I am coming off the mountaintop today. I
just spent five days in St. Louis, Missouri at the ACFW 2014 conference with over 600 writers who all share the same crazy dream that I do—being published.
Only I now can count myself among those that have achieved that dream.
On Thursday morning, I signed a three-book contract with Bethany House Publishers-a dream that I thought was too big for God.
Now, it's not that I really think that my ambition to become a published writer was too big for the Almighty Creator of the universe. I knew in my head that he can handle my piddly dreams.
But I must confess, I was afraid to ask. I was afraid to dream that big. Afraid I was asking too much.
When I started this journey a few years ago, I was afraid to even put pen to paper (er..fingers to keyboard). Writing was something I said I always wanted to do. I loved writing from the time I was a little girl making up stories of princes and horses and castles.
When I was thirteen and sick in bed, I read Gone with the Wind in one day/night. And since my mother told me that Margaret Mitchell died without ever writing a sequel I decided that it was my duty to write it for her. I still remember pulling out a fresh piece of notebook paper and sitting at my desk to finish Scarlett's story. What I wouldn't do to have those pages still in my possession, I can still see that scene in my mind.
But life got in the way of those dreams. I went to college, became a preschool teacher, got married, and then became a mama, but all along, that niggling desire to write burned deep inside my heart.
"I'll write children's books someday." I told myself and others, but even that statement seemed made of mist.
Then, a story sparked in my brain. An Old Testament verse jumped out at me and caught me by the throat, refusing to let go, no matter how hard I tried to shake it off. Kiya-An Egyptian slave that refuses to believe in God, but goes with the Hebrews on the Exodus. There she was, in full detail, standing in the Nile, feeling the cool waters rush around her knees and enjoying the blessings of her sun-god Ra on her face. She called out to me, to tell her story, to find a reason why she would throw away her country, her idols, and everything she knew to follow Moses and his invisible God into the wilderness.
But still. It was almost two years before I answered her call. I was afraid.
You have no talent.
You never finish anything.
Who would listen to anything you have to say?
It's a waste of your time.
These are the things the Enemy whispered in my ear. And I was paralyzed.
Then, my husband lost his job and we were forced to leave our home and friends in Texas and move to Seattle. We were dead broke. So broke that I could not afford gas money to go anywhere much farther than the grocery store and the library for nearly a year. (At least the library was close! Phew!)
But the unexpected blessing of being trapped in a tiny house, in the gray Seattle drizzle with no where to go and nothing to do, was that I finally wrote.
And once the dam broke free, the story poured out of me. But oh, my goodness, I had no idea how to write a novel. So I went to that library and checked out writing books. Then I wrote some more. Then I read more craft books. And somehow what I wrote made sense; somehow a semi-cohesive story emerged from the mess.
It took nearly two years to school myself on novel writing and finish my first manuscript. And another few months to gather the courage to allow a friend to read it. And she liked it. She really liked it!
Then came an encouraging crit group, encouraging published authors, encouraging judge comments, a semi-final in the Genesis Contest, a final in the Frasier Contest and somehow I landed at last years ACFW conference.
But still. I was afraid to ask God to fulfill my dreams. Afraid he would say no.
My utter amazement that I won the Frasier award was followed up by astonishment that agents and editors asked for my manuscript.
It was then that I got brave, during the long wait to hear back from agents, that agonizing silence interspersed with disheartening rejections and unreturned emails. I finally began to ask God to give me my dreams. I told him, "Lord. If this is what you want from me, if this is the dream you want me to have, encourage me." And he did.
Within days I heard from Tamela Hancock Murray, my wonderful, amazing, and lovely agent who surprised me on April Fools Day with an offer of representation.
And God said. "See? I've got this. Trust me."
Within a few weeks of sending out proposals I had two interested publishing houses. Two! And God said "See! My timing is perfect."
And when I got THE CALL, the one that said Bethany House wanted to offer me a three-book contract, I realized that God was answering the prayers that I had not had the courage to pray. He knew my heart, better than I did. He is bigger than my dreams. Bigger than my doubts and fears. Bigger than my comprehension. And thankfully the Spirit interceded for me, even when I was afraid to pray.
Let's chat: Do you have a dream that you are afraid to ask for, or maybe you are discouraged because it seems out of reach? Has God ever answered a prayer that you didn't dare entertain? How have you seen God's perfect timing in your life?