For my birthday, Mary gave me Holley Gerth's God-Sized Dream devotional. Wait a minute, I need to back up to last summer. We were helping Mary and Mark do some purging in preparation for putting their house on the market. Mary had a copy of Mark Batterson's The Circle Maker, which struck a chord and revolutionized my personal vision. Those two books have provided much inspiration and direction, and I'm thankful Gerth and Batterson have chosen to answer the call to share their gifts of writing with others.
This summer, James helped me create and publish this blog. Having my own blog opened the doors to several Christian women's blogs that I have been enjoying and learning from ever since.
A rapidly depleting phone battery in August, led me to my T Mobile provider. An hour later I walked out with a new phone and a Samsung Note, connecting me anywhere, anytime to the blogs I'd discovered. The Note also introduced me to ebooks by my favorite bloggers. (My sister and students are so pleased I've slipped a little further into the 21st century.)
Thanks to so many available formats, I'm pretty sure I've done more reading in the last year than I have in the last ten years. (How ridiculous for an elementary teacher who was teaching reading to not have time to read for herself.)
As I read, and listened, and read some more, then reread, a couple of seemingly tailor-made messages for me began to emerge: 1. My job is to obey and trust the Lord. 2. I need to focus my personal vision and chase it with all the passion, resources and energy I can muster.
Great! This is incredibly liberating, but also overwhelming at times. After months of learning, and internalizing, an inner conflict began to develop. Something just wasn't clicking, but what was it?
During these last months, sometimes I felt like I had slipped back into middle school. Real or imagined, it seemed there was a collegiality between many of the writers/bloggers/speakers that I'd been learning from. Here's where Satan found a gap to insidiously slip in. It felt like all these teachers were part of a "club" that I didn't belong to. I told you it was like middle school. Pretty silly, right?
You see, all the teachers I'd been listening to and reading, directed their messages to adults. While I obviously blog for an adult audience, I think of myself as a children's author. I'd never fit into the imaginary club. Another middle school flashback.
Then Satan really began his attack. Soon I began to compare the children's literature I've been writing, and the adult Christian literature I'd been reading. Another flashback, and a hurtful one because in my faulty comparison I always came up short. Bottom line, I began to doubt my dream and gifts. Who would want to buy, read or share a kids' book by an unknown writer? I know, my mature, rational brain reminded me of the fallacies in comparing apples and oranges. The big mouth middle school brain just whined.
As I was looking for something on a bookshelf the other day, there sat Batterson's book. I remembered a line that said if you believe you're supposed to write, then write, whether anyone else reads it of not, just write. On the same shelf was another book from Mary, Wilkinson's book, The Dream Giver that reminded me of the uniqueness of dreams, and warned of attacks on dreams.
Suffice it to say I'd been feeling a little like Kermit, lonely and discouraged. But, with renewed inspiration, I'm trying to be brave and confident in the face of loneliness and discouragement. Brave in knowing the Lord is my shield and my buckler (Psalm 91:4 RSV). Confident in knowing He will never leave or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).
Trying to be brave and confident, for me, means I'm going to keep using the literary gifts God's given me to write books for kids with a message of love, hope and forgiveness. I'm going to continue to seek His will and His guidance for each step of the way. And finally, I'm going to stop comparing my gifts and handiwork to others. Your prayers for sticking to these decisions will be greatly appreciated.
If you've recently found yourself hanging out in a swamp, I'd love for you to join me on my lily pad where we can celebrate our glorious individuality and praise the One who created us.
11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.