Monday, June 29, 2015

Pursuing Your Dream

photo credit: //
We've all had them. Dreams of what we want to do some day. For one reason or another, many of us set them aside for a season. Or longer. But God has plans for us. Ephesians 2:10 says He has created us for good works. He doesn't want us to quit. 

"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 a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Today, I want to introduce you to a friend who had a dream and with the help of God, didn't give up: DJ Mynatt. Here's a bit of her story...
~ ~ ~
I have always wanted to be an author.  When my children were young, I began writing a novel, but family and work took all my time, so I put away my writing. 

Two years ago, my daughter challenged me to join her in the annual National Novel Writing Month – known as NaNoWriMo – challenge held in November. She assured me it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t write 50,000 words; that I would be a winner as long as I did my best.

NaNoWriMo is an event to encourage and support new writers and although you don’t really learn “how” to write, it is an excellent place to learn “to write”. But my story isn’t really about how I participated in NaNoWriMo… my story is about how I had no joy – no contentment – and reached out to God for help.

With God’s help, I went back to college when I was 50 years old; within a few years I had earned my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, 2 professional certifications, and became a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, where I served as an officer. I continued to pray for guidance and soon found myself writing an Amish fiction novel…

After the challenge I was asked to write about my experience with NaNoWriMo. It sounded like a good idea, so I sat down and wrote out how God had helped me write a novel – something I had wanted to do my whole life.

Because the reason I write is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ; to be a witness and tell others of God and how He loves me – and you – with an unending love. Without God, nothing is possible – and with God, nothing is impossible.

Whatever path you are on today, I urge you to seek God’s will in your life. He can help you climb mountains and pass through the darkest of times. And when you can’t take another step, He will never leave you or forsake you. He is your best friend. Thank you for allowing me to share my life – and my love of God – with you today.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  ~ John 3:16-17 (KJV)
 ~ ~ ~
DJ Mynatt is a newly-published author, who works full-time for the State of Tennessee, as well as beginning a new career as an author, editor, and speaker. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, The Christian PEN and the Non-Fiction Authors Association.

DJ lives with her daughter and grandchildren in the beautiful hills of Tennessee. When she leaves her "day job", DJ focuses on her writing, editing, blogging, reviewing books (especially for authors featured on her BookShelf blog) and attending workshops and writers conferences.

In her first published book, DJ shares her experiences while participating in the NaNoWriMo challenge in November, and she encourages others to sign up for this amazing adventure!

"If you've always wanted to write, but haven't been able to get started, NaNoWriMo is a great idea for you. It's not meant to teach you how to write, but to give you the opportunity to create a habit of writing. It might just be the push you need to begin your writing career!"

~ ~ ~
Connect with DJ

You CAN write 50,000 words in 30 Days takes us behind the scenes of one author’s journey through National Novel Writing Month… also known as NaNoWriMo.

Every year, people from all over the world log in to their NaNoWriMo profile, find a local group to hang out with all month, stock up on snacks, sharpen their pencils, get their playlists ready, and write!

50,000 words sounds crazy, right? Well, most writers ARE a little crazy!

Read about one woman’s journey and you will see that you CAN write 50,000 words in 30 days!

Get your copy on Amazon 

"I write because I feel I am called, as other Christians 
are called, to be a witness…" Click to Tweet 

"Fifty thousand words…Thirty days. 
Is that even possible?"  Click to Tweet 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Restyling My Newsletter

Beginning in July, I will be sending out my newsletter on a monthly basis. I will not be sending a short story with each edition, although you still might find one in your email from time to time.

I think you're going to like what I have planned. But I need a bit of help from you to fine tune those ideas. Can you take 2 minutes to answer a 3 question survey for me? This will help me know how to encourage you!

Click HERE to take the survey.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Psalm 2: A Place of Refuge

The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. "Let us break their chains," they say, "and throw off their fetters." The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them…” Psalm 2:2-5

When I read that last part of the verse, I imagine the scene in Narnia when Aslan’s army is fighting the White Witch’s army. It looks like the witch will defeat Aslan’s troops. And then over the cliff Aslan charges and destroys the evil queen.

One of the biggest enemies of rest is the struggle to win. To be in control. To make sure life works out. Especially when it feels like things are falling apart and the world is standing against us. When it feels like we are about to lose, like Aslan’s army must have felt.

We begin to worry. We make plans. We get busy. We take on more of a load to try and save the day. We forget who cares about us more than we care about ourselves.

The psalmist reminds us that even when the world stands against God, He is still sitting on His throne. And HE IS LAUGHING. Because He knows that no matter what, He is still in charge and He wins. He knows that victory is just over the horizon.

God is bigger than anything that comes against us and if we can find that place of rest in Him – if we can trust Him to take care of things, then we can be counted among those who take refuge in the Lord and are blessed.

…. blessed are all who take refuge in him.  Psalm 2:12b

We can rest in God because He is bigger 
than anything that comes against us. 
Click to Tweet 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Psalm 1: God's Rest, God's Way

Tree by stream

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. 
Whatever he does prospers. Psalm 1:1-3

Sleeping through the night. Getting 8 hours of sleep. Neither one is a regular occurrence for me. Between menopausal hormones, a snoring husband and years of late night habits (when my younger body could handle being a night owl) a solid quality night’s rest is often an out of reach dream.

But sleep is not the only kind of rest that our body needs.

Psalm 1: 3 talks about someone who is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields fruit in season and whose leave does not whither. Sounds nice. Sounds like someone who is resting and refreshed in their living. So how does one find this way of living?

Verse  1 & 2 shows the way.  
1.      They don’t walk in the counsel of the wicked. In other words, they don’t take advice from folks who don’t walk with God. This does NOT mean they never converse with those who live in complete opposition to the truth. But the counsel of those not walking with God does not lead us down a path full of life and light and rest.
2.      They don’t stand in the way of the sinners. In other words, they don’t make it a habit to be part of the “sinning” lifestyle. This does NOT mean, they never sin. It does NOT mean they aren’t friends with sinners or keep themselves so separate they can’t influence them. Jesus himself hung out with the less desirable characters of His day. To speak life to them, to show them He was the bread of life. Not to become like them!
3.      They don’t sit in the seat of mockers. In other words, they don’t get comfortable with those who mock God – with their words or their life. This does NOT mean they shush everyone who speaks a mocking word. Or turn their backs on them. Or disown them. But, rather than letting mockers pull them down, they call mockers to a better way by their example of living.
4.      They delight in God’s way. In other words, seeing Him in every part of life and giving thanks and glory to Him. Its celebrating the good He is doing. It’s also preferring His way over the world’s way. This does NOT mean we will never be sad or struggle with what He is doing in our life.
5.      They meditate on his law day and night. In other words, they habitually ponder and think on His word and His ways. Through reading, study and memorization they carry His word in their hearts. This does NOT mean they have to become a monk or a nun.

God’s ways lead to life, fruitful living and true soul rest. 

Considering my life right now, in this moment, I need to work on delighting in God’s way. Not the wanting and choosing to follow God kind of delighting, but the finding JOY in the following. In the day to day living and walking it out. Finding refreshment and strength in His JOY kind of delighting!

Do you need to work on on of these areas to find refreshment like a tree planted by streams of water? 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Getting Past Barriers to Hospitality

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2 NIV

Where has the art of hospitality gone? In our life of crowded calendars, distractions, and adrenaline rushes there are plenty of barriers to hospitality. Here are twelve reasons I have either used myself or have heard others use to avoid offering hospitality:

1.      I don’t have the space
2.      My house is messy and I’m embarrased
3.      My kids are little and would stress out the guests
4.      I’m too busy
5.      Possible guests are too busy
6.      Our schedules don’t coincide
7.      I don’t have enough money (to buy food)
8.      My family doesn’t want me to
9.      I don’t cook
10.  I don’t want my house to get messy
11.  I don’t want strangers in my house. Can I trust them?
12.  My family is going through a rough patch right now.          (health, marriage, kids)

Some barriers to hospitality are valid. Like the seasons in our life where the only “come over to my house” hospitality offered is to our spouse and children. For whatever reason we need to circle the wagons, so to speak. That is okay.

Some of us don’t have the Gift of Hospitality and for the most part, “come over to my house” is only reserved for those closest to us. That is okay, too.

However, God calls all of us at one time or another to welcome others with the heart of hospitality. Having a welcoming heart is one of the easiest ways to reach people with the love of God. It’s a good thing that true hospitality is a heart condition, not a house condition and does not always have to be a “come over to my house” invitation.

True hospitality is a heart condition, not a house condition. [Clickto Tweet]

Some of the barriers above just need extra effort to get past. Others can be resolved with some creativity. Most of them require a willingness to get outside our comfort zone—letting something go to make room for others in our life.  

Through this series, I’ll share some creative solutions to these common barriers, but for now, here are some general guidelines to help you make it work:
·         Keep hospitality simple
·         Don’t compare! (Don’t buy that book/magazine/               remember it doesn’t have to be like Martha Stuart or         a B&B)
·         Be Creative and think outside of the box (or the               house if you will).
·         Invest YOU in people’s lives.
·         Don’t be too hard on yourself: There are seasons             when it simply doesn’t work

What excuses or have you used to avoid hospitality?
Or what seasons of life have kept you from it?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Quiet Your Soul

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me 
lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 
he restores my soul. Psalm 23: 1-3a

This year, I’ve shared a bit about my burnout experience and my desire to find rest. Well…..finding rest in the middle of a busy life can be challenging. I can easily turn resentful of all there is to do.

But what if, instead of complaining about some of those things, I grabbed them as opportunity for quiet. What if I turned my attention to listening for God’s voice in the middle of the crazy?

When I’m in between one activity and the next.
When I’m waiting. At the doctor’s. For a child’s lesson to be done. At a red light.
While I’m driving to a jillion activities.
When I’m doing repetitious chores I don’t have to think about.              (dishes, laundry)
First thing in the morning. When there is a before-life-gets-moving        moment.
Last thing at night. As our eyelids close, before we drift to sleep.
When we can’t go to sleep.
When we’re up in the middle of the night rocking a child.
While doing mindless handiwork. Hand crafts: sewing, knitting,         bead crafting.
While the play dough is keeping the kids happy.

Instead of turning on the television.
Instead of listening to the radio.
Instead of reading that book.
Instead of getting that one more thing done on the to-do list.
Instead of social media.

Just be quiet. Invite God into the moment. Breathe. And listen. Be still. Rest.

A moments rest with God can replenish our soul and help us through the day. It is certainly more refreshing than spending those minutes being resentful, complaining or filling our head with noise.

What about you? How do you take advantage of the random moments in your day to find a space with God?

photo credit: // tiramisustudio 

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Heart of Hospitality

A quick note: I am closing down my Life at Applewood Hill blog, but didn't want 
you to miss the hospitality series I started there. I will be re-sharing the first two 
posts this week and next before we move on with the rest. Enjoy!  

In our culture of fast food and full schedules, it’s harder and harder to find time to open our home to guests on a regular basis. I think it’s time to revive hospitality in a culture feeding on adrenaline. Over the next few months, I will be sharing a series about the Heart of Hospitality. 

Have you ever been to a hotel where the service wasn’t great? Or perhaps the amenities were great, but the staff treated you not so well? The difference is the attitude of the heart.

Hospitality isn’t just about what you do;
it’s an attitude of the heart. 
Hospitality may not come as natural to some as others, but with a bit of practice and a lot of willingness, even the most hesitant can be successful at making their guests feel at home, even when they are not at home.

Hebrew 13:2 says “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” God doesn’t just tell us to invite our friends over. He’s telling us to take in those we don’t know! (The visitor at church? A new neighbor?) And as a Christian, I especially like the idea of one of my guests being an angel. If I keep that attitude it will help me to serve the most challenging of guests.

Remember, hospitality is not about impressing guests. Or only having the comfortable people over. It's about imparting peace and blessing to your guest. It’s about showing the love of Christ in a very practical and life giving way.

Hospitality is showing the love of Christ 
in a very practical and life giving way.  

How have you been blessed by someone showing you hospitality?

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