As you probably could tell from my last blog post, I’ve been in a season of doubt and uncertainty, especially in my writing journey. Countless questions have swirled non-stop through my brain. I’ve felt the pressure of things I’m “supposed” to do, and I’ve stressed over how long it’s taken me to finish my first book from the germ of an idea to a full manuscript (seven years, if anyone needs to know). 😉 I’ve spent three years actively pursuing publishing. I’ve felt the urgency of getting my stories out there before someone else comes up with the same idea, or one similar enough to make my books obsolete.
One thing this whole writing experience has made me realize is what an obsessive planner I am. Which is funny, because in some things, like art and decorating, I just wing it. When it comes to the future or my writing pursuits, however, I want to have every last detail figured out. Nothing terrifies me more than the unknown.
Of course, as we all know, life is rarely predictable, and even the best of plans don’t always succeed.
Shortly after my last post, I listened to an audio book by Robin Jones Gunn called Victim of Grace: When God’s Goodness Prevails. I’d been wanting to read this book for a while, and I figured if I ended up going to the Oregon Christian Writers Conference, it might be nice to read more of her writing. As Robin’s sweet, kind voice played over my phone, sharing heartfelt words of encouragement from both her own personal life and the lives of Biblical characters, God refreshed my spirit and gave me some much-needed perspective.
A couple of things stood out to me as I listened. First, it was amazing to hear how God used Robin’s little books to touch the lives of thousands of young women. She hadn’t planned on being a writer. Her dream was to be a missionary and reach others in foreign countries for Christ. Yet even though her life didn’t turn out the way she’d thought it would, God still honored that dream of hers. Girls from countries all over the world have read her books and come to Christ because of them.
Second, Robin’s decision early on in her writing journey to be consistent in her writing stuck out to me. Taking inspiration from C.S. Lewis and his “dewy, cobwebby hours,” she started writing three times a week from 3:00 am to 7:00 am.
I’d like to clarify right now that there’s no way on earth I’ll be writing at that time, dewy cobwebs or not. But I loved the idea of setting aside a specific writing time and sticking with it.
Consistency has never been a strength of mine. I’ve always been more of a “jump in with both feet and go full force until I run out of steam and give up two weeks later” type of girl. That slow and steady tortoise thing? It’s not really my style. But maybe it needs to be.
I finished Robin’s book this past week, and as I mulled over it, I talked things over with my husband and my mom. I kept reading my Bible. And this past Tuesday morning, I had a long talk with God in the truck after I dropped the girls off at school. Instead of listening to music or an audio book on the way to town, I talked in the uninterrupted silence. It’s been far too long since I’ve done that. I talked to Him about what had been on my mind, thanked Him for encouraging me through Robin’s book, and went over specific things I’d mentioned in my last blog post, finally letting go of those doubts, fears, questions and worries and letting Him take care of them.
After that, I popped into Target before my Weight Watchers meeting. Guess what I found?
No, it’s not the ultra rare Rainbow Sparkle unicorn Shoppet I mentioned, but it’s another slightly less-rare unicorn Shopkins toy I’ve been looking for.
As I stood there and held it, I couldn’t help grinning. It was as if He’d sent this just for me, my own love note from God. I’d poured my heart out to Him, going over the questions and fears I’d expressed in my blog post, and now He was giving me this little reminder of his care in rainbow-colored plastic, something else I’d specifically talked about in that very same post.
I can imagine the skeptical thoughts of my readers already. You think I’m a silly goose. No question there, folks. 😉 I’m a total kid at heart. I’m thirty-six and my favorite store is Toys R Us. Maybe I am reading too much into things. I don’t know. But here’s what I do know. I serve a personal God. A God who cares about me and knows my love language. A God who sees the past and the future and has a perfect plan for my life. A God who knows my deepest desires, dreams, and fears, and who is big enough to handle them all. Could He have orchestrated something as little and insignificant as having a toy on a certain shelf right when I got there? I think it’s possible.
Here’s the other thing I loved about the whole scenario. It wasn’t the super ultra rare spiffy unicorn I mentioned. It was a different one. But isn’t that just how God works? We think we know what we want. We think we know what would be best. The thing is, we don’t see the whole picture like He does. Just like Robin thought she should be a laundry supervisor in Africa, sharing the gospel as she washed clothes with the African natives. That’s not the way her life turned out, but God used her in even better ways. I have dreams and plans for my life. They may not be the same dreams and plans God has for me, but I know whatever happens will be for the best, for my good. The little unicorn from Target reminded me of that.
So, as 2018 spreads its wings and continues its 365 day flight, I have two things I want to focus on: consistency and grace. Consistency in all areas is my goal, whether it be my writing, my parenting, my exercise, my eating, or anything else. Rather than doing everything at full speed and full intensity, I’m trying to ease into things and stay consistent as I do them, slowly and steadily staying the course until the race’s end.
Grace is something else I want to focus on this year. God’s grace has been lavished on me even though I don’t deserve it. I want to extend that grace to others … and to myself when I make mistakes and want to beat myself up about it. 😉
I still don’t have the answers to all of those questions. And for the first time in a long time, I’m actually okay with that.
I have no clue if traditional or indie publishing will be the route my books take. I’m just going to keep writing, keep learning, and keep going to conferences and making contacts. I’m not going to let a few rejections discourage me from trying my best and growing in my craft.
As far as what I want from life, I know I want to be a good wife and mom and to make a positive difference in the world. I’m passionate about my family, writing, art, and music. What do I want to share with my readers? The whimsy and wonder I’ve found in the mayhem of marriage and motherhood. (Hey, that’s not bad! I sense a new logo in the future.) 😉
Why can’t I just eat pizza and chocolate without gaining weight? Because sometimes life stinks and we just have to suck it up and deal with it. Sheesh, Hannah. Talk about first world problems. Want a slice or two of pizza? Want a chocolate bar? Work it into your Weight Watchers points. Stop depriving yourself, but stay accountable.
Will my house ever be clean again? Who knows. But the fact that every member of my family has clean socks and underwear right now is pretty awesome. I need to learn to celebrate the small things.
So here’s where I’m at right now. Feeling hopeful. And clueless. But happy anyway. Singing along with “It’s a Hard Knock Life” and “Tomorrow.” (I even tried my own version of Miss Hannigan’s song “Little Girls” in the shower the other day when I had the house to myself. I’d forgotten how fun it is to belt out Broadway-sized notes with abandon in an empty bathroom.) Realizing that if I’m consistent with walking my dog throughout the week, he’s a lot less likely to escape and take his own walk. Sending a follow-up email to that agent, but not freaking out if she doesn’t respond. Refusing to buy any more Special K with Berries. I am not strong enough to resist its call from my cupboard. (Yes, I lost the battle last time. But someone had to eat them so they’d stop tempting me … right?) Working out at the gym and going to Weight Watchers every week. Trying to focus on enjoying the “me” I am right now, while still keeping myself open to the possibility of a smaller pants size in the future. Feeling relieved that we have a pretty clear idea of where Oldest Gal is going to go to school next year. Still wondering when Mary Poppins is going to show up and snap those fingers, but trying to focus on cleaning up a little here and a little there every day. Trying a new brand of cat food and finding the cat is not quite as stinky as he was before. Still smiling at the thought of my amazing husband.
And enjoying the sight of a cheerful little horned horse on my writing desk that reminds me of an amazing God who sometimes sends unicorns.