I so wish I could announce the glorious news that my book proposal was picked up by an amazing publishing house after being fought over by numerous agents, and that I was basking in the glow of being a published author. But….that would be a total lie.
The fact is, I have heard nothing, nada, zip, zero back from the one agent who has my proposal. “Tails of Hope” sits in my computer just waiting. I want to get back to it and rework some things, but I haven’t been able to find the time to do so.
I have this dream, and I believe it is a God-inspired dream, to have my book published so that the message of beauty from brokenness and hope in the midst of hurting can be shared with many. I am not giving up on that dream at all, but I am realizing that the pause button has been hit on that dream.
It is frustrating to have your dream paused, but when you have given your dream to God and you trust Him with the results, it is easier to accept the pause. That’s not to say I don’t have my moments. Every time I look at my manuscript sitting on my desk I want to scream, “Lord, why is this not happening?!?!” Every time I am given a new writing assignment I am eager but also frustrated by the fact that it will take more time away from editing “Tails of Hope.”
One thing I have learned during this period of waiting is the importance of staying in the Word. My eyes are too easily drawn away from God’s purpose when I am stuck in a pause. It becomes too easy to resent another’s success, to question my calling, to grow weary in day to day responsibilities, and to begrudge new writing assignments when I am focused only on my desire to accomplish my dream.
By remaining in God’s Word I force my eyes to look to Him. His Word becomes the filter by which I see things and react to them. My spirit stays sensitive to His prompting. Only by holding tightly to His Word can I rejoice in another’s success, feel secure in God’s calling on my life, face everyday responsibilities with joy, and gratefully embrace each new writing opportunity He brings my way.
My dream may be on pause right now, but my life is not. God can (and will) still use us during the pauses in our lives. He calls us to be faithful to Him in the big things and the small. He sends opportunities our way which may not look big or flashy, but are just as (if not more) important to His Kingdom than the bigger flashier assignments we think we want.
Do you feel as if you are on a pause? I would encourage you to cling to God’s Word. Start your day by reading a small portion of the Bible. A great way to begin a day is by reading a Psalm. As you read ask God to reveal a truth to you. Look for a lesson from the verses and then ask yourself how that applies to you right now. Throughout the day meditate on a verse, download a daily devotional like “Jesus Calling” to your phone. Saturate yourself with God’s Word, and I promise that you will begin to see things different. Suddenly your pause will feel more like a time of refreshing for your soul as you sit with your Creator.
Waiting is hard, but waiting while resting in the arms of The Father is a beautiful place to be.
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Last Sunday my family went to a Japanese restaurant. My daughter is always quite fascinated and amused by the statue they have of the “guy with the big belly.” My son (who is now in 7th grade and therefore an expert on all things) informed her that the statue was of a false god called Buddha. They then proceeded to have a discussion on the living God versus false (or as they kept calling them, little “g”) gods.
My daughter then stands up and boldly announces that she will never worship Bubba! (and to that we all said “Hallelujah!”)
Sunshine Truth: Thou shalt have no other Bubba before Me! 🙂
If you have a Dose of Sunshine you would like to share on this blog please email it to me at email@example.com
Fear. That relentless nemesis so proficient at striking us where we are most vulnerable: our kids, our future, our health, our safety, our insecurities.
Fear. An enemy that often goes around disguised as something else: anger, ambition, obsession, hunger, inaction.
Fear. A ruthless slave master binding the hands and feet of those he takes captive.
Fear. No match for the God of the Universe who says to us: “Do not fear for I AM with you…” (Isaiah 41:10)
With a new school year starting, fear has been a topic around our house recently. Kids: Will I like my teacher? What if I don’t have any friends in my class? Can I do the work? Me: Will my kids be safe at school? Can I do this again? Are we doing an ok job of parenting?
As the questions started rapid firing, I recognized the work of my persistent enemy: fear. But this time something was different. I was different. “Oh no you don’t,” I said to my familiar foe, “See, I’m no longer a slave to fear – I am a child of God.”
This mantra has been on a continuous loop in my head thanks to the song, “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music. I LOVE this song and the profound truth it proclaims.
Seriously, say these words out loud (ok so maybe whisper them if you’re at work): “I’m no longer a slave to fear – I am a child of God.” Those words are game changers for one who trusts in Jesus.
The song was written with the story of the Israelites in mind. They had been in bondage for hundreds of years; held captive by Pharaoh. But then God heard their cry and sent a deliverer to free them. God rescued them from their bondage and made a way for them to enter the Promised Land.
The song is rich with parallels to the Gospel: We are all in bondage to sin and fear of death; we are held captive by the curse of the law we could never keep on our own; God sent Jesus to be our Deliverer and to free us from our bondage to sin and fear; God parted the great chasm between our sin and His righteousness through His Son’s death on the cross; God invites us to come into His Kingdom by way of Jesus.
For those who have trusted Jesus and have walked away from bondage and into His freedom, we don’t have to be afraid of what is to come. Fear has no power over us because we are the blood bought children of God!
Does that mean everything is going to be hearts, rainbows and unicorns? Absolutely not! But it does mean that the One who freed us and the One who holds this entire universe together knows our names and loves us fiercely. We are His and He is ours. He has already defeated satan and death and nothing can separate us from Him.
I can trust that He knows better than I do, that He loves my kids more than I do, that He is working in their lives for their good, and that He will make all things right one day.
So this year I choose trust over fear. Will fear still come calling? Oh yes it will. But my heavenly Daddy is way bigger than my old enemy, and I will let Him fight my fear. And while He fights it, I will keep singing my theme song: “I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a CHILD OF GOD.”
Kids provide such joy as well as opportunities for adults to practice self-control 🙂 Every Friday I will post a little dose of sunshine (a term my Grandmother used): a funny, sweet or profound moment brought to us by a child.
The newness of summer vacation had worn off and my kids were bored. Naturally, they preferred pushing each others buttons over any other toy or activity. My 12 year old son, who is quite gifted in the art of button pushing, had gotten on his 7 year old sister’s last nerve. With an exasperated scream she stormed off to her room. About 2 minutes later I hear my darling son try to gain entrance into her room. This attempted and unwanted entry resulted in the following screaming match conversation:
Daughter: “GET OUT!!!!!!!”
Son: “I just want to play.”
D: “Leave me alone!!!!”
S: “Why? What are you doing?”
D: (scream of frustration unlike any other human sound) “I AM TRYING TO PRAY FOR PATIENCE SO I DON’T HURT YOU! NOW LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!”
S: “Oh, um….ok. Uh…thanks.”
Sunshine Truth: Sometimes a girl just needs to be alone to pray 😉
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Summer was in full swing. One day effortlessly merged into the next as I basked in the glow of the unscheduled nature of summer vacation: the time of respite given to weary students, teachers, and parents so we can fill our depleted souls in order to do it all over again in late August.
I love summer with a fierce passion. I treasure the unscheduled lazy days (well at least until late July when the kids start using each other as squeaky toys and boredom turns normally lovely little creatures into potential spawns of…..sorry I digress)
As I was saying, I love summer and this one was no exception. Things were going beautifully until my world started spinning…literally.
I was doing my thing: writing, swimming the with kids, taking naps, running errands etc and felt confident in doing such normal tasks. Yet day after day I began to notice that things felt a little “off.” Driving required extra concentration. A carousal ride left me sitting on my horse wondering when this particular park went to mock 4 speeds. Naps went from a luxury to a necessity. And floors seemed to move under my feet.
I tried to manage things on my own, convincing myself that I was just tired or imagining things, but my symptoms worsened. When I could no longer stand up without swaying I admitted defeat and went to the doctor.
The doctor listened patiently and did all the normal investigative doctor things then looked at me and said that I have a bad case of vertigo caused by eustachian tube dysfunction. (Yep, I now have a piece of paper that says I’m dysfunctional. great!)
As I sat swaying on the exam table I asked if he could see a lot of fluid in my ears. “Nope. Your outer ears are totally clear. In fact I can see no outside sign of a problem. On the outside you look fine (except for the little bit of swaying). The problem is all internal – in your middle ear. ”
I took my small booklet of prescriptions and went on my merry swaying way. But as I waited in the pharmacy for the pills that would stop my world from spinning I began to process the deeper truth of what the doctor told me. “On the outside you look fine…the problem is all internal.”
Wow! Have truer words every been spoken? How fine do we all look on the outside (ok so some probably look more fine than others) but what pain and dysfunction do we carry inside? And what kind of damage could that pain and dysfunction do in the long run?
Ignoring pain never works. The pain either grows or gets masked by other destructive means. Ignoring a problem only results in the birth of new problems. I tried to ignore my symptoms at first, but it did not take long for me to feel like a ship had tossed me around and then sailed right over me leaving me flattened in its wake.
So many things in life can be like that right? Grief, betrayal, sickness, and even a fading walk with the Lord. We can pretend things are fine and we can look great on the outside, but inside we are falling apart and the pain becomes to great to ignore.
Are you struggling today? Has it become impossible to pretend things are fine? Friend, please know that you are not alone. You have a Father who loves you more than you can imagine. He knows the pain of a broken heart and a broken body. He longs to bear the weight of your pain, and to hold you in His loving arms. Run to Him. Talk to Him.
He has also given us each other. We are called to bear one another’s burdens. Seek godly counsel. Seek medical or professional help if needed.
Today let’s not be afraid to share someone’s pain. Let’s ask “How are you?” and mean it and then stick around to hear the answer.
Let’s ask someone for help. And maybe for one day, let’s take off the “I’m fine” mask and tell someone “I’m hurting.”
Let’s hold onto each other through the dizzy times and wait with great expectation for the day when Jesus will return to make ALL things right.
I would love to pray for you today. If I can join you in prayer please leave a comment below or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
My precious Grandmother used to tell me that a day without me was like a day without sunshine. (yep, she was pretty awesome!) Her frame was small but her heart was huge. She fiercely loved her family and friends – a fact I realized at a very young age while having a sleep over at her house. We laid in bed giggling about silly things and enjoying being together. Then the room quieted for a minute and she said, “Sugar, it’s time for us to pray for the family God has blessed us with.” I gladly agreed expecting the usual, “God bless our family” kind of prayer. This was not that prayer.
My sweet Grandmother, Grace, proceeded to pray the longest prayer I had ever heard as she prayed for each family member by name. And while I am an only child, I come from a very large extended family. She prayed for each and every one of us by name, asking God to do something specific in each of our lives. I remember the feeling of warmth that flooded my heart when she got to me. I hung on every word as she talked to the Creator of the universe about me. It almost seemed as though I was intruding on a private conversation between her and the Lord. She continued to pray long after my eyes closed and sleep claimed my little body.
I know for a fact that she continued that practice until her own eyes were closed on this earth and Heaven claimed her sweet soul. She was precious and beautiful and I still miss her everyday, but I rejoice in knowing that she is with the God she loved so very much, and can now talk to Him face to face. I also take great comfort from knowing that the prayers she prayed throughout her life are still bearing fruit even today.
Now that I’ve made myself cry! I’ll get to the point of this post: In addition to her mighty faith and earth moving prayers, my Grandmother loved to laugh. The things that most often brought a giggle from her lips involved things her grandkids or great-grandkids did or said. She would tell me that the little ones were her daily dose of sunshine. I have loved recording my own kid’s funny or sweet sayings in my journal or on facebook, and I would love to have a space on this blog to record both mine and your children’s sunshine moments too.
So often our kids help us SEE ourselves, God, or a life truth in a whole new way by something they say or do. I would love to record the funny, the sweet, and the ironic moments that help us see the joy of our Savior. Don’t you know how God must laugh and take such delight in His little ones (and big ones).
I would love to hear the kid stories that have warmed your heart and provided you with sunshine on a dark day. You could write an amusing or touching story in the comments on this post or email me directly at email@example.com
Every Friday I will have a “Dose of Sunshine” post. We can all be encouraged, or share a laugh, as we read the amusing and sweet antics of God’s littlest lambs.
I will choose one story to post each week and will let you know the week your story will be posted. Feel free to include a picture if you would like, but you certainly don’t have to. I can’t wait to read about your kiddos!
Here is a Dose of Sunshine for today:
When my son was about 3, we were reading the story of Jonah and the whale. He listened attentively throughout the story. When the story was over, I noticed that he had a very concerned look on his face. I asked him what was wrong. He looked at me right in the eyes and said, “Andrew go time-out in whale too??? No time-out in whale!” I smiled, amazed at his understanding of that story, “No sweetie, you will not have to have a time-out in a whale. That was just for Jonah.” But oh what a time-out that was!!!
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There were so many lessons learned and Holy Spirit moments during the She Speaks conference I attended last year, yet one stands out above all the rest; and it was one I almost missed. Why did I almost miss it? Because it was outside of my “normal church experience” comfort zone.
The last seminar I attended that weekend was titled, “Discovering God’s Power in Your Life and Ministry.” It was a three hour seminar late on Saturday afternoon. My brain was fried, my feet were sore, and I was hungry. A friend and I lingered over a much needed cup of coffee which resulted in us joining the seminar late and playing the role of back-row Baptist. I will admit that my attention span rivaled that of a squirrel as I sat in my far too comfy chair.
My head was not in the game, but thankfully God just wanted my heart. As Wendy Blight began speaking I couldn’t help but listen. Her testimony of surviving a horrific assault, living with paralyzing fear, and then being freed from that fear by the Word of God was moving and powerful. Her tone was quiet and meek, yet her message was fierce and bold. It was beautiful.
I sat memorized by her story. I wanted to run up and give her a hug, convinced we could become fast friends. I wanted to soak up her wisdom like a sponge. As I was gathering my nerve to go speak to her after the seminar, I heard her say something which pushed me right back in my chair, and threatened to push me right out the door. “Ladies, we want to pray over each one of you and anoint you with oil as we send you out as lights in this dark world.”
“Um, I’m sorry. What was that about oil and anointing? Ummm God, I’m a Southern Baptist girl. I do sweet tea, fried chicken, and an occasional ‘amen’…. but I don’t do oil.”
I am embarrassed to admit this, but I really started freaking out a little bit. Why? Because it was different than what I was used to. I was scared of being anointed! Really???
A spiritual battle waged within as negotiations started: “God, I have to go to the bathroom.” (His answer: Who made your bladder? You can hold it.) “Whatever, You win that one Lord.”
“Aimee is finishing up with her publishing appointment, I should be there to support her.” (text comes through – Aimee is one her way back.) “Awesome..super.”
“I haven’t even looked at the Sunday school lesson I’m teaching tomorrow, I should excuse myself to go prepare.” (Sit down Jen and just be still.)
I as sat and stewed prayed, women began walking toward the front of the room. One by one they were anointed with a drop of oil and prayed for by name. These were not symbolic prayers. These were not cookie cutter prayers. These were heaven bending – earth moving prayers! As I waited for my row to go up, I felt God whisper: Do you want what you can do, or what I can do? Do you want your plan or mine?
“Yours Lord, only Yours!” I wanted to shout back (but I am way too Southern Baptist to shout out during a quiet prayer 😉 So I sat there and surrendered everything to Him: my book, my goals, my plans, my future, myself.
It was finally our turn. I made my way to the front where precious Wendy dabbed the most amazing smelling oil on my forehead, placed her hand on the top of my head and prayed over me. She prayed over me almost the exact same prayer I had just silently prayed moments before! I could not hold back my tears or speak a word to her. But I did get to hug her 🙂
Obviously the oil had no power, but it was a beautiful symbol of the One who has all power. And to think that I almost missed one of the most sacred moments of my life because it was out of my churchy comfort-zone. The experience made me wonder: what else could I be missing because it is different than what I am used to?
I am so thankful that God put me in my place that day and kept me there. I would not have traded that experience for anything. As doubts creep in about my writing path and as I continually surrender my plan to His, l will reflect back to that moment and remember that this is not about me – it is all about Him. And when it is all about Him, then personal preferences and styles no longer matter – and oh what a glorious world that would be!
May 2016 update: The God-confidence I gained at She Speaks has been invaluable to me. That is where I finally gave myself permission to pursue my dream (and God’s plan) of becoming a writer. After attending the conference, God brought a literary agent into my life and really cool things are happening. Things I will be able to share soon. I am so grateful to She Speaks, to Wendy Blight, and most of all to the God who delights when we surrender our plans and our will to His. Besides His plan is always SO much better than mine!