Dreams Coming True is a Thursday feature on my blog, a way to highlight those whose goal is to create community. The dream might be a blog, a published book, a small business, volunteering, or even fundraising for a charity. Something that makes the world a better place . . . for others.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT).
Welcome Heather Gray, founder of Finish Strong Ministries and author of Faith, Hope, Love, and Deployment, to Dreams Coming True! Leave a comment on this post to enter to win a copy of Faith, Hope, Love, and Deployment!
Tell us a little about yourself, Heather:
I graduated from Charleston Southern University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. While a student there I met my husband, David. He commissioned into the Air Force in 2001, and we were married that same year. Together we had three children, Nyah, Garrett, and Ava. In 2012, David was deployed in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, and on August 8th when he attempted to respond to a suicide bomb attack, he was killed in a second blast. We were blessed to spend 11 years together.
When did this creative dream begin? How did this project get started?
In 2012, I set out looking for a military couple’s devotional for us to do together while he was deployed. At a local Christian bookstore, my search quickly reached a dead end. But while there, I ran into a four-star general and his wife. Striking up a conversation we realized that there didn’t seem to be anything like what I was looking for. They commented that I should just write one. As the conversation was concluding, they took my information and said they were going to ask the Chaplaincy if they knew of anything and would get back to me. A couple weeks later I received a phone call from a chaplain who informed me that he was assigning a chaplain to my project! I quickly informed him that I had no project. To which he replied, “Oh yes, you do.” The next thing I know, I’m writing Faith, Hope, Love, & Deployment.
What makes your project stand out from the crowd?
This project was born from the environment in which it is intended to be used. Written for deployed couples while we were ourselves enduring deployment. It is different from others written because it incorporates a number of elements . . . scripture memorization, conversation starters, and my favorite . . . the lost art of letter writing, in order to bring a multifaceted approach to keeping the military marriage flourishing.
Many have creative ideas but trouble following through with them. What advice would you give to creative types who start projects eagerly . . . but then enthusiasm drizzles off?
That is the nature of a creative! Full of ideas that come quickly and sometimes before the project even grows legs, that creative mind is on to the next idea. I personally think that is where one must internalize the verse that I use to remind myself to finish what I start,
Being confidant of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion . . . . Philippians 1:6.
If God isn’t giving up on seeing me, his creative project, then how much more should I be willing to see through to completion that which I feel He has called me start?
What are some ways you promote your project?
I am the founder of Finish Strong Ministries, a 501c3 dedicated to sharing a message of hope and resiliency to audiences across the globe. I started the organization because I realized that it is in our pain and trials that God is truly able to best reveal himself and work redemption. My husband said to me during my first 5K run, “It matters less how well you run this race . . . just finish strong.” After his death, those words and a lot of prayer, propelled me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And standing on my belief that God only gives stories to those willing to tell them, I wanted a way to share our story with others and encourage them to never give up.
Facebook is a great tool for reaching large numbers of people easily.
What advice would you give someone else who has a creative dream like yours?
Someone once told me that God only gives stories to those willing to tell them. My creativity comes from a love a storytelling and a sincere belief that God really does only allow trials and hard times because he knows it will ultimately be for our good and the good of those around us who are inspired by our resiliency. So my advice to others would be an encouragement to not be afraid to tell your story. If you pray for discernment, God will give you eyes to see and ears to hear and will reveal the way He is weaving a divine tapestry in your life that translates into the story He wishes you to use for His glory.
Where do you see this project in five years?
My prayer is that this project will transcend time and have longevity in its ability to minister to military couples. Even when the wars die down and there is peace again, military couples still face the struggles of separation from training and extended TDYs so there will always be a need for this.
How can we find your creative dream come true?
Celebrate Spring and the release of The Rescue with Suzanne’s “Birds of Springstagram” giveaway! Click here to learn more about how you can enter!