the people around me during greeting time, then leave after it was over.

I love having a community within the larger body to worship with now. Although I know worship is possible anywhere there are believers, it makes it that much sweeter when you are sitting next to people whose story you know and whose faces are not only familiar but part of your life.
No hype or flash today. My thankful heart is pretty simple.

What are you thankful for?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 12 - The Unexpected Part 2

Yesterday, I joined the Gypsy Mama for her 5 minute Friday exercise. Ironically, "unexpected" was her word for the day, and it is something I have been increasingly thankful for this week.

I shared part of my story about an unexpected rejection yesterday here. Today, I'm thankful for the rest of the story...

The Lord didn't leave me lost in the unexpected. For months after receiving that letter, I wrestled with bitterness, depression, anger, and loss. What now? My plans were replaced by an indefinite period of the the unknown.

Strangers braved the walls of bitterness and pain to show me the healing and direction that comes when we trust the God who loves us and has our best at heart. They became some of my best friends. I spent the summer with them hiking the mountains of Colorado and allowing the great outdoors to draw me closer to the One who fashioned both the mountains and me.

It wasn't until I climbed Pike's Peak with a group of friends to watch the sunrise emerge over the horizon that I really understood that the unexpected hadn't ended my plans. It had simply given me a new, unpredictable beginning. As the sun rose in crimson brilliance, I felt peace for the first time since the letter had arrived.

 After the summer, I returned to Lubbock, panicking that I didn't have a job or a place I really felt I fit as a newly-turned 21-year-old college graduate. Bottom line? I had no idea what I was doing. I wish I could say that life developed a routine and everything was rosy, but I was more lonely than ever, missing my friends, and back in the place where I  had experienced rejection.
  © Josh Wilson
 To make a really long story short, the Lord has caused all my plans to fail. That may sound awful, but in truth, it has been a blessing. Every step of the last two years has been unexpected. I wouldn't trade any of it. I have experienced healing and growth that I never would have if I hadn't first experienced rejection.

The Lord has much bigger plans for me. I see His fingerprints over ever step of the road I have tread recently. The song above is by Josh Wilson and the words ring true with my story. The Lord is present when we fall apart. If you are experiencing a desert...look for the beauty the Lord will bring. He uses the unexpected to write a beautiful, adventurous story for us.

The best part? More unexpected is yet to come, but the Lord is in control of every step. Every day is an adventure. "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" Jeremiah 29:11

What are you thankful for today?

Linking up with Dawn today. Be thankful with us!

More of what the Lord taught me can be found when you click the "Focus on the Family" link under "My Thoughts" on the side panel.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 11 - Sacrifice

Happy Veteran's Day! I must tell you that I have a huge appreciation, admiration, and respect for those who currently serve and have served. Today is a day to honor them, and I am so thankful. 

In May, I spent time with my cousin, Shanna, and her husband, Logan, at their base in England. I was constantly surrounded by Logan's fellow air force buds and their families. The more I interacted with them, the more I realized that it is a family commitment and a family sacrifice. They know the risks and they do it anyway.

Today, I want to honor and thank their families, as well. Their families hold down the fort while these men and women travel all over the country and the world to defend and protect America and to fight for the less fortunate. They sacrifice time, relationships, big events, freedom of movement, etc.

They are willing, and often do, sacrifice their very lives.

There is something amazing about the heart of a warrior who sees needs bigger than himself and stands up to fight for them. Thank you to all who have served and who currently serve. You are a blessing!

It's day 11 of my month long challenge to be thankful daily. What are you thankful for today?

The Unexpected Part 1

I'm joining the Gypsy Mama for her 5 minute Friday again. The instructions? Stop. Drop. WRITE for 5 minutes. The theme today? Unexpected

The letter came on a Saturday.

My roommate handed it to me. A grin spread across her face, and her fingers squeezed the paper like precious treasure.

I retreated to my room. I couldn't open it in front of her. It was a pride thing. I wanted the freedom to react in whatever way necessary.

"Dear Miss Lynch,
We regret to inform you..."

I didn't read any farther. Couldn't. The feeling left my legs as I sank into my computer chair. FRIENDS played in the background on TV, but for once it wasn't funny. I couldn't laugh. I couldn't cry. I couldn't feel.

I was numb.

This wasn't how it was supposed to happen. My GPA was near perfect, my recommendations stellar, my writing critiqued and approved by my professors. I was supposed to be an easy pick. It just made sense.

Rejection was unexpected.

The best laid plans fall short in the eyes of a mighty God. Little did I know the journey I would travel the last two years. The unexpected made me stronger. It made me more dependant on the One who holds the world in His hands.

And it made me remember that this was NEVER unexpected to Him.

Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2 of the story....

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 10 - The Night Hours

While you were sleeping...

I was writing. Or reading. Or creating a new project.

Clearly, I'm a night owl. I'm thankful for these evening hours. Tonight, the moon is full and the night clear. If I still lived in west Texas or Colorado, the sky would be awash with stars. Man, I miss that. Wish I could go for a walk, but that might not be wise.

Often, I lie in bed at night and wish for morning. If I'm not asleep by midnight, I usually grab my laptop and write. Otherwise, my thoughts will keep me up for hours. Last night, I saw 2 am before my brain shut up. Not fun.

My remedy? Grab a recorder and talk about my ideas. The result? Instant sleep.

Many people associate night with evil because of the darkness. I disagree. For me, it's a time of peace and stillness. While the rest of the world sleeps, I come alive. I bloom in moonlight, much like the moon flower. These flowers fold open as soon as the moonlight touches their petals. They grow and flourish when the moon is new or waxing. As soon as the sunlight touches their petals, they twist closed. It's comforting to know that I'm not the only part of creation that is on the wrong schedule.

The night hours are my time with the Lord. I treasure them, even if it's a quirk not many understand. So today, I'm thankful for the peace of the evening, the creativity that comes with the night, and that the Lord wired me this way.

Sweet dreams...

"Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars." Psalm 148:3

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 9 - Big Dreams

Last night was a busy night at The Porch. I met several women who continually approached me with the same question, "I feel like I am supposed to be doing something bigger with my life, but I don't know what it is. Will you pray for me?"

NOTHING excites me more than this statement. I truly believe I serve a God of big dreams, impossible dreams. I took great pleasure in praying for these young women last night that the Lord will ignite their hearts for truth and fill them with a passion for the lost and for His people. Today, I am so thankful for big dreams and people who are courageous enough to pursue them!

"Find Your Wings" is a song by Mark Harris about a father praying for his children to pursue big dreams for the Lord. If this is the heart of man for his kids, how much greater is the heart of our Father in heaven for us!   © Mark Harris
 I believe the Lord instills big dreams in us. His people Israel cried out in slavery for freedom, and He led them to a land of milk and honey. Sounds pretty sweet to me! Abraham wanted a son, and the Lord made Him the father of many nations. Paul wanted to follow the laws of his people, and the Lord made him an ambassador to the Roman world of the story of Jesus Christ. Mary wanted a family, and the Lord gave her the Christ child. Jacob wrestled with the Lord until the Lord blessed him, and the Lord made him the father of Israel. Ruth wanted to stay with her mother-in-law and travel to a new land, the Lord made her the great-great-etc grandmother of Jesus. The disciples wanted to fish, but Jesus made them fishers of men and used them to spread the gospel to mankind.

We think so simplistically in light of a mighty God. Often, the Lord takes the desires of our hearts and  multiplies them into something we never would have imagined. The question is, "Will you trust Him in this big adventure, even if you never get to see the pay off?" He has a great purpose for you, awesome plans, a future and a hope. Will you have the courage to seek it? Will you be faithful in small things so He can bless you in bigger things?

Believe me, I'm asking these questions of myself. I have no idea how the Lord is going to work through this publishing thing. I have one book finished, another in progress, but no promises right now. But, every time I sit down at my computer to craft another scene or character, I know I am doing exactly what I was made for.

I believe the Lord wants to do big things through me. Success may not come as the world defines it, but whatever road comes, it will be success as the Lord defines it if I am faithful to follow Him. This is a huge trusting process, but I'm ready to take the leap. I pray you will have courage as you seek these things!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine." Isaiah 43:1

If you know the Lord....

You are called...
You are claimed...
You have a purpose...

Now walk in it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 8 - The Heart of a Volunteer

"Nothing is stronger than the heart of a volunteer." Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle

There is a place in Dallas every Tuesday where young adults gather. Couches, a coffee shop, a great band, and a good speaker are just part of the package. In this building every week, lives are changed.

We call it The Porch.

While this event officially begins at 7 pm, a small group of people meet beforehand to prepare. Many of these people come straight from work, braving traffic, skipping dinner, leaving work early so that they can  welcome anyone and everyone who enters.

As a combination of 5 teams, these volunteers work together every week to go above and beyond what is necessary. No one gets paid. Each team has a job. Each member of each team has a part to play.

Why would they do this?

© Brandon Heath

Short answer? Because they have a heart for people. Because they love the Lord. Because they have hearts to serve and help others. Each one has the heart of a volunteer.

They would never brag about this, nor is this post meant to do so. Today, I am thankful for their hearts. A volunteer is distinct from those who simply follow orders. While some serve out of a sense of obligation, a volunteer CHOOSES to work hard and serve.

Every week, I leave The Porch encouraged because of these people. I'm always humbled, and I'm always challenged. I'm thankful for those who bear the heart of a volunteer, and I pray the closer I grow to the Lord, the more I develop that heart.

 "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus." Philippians 2:3-5

It's the beginning of week 2 of being thankful this month. How are ya doin'? What are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 7 - New Week

"Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it." Mrs. Stacy on Anne of Green Gables

© Anne of Green Gables
I love Mrs. Stacy's wise words. Today, I am thankful for a new week, something fresh with no mistakes in it. Check back with me at the end of the week to see how many mistakes I rack up. Wait, just check back with me at the end of the day. 

I like to look at each new day, week, or year as tabula rasa - a blank slate. A blank slate allows me to set new goals or continue to pursue previous goals. It allows me to view each morning as a new beginning, no matter how crazy the day before. It is a time to refocus, to build a positive attitude, and to go forward expecting the best to happen and graciously tackling what inevitable will go wrong.

You may have heard the quote, "Each day has the potential to be the best day of your life." It's all about perspective. So, on this beautiful, cloudy Monday morning, I am thankful for a fresh day, for energy, for how much I have already accomplished this morning, and for whatever the Lord decides to throw my way.

What are you thankful for? I pray you have an AMAZING week!

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23