The Road to Spain, Update 4 ~ Mental Readiness

As the countdown calendar on my blog has turned to days (28 as of today) until I arrive in Spain, I feel the pressure mounting to get things done.  I have struggled with an internal battle in my mind—highs and lows—that leave me emotionally exhausted and stressed.

Immersing in the language

Immersing in the language

I suppose it’s only natural considering that I’m short on funds for the trip, wrapping up a challenging high school transition year for my son, and making decisions for a major remodel project on our home that will take place while I’m gone.  It has been hard to put all of that aside and cling to the joy that awaits me in Spain.

Over these last several months, the Lord has stripped me of so many expectations.  It started with the cancellation of a side trip to France to share my testimony.  Then there was the letting go of my desire to speak in Spain.  Last week I had another reality check when I realized that the Spanish Ebook for “Walking My Mother Home” won’t be ready in time.

As painful as those realizations have been, letting go of those expectations is allowing me to focus more on preparing my body, mind, and spirit for the trip.  (See my last Spain update for how I am preparing my body.)

Immersing in the country

Immersing in the country

Immersing my Mind

The biggest task to preparing mentally is to learn Spanish.  Although I took two years of Spanish in high school (way too many years ago), I knew re-learning would be difficult.  I hate having to rely so heavily on this family being my constant translator.  (Lo siento, Pedro.)  Besides that, the last week of my trip I’m on my own.  Regardless of how much I learn by June 24th, I am hoping that being immersed in the language and culture for six weeks will allow the language to just sink in to some degree.

I’ve also been immersing myself in the music, and reading about Spain in my spare time.  My love of Spanish music started three years ago after a gift of CDs from Pedro’s family.  My family has long since tired of hearing them, but not me.  I can almost sing the lyrics myself, but I have no idea what they mean.

Immersing in the music

Immersing in the music

Another way I am preparing for this trip is to de-clutter my mind.  I turned off the audible email alerts on my smart phone.  Unfortunately, I noticed I had an unnerving habit of checking my phone for messages.  (Can anyone relate to that?)  So last week, I unsubscribed to virtually every email list that I was on.  I was shocked to see that I had over 50 bloggers and marketing companies bombarding me with email.

The last piece of immersion I will do over the next few weeks is to re-read parts of my journal and emails during the time that Rosa and I first started to communicate.  I want to be in a frame of mind that makes those memories easy to access so Rosa and I can talk about it.  But if the story immersion doesn’t happen, I’ll need to let go of those expectations as well.

It’s a First!28 Days to Spain

This trip is the trip of a lifetime for me.  At times I fear it may be my only trip to Spain and try to pack in everything I can possibly think of to do or to prepare.  (My day job used to be as a project manager, by the way.)  Other times I am in such awe of how God has orchestrated this relationship and can’t imagine there not being future trips or a full-length book being published. That is the essence of the war that seems to be going on in my mind.

I know my mind will be at ease by the time I step off that plane.  My challenge for the next 28 days is to remember that regardless of whether or not there are future trips to Spain or what gets done in advance, there will never be the anticipation for my first trip to Spain or the first time I meet Rosa.  That is what I need to hold onto over the next four weeks.  That, and lots of prayer are the best defense for my mental readiness for Spain.

Reclaiming Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day forever changed for me in May 2010. That was the last time I saw my mother alive.  It was also her last Mother’s Day.  Previous to that day I think the last time we were together on Mother’s Day was my senior year in high school—a span of 35 years.

Happy Mother's DaySeparated by Mental Illness

Over those many years Mother’s Day wasn’t something I looked forward to.  It was a day of obligatory cards or calls. She was remarried (again) and happy it seemed—that is until her husband died.  After that she drifted in and out of mental hospitals and eventually became a ward of the state.

I had tremendous guilt about my relationship with her.  I wanted a mother, but didn’t want her to be my mother.  Due to her mental illness and emotional instability she wasn’t able to teach me how to be a mother myself.  I had to figure it out on my own.  I didn’t hold that against her.  After all, I was pretty self-sufficient in those days.  I just accepted that she was mentally ill.  I chose to distance myself from her physically and emotionally and told myself it was for my own sanity.

Coming Together Again

My final Mother's Day gift to my mom

My final Mother’s Day gift to my mom

When mom had her stroke in 2009, God nudged me back by her side for two visits. The Lord was working on my heart on those trips.  As she lingered on hospice, living day to day with the aid of a feeding tube, God was making it clear His work wasn’t done between us yet.  That led me to that last visit on Mother’s Day 2010.

Between that trip—the last time I saw her alive—and the day she passed away nine months later, Pedro and Rosa, my Spanish family, entered our lives.  And the rest, as they say, is history—forever documented in Journeys to Mother Love.

Mother’s Day Reclaimed

Those first few Mother’s Days after she passed away were hard for me.  I deliberately spent them entrenched with my immediate family, to distract me from those painful reminders.  Now, I celebrate Mother’s Day with Rosa, as my kindred spirit of mother love—although it is one week earlier in Spain.

Mother's Day Gift of LifeAs strange as it may sound, I feel like every day is Mother’s Day to me now.  My mom’s death in February 2011 brought about a rebirth in me that forever changed the way I view my life and Mother’s Day.

It was as if her death brought me life, not because of any burden I was carrying of guilt or shame, as some might do.  It was because I got in touch with pieces of myself that were previously buried deep within me—parts of my identity that weren’t ok to express.   God revealed to me in her passing that I am beautifully and wonderfully made in ways like my mother that I couldn’t bear to embrace before.

So every day really is Mother’s Day to me, because of my gratitude to my mom, and to the Lord for giving me back my life.  I have reclaimed the real purpose of Mother’s Day in my life.  It is the incredible gift that mother’s give to everyone—the gift of life.

Regardless of the status of your relationship with your mother, my wish for you is a Mother’s Day that is filled with pleasant memories and gratitude to the one who gave you life.

Journeys To Mother LoveMore “Journeys to Mother Love” & Free Ebook

If this is the first time you’ve stumbled upon my blog, I encourage you to also check out journeystomotherlove.com, the blog hosted by Cladach Publishing, the publisher of Journeys to Mother Love.  This blog, dedicated to encouraging each other in mother/child relationship healing, is authored by the nine contributors to “Journeys to Mother Love”, and invites others to share their stories.

Now through Monday, May 13, 2013, get your free Kindle ebook of Journeys to Mother Love at Amazon.com.  Since this is free, after you’ve read the book, would you do me and my publisher a huge favor by writing a review? And don’t forget to subscribe, follow, like, pin, press this or share in your favorite social media!

May these stories inspire you on your journey to mother love.  Happy Mother’s Day!

The Call to Speak, Part 1 – A Toast to the Lord

I recently took a bold step forward on my journey toward Spain.  It started six months ago as I was preparing for the release of my book, Journeys to Mother Love.  I spoke at my Open House and shared with the attendees the desires that God placed on my heart to share my story in bigger ways—beyond the book.  I felt God calling me to publicly speak.  The speaking wasn’t just in what you’d consider normal ministry settings, but it was to speak in Spain.

Qualified to Speak?

I’ve been at ease in front of a podium for many years as my responsibilities in my secular jobs included leading large meetings, training employees and supervising staff.  But I didn’t start out that way.  I had fear and insecurity about my ability to speak in those settings.  In time those fears subsided as I became more comfortable in my positions with those companies.  Quite frankly, I was pretty self-sufficient in those days too, not really seeking God’s help, just doing it on my own—without any formal training.

MicrophoneWhen I started serving in ministry, I had to put aside my self-sufficiency and start relying on God.  I overcame my doubts and thinking I was unqualified and unworthy to lead others in their spiritual growth.  As I stepped out of my comfort zone, He reassured me and gave me increasingly bigger opportunities to point people to Him.  But speaking in a foreign country, where I don’t even know the language?  That feels a bit unbelievable to me at times.  I know that God is going before me though, so I continue to trust that He has the venues lining up in the spiritual realms.

My part in all of this is to write the speeches, build my speaking skills and practice in front of a live audience.  With less than four months before I arrive in Spain, I knew I needed to ramp up my speaking skills quickly.  The best way to do that is in the safety of a group of fellow speaking enthusiasts, the Toastmasters.

Confirmation to Speak

Over the last several months, I’ve received repeated confirmations to pursue speaking in Spain as several Spanish contacts have started to cross my path.  The most recent of those was when I looked into joining a Toastmasters group that was forming in my hometown.  It isn’t a normal Toastmasters club, but is a Christian club known as “A Toast to the Lord”.

ToastmastersI first heard about Toastmasters several years ago when a staff member told me about their participation in a group meeting over lunch.  I declined his invitation then, but it must’ve struck a chord with me at some level to remember it all these years later.  Then last summer when I started to work on my branding and platform, my publishing coach, Athena Dean from Book Jolt, recommended that I join Toastmasters.  When I found out that by joining this group I would also be welcomed to speak at Toastmasters clubs in Spain, I eagerly began working on my first speech and joined the club.

The first speech in the training program is the icebreaker.  In less than a day, I wrote the speech, rehearsed it, recorded it and listened to it several times—no nervousness or anxiety.  I took that as a good sign that the story is becoming more integrated into my life.  On the way to the meeting I prayed for confirmation of these next steps on my journey.

One of the benefits of belonging to a Toastmaster’s club are the evaluations received by other Toastmasters.  The written evaluations were definitely confirmation of my next steps as they were full of adjectives that encouraged me to share this inspiring and emotional story.  I won’t share them here, lest you think I am boasting.  As the title of my blog indicates though, He is Making Me Bold.  Any boasting that I do is out of my love for the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).  Now with my new role as a Toastmaster, I can boast and toast to the Lord at the same time.

Habla Espanol¿Habla Español?

What about not knowing the language?  I’m focusing my speaking engagements on English speaking venues or those with translators available.  If necessary, I know I can rely on Pedro or Rosa to translate as well.   I’ll also cram in a Spanish refresher course before I step on the plane in June.

Do I still question my qualifications to speak in Spain?  From time to time I do hear that little voice in my head trying to tell me I won’t be ready or that this is all a crazy dream.  But to keep me humble and leaning on Him, I like to recall something I heard when I first started serving in ministry: “God doesn’t call the qualifed, He qualifies the called”.

So while I’m still on American soil, Toastmasters is my next step of obedience as I become more equipped and qualifed to speak in Spain and beyond.  I’m proud to share the microphone, podium, stage or stump with Him.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the series to read my speech and evaluate it for yourselves.

NaNoWriMo Lessons Learned, Part 1 – Writing Takeaways

30 days and nights of literary abandon is a pretty accurate assessment of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  As a result, November was a total blur to me!

By the end of the day on November 30, I reached my personal writing goals for the month: over 30,000 words (90 pages) on my memoir and getting through 6 tough chapters of personal highs and lows in my life.  I also kept up with my other writing and marketing commitments (another 30,000 words), dealt with some pressing family matters and celebrated my birthday.  Needless to say, I am thrilled with the result.

Writing a bookI started the month hesitant on what to expect, but knew I needed to get off the fence about my memoir.  I started it over a year ago and only wrote a few pages.  I needed this deadline to get moving again. My biggest fear was failure.  It had nothing to do with the possibility of not hitting the 50,000 word threshold.  It was about starting to write and then giving up half-way through the month.  I faced that fear and so much more last month.

As a former project manager one of the key meetings we held as a team at the completion of a project was the lessons learned debriefing.  It was a valuable tool to bring closure to the team, the project, and to move forward with new insights.  My NaNoWriMo project was also full of lessons learned for me—personally and professionally.  I’ll start out with the ‘easy’ lessons learned related to writing.

Writing Lessons Learned

  1. I am a writer. Despite my being published earlier this year, I had occasional doubts about my ability to write.  Over 30,000 words and six chapters later, I put an end to that thought.
  2. I can discipline myself to write.  I set up a schedule to write (or research my memoir) and stuck to it most days.  I now have a distraction free space in my home to continue.
  3. Writing takes a lot of work and is a big commitment.  No more giving lip service to it.  I’m committed to this project.
  4. Writing is a process.  I’ve heard that many times over the past year, but didn’t really understand it until this month.  (This lesson learned is worthy of an entire blog on its own.)  If you are a writer, you know exactly what I mean.
  5. Memoir writing should not be rushed.  There are many nuggets and insights to be gleaned from looking at your life.  By definition, a memoir is a reflection upon key life experiences that make up the person.  When you rush through the writing, it is easy to miss it.  I kept a separate journal of my ‘aha’ moments and processed as much as I could, but it was pretty overwhelming.
  6. Memoir writing is not for everyone.  It includes a painful process of self-examination.  You have to be willing to relive both the good and the bad.  You have to reveal your inner struggle and be vulnerable or else readers won’t be able to identify with your story.  (Again, not for everyone.)

This month long writing exercise was a great opportunity to jump start my memoir.  The result wasn’t necessarily pretty, but it served its purpose for me.  Stay tuned for Part 2 to read about the deeper more personal lessons learned while on my NaNoWriMo adventure.

Using Our Weaknesses

When I started this month of literary abandon, I was nervous I’d embarrass myself and come nowhere near the 50,000 word count that qualifies a NaNoWriMo participant as a winner.   After 11 days, I’ve definitely given up any expectation of writing 50,000 words.  But I haven’t given up the quest.

I am being immersed daily in my memoir, even if I’m not physically writing it.  My mind is on it. I’m pondering the events of my past.  I’m looking for themes in my life and considering which events make the most sense to tie together.  I’m listening to recorded interviews, researching historical information online and talking to family who can help me fill in the gaps.  It’s been a very interesting and healing process.

Coincidences?

For instance, I don’t think it is a coincidence that I am considering medication for my ADD/ADHD after white-knuckling it for so long.  I never would’ve considered taking medication before the healing of my mother wounds.  It was too frightening to me.  In my mind, it was like admitting I was mentally ill.  The stigma was too great.

Times have changed and medicine has advanced tremendously since the time when my mother was given electro convulsive therapy (shock treatment) for her schizophrenia in the 1960s.  Taking medication doesn’t mean defeat or that I am crazy.  Sometimes it is necessary.  I’m finding out how people with schizophrenia and other mental disorders can lead successful careers and make significant contributions to society.  In fact, I recently heard that Bill Gates, George Bush and Steve Arterburn have ADD.  How’s that for good company?

As I pondered these ‘coincidences’ in my life, I sensed God lay a new memoir title on my heart.  It stems from a post I wrote on the “Journeys to Mother Love” blog a few weeks ago, “Emerging from the Cocoon”.  Since the first day when I saw the butterfly on the draft book cover, I knew it was the perfect picture to symbolize my emotional and spiritual transformation.

When We Are Weak…He Is Strong

I’ve given my testimony many times at Celebrate Recovery meetings and spoke openly about my healing journey.  I’m no stranger to sharing my weaknesses and in fact God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  However, what brought me to my knees and into recovery over eight years ago had nothing to do with my mother wounds.

I never thought I’d be publicly known or speak about my mother’s mental illness.  My shame was too great around it and my fears of my own sanity lied precariously on the edge at times.  But now, I know God wants to use the pain of my mother’s mental illness to help others turn healing into hope.  My biggest fear in my identity has been removed and is the foundation from which I can openly speak and connect with others.  It is the compassion and sensitivity—the transformation of my heart—that leads me to write and pursue more of His amazing grace.

So it is with that sense of gratitude and awe that I am digging into my memoir this month with a new working title, “Emerging from the Cocoon: One Woman’s Struggle to Overcome a Legacy of Mental Illness”.  I’m embracing this new season of life and the wonders that God continues to reveal to me as I boldly follow Him.

What’s the theme of your life?  Is God calling you to use your weakness for His glory?  I’d love to hear your comments.

NaNoWriMo–I’m Diving In!

If someone asked you how long you thought it would take to write a book, how would you answer?  Six months?  A year?  Two years?  What would you think if someone told you they were going to write a book in 30 days?  Would you think they were crazy?

That’s what I thought a year ago when I first heard of National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short.  I couldn’t fathom what would motivate a person to do such a thing.  Yet one year later, I am registered to participate in this writing free-for-all along with thousands of other writers around the world (9,500 in Seattle alone)!

November 1 kicks off the start of National Novel Writing Month.  The tag line on NaNoWriMo.org is “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon”.  Abandon means to yield (oneself) without restraint or moderation.  That is a scary prospect—to write with that sort of intensity for a month.  The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  That averages out to 1,667 words per day.

Why would I decide to take on such a big project at this juncture of my writing career?  I need a deadline to get me moving on my next book project.  I’ve been so busy with the release of my story in Journeys to Mother Love this year that my memoir has been on hold.  (If you follow my story, you know that my trip to Spain next summer is a big piece of the writing.  I want to get a skeletal draft of the book done before then.)

Help Along the Way

Thankfully, I will not be alone in this endeavor.  There is a huge online community of other “NaNo” writers.  Last year there were 256,618 participants and 36,843 crossed the finish line.  Finishers get a winner certificate–a hard earned award and coveted milestone on their writing resume.  That is a huge accomplishment.  Win or “lose”, I’ll be further along on my project than I am now.

NaNoWriMo.org is full of tips and support for this month long undertaking.  The main one I have embraced is telling everyone that I am doing this.  The theory behind doing so is to motivate us to avoid humiliation if we don’t cross the finish line with 50,000 words.  That’s a sobbering thought.

I think more than the possible embarrassment of not completing NaNoWriMo is the regret I would feel for not having tried this.  And that brings me to the best piece of advice I’ve found yet; do this for yourself.  So that is what I am doing.  I will be pouring a labor of love into myself this month.  I am searching for the nuggets that need to be called out of my story to share.  I am getting in touch with lost parts of my identity.  I am writing to share the hope and encouragement that following Jesus brings into the deepest parts of our soul.

Letting Go of All Expectations

So if NaNoWriMo is the vehicle I need to get me off the fence, then I’m all in.  I imagine it will turn my life upside down for the next 30 days—including Thanksgiving and my birthday.  I’m telling my friends to not expect to see me, but to pray for me.  I will need lots of encouragement.  (I hear week 2 is especially hard.)

In preparation for this dedicated writing, I have lined up some guest bloggers to fill in for me.  These women have all expressed an interest in writing and blogging.  They have been a source of encouragement to me along my writing path.  I know you will enjoy their stories and what they have to say about how they walk out their faith.

My newest writing prop. All set to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Other than that I have no idea if I will do an occasional post, do updates on Facebook or just fast from all social media and other possible distractions.  I’m trying to let go of all expectations.

Tomorrow, I am taking my next big leap of faith.  As I do the words to “Dive”, a song by Steven Curtis Chapman, are running through my mind.  Like the song says, “sink or swim, I’m diving in”.

Wish me luck, send me notes of encouragement, or better yet, pray that regardless of how many words I complete over the next 30 days that I stay in touch with the bigger purpose that I believe God is calling me too—and that I do it one day at a time.

The Barometer For Success

I am getting nervous.  In less than two weeks I will be an author when my first manuscript, “Walking My Mother Home”, is published.  What started as journaling and a strong desire to write after my mother passed away in February 2011 will be part of a real live book, Journeys to Mother Love, published by Cladach Publishing.

I am elated about this new venture.  I did my part, stepping out of my comfort zone to write this story and God has blessed it.  I’ve received positive feedback and encouragement from friends and family to pursue this dream.   Yet deep inside I am scared about what lies ahead on many different levels.

First of all, the story is very personal.  I wrote it from a place of deep pain.  I’ve been very protective with the manuscript and only shared it with a few people.  In fact, I didn’t even re-read it myself until after it was accepted.  And now I am nervous about telling my story.  It feels pretty vulnerable and risky.

Then there are the financial and promotional aspects of this venture.  I have invested a lot of my time and money into this project.  As a beginning author, I may be naive, but I’m hoping my personal sales from this book make enough money to cover the costs of my pilgrimage to Spain next summer so I can finally meet Rosa and write more of this story.

This all means I’ll need to personally promote the book and myself—build a platform, schedule speaking engagements, book signings, etc.  It’s been a large learning curve.  Thankfully, a friend recommended I consider working with a publishing coach.  I didn’t even know what that was.

Three weeks ago, I hired Athena Dean of Book Jolt, to help me with all of these decisions and the marketing.  These are all things I wouldn’t have imagined myself doing a year ago—and sometimes I’m still on the fence about all of this. Ultimately I do get to choose how much of this I end up doing though.

So as I prepare to launch my book, I am nervous about “success”.  I want the book to make money.  Like most authors, I really don’t want to promote myself.  I am stressed about all the things I still need to do to prepare for the launch.  I am trying to balance this with my other family commitments.

I’ve been pondering the words of a wise friend and mentor, Tamara J. Buchan, about this very subject.  She said, “Faithfulness to the Lord is the barometer of success.”  When I focus on success as being based on my faithfulness to the Lord, then I can release my stress and my desire to control the outcome. I have been faithful and that is what God rewards.  Maybe not how we want–financially, materially, etc., but with the kinds of treasures that really matter.  For me, that’s been
the relationships I’ve gained along the way.

I am nervous, but God has blessed me with amazing healing and is equipping me to take these next steps of obedience.  I am grateful to Him and feel called to share this regardless of how successful it may appear by the world’s standards.  I am gearing up to be faithful—and successful by God’s standards.

What’s your barometer for success?  How do you define it?

Writing: My First Year, Part 4 – Finishing Strong

Almost two months to the day I submitted my manuscript to Cladach Publishing, I received an email that my story was being accepted for publication.  It was the biggest confirmation possible that I really was on the right path with my writing.  Not only was I a writer, but technically I was now going to be an author.  This was such exciting news for me and worthy of a celebration.  (See “Waiting on Pins & Needles” for more information.)

Once the initial shock wore off, my mind was filled with a hundred questions and a new fear sunk in—fear of the unknown.  Thankfully I had a dedicated group of friends supporting and praying for me.  I also knew three authors, Tamara J. Buchan, Henriet Schapelhouman and Michelle Hollomon, who provided wisdom as I ventured into this unknown territory.

I nervously negotiated my contract with the publisher including the retention of the foreign rights in hopes of someday publishing it in Spain.  Over the last five months, I’ve had several conversations and emails with my publisher and been faced with numerous decisions along the way.

I’ve done multiple edits to the manuscript, had photos taken for the book (thanks to a friend’s time and talent), written a one-sheet (publicity document), sought endorsements (Steven Arterburn accepted!), and navigated my website set up.  With less than two months to go before “Journeys to Mother Love” is published, my attention will turn to marketing and promotional aspects of the book and facing more fears.

Over the past year, my writing has definitely taken me into uncharted territory and stretched me outside of my comfort zone.  There was a lot of time spent in prayer and physically spent writing.  The pain in my right arm and shoulder is a reminder of my devotion to this new direction in my life and my need for some self-care.

When I tell people about the events of the last year or that I am going to be published, I am often met with surprise and excitement for these bold changes in me and what God is doing in my life.  I’ve been told that my path to publication is not typical and that it generally takes years to be published.

I don’t say this to boast.  I have to remind myself of this because I know that it is God who has made all of this possible.  I’ve had to do my part, but I believe that He has put these dreams in my heart.  I believe He has given me these confirmations so that I will continue down this path.  He knew that I would need them to continue facing my fears.

Even though I totally sense God in the midst of this, that doesn’t mean it has been easy.  There have been lots of challenges and times of doubt.  When my doubts surface, I remind myself of His faithfulness and His promises.  (Jeremiah 29:11)

So from that day one year ago that I voiced my desire to be a writer, I’ve had to consciously choose to step into this new role in my life.  As I did I was also accepting my identity in Christ more and more.  In doing so, I have found freedom to write what God lays on my heart to write.  The foundational truth that I cling to is that God accepts me unconditionally even if and when my writing is rejected.  I’d have to characterize that as a pretty strong finish to a whirlwind year of writing.

Are you open to following God’s path for you?  Where are you partnering with Him in your life or where are you fighting Him?  What has He revealed to you along the way?  What’s stopping you from finishing strong?  I’d love to hear your story.

Writing: My First Year, Part 3 – Getting Side Tracked

One of the first emails I received after becoming a member of the Northwest Christian Writers Association was a request to submit a story on healing in mother/child relationships.  Although I knew it was tailor made for my story—the reason I felt God calling me to start writing—I didn’t act on it immediately.  Writing a 10,000 word story about my healing with my mother seemed like a luxury.

I had just started blogging, was writing e-devotionals for my church, committed to help launch Celebrate Recovery at my church and took a part-time marketing job for friend and pastor, Tamara J. Buchan.  Tamara was ramping up her team to promote her new book, Identity Crisis: Reclaim the True You.

While I’ve done lots of marketing for my husband’s business over the years, I had never worked in the publishing industry.  I had a large learning curve to overcome in this position.  What appealed to me with this job was that I knew what I learned would be used someday for marketing the book I wanted to write.  I was also drawn to working with Tamara and being so closely mentored by her.

As the deadline for the story submission approached, God kept nudging me to write the story.  My biggest fear was if I wrote the story and it was published that I would never write the bigger book.  One night as I was journaling, I noticed that since my mother died and my writing started, nine months earlier, I had already written 114,000 words in my journal.  That was more than enough for a 200-page book.  That was all I needed to confirm that I have enough material for a book.

But there was one problem still remaining—I needed dedicated time to write the story in the next three weeks.  God was making it pretty clear to me that I couldn’t write this story or my book and also work for Tamara.  It was a painful decision that weighed heavy on my heart.

I loved working with Tamara.  But I realized that continuing down this path was asking God to sanctify my disobedience.  So I quit.  The irony in the situation is that the revelations I discovered about my identity directly correlated with the message in Tamara’s book.  Working for her and reading her book took my faith and trust in God to a higher level—despite the consequences.  It was a big blessing.

I booked a few days away at a camp over Thanksgiving weekend so I could devote quality time to writing the story.  Since I never wrote anything this big or submitted a story for publication, I also hired my writing teacher, Candace Wilson, to coach my writing.  Armed in prayer covering by my friends, loaded down with a huge stack of papers that I’d accumulated over the past two years and my new laptop, I dove into the story.  (See Counting Words for a summary of my writing weekend.)

On December 1, 2011, I submitted my story, “Walking My Mother Home”, to Cladach Publishing. I met my deadline.  I was relieved.  I released the outcome to God.

Have you ever gone down a road that seemed so right, only to find out later that God had other plans?  How did you respond?  Did you fight God, bargain with Him or relinquish control and trust His plans for you?

Riding High After the Writer’s Renewal Conference

After spending two days at the Northwest Christian Writer’s Renewal Conference, I am riding high and a bit on overload.  The conference was jam-packed with workshops and opportunities to meet pre-published writers, authors, agents and editors.  And yes, I deliberately chose the word “pre-published”’ after hearing “Gym” Rubart use it instead of “unpublished”. 
As a first time attender, I was paying attention to everything I heard.  And it wasn’t just the variety of people that I was listening to at this conference.  I was also listening for God’s voice and nudging for confirmation and discernment, and hopefully a neon flashing arrow that pointed in the direction of my next right step.  I think it would’ve been hard to be at the conference and not hear Him calling you to continue on your writing journey.  It was such an amazing place of encouragement to writers at all experience levels.
Like any other new endeavor we try in life, there is bound to be some trepidation and maybe outright fear.  While I know attending this conference was my next right step of obedience, I also know that the harder work is still ahead.  That was the biggest message that I left the conference with—it takes time to write a book, it takes time to hone your craft, it takes time to cultivate relationships, and it takes time to engage in social media.  Even so, spending vast amounts of time on these tasks doesn’t guarantee a publishing contract.
What I think it does do is mold you more into the person God created you to be.  For me, I think it will provide a bigger training ground for trusting God and waiting on His timing.  In other words, to work on two key fruit of the spirit that I still seem to lack—patience and self-control. 
Now it is time for the bigger challenge—to physically write the book that God has laid on my heart to write.  I learned lots of valuable information to move forward on this project, the biggest one from attending Cindy Scinto’s class on outlining.  Even with that new tool in hand, I still have to choose to step into this bigger arena. 
As Andrea Mullins asked in my final workshop, “What things in your life are stopping you from embracing the world of publishing?”  She followed that question with this piece of encouragement for the journey, “God gives us a message because He wants us to proclaim it.”
I firmly believe that about this new direction in my life.  And even if my book never makes it to a bookstore shelf or an e-reader, I know God will use this season in my life to provide more spiritual growth.   And along the way I will proclaim His message in whatever way He leads.
What about you?  What has God taught you through the process of writing for Him?
  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

    I am thankful to God for Making Me Bold in the process. Now I use my writing and speaking voice to help others on their journey to turn healing into hope.

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