Surprised by Tears – And the Lessons that Followed

I recently heard a speaker (Emily P Freeman of “A Million Little Ways”) captivate an audience of writers with her suggestions for tackling the thing that would make any one of us obsolete: writer’s block.

Staring at a blank screen with a cursor blinking incessantly in the same spot just plain bugs.  When your most effective and cheapest form of therapy is to put words to your feelings so you can name it, claim it and move on and the words don’t come, rest assured irritability is about to rear its ugly head.

A writer with writer’s block is like a border collie locked up in a New York sky-rise or my youngest daughter without anyone to watch her latest shenanigans.  Sheer madness.

So, Ms. Freeman suggested writers pay attention to certain things in order to combat this dreaded dilemma; one of which is to notice what makes us cry.

Tears signify deep emotion. Emotion signifies something we care about.

Write about that.

I’m not typically a “cryer.” Maybe postpartum or deeply grieved, but I don’t usually carry a handkerchief in my clutch. So, when my underused tear ducts get a workout, I hunt for words.

As most of you know, last week I pitched my book proposal at the Proverbs 31 She Speaks conference. The conference itself was awesome! Emotional worship, amazing women, informative break-outs and inspiring keynote speakers: Lysa TerKeurst, Christine Caine, Renee Swope. Heavy-hitters every one.

The reception my book proposal received was…not so awesome.

Honestly, I went into the weekend knowing the cards were stacked against me. Though I have been known to string a few semi-coherent thoughts together, my “platform” is grievously petite. (That’s a fancy way of saying not many people follow little old me on social media.)

A puny platform does not a best-selling author make – at least not in today’s publishing industry. Not to mention “memoir” (though I personally don’t think my book fits squarely into that genre), doesn’t sell well unless you’re Kim Kardashian or have recently landed a jumbo jet in the Hudson. Big fat goose-egg for me on both accounts.

Even though I knew rejection was highly likely, I still felt-blindsided by the rascally tears that followed. So I did what any respectable forty-year-old mother of four would do.

I holed up in my hotel room.

I kicked off my heels, pulled out my journal and called my husband. Then, I texted my sweet She Speaks sisters who I affectionately refer to as, “The Courtneys.” (Courtney DeFeo @LilLightOMine & Courtney Westlake @BlessedByBrenna)

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These girls are super rad. Both have agents, both are writing books, and both are the real deal! (If you want to read more about their stories, click here: Lil Light O Mine & Blessed By Brenna)

And because they are the real deal, I couldn’t hide for long. Before I knew it, Courtney DeFeo was knocking on my door with a complete (at least at that point) and utter stranger. But rest assured (Karmen) doesn’t stay a stranger for long. Her big, beautiful personality snapped me right out of my funk. These women offered laughs, perspective and much-needed words of encouragement.

Though my first appointment with a publisher didn’t go so well, at least the second guy took the proposal. He flipped through the pages representing my blood, sweat and tears and said he would, “Take a look at it and get back to me.” Hey, I’ll take it! At least my book bag on the flight home was one proposal lighter.

As I reflect on the tears of that day, a few thoughts come to mind:

1. I guess I care more about publishing this book than I thought.

2. Friends (no matter how new) that pursue you with smiles and hugs prove laughter is indeed the best medicine.

3. What doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger. Rejection removes any shred of an overinflated ego.

4. Just because my book doesn’t fit someone else’s needs doesn’t mean it’s not worth writing.

5. My job is to be obedient to what God has asked me to do and He will take care of the rest. After all, the whole thing is for His renown!

6. Even though my human audience is small, my biggest audience is the One who really matters.

So, onward and upward I go. I will write and re-write. Edit and painstakingly edit again. Self-publishing is a super viable option and one I look forward to exploring.

I have enjoyed this much needed break. I will hit it hard when my little tribe head back to class. For now, the final dog-days of summer await.

Stay tuned… I don’t think you’ve heard the last from me! And I want to extend a huge shout out to all the She Speaks staff and attendees. I am better for knowing you. And I truly cannot WAIT to read your books!

PS – This cartoon made me laugh. Again, good medicine. Just sayin’

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God’s Market Value #SheSpeaks14

So, my eyes popped wide open at 3:30 in the morning about a week ago. What the what? I am a girl who likes her beauty rest. Not a fan of interrupted sleep. Big fan of sound, peaceful slumber.

I am such a “sound sleeper,” in fact, that all kids and dogs go completely out of their way to get to Scott’s side of the bed if they need something in the middle of the night. They know that mommy is usually in such a deep REM she will never hear them or come to their aid. Yep, can’t hear them at all. Wink.

Anyway, when I wake up in the middle of the night “just because,”I pay attention. I either need to run to the bathroom (TMI?) or I wonder if God is trying to tell me something.

On this particular night, the phrase “market value “kept running through my head. Market value. Market value. Market value. (You get the idea…) I couldn’t shake it so I figured I should probably write it down. I have been obsessing about possible titles for this book I’m trying to write, so I figured maybe God had just downloaded the perfect title, though I had no idea what on earth it might mean!

Bleary eyed, I fumbled for my phone on the nightstand and typed those words into the “notes” section so I could remember them in the morning.

Once a more reasonable wake-up time appear on the clock, I revisited my notes. What did God want me to know about “market value?? ” Could it somehow tie into my writing?

This may come as a shock to some of you (not!) but I wasn’t an economics major in college. I like language and literature, but I never really could wrap my mind around concepts like “antitrust” and “arbitrage.”

I am slightly embarrassed to admit this, but I actually had to Google the definition of market value and watch a Khan Academy video to understand what it is. And here is what I found:

Market value is the price at which an asset would trade in a competitive auction setting.

Okay, God? Somehow I couldn’t see the connection. Maybe I needed to and ingest another cup of caffeine to make sense of it all. What could this possibly have to do with my book?

I decided to read down a bit further. That’s when I saw this – “Market value is a concept distinct from “market price,” which is the price at which one can transact, while market value is the true underlying value.

The true underlying value. It dawned on me that maybe God wasn’t trying his hand at a clever title, He was in fact giving me a deeper message about the whole process of publishing in general.

You see, I have a message and I want to get it out there. No doubt, I do. I’m passionate about people following the whispers of God as He beckons them into deeper relationship with him. I love what he has shown and taught me I want to share that with others. His love is so amazing! Somehow, someway I’d love for this book I’m working on to find its way into the marketplace.

The thing is, I’m just not sure if it will get picked up by a traditional publisher or if I will and up publishing it myself.

Today I got on a plane (by myself!) to head to the She Speaks 2014 conference in Charlotte, North Carolina! And, like I mentioned in my previous post, I have the opportunity to meet with a couple of publishers. Major gulp! (Hoping I didn’t forget deodorant like some major – well, she’s major to me – public figure I know forgot a hairbrush. But don’t worry, I came to her rescue. Turns out 7-11 sells hairbrushes. Who knew?!)

Where was I? Oh yes, publishers. I decided to put my nose to the grindstone over these past couple of weeks and draft my very own book proposal. I figured if I was going to fly all the way out here for this conference, I might as well at least take the two free publisher appointments. Yowsers! The process felt like term paper trauma all over again. Need I remind you that all nighters are not in my wheelhouse anymore (see above). But I did it.

I focused. I prayed. I wrestled with God. I turned the ideas and theme of this book over and over in my mind. I word-smithed until the proverbial horse was more than dead. It was clear I needed to trust I had done my best and let it go.

As I sit here in a hotel room on the eve of two publishing appointments, I need to trust I have done all I can do to this point. I followed God’s whisper and embarked on a journey to write the story he has given me. I don’t know if there will be a place in the traditional publishing market for my book, but I have no control over that.

I only have control over my obedience to following God’s call. Perhaps my message won’t compete at market price, but rest assured it has “market value.” I have been faithful to the one who has always been faithful to me.

If I’m truly writing for an audience of One, it may not take all the sting out of potential rejection, but it will remind me that the market value of my message is priceless.

Because that’s what He is to me. And that’s what WE are to Him.

On the Laboriousness of Labor for Love (a.k.a. the Birth of My Book)

A few weeks ago, I poured my heart out into the blogosphere and admitted to the world (or at least those of you who read my blog!) that I have taken the plunge and I am attempting to birth a book.

Many of you wrote back with congratulatory words of encouragement and support.   Some of you were surprised by the announcement and others of you just nodded with that all-knowing smile of confirmation, indicating you knew it was coming, it was just a matter of time.  Either way, the news was out.

I explained in my post (https://teamnilsen.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/on-birthing-a-book-despite-my-fear/) that I’ve spent the better part of 9 months clicking away at the keys and pulling back the shades to a select few to preview the baby (a.k.a. manuscript) to ask for much-needed feedback.  They graciously complied and I am grateful!

At the end of the day, however, I knew I would need to bite the bullet, pull out my wallet and hire someone of the “professional variety” to edit my manuscript; someone who would be objective and honest. Someone who wouldn’t dance around any issues, someone who would give it to me straight without worrying about whether I would invite her to the next Arbonne party.   And, I found just the one!

Three weeks ago, I closed my eyes, held my breath and sent my baby off to my new editor friend, Renee.  I knew after our first phone conversation that Renee had just the right mix of sensitivity and sensibility to provide me with the feedback I would need to take whatever I had to the “next level.”

Today, the long-awaited edit letter arrived in my inbox.  I stared at the subject line just long enough to close my eyes and hold my breath once again before opening the email to see how my baby faired in someone else’s arms.

And you know what?  The edit letter did not disappoint.  My heart kind of lost its footing for a moment, but my brain reasoned it back into the proper rhythm.  Renee cast a wide net over my manuscript.  She dove into her work with her heart on her sleeve and editorial glasses on her nose.  She analyzed each part and piece and came up with some solid, spot-on suggestions for expansion, revision, rearrangement and the dreaded – deletion.  That’s right, after nine months of crafting and re-crafting certain ideas and phrases to tuck into the pages “just so” I am told, they really “don’t fit,” and might even HINDER emotional impact.  Ugh. That’s the last thing any writer wants to hear.  It’s like a knife in the heart to think I could inadvertently sabotage my own writing.

But there it is.  In black and white.  And though some of it is hard to swallow, at the end of the day, I believe she is right!

So, now what?  In just two weeks time I am scheduled to hop on a plane and make my way to Charlotte, NC for the Proverbs 31 #SheSpeaks writer/speaker conference.  When I registered, I even went so far as to check the optional box marked “Yes! I would like to make an appointment to meet with a publisher.” What in the world?

Three weeks ago, I thought I was well on my way to crafting a decent book proposal.  I knew I’d have my work cut out for me, seeing as I’m not a professional writer with a huge platform and all, but I figured I could at least punt to see where the wind would take my proposal.  However, after receiving this spot-on edit letter, I’m left wondering – now what?

It seems the manuscript I’ve been working on needs a little, well – work!  Like I said, that is exactly what I expected.  I just didn’t realize what the work would entail.

On the positive side, Renee said she liked my writing.  I suppose that’s a good place to start!  And, I have some great ideas/themes represented in the book that, if developed even further, could stand-alone as solid ideas for other books.  Maybe I actually have some other book ideas in the hopper.  But that doesn’t necessarily help me hone in on the exact, laser-beam message of THIS book.

Here I sit.  Back at the drawing board.  Mining my mind and my heart – asking the Lord to remind me of what I know to be true – about Him and about me.  Why am I even doing this in the first place?  And these are the things I believe to be self-evident:

1. I am a writer.  Whether 10 people or 10,000 people read what I have to say it doesn’t matter.  The Lord wove this love of words deep into the fiber of my being and I will continue to write about Him and for Him.

2. There is a book waiting to be birthed.  I just don’t know the exact specifications of said book or the perfect timing of it all, but I believe the Lord will reveal that in His time. As Jeff Goins says, “The book you write is better than the one you only dreamed of writing.”

3. Whatever book ultimately emerges, my deepest desire is that it advances His Kingdom here on earth.  Period – end of story.  This story is not about me – never has been and never will be – it’s always and ultimately all about Him.

4.  I plan to continue my quest to produce a book proposal even if it overwhelms and scares the ever-living daylights out of me!  Sure, I could call up the sweet ladies at She Speaks right now and apologetically ask them to remove my name for consideration to meet with a publisher.  At this point, that would unequivocally be my version of pressing the “easy button.”  OR – I could continue to do what the Lord has asked me to do and dare greatly; be vulnerable.  They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I’m always hoping for the latter.

I hear that Lysa TerKeurst (president of Proverbs 31) is constantly reiterating to her people that “the process is the point.”

If this is indeed the case, then friends, I am exactly where I’m supposed to be – in process.  I will continue to submit this whole process to the Lord – to see what He wants to do with it, where He wants to take it and what He wants to teach me.  I will lay it, once again, at the foot of the cross.

Perhaps that is exactly the point.

Who Makes You Better? #FathersDay

“I will be to him a father and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him….” (2 Samuel 7:14-15)

So, it’s Father’s Day. And we’re huddled around the booth in our RV (too many mosquitos outside; we are soft) at the Chama RV Park eating hamburgers off the grill. And I decide we should, you know, go around the table and all say something we appreciate about Dad. Seems appropriate.

And the pint-sized one, she says, “You are the Dad I always wanted. You used to throw me in the air and you make me smile sometimes. I love you so much!”

Awww. The plan is working. Dad is all ears.

Then a couple more off-spring offer super sweet, tear-envoking comments.

The pump is primed.

And then Kelel, last but never least, reflects in a manner wise beyond his years, “Dad, I love you because you make me a better son. You help me know who I am.”

Just wow.

The layers packed into that statement are profound. Fathers have the opportunity, should they choose to accept it, to help their children become who their Heavenly Father designed them to be.

Dads uncover to help children discover.

Oh that we all would be connected to that kind of Daddy. The kind that makes us better and plants people in our lives who do the same. People who help us discover who we were born to be – and then make us better.

Who makes you better? Now, go and do likewise…

PS – Thanks, Dad. You fit the description! I am forever grateful that you continue to make me ever better. You helped me realize I should look for that in a mate and it paid off. 🙂

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The Monger Load: On Stress and Change

Stress can downright make a girl do funny things.

Oh, those funny things may not be all too crazy on the bell curve. They might not be noticeable to the naked eye, but they lurk, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. Looking for any vulnerable crack in the system.

Loved ones may not be able to put their fingers on the exact problem, but they recognize the altered mood and when they can’t take it any longer they’re liable to burst with a pointed, “What’s your deal?!”

And you know what? I wonder the same thing. What is my deal? Why am I short with those I love most? Why does every request, every unforeseen change in schedule rattle my cage? A snarky response emerges from the black-hole of discontent, rather than a place of jovial humor. I’m not usually “like this,” I reason. Calgon, take me away! (Yes, I really am that old.)

At any rate, the winds of change always seem to catch me off-guard. You’d think I would know by now (seeing as the Calgon reference just implicated my actual age) how to recognize, master, and subdue this frequent offender, but alas. You’d think, after all these years, I would sense the not-so-subtle change in season coming and I would be armed and ready. On guard!

But somehow they puncture my Achilles heel – Every. Single. Time.

So here i sit, in a bit of a funk on the brink of another change of season; four tattered student planners chucked in the trash, early morning alarms safely turned off, winter soup exchanged for summer salads. Ironically, the tightly-wound, over-scheduled routine that threatened the end of me two weeks ago is now the very thing I wish I could retrieve.

Why? I wonder. We ran like horses vying for the triple crown just a moment ago and now – nothing. I think there is a certain safety in routine; in knowing exactly what’s going to happen when and where? For my kids and for me.

Then again, there exists a defensive barrier against vulnerability as well. I can hide behind routine. No one can ask me for help or need me to do anything for them because, after all, “I’m busy.” If I whisk around like Cinderella on a heavy work day I can float in my own personal atmosphere. Impenetrable.

Stripped of hard and fast routine I am exposed. Vulnerable. However, I dare to venture a guess that’s right where God wants me – available. For His higher purposes; His higher plan. May I embrace such a place. It is indeed a gift.

I pray He sees fit to use me in any way He likes in this summer season – for His glory.

Turns out my kids are capable of entertaining themselves. I am also capable of engaging with them in a new way, one that requires creativity, imagination and intentionality. Let’s do this.

Cheers to summer! Cheers to a new season mongered by freedom not stress, enveloped in heart connections previously unattainable in weeks covered in after-school sports and pop quizzes.

Now to dip our toes in the sand or the water or the sprinklers. Whatever comes, it will be good because it will be His.

On Entering a Contest (#StyleforJustice)

To concede or not to concede?  That is the question.

Many of you know I threw caution (steeped deep within my veins) to the wind and submitted a written entry to the #StyleforJustice contest (http://www.noondaycollection.com/styleforjustice#view/23056/2109365)  sponsored by Noonday Collection and International Justice Mission.  The future winner of said contest will fill the last coveted spot and travel to Rwanda this summer with a cohort of women who “are changing the conversations of their generation through their blogs, leadership, social advocacy, and unique voices.  Each of them will use their art to share their hearts with you as they discover the power of pursuing economic empowerment and justice.”  Dang!  So good.

Nearly 400 women raised a proverbial hand and said, “Pick me!”  And, honestly, each submission I’ve seen prompts me to want to hit that bright green “vote” button!  I am blown away by the caliber of women who were drawn to enter this contest; women living with intention and purpose for the glory of the Lord – every single day.  Awesome.

So, here’s my dilemma:  There is one week left to vote.  The voting webpage is now organized in order of voting popularity. And, I find myself squarely fixed on page 4 of 12. Definitely not one of the top 7 submissions, but not in the back of the pack either. You know, top 25%. Sounds about par for the course.  I feel like I’d slide right in to Lake Wobegon standards, sitting “slightly above average.” 🙂

At this point, I must ask myself – Do I concede victory to the popular girls or do I live to fight another day?  

My first reaction was definitely one of defeat.  And then I remembered – we are all on the same team!  If the church is the hope of the world (like I believe it is) and we Christ-followers are his beloved body then we all have our unique, God-given roles to play and I, for one, will march ahead with the same intention and sense of purpose I recognize in all these other women.

At the end of the day, this contest is about more than just filling a seat on the plane.  It’s about co-laboring with God and His merry band of misfit disciples to share the story – God’s story of hope and prosperity and justice for all.  I’m pretty sure we want nothing more than to partner in Spirit and in truth so we can all experience a little more “on earth as it is in heaven” both here and around the world.

Noonday Collections (http://www.noondaycollection.com) and International Justice Mission (http://www.ijm.org) are doing just that.  They are partnering and fighting for truth and justice in unique, creative, tenacious, and stylish ways.  No matter WHO ends up going on this trip of a lifetime, we will all be blessed to read the story through their art as they attempt to translate God’s work in the world.

And hopefully, reading the story will lead to awareness which will lead to ever-loving action – emphasis on the LOVE.

I also got to thinking – How would I counsel my own children if they were in this situation? And the answer about whether to concede or fight another day became a rhetorical one.  I would tell them to march on.  to never give up.  To follow their heart and be open to receiving what God has for them no matter what.  And so I do.

In all due humility, I will continue to rally my tribe.  It may be small in number, but I GUARANTEE it is mightiest in heart!  I love you all so much.  There probably isn’t anything more awkward than flagrant self-promotion, but that’s where I am.  I ask for your vote.  There isn’t only one week left, there is still one week left and anything could happen! I would love to tell the story if given the opportunity.

Honestly, if I won I think I would flat pee my pants.  I suppose that might be more awkward – at least for those with me at the time.

Without further ado – here is the link:  http://www.noondaycollection.com/styleforjustice#view/23056/2109365

Vote away!  And – thanks…

On Birthing a Book Despite My Fear

Hello, my name is Megan and I am writing a book.

Ack! I’ve said it. Now you know my closet secret.

Apparently, admission is the first step if healing and wholeness is your desired destination.  At least, that’s what I hear.

So, if I’ve “dared greatly” and admitted my deep, dark secret to you with the ultimate destination of healing/wholeness/freedom in mind, why is my natural modus operandi to sabotage the very efforts that promise to lead me to personal transformation and breakthrough?

After much reflection, I think I may have discovered an answer.

My realization is this: I’m almost finished with the book (the very thing I desire) and it turns out, that is kind of a scary place to be.

Let me back up a bit…  Here’s the Reader’s Digest version of how I got to this place:

1.  Nearly four years ago I felt a stirring in my heart to possibly pursue adoption.

2.  Weak-kneed and heart pounding, I shared this desire with Scott.

3.  Together, Scott and I got on our knees to seek direction and discernment from the Lord.

4.  God’s Spirit confirmed the call; we put one foot in front of the other and ended up bringing two beautiful children home from Ethiopia about 2.5 years ago.

5.  Our children came home and, as expected, grief raged. I knew my kids would experience some level of trauma, but I did not realize I would experience some level of my own trauma as well. The Lord revealed that not only did my children need to experience His healing touch in the midst of their grief, but so did I.

6.  I entered a time of deep soul-searching (to include counseling!) which led to uncovering some ugly, hidden places in my heart and ultimately to awesome spiritual breakthrough!

7.  Writing became a very real part of the healing process. As such, my heart stirred again. This time, I sensed God’s invitation to share our testimony and the universal healing truths I learned along the way in the form of a book.

8.  So, about 9 months ago, one word after another, I began to write.  A book was conceived.

When I found out I was “pregnant” with the promise of a book, I felt simultaneously elated and terrified. I knew I wanted to honor God by sharing our story, but I didn’t feel the least bit qualified to classify myself as a “writer.” I mean, real writers have “platforms” and “tribes” and “products” and “publishers.” I have none of the above. So, what, pray tell, led me to think anyone would have any interest in what I have to say?

I wish I could tell you that nine months later I have vanquished that demon. I haven’t. The demon of fear, rejection and self-doubt still surfaces from time to time. He hangs out every now and again, but these days, when I notice him lurking, I banish him from my mental premises. I tell him he has no place occupying valuable mental energy and he’d better “get!”

Now, nine months later, I find myself on the cusp of finishing said book. And you know what I’ve discovered? The idea of finishing the project is almost more terrifying than starting it.

To start writing felt vulnerable because I wasn’t asked to do so by some agent or publisher. There was no natural confirmation of this call in the human realm. No, once again, only God’s Spirit breathed this into my heart. It’s kind of vulnerable to put yourself out there when no one’s actually asked you to do so.

However, once I conquered the initial lump in my throat and slowly started whispering to others that I was writing a book, the declaration got easier and easier with each reveal. Over time, I eventually got to the place where I could reply, “Thanks for asking, I’m doing well. My kids are crazy busy and the calendar is full, but what else is new?! Oh, yeah, I’m writing a book.”

After the first trimester, the initial shock wore off and, chapter by chapter, the body of work began to grow. I even bravely emailed work-in-progress out to close friends and confidants who graciously offered to read, edit and provide much needed feedback that would clean up my crappy first drafts and keep me rolling along with any semblance of coherency. Like bumper-guards in a bowling lane, these watchful eyes have kept my work from becoming a total gutter ball.

In the second trimester, I hit my stride. The initial announcement was out there and I was beginning (at least on my personal laptop) to “show.” With more confidence and excitement, I began pulling together the proverbial nursery. I played around with back cover copy and tried on different titles and subtitles to see what “names” felt right.  Chapter after chapter the word document expanded. I was on fire with productivity!

Then, in the third trimester, progress slowed to a snail’s pace. Ideas and phrases didn’t come as easily as they once had. Every click of the keyboard felt painful. I would start to write, then a mental contraction would hit and I would halt progress altogether. “Just breathe,” I told myself. “You can do this.”  A cloud of confusion descended on my mind and I questioned just “who-the-hell-I-thought-I-was” attempting to write a book in the first place?  “Let’s face it,” I muttered. “You’re not fit to be a writer, let alone an author.” So, I have one possible book in me.  Big deal. Who doesn’t?  Once again, the floodgates of doubt flew open overtook my vulnerable soul.

That’s when it dawned on me – finishing the project is even scarier than starting it.  Because, if I actually “finish” this book, I’ll be required to birth this precious baby and present it to the world.  And I haven’t a clue if I’m even fit to be a literary mother. I mean, I may personally like my baby (all Moms are biased), but will other people like it?  Will they “ooh” and “aah” and shower placating compliments or will they take one look at the end result and gasp, “What on earth was she thinking? She has no business birthing a book.”

Fear of rejection returned as the demon of the hour.

However, just as I was about to crack the door for this well-known presence, God’s truth intervened like it always does. I opened my inbox this morning and found a blog post written by Dan Barlow (published on The Steve Laube Agency’s website) which ministered to my tender heart.

Barlow connected to me with these words, “Authors and aspiring authors can easily fall prey to fear. Spending a lot of time creating something all for naught. Bad reviews. And dozens more… Fear can paralyze an otherwise optimistic, creative mind. So what can we do? We don’t replace fear with some sort of mindless positive thinking that convinces us we can do anything, but through prayer, preparation, training and practice, we replace fear with confidence that we did our part and the rest is out of our control.”

Well, there it is – in black and white.  My fear isn’t merely about potential rejection; it’s about lack of control. Just like I can’t micro-manage and control the future of my beautiful human children, neither can I control the outcome of this book.

I only know I was supposed to give birth to it and nurture it the best I know how. The rest is up to God.

As Dan Barlow exhorts, I must not fall prey to the “false premise that [I am] responsible for the results that come from [my] work [because] in reality, publishing is one of the most complicated and multi-faceted endeavors on this planet. Success or failure in publishing is never easily attributed to one thing. It is always a combination of many factors, most of them out of the control of the author.”

Barlow goes on to remind me that I can only do my part to plant the seed and leave the fruit to God.

And so, with humble heart, having no idea if I am planting one tree or an entire orchard, I continue to write.

I will finish this book.

I will nurture and edit and I will leave the rest to God.

Thankfully, Barlow did not  leave me stranded and alone.  He graciously offers some steps “to defeating fear”:

1. Look up – every day to the source of all your hope, creativity and inspiration.

2. Look down – at your work and keep writing, growing and learning.

3. Give up – the responsibility that only God controls.

These simple, yet profound truths bolster me and give-me a much-needed second wind as I approach the finish line.

What about you?  How do you tackle fear?  Is there a project you feel called to start, a risk you are called to take?

If so, I would love to hear about it! You know writers are essentially some of the neediest people on the planet. Indulge me.  I write to know I’m not alone. 

Jamie Ivey

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