Tag Archives: gratitude

My OWL Story

Guest Post: My OWL Story

I met Rachael Hartman last July at a Christian publishing event in Orlando, Florida. Recently she followed up and we met at my offices in New York City. During our conversation she told me her “OWL” story which I felt mirrored my own encounter with God way back in 1987. Rachael has graciously given me permission to post her story on my blog site. I think you will enjoy it.

My OWL Story

By Rachael Hartman

www.OurWrittenLives.com

God speaks to each of us in ways we will understand. Sometimes He uses our quirks and imagination to spur His way in our lives. I am thankful God knows how to speak to me, and I hear the silent messages He speaks into my heart and mind, and are confirmed by His Word.

One of the most significant words I received from the Lord gave me the hope I needed to keep going forward in the midst of depression. It also paved the way for me to receive God’s call on my life to write and publish for His Kingdom.

It began with silliness on my part. I always had a sort of artistic way of looking at the world around me. I thought various people looked a lot like animals. I had a pastor once who truly looked like a turtle, straining his little neck out of his suit and tie shell. I thought one of my bosses looked like the human alternative to a beaver or a nutty squirrel. These were people I truly respected and loved, but I couldn’t deny their animal-like features.

I always wanted to know what kind of animal I would see myself as. I couldn’t think of anything based on my looks, but I figured I was an owl because of my glasses and all the time I spent at the library and in college. Around the time I discovered I was an “owl,” God began to use my silly perspective to speak to me.

It was 2008 and my emotional life was pretty much in shambles. The three years leading to this point, 2005 to 2008, were the hardest of my life. I felt as if I were living in a spiritual wilderness. I was in constant battle—mentally, emotionally, physically, and relationally. It was crushing, and I had to acknowledge some difficult truths. I felt as if my life was falling apart, and it was. Everything I knew to be stable was shaking.

In my quest for healing, I sought the face of God in a church in Texas where I experienced unconditional acceptance, and so my healing journey began.

One night after church and I was driving down a dark, East Texas road. A large owl swooped down to capture its prey in the middle of the road, and sadly flew right into my driver’s side windshield. As I turned around and pulled over to check on the poor bird, my bright headlights beamed into his eyes. He wobbled a little and looked at me, quite confused.

At that moment I heard the still, small voice of God speak to me. “You’ve been hit really hard,” He said, “but you are going to fly again.” At that very moment, the owl flew away. It was a sign from God; I was going to be okay.

A few weeks after my encounter with the owl, I was in Austin for a church conference. I met two ladies who spoke words of encouragement into my life and continued to add to my owl story.

The first lady said, “I don’t know anything about your life, but I feel like you’ve been living in darkness for a long time, and the light of God’s sun is going to start shining into your life.”

The second lady did not hear what the first one said. After a service, she came up to me and said, “Brightness. Brightness. All I see is brightness.”

Driving home through the Piney Woods after the conference there was another “owl confirmation” that God was leading me to better times. Perched on a road sign was an owl, in the brightness of day, eyes wide open. I had never seen an owl out in the day time before.

Later, God told me I had to learn to “see through the darkness” and go after what He was calling me to do.

About a month later, God confirmed my call to write and publish. The silent statement was clear, “I’ve given you everything you need to write and publish books.”

I knew God was calling me to write the stories of people who had lived in darkness and overcome to live in the light through the blood of Jesus. These stories would bring the hope of Christ to people in difficult situations.

The name of my business came next—Our Written Lives of Hope, or OWL of Hope for short.

The name was partially inspired by the history of Isle of Hope in the Savannah, Georgia area. In early days, Isle of Hope was known as a place where all kinds of people lived together despite the treacherous times of slavery and other evils shrouding the old South.

My “owl experience” and call to write and publish occurred during the time I was working for the local newspaper and taking a break from grad school.

When would I find the time to write a book? I knew I was using too much creative energy at the newspaper. I had to change careers if I was going to write for Jesus. The Lord opened the doors, and I relocated to the Fort Hood area for a job. It was there I began to look for the first story God would allow me the honor to write. It would be two years before He brought me the story He chose.

After two layoffs and another move, this time to Fort Polk, Louisiana, God’s timing kicked in. In July 2012, I began writing my first book titled Angel, The True Story of an Undeserved Chance. It was the life testimony of a woman I met at church. Her name was Angel. She had an amazing testimony of deliverance, and I had a desire to write a book for the Lord. God led us to start the project though we had barely met. Eleven months later, in June of 2013, we had the book in hand, and I had officially established Our Written Lives of Hope, LLC.

To date in 2016, I am working with over 20 authors, and have 23 published books in the OWL collection. Back when I received the call, I had no idea God would bless my business so quickly and swiftly. I still don’t know the extent of what He had in mind when He planted the vision to write and publish for His Kingdom into my mind and heart. I’m excited to see what the future holds, and I’m looking forward to learning and sharing the God-stories of our generation.

I’m still an “owl.” I’ve had people call me “the owl lady” and they send me all kinds of owl gifts, (even though I have no desire to collect owls). Just today I came home from a trip to New York City, and waiting for me was an owl tee-shirt a friend sent to me. It seems like every time I have doubt or fear about the future, God sends me an owl of some kind to remind me of where He’s brought me from, and who I am in Him.

He truly does speak to us all in unique and individual ways that align with His Word. We just have to listen.

I will praise Gods name

Fourteen Great Reasons to be Thankful

Here in one post are the fourteen reasons to be thankful I’ve been reflecting on this week:

Be Joyful Always Verse Text for Thankful Reason #1#1. A General Thanksgiving: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians: 5:16-18)

#2. I am thankful to God: “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:2-5)

#3. I am grateful for Jesus Christ: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 4:4-6)

#4. I am overwhelmingly thankful for the gift of the Holy Spirit: “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)

#5. I am grateful for God hearing my cry for help when I was in great trouble: “. . . And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” (Psalm 50:15)

#6. I am blessed by the gift of each day:

Lord, for tomorrow and its needs, I do not pray
Keep me, my God, from stain of sin just for today.
Let me both diligently work, and duly pray,
Let me be kind in word and deed, just for today.
Let me be slow to do my will, prompt to obey;
Help me to sacrifice myself just for today.
And if today my tide of life should ebb away,
Give me thy Sacraments divine, sweet Lord today.
So for tomorrow and its needs I do not pray,
But keep me, guide me, love me, Lord, just for today.

“Just for Today,” Sister Mary Xavier (Sybil F. Partridge)

And I Tell You -- Verse Image for Thankful Reason #7#7. I am thankful for Stanwich Church, its pastors and leaders: “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18-19)

#8. I am blessed by the companionship, friendship and love of my wife: “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:10-12)

Stand at the Crossroads -- Verse Image for Thankful Reason #9#9. I am most grateful for the challenges and the blessings of being a father of four children. And my prayer is that they will know and love Jesus as the Father in heaven loves His own Son: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16)

#10. I am blessed by a large extended family: “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 1:39-41)

When one rules over men -- Verse Image for Thankful Reason #11#11. I am grateful for being given the privilege to lead: “When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth.” (2 Samuel 23:3-4)

#12, I am blessed with a great team that is helping me build a new ministry: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)

#13. I am thankful for all the friends and experiences that walking the Appalachian Trail has brought me: “. . . because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)

#14. I am thankful for many good friendships: “Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord.’” (1 Samuel 20:42)

Fourteen Great Reasons to be Thankful – Part Four

I will praise Gods name verse art for thankful postWishing everyone a Thanksgiving filled with tender mercy and joy as I wind up my series of posts of reasons to be thankful:

#11. I am grateful for being given the privilege to lead: “When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth.” (2 Samuel 23:3-4)

#12. I am blessed with a great team that is helping me build a new ministry: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)

#13. I am thankful for all the friends and experiences that walking the Appalachian Trail has brought me: “. . . because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)

#14. I am thankful for many good friendships: “Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord.’” (1 Samuel 20:42)

When one rules over men verse art for thankful post november 26

Fourteen Great Reasons to be Thankful – Part Three

Stand at the Crossroads. Verse Image for Thankful post November 25This week I’m spreading out what I’m thankful for over four days. Today I’m devoting to family:

#8. I am blessed by the companionship, friendship and love of my wife: “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:10-12)

#9. I am most grateful for the challenges and the blessings of being a father of four children. And my prayer is that they will know and love Jesus as the Father in heaven loves His own Son: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16)

#10. I am blessed by a large extended family: “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 1:39-41)

Fourteen Great Reasons to be Thankful – Part Two

Verse image for November 24 thankful post
Continuing this week’s theme of thanks:

#5. I am grateful to God for hearing my cry for help when I was in great trouble: “. . . and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” (Psalm 50:15)

#6. I am blessed by the gift of each day:Refugee Thanksgiving by Rockwell

Lord, for tomorrow and its needs, I do not pray
Keep me, my God, from stain of sin just for today.
Let me both diligently work, and duly pray,
Let me be kind in word and deed, just for today.
Let me be slow to do my will, prompt to obey;
Help me to sacrifice myself just for today.
And if today my tide of life should ebb away,
Give me thy Sacraments divine, sweet Lord today.
So for tomorrow and its needs I do not pray,
But keep me, guide me, love me, Lord, just for today.
“Just for Today,” Sister Mary Xavier (Sybil F. Partridge)

#7. I am thankful for Stanwich Church, its pastors and leaders: “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18-19)

Fourteen Great Reasons to be Thankful – Part One

BeJoyfulAlwaysx50

This week I’m devoting my blog to the many things I’m thankful for this season. To give them proper attention, I’m posting them in four parts:

#1. A General Thanksgiving: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians: 5:16-18)

#2. I am thankful to God: “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:2-5)

Freedom_of_Worship_Norman_Rockwellx50#3. I am grateful for Jesus Christ: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 4:4-6)

#4. I am overwhelmingly thankful for the gift of the Holy Spirit: “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)