What can a donkey teach you? Oh, just lots of stuff.
The drought in Texas is officially over...and in a big way. Torrential storms over the past week, on top of the previous weeks of rain, have flooded rivers and lakes that have been almost bone dry for nearly five years.
The storms only did a little bit of damage around my house, and I noticed that it knocked a baby horse-apple to the ground. Fully matured, these strange fruits are larger than grapefruits, and hard as rocks. They seem to have no real purpose, other than as conversation pieces, and as treats for one silly donkey in my pasture.
Our horse apple tree (officially a Bois D'Arc tree) produces fruit every year, even in the very worst drought years. Season after season, it drops these odd green balls onto the the ground.
And each year, I'm reminded of one of God's very best lessons to me: How to find the blessing in my life, even in the midst of drought.
I wrote about it a couple of years ago, and I'd love for you to take a minute to read it, because it's still good, good stuff.
Listen, no matter what's going on in your life, somewhere there is some fruit growing. It might be hard to find, but look for it. Get yourself to where the fruit is, and position yourself for blessing. You can live in abundance, even when times are tough.
You can stand where fruit is falling. On a hot August day, in the middle of drought, there is fruit that looks like worthless, hard-as-rock oddities of nature.
But it is so. much. more. than that.
It is the "yet" that sets joy atop a mountain of trials, and plants a flag of triumph there for all to see. it is the "even though" that sees past the empty stalls and dried up fields and vines with no grapes, and sets its sights on a Savior who is always enough. It is the arrow that points to a God whose lavish grace gives and sustains life, and makes our feet dance upon the heights. It is the "I will" that chooses daily gratitude, and a heart that rejoices in His loving-kindness.
It is the secret of abundance.
Are you in the midst of a drought? Do you feel parched and dry, like you'll never again experience the rain of goodness? Hang in there, my friend. The rains will come, and you will once again be filled to overflowing. Until then, remember that you are not alone, and that you can still experience abundance wherever you are. You are loved, deeply and completely.
Would you like me to pray for you? Leave a comment or drop me an email. I'll write each request down and lift you up today.
If you are in need of a smile today, head on over to Flash's Facebook page, where you'll see everyone's Flat Flash adventures. I had so much fun checking Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for the hashtag #FlatFlash and seeing photos popping up this past week.
Our winner of the Flat Flash Contest is Becca McNew! I chose her for the variety of Becca's family adventures with Flash, which included the clever parental move of using Flash to help get her son to eat carrots. ("Flash eats carrots!") It may or may not have been successful....
I love the way Becca made Flash's ears into a hat.
Flash in a jar? Well, why not?
Flat Flash, meet Painted Flash.
Is there a carrot flavored Sonic Slush? No? Let me speak to management about that.
You can find the rest of Becca's photos on Instagram - @thenewb3c or search #FlatFlash.
Congrats, Becca! You'll receive the $50.00 gift card, the canvas print, and a signed book!
You may have heard about the flooding in Texas on the news. This is our driveway - it's underwater. This part of our driveway goes across a dam, and the pond is over the top, as you can see.
I heard a quote in church on Sunday: "A huge drought can only be brought to an end by a huge rain." That sentence has stuck in my mind, and I'll be sharing more on that this week.
I stood in the cosmetics department trying to decide between "Stormy Pink," a frosted lipstick with peach undertones, and "Fairest Nude," a neutral creme that looked particularly yummy. On the one hand, frosted lipstick might feel light and summery, but on the other hand, the neutral creme would go with anything. Hmmm, I already have about five frosties, and I could USE a muted color..but I don't know.
"Are you trying to find lipstick?" a male voice with a distinctly foreign accent asked from somewhere nearby.
Startled, I looked up to see a man.
A man in the lipstick aisle.
Talking to me.
Honestly, I was taken aback. I felt instantly offended and shocked.
First of all: A random man, talking to me.
Second of all: In Cosmetics. If I'd been in the produce aisle, I still would have been weirded out. But here, in the makeup area? Oh no, this is not right.
The man stood there, looking at me.
My mind raced. This guy is obviously not from here. Doesn't he know that men don't talk to women in stores? Doesn't he know that the cosmetic department is sacred? Doesn't he know that strangers don't talk to women about lipstick? (Unless you're a woman and you see another woman's lipstick that is really, really pretty. THEN you can ask her about it. In this case it would be a compliment.) (This is an entirely different scenario.)
"No," I said, jamming Stormy Pink into its spring-loaded display case. I could see he did not have a store badge. Was he trying to practice his English? Was he hitting on me? I'm well past the age of being hit on, but maybe in his country this kind of thing is acceptable?
I turned and exited the aisle, still puzzled by the brief exchange between this foreigner and me. So odd!
And then just like a bombshell had gone off, in my mind I pictured another exchange...this one between a woman getting water from well, and a foreigner named Jesus, who broke cultural taboos to speak with her.
Didn't Jesus know that men didn't talk to women? Didn't he know that the well was a sacred "woman space?"
The woman was taken aback by Jesus words to her. It must have been far worse than a man talking to her in the lipstick aisle. And when He offered to give her water so that she'd never again be thirsty, her shock turned to intrigue.
(Now, if my stranger-dude had offered me lipstick that I'd never have to re-apply, this analogy would have been perfect. Say no more, mister, I'm sold!)
In that moment, I had a sharp realization that Jesus was someone who shook things up in his world. He took what was expected, what was "normal," what was status-quo...and turned it on its ear.
Jesus was full of surprises.
He talked to women at wells. He let children sit on his lap. He touched lepers. He healed people on (gasp!) the Sabbath. He said things like, "The first shall be last," and "Blessed are the poor." He didn't come to establish an earthly kingdom, but a spiritual one.
Jesus met people in marketplaces, in temples, by lake shores, on mountainsides, along pathways, and at parties given by sinners. He brought the kingdom of God to everyday people. He didn't care where or how or who...His message took the earth by surprise.
I went back to grab Stormy Pink after I made sure the man who'd invaded my space was no longer around. So what if I had five other similar frosted shades? I needed this one.
Because this one would remind me that Jesus can show up at any moment, to remind me of a story in scripture, or to speak truth to me, or to show me something. He might surprise or shock me with His ideas and methods, but that's just how He seems to do things.
You just never know where you're going to encounter Him.
It might even be in the lipstick aisle.
How about you? Have you ever been surprised by how God has spoken to you? Have you ever been shocked by scripture? Has something ever caught you by surprise, and then become an object lesson in your life?
Flat Flash is turning up EVERYWHERE! We've caught up with him in the Alps of Switzerland, buckled into the backseat of a car, hanging out with family pets, and even enjoying a birthday party!
(Thank you, Becca, for your awesome photos!)
Be sure to check out Flash's Facebook page for the latest photos!
Remember there are some great prizes - a $50.00 gift card, a canvas print, and a signed book - it's all available to the most creative #FlatFlash adventure!
1. Gift Card of Your Choice
2. My new book, signed by none other than Flash hisself.
3. A gallery-wrapped, signed print of my latest art - "Savor" in mixed media, 11x14.
Two weeks ago, we aired a webcast with Priscilla Shirer called, "Finding God in Your Everyday Moments." My publisher, Tyndale, offered chance to win a fantastic prize to those who registered for the webcast and then shared it at least twice on social media to help spread the word.
We had a wonderful response, and it was fun to look through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find all the shares! I had the exciting task of doing the random selection of the winner.
I'm excited to announce that the winner is Jolanthe Erb!
Jolanthe and a companion will be flown to DFW and treated to an afternoon with Flash and me! Depending on weather, we might do a picnic in the field, or take Flash for a walk, or feed him carrots....whatever we do, I know we'll take lots of pictures. It was a lovely surprise to pull Jolanthe's name from the bowl, as she has been a long-time reader of my blog, and a great supporter of Flash. I know we will have a fabulous time!
Congratulations, Jolanthe!!!!! And thank you to everyone who signed up for the webcast and shared it. It means so much to me.
If you missed the webcast with Priscilla, you can now watch it anytime. It's ALMOST like meeting Flash in real life! You'll get to see just how charming he is. Watch for his roll in the stall behind us!
Lastly, I want to say a special thank you to Tyndale, who sponsored the webcast AND the trip. They've done a wonderful job supporting the launch of Flash, because they believe in this simple story to touch people's lives.
Witnessing such generosity inspires me to go "above and beyond" today, how about you? I'm going to challenge myself to find a simple way to delight one person in my life. It doesn't have to be an airplane ticket...it can be a kind gesture, a note, or a phone call. It's taking an "everyday moment" and creating something special in it.
What "everyday moment" will you choose? How can you delight someone today?
So, people have been telling me that they've been enjoying Flash with their kids and spouses, often reading aloud to each other, or stealing the book back and forth. I've gotta say,
I LOVE THAT!
It just so happens that Tyndale and I had this idea to do a "Flat Flash" contest, you know, like the famous Flat Stanley activity that nearly every elementary age kid loves to do? We've had it on the calendar, and what do you know but one of my long-time Company Girls, Joyce Moy, beat me to it!
Joyce and her daughters made their own Flat Flash and took Instagram pictures of their adventures! Seeing her photos just makes me smile! Check it out:
Now, it's YOUR chance!
Let's all be kids again and do some Flat Flash adventures, too! If you have kids at home, I hope you'll let them in on the fun. After all, Flash would love to travel your world with you! It will be a contest of creativity, and a great way to spark conversation.
And guess what: We'll even throw in some prizes to sweeten the pot! Here's how to participate in the Flat Flash contest:
1. Download and print off your choice of Flash images.
Hard to choose, they are both so cute...so maybe both?? That's what I'm doing.
2. Take your Flat Flash on an adventure this week!
How creative can you get? Umm, take him to work, on a plane, mail him, take him for a bike ride, pack him along on a trip to a museum! Make it as silly or inventive as you want!
3. Document it on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
You can also post it to Flash's Facebook page! We'll be following all the #FlatFlash activities!
4. Be sure to use the hashtag #FlatFlash! You can also add #FlashTheDonkey if you want.
You'll have until Monday night (5/25) to post your #FlatFlat photo, and the winner (with the most inventive photo) will be announced on Tuesday.
Now, the winner will receive:
Prizes! Prizes! Prizes!
1. Gift Card of Your Choice
2. My new book, signed by none other than Flash hisself.
3. A gallery-wrapped, signed print of my latest art - "Savor" in mixed media, 11x14.
OFF YOU GO!
Let the #FlatFlash adventures begin! Print, get creative, take pictures, post...and have fun!
Be sure and follow #FlatFlash hashtags, and check Flash's Facebook page for Flat Flash sightings!
Tomorrow: I'll announce the winner of the trip for two to visit Flash. Remember that?? OH YEAH!!!!
I've already shared on this blog that I'm not really a Girlfriendy Girl. I missed that boat in high school and sort of waved goodbye to it from the noble dock of self-reliance.
Now, thirty-five(ish) years later, I'm trying to figure out how to catch up. Seems it was a party boat I missed, and I'm really regretting it now. Self-reliance is not as fun as I thought it would be!
I've been working on it, slowly. It's really easy for me to become so engrossed in work and family and the busyness of life that I forget to make simple phone calls to check in on my friends. Or I substitute a "Like" on someone's Facebook status for genuine engagement in their lives.
I recently turned to Melanie Shankle's book, "Nobody's Cuter Than You" for inspiration, and I'm glad I did!
I found myself reading it with a little bit of a lump in my throat. Well, when I wasn't laughing out loud, that is. So funny, so touching, and just so great on every level. It's just the inspiration I've been looking for.
And since I'm on the "fast track" to becoming more Girlfriendy in order to make up for lost time, I jumped straight to the Appendix 4 on page 219: "Ten Characteristics of a Best Friend."
I love #10:
One any given day, she's your sister, therapist, confidante, mother, nurse, chauffeur, hair technician, clothing stylist, nutritionist, and self-help guru who proclaims that you are good enough, kind enough, and doggone it, people like you. Otherwise known as declaring, "Nobody's cuter than you!"
I should note that my copy of the book was given to my by someone who managed to break through all my self-reliant fences to become my best friend. She went out of her way to have it signed, and I will always treasure that. Here again, I'm learning something: Girlfriends go out of their way for each other.
Today, I'm publicly thanking Melanie for writing her book. I still have a long way to go toward learning this friendship thing, but now I have a vision for the richness ahead of me. It's been a joy - a delight - to read! I hope you'll pick up a copy for yourself...and maybe get one for a friend as well. It's made me celebrate the friendships I already have, and want to deepen then even further.
Let me ask you: do you have girlfriends? Is there someone you know who will pick up the phone to answer when you call? Do you have a friend who will gladly discuss your haircut options, now that your hair's texture has changed due to baby/hormones/menopause/stress?
Because I really need to discuss haircut options with you. Now that we're Girlfriends and all.
I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Trish Blackwell, the creator and force of nature behind Confidence on the Go. You can listen to our chat right here!
We had a blast talking about Flash, my new book. She especially loved the chapter in which I wrote about the time Flash chose to run with the horses who landed in his pasture one day.
You might remember that Flash had been spending his days hanging out with the fat cows across the fence, until some amazing horses showed up and challenged him to step up his game! That day, he discovered that there was greatness inside his dusty little self...just waiting to get out.
It's one of my all-time favorite scenes - Flash running with the horses. My little donkey had never looked so endearing, or so perfect. I'll never forget what a change in perspective can do.
When you pop over to listen to the podcast, I hope you'll take an extra moment to get to know Trish. Trish is a trainer who focuses the whole person...body, mind and spirit, and she inspires you to step forward into being that confident person you want to be in every area.
I want every single one of her training tools, especially the Couch to 5K series. Because, let's face it, I'm on the "couch" end of that spectrum.
You might want to check out her personalized coaching programs....really great, life-changing stuff.
THANK YOU, TRISH! It was so fun to talk with you! Listen to our chat here.
This donkey had his day!
Saturday's Book Release Party was a smashing success.
Especially considering how close it came to being cancelled, on account of weather.
North Texas has experienced days and days of severe thunderstorms, damaging winds, flooding, and tornado outbreaks. The forecasters called for Saturday to be the worst yet. But the "show must go on," as they say...and so we plowed ahead with our plans, saying a prayer and keeping our fingers crossed.
First up: Flash and Henry loaded up into the trailer like CHAMPS! I was so proud! You have no idea what a big accomplishment this was. Donkeys, trailers.....um. yeah.
We brought them over to Paws for Reflection Ranch, who graciously hosted the party. And what an incredible job they did! Stan and Melode, the owners and directors of this animal therapy facility are absolutely wonderful. Their hearts for helping people - veterans, special needs kids, kids with challenges - is so evident and real. I can't say enough about them. If you are in the DFW area, you owe it to yourself to come and visit.
Except for a couple of brief showers, the storms went around us all afternoon. I loved seeing friends, family, blog readers, donkey lovers, and Flash fans! Signing books was so fun, particularly getting to stamp an exact replica of Flash's hoof on the page next to my signature!
Flash (along with Henry) met the public with grace and charm, taking all the attention in stride.
(This is Margaret, who volunteers at Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue. She helped us with Henry's adoption!)
Thank you to all who came out to celebrate with us. Sarah Atkinson, my acquisition editor at Tyndale Momentum, along with Bonne Steffen and Anisa Baker (my editors) came all the way from Chicago for the event, as well as Ruth Samsel, my agent from Connecticut.
We could not have felt more honored.
It was a great way to "kick off" bringing Flash to the world!
And thank you to all who are buying the book and sharing it with their friends, family, and book clubs! It means the world to me to know that you're reading it and enjoying it enough to pass it along to others.
Question of the day: if you have read (or are reading) Flash, what is your favorite chapter so far?