Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 20 - My Bubba

Meet my baby brother in 6'4" form. He is amazing. Today, I am so incredibly thankful for his strength and gentle spirit. He is steady in my life...even when he decides to chase a new idea.

I am so proud of him. He will graduate from Hardin Simmons University in a few short weeks. School didn't always go as he planned, but he stuck it out. He even received his class ring this month.

Toby is loyal, a champion of the underdog, disciplined in taking care of himself, and kind. He makes friends easily and invests in those who stick around. He is an entrepreneur, always tossing around a new idea and then following it whole-heartedly.

He makes me laugh, speaks truth, encourages me, and is always ready to give a hug. I'm thankful for my gentle giant who knows when to be tough and when to be calm. Congrats, Bubba! Love you!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 19 - Night

I am a creature of the night no doubt about it. My best ideas strike in the quiet. This weekend, I hit holiday mode big time - stayed out late with friends, slept in late, watched movies late. LATE was the name of the game.

But last night I was particularly thankful for my phone, something I completely take for granted.

I'm thankful that it connects me with people I love. I'm thankful that it gives me an opportunity to be with them when I physically can't. I'm thankful that it is never too late for community to call. And I'm thankful it gives us the opportunity to pray together, no matter the time or circumstances.

I'm thankful for the night watches. I'm thankful that I was able to partner with a friend in prayer last night in the stillness. I'm thankful that the Lord hears and answers. And I'm thankful that He promises to do BIG things.

Today, I'm also really thankful for caffeine. Sometimes I overestimate how late I should stay up. Here's to a happy Monday!

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 63:5-8

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 18 - A Church Home

Just over 2 years ago, I stumbled into Watermark Community Church, craving community, something familiar, and something stable. I had just moved home from college and needed a fresh start in my home city. I needed a place to spread my wings and grow.

It didn't take me long to feel at home in this place. I always leave challenged and encouraged. Many days, I leave frustrated because of the biblical accountability...which is how I know it's working.

Every week, without fail, I am either privileged to see lives changed or hear stories of life change from those around me.

I have seen broken people made into beautiful, confident warriors for Christ. And, I am so honored to call them friends and serve with them in ministry.

This place is home. These people are family. We disagree, but we are learning to love one another well. We challenge one another with the gospel message, and we push one another to share it. We pray for one another and pray God does BIG things in our city.

I know this isn't unique to my church. But, I can't help but think it is something special, simply because I get to see what God does using the people here every week. On this beautiful Sunday morning, I am thankful that I walked in those doors 2 years ago. And I'm thankful for how the Lord has changed my life in that time. He is so good!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 17 - Little Treasures

Where is this month going? We are already on Day 17!

Today, I'm thankful for little treasures...

- a night with friends outside of work
- a morning to sleep with nowhere to be
- 2 days left of work until Thanksgiving break!
- this fun little find this morning at an estate sale
- another weekend of Texas Tech football...Wreck 'em!
- a cool, fall day
- time to write and get some things done that I haven't had to time to do.

All little treasures that make for a beautiful weekend. I have so much to be thankful for, and too often, I forget to thank the Lord for these little moments that make me smile.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 16 - When I wanted to run...

Time for Five Minute Friday where a whole bunch of writers virtually gather to share our stories. Today's word?


Three years ago, my goal was to run. Run as far away from Texas as possible. Don't get me wrong...I'm a die hard Texan, born and bred, and true as they come. But I wanted escape from everything familiar - a total fresh start.

So naturally, God closed every door outta here. One right after the other. Frustrated is an understatement. Presently thankful is also an understatement.

I wanted to run from broken friendships.

The Lord said STAY, and now I wouldn't trade the community of men and women my age who love me and run hard after Christ.

I wanted to run from my future, create my own.

The Lord said STAY, and I found a Christian mentor who helped me finish a book that is about to be published.

I wanted a fresh start, to reinvent myself, or the bitter girl I had become.

The Lord said STAY and used old and new friends to help heal my heart. Then he dropped me right back in the church I grew up in as a staff member doing what I love - writing.

To say that His plans are better than mine is also an understatement. I am so thankful that my God does not give me all the desires that I think my heart wants. He makes me STAY and wait for what is even better. Master story teller right there. And He's still writing mine.

Thankful Heart Day 15 - Music

I am a music lover. My life revolved around choir and band growing up. But I love all genres and styles of music.

Today, I am so thankful for the beautiful gift of music!


changes my mood
is a form of worship
makes me smile

The Lord tells us to make a joyful noise before Him. He created music to be a method of praising Him, something beautiful to His ears. We don't always use it correctly.

I think J.R.R Tolkien described God's intention for music beautifully in The Silmarillion. This book is known as "The Elven Bible" to Tolkien enthusiasts. It is the prequel to Lord of the Rings and basically describes the creation of Middle Earth and the elves. It is like the book of Genesis, complete with a God-figure and a devil-figure. In this book, the God-figure creates the world and the elves with music. So Melkor, this devil-figure, decides to use music to trump God's creation. I love the way the God-figure responds:

"And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.” 

Even music that is meant to dishonor the Lord is not as beautiful as the kind meant to praise Him. What an awesome promise!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 14 - My Sis

Happy 21st birthday to my beautiful baby sister! I am so incredibly thankful for her! 

She has grown as a person so much since she left for college. I love the friends she has made. I love her creativity and passion for excellence. I love that she is developing the artistic gifts the Lord has given her, and I really love that she isn't afraid to figure out her own style. It's also fun that we are both Red Raiders. Wreck 'em Tech!

Her joy is contagious, and she never ceases to make me laugh. She is both competitive and compassionate. She roots for the underdog and is fiercely loyal to her family and friends. She never backs down from what she believes is right.

And, I must admit, she completed our family. I am so proud of how she has grown in the Lord and how she encourages others. And I'm even thankful for my very furry nephew, Duke. Though I'm convinced he is the sickest dog on the planet, he is a sweetheart.

Happy birthday, sis. I'm so thankful for 21 years with you!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 13 - He is Sovereign

Work got crazy today. Actually, the coming craziness is what scares me. We are currently preparing for HUGE changes, and it will require all hands on deck.

Sitting in my meeting this morning, my head began to spin. How will I finish writing my book and be fully present to help me team here? How will I balance my schedule in the craziness if I'm struggling with that now?

Thank the Lord that He is so Sovereign when my brain skips five steps ahead.

He knows I want to do my best. He knows my desire to please and spend time with those in my life. He knows my heart to write stories that make an impact past my own backyard.

He knows. 

Remembering that brings an incredible measure of peace to my day. One day at a time. Do my best today and let tomorrow and next spring wait until they get here.  He is not the author of chaos or stress. He is the author of peace and good plans. 

My fear stems from my stupid idea that I can somehow fix or control the events. Nope. He will give me strength to meet the needs of today and strength to meet the needs of tomorrow. What an excellent reminder to rest and trust in Him today!

Now back to work.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 12 - Countdown to Thanksgiving

It's almost Thanksgiving break!

The countdown has begun. In just a few short days, I will see my brother and sister, my furry niece and nephew, my grandparents, cousins, and aunts, and uncles.

And I'll have a couple days off work to unwind. I CANNOT wait! With all three of us spread out all over Texas, holidays are a sweet time and always over too soon. And...with three big dogs, our house is nothing short of entertaining.

I'm so thankful for the coming family time and the opportunity to rest and recharge.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 11 - Fall

There is something comforting about being back in the city I grew up in, even though it is enormous. No matter where I go, there are people and places that hold memories.

This morning I had the incredible privilege of worshiping at the place I grew up while my current community worship across town.

Today, I'm thankful for fall weather, Sundays, the rain, and community, no matter what shape it takes.

Fall weather in Texas is creeping in and leaves are falling, tugging at my creative heart with their color. I love that each is unique. I love that I needed a jacket this morning. I love that the air smelled like rain. I loved lunch with my dad. I have loved this beautiful, fall, rainy day full of familiarity - old and new.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 10 - Saturdays and the Arboretum

It's a beautiful Saturday, and there is so much to be thankful for. After a week of not feeling great, I feel much better today. The weather is cool and windy, perfect for a walk outside, which is exactly what I did. Thanks to a friend who works at the Dallas Arboretum, I was given a couple of free tickets.

Today, I'm thankful for a gorgeous, calm day to spend time with a friend and enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors.

Fall is definitely one of the best times to visit the Arboretum, a natural oasis in the heart of Dallas. Pumpkins of all shapes, sizes, and textures are EVERYWHERE. Fall flowers cover the landscape and the Chihuly exhibit is amazing! Colorful, blown glass is strategically placed in all the gardens.

I gotta be honest - it really triggered my creativity. So thankful for days like this with a friend I have known a long time. There was no need for extra energy, no need to entertain or do more than walk and talk. We could just BE. Such a blessing!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 9 - Quiet

I'm learning the value of QUIET again. What does it really mean to unplug in a world that constantly bombards us with messages "needing" our immediate response?

Quiet from the chaos in my own head, telling me what I need to do and when.

Quiet from the constant tug to people please.

Quiet from the hum of machines and the "ding" of my email.

Quiet from the voices on TV that paint a sadly accurate portrait of a crumbling American morality.

Quiet from my own fears and worries.

Quiet from the opinions of others.

When I quiet my mind and heart, I hear a different voice, One that whispers "this is the way you should go, now walk in it."

I don't need a microphone to hear it. This voice is familiar to me, but too often I turn the volume of life up so loud that I drown Him out. Sometimes intentionally. Sometimes unintentionally.

Today, I'm so thankful for the QUIET, still small voice that speaks to me in the whirlwind and the storm. 

Nothing erases Him. The voice is constant and strong, giving me the courage to stand strong and turn the volume up on everything else enough to make an impact but still hear His counsel.

"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength..." (Isaiah 30:15)

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 8 - Lunch Dates

Just call me firefighter or jack-of-all-trades. It really depends on the day. My job requires a fast pace, random deadlines, and the occasional need to put out a fire at the last minute. That job usually falls to my team.

Some days, it is just necessary to get out of the office and not talk about work. Some days, it's important to build relationships.

I'm thankful for lunch dates with coworkers. Today's lunch date was with my boss, Bethany, at Corner Bakery.

I'm so thankful for time away from the office to fellowship and be refreshed. The walk was beautiful and the change of scenery really recharged my creative juices. Gotta love adventures in downtown Dallas. Oh the story ideas.

Time to knock out more projects!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 7 - Productivity

I'm learning a few things about productivity in this writing adventure...

  • It's not about waiting for inspiration to strike...just get busy!
  • It's NOT a feeling. 
  • It doesn't help to over think the situation. Make a plan of attack, and then carry it out.
  • Busyness does not equal productivity. 
  • It isn't perfect execution. It's about getting something on paper and then working through it later. 
  • Getting something done is better than getting nothing done.
  • Simplify the list. Identify what needs to be accomplished, and eliminate everything else.
  • Tackle the biggest project first. The little stuff adds up, but too often it exists to consume our time and limit finishing a task.
Today, I am so thankful for a meeting-free day and time to be productive.

“Times of great calamity and confusion have been productive for the greatest minds. The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace. The brightest thunder-bolt is elicited from the darkest storm.” Charles Caleb Colton

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 6 - I Voted!

I voted! I actually voted a couple weekends ago.

But today, I'm thankful for the freedom to exercise my rights.

Everyone seems to have an opinion "based on facts," but the facts seem to discount one another. Get a grip, people. After a while, your emotional response gets annoying.

My pastor said something very wise this past Sunday: The only election of eternal significance is the election into God's family. 

I love what Daniel 2 says about my God, "He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning."

Pray for wisdom and discernment for our leaders. God is Sovereign over whoever wins, and no matter what comes, He will get glory. Pray. Vote for issues that align with the Bible. CHILL OUT. And let's see what God does.

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people." (Proverbs 14:34) Vote for what's right and pleasing to God!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 5 - The Little Things

Today, I'm thankful for the little things...

  1. A misty morning with cool temperatures
  2. No traffic
  3. Encouraging texts/emails from coworkers and friends
  4. A busy day
  5. My office team
  6. Hot tea
  7. Sweet truths in my devotional this morning
  8. A few, quiet minutes of down time to work on my writing
  9. The changing colors
  10. The coming holiday season

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 4 - Baking Cookies

Day 4 - I'm so thankful for...

Time with my mom and the simple pleasure of baking cookies.

Even when I mess up the recipe because I just don't feel like doing all the math, Mom is there for a bail out. This weekend has been a perfect time to spend time relaxing and getting crafty. 

Thank the Lord for the weekends - for rest before a crazy week, for a power outage that reminded me to spend quiet time with the Lord, and for time with my parents. I know this time is limited!

There's something to be said for completely unplugging. And there's something to be said for time with Mom in the kitchen and the smell of snickerdoodle cookies filling the house.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 3 - Shoe Boxes

Today, I am thankful for shoe boxes.

More specifically, I am thankful for the incredible privilege to provide Christmas for a child I will never meet. The last few years, I've participated in Operation Christmas Child. You fill a shoebox with suggested goodies for a child in need, and the box is delivered to another country.

After spending time in Haiti, this shopping task had my heart fully engaged today. I kept thinking of the little girls I held - their lack of clothes and toys, the joy on their faces with a simple coloring page, the need for school supplies.

My arms and heart were full as I approached the checkout counter.  My box is overflowing. I just kept thinking about all the things this little girl might need. I pray the Lord uses this box in a special way. I pray it brings a smile and encouragement. I pray that it meets a need for school supplies and toys and a new shirt.

I only wish I could help distribute these gifts!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 2 - Quiet Moments

Fridays are the new Monday at my office. Since I work at a church, many ministers take Fridays off so that they are equipped and rested to serve on Sunday. So a few of us hold down the fort. With several events going on this weekend here, it is all hands on deck.

Today, I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Literally.

On day 2 of this thanksgiving month, I am so thankful for the quiet moments of rest and renewal in the midst of a hectic day. 

Every day, I start work with reading Jesus Calling and meditating on the recommended scripture. Since today started of with a BANG, this afternoon is better than nothing. I love the tender truths that I discover here.

The reminder today...

"A yielded heart does not whine or rebel when the going gets rough. It musters the courage to thank Me even during hard times. Yielding yourself to My will is ultimately an act of trust. In quietness and trust is your strength." (Jesus Calling, November 2, by Sarah Young)

In QUIETNESS and trust is my strength. I choose to abide in Him in the craziness and in the calm. What a beautiful truth! Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 1 - Honest Friends

Last year, I spent the month of November concentrating on building a thankful heart. Too often, I fail to thank the Lord for His goodness in my life, regardless of the circumstances. This year, I would like to start this again...30 days of a Thankful Heart.

Today, I am so thankful for my community group...

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend;  profuse are the kisses of an enemy." (Proverbs 27:6)

I gotta be honest...accountability sucks. I mean, it is awful. And I'm not talking about accountability for something I'm doing wrong. I'm talking about accountability for something I want to do right. But, check that verse out:

Faithful are the WOUNDS of a friend. 

Not the hugs of a friend or the compliments or encouragements of a friend, although I like all that. Nope. That verse is incredibly clear about pain inflicted by a friend. But the shocker is that those wounds are not the result of a broken friendship but a faithful friend, one who loves you and wants your best. 

Community isn't comfortable. In fact, it is very uncomfortable. But, I am safe and loved in that uncomfortable feeling because I know these women are running hard after Jesus. Therefore, I can trust them. I would rather have women in my life who tell me the blunt truth and encourage me in the right way than those who are so worried about my initial defensive reaction that they coddle me.

Tough love is better than selfish, kind words. Day 1? So thankful for blunt honesty and unconditional love in community. I pray we continue to sharpen one another.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." (Proverbs 27:17)