Thursday, February 28, 2013

Out of the Closet [Gulp!]: Letting You in on My Secret Project

Well... [Deeeeep breath, Dana...]  

Here I go:

I'm writing a book.

There.  I said it.   


It's been in the works for a few months now.  And I've found it to be an incredibly intimidating, vulnerable thing to say: "I'm writing a book."

Intimidating because - WOW - the scope of a project like this is just incredibly massive!  Figuring out what exactly you're trying to say and what bits of info should be grouped with what OTHER bits of info and what order all the pieces should go in... breaking it all up into chapters with subheadings and good GRIEF it's a lot of work!!  And THEN you've actually gotta WRITE it!

And... vulnerable because by saying "I'm writing a book,"  you're actually (usually, if you're a believer) saying "The Lord's put something inside of me that I believe would be beneficial to a large number of people and I feel confident in my ability to put it all together and articulate truths and engage people's hearts...and I feel like the Holy Spirit will use my story and my writing to touch and change people's hearts."  And what a CRAZY thing to say!  It takes such CONFIDENCE and TRUE humility and I SO still struggle with the false version!

[Side note: True humility = ACCURATELY viewing yourself, your gifts and abilities. Agreeing with God's perspective on yourself.  False humility = not viewing yourself accurately, diminishing what God's put inside of you, magnifying your own weaknesses over God's ability to use you, to be glorified through you.]

And then there's the whole fear of man factor, the "What will so-and-so think if I tell them I feel called to do this?" factor... combined with the voice of the enemy whispering, "Who do you think you are?  You can't pull this off... and what good are your words anyway, to anyone?"

Man.  Sometimes all of it put together feels insurmountable.

I had NEVER DREAMED I'd write a book.  I had never had the desire to do so.  In fact, I'd specifically had the desire NOT to do so.  Haha. :)  Funny how God switches things like that around in our hearts.

Sometime this past fall I started to feel these... nudges... these tugs on my heart... and all these puzzle pieces of different truths that the Lord has burned in my heart through my various life experiences, they all started falling together in my heart, the different trickles of revelation and freedom all merging together as one river that actually made sense, all together... and I was stunned.  And I don't know if people will think I'm crazy for saying I really feel like God has called me to do this in this season... but I really do.  I think He has.

And in early December, I started writing.

I'm so thankful for Stan's support in this.  Some days I think he's more excited about it than I am.  I'm thankful too for the handful of close friends who have encouraged and supported me in this in varying ways.

But I've continued to really limit those who I've let in on this thing... mostly out of fear, I think.  I kept thinking, "Well, I'll wait till I get an agent and a publisher and THEN I'll tell people on a bigger scale."  And recently, I've felt the Lord asking me, "Where's the risk in that?  Where's the letting-people-in-on-your-process-with-ME?"

So, here I am... letting you in.  Telling you that really, there are days when I doubt my ability to do this.  But then I remember, "Oh yeah, I CAN'T do this.  It's His strength in my weak places... He's the one who fills in my gaps.  Right."  And I keep moving forward, keep putting one foot in front of the other, leaning into Him.

I have my book proposal 95% finished, down to the chapter-by-chapter summary with paragraph descriptions of the content of each chapter.  (That's the part I was most intimidated by.) I've written 6 chapters, 5 of which still need significant editing and adjusting.  I'm mostly stopping on the writing of chapters for now, getting my proposal up to par and working on the couple of "sample chapters" that will be attached to it when I submit it to agents for consideration.  That's pretty much the status of the project. be honest yet again...even though I have moments of doubting that I can pull it off... I'm also super excited about it. :)  And I'd love your prayer partnership as I am in this season of writing and editing and about to step into querying agents... and, in my heart, really being tested and having to surrender at new levels to the Lord on the things I'm writing about.  Wow... and that is a whole 'nother blog post right there.  Maybe one of these days. :)

Blessings and love to all of you, my friends....  Forgive the bit of extra silence around here in this season.  Now you know the reason why! :)

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Monday, February 18, 2013

How There's No Sweeter Intimacy With Him Than Allowing Him Into Our Weakest Places

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These gaps in my nature, in my heart...
All of these places where I'm so beyond inadequate for all that He's put before me...
To experience His river, His living water, how it comes in and fills in my holes and covers my weak places, actually carving them out even MORE, into GREATER spaces that can be filled by Him.  

And the Father receives glory when I stop trying to be enough, acknowledge that I simply can't be, and lean back into His more-than-enough-ness, and let Him come and fill in all of my inadequate places.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  -- 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Here's the best part:  There is no space between a river and the rock that it carves.  If He is the river that comes in and carves out my weak spaces, enlarging my gaps to be filled by more of Him, then the deepest intimacy with Him is forged in these places where there's no distance between His heart and mine.  

The more I am okay with acknowledging my weakness and leaning into Him, allowing Him to come and fill in my gaps, the greater and deeper and richer and more fulfilling will be my intimate friendship with Him.

A quick glimpse into the practical ways that I'm experiencing Him like this lately:  

There have been multiple "ministry-type"*** situations that have come our way recently for which Stan and I SO have not felt like we've had the answers.  The temptation is to try to figure it all out, to present as having all the solutions and speak into the issues from that place.  OR... to just completely back out of situations like these because we're SO aware of our inadequacy and we can tend to magnify our own lack of enough-ness OVER His more-than-enough-ness.

But the Lord has been inviting us to step into these situations confident in Him, to confess our gaps and our not-having-it-all-figured-out-ness to Him AND to those who come to submit their hearts to us... to pray and look to Him to lead and trust Him to provide wisdom as we ask, trust His commitment to the hearts of those who come... and we've seen Him come into those conversations and prayer times and work powerfully, sweetly, in the hearts of those dear to us.  FLOWING OUT OF our weak places.  His strength is made perfect where we're weak.  And there's nothing that leaves me more in awe and wonder of Him than watching the way He works and the way people are drawn nearer to HIS heart, when our weakness, and not our strength or human wisdom, is at the forefront. 

 He is glorified.  He has His way.  We get to watch... and fall more in love with Him along the way.  I feel so blessed.

(For the record... These principles apply in ANY area where we feel weak and inadequate: our jobs, PARENTING - can I get a "heck yeah?!" - our marriages, other relationships, our to-do lists.... I could go on and on and on.... He wants to encounter us and undo us with His more-than-enough-ness as we lean into Him in ALL of it.)

Father... please keep reminding me to lean into You in my weakness, to allow my gaps to be filled and even expanded by You so that You're glorified even MORE through my life... and so that You and I can walk together in deeper, sweeter intimacy than before as Your river is carving out space in my heart for more of You.  Have Your way in me, Lord.  I trust You.

Blessings to you, friends.  May you experience Him profoundly today as He provides opportunities to lean into Him in the midst of your weakness.

***The word "ministry" sounds so formal, and if I could, I'd change it to "sitting-before-the-Lord-with-people-we-love-to-seek-His-heart-together-and-share-His-wisdom-and-see-hearts-healed."  
(photo credit:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Beloved [Let this word hold me firm]


The Prompt:    Beloved

It's what He whispers to me, into the depths of my heart, in those moments when my identity is shaken and I need to be reminded who I am.

He shouts it over me, over the raging storm, loud enough that it drowns out the sounds of the wind and waves.

He sings it over me in my sleep....sings songs of desire for me... of delight in the disposition of my heart before Him.

His dearly loved daughter.
Delight of His heart.

Father, this word, spoken over me straight out of your heart, let it define me.  Root and ground me.  Secure me.  Cover me.  Speak truth to my heart even when life's circumstances try to shake me to the core.  This word, Beloved... Let it hold me firm... unshakable in You.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How God Reminds Me Of His Heart In the Midst of Pain


Well... I've sat down to write this post 3 separate times now.  Haven't been able to figure out what, if anything, to say.  And it's definitely taken me some time and mega intentionality with the Lord in order to get to a place of decent perspective in this. 

The last several days have been... difficult, to say the least.  Stan and I, our marriage, our family? We're all fine.  Great, actually.  And we had a sweet time with Stan's parents and sis and bro-in-law and our cute niece and nephew who were in town over the weekend.

But some other events have occurred which have caught me completely off guard and have been incredibly painful and I think I've been kind of in shock... and I'm definitely nowhere NEAR able to share ANY of the specifics here in this space.  So I'm sorry in advance that this post feels really vague.

I've gone back and forth over whether to even post ANYthing related to this, to my heart in the midst of it.  But, the reality is that this situation is a current reality for me.  Ha... profound, eh?  And even though I can't share details, it IS what I'm walking through right now and these ARE the circumstances in which the Lord is currently meeting me and sustaining me and speaking to me.  And I do want to just share briefly some truths that God's reminding me of in the midst of all of this:

  • "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." (Verse 1 of Psalm 91.  You can read the entire Psalm here.  It is awesome.)  No matter WHAT my external circumstances look like, or feel like, God offers to me the refuge and rest that come from dwelling, abiding, in the shelter of the Most High.
  • He is more than enough for me, and even in this, He extends to me grace for each moment, deep peace, and offers me an unshakable-ness that comes from being firmly rooted and grounded in Him, in His love for me and in my identity in Him.
  • In all of the deep places of my heart, these places where I'm hurting and grieving, God's heart, His commitment to me, is to come into those places, to be new flesh to cover my raw wounds, to be the ultimate Healer of my heart.  
  • God is zealous and fiercely committed to encountering me in intimacy in the midst of my grief and loss.  He will do this to the degree that I choose to sit before Him and wait on Him to bring His sweet comfort as opposed to running around searching for comfort in other places.  He uses a few other relationships for sure to bring a degree of healing and peace in the midst of pain, but these really deep, raw wounds in my heart, they can only be filled, covered, comforted, and healed by the Creator and "knower" of my inmost being.

This is the way it is.  This is what I know to be true about the heart of God, about His character that is absolutely unchanging, no matter how circumstances and relationships shift and change.  

And for these reasons, I can say with absolute confidence and honesty:  I am okay.  I really am.  I am hurting and grieving and pressing into the Lord in the midst of it, and He sustains... provides... comforts... heals.  He is more than enough...and will continue to be.

Just sayin'.


Blessings to you, friends.  May God encounter you profoundly with the practical reality of these truths in the midst of your own difficult or painful circumstances.  In it all, He is after our hearts.  Our surrender.  Our trust.  Our leaning in.

Speaking of leaning... the other day I woke up and this  old hymn was in my head, totally out of the blue.  I hadn't thought of it in years.... but the Lord was definitely using these lyrics to speak to me and adjust my perspective in that moment.

  1. What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms;
    What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms.
    • Refrain:
      Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
      Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
  2. Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms;
    Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms.
  3. What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms?
    I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Elisha A. Hoffmanpub.1887
ref. by Anthony J. Showalter,pub.1887

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Why This Year's Daniel Fast Was So Different [or... "Warning: Crazy Undignified Gratitude Bubbling Just Under the Surface, Ready to EXPLODE"]

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I've mentioned recently that our church concluded a 21-day Daniel Fast this past Sunday.  This is something we do as a church family near the beginning of every year.  It sharpens our focus, reminds us of priorities, increases our unity as a church family, and is just generally a phenomenal way to start out a year.

In years past, I've participated in the Daniel Fast very, very willingly, wanting to be in unity with our church fam, and I've been consistent about intentionally seeking the Lord during that time, asking Him for specific, practical things, along with things that I've wanted Him to do in my own heart.  It's always been a really good experience for me.

But this year, there was something very different about these three weeks for me.  Leading up to the fast, I was EXCITED about it.  Not dreading giving up a lot of the foods that I enjoy, not begrudging, but really, genuinely excited.

During the fast, I'd be lying if I said there weren't moments that I craved heavy whipping cream in my coffee or dessert after dinner... or MEAT.... BUT.... the entirety of the fast proved to be significantly easier for me than it has been in years past.  And coming OFF of the fast these last couple of days has been very interesting.  I've enjoyed pizza and french fries and cheesecake and cream in my coffee... But I haven't found myself NEEDing them, or even being ALL that excited about them.


What's changed in my heart?  I mentioned  in my last post that in this season of my life the Lord has brought a sharpness, an alertness to my spirit that I maybe have never experienced before.  He has increased my awareness of His presence and activity in my life.  There's a fire of desire for Him in my heart that's grown to a level of intensity and purity that I've never experienced, in the entirety of my walk with Him.  I've been intentional to cultivate this in this season.  I've been wrecked by His love like I've never been before.  

I've been undone by the ridiculously scandalous GOODNESS of the Gospel, the finished work of the cross, all that Jesus purchased for us there.  Oh my goodness, the Gospel IS SO CRAZY GOOD!!!

And the level to which God has just wrecked me and undone me and WON me with these revelations of His love and His pursuit of my heart... it begs the question... WHAT SACRIFICE?!?!

WHAT?!  Jesus, you want my obedience and surrender?!  OKAY!  YES, LORD!!  What other response could I possibly have to the goodness of this Gospel?!   What?  A 21-day Daniel fast?  DONE!  YES to reigning in my flesh, choosing to channel all my desires toward YOU and not let my heart run around looking for satisfaction in other places.  YES to choosing to live my entire life for Your glory!  The way You encounter me intimately and satisfy my heart as I choose You in the little things, the seemingly-insignificant-but-really-incredibly-significant moments of my day-to-day journey... You just make it all SO MUCH MORE THAN WORTH IT!!

Oh my goodness, sometimes I feel so crazy these days... Like, so undone by how GOOD the Gospel is, how good HE is, how much insanely undeserved FREEDOM and wholeness and abundance He purchased for us on the cross... sometimes I feel SO UNDIGNIFIED.  And I do still struggle with the fear of man (though it's diminishing steadily) so this is an interesting combo - this wild, untamed GRATITUDE and my little moments of (still) wondering what people will think if I just go nuts and ditch the microphone and keys and run a couple laps around the church during worship because I just can't contain this crazy JOY anymore....???!!!

But I digress.

My entire point in all of this is that, when we really understand the goodness of the Gospel, how "we who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ" (Eph 2:13), what it REALLY MEANS that we've been brought near to HIM...that the sovereign, all-powerful, terrifyingly holy CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE, He INTIMATELY knows MY HEART, YOUR HEART, and He's made a way for us who were dead in our sin to be FULLY, CRAZY-ALIVE in Him and to live close to His heart, how His blood became our righteousness and purchased for us what we never could have attained on our own - right standing before our perfectly holy Father, completely clean, washed from our sin, made new....  How when God looks at us He sees us covered in the righteousness of Christ....  WHEN WE REALLY UNDERSTAND THIS GOSPEL, our obedience, our surrender, they'll FLOW FREELY out of a heart that's overwhelmed with gratitude and WHAT OTHER RESPONSE COULD WE POSSIBLY HAVE than to give Him our WHOLE. ENTIRE. LIVES?!?! 

Okay.  Whew!  Deeeeep breaths, Dana.

Um... I don't know where to go from here.  I think I was trying to explain why this year's Daniel Fast was so different for me from years past.  It's the revelation of the goodness of the Gospel... how truly understanding what He's done for us changes every. facet. of. my. life.  And how else can I respond but to completely lay my life down?  Fast?  Sacrifice?  WHAT SACRIFICE?

To quote (again) the old Jason Upton song that I recently referenced in a devotional I wrote during our Daniel Fast.... "This is NO sacrifice; here's my life!"

Thanks, friends, for sharing in my wildness today. :)

Be blessed to know, really, deeply KNOW, the wild, unrestrained love of Your Father's heart toward you today, friends... the ridiculous goodness of the GOSPEL.

You're so loved....

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hello Facebook. I'm Back. [6 Months Later...]

Hi Friends!

I'd like to preface this post with a warning:  I usually try to keep my posts fairly short - readable within 4 minutes or so.  This one... well, it's definitely an exception to my 800 word norm.  Forgive me.  I had some processing to do here... and just thought I'd share it with ya all. :)

Okay.  Read on. :)


In August, I said goodbye to Facebook, after 5 years.  I thought I was leaving Facebook forever.  I was shocked by how easy it was to let it go.

For those first few days, I missed having FB to turn to if/when I had a minute or two free.  I had to really discipline my heart to turn toward the Lord in those moments.  And after that... I just... didn't miss it any more.  It has been an incredibly freeing thing for me to learn to do life apart from Facebook.

I've been "off" for 6 months now.  In this season, my relationship with Jesus has deepened and grown like I've never experienced before.  I've noticed a "sharpness" that's developed inside me... an in-tune-ness with the voice and nearness of God that I've never experienced before to this degree.  I have learned (and am still learning!) to intentionally turn to Him, to press in to Him to meet specific needs in my heart that I never would have even been able to identify or articulate before.  It's been literally the sweetest season of my entire life with Him.

Today our church family is concluding a 21 day Daniel Fast.  One of the things I've been asking the Lord about a little bit on this fast is Facebook.  I've been considering making a grand re-entry.  Here are a couple of the thoughts that've been rolling around in my heart relative to Facebook over recent weeks....maybe the last month.

1. Do I even want to get back on Facebook??  Meh...  I could take it or leave it, and part of me would really rather leave it.  BUT... the reality is that there are people that I deeply care about whose lives I'm simply not able to keep up with as easily without being on Facebook.  Simple fact: Facebook is a tool that allows us to keep up with, and extend love to, a fairly large number of friends in a relatively short amount of time.  It's efficient.  It's useful.

2. It can also be dangerous.  It can suck time... heart-focus... intentionality... life.  I've learned something about myself in recent months... and have only been able to articulate it in the last several days:

The primary thing that "dulls" my spirit, that slowly, subtly lulls my heart to sleep in terms of my awareness of the Lord's activity in my life, is a lack of being intentional with my attention. 

On any given day I have a small handful of moments - - 2 minutes here, 5 minutes there - - that I am not busy with anything in particular.  The key question for me in any given moment is this: What am I going to turn to when my mind is not otherwise occupied?  If anything was difficult about leaving Facebook this past August, it was figuring out how to discipline my mind in those moments where, usually for literally only 2 - 5 minutes at a time, I didn't have anything pressing, demanding my focus.  I didn't realize it till after I was off of Facebook, but Facebook had become my default distraction in those moments.  To clarify, it was never really an excessive time issue, as I never spent oodles and oodles of time on FB.  BUT... it was the 2 minutes here, 5 minutes there, at random times during the day, that continually drew my focus away from the Lord, from intentionally attending to His Presence.

My lack of intentionality with my attention was the primary creator of the "heart clutter" that was the impetus for me pulling the plug on Facebook.

Soooo... these thoughts are some of what I've been mulling over in these weeks as we've been fasting.  And then... then the pastor of the church that Stan and I were a part of when we lived in Colorado (His family is like family to Stan and I, so incredibly dear to us)... he had a horrible ski accident.  This was 9 days ago.  (He was very seriously injured but is now steadily improving, Praise the LORD.  It was pretty scary there at first.)  And as I've secretly "stalked" facebook, via my husband's account, in this last week, keeping track of his wife Sue's reports of how Ian's been doing and joining in the chorus of the HUNDREDS of people who love the Prichard family and are praying fervently for Ian's healing, I've been reminded again what an incredibly useful tool Facebook is.  And when Facebook "friends" are actually your real-life friends too, how the community that you've already fostered "in real life" can actually be enhanced by continuing it on Facebook.  (I say this knowing that Facebook can also be a great place to never really, deeply know, or be known by, others.  It's a danger that we have to be aware of and steer away from.  But I wonder, could this be one of those cases where we might throw the baby out with the bath water?  Depends on the person, perhaps... but I'm thinking maybe so.)

And so... with all of these things that've been rolling around in my heart... yesterday I called a dear friend of mine, Chavos, who is NOT on Facebook.  I shared with her my thoughts, my heart, mostly the things I've written here.  I asked her to ask me hard questions, to check my heart and my motives for considering re-engaging with Facebook.  We had a really great conversation.  One of the things I found myself saying, was something like this:
"If I have the grace and the discipline to use Facebook as a tool to keep up-to-date with, and love on, and encourage, people that I genuinely care about and have invested in, if I have the grace to use it in a manner that does not allow it to begin to "dull" my spirit again, then I think I'd like to use it... simply because the great majority of the people in my life are on FB, and in sharing that with them, I can extend my heart to a large number of those I care about, and do it efficiently.
If I DON'T have grace for it... then I don't want to." 
I asked my friend Chavos if she would be willing, if I did decide to get back on Facebook, to hold me accountable.  I do NOT want it to become my default again in my little free moments throughout my day.  I do NOT want it to draw me away from being "intentional with my attention."  I do not want it to become a source of "heart clutter" that dulls my spirit and makes me less sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

Chavos said yes.

In months past, whenever I've thought about getting back on Facebook, I've almost shuddered at the thought.  I do not want to REMOTELY risk diminishing this fire that the Lord's been cultivating in my heart.

And yet recently, as I've considered it, I've realized that, I don't want to, out of fear, say no to using Facebook as a tool, using it responsibly before the Lord, if it will allow me to extend my heart to more of those that I care about.

SO.  In case anyone's still wondering... I think I've arrived at the decision to get back on Facebook.  AND... here are the practical things I'm putting in place for the sake of accountability in how I'm doing at being intentional with my attention, as I've discussed.

  1. I will generally only be on Facebook twice a day.  When I have free time to be on Facebook, I will decide when I sit down how long I should spend (not to exceed 20 minutes), and I will set a timer to keep me on track.  This will help me avoid the "free-moment-default" factor.
  2. I will NOT put the Facebook app on my iPhone.  Makes it way too easy to lose focus.  I would rather have to intentionally sit down at a computer in order to spend time on Facebook.
  3. I have already logged into my account and begun deleting friends who I have not had a conversation with in the last year or more.  I want to be intentional about how I use Facebook, to use it to help maintain friendships that are actually that: friendships.
  4. I will be checking in with my friend Chavos, as well as my beloved hubby (and any other of my "real-life" friends who want to ask me!!), who will be asking me the hard questions about how I'm doing at stewarding my heart before the Lord well, and being intentional with my attention and focus.

THIS IS AN EXPERIMENT.  I SO do not want to diminish what the Lord's been doing inside of me... I want to fight, to do whatever it takes to sustain a heart posture of stillness before Him and continue to grow in these things with Him.  If I find that, with these new parameters and with all that the Lord's done in my heart in this season, Facebook is still making it difficult for me to maintain the interior heart-atmosphere that I'm after, to continually be intentional with my attention, to keep my focus on attending to Him..... then I will "fall off the face of the earth" again. :)

But for now... and I think for a good while... Hello Facebook friends.  I'm back.
(Takin' it one day at a time....)


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