Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's Been A Week

"Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

It's been quite a week. Preparing for the She Speaks writers' conference means endless days of research, dotting your i's and crossing your t's. It's where the rubber meets the road and God says, "Do you trust me?"

Those of us brave enough to follow God's call on our hearts to write His message on the hearts of other women, go through weeks, months, years of questioning our mission. We wonder, "Have you really called me God? 'cause this is just plain hard." With the publishing industry whittling away while it reevaluates its place in the techno-savvy world, those 0f us with a message beg for a chance to be heard.  

Two years ago, God placed the seed for a book in my heart. A guide for daughters of divorce toward the rescue, restoration, and release of their wounded hearts. It' been a struggle to write. It's been a challenge to revisit those places I've wanted to forget. Yet, God's reminded me that the freedom He's given because of my obedience to forgive, must be shared with the next generation.

Although I'd like to think my words will be published, God has continually reminded me this year that I'm on a journey; that all my experiences are part of a long process. He's reminded me that no matter if my words are published, I must remember three things: (1) be grateful for small beginnings, (2) be patient, no matter how long it takes for God to accomplish His mission through me, and (3) be confident in what He has equipped me to do.

So, as I prepare my second book proposal, I choose to hope rather than cling to discouragement. I choose to persevere, rather than give up and say, "What's the use?" I choose to step out in obedience and gain insight, rather than to stubbornly disobey in the prospect of disappointment.

One thing I know: I serve a God of limitless possibilities and promises. I choose to step out in obedience to His call and see what's in to day. What about you?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Beauty of the Dance

"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 55:11

There I sat, nestled deep into my favorite chair, in the corner of my writing room, journaling thoughts. Like greeting an old friend, I caressed the pages of my journal and breathed in its white linen scent. With pen in hand, words danced across the page without a blinking cursor bidding my next thought, impatiently. The bend and twirl of every cursive stroke wove thoughts into words the eye could see until my mind could comprehend its beauty. Ah! The beauty of the dance. 

Those scrawling conversations with God are times of worship, really. He bids me come, I take his hand out onto the floor and we dance. One word and then another. As he leads me around I catch a glimpse of where I've been and where He wants to lead me next. It can be frightening sometimes when He quickens the pace and I clumsily trip over my own feet, trying to predict his next step. It's then, He picks me up, looks into my eyes, and whispers, "Trust me. I've got you. Don't worry."

We always want to know what's next, don't we? But God knows better. He knows that if we could see what's next we may choose not to follow His lead. We may become overwhelmed and leave the dance floor before the music ends. What beauty would there be to the dance unfinished?

Jesus bids us come. Will you follow His lead?

" '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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Feeling the Fear

"You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.”
Lamentations 3:57

There are two types of fear; fear that protects you from injury or pain and fear that paralyzes you from experiencing all that is good. Either way, we all experience fear.

Protective fear is good. God placed the fear of falling and loud noises in each of us from birth,  to keep us safe. We learn to fear other things, either from our parents or through our own injuries, like hot stoves, fire, depths, strangers, sharp knives. If we didn't fear such things, we'd be spending a lot of time in the hospital, dead, or nearly dead.

Paralyzing fear, however, is not good. It's a fear that causes us to do nothing rather than forge ahead toward something greater. The task ahead of us may look daunting, even impossible, so we say, "What's the use?" and coward away. When we play it safe we seem to lose nothing and most certainly, we gain nothing.

Queen Esther could have "played it safe", keeping her Jewish identity a secret from King Xerxes to spare her own life from the planned anihilation of the entire race. Instead, she forged ahead in spite of her fear but not without first, seeking God's face. She, her maids,  her Uncle Mordecai, and all the Jews of the land, fasted and prayed for three days. Then, and only then, did she go before the king, still knowing she may perish at his hand. In the end, God performed a miraculous thing, saving not only Esther, but all the Jews in this kingdom (Esther 1-10).

Some of us may be staring at a God sized dream that looks more like a daunting nightmare right now. We can't sit here paralyzed, waiting for the fear to leave; thinking that when we're free from fear, then we'll have the courage to move forward. That's just a lie. As a fellow blogger so eloquently wrote today, "The enemy will tell you that courage means the absence of fear as you move ahead. It doesn't. Faith means feeling the fear and moving ahead into God's will anyway..." (Holley Gerth at

So, dear reader, Seek God's face. Move forward. Then watch Him accomplish great things with you, through you, despite all your fears. 

"Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets. The lion has roared—who will not fear? The Sovereign LORD has spoken—who can but prophesy?" Amos 3:7-8

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Shoulder to Shoulder

"I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder." Zephaniah 3:9 NIV

Opposites attract. That's a good thing since my husband and I couldn't be more opposite if we tried. If we took a compatibility test, I think we'd score "incompatible". I like to be alone. He likes to surround himself with people. I work best in peace and quiet. He always works with background noise. I'm a morning person. He's a night owl. Chaos paralyzes me while it quickly mobilizes him to visualize order in the midst of it. Yet, we've survived our incompatibilities for over 30 years. Maybe it's because where one of us lacks the other excels and it all balances out somehow.

The hardest thing for me to get used to in our marriage has been his need to work with me, shoulder to shoulder. When he sets out to do something on my "honey do" list and it becomes frustrating for him, he'll yell from wherever he is, "Dawn, can you give me some help?" Of course, being the good wife that I am, I drop everything and run to his side, but not without mumbling under my breath. "If I could do it myself, I wouldn't have put it on the 'honey do' list in the first place," I complain. What use to frustrate me more was that more times than not, there wasn't anything I could do to help. But, he still wanted me there...standing shoulder to shoulder.

It took a few years to finally understand that he wasn't so much looking for my physical or academic help to figure out a problem. Rather, he just needed my emotional support in a difficult or frustrating situation. And the funny thing is, his whole attitude, demeanor changes after I show up because he knows he's not alone.

This picture of working shoulder to shoulder is exactly what God envisioned for his church. He's all about community; all about working together. He didn't expect us to be lone rangers, working things out alone. Rather he intended us to join forces, gather our abilities, our talents, our support to work alongside each other in whatever task we are doing.

Some of us may be opposites, but we all play a significant role in God's kingdom. Together, working shoulder to shoulder we can accomplish great things.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

He Never Fails

"Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail." Zephaniah 3:5

Loud cracks of thunder interrupted the silence of early dawn. Sheets of lightning illuminated the sky like strobe lights in a disco tech but I wasn't in the mood for dancing. I laid in bed motionless, anticipating the sound of rain while cool air rushed through the open windows. The red LED numbers on the clock glared, 3:18 a. m. Over two hours before the alarm would sound.

It wasn't long before the raindrops spattered against the metal awning outside challenging me to a race. Reluctantly, I jumped out of bed racing the raindrops from room to room. I won and hoped to enjoy a victory sleep, but my mind was wide awake. It was now 3:30 a.m. I turned my back to the clock hoping, no praying, that sleep would come quickly.

The storm subsided within minutes. Back out of bed, I reopened the windows, turned on the fans hoping to capture another 90 minutes of uninterrupted sleep. But, the birds decided to celebrate morning, instead. Not fair! I couldn't close the windows to block out their incessant chirping or I'd swelter from the humidity. So I made a deal with God.

"Lord, I know I promised to get up early to write but I didn't expect this storm. Thoughts won't flow unless I'm rested, so please help me sleep hard and fast." With that I reset the alarm for 7:30 a.m.

God woke me an hour early before the alarm sounded. Like a parent trying to coax their child out of bed for school, God kept at me until I conceded. "Grab your coffee and come with me," he prodded. "Come with me and see what I have for you today."

"But, Lord," I complained, "I'm so tired and I can't write like this. You know my deadline. I have to be 'on point' today. Can't I just sleep a little bit longer?"

"You're right," God agreed, "YOU can't compose all worn and tired. In fact, without me YOU can do nothing, even with the extra sleep. So, sleep if you'd like or grab your coffee, feast on my word, and rest in me for awhile."

Reluctantly, I followed. I feasted and he satisfied. He led me to the book of Zephaniah and fed me with promises that I'd like to share over the next couple of days. The first is his promise of faithfulness.

"Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail" (Zephaniah 3:5b NIV). God never fails to accomplish his goals. Like any child, we can be rebellious, uncooperative, lazy, stubborn and independent. But, if we simply follow his lead, become fully dependent on him in everything, he will always prove faithful to complete all that he has promised in us and through us. It isn't a coincidence that my blog is called Dawn's New Day. Today he defined what he set in motion two years ago. In every new day, no matter what it brings, God will not fail.

"...the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets" (Revelation 10:7 NIV).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Our Stories

"Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story..." Psalm 107:2

When you sit on a story for a long, long time you get bored with it. You start to second guess yourself and wonder, "Who cares, anyhow?" You've read it, told it, written it over and over again until you want to throw it away. But it doesn't go away. It's YOUR story. Everything you've written is true and it matters.

I knew last night that today I'd have to postpone my writing retreat until the afternoon or evening. Our Maine coon cat looked up at me Sunday, with three eyelids showing...not a pretty sight...and I knew she needed some medical attention. Her vet appointment wasn't until late this morning; early enough that it wouldn't allow me enough time to get to my writing and late enough that I had to keep an eye on where the cat, "Moaning Myrtle", wandered off to after breakfast.

Killing some time, I decided to read the newspaper. My eyes skimmed the articles, but my mind was interrupting. I really felt I'd let myself down; like I'd never reach my writing goal for today. I starting thinking, "What's the use? Who really cares about my story or this book idea, anyway?" My eyes finally interrupted my thought as the title of an award-winning essay written by a young girl in town caught my attention: "Divorce". As I read her words, I realized I was reading MY story. Her struggles were my struggles. Her vivid recollections were the same as mine. My heart connected with hers, another daughter of divorce. The only difference was our names and end of the story.

Endings. That's why I NEED to tell my story. It can change the entire ending to HER story and many other endings to many other stories of many other daughters of divorce. There is one who gives us hope and a future; one who never leaves us nor forsakes us; one who forgives and teaches us how to forgive. His name is Jesus.

We all have a story. We've all weathered some storms. And for those of us who've found healing for our wounds, we need to tell our stories and help change the ending of someone elses story.

"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

"...He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness the prisoners..." Isaiah 61:1b

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Before the Masterpiece

"...your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions..." Joel 2:28b

Beauty inspires. Beauty in the simplest form of nature, a butterfly, a bumble bee, a flower swept meadow, makes us stop and take notice. We admire the design of an intricate piece of artwork; the shape, the colors, the lines. Even the beauty of a good story takes us beyond ourselves, moves our imagination to the known and the unknown.

We all enjoy a great masterpiece, but have you ever stopped to think of how it is formed? How does it all begin? With a dream. With a small seed of an idea that takes root in the heart of the artist. Then the mess begins. Behind closed doors the artist plays with his idea; sketches it out; adds to it; takes away; refines and rebuilds. Hidden from his critics, his public, even those closest to him, he struggles. Days, months, years may pass. He wonders if the dream was real; if he's got the passion to create a masterpiece at all.

One small beginning to the next, what has lived in his imagination now starts to take form. Another wave of inspiration comes...a word of encouragement...God's Spirit moves him, through him until it is finished.

The artist steps back, wipes his stained hands against his sweaty brow and smiles. His heart swells in thanksgiving for what he held inside for so long is now a reality before him and ready to be shared.

That's how a masterpiece is formed. It begins as thought, an idea, a dream. It becomes a mess. It's labor intensive but God inspired. It inspires others to think, to change, to move.

What is your dream? Is it moving forward or stagnant? Is it time to get messy? Rise up! The world needs to view the masterpiece God meant for you to create.

"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

" 'What is impossible with man is possible with God.' " Luke 18:27

"Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him." Jeremiah 17:7

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Shouldn't I Be Doing Something?

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17

Sitting in my sanctuary, perched in my favorite, well-worn chair, a cool breeze lends a wispy kiss upon my cheeks. It's quiet here. I welcome the late spring sun as my soul sighs, "All is well."

Tuning out the bustling world around me, I tune into my heart. Conversations from last night encircle my thoughts; talk about the end of the world. Like I found myself last night, I'm shockingly unaffected. It's not that I'm not concerned with the world nor am I ignorant of the global disasters and signs that all is NOT well with this planet. All my life I've been taught this world is temporary. It will end.

But still, here I sit, feeling untouched by this fact except for the guilt creeping in. So, I have a conversation with God. "Lord, if this is the end, shouldn't I be DOING something? Getting my hands dirty saving the world? Exactly what am I supposed to be DOING right now?" So I gather my swirling questions and God harnesses them in the light of Jesus' teaching in Matthew 24-25.

First, "keep watch," Jesus says, "because you do not know on what day your Lord will come" (Matthew 24:42 NIV). Like a servant who continues to keep the master's house in order as he anticipates his return, the faithful servant will not get lazy and let the house fall into ruin. If he does, the master will fire him when he arrives home, unannounced.

Second, invest well. God has sown specialized talents into our DNA. Whether we are artists, writers, builders, accountants, or caregivers we're all specifically gifted for a purpose. Coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit (and God's spiritual gifts) God designed us to do great things, NOW in THIS broken world. It's up to us to accept this spiritual journey of discovering those gifts and allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you. When this happens, God says, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness." (Matthew 25:23 NIV)

Finally, serve others don't just talk about it. Wherever we find ourselves, to whomever walks into our world on any day, we are to serve others with whatever means God has given us to serve; even a cup of cold water.

The leaves are rustling outside my window as I ponder God's purpose for me in such a broken world. All may not be well outside my sanctuary, but He reminds me again, that words are powerful. They're meant to be shared whether spoken or written. Harnessed by God's power they refresh others like a cup of cold water; bring healing, hope, and empowerment to a world coming apart at the seams.

Dear reader, I pray you may be refreshed by these words, but most importantly, empowered by them to harness God's gifts sown in you. What does your cup of cold water look like? How will you refresh those around you?

" 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" (Matthew 25: 40 NIV)

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Matthew 24:36