Sunday, February 26, 2017

Pick Up Your Sword: Heroines Volume II (Caroline George)

War burns as a charcoal haze, a bundle of embers flickering where the kingdom melts to horizon. Your fur cloak, white as Michelangelo marble, is replaced with plated metal. You trade your scepter for a sword, your throne for a chariot. The calling to battle is rich, anointed and promised. You will charge into the fire out of obedience to the King, fight for the people He has placed under your leadership. To forgo the task would result in destruction, so you push away your fear and submit yourself to whatever occurs at the front.
Beauty once drew their attention but now it has transformed into a radiant strength that surpasses eyes and reaches deep into hearts, divine in origin, holy in mission.
There has come a time in each of our lives when we’ve had to trade our flower crowns for ones made of metal, forged from heat and sweat, given out of necessity, not vanity. We’ve experienced painful seasons when what seems pretty around us carries the weight of a battlefield. We may look put together like queens but at the center of our innermost being, we are survivors, warriors and royals riding our horses into already-won battles. We are God-authored to be heroines in His victorious saga, but have we accepted the role, been rebuilt by the divine authority entrusted to us as daughters of the Most High God?
Heroines, in literature, are characters who accomplish incredible feats despite impossible odds. They sacrifice their own interests to attain a goal greater than themselves. Their motivation stems from mission, purpose, vision for self, others and the world.
God-authored heroines are women of vision.
Throughout the Bible is evidence of God’s relationship with His girls. He handpicked women from insignificant backgrounds and used them in world-changing ways. Not glamorous. Not sugar-coated and dipped in petals. Hard, taxing ways that made history.
We, as handpicked protagonists, have the same potential and God-strength as Esther, Ruth, Mary and the other countless women who were used in the story of Christianity. Time does not sever us from saga-impacting roles—time is irrelevant and unbinding to the God who created it. We are our generation’s heroines.
Judges 4-5 introduces girl-boss heroine Deborah, leader of the Israelite people, a prophetess and wife. Deborah had a deep relationship with God that yielded strength, insight and vision. She was faithful to her calling, recognized the strength of others but remained steadfast in God-ordained authority and sanctification.
Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided. She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him; “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor. I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’”
Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”
“Very well,” Deborah said, “I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will hand Sisera over to a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh.
Judges 4:4-6
Three things to note . . .
1.     God gave Deborah a vision for the Israelite nation.
2.     Because of the vision, Deborah was a steward of God’s plan for others.
3.     Deborah did not leave Barak to tackle his God-given mission alone, rather she went with him into battle to share the weight of such a task.
God-authored heroines . . .
-        Are fueled by futuristic calling, accept leadership and point others to their God-authored visions.
-        Recognize God’s presence in the visions of others.
-        Magnify the callings of others.
-        Heroines see through the worldly shroud of sin and bear witness to God’s will for the future.
God’s daughters have melted under stereotypes, expectations, fears and insecurities for too long. They have denied their swords and crowns, instead retreating to their small, safe dreams. Heroines take their swords to already won battles and suffer through trials with supernatural endurance. They also join others in their suffering so as to keep unified the Kingdom of God.
What is vision? How do we get it?
-        Visions are God-sized, God-given dreams powered by purposeful calling.
-        To have vision is to have vision for self, vision for others and the world.
-        Visions are not products of tenacity, rather weapons gifted to us by the King of Kings. As children of God, we have visionary birthrights, positions of ordained leadership bought for us through salvation. If we take ownership of the power offered to us, we step into a place of sacred closeness with God and the visions handed to us like swords become our drive, our struggle and His victory.
-        Vision isn’t a quiet, gentle gift. It roars like a lion. It rattles its cage, aching to break free.
-        Vision leads.
Takeaway: Women with holy vision are women equipped with the power of God.
We are not flawless. We have been broken, pieced together and scarred in battle. Our lives are not aesthetic scrapbooks uploaded on social media sites, rather charred battlegrounds and reconstructed fortresses. In the eyes of others, we appear pretty and soft, but our Creator has designed us to carry vision, leadership and care for others.
What are the visions God has placed on your life? What’s stopping you from charging into battle with faithful endurance and royal confidence?
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. […] “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
Proverbs 31: 25-26, 29
Heroines, let’s forgo our scepters, pick up our swords and step into the history-changing, generation-defining roles prepared for us by the Author of All.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Lighting the Spark: Heroines Volume I (Stephanie McGraw)

A little girl sits cross-legged while playing with her beloved stuffed bear, Fuzzy. Her mother is in the kitchen making pancakes while her father sits on the couch next to her flipping through channels on the television. Little girl is content. She loves Saturdays, and pancakes, and Fuzzy. Father’s program cuts to commercials and little girl looks up. On the screen is what appears to be a flawless woman with long legs and yellow hair. She is being chased by a handsome gentleman. They embrace each other. They look so happy. In that moment little girl becomes aware of her undeveloped body and curly brown hair. She will forever associate beauty with the flawless couple that frolicked on the screen.
We were children when we first started to build our definitions of what womanhood meant. While the television was often a dominant educator, we also watched our mothers, and older sisters, and friends to understand who we are, and what we will be. Some images empowered us, and others crippled us. And at some point in our lives we must choose the kind of woman we will be. Some will fixate their eyes on beauty, and others wealth. Some will use their womanhood to birth a lineage, and others will dedicate their lives to seeking justice. For each of us, there is a deep sense and longing for more. Unfortunately, some women have been told to, “be quiet,” or “let a man do it” for so long, that they have become lost to this calling.
It is extremely easy to get swept away in the noise and let false perceptions define you. That is why we want to go to the source of our womanly nature—the author of our very being. Through this series we will be unleashing the vast ways of being a God-authored heroine.

Heroine. The word is literally defined as, “A woman noted for courageous acts or nobility of character.” She is strong. She is fierce. She is unstoppable.

Contrary to popular belief, God loves using women in His story. Scripture is filled with examples of this—Esther, Ruth, Rahab, Mary, just to name a few. He loved using the unlikeliest of people to carry out His will and to be heroines in their time. They defied cultural norms, risked their lives, and took immense leaps of faith to fight for what they believed in. They embodied courage, bravery, and spirit.
It’s easy to look at these women and marvel at their stories and how the Lord used them to make history, but dismiss that same possibility for our own lives. However, there are endless doors of possibility waiting to be opened by the girl who unlocks the potential that God has given her.
She who sees her womanhood as a gift and not an obstacle. She whose character surpasses her beauty. She whose spirit lights the way for others. She who believes the Lord can use her. These are the heroines of our day.
I truly believe that God deeply enjoyed making the woman. Woven in our personhood are the sincerest and most loving characteristics of God. The Lord delights in using the woman. She is His secret weapon and one of His most treasured creations. He grieves when she is oppressed. He rejoices when she is glad. He loves her and is for her.

A God-authored heroine is a woman of enormous character. She loves life, yet holds it loosely. She is always receptive to learning and is always searching for the Lord in every corner of her life.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25
As God-authored heroines, it is important that we believe in each other and encourage one another. We must highlight more than our sister’s cute shoes, and instead, note her character. We must search deep within our sisters to see their unique strengths and gifts, and lift those up. We must build up what was torn down. When we begin to reconstruct our views of our own womanhood and the women around us, we free ourselves to truly loving one another. We rid ourselves of envy and jealousy that has so often robbed us of our joy and confidence.
It is time that we stopped looking at our womanhood as a curse, or an excuse, or an obstacle, and instead saw it as a gift from the heavens. May we not get stuck looking back that we never move forward. May we use our words to lift up and heal one another. May the Spirit fill us with dreams bigger than our fragile frames that they may overflow into the hearts of others.
We invite you to explore what being a God-authored heroine means in your life. It is our prayer that you would be open to hearing from the Lord to see how He can use your story and womanhood in this world. May these words light a spark in your heart. There is unimaginable adventure in store for she who embarks the life of the God-authored heroine.
It is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’—the things God has prepared for those who love him” 1 Corinthians 2:9

I am a girl, growing every day into shoes too big. I’m a dreamer, always have been. I’ve loved many art forms, but the written word is by far my favorite. I have come to adore the infinite possibilities that characters and syllables and punctuations strung together can become. I believe we are all storytellers and that we all have very special, very unique perspectives begging to be shared and heard. Words have the power to inspire us to do remarkable, courageous things. They sometimes lift our spirit and make us laugh. Other times they make us cry and see the world differently. Words can help us heal and grow stronger.
Just like I am a young woman becoming my own, my story is unfolding with the passing days. I don’t want to miss a beat. I want to savor every word on every page of this story that is my life. I want you to be part of it. To hear my heart. To laugh with me, cry with me, grow with me. I want to hear your story, too. Let’s have a conversation. Let’s love each other well, and use our words wisely to change our worlds for the better.
For me, I believe that this life is far too complex and beautiful to not have an author. I adore my Creator, and am learning from Him and about Him each day. It is for His glory that I write. He’s the truest inspiration.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Supported: We, The Authored Volume V

Supporting characters are foundational elements of fiction books. They are developed, important to the story’s progression, loved by readers and have a specific function: to reveal the main character’s internal lies through relationship, point the character to their mission and encourage them on the journey to the END GOAL.

We are protagonists of our stories but part of our life mission is to elevate the divine calling of someone else’s plotline, to act as the tools needed to equip another character to change the world.

Each of us desires to be the person God chooses for grand, spotlight-catching, earth-shaking plans. However, the truth is not all of us will be world-changers, but we can all be story-supporters. We, the authored, must infect our self-consumed minds with Supporting Character Syndrome and look at the big picture, what’s at stake, and then do what we can to achieve the universal objective.

“In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will . . .” – Ephesians 1:11

Although it may seem discouraging that our stories might not be the ones to spark revivals and massive change, our plotlines are still more intricate than the constellations. We, as characters in a God-authored saga, have been gifted with spirits of authority, voices with power from the Holy One. Because of our existence and fulfilled plotlines, God will change the world. Revivals will spark. History will scream His praise.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us . . .” – Ephesians 3:20

To compact the message of SUPPORTED into a few concise sentences: Our stories are important, but some stories imprint history more than others. Our Author writes us with intentionality, weaves our lives into an ornate tapestry. By investing in someone else’s story, we are developing our own.

I accept the fact I may not be the person God uses to rebuild His kingdom here on earth. I may never be the one who has the honor of speaking to hundreds or thousands of people, who writes a book history remembers. The privilege may never anoint me . . . but it might bestow itself on one of my friends, a girl in my small group, a classmate or coworker. It is my duty as a child of the Most High God to be a supporting character for each of His kingdom-builders, love and encourage them with a relational purpose.

“But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” – 2 Peter 3:13

David and Jonathan are a wonderful example of the righteous bond between two God-authored characters. The loyalty between them, as written in 1 Samuel, demonstrates the relationship we should have with others—bonds through Christ, united by sacred blood and culture of connectedness. Both men had extravagant plotlines written for their lives, but we regard David as the Biblical account’s protagonist. Jonathan was a good steward of David’s story, he recognized God’s authorship in his friend’s life and took a step back so David could step into his ordained fate.

Christ-like leaders follow in Jonathan’s footsteps. They are good stewards of others’ stories, recognizers of God’s authorship, and they take humble steps back so others can step forward, into their ordained fate.
The role of a side character is one of humility. However, through the position, we have the unique opportunity to be included in a multitude of stories.
We, the authored, are supported.

Next week, HEROINES (A Blog Series) begins! The incredible Stephanie McGraw from will be visiting Girl Meets Publishing World to kick off the series.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Composed: We, The Authored Volume IV

Set: Nashville, Tennessee. Present day.

Protagonist description: Twenty-year-old girl with dyed blonde hair, mature features and a figure shape she tallies as another insecurity. Motivated by vision and God-conviction, the girl battles for her beliefs even when faced with impossible odds. However, she struggles with lies from her past.

The girl originated from a small town in Georgia but moved to Nashville for her education and career. Her insecurities stem from middle school weight gain, high school rejection and family issues.

Other character ideas: The girl often embarrasses herself by falling down stairs, walking into doors and getting stuck in rose bushes. She drinks too much coffee and writes science fiction books, maybe maintains a blog comparing God to an author.

Do you know me?

You have select facts about my past, but do you really know me? Have you read my story, experienced each plot point, loss and gain? Did you witness the inciting incident of my writing journey? Were you in my baby blue bedroom when I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life?

Backstories exist with the sole purpose of providing foundations for character development. They are established by facts and give an author the first rung in an extensive ladder.

Composition of any kind begins with a plan, a pencil sketch in a notepad or a few test shots. For art to form, the artist must mentally and physically develop the included elements. Writing functions in a similar manner—authors must sketch their characters from facts before developing them through the writing process. These facts are often dark and twisted because . . .

To conquer, one must have something to overcome.

Key elements of character development are fatal flaws and lies. Over the course of a book, the protagonist must wage war against his or her fatal flaw and discover the truth to counteract their believed lie.

As characters in a God-authored saga, we have flaws and lies. We begin from a series of facts but grow into perfectly composed entities.

Three things to remember:

1.      An author begins a story when he or she meets the main character.

2.      An author uses a character’s past to build a more victorious story.

3.      An author takes the lies a character believes and uses revelation to create a glorified novel.

Stories do not have true beginnings or ends. Before the first indented paragraph, there was a story. When the final period concludes a written work, the story continues in a place accessible only to the author.

God begins the divine epics of our lives when we surrender ourselves to His writing. He indents what becomes the first paragraph and goes to work, crafting us from the facts of the past.

We absorb our true identities as we are saturated with the Author’s will.

To restate what I said earlier, backstories are often dark and twisted. Readers fall in love with characters from rough beginnings and celebrate with them when they achieve their end goal. Through struggles comes purpose, transformation and triumph. Endurance brings about the greatest development.

One question I have heard a lot as of late is, “Why did God let bad things happen to me?”

I do not pretend to understand God’s plan, nor can I predict His plotlines. All I know for certain is nothing happens by accident, and He works all things for the good of His characters.

The roughest beginnings have potential for the most cinematic, fist-raising endings. No matter the obstacles you encounter, your story has a predesigned plotline, an indented first paragraph and a holy, God-redeemed final period.

“Many are the plans of the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

-        Proverbs 19:21

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

-        Ephesians 2:10

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

-        1 John 5:4

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”

-        Psalm 138:8

WE, THE AUTHORED is meant to showcase God’s intentionality by comparing His careful construction with the writing process. Life, from a day-to-day viewpoint, can seem obscure and without structure. However, through the eyes of an author, love, obstacles and backstories make sense and point to the relentless, all-consuming love of our Savior.

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”

-        Philippians 3:12-14

We, the authored, are composed.