Your encounter is closer than you think.
Even as a woman of faith, I have found that it is sometimes easy to underestimate the opportunities available to encounter the breadth of God’s love and sovereignty toward us. In the complexities of life that sometimes feel like chaos or ill-intent, it’s easy to find oneself unmotivated or discouraged. However, despite times of disheartenment, I continue to learn that an encounter with God is closer than we think. Yes, that which we have hoped for and dreamed about…that desire that we prayed for and asked God to answer…in the moment feels forgotten, denied, or like a place of abandonment. But, as I reflect on this past year and the recent months, let me encourage you and be a witness that your encounter and blessing from God is always within reach, and closer than we often realize.
Reflecting on Three Years of “Dawn of a New Day 365”
In this anniversary blog, I’ll share my seemingly coincidental encounters with God where He showed me not only his hand…but that he had me in mind. Despite losing my father exactly 365 days ago, I can strongly attest that at no point within this past year have I felt abandoned by God. However, it has seemed that He has wanted to see a demonstration of my faith, love, and obedience to Him despite what I might have felt or faced. I hope that by sharing my testimony, I can help to cultivate an awareness of these encounters that you too have likely had in your daily life and open you up to be receptive to the many gifts God has in store.
The Encounter of Success
In the first quarter of the year, I had the honor of having a book signing at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in my local mall. Though I had recently released a new children’s book entitled Mind Your Manners, my primary best-sellers for the event were both my previous children’s book Heeeyy Dandelion, as well as my 5-Day Morning COFFEE Devotion. Plus, Mind Your Manners sold out in the first three days of its release.
Though I didn’t know quite what to expect, I’ll admit I was a bit anxious that morning. I had to call on my sounding board and family prayer partners to help me rid myself of the imposture syndrome that was trying its best to creep in and bring with it the debilitation of doubt and fear. Because, on the contrary, I couldn’t have imagined the tremendous response I received from not only friends and supporters who came out, but also from Barnes & Noble patrons coincidentally shopping and browsing the bookstore on a cold and rainy Saturday.
SIS! Your ENCOUNTER is closer than you think.
The Encounter of Impact
I had the pleasure of meeting and greeting so many amazing people on that day, from parents and children, teachers, counselors, and ministers, to other writers, artists, and illustrators. Although book sales are great, networking opportunities are always beneficial.
Despite the excitement of the moment, and aside from being told that this had been the most successful book signing by a local author at this Barnes & Noble location, there were a few conversations that I had during that time that seemed to resonate with me and gave me cause for further consideration.
During the day’s signing, several patrons expressed how they would love to incorporate the Heeeyy Dandelion Collection into their professional classrooms or practices. After combing through the pages and hearing me discuss the particulars of how Heeeyy Dandelion addresses childhood self-esteem and belonging, and ultimately the importance of acknowledging and advocating for children’s mental health; for them, it was clear how the theme of the story, along with its GLOSSARY, CHECK-ON-LEARNING, & JOURNAL PROMPTS would provide rewarding benefits to the children they teach and serve.
Transparent moment. I’m honestly always in disbelief when others tell me the Heeeyy Dandelion story is special. Just to think that I created something that could be a valuable and needed resource in the fields of education and psychology is sometimes incomprehensible. Call it my humility, but I know only God could have orchestrated purpose out of the pain that led me to this place.
SIS! Your ENCOUNTER is closer than you think.
The Encounter of Opinion
In spite of the numerous positive takeaways that day, there was another opinion shared in conversation that brought forth a surprisingly different point. Apparently it is the viewpoint of some that because Heeeyy Dandelion has a Biblical scripture among its pages that it could possibly never be considered on a broader scale of curriculum inclusion in certain systems; for concern of pushing a Christian agenda or forcing religion.
Now, here is the thing… I’m not just an author…I’m a Christian author. Heck, it says it in all my bios. “Dawn Charleston-Green – Christian author who uses her faith coupled with her experiences to tell stories and to provide content and conversations to women, children, and families.”
But can I just say, for a moment I pondered…”Should I just remove the scripture and offer a ‘generic, non-Christian’ suggestive version?” Then immediately, the two subconscious angels on my shoulders began debating and replaying what had been said to me. The people-pleasing one suggested that I just take the scripture out of the story and republish it? Then, the much more intentional one, whose focus is always purpose and Kingdom work, retorted “HELL NO!”
The Encounter of Uniqueness
The children’s book Heeeyy Dandelion doesn’t actually have a scripture in its story. Instead, the page just before the story begins quotes Psalm 139:14 which says,
“…for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
For a story that addresses self-esteem, honesty, and belonging…why would I take out this scripture? Why wouldn’t a child who struggles with any of these characteristics need to know or be reminded that they are beautiful just the way they are?
I mean, even if someone didn’t believe in my God, and only that their children’s existence reflected their familial DNA, would they not still believe that their child is beautiful and unique?
The Encounter of Reality
When we consider everything that children face at school outside of education (body shaming, bullying, cultural and academic exclusion, fear, insecurities, etc.) why, then, couldn’t they read somewhere that they were “beautifully and wonderfully made?” Is there an argument that because children are so impressionable they would actually believe it? Or, is the fear that no one would be able to explain or help them understand it? I would hope that neither are true.
I get a little perturbed just thinking about it. Do we not sprinkle our children with everything else? Honestly! As a society, we expose our children to racism and hate, nudity and perversion, vulgarity, aggression, and violence; whether it be through what we allow them to consume through what they see and hear, or the environments we allow them to access. Yet, some would be hesitant to expose them to a scripture that tells them how special and beautiful they are.?
The Encounter of Exposure
My daughter is in middle school. Just this year a letter came home saying she and her classmates would be addressing puberty, sexuality, and abuse. The letter stated that it is believed that awareness of these factors is important to their overall growth and development. However, if any of these were against parent’s beliefs and personal values, parents could opt to not have their child participate. In which case, the parent could choose to keep the child home, or the student would be separated from other students while this instruction was being presented.
How many people do you know who allow their children to stay home or sign the letter for their children not to participate? I promise you, the numbers are few. Why? Because parents don’t have an alternative plan for the child and regardless of what’s being taught or presented, it is more convenient for the child to go to school than to not participate.
Like me, most parents say, “If you have any questions about what you learn today, come home and ask me about it.”
So, you mean to tell me that we are willing to discuss sex, nudity, and violence…but someone is unsure whether the child can be exposed to a scripture that…if they believe it…might shape how they approach the other negative factors they are presented with?
Make it make sense.
The Encounter of Intention
My point. I’m not taking out the scripture. Period. I won’t compromise my faith to satisfy what appears like the majority. Nah, I can’t do it.
Whether I’m referring to my book, my career as an author, or anything else for that matter, I can’t try to help God guarantee my success. I must believe that what He has for me is for me and that what He has PREDESTINED for me since the very beginning is true. Romans 8:28-30 reassures me of this.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who I have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Your ENCOUNTER is closer than you think
So…I wrote this blog originally when this incident took place. However, God would not allow me to publish it. I didn’t understand it then, but I do now. This encounter on that rainy day in February would begin a series of encounters where God would test how much I trusted him. Remember what I just said?
“I can’t try to help God guarantee my success.
I must believe that what He has for me is for me and that
what He has PREDESTINED for me since the very beginning IS TRUE.”
Whew! After I wrote that, God apparently wanted to make sure that I believed it.
My original blog…was a rant. God was not pleased. He wanted me to take that energy of negativity and hurt from what I took to be disapproval and rejection and lay it at the cross. Yes. Because at times, I too STILL deal with self-defeating thoughts. But God was requiring that I dispel the lies and believe the truth of HIS WORD to be “alive and active.” (Hebrews 4:12) So I did.
Two weeks after that incident, I received a call out of the blue from a school outside of my State of residence. It was a school administrator telling me that they had read Heeeyy Dandelion and seen it’s companions and wanted to know if I would be willing to a contract for an author visit next school year. AND, they wanted to verify whether I could provide copies of the book for their entire student body.
SIS! Your ENCOUNTER is closer than you think.
A Supernatural Encounter
The next month, I was preparing for bed and felt a heaviness that I knew would affect my sleep. So, I asked my husband to begin to pray for me. (Sidenote: Connect to someone who knows how to pray when you cannot.) As my husband prayed, my spirit begin to lift and the heaviness subsided. Eventually I began to pray for my family, God’s protection and provision, and for myself and my obedience to God’s will. But one of my specific requests was that God would allow my name to be whispered in rooms I had not entered. Two days later, I woke up to a text message from a stranger who requested that I come speak to their student body. She noted the name of the person that gave her my number…Until this day I have no idea who she referenced.
Please make note that not all experiences heaviness are meant to burden you, but to bring you to your knees. SIS! Your ENCOUNTER is closer than you think!
A Requested Encounter
Two weeks ago, I went to An Evening with Priscilla Shirer – Fervent Event. Though attending and hearing Priscilla speak could have been considered the pinnacle of the day (especially because I have been following her teachings and facilitating her studies for over a decade)…the conversation I had with my daughter prior to us entering the facility was this…
“I want us to pray and ask God to meet us here.”
(You see, my daughter and I had some rough mother/daughter engagements leading up to the event.)
“I want tonight not just to be about seeing and hearing Priscilla Shirer,
but I want it to be an experience where we encounter God in such a supernatural way that
neither of our lives will ever be the same.”
(I spoke those words and I believed it in my heart and my daughter agreed.)
Long story short… God delivered on His promise. He not only met us there, but He allow us to meet Priscilla and talk to her a bit. He allowed my daughter to catch the eyes and heart of Priscilla who then blessed my daughter beyond the night’s event. The things that God did as a result of that encounter I can’t even fully express. You’ll have to check it out for yourself. Just know this. God gave us an encounter.
SIS! Your ENCOUNTER is closer than you think! Trust God for it. He has not forgotten you and He will not forsake you. If you will have a willingness and pray for a discipline to harken to His word and His command…I promise you, He…”is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us.” (Ephesian 3:20)
The Encounter of Purpose
Friend, whatever you are called and purposed to do, do it with God’s strength and leading. Don’t compromise it no matter how bright the lights might be, or how significant the dividends. We cannot pray and ask God to enlarge our territory, and then turn around and let down the borders of our faith; turning our focus to success and popularity. It’s the boundaries of our faith and the wisdom that comes from it that keeps us safe emotionally, mentally, financially, and spiritually. Though it might seem like such an easy edit, just like with my book, deleting God will not help you become the best version of yourself. Even when it’s tempting, Sis…Trust God anyway. You’ll never be disappointed.
Here’s to Many More Encounters
To my fellow sisters who may be feeling discouraged, remember to pause and appreciate the encounters with God’s blessings that are all around us. They are always present, even in the uncertainties and chaos of life. As you’ll recall, before each of the encounters I shared here, there was always something that felt off-putting…something that could have easily caused me to give up and allow the negative talk and thoughts to hinder me from my purpose in this season. But I persevered, whether through my prayers or the prayers of others. Each time…God met me and can do the same for you.
As I celebrate the third year of Dawn of a New Day 365, I am amazed to see the continuous move of God for not only me, but so many others within its ranks. God continues to do NEW THINGS like Isaiah 43:19 NIV speaks of.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”
Let’s be diligent in becoming more aware of the new encounters God is divinely orchestrating for us. However, do not forget, it’s not the encounter that happens that is the best part…it’s the encounter with Him that makes the difference. Here’s to many more encounters. ~Dawn
Thank you for taking the time to read my words and hear my heart. Have you ever had an encounter that you knew unequivocally was ordained by God. I’d love to hear about it. Let me know your thoughts in the COMMENTS. If you are feeling discouraged at this time and you could use some additional support, connect with me. I’d love an opportunity to pray with you and walk with you through strengthening your faith.
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