Day 5 – August 5, 2014

This morning has already been full of ups and downs. I received another rejection from a literary agent I had contacted regarding Middle Ground, the Christian romance. Rejection is to be expected, of course. I received more than 70 rejections for the Abigail Phelps books. Of course, there is no great success story to come from that, so perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned that! But you do hear of endless authors who received quite a few rejections before going on to great success. So, okay…fine. But with Middle Ground I feel like my expectations are different. For one thing, the very first agent I queried offered me a contract. Just like that. And I ended up walking away without signing because it just wasn’t the right fit. The next two I queried showed a lot of interest before eventually rejecting me. That was a pretty good start, and I had high hopes. But since then? Nothing but rejection.

I still haven’t received near the number of rejections I received with Abigail. I’m only up to six. Just about any author would tell you six is nothing. Six is just your warm-up. I know all of that. I can handle the rejections. God has a plan, and the six agents obviously weren’t a part of it. Okay. But I can’t help but feel disappointed. I know that there is no guarantee that God will reveal his plan to me quickly, and there is a possibility, of course, that it won’t even be revealed to me in this life. I don’t know. But I hope. Each day I wake up hoping that maybe today will be the day. Maybe all of the hard work will pay off, or at least begin to. Maybe. I can accept the rejection, and I can know that God is still in control, but that doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed.

But then Noah was talking to me about how glad he is that I’m home all the time now. Well, that was a nice little reassurance.

And then I had to pay the bills. I felt encouragement that I was able to pay everything which is due before my husband get paid again, even if we were only left with a tiny bit of spending money. And of course by “spending money” I don’t mean money with which to have frivolous fun. Nope – that amount of money which previously would have been less than my husband and I would spend on a date night now needs to get us our groceries, an oil change, gasoline, and new shoes for the boys. But I’m okay with that. I really am. I know that aspect of it all will be okay. What causes worry is knowing roughly how much money we’ll have coming in the next time around, and knowing that it’s not enough to pay the mortgage payment and the rest of the bills which will be due. God will provide. God will provide. God will provide.

I still – more and more all the time, actually – believe God is telling me to stay home and not get a job. He is telling us to depend on Him for our daily needs, and I know that means that sometimes our needs may not be met until the time comes. So I know that I may not understand how we are going to pay the bills, I just have to trust that if we are following His will for our lives, and striving each day to honor Him, He will provide. He does not set us up to fail. He could have told me to get a job. He could have, but he didn’t. He hasn’t. He isn’t. And He does not set us up to fail when we are striving, with our whole hearts, to honor Him.

Some days, though, I would just love a win. Some days feel powerfully positive, and others are a little darker. The challenge, for me, is to not give in to the darkness. I have to keep knowing what I know, and believing what I believe. I have to keep listening, and I have to keep moving forward. These are all things I know.

But some days I would just love a win.

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Day 3 – August 3, 2014

Well, I called it, didn’t I? Yesterday I said, “Can’t wait to see what You have for me in the sermon at church tomorrow…” In case you didn’t read it, go back to Day 2. The point was God was finding ways to drill the same message in over and over, and I was pretty sure the church sermon would be directed towards me. Our pastor sometimes comments that he hasn’t been reading our e-mail. Have you ever sat through a sermon like that? You just know that someone told the pastor something about you, and so the pastor decided to target the entire service around you? The other 20 or 200 or 2,000 people in the room are just scenery. It’s all about you. Yeah… That.

There were a million things said today which felt as if they were meant solely (Or should that be soully? Ha!) for me, but let’s just start with the very first Bible verse quoted today:

My days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart.  ~ Job 17:11

May I, once again, direct your attention to Day 2?

I don’t know if I really know how to explain where my heart is on all of this. By now, you all know the back story, but just in case you don’t, here is the super speedy summary version: Quit my career (not just a job!) in April, decided not to get another career (or even a job!) because I felt God leading me to stay home, raise my kids, and be an author. No big deal, right? Ha! And again I say, Ha!

I never knew I wanted to be a writer until I was one. And now I feel very strongly that I’m supposed to be. But to do it full-time? To know that, as of now, my monthly income couldn’t buy my family dinner? That’s terrifying. But it’s what I want to do. Absolutely. So to feel God saying, “Go for it”? Remarkable. But I’m a weak, doubting, crazy lady, so remarkable turns into, “Wow. Thank you, Lord! Okay. Here we go. You’re telling me to do this, so I know you’ll make it work. I just have to sell [insert astronomical, completely impossible number here] books a month, and I can afford to do this. Okay, well…I didn’t quite make the quota this month. And the savings, which wasn’t that impressive to begin with, is dwindling. This surely was not what You intended. I get it. You want me to go back to work.”

Oh ME of little faith!

The sermon today discussed some of the possible causes for failure, as found in Proverbs. One of them was, “We fail because we give up too soon.”

But what if I’m wrong? What if I misunderstood? That’s what I’ve been asking myself over and over and over as I watch the little bit of financial cushion we had fade away. Well, today I had an epiphany. I am seeking God’s will. I mean actively, passionately, wholeheartedly seeking it, in a way I never have before. He will honor that. I have made it known (to Him and anyone else who will listen) that the desire of my heart is to stay home – be a wife, a mom, and a writer. But if that’s not His will, I’m begging Him to let me know. But I need for Him to do more than let me know. I need for Him to change the desire of my heart. He will do that for me. I know He will. Why? Because I am seeking, I am begging, and I am desperately trying to follow His desire for my life. There are tests, there are trials, and there are hardships, but my God does not trick people.

So I still don’t know what’s next on the journey, but I do know that I need to stop worrying so much about it. I need to do what He is calling me to do, and I may have to figure out what that is one day at a time, but that’s okay. I can’t think about when the money is going to run out. If I am misunderstanding His call on my life, I have to trust that He will take away my certainty about what I currently believe He is telling me to do, and He will direct it somewhere else. Until then, I have to begin and end each day in gratitude that, for some reason, I actually get to spend this season of my life using the talents He has given me to do exactly what I love to do. That is humbling and overwhelming, and I am so extremely grateful.

Day 2 – August 2, 2014

Do you ever hear God speaking to you? If so, how does He speak to you? There have been times in my life when I have severely needed my spiritual hearing checked. God could have spoken to me through a literal burning bush, and I probably would have rushed to get a bucket of water. But when I am listening to Him – and listening for Him – He speaks to me in remarkable ways. He usually speaks to me through what I am reading, or a sermon at church, or a song. But because He knows how oblivious I can be, He usually uses what I am reading AND a sermon at church AND a song. They will all hit – boom, boom, boom – and they will all be telling me the same thing. And then the Holy Spirit gives me an excitement and a peace regarding whatever call to action is clearly being put before me. Well, I think God just might be trying to tell me something this morning. See what you think…

I’m not making any of this up. I literally read these things this morning, as part of my time with God. And I didn’t intentionally read them. Well, I did… (“No! I won’t read! I WON’T! Oops. Didn’t mean to do that.”) But these just “happened” to be the chapters I got to today in two books I have been reading. I have been reading Praying God’s Will for Your Life by Stormie Omartian for, oh…I don’t know. Years, I guess. Because I always quit when it gets too tough. Too pointed. I always quit when I realize I’m not up for the challenge God is setting before me. I mean, I want God’s will for my life, but not at the expense of totally giving up my will for my life. Just being honest. Well, this time, I want it. I really want it. And yes, there are still things I want, but the difference now is I’m realizing I am never going to be able to get what I want if it isn’t what God wants, because really we want the same things. He just wants them better. (Did that make any sense? Probably not.)

So the chapter I read in Praying God’s Will for Your Life this morning was entitled “Praying to Say Yes to God Each Day of Your Life.” And from that chapter came this painful, hard-hitting, undeniably true little nugget:

The part we don’t want to hear is that a time comes when each of us must place our desires and dreams in the hands of God so that He might free us from those that are not His will. In other words, you secure your future by releasing your dream to God and, if need be, allowing it to die. If you’ve always had a certain picture of what you think you should do, you have to be willing to let the picture be destroyed. If it really is what God has for you, He will raise you up to do that and more. If it isn’t, you will be frustrated as long as you cling to it.

Ouch. But hey…that might not have really been intended for me. I’m also reading Bruce Wilkinson’s The Prayer of Jabez, a fascinating, polarizing little book which I am probably one of the last ten people on earth to read. I decided to read a chapter of that this morning, too. Because surely, in that book, God would tell me “Hey, you’re right on track. Don’t change a thing, kid! You’re gonna be a star. A star, I tell ya’!” (Why does God sound like a Hollywood talent agent in my mind? Does that give you some scary insight into my brain?) Well, hmm… Today I got to chapter three, “Living Large for God,” and in this chapter the author brought up the subject of Arithmetic. Well, first of all…WHAT?! (Side note: I have the dictionary.com Word of the Day widget on my phone, and today I learned something. Did you know there is “a printed punctuation mark, available only in some typefaces, designed to combine the question mark and the exclamation point, indicating a mixture of query and interjection, as after a rhetorical question,” called an interrobang? Fascinating.) Anyway…I hadn’t used or even thought of the word Arithmetic, well, maybe ever. And then the day after I decided to use it for The Year of Blogging Faithfully, it’s being discussed in The Prayer of Jabez, in the very chapter I just “happened” to be reading today?

Bruce Wilkinson wrote of expanding our territory for God’s work, and he said:

For most of us, our reluctance comes from getting our numbers right, but our arithmetic completely wrong. For example, when we’re deciding what size territory God has in mind for us, we keep an equation in our heart that adds up something like this:

My abilities + experience  + training + my personality and appearance + my past + the expectations of others = my assigned territory.

No matter how many sermons we’ve heard about God’s power to work through us, we simply gloss over the meaning of that one little word through. Sure, we say we want God to work through us, but what we really mean is by or in association with. Yet God’s reminder to us is the same one He gave the Jews when they returned from captivity to a decimated homeland: “Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

Our God specializes in working through normal people who believe in a supernormal God who will do His work through them. What He’s waiting for in the invitation. That means God’s math would look more like this:

My willingness and weakness + God’s will and supernatural power = my expanding territory.

Double ouch. But that’s okay, because that could really all just be an amazing coincidence. If only I hadn’t had my headphones on while I read. If only I hadn’t been listening to a playlist with more than 70 songs on it, and if only the one which “happened” to play hadn’t been “I’m Letting Go” by Francesca Battistelli.

 

I’m letting go
Of the life I planned for me
And my dreams.
Losing control
Of my destiny.
Feels like I’m falling and that’s what it’s like to believe.
So I’m letting go.

This is a giant leap of faith,
Trusting and trying to embrace
The fear of the unknown,
Beyond my comfort zone.

Okay, God. I’m putting down my bucket of water now. Can’t wait to see what You have for me in the sermon at church tomorrow…