Monday, December 31, 2012

Stones of Remembrance 2012

Where did 2012 go? It has truly been a year of surprises, answered prayer, and major transition. Because of all the hits on last year's reflection post, I decided to continue the trend.

In the Bible, stacked stones often represent a memorial or altar intended to remind people of God's faithfulness in a specific circumstance. In Joshua 4, the Israelites finally inherit the land promised to them by the Lord.
"And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God." 
As I reflect back on the past year, I have my own stones of remembrance: moments that shaped me, lessons that changed me, people who influenced me, and a God who never left me. As we usher in the new year, I hope you will join me in looking back on 2012 by celebrating and marking with stones of remembrance all the Lord has done. If you don't know my Jesus, there will be no better way to bring in the new year than to allow Him to be Lord of your life.

Stone 1: At my conference in February, I met with multiple agents and editors to find a good fit for my manuscript. Mission accomplished. I signed a contract with WordServe Literary Agency this year and have the privilege of working with Sarah Joy Freese. What a blessing!

Stone 2: New job. Once again, I began a new job this year. Last year, I had the incredible privilege to nanny a little girl who made me smile more than I thought possible. But that time came to a close for both of us. In February, I accepted the position as writer for for the communications ministry at First Baptist Dallas. It has truly been a learning experience. My job has morphed and taken on new responsibilities, but God has been so good here. 

Stone 3: Haiti bound. In May, I spent a week in Haiti with a great team from my young adults ministry. I fell in love with the people, with Mission of Hope, and left challenged and encouraged by what the Lord is doing there. I can't wait to go back!

Stone 4: Reunited and it feels so good. In August, I flew to Missouri to see my best friend for the first time in over two years. The trip was an absolute blessing. I am still in awe of how the Lord has consistently knit our hearts together while states away. She is now engaged, and I look forward to standing with her at her wedding in 2013.

Stone 5: Mended relationships. I was ready to quit community, and the Lord restored beyond what I could have imagined. I learned much about the power of prayer, about dealing with conflict, and about authenticity.

Stone 6: Renewed team work. My young adults team took a weekend retreat to pray, cast a new vision, and have fun with one another. I am incredibly grateful to be part of this ministry. The Lord has used my team to soften my heart, increase my boldness, ignite a passion to serve, and push me to love Him more.

Stone 7: New car. I am officially an adult! This was another mark of the Lord's faithfulness in prayer. I paid exactly what I could, found the make and model I wanted, found a "new" used car, and even found my favorite color. The Lord's timing is perfect, and I am almost finished paying it off!

Stone 8: My brother graduated! I'm so proud of his hard work and business direction.  I'm also excited that he moved back to Dallas. Now I get to spend even more time with him.

Stone 9: Beautiful holidays. Over the course of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I was able to spend time with both sides of my family. My uncle and aunt are both cancer-free this year! My granddad survived a wreck and was able to celebrate with us. My cousin got married, and his new bride spent her first Christmas with the whole family. My other granddad made it out of the hospital just in time to celebrate our Savior's birth. was a white Christmas. There is much to thank the Lord for this holiday season.

Stone 10: This year, the Lord taught me a great lesson in what it looks like to live abundantly. Haiti changed my mindset. Work became a tool and opportunity to both influence and be influenced. My friends changed my heart and taught me what it looks like to live in authentic community. I experienced adventure, challenge, and transition. It has been a year of growing, of spending my time on things that matter, and of learning to say no and rest when necessary. I learned a lot about dreams and obedience to the Lord. I learned that my dreams are subject to change and all for His glory.
So many exciting things are already on the calendar for 2013 - lots of travel, weddings, work craziness, and a big announcement! Stay tuned! Follow me on Facebook and twitter. Join this site. If nothing else, pray and grow with me this year as we anticipate the big things the Lord desires to do in your life and mine! 

Happy New Year from Texas! May God richly bless you no matter what comes in 2013.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dream Big - Better than Yesterday

I once heard it said that we should look to our heroes for inspiration and then set out to surpass them. Have you identified your hero lately?

I'm not talking about Justin Bieber or the church answer of Jesus. (Since Jesus is Lord, to lump Him in the hero category seems a little demeaning.) I'm talking about a person in your life, your profession, or your history that encourages, inspires, or challenges you to be better.

Better yet, have you determined to surpass your personal best?

In high school, my band director told us that we should only purpose to beat one competitor...ourselves. If we continued to improve everytime we stepped on the field, we could hold our heads up.

I took that to heart. I trained my fingers to fly over the keys until I could play the music in my sleep. I trained my lungs to handle running while playing in various weather conditions. I trained my muscles to walk backwards, forwards, and sideways without ever turning my torso from the sidelines. I trained my mind to keep pushing when I was tired and encourage those around me rather than complain. And every day, I was better than my previous day's best.

The same is true in life. Learn from the success and failures of your heroes. Learn from your own successes and failures. Don't base your dreams on your hero's victories, but on your own personal ability and calling. Be better than you were yesterday.

Have you identified your hero lately? Have you identified what draws you to this individual? How can watching them make you better? How can you use that to beat your personal best from yesterday and the day before?

Satisfaction today comes from knowing you met the demands of the day with your best. Contentment tomorrow means embracing the day before and diligently working to improve. Dreams are achieved when you belong to Christ, know who you are in Him, and walk obediently, working for the Lord and not for man.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Live Inspired - Tis the Season

I've always loved writing poetry and even took some advanced classes in college. For some reason, the urge to tap that creative outlet called a few days ago. My professor would flunk me, but it felt good to stretch these writing muscles again.

The Christmas King

Christmas tress and glowing lights, 
fire pops on winter nights.

Families gather near and far
like wise men traveling to find the star.

Christ child centers the manger scene,
Mary and Joseph's faces gleam.

Celebration focused 'round this tiny babe,
born to die to free the slave.

The essence of love in a bed of hay,
this King of Kings we celebrate on Christmas day.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Dream Big - Problem with Comparison

Comparison is the thief of joy. It is also the thief of dreams.

While I wrote my first book, I began every writing day praying that the Lord would give me His words, not mine.

Now, I'm working on book 2, and comparison is robbing me of my ability to be effective. I second guess myself every time I sit down. As ideas fall into place, I get excited until it comes to execution, and then i wonder what in the world I'm doing.

In reality, I know I can do this. I know I'm capable of creating something beautiful when I let go. But I look at other writers and wish I could write as eloquently or as creatively. BIG PROBLEM! Comparison steals my confidence, and my writing is mediocre instead of full and rich.

We live in a society of comparisons. If he is succeeding in business by enacting a particular strategy, then I should do that as well since it clearly works. In reality, that strategy may work for that guy, but I'm a different person. I attract a different audience with a different message, style, and voice. I have to do what fits my audience.

I have to be ME.

In order to do my best, I must remember to see myself as my Heavenly Father sees me. I must be who He created me to be. I can learn from the success of others. I can learn from their victories and defeats. I can learn from their style and gifts. But I must use that to shape and make me better, instead of becoming a cheap imitation. No one goes to the museum to see a copy of the Mona Lisa. Everyone wants to see the original.

Here is my prayer for book 2..."But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." (1 Peter 1:9)