The Rest of Your Story

The Rest of Your Story 31: The End (and the beginning)

The Rest of Your Story 31: The End (and the beginning)

Green Pencil photo by D Sharon Pruitt (flickr) * Last post of our 21-day challenge!

Thank you so much for sharing this journey with me. We've shared, learned, prayed, and grown together.

On this final day, I simply want to pray for your story

Lord,

Thank You being the Author of our lives.

And thank You for the woman who is reading these words.

I imagine her, leaning toward a computer screen or peering into a cell phone.

I wish I could be there with her, to wrap my arms around her in a hug of celebration and declare, "We did it!"

I'm so glad that You are there…

in each moment, every word of her story.

You know what is happening now,

both the happy and the hard.

So I pray You will surround her with all she needs.

Write every line of her life with love, sweet Jesus.

Hold her close to You when she aches,

give her joy that overflows when she is happy.

In every scene, every moment be near to her heart.

And bless her story, Lord.

Bless all who share it with her too.

We have just begun to see all You have in store.

We wait with anticipation to see what You will do…

and we surrender our stories to You.

Amen.

And now I've got a some fun surprises for you as a little "thank you"!

First, I hope all of you have thought about your Story Statements. I kept trying to think of another formula to add to the one we did. But I really think it's just about you and Jesus having a conversation to see what else might need to be said.

And after you do, I've got a surprise for you! I asked my friend Mandy, who is fabulous and creative (and is allowed to use a hot glue gun, unlike me), if she would design bookmarks for all of us so we can remember this journey. She will personalize one with your Story Statement!

Here's mine…

(front & back)

Red-BW-Front by Mandy    Red-BW-Back by Mandy

So go see Mandy and find out more!

Reflections from a Mother's Heart *Barbara Viney is the winner of this giveaway!

Also, this series was focused on our present and future. Many of you asked how to record your pasts so that your story could be a legacy for your children.

I shared your desire with our friends at Thomas Nelson. They're releasing a new book called Reflections from a Mother's Heart: Your Life Story in Your Words.

Y'all it has not even in stores yet! But because they think a lot of you, I have a copy to give you! Just leave a comment before midnight on Friday to enter. They're also providing a giveaway on (in)courage today!

Will you help me show our appreciation by visiting their new site, Blessing and Truth?

And speaking of giveaways, I'll announce the winner of the $50 gift certificate to DaySpring and (in)courage tomorrow when we kick off our next series, OUT of INsecurity! (We've done a lot of giveaways lately. Hope you don't mind–I just love sharing!)

We began this challenge with one word and I'm going to end it with the same…

Woo-hoo!

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QUESTION: What's one thing you'll take with you from this challenge?

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(your comment gives you an entry for Reflections from a Mother's Heart!)

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The Rest of Your Story 30: Almost done…

The Rest of Your Story 30: Almost done…

Red Window photo by D Sharon Pruitt (flickr) When I began this series, I hoped to end it with lots of answers and a specific plan. There were blanks in my story I wanted filled.

And yet, I stared at the ceiling the other night with many of the same questions going through my mind. What will happen next? What does God want me to do? What about…?"

In the quiet of the night, a whisper came to my heart, wrapped itself around my worries…

You don't need to know what, you only need to know Who.

Just like that, I realized this journey wasn't about what I imagined.

Yes, we're to understand our past, who we are, and where God may wants us to go in the future.

Yet ultimately it's not about us, it's about Him.

Our role in the story is to say "yes" to what God asks of us each day.

As we do, our story unfolds as He plans…

word by word, line by line, page by page, all the way to

The End.

 

* Have you written your Story Statement? We'll revisit those in the last post of the series tomorrow!

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TODAY'S QUESTION: Catch up on anything you missed in the Rest of Your Story Challenge (click "next" at the bottom of each page).

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The Rest of Your Story 29: Who’s ready to share some love?

The Rest of Your Story 29: Who’s ready to share some love?

Valentine's Day Cupcakes by Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience This isn't what you think. It's not about mushy, pie-in-the-sky, singing-in-the-rain romance. (Although there is a little rain as you'll soon see. And there's a big surprise for you!)

Nope, this is about a different kind of love, a different kind of story…yours.

But let's start with the rain first.

One day as I gathered books and stepped into the hall I saw a familiar face wearing a smile and holding an umbrella. My future husband came to walk me through the rain. And my love story came to life.

Years later, during a difficult storm in my life God used that memory to show me that He, too, wanted to walk me through the rain. And my love story came to life.

Almost half a decade of hurt and hope went by. I shared what God had done with other women. It helped heal their hearts too. And my love story came to life.

We're made for love. And it comes whenever the divine shows up in the ordinary, whether that's through family, friends, a cause that captures our hearts, or totally unexpected moments.

Lean in and I'll whisper a secret…

It's not about happily-ever-after.

It's about eternity.

God is the Author and He is love. (Hebrews 12:2, 1 John 4:16)

That means we're all living a love story.

And not just on Valentine's Day but forever.

Now that's worth celebrating!

Photo by Molly Morton-Sydorak

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TODAY'S QUESTION: Share a love story from your life. (Remember, it doesn't have to be a romantic one…just a time when your heart felt real love.

DaySpring is sponsoring a special giveaway for all of you who do! You'll be entered to win a Love and Encouragement Collection that includes…

Heart and Globe from DaySpring  Encouragement Boxed Cards by DaySpring  Faith, Hope, and Love bangle by DaySpring  Rain on Me by Holley Gerth  

A Heart and Globe gallery print, a copy of Rain on Me (my devo), a beautiful box of cards, AND a Faith, Hope, Love bracelet. Together they're worth over $100!

You can leave your love story below or on the DaySpring facebook page (or do both for two entries!) by midnight CST on Wednesday, the 17th.

To Post Your Love Story, Click Here

It's time to share the love…

UPDATE: Congratulations to Nancy Rockey for winning the Love and Encouragement collection! Her comment was chosen by the random number generator. You can read it here! Thanks to everyone who entered. All of you can use my friends and family code, holley20, to get 20% off anything and everything you'd like on DaySpring.com!

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The Rest of Your Story 29: What risks are you taking?

The Rest of Your Story 29: What risks are you taking?

Eggs by D Sharon Pruitt (flickr) The hard part about understanding who we are and where God wants us to go in our stories is this…

We might actually have to do something about it.

Gulp.

I'm a writer and believe me, I'd rather click-clack away on my keyboard about jumping out of an airplane than actually go sky-diving. Yes, ma'am.

God has done serious work on my heart about this the last few years. For a long time I thought risk was a four-letter word (okay, it is–you know what I mean).

I have a sweetheart of a Daddy who tells me to be careful quite often. And I always figured that God said the same.

But then He started throwing out all kinds of craziness like, "Be courageous. Take a leap of faith. Get out of your comfort zone. Be bold with your story."

Say what?!?

Then I read the book, Don't Waste Your Life, by John Piper. The title of one chapter is "Risk is Right." He explains that risk for and with God can seem like sky-diving but really it's the safest thing we can do. The best place to be is always the center of God's will…even if it's hard or scary.

I imagine the last few weeks God has impressed some things on your heart and you think, "I could never…." I know that's been the case for me. Perhaps it's time to switch that around to, "He can always…"

He can always give us the strength we need. Philippians 4:13

He can always make a way where there seems to be none. Proverbs 3:5-6

He can always see us through to victory. Roman 8:37

He can always be enough even when we feel as if we're not. II Peter 1:3

And as we near the end of this series…

He can always carry on to completion the good work He has begun in us (aka write our story with His love all the way to The End). Philippians 1:6

Now where's that plane? Our hearts just may be ready to do a little sky-diving…

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TODAY'S QUESTION: What have you been taught about risk?

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Every comment during the 21-day challenge = an entry for $50 to DaySpring.com, including the (in)courage shop!

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The Rest of Your Story 28: How do you feel?

The Rest of Your Story 28: How do you feel?

Candy Hearts photo by Terren in Virginia (flickr) As you know by now, I'm a "live from the heart" kind of girl.

That means some days (okay, a lot of days) my emotions try to get the best of me. So I've been asking God what to do with all these feelings.

As I prayed and pondered, this little sentence popped into my heart…

Emotions make great messengers and bad bosses.

Emotions aren't sin. They're actually really helpful. They tell us what's going on in our stories. Even Jesus was a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."

So imagine a messenger running up to you (mine has a ponytail, cute t-shirt, and a mocha for me in her hand…thought you'd like to know).

If we listen to what the messenger has to share with us, turn to our Boss and ask, "What should we do about this?" then all is well.

If we turn back to the messenger and our back to the Boss everything changes.

Our emotions speak into our stories. 

The Author gets the final say.

 

p.s. Keep thinking about your Story Statement…we'll get back to them soon!

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TODAY'S QUESTION: What are your feelings saying? What's true?

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Every comment during the 21-day challenge = an entry for $50 to DaySpring.com, including the (in)courage shop!

Are you a blogger? Today we're having a "Rest of Your Story" round-up! If you wrote a post about your story on your blog this week, just link up below! You'll get an extra entry in the giveaway and we'll get to visit you!

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The Rest of Your Story 27: How do you guard your heart?

The Rest of Your Story 27: How do you guard your heart?

The Key to My Heart photo by 1Happysnapper (flickr) I tend to embarass myself when I speak by doing things like, oh, walking into the men's room or breaking water jugs. Yes, ma'am.

So when I showed up to speak at a conference for the wives of worship leaders yesterday, I vowed I would change my crazy ways.

And I felt quite calm until realizing the other speaker was Jackie Kendall, the best-selling author of Lady in Waiting.

Then I began to quietly hyperventilate because I LOVE her. I did gather my wits long enough to take in her brilliant and hilarious talk. One insight she shared smacked me across the forehead like a wet noodle. Schloop!

Jackie said part of the Greek word for contentment means "to raise a wall against." A Scripture that has been on my heart came instantly to mind… 

"Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23

Contentment isn't my strong suit. Not my strong suit, dress, skirt, shirt, or tie. I have high expectations. I whine. I've got a stack of "if only's" a mile high.

I viewed contentment as a barrier…something that could block my dreams.

But suddenly I saw it as just the opposite…protection for my heart.

Contentment doesn't mean faking it, being a doormat, or becoming passive. It doesn't mean we don't dream or grow. 

Instead it simply means our hearts choose to be satisfied with what God gives us today. Then we partner with Him to move toward what He has for us tomorrow.

(By the way, I'm really glad the Apostle Paul said, "I have learned to be content in all things" because y'all, it's going to take this girl some practice.)

So how does this relate to our stories?

"Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life (aka the source of your story)."

Like the lock on a little-girl diary, contentment keeps safe what matters most.

p.s. I did not walk into the men's restroom this time. But right smack in the middle of my talk, in front of Jackie and everybody, I did say I hoped Jesus would say "y'all" when we got to heaven. What?!? You can't take me anywhere.

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TODAY'S QUESTION: Am I the only one who struggles with contentment? What helps?

To Post Your Comment, Click Here

Every comment during the 21-day challenge = an entry for $50 to DaySpring.com, including the (in)courage shop!

Are you a blogger? Every Friday we'll have a "Rest of Your Story" round-up!

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The Rest of Your Story 26: What’s your Story Statement?

The Rest of Your Story 26: What’s your Story Statement?

Pitcher photo by hello-julie (flickr) *  The 21- day challenge started on part 11 of the series. That's why the numbers are higher than 21.

A Story Statement is a lot like a Mission Statement. I like the word "story" because it implies creativity and freedom as well as reminding me that God is the Author.

Whatever you call it, the purpose is the same: to bring focus and intention to our stories.

There are many ways to write a Story Statement. Let's start with the simplest. 

Think back on everything we've covered: Strengths, Skills, WWW. Then create a sentence with this structure…

To bring + (what) + (who) + (how)

Mine: To bring hope and encouragement to the hearts of women through words.

(You can change "bring" to another verb if it helps.) 

We'll talk about how to add more to our Story Statements later.

How we live this statement will change many times during our story.

For example, I have pitcher that I love. I've used it to pour lemonade, water, and tea. I've used it at parties, for my husband, and with family at the holidays.

If that pitcher said, "I'm just made to pour iced tea on Saturdays" then it would only partially understand its purpose.

That pitcher might feel like a failure if I wanted to use it to serve orange juice on Sunday mornings instead. But I would be happy about it.

God calls us His "vessel." That means we'll express our Story Statement in various situations, amounts, and times. The words we write down aren't meant to confine us but rather to bring focus and then set us free to be used by God however He chooses.

For example, speaking encouragement to a tired cashier is just as much living out my life story statement as writing a book that will be read by thousands.

What God wants most in our stories is our hearts. After all, It's not about the size of the word but the meaning behind it.

Big or small, He can use it all.

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TODAY: Write a one sentence rough draft of your life story statement. (Use the structure above or your own way and spend less than 5 minutes on it.)

To Post Your Comment, Click Here

Every comment during the 21-day challenge = an entry for $50 to DaySpring.com, including the (in)courage shop!

Are you a blogger? Every Friday we'll have a "Rest of Your Story" round-up! 

Subscribe by EmailIt's FREE!

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His Scandalous Love

His Scandalous Love

Flowers photo by peregrine blue (flickr) To start from part one, click here.

I messed up. Again.

I sat on the back deck thinking about what a failure I’d been.

What must God think of me?

I was writing in my journal as I had been every day.

Lately, I felt like God had been impressing on me to only write good things—compliments people gave me, ways He used me, blessings in my life. I didn’t know why He wanted me to do this, but I felt compelled.

But on this morning I sat and stared at the blank page. I began to write about my mistake. I finished and looked at  black and white evidence.

Then I heard a whisper in my heart…

Will you read the rest with me on Pearl Girls?

* Pearl Girls makes a difference in the lives of women. Right now they're providing a safe house in Chicago and helping those with AIDS in Africa.

 

AND you can use today to catch up on The Rest of Your Story challenge…

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10 Minute Catch Up Plan

If you haven't yet…

1) Find your strengths. (2 minutes)

2) Do the same for your skills. (2 minutes)

3) Answer the following questions. (2 minutes each)

WHO do your strengths and skills serve? Family, friends, etc.

WHEN/WHERE do you use them? Home, church, work, etc. 

WHAT is the result? Others are encouraged, God is glorified, etc.

We'll use all of this to create your Story Statement soon!

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The Rest of Your Story 25: What if you’re waiting?

The Rest of Your Story 25: What if you’re waiting?

To start from part one, click here.

Seedling photo by D Sharon Pruitt (flickr) The Israelites had a holy GPS to the Promised Land and the journey still took a long time.

Jesus knew He was called to be the Messiah but He didn't officially begin His ministry until age 30.

Esther spent a year on beauty treatments before she even met the king (sign me up for that one!).

It's just one little letter but know is not the same as now.

I can feel guilty when I get to a place where I better understand God's plan or what He's calling me to do and it hasn't fully come into being yet. Anyone else? Let's just kick that to the curb, ladies. 

I've done a lot of waiting over the last five years. And what God has gently revealed to me is this, if our hearts are open and we're saying "yes" to what He asks of us each day then we're where we're supposed to be.

It may not make sense. It may seem small. It may feel silly. But sometimes God just has us stay.

Beth Moore said, "Hearts entirely surrendered to God can ordinarily be trusted." If we have yielded to Jesus and handed Him the pen but all has not come to pass in our story then it is not time yet. Or God has something else for us that we're being prepared for now. Either way, we have done our part.

That's what this series is about…not making something happen but getting to the point where we are open and ready.

Our role in the story is to simply place our fingers on the edge of the paper and say, "God, I am here and waiting. Turn the pages as you will. And with all I am, all I have, I will go with you."

p.s. Have you told us how we can pray for you?

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TODAY'S QUESTION: What's your heart waiting on right now?

To Post Your Comment, Click Here

Every comment during the 21-day challenge = an entry for $50 to DaySpring.com, including the (in)courage shop!

Are you a blogger? Every Friday we'll have a "Rest of Your Story" round-up! 

Subscribe by Email It's free!

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