Thursday, July 31, 2014

You're Part of a Really Big Plan

Let me begin today with a question. Do you believe you're part of a plan that's much bigger than yourself?

This last week, I had the opportunity to tag along on my husband's business trip to Boston. And let me tell you, I LOVED that city. I came away so inspired by all the political, artistic, and literary history. So today, I hope you'll come along with me for a brief trip to Boston, and that you'll come away inspired too!

The Boston Public Library was established in 1848 and was the first large free municipal library in the United States. 

This was one of those oh-my-goodness moments for me from the trip. When I saw this Renoir, I literally gasped. It was incredible. You know how, ever so often, you see a piece of artwork or read a book that really resonates with you? Well, this one did for me.

In this spot, a rowdy group of kids and soldiers surrounded a couple Redcoats. Shots were fired, children were killed, and the Boston Massacre shaped the course of American history.

This church--established in 1759-- sheltered Connecticut troops during the Revolutionary War. George and Martha Washington worshipped here. Theodore Roosevelt taught Sunday school here. And Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke here in April, 1967.

This piece of stained glass is considered one of the most important in America, because of the technique it uses The glow and layering of the colors looks like a painting. It is striking.

This is the house where Louisa May Alcott grew up.

This duck statue in Boston Public Garden commemorates the popular children's classic Make Way for Ducklings. And really, who doesn't love Make Way for Ducklings?

And finally, this last one is my favorite. This home was owned by George Washington, and later, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. My mind was boggled as I looked up at it, realizing I was sharing the same visual space as one of my favorite writers.

What do all of these spaces have in common? They all pay homage to, or are a result of, people living extravagant-plan lives. Some of these people were wealthy. Others were not. Some knew of their success and enjoyed wealth because of it. Others did not. But all of them lived as part of a really big plan.

As I went from site to site, I felt both inspired and overwhelmed. How could I ever contribute to this world in the same way people like George Washington did? I'm not a patriot. I'm not an Impressionist artist (unfortunately). I'm not an architect, or a soldier, or a suffragette.

But I am a person with big dreams. I am God's. And in this time and place, I'm part of a really big plan.

And so are you.

You may look around the seemingly- redundant details of your day and think what you're doing doesn't matter all that much, especially when you see the names of your favorite authors in print and the faces of your favorite actresses gracing fashion magazines. Maybe, actually, the plan you're part of seems pretty small. Doing the dishes. The laundry. The vacuuming. Maybe your word count keeps growing, but so do the rejection letters. It's all you can do to get your kid to sleep until 7 am. Maybe you're stuck in an office job you hate, just trying to make ends meet.

I have some really great news for you.

You are still part of a really big plan. And God hasn't forgotten about it.

Sure, you may not be able to see it right away. It may take years for your dreams to come to fruition, and they may take on a shape you never expected. But the same God who governed George Washington and inspired Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is the God who has called you to live at such a time as this. And that is something worth getting excited about.

I want to encourage you to get out of the same-old-same-old perspective that we all allow to govern our mindsets. Ask God to grow your dreams so they blossom. Ask Him what His dreams are for your life. We're not all called to be famous, or rich, or NYT bestsellers. But you know what? We are all called to live abundant lives. To make a difference in this world. And I believe that when we live with an awakened perspective, realizing the value of each of our lives, we will leave an indelible impression on this world.

So be of good courage. You are part of a really big plan.


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blogFacebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Ashley, I loved this! There is such a great sense of awe to know you are a part of something big.

I had to take the Strengths Finder test for work and one of my top 5 strengths is connectivity. I can usually see the big picture and find purpose in knowing I am part of a bigger plan. And in Jesus we are definitely part of a bigger plan!!

Thanks for a wonderful post...I love seeing the pictures of your trip!

Ashley Clark said...

Sherrinda, I love what you said! We often don't consciously think about connectivity as a skill, but it really is! It's so much easier to keep things in perspective when we keep the big picture perspective!

Sherry Carter said...

Several years ago, I visited Boston with my two high school daughters. We were blown away by the history! We stood in awe at Benjamin Franklin's grave

Being a huge sports fan, I must admit my favorite site was the Garden, home of the Boston Celtics. I stared in wonder at all those championship banners.

As Christians, we're all champions!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. It felt as though you were speaking directly to me. I've been struggling as I write the first draft of my first novel, questions and doubts plaguing me. 'God, is this going to make a difference? Am I really making a difference in the lives of others?' One phrase in particular you used has been popping up everywhere around me: 'for such a time as this.' That, and Ecclesiastes 3:1, 'for everything there is a season...' Thank you for encouraging me and others and reaffirming that we can indeed make an impact in His master plan. We all have a place in that plan and a call to fulfill, in His time and not our own.

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Ashley, what an encouraging post. It's easy to forget that I'm part of a really big plan. My eyes get focused only on the "now" and not on the big picture. I've never been to Boston, but it's a place I hope to visit one day. I love the history there!

Thanks for the perspective adjustment!! :)

Ashley Clark said...

Sherry, thanks for stopping by today! I loved the Garden area as well! So beautiful!

Ashley Clark said...

Amy, thank you for sharing! I am so glad the blog encouraged you today! And let me just say, I think we all struggle with those very doubts you described. "Is what I'm doing making a difference at all?" "Is all this work for nothing?" But I think thoughts like that, in the end, distract us from our big-picture vision, and the great things God has called us to... which is why it's all the more important, and ever-so-hard, to remind ourselves of the big impact we can have with our lives and our writing. Have a good afternoon!

Ashley Clark said...

Jeanne, thanks for stopping by! I think focusing on the here-and-now instead of the big picture is something we all struggle with... I know I do! But how exciting it is to know God will weave all the threads together in just the right time!