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Welcome Back, Little Bird

It’s good to be back, to have an outlet where I can pour all these words out so that I can be filled again. Right now, I feel so full that I could burst. That’s what a blog is for me, a place to overflow the goodness of God. That’s what you’ll find here, me sharing insights and understanding the Spirit imparts through the infallible Word of God. In my journey of faith, I’ve discovered I can’t keep God’s wisdom to myself. It always finds a way to flow onto the page, whether through fiction or nonfiction writing.

For a season my words have been expressed through fiction work. I’ve known that was God’s direction for me. Just as I knew that then, I know now is the time to step back into blogging since a stream of ideas and imagery has cascaded over me in the past few days. That’s how Jesus seems to best guide me, by saturating me with words in streams and currents until I’m simply overflowing and in need of an outlet.

The portion of today’s title, Little Bird, has significant meaning for me. Two years ago I was in the midst of a nonfiction project, You. Are. Loved. After the conclusion of the book, the Lord laid on my heart several additional chapters that I offered as free supplemental material on the YouAreLovedBook.com website. In order to best share the background of Little Bird, I’m including an excerpt from the web chapter, Live in Reckless Service. For context, I was writing about Mary and Martha and how Jesus said that only one thing is necessary, and that Mary had chosen “the good part.”

At times I don’t feel heard. Hours are spent with me pouring out words onto pages. Much of what I do is technology based, online and behind the scenes, so I don’t actually see or hear a response. That leaves me feeling like I’m calling out and no one’s listening. Feelings lie, though, I know that.

In order to keep my heart in check, I have to continually ask: Am I singing just so people will listen, or am I singing for an audience of One? For me, it always has to come back to “just One thing”–Jesus and what He’s called me to do.

Recently, I was out on my back porch spending time with Him. A noise erupted, one that drew my eye outdoors. Here’s an entry from my journal that tells the story:

You just taught me a valuable lesson through a little bird. She landed on the railing of the deck, a tiny little thing. Then she let out a call so loud that I had to see her beak move to be sure such a loud voice came from such a small bird. Still she’s calling, this time from the tip top of the umbrella. Her message seems urgent as she turns this way and that way to call.

Observations:

No one seems to be listening as she sits all alone. There are no crowds of birds and bees and butterflies gathered around and still she lifts her voice.

Other birds call in the distance, different messages than hers. She doesn’t seem to even notice, or if she does, their indifference doesn’t faze her. She keeps her message her own without trying to sound like all the other voices.

She has no idea that You and I sit behind her listening, with me learning from her freedom to be who she is and sing her own song.

She always, at least, has an audience of One.

Maybe she’s praising you, her Creator and Sustainer, for the beauty and peace of the morning.

Maybe  she’s singing out of her gratitude of living here in this courtyard, a place of protection and provision.

When needed, she sings out. When not, she goes about her business of being a bird.

She stays in her lane, singing her song for the day.

My little bird, we’ll call her Mary, sings from her heart and allows nothing to stop her. No matter who’s listening or not, no matter that her song sounds different, she just sings. Her heart is filled with love for and gratitude toward her Creator. That’s her motivation.

Isn’t it incredible how God can use nature to speak to a discouraged heart? His message to me was simple: Keep singing, little bird, even when you don’t feel heard. That’s a little phrase that keeps coming to mind, spurring me on when I’m in a slump.

Do you need that same encouragement to keep singing? I know there are times you get your feelings hurt when you’re overlooked and undervalued. Even when your heart is in the right place, it’s never easy to keep running your race when discouraged. Paul gives good advice when he says, “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Two years later this message strikes me with even greater force: My voice matters. I may look and sound different than others and present the times in which we live in a different way than most, but I’m to keep singing, keep blasting a loud sound of alarm. I spent too many years undervaluing the gift of storytelling that God has given me. I don’t anymore. The one encouragement that completely turned me around was at a women’s event. I was to speak after a gifted teacher and was feeling the weight of that. I said to her, “But you’re such a great teacher.” Her eyes grew wide, and she said, “But, Lisa, you’re a storyteller. Jesus was a storyteller.”

Bam! That’s all it took. I am a storyteller. God made me that way. Now, with a little more maturity under my belt and a whole lot more understanding of His love for me, I can honestly say that I’m honored and amazed and excited to have been knit together in a similar fashion as Jesus. So here I am, an early bird chirping outside your window as day breaks, singing my song, “The King is coming! Time to prepare.”

All this to say: I won’t shut up. I won’t back down. I won’t fold. Instead, I’m doubling down my efforts. With all that’s happening in our world, with the understanding of Who will soon set out to get His bride, I suggest you wet your whistle and get to singing your own song, Little Bird. Or Big Bird, whichever you are. 😉

Watch for more to come.

Blessings,
Lisa


New blog coming in November.

After taking two years off from blogging and writing four books in my spare time, I’m ready to begin again. I have so many words pent up that I can hardly contain them. My best friend calls me a waterfall. I guess that’s mostly true, but only because that Jesus of mine is a waterfall first. He’s been pouring into me in ways like I’ve never known. All I can do is reroute the flow of water onto you.

It’s like I’m drowning in His Word, yet finding I can breathe underwater. His Word is breath to me.

Watch for something soon.
Lisa 

 

The daybreak site is well underway with the main page being accessible by early November. 


Live in Reckless Love

We’ve heard it said to love like we’ve never been hurt. In some cases that seems nearly impossible.
In this month’s web chapter, we will look at loving our neighbors: family, friends, and church neighbors. To love them as recklessly as God loves us, we must overcome old wounds and allow bitterness to be healed.

Live-in-Reckless-Love.LHeatonBooks Download

When you’re finished with this month’s chapter and Takeaway, let me know your thoughts. Leave comments here and/or at the YAL Facebook Community. If you haven’t joined us there yet and would like to, click the link below to join:

You. Are. Loved. Facebook Community


Live in Reckless Service

Dance like no one’s watching; sing like no one’s listening, those are ways you might be reckless in your service to God.
~ Our web chapter begins with King David and his willingness to be even more undignified in his worship of God.
~ Martha and Mary tee up our next section as we determine it’s often necessary to keep singing even when no one is listening and you get no credit for your work.Note: Once you click the download button below, you should see the tab for the pdf at the bottom of your web browsers. Right-click the tab and open the document, then save it from there. Or for Mac users, you should be able to drag the item onto your desktop.

When you’re finished with this month’s chapter and Takeaway, let me know your thoughts. Leave comments here and/or at the YAL Facebook Community. If you haven’t joined us there yet and would like to, click the link below to join:

You. Are. Loved. Facebook Community


New Fiction on the Way!!

It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve released a fiction title. For those of you who’ve contacted me and asked when I’ll release something new, Room to Grow will release May 31. The image above isn’t the book cover image, just a place holder until that’s available.

I wrote this spring-inspired story last year with the idea of it being a smaller book, but even when I was done, I knew the story wasn’t finished. Josh and Sophie had a next phase of life that needed to be captured. I’m glad I held out until their story was complete. I love each book as if they were a unique child of mine, but there’s something about the ending of this one – melts my heart with pure sweetness.

I’ve been intrigued by this couple and how they break the traditional mold of what a couple should look like. Sophie is beginning a new life, feeling defeated and ill-equipped. Josh is still holding onto his first love from more than a decade before. A chance meeting at a coffee shop redefines life for them both.

Room to Grow is the first book in what I’ll introduce as the Nashville Series. Because Nashville and the local towns have been my home my entire life, I’m excited to capture the uniqueness of the areas and share with readers worldwide just how fabulous our city it is.

Stay tuned for more info. Pre-sales of books will begin sometime in May.

And remember, stay tuned for You. Are. Loved. Live the Love Song, my first nonfiction book. The release is scheduled for April 19.

Blessings to you all,
Lisa


What’s New for 2019

I missed this month’s blog on purpose. I had a decision to make: come up with some random topic or keep rolling on with my current nonfiction project. I’m glad I chose to power through. I can say with a big grin that the manuscript is completed with only a few edits remaining on some final chapters. If you would have asked me a few months ago if I would ever finish, I would have said no way. The moment I hit print on my final chapters to give to my editor, I nearly sang a happy song.

This is just a little glimpse of what’s next in my world as I see it now:

  • Next month in February, I plan to make the official You. Are. Loved. book announcement and offer a free look at a sample chapter. I am still on track for a spring release and ready to hear your feedback.
  • The new website for You. Are. Loved. is currently in production. For now, book release updates can be found here at lisaheatonbooks.com.
  • I have a new fiction book in the works, something I began last year and hope to complete for a spring release. The working title is Room to Grow. To revisit this project only makes me long even more for spring. It’s a light and happy book, filled with unlikely love and romance – just what spring of 2019 needs if you ask me.
  • I will have a free download offer for Deceiver soon if you know of anyone who might want to check it out. I will give you more details on that when the timing is set. Notices will be here and on social media.
  • I’m excited to speak to the ladies of The Journey Church in Lebanon in June. The topic will be related to the new nonfiction book release, its focus on how knowing we are loved drives our every action and shapes how we live out our lives. Others are invited to join us for this Saturday morning event on June 22nd. Space will be limited, so registration for this free event will be required.
  • One element of 2019 that I’m most excited about is my ability to follow through with ongoing discipleship through web-based teaching. After the book release, beginning in June or July, I will be offering free stand-alone topics on the youarelovedbook website. Each month through 2019, I will tackle a new area of our faith walk as it relates to God’s love for us.

 

So, yeah, a lot is underway. Much of this is the culmination of a vision that began over 18 months ago. Then, I could have never imagined how so much would come together to create a ministry that would alter the course of my life.

This is the point where many working parts must come together: the web presence, social media launch, print book publication and ebook conversion. Collectively, it feels like too much to wrap my mind around. So I ask that you pray for me. Pray that I have tunnel vision over this next few months to stay tuned in to how God leads.

You are always loved and appreciated.
Blessings over your new year,
Lisa

 


A Quick December Hello

I usually try to pull together some thoughts and get them sent out the first of each month in the form of a blog. I won’t be doing that this month. For us all December is such a busy month. I’m trying to decide what to buy grown kids and a Scrooge for a husband.

I have a trip planned to see that precious grand baby this weekend, so Christmas will come early in South Carolina. I’ve been prepping for that, buying little-kid toys for the first time in over a decade. Too. Much. Fun!

If all that wasn’t enough, I am trying to complete the manuscript for my new, nonfiction book this month. Almost there! Now that I’m on the down-hill slide, I can better establish a timeframe for publishing. Though I had hoped for a February release, it will instead be Spring of 2019 before I have the print version ready. If all goes as planned, we will have preview chapters available in February, the month of love.

All that said, I’m hoping your hectic month is filled with peace that only Jesus can bring. It takes effort on our part to stop and breath and remember that Jesus is the reason for this season. So in between Hallmark movies, shopping, and planning for family gatherings, grab hold of small moments of peace and joy by leaning into Jesus.

Many blessings to you and yours this season.
Grace and peace,
Lisa


Love Declares a Win

I can be one of those people I hate most – a know it all. I get so entrenched in what I believe and wonder how anyone else might not see things the way I do. If it helps, I’m getting better, or at least I’m getting better at hiding it. In my early adult years, I had to prove I was right. These days, I’m more able to let things slide, especially the inconsequential issues.

What changed in me? One phrase: Do I want to be right, or do I want to be like Jesus? Not that Jesus didn’t speak the truth; He absolutely did. I notice, though, in His dealings with people how He would lay out the truth and then allow them to process His words. He didn’t scream and yell to make His point. I sincerely believe He wasn’t making backhanded comments on Facebook or calling people out on Twitter. He spoke the truth in love and left it there for the person to grapple with on his or her own.

I think of the case of the rich young ruler found in Mark 10. When he asked Jesus what must be done to inherit eternal life, Jesus began by listing a few of the Ten Commandments. The man said he had done all of those things. In his mind he had followed all the laws and figured that would be enough. Then Jesus took the conversation to the next level by peering into the man’s heart and challenging what was most important to him, his money. In the account Mark tells, the young man went away sorrowful.

What happens next is Jesus using the moment to teach His disciples. He didn’t run after the guy, trying to hammer home His point or guilt the man into falling in line. That’s not what love does. Love speaks the truth and then loves the one who may not yet believe that truth.

We all come to understand deeper revelation at different times. So when we know something, especially a spiritual truth that someone else hasn’t been enlightened to, our only option is to tell and even show what we believe when possible. Beyond that, it is the work of the Spirit to open the eyes of the person in disagreement with you. Or maybe the work of the Spirit will open yours. I can’t count the number of times I’ve dug in on a matter only to be led towards a new or varying perspective over time.

I just know this: When we care more about being like Jesus and less concerned with being right, love wins every time.

Love is victorious when we love unexpectedly. I have seen the result of that in two cases recently when the surprised person was moved nearly to tears by unexpected love from someone of whom they expected the worst reaction.

Love declares a win when we look more like Jesus and less like a know it all. We can know it all and know little of love.

I pray I learn to love more unexpectedly and demonstrate it more willingly. Just because someone doesn’t believe what I believe, love freely given may win them back. That’s a lesson we could all stand to learn, especially us know it alls.

It’s okay to know stuff. Just be kind and love one another until they get a clue. 😉

Blessings to you and yours,
Lisa


Blue Paint Splatter

Recently, the road in front of our house was repaved, a long overdue project. Prior to repaving, the crews widened the road a little, so now our narrow and often treacherous road is safer. The first few days I drove on the newly paved road, I was excited – chalk that up to a less than adventurous life. Soon, though, within days of the new pavement, someone lost a paint can out of the bed of their truck and left a big splatter of blue paint on the road just a few doors down from me.

Now, my fresh new road is smeared and doesn’t feel quite so fresh and new. I know the painter or do-it-yourselfer didn’t mean to lose that paint can. It wasn’t intentional, but still, they were careless and paint happened.

I’ve considered that splatter in regards to life. Just when things are going well, someone comes along and splatters your life with unwanted drama or takes advantage of your kindness or wounds you with their careless choices. Those things happen all the time, leaving us with a mess to clean up. Some messes can’t be cleaned and leave a lasting residue right where you have to look at it each day.

When it comes to the road, time will fade the color. Years from now that blue spatter of paint will wear away and leave only a hint of color. Given enough time, a road crew will come along and repave altogether.

It’s the same with life. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, but wounds eventually scar over. It may take years or decades, but the hurt that others cause will become part of your past. If you’re wise, you will choose forgiveness early on even when forgiveness isn’t sought by the offending party. Forgiveness frees you. Forgiveness allows the splatter to fade faster. In the long run for the believer, repaving will come as we spend eternity in a place where blue paint spatters no longer matter.

It’s sad to say, but I’ve been the blue paint splatter in the lives of others. My choices and actions have hurt the people I love. Most likely, you’ve done the same. Now, I try to be more aware of how my words and actions can cause harm. I still fail and imagine I always will, but I am working toward the goal of greater kindness and wiser choices. May the same be said of you.

Paint happens to us all. We splatter. We get splattered. What we choose to do with it makes all the difference in whether the paint mars our lives or becomes part of some greater masterpiece of color.

What can you do with this today? Consider the blue paint splattered around your life. Are you harboring damage-causing bitterness? Have you splattered the lives of those around you? These are questions which should lead you to pray and ask for direction. I’m in a position now where I need to consider some actions of my own. I’ve prayed but still don’t know what steps to take to make amends. In that case I will continue to pray. I want to choose obedience, but since I don’t yet see what that requires of me, I will wait. I do commit, however, to be obedient when the answer comes. I pray you will do the same.

If you have a paint splatter to share, I am always interested in hearing back from you.


Lisa Unscripted

Life is coming at me fast these days. Not only am I working on a new book, I’m launching a new ministry. From the overflow of the book, You. Are Loved. – Live the Love Song, ongoing ministry through speaking, online discipleship, and video posts are on the horizon. There are occasional moments when it all seems overwhelming and I panic, but for the most part, I’m energized and loving every minute of all that’s happening.

Except when I’m thrown a major curveball.

I’m a planner, like, a crazy, obsessive planner. I’m so bad that I even have a vacation checklist that I print every year for vacation. I have columns for all of us travelers, even for Zoe, my pup. (Yep, you read that right.) Planning comes naturally for me since I love lists and thinking ahead.

In my normal, pre-planning way of preparing for a speaking engagement, I began working on my speaking notes on Monday for my last event, five days in advance. That gave me plenty of time. When I’m not actually planning the event myself and just have to show up and speak, the notes are the only stressful part for me, otherwise, I love to speak to groups of women. I’m not the least bit nervous. I am always, I say always stressed over prepping the notes and sticking to them.

I’m a bit of a wildcard. I like telling stories that come to mind. I love sharing all that God has done in and through me over the years. Once I get started, I can hardly stop. Thing is, when you have notes to follow, you have to keep some kind of order to the way you present the material. If I go too far off-script, then it’s difficult to find my way back. Those are my most frustrating moments. I feel led to share something but fear I’ll leave vital information out if I do. Then after the event, I beat myself up for forgetting to say this or that.

Back to my last time to speak, my first time to talk about the new book topic:
I began working on my notes Monday, and over four hours into making meticulous notes with all kinds of complicated “say this here,” “move to this place next,” highlighted critical text, and colored-coded sticky notes, I finally took a break to eat lunch. My chest was tight, and I could do nothing but dread that part of my time to speak.

I’m not sure how it began, but while I was making a quick sandwich, I felt the Lord prompt me to rethink my notes and my plan. The word Unscripted came to mind. A sense of absolute terror came at that thought. What, no notes, no guide to make sure I said all the right things at the right times? That was crazy!

It took less than a minute for me to say, “Okay, I’ll try that.”

Before I tell the rest of the story, I have to interject something here. That was probably my fastest act of obedience and submission I’ve ever experienced. Usually, I do the little Okay and No Way dance. You know the one where you say okay at first and then back out, then back in, then back out? That’s usually my style when facing something so frightening. I didn’t do that, not even one time.

The moment I said yes to speaking unscripted, I felt a tremendous sense of peace flood over me, a peace I’ve never experienced when preparing to speak. I take what I say seriously. If ladies are going to take the time and effort to come and hear what I have to say, it better be worth it for them. Time is precious for all of us.

That Monday, I went back to my desk and took a leap of faith: I deleted four hours’ worth of notes. I typed up a few “jumping-off statements” to keep a decent flow. Plus, I had some lists of things I knew I would need to read directly from the page, but for the most part, I spoke unscripted. I can honestly say I’ve never enjoyed speaking more than that day. It may not have for the ladies who listened, but for me and my walk of faith, the fire fell. I found an entirely new level of trust in what God asks of me.

“For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very
hour what you ought to say.” Luke 12:12

When Scripture is proven in such a mighty way, I take notice. Tiny trust steps lead to medium trust steps, then medium to large. That was a giant step for me that day, and as usual, God proved Himself trustworthy.

Now, I can look forward to my next speaking engagement without dread of note prep and following a plan. Instead, I can follow a Savior by way of His Spirit.

I would love to hear back from you. Do you have a story of how a trust step, either small or large, has led to a deepening level of trust in Jesus?

I look forward to sharing more about the new book with you. I’ll do that over the next few months through my blog.

Always remember – You. Are. Loved.
– Lisa