Tag Archives: book

Why I’m Living My Book, Instead of Writing It

7 Sep

At the beginning of the year, I wrote about how I felt God was calling me to BEHOLD Him this year. “I need new eyes and new ears to see and hear God’s glory and power in my life. The glory of His presence already surrounds me; I just need help recognizing it.”

IMG_20160105_153553It has been AWESOME seeing God answer that prayer all year long, and I have plans to share all the different facets here on the blog. But today, I want to share about how God just recently answered this prayer of beholding Him, and of having new eyes and ears to see His glory in the life I already have.

I won’t mince words—this summer has been hard. Yes, full of fun things too, but mostly hard. See my meltdown post. See my posts on grief over my mom dying. Then one day, I was praying. I don’t even remember about what—maybe my desire to write a book? Feeling like I don’t have the time or energy for doing the things I’d like to do? Anyway, God spoke to me. He challenged me by asking, “Is this about My glory or is it about your glory?”

And I realized…

All this time I have been praying for the opportunity to write and publish a book because I feel so passionate about what I’ve been learning, and think that a lot of other Christians would benefit from these ideas. But truth be told, it has also been a lot about my glory. I spent years trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and finally a year ago, I had the courage to declare that I wanted to be a published author more than anything else. And the book I want to write is about how joy is found in embracing the life circumstances God allows.

I didn’t need my book to be a bestseller, or to make money, or be a household name, and I surely didn’t want to end up being a speaker to big audiences. I just wanted to hold a tangible book in my hand, containing my unique words with my name on the cover. Of course, I hoped that at least a few people would read my book, but I really just wanted to be faithful to God’s calling on my life. Whatever He chose to accomplish with it was up to Him. A noble, worthwhile purpose, right?

A few weeks ago, though, God showed me that even that noble, worthwhile purpose had to be surrendered to something bigger: His will. It may be His will that I am a published author someday, but the reality of my life is that I already have two daughters. I am already a mom. And in this stage of life, my girls demand it all. I have tried for a year to write a book in my free time, and I have discovered that for me, right now, it’s not possible. Trying to write a book only made me bitter, and made me feel like I spent all my time doing crap I didn’t want to do, with no time or energy left over for doing what I did want to do.

Because I have two kids, God has called to be a mom. And I feel strongly that He has called me personally to be a full-time, stay-at-home (and possibly homeschooling?) mom. Instead of viewing my two precious blessings as preventing me from what I am called to do, I need to see them as being what I am called to do.

It is the most humbling, soul-aweing challenge for God to show me:

If I truly desire to live for His glory, if I truly believe that God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him, if I truly believe that God is the one orchestrating my life circumstances, then I will be okay with whatever God has for me.

Being satisfied in God means wanting Him above everything. Even above my dream of being a published author.

God’s challenge revealed to me:

Is my life goal truly about getting more of God? Or is my goal being an author?

Nothing less than God Himself will satisfy.

So if my goal of being an author is causing me to be discontent in my current life, being bitter about the circumstances God has lovingly handpicked for me, I must lay even this good desire of telling about God’s glories in a book down at my Savior’s feet.

I must truly surrender all to get more of God. That’s the amazing truth in all of this: I can experience and enjoy God in any and every season of life, even amidst the challenges and mundanity of motherhood. The experience of God is not limited to doing big things. In fact, it might even be easier to experience God in the small things, because big things have a way of distracting. Even as “just” a stay-at-home mom, I can have as much of God as I want, because the curtain has been torn in two with Christ’s death and resurrection.

I was surprised to discover that surrendering this lifelong dream of mine into God’s hands was not discouraging or depressing, but freeing. I didn’t realize how heavy a weight I had been carrying around, feeling like every free moment I had needed to be productive because of all I was trying to accomplish. I felt jealous of other moms who seemingly had lower ambitions. Why couldn’t I be like them?

With the laying down of this dream came the freedom to just focus on mothering well. And as I focused on that, I realized it was what I had desired all along. Of course, I would still love to write a book, or ten. If it happens later in life, in a different season, great. And if not, that’s ok.

I have often found great comfort in the story of King David’s desire to build a temple for God’s presence and the Ark of the Covenant. In 1 Kings 8:17-19, King Solomon says, “Now it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. But the LORD said to David my father, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart. Nevertheless, you shall not build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.’”

David had a desire to do something noble, selfless, BIG for God. But God told him no. David’s desire was good, but it wasn’t God’s will for him. The American Dream is still alive and well in our country, even in Christian circles. Somehow, the notion is that if we’re passionate about something and good at it, it must be God’s calling on our lives. And if we’re not doing something with those gifts, if we’re not using them for growing God’s kingdom, we’re not fully living out our faith. We’re taking our light and hiding it under a bush.

But even the desire to serve God doing good things must be subordinate to our love for and enjoyment of Him. Because often, God’s chosen circumstances for our lives don’t align with what we would choose, or what we envision. Am I serving God less by being a mom instead of an author? Am I serving Him more? No, I am just serving in a different way. I am serving God in the way He has chosen for me to serve Him.

The Christian life is not one size fits all. It is not rules across the board, applicable to every and all circumstances. We want it to be! We want the Christian life to be so cut and dry that we can take the rules and run off to accomplish the Christian life on our own without God. God knew that. So He made it necessary for the Christian life to be walked out in faith by depending on the Holy Spirit. The New Testament contains only general principles built on the solid foundation of the gospel; we need to walk with God daily to uncover what those principles look like specifically in our own unique lives.

God has called me to lay down my dream of being an author to truly embrace my calling as a mother. But He might be calling other mothers to take up their dreams and pursue them wholeheartedly. It is not about WHAT we do, it is about WHY and HOW we do it. Are we surrendering our lives to God?  Are we offering up everything we are, every dream, ambition and longing, to God and allowing Him to be the answer? Are we glorifying God by being satisfied in Him? The fleshed-out specifics will look different for everyone. There is a time for everything under the sun, and we are all in slightly different seasons and stages of life and sanctification. But we will united under the banner of:

SATISFIED IN GOD ALONE

The ironic thing in God asking me to lay down my dream of being an author is that He is calling me to put into practice the very ideas that I want to write my book about.

So for now, I’m living my book, instead of writing it.

 

“No good things does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11)

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” (Psalm 138:8)

Worth Repeating {5/13/16}

13 May

It has been a LOOOONG time (ahem, almost an entire year) since I did a Worth Repeating post here on this little blog of mine. This is a weekly whenever-I-feel-like-it series where I share quotes, sayings and verses that I enjoyed and found to be worth repeating.

worth_repeating

A month or two ago, I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic. While her notions about creative living and life in general are not overtly Christian, I found her book fascinating, and with a few giant leaps (like Inspiration being the work of the Holy Spirit), I think her ideas can apply to Christians too. Her book reiterated a message I’ve been hearing from sources on all sides over the past 6 months: We were created in God’s image. He’s a creator. Therefore, we are creative people. We won’t thrive unless we’re consistently creating.

To that end, I’ve been writing almost every day–mostly working on my book, some writing in my journal, and a little of putting thoughts on this blog. Elizabeth Gilbert’s book has inspired me to take writing seriously, entrust the results to God, and enjoy the journey, even when writing is hard and progress slow. Here are my six favorite quotes from her book (click on the images for sources):

what is creative livin

 

courage for treasures

authenticity vs originality

interesting

inspiration partner

creativity is sacred

God’s will, right now

7 Aug

I’m reading a really good book right now called He Leadeth Me, written by Walter Ciszek, an American Jesuit Father who was captured by the Russians during WWII, convicted of being a Vatican spy and spent 23 years in Soviet prisons and labor camps of Siberia. I wanted to share this passage from his book because it is so good.

Background: Teplaya-Gora was the labor camp Walter and a friend, also a Jesuit priest, had gone to in Russia, with the hopes that they could minister to the workers who were also migrating from Poland. But they soon discovered that no one would talk to them about religion at all because they were too scared of the Soviets.

 

Be encouraged to embrace This Day Now, whatever it entails, knowing that God is at work always for your ultimate and eternal good.

Where the rubber meets the road

27 Feb

One of the main points of the book I’m writing is that reminding oneself of the gospel as motivation for living the Christian life isn’t enough. It’s definitely a start. And I totally believe that the gospel is the foundation of the Christian faith. But we can’t stop there. We need to press on into a living, intimate relationship with God that pervades every facet of our lives. I am mystified by the number of God-fearing Christians who say that they exist to glorify God and yet still struggle with having a daily quiet time and praying. If our “beliefs” aren’t translating into tangible actions, then we’re not really believing them. And if we’re not really believing our beliefs, the place to start is an intimate relationship with God, not just jumping to activities because we’re guilted into them.

Another one of my main discoveries has been that Christians’ hearts are redeemed, and therefore, good. We have good desires. Our innermost beings desire and delight in God. We are holy and righteous in our hearts because the Holy Spirit dwells there. Christ reigns in our hearts. But there is this thing still living in the rest of our bodies called sin. We therefore still commit sins. In that sense, you can say that we are still sinful. But in our innermost beings, we are no longer sinful because of Christ’s presence. Think about it: Christ literally dwells inside of us (a point which the Bible makes very clear) but since He is holy, He could not do that if our hearts were wicked and evil. But since Christ does dwell inside of us, the only possibility is that our hearts are good.

I am by no means a theologian and there is much a biblical scholar understands that I do not. But these realizations have been proven in my own experience (and others’) and have brought me immense freedom and joy in my relationship with God. Without these truths, Christianity is just based on a bunch of events (the cross) and we have no hope for ever growing in our resemblance to Christ. I truly believe that an intimate relationship with God and our redeemed nature are fundamental truths, without which our experience of God will be drastically limited.

There is a mentality among God-fearing Christians that the more we are aware of our sins, the more we glorify God. I whole-heartedly reject that thinking. I agree that the more we know God, the more we will be aware of our sin – the contrast between our depravity and God’s holiness will be increasingly obvious the more we see of God. I also agree that God is glorified when we know and are satisfied in Him. But to seek to know our sin more in order that we may more glorify God is masochism. Believe me, I’ve been there. I’ve been so confronted with my sin that I thought to myself, “If this is what the rest of my life is going to be like as a Christian, I don’t want it.” And I know that I barely even skimmed the surface of how sinful I really am.

Perhaps for those who struggle with self-righteousness and thinking that they’re actually doing pretty good at the Christian life, reminding themselves of their sin is helpful. It keeps them humble and in recognition of their need for a Savior. But there is another kind of person. A person who tends to be self-condemning, to lament who they are, and to feel like they can never do anything right. Reminding this person of how sinful they are is only putting salt in the wound. It is not helpful. Additionally, reminding that person that their self-loathing is just another form of pride is not helpful either. It is kicking them while they’re down.

The antidote to self-loathing, rather, is being reminded of God’s love, His infinite, abounding, overflowing love for people who are broken and needy. This, too, is part of the gospel. Only when the self-loathing person sees how very loved they are by God, can they see that their efforts to “be good enough” were a form of pride . But you can’t start there. This person needs to know that God is on their side because of Christ’s death, that they do have the power to change because of Christ’s resurrection, and that they are assisted daily, moment by moment by the Holy Spirit living inside of them. There is hope. There is victory. They don’t have to dwell in despair over who they are naturally.

But the self-loathing person doesn’t seem to be addressed much when talking about the gospel. Usually, the gospel truth goes something like this, “You are more sinful than you ever imagined, but you are more loved than you ever dreamed.” I agree with that statement. But while there are many, many sermons at my church on how sinful we are, all the different ways we are led astray, and what we need to do to fight for holiness, and there are some sermons on God’s love as demonstrated on the cross in forgiving our sins, I haven’t heard many sermons on how God’s love enables us to live differently. And not just the idea of God’s love (as in, I’m reminding myself that God loves me and as such, I change my behavior), but God’s love living and active inside of me, accomplishing in me what I cannot do for myself.

I’m basing these statements on my current church, not Christian churches in general. So it probably comes as no surprise that I am becoming more and more discontent with our church and its teaching. At first, I felt like the preaching just wasn’t that challenging. But I chalked it up to having become a Christian listening to John Piper preach, so most preaching would be a step down from that (because Piper is a very gifted preacher). But now, I am flat-out disagreeing with what our church is teaching. I don’t think that they’re blaspheming or teaching another gospel. I just think that their focus on our depravity isn’t helpful to everyone – but they hold that it is.

I also feel like in the challenges they issue us from the pulpit, they’re in a way assuming that we’re living half-heartedly for God. That we’re dabbling in known sin on the side, or letting sin run rampant, or keeping areas of our lives separate from our relationship with God. And I hate to say it, but I think there are a number of Christians in our church who are doing those very things. Like I said earlier, this mystifies me. Why the apathy and indifference? Why are we fooling about with the things of this world, making mud pies in the slums, when we have been offered a holiday at the sea? I dare say I’ve discovered my passion: to see apathetic Christians desiring God with every fiber of their being.

I don’t want to be an argumentative, divisive Christian and I do believe that our church still has some good things going for it. So I don’t necessarily feel called to move on. But I am interested in investigating other God-fearing, biblically sound churches in our area, just to see what other pastors are preaching. How do other people approach living the Christian life? What do other people think about reminding ourselves of sin as motivation for loving God and a basis for glorifying God?

What do you think about all this?

 

 

Praying boldly, in community

24 Feb

Since I had the realization that the Christian life is all about walking with God, I have been thinking about prayer. Prayer is one of the ways that we connect with God the deepest. And I believe that it is through seeking God in prayer that we gain wisdom and direction for our lives.

Just this past Tuesday, I was challenged by two verses. One was Psalm 21:2-3 – “You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.” The other was Matthew 21:22 – “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

This is bold prayer.

I don’t often pray like that. I usually add “But not my will, but yours” to end of my prayers, just to avoid being presumptuous about God answering my requests. But then I realized that the very addition of that saying (for me) was presuming that God wasn’t going to fulfill my request – for me, that phrase was synonymous with “But I don’t really expect you to do what I’m asking.”

When thinking through my future with writing, and my desire to be a published author, I have shied away from asking boldly that God would make me a published author because it seemed like a long shot. It seemed like I was asking a lot of God. But that’s exactly the point. At least twice in the gospels, Jesus says that we can literally move mountains with our faith in prayer. Is not being published easier than that?

My problem is that I diminish God’s goodness. Surely, God can’t be that good. I believe that He can do it; I just don’t believe that He will. Yeah, He’s given me this talent, desire, and opportunity to write but that doesn’t mean anything, I think. But when I was praying through the two verses above, and my doubt in God’s goodness, I realized that God doesn’t give us talents and desires only to say “Oh but sorry, you’re never going to do anything with that.” He gives us desires to call us to fulfill them! It will be in His timing and His way, but He still calls us to use our talents.

So often I view God’s will and goodness as only perfect and good in His eyes – I just have to trust that it’s perfect and good, though I can’t see that it is. Sometimes He does call us to trust His goodness without necessarily seeing it. But other times, He blatantly displays His goodness in ways we can’t describe as anything but good! I trust that I will see God’s goodness to me during this season of life.

Another thought I had about prayer is that if I truly believe it is the way we connect with God, and that it’s of utmost importance, I should desire to pray in community (with other people). So this morning, when I had coffee with my friend Cathy, I asked her if she wanted to start praying together. She loves corporate prayer so she immediately said yes. We prayed and it was a great experience. I felt like God met us there.

There is a prayer meeting on Sunday mornings before church. When I first heard about it, there was no way I wanted to go to something like that. “All you do is pray?” But now, I’m intrigued and excited by the possibilities of prayer. You never know how God is going to move!

Things are in the works!

17 Feb

I worked on writing my book for 4-5 hours on Tuesday. Still have a long way to go on that and am a little bit stumped as to how to arrange it but it’s progress!

Yesterday, I spent the better part of my day looking for jobs and writing a query letter to be submitted to an online Christian magazine for women called Kyria. They don’t pay much for freelance work but it is money and it’s me getting work published (if they’re interested in my idea). The only drawback is that they said it could take them up to 8 weeks to respond. That’s a long time to wait.

In addition, yesterday morning I got a phone call requesting that I come in to interview for an editing position! It’s just for an editor internship, but it’s a well-paid, full-time position with what seems to be a great company, so I couldn’t be happier. I’m not chomping at the bit for another full-time job quite yet but if one comes along that involves writing or editing of any kind, I am definitely going to take it!

I also put out some feelers to my supervisors from Dare 2 Share to see if they know of any job openings or people I could contact. They both responded and I think it will be at least worth a shot!

I just feel so blessed by the Lord right now. After almost a full year of feeling so out of place in my job and wandering aimlessly through fields of confusion about myself and life, it is so pleasant to have a vision and a goal. It’s even more pleasant to see that vision becoming a reality!

Seriously, if I ever am a published author, I think I might faint from delight.

Am I serious about this?

12 Feb

This past week brought about some changes in my employment status. First, the church no longer has funds to pay me so my part-time job there is no more. I was making about $240 a month more working there than just collecting unemployment so it’s somewhat unfortunate.

What really is unfortunate, though, is that I found out that since I quit my job at Dare 2 Share for “no good reason under the law” and since I worked there within the past 5 quarters (3-month periods used to calculate unemployment benefits), I am now only qualified for about half of the unemployment benefits I had calculated. It appears that I will still get the same amount every week (which is a definite blessing!) but that instead of getting unemployment for 6 months, I will now only get it for 3. Considering the fact that the average unemployment stint these days is 9 months, I’m sure hoping that God has another plan in mind!

That means that I kind of have to get my butt in gear and actually start taking the job search seriously, as well as tackle my book project with more gusto and intentionality than had previously been applied. It is reassuring to remind myself, however, that even though this realization has changed my perception of the situation, the actual situation has not changed at all – God knew this all along and nothing has changed in His purpose or plan for me.

Nonetheless, it is a reality that my perception of the situation has changed. I no longer have “all the time in the world.” I have 3 months. Three months to find a job or to start making money from my writing. The question then becomes: am I serious about this whole writing thing? Am I willing to commit my financial future to it, over pursuing a reliable job?

I have been praying that God would direct me to either put the majority of my efforts into finding a job or into writing my book. I have not received any clear direction either way, so I am going to continue on with the leading that I have been operating out of until this point – writing my book. I’ve asked God to give me a clear sign that writing is not what I’m supposed to pursue. But until I get such a sign, I still feel like I am called to be serious about being a writer – or rather, a published author.

Plus, submitting queries for freelance work qualifies as  a job contact, right?