Hey, for anyone still checking in here, this blog has moved over to my new website!
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Hey, for anyone still checking in here, this blog has moved over to my new website!
If you still want to follow my blog, please delete this link and add this one!
It’s been a hard season. A scary few months. We began May with much joy, still celebrating the birth of our first granddaughter, Annabel Rose, born at the end of April. And she is everything we and her parents prayed for. She is beautiful. Perfect. All amazing baby cuddles and snuggles and sleepy smiles and lately, all the giggles I will never get enough of.
But she has a heart condition.
And nobody saw that coming.
Annabel has something called Supra Ventricular Tachycardia, which means she has episodes where her heart will suddenly start beating very quickly, abnormally fast, and this can be extremely dangerous. Her first episode happened at her 2-week check-up. Since that day, my daughter and her husband have been in and out of hospital with their precious baby girl, as well as having to make a trip by air-ambulance up to Boston Children’s Hospital, where Annabel was seen and very well-cared for by the specialists there. I’m happy to say that she is now doing very well, on two medications which have to be given 5 times a day, but she hasn’t had an episode in a couple months now. And we continue to pray this is something she will simply outgrow.
Her parents have been completely amazing during this unexpected hard season. We have had our share of tears and questions, and yes, even anger, but through it all, God has showered us all with grace and mercy, and we know without doubt He has had Annabel in the palm of His hand the entire time.
Being a grandma? What can I tell you? It’s so much more amazing and wonderful than I ever anticipated. And so hard at the same time. Because you want to fix it all and you can’t. But you can pray and you can hug your daughter and rock her sweet baby to sleep as many times as she needs you to, all the while wondering if you’re strong enough to handle this . . . oh, I have asked. And I remember moments with my own two children when fear crept in for one reason or another, and I remember now what I did then … I can do all things. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Even when it’s hard. Even when it seems impossible.
We just do it. And He provides all the strength we need.
I’m currently spending some time up at our place in Northern Ontario. Fall brings cooler air and some much needed times before the fire, reading, talking and making plans. Visiting with friends and family. And planting.
I saw the bulbs at the gardening center. I usually pass them by because we’re rarely here in spring, so what would be the point. This year I paused. I looked at those pretty flowers on the labels, and I thought about the cleared garden my husband worked hard on over the summer, and I thought, yes. Yes. This year. Whether I see the results or not, this year I will plant. Because once they take root, those bulbs will bring a colorful array of blooms hopefully every year. It will be worth the investment of time. One day I will enjoy the display, and I’ll be glad I decided to plant.
When we decide to plant, to sow seeds, to invest . . . it’s often unintentional, isn’t it? So often we have no idea what we’re planting. Time spent with a friend in need. Hours in a hospital, exchanging a weary but grateful smile with an equally weary nurse who just wants to go home, but asks if there’s anything else she can do for you before she does. Laughter and sharing of stories with family and friends. The simple giving of yourself. Of your time. Even on the days when all you want to do is stay in bed and hide from the world.
You plant. You sow. You invest.
And perhaps not today or tomorrow or the day after that, but one day, one day we might be rewarded with a thank you, a hey remember that time you . . . or a hug, and an I love you.
I’m glad I planted those bulbs. I’m glad I spent that time in that hospital. I’m glad for the good and the bad and the very scary . . . because they allow us to grow. To trust. To believe.
And so we plant.
I know, it’s been an age. And honestly, I’m not sure you’ll hear much from me around here anymore. I haven’t quite ‘hit’ the formulae that keeps people hooked. So this is more of a fun post that my friend Laurie Tomlinson has going, so I thought I’d join in the fun. It’s almost time for the annual American Christian Fiction Writers conference! I’ll be heading to Dallas next week to spend a few days learning craft, talking books and writing, and hanging out with friends, and squeezing in a few meetings in between all the fun. But the meetings will be fun too. So generally, it’s a grand old time and I can’t wait! So let’s find out who’s going, and get to know each other!
– Copy/paste the questions and fill out your own answers in a post on your own website and paste the URL to that specific post (not your homepage) using this handy link-up tool. Just click on the button below that says “Add your link”. If you don’t have a website, feel free to answer the questions in the comments below!
– Make sure to link back to Laurie’s post after you fill out your answers so any of your readers who are conference attendees can participate, too! The more, the merrier.
Name: Cathy West
What you write/tagline/trademark: Stories that Resonate. I write Women’s Fiction for Harper Collins Christian Publishing.
Place in the book world: I have three indie pubbed book and two traditionally published books out in the world, and one on the way!
On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: Um. It depends. 🙂 But if you want to hug me, I’ll probably be fine with it.
Something VERY serious: How do you take your Starbucks? I like Pikes Place with milk and sweetener. I also love iced vanilla lattes and caramel machiattos but they’re totally bad for me. 🙂
The unique talking points that will get you going for hours: Wow. I have no idea. Dogs? My new baby granddaughter. The publishing industry, writing real. And we could talk politics but let’s not. 🙂
Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: Hubby, daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter and my border collie Noah!
Conference goals we can pray for? I don’t do so well in big groups of people, so I always need a calm and collected spirit, as well as some boldness. Meeting new people is sometimes challenging too. I would also love to do some brainstorming for what to write next, and come home with a clear idea of that.
Anything we can celebrate with you? My next book releases June 2018, and it has a title, When Hope Begins, and a beautiful cover in the works too!
Now it’s your turn! And don’t forget to go back to Laurie’s page to post your blog link when you’re done!
Hope to see you in Dallas!!
Thirty one years. Today. I stood before him in a long white gown that cost more than my father wanted to spend, but he bought it for me anyway, because it was the one and he was ‘the one’ and my Dad would have bought me the moon if I said I wanted it.
I stood before him, this man I loved with all my being, both of us still more kids than adults, at 20 and 21. Kids who thought we knew what we were doing but the only thing we really knew was that we couldn’t live without the other. I stood before him amongst a crowd of friends and family and fragrant roses and I repeated the words my father-in-law said in a voice barely above a whisper, and before I knew what was happening we were husband and wife. And holy cow. There was no going back.
People thought it wouldn’t last. Oh, nobody was impolite enough to say it, but I know some friends thought we were nuts. Some adults shook their heads and probably regretted the amount they spent on crystal and silver and fine china for what would surely become another sad statistic, a failed marriage.
We’re still using that silver and china, though there’s not much of the crystal left. And sure, maybe the odds were stacked against us. Maybe the long nights of a resident doctor who couldn’t come home when his three-month old wouldn’t stop crying and his wife was about to lose her last nerve would have taken their toll.
Maybe the selfishness and petty arguments and all the things we said and did that we didn’t really mean, maybe those would have turned the tide at some point. Made it easy to walk out. Maybe raising two kids and being an island doctor where everybody knows your name and most of your business and when you’re young and stupid and a bit insecure and you feel like you might need to be in the in-crowd and all the parties and poor choices made . . . maybe those would have over time eroded what was once a solid foundation. Maybe.
I’ll tell you, we had those moments. Everybody has those moments. Because marriage. Marriage is not easy. Not. Easy. If it is, if you’ve never had a single argument or thought one bad thing about your spouse or wanted to throw a plate across the table (we never did this, though I wanted to at times and he probably did too) well . . . if you’ve never had those moments, I won’t say you’re doing it wrong, but I might want to check your pulse.
Here’s what so many people don’t get.
Love is more than just the gooshy feeling you get in the pit of your stomach. Love is more than catching each other’s eye across a crowded room and sending silent messages that make you want to dissolve into laughter. Love is more than knowing when to say the words and when to stay silent. Love is more than all the emotions being together evokes.
Love is choosing to sacrifice yourself for that person.
Choosing them, their happiness and well-being above your own. And sure, you can work that out and call it being a team or a partnership or whatever worldly tag you want to tack on it, but it’s more than that. Love, true love, the kind that lasts, that’s something spiritual. That’s a gift from God. And the thing about gifts? We get to choose whether to accept them. We can take a gift and thank the giver and promptly stick the thing on the shelf and let it gather dust. Or we can unwrap it and choose to use it.
Marriage is a choice. Staying married is a choice.
You choose. You choose him on the day you say I do and you choose him every single day after that. You choose him when you trip over the pile of clothes on the bedroom floor in the middle of the night. You choose him when he drinks all the milk and leaves dirty dishes on the counter and you choose him over every stupid thing that drives you bonkers but it doesn’t really matter in the long run because . . . he is yours. You choose him. And he chooses you. Believe me, if I listed everything I do that probably drives him up the wall, this would be one long blog. Though I know I am not the easiest person in the world to live with at times, I also know he chooses me too, and I thank God for it.
After thirty one years of choosing to love one another, there are still days when I don’t think we’ve got anything figured out at all. But those days get fewer and far between as each year passes. Time together gets sweeter and more precious. We’ve seen other marriages fail. We’ve cried over them. Prayed over them and hoped to God that something might change, and I think that makes us more determined in our own choices. More determined to love anyway. To laugh more. To be more intentional in our relationship with one another. And we don’t have it all together. We probably never will because we’re just human. We will still fail. But we will continue to choose to forgive. Choose to forget. And always choose each other over all else.
How? I’ve been asked. How in the world do you still have this happy marriage after so many years? And there’s really only one answer to that.
Because of Jesus.
Because He gives us the strength. He gives us the love. He gives life and breath and everything we never knew we needed and I can tell you . . .without Him? Yeah. It’s hard enough with Him. But without that trust, that mutual faith and foundation we placed this relationship on from day 1? Maybe we would be that statistic, who knows. I hope not. But we chose Him. We choose Him. And through Him, we choose each other. Over and over and over again.
These words, I know you hear them at almost every wedding, but there’s a reason for that. It’s because they are true. Words to live by. Every day.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
And so we choose to do this thing. To keep doing it until our last breath together.
We choose love.
That was a text I got from my daughter a few hours into labour.
“Is it supposed to hurt this much?”
I wanted to laugh, but I didn’t. Because, yes. It is.
And it does.
And it will continue to.
With every challenge that comes with being a parent. Being a mother or father or husband or wife or grandparent or just being . . . living this life.
Life hurts this much. Is it supposed to? I don’t know.
I wish I could say with complete certainty that no, no it’s not supposed to, but what do I do with that when it does? What do I do when life takes an unexpected turn and everything goes off the rails and we’re suddenly facing down giants we never imagined existed? What do I do when there aren’t any answers to all my pathetic questions and all I feel is inexplicable anger and confusion and sadness and there’s no STOP button?
Is it supposed to hurt this much?
“‘Cause you can’t jump the track,we’re like cars on a cable
And life’s like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button girl,
So cradle your head in your hands
And breathe, just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe . . . ”
That soulful Anna Nalick song from years back still gets me every time.
‘Cause you can’t jump the tracks.
Cradle your head in your hands. And breathe. Just breathe.
Breathe out all the fears and all the prayers that can’t be voiced because the words won’t come. Breathe them out and hope they’re heard anyway.
As long as we still have breath, we still have life. Hope. I think this is still true. I’m trying to convince myself it is. Trying to convince myself that all this, these unforeseen challenges our family is facing, is happening for a reason. Though for the life of me I can’t make sense of it.
I wrote on my Facebook page a week or so ago that I feel like a bad Christian when life hurts too much and I just don’t get it. I feel like I’m supposed to hold my head high and slap on a smile and say something like this too shall pass, God is in control, we’ll just keep praying . . . but honest? I don’t feel the assurance I think I’m supposed to. And I get that knot in my stomach as fear rises and everything I thought I believed in is pushed beyond the limit. Faith is tested. And faltering.
Is it supposed to hurt this much?
I’ve been in this place before, under different circumstances. And I thought that valley was bad. My lamentations then were nothing compared to this current feeling of helplessness. Desperate to fix things that you have no power over and trying to be strong because they need you to be but all you feel is small and weak most days, and nights are long and restless, filled with unpleasant thoughts and clammy, clinging fear.
And yet still I know others walk a road filled with obstacles far greater than the ones we face. Their giants loom larger and more menacing, their nightmares far more frightening. But this road, our road? It’s still hard. It’s still rough and winding and treacherous in its own way and some days feels impossible to traverse. And I guess we can own that. I guess it’s okay to want to find a detour, a short cut, a better way. But when there isn’t one?
You gotta keep going.
I learned this lesson a long time gone and now I know it’s the only way forward. One foot in front of the other. One day at a time. And if you need a hand to hold onto or another ten feet of rope because yours is frayed and that knot you tied in desperation is slowly coming unraveled?
Yell for more rope.
“And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. It turned out that whenever Moses raised his hands, Israel was winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek was winning. But Moses’ hands got tired. So they got a stone and set it under him. He sat on it and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on each side. So his hands remained steady until the sun went down.” Exodus 17: 10-13
I love this scene, this vision of old Moses losing strength, unable to lift his hands one more time. And there come his friends alongside him, grab hold tight and lift his arms for him. This picture I get in my head kind of makes me cry a little. Because I’m so grateful for my Exodus 17 friends. The ones who hold you up when you can’t stand anymore. The ones who pray when your voice is gone, throat too tight to speak. The ones who reach out even when there’s really nothing to say, just to let you know they’re there. And they don’t mind when you ask the same question over and over again.
Is it supposed to hurt this much?
Maybe. If only for this reason. To see the good in others, to know love and concern and realize the world isn’t so bad after all, and to be heard and seen and understood and held up in thought and prayer. And to know that when the tables turn, as they surely will, you can be there in that way for them . . . so maybe it is.
Maybe it is.
Dear Baby E,
You’re late. I suspect this may be a good indication that we will get along well. (I think this trait may come from both sides!).
As your grandmother, I reserve the right to tell you what’s up, and rest assured I probably will, whether you like it or not. Heads up – from age 11 to 18, you probably won’t like it at all. But I know you’ll have been raised right so you’ll smile politely and half agree, then you’ll go home and grumble. And that’s okay. But I hope you and I have the kind of relationship where you feel safe enough to grumble to my face. So I can grumble back and then we can talk about our grumblings. Like Bears. Bears grumble a lot. But that’s the best kind of friendship there is. The ones where you’re comfortable enough to grumble together.
So you’re getting ready to make your grand entrance into this world. (A week late, but I’ve already pointed that out). And you’ve probably heard a few things over the last 9 months from your cozy warm spot inside Mom’s belly, and you may be a little freaked about coming out. I don’t blame you. But here’s the thing.
The world is still a good place.
I know, I know. That’s not what you’ve heard. I get it. But I have to believe it is. I have to believe that there are still really, really good people around us. I happen to know a few of them. You’ll be meeting them soon, but here’s a preview.
Your Dad. Well, let’s start with the super cool fact that your dad is a firefighter!! Yeah, he can drive the firetruck!!
And spray the big hose! How cool is that? (We don’t have red engines here, sorry). But basically what your dad does is a service, which means he’s ready to lay his life down for others at a moments notice. Right now he doesn’t do a whole lot of running into burning buildings, and we’re okay with that, but he knows how. Your Dad also has a great sense of humor, a huge heart, he’s really smart, and he’s pretty much a walking encyclopedia, so keep that in mind when you need to research for school projects. Best of all, he loves Jesus, and he loves your Mom beyond measure, so that makes him tops in our book. Trust me, I know all about great Dads, and you’ve snagged yourself a keeper.
Your Mom – Well, you’ll see as soon as you arrive, but you have a gorgeous mom. She is truly beautiful, not only on the outside, but on the inside too. Though I suspect she’ll be a wee bit tired when you first meet. There’s so much to say about her, but I think you’ll figure out pretty quickly that she’s super cool and chill. Your mom has the best laugh. She got it from her Dad, more about him in a bit. She’s also got a wicked sense of humor – the sarcasm gene runs strong, you have been warned. (I take full credit for this trait). She is also the most loving person you will ever meet. She went to Africa and Romania and loved on little kids. She’s got the biggest brightest smile that makes you feel right at home and I bet you have the same one. I can’t wait to see the two of you smiling at each other. I will probably cry and pretend there’s dust in the air. Speaking of crying, sorry to say but you’re pretty much emotionally screwed from the get go. You come from two extremely emotional families. With the exception of myself, who is finding keeping those emotions at bay more difficult as each year passes, everyone can cry at the drop of a hat. So you might want to invest in the Kleenex company. Your mom loves music, and she loves to shop (my apologies, it’s my fault), and she is the best photographer, ever. You will have the most beautiful baby pictures. And all the pictures for the rest of your life. You’re set. So hopefully you don’t inherit your dad’s aversion to cameras, because . . . well, it’s going to work in your favor to just smile and be adorable. She can also be a bit of a worrier (my apologies again), so if you can do your best not to cause her any anxiety ever . . . okay, never mind. She’ll worry anyway. It’s a Mom thing. But seriously, do your mom a favor and come out soon, Baby E, because she’s really anxious to meet you!
Your Uncle and Aunt – what can we say about these two? Well, for starters, the first wedding you attend (more than likely), will be theirs!! How cool is that going to be?! You’ll get to be all dressed up fancy and hopefully be on your best behavior, but you’ll only be just over a year old, so even if you throw a fit, nobody will care. (But listen, you can only get away with that for a few months okay?). So these are two of the people that will spoil you rotten. Of course Papa and I will too, but we’ll see you more so we probably have to throw in a bit of discipline now and then. These guys are going sing you songs, (they might even write you one because they’re pretty talented in that arena), you should be very musically inclined as you will have it from both sides of your family. They will take you fun places (all the rides your parents say no to) and give you all the ice cream you want. Just don’t throw up in their car. Your uncle might try to tell you inappropriate jokes from time to time. Just ignore him. They are full of light and love and laughter, and you’re going to have so much fun getting to know them. They are really good at lots of stuff, really fun to be around, and they are going to love you to the moon and back.
Your Papa – I’m probably a little biased, since I am still crazy in love with the man after 30 plus years, but I think your Papa is the best. He’s got this amazing smile, and the biggest, craziest laugh, it might startle you at the beginning, but you’ll get used to it, and I bet it’s going to be one of the things that makes YOU laugh! Your Papa just LOVES. And I mean loves . . . he sees the good in everyone, puts the rest of us to shame, really, so learn from him. Your Papa loves taking care of people. He learned that from his dad, your Great-Papa. You won’t get to meet him, but he was an amazing man, and he would have loved you to bits. He took care of people as a pastor, and your Papa loves taking care of kids. He’s very smart and knows how to make sick kids all better. That’s pretty cool, huh? Papa has a great sense of humor (are you sensing a theme here?), he loves to play guitar and worship Jesus, you want to see him bouncing up on that stage some day, he’s crazy passionate about it and it is awesome! Papa will do anything for anyone. Papa loves his family like we’re the best thing on earth, which to him we are. His dream vacation is to get us all together and just hang out. And we like to do that a lot, so I hope you’ll learn to love those times just as much as we do. If you ever have a problem, Papa is a great listener. He may not always be able to fix the problem right away or even at all, but he will always listen and he will pray for you, and sometimes that’s better than a quick fix anyway. Oh, and he gives the best hugs. And makes the best silly voices. You’re going to love him. He already loves you more than you can imagine.
Baby E, you’re so lucky to be coming into a big family! You have family in Bermuda and Canada and America and Northern Ireland and the Netherlands even!! You have great-grandparents, and grandparents, and uncles and aunts and great uncles and great aunts and second cousins who are all anxiously awaiting your arrival! I love that you are so so loved by so many people already. My family was pretty small and I lived far away from all my relatives, but you have more relatives than I can list on one hand!!
Since I’ll probably be one of the first people you meet after your mom and dad, I just wanted to say all this now, because there’s going to be some dust in the room that day and I might not be able to say too much at first. By the way, you should know that about me. I’m much more comfortable with the written word than the spoken ones. But that’s just me. I’m kind of an introvert, (like you’re being right now,) I prefer to be with a small group of friends or family, and sometimes I don’t say a whole lot. But I promise to always talk to you. To always listen, speak when you need me to and stay quiet when you don’t. I will always be there for you, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.
And I have a feeling you’re stepping into greatness, Baby E. Because you can be whatever you want. Do all the things. Don’t be afraid. Respect your fears but don’t let them control you. Be brave. Sometimes that’s hard and maybe you might think it impossible, but trust me. You come from brave people. You can conquer anything.
Read lots. Books are your friends. Love fiercely and then some. Laugh long into the night. Be a light. See the world for what it is and not what you think it should be, and love it anyway. Love Jesus with all your heart. You’ll need Him more than you know.
Love your crazy amazing family as much as we love you, we’re not perfect, but you won’t be either. But we’ll tell everyone you are. Over and over again. 🙂
Pray lots, for us and for others, and your heart will grow. Mostly, just enjoy every day, every new discovery, and every chance to do it all over again with the sunrise.
You are about to embark on the greatest adventure ever. The greatest gift God ever gave us.
And I can’t wait to see what you do with it.
I already love you all around the earth and all the planets and back again times a million.
I hope your Christmas was fabulous! We spent a quiet day together, and then, in a shocking break from tradition, we went to a restaurant for Christmas dinner! It was lovely not having to spend the day chopping, peeling and cooking, constantly checking the clock to make sure everything was running on time. I’ll admit, it wasn’t quite the same as being at home, but there were definitely advantages. Christmas was also a little different this year as we did not have our son home for the first time ever! We missed him a lot, but he spent a happy holiday with his fiancée, so I don’t think he missed us quite as much! 🙂 And now here we are in the last week of December, waiting for 2017.
The coming year promises to be an exciting one for our family. We are eagerly awaiting the birth of our very first grandchild in April! Our daughter and son-in-law have chosen not to find out what they’re having, so it will be a great surprise for us all, but I can tell you that this little one is already being spoiled! And we’ll have a wedding in the works – we don’t know the date for that yet, but the happy couple are so excited, and we are too. Amidst all that, I’ll be launching my second release from Harper Collins at the end of March. I can’t wait to get The Memory of You into the hands of my readers, and I hope you’ll love the story as much as I do. In the meantime, if you can’t wait a few more months, you can grab an advanced copy on NetGalley! We love early reviews, so please leave one on GoodReads if you end up reading it that way! You can also PRE-ORDER your copy now and it’ll be delivered on release day, March 28th!!
Lately, I’ve been evaluating how I spend my time, and how best to reach out to my readers and really make those meaningful connections. As you may know, I do hang out a lot on Facebook, and you’ll find the most updated information about my books and writing life on my Author Page, but I’d love to make this blog a fun regular place for us to interact as well.
My plan for the new year is to post every Monday and Friday. Mondays will be my usual musings on writing and life in general, and I’ll try not to be boring, but Fridays I thought we could talk about books, tv shows and movies, because who doesn’t love to talk about that? And if you have any questions you’d love us to chat about, shoot them my way and we can work them into the schedule as well. Speaking of chats, my next Author Chat Party will be held on Tuesday, January 24th, if you’d like to mark the date for that! I’ll be setting up a Facebook Event closer to the time, so look for it, and I hope you’ll join us. The last one was really fun, with great conversation and giveaways!
Speaking of fun and giveaways . . . today is the start of my FUN POST-CHRISTMAS PHOTO CONTEST!! Now you can’t tell me you didn’t just get up and dance around the room!! It’s okay if you didn’t. 🙂
Here’s how it works –
* Send me your cutest Christmas photo – your dog, kids, spouse, anything that captures the fun you had over the holidays – email the photo to firstname.lastname@example.org (By sending your photo you give permission for me to post it in the Fun Christmas Photo Contest Gallery on my Facebook Author Page).
* All photos must be received by and will be posted on January 1st, 2017! My readers will be asked to vote over the next week, and decide on the 3 best pictures!
* 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners will all receive one copy of any one of my books, winner’s choice! Winners will be announced on Monday January 9th!
And that’s all there is to it! I can’t wait to see all your fun photos! Here’s my fun photo to inspire you!
“The things I do for this woman . . .” said Noah, putting on his most adorable pose in hopes of an extra treat.
Well, that’s about all the news from this end, thanks for reading!
Tell me how your Christmas was, what was your one best thing this year?
I’ve just returned from a few days in Nashville, where I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference. I was trying to figure out dates in my head and I think this must be at least the eighth conference I’ve attended, and still, I’ll be honest, it’s the best of times and it’s the worst of times.
And I need to unpack that this morning.
The best of times – moments like this. Seeing old friends and making new ones. Words like community and fellowship become reality over these few days. As a writer, I spend a lot of time alone. I’m not good at getting out and making new friends. And to be honest, most of my really good friends, my heart-friends, my writer friends, live across the ocean. It’s hard. So when ACFW rolls around, I’m so pumped to get to spend those few days with them, talking life and writing and all that involves. Honestly, I think I talk more in those few days than I do all year. Not kidding.
So this year’s conference was a little different. This year I went in still celebrating the release of my first book with a major publisher. People I didn’t know from Adam walked up to me and told me they loved my book. I got the shock of my life one evening at dinner when my book – my book – was one of the giveaway books on the tables.
I finally got to meet my wonderful editor and the team at Harper Collins who’ve all worked so hard to get my book out there!
Got to spend time with my amazing agent, and celebrate the book’s release in person!
There were many sweet moments with friends, lots of laughter and hilarity.
And then there were those moments when I wondered just what in the world I thought I was doing.
The best of times. The worst of times.
Because on the outside I was smiling big, while shaking my head on the inside. Listening to old voices saying, “Well, aren’t you all that? Not.” All weekend long, fear crept in.
Insecurity. Feeling like I didn’t belong. That I was faking it. And that sooner or later somebody would see, and call me out. “Hey, you there! Yeah. What do you think you’re doing here trying to be cool with all these authors who are so much better than you?! Come on. Get outta here.”
Do you know that voice? Oh, please tell me you do. Tell me I’m not the only one here in crazy town. Because seriously, I’m fifty freaking years old and I don’t need to be dealing with high-school kid feelings. I don’t need to be feeling like I’m looking at all the cool kids, wanting desperately to fit in, knowing that I don’t.
What is that even about??!! It makes me mad. So mad. Mostly at myself for buying into it. I should know better. Yet here I sit, struggling to make sense of it all.
Because it’s easy to pretend we have it all together, isn’t it? But that’s not who I am. I stopped pretending awhile ago. At least I hope I did. But if you’ve read my writing, you probably already figured that out. I am all about real. I have to be. Because to be anything else is to deny who I am and what I’m feeling. And that is never okay.
So that’s why I’m being real here, with you, because it’s stupid to be anything else. I believe in writing from a place of freedom, telling the most honest story God places on my heart, in the rawest way possible. I must also live out my life in that freedom.
I long for community. For friends. For those heart-sisters I can share secrets with. Yet my insecure self always holds me back. The old mean and nasty voices tell me I’m not good enough, not deserving enough, not . . . whatever. You know?
Where is your identity?
That’s what I think God’s been asking me this weekend.
I think for me right now, it would be so easy to stay on the mountaintop. To put on that badge of ‘published author’ and be all that and a bag of chips.
Oh, God help me if I do.
I never ever, ever want to feel better than anyone else, to be seen as better. That sucks. I hate that feeling, truly. Just because I’m published doesn’t make me any different than when I wasn’t. Sure, it’s a great accomplishment, one I’ve worked for, and I am so, so grateful for the opportunity to share my words in a broader market . . . but it can’t change who I am. I think I’m seeing that this morning. No matter how many books I have published, whether they do well or not, deep down I still feel like that young, dorky girl who doesn’t belong, who wants to shrink in a corner and just go invisible. And I don’t think that’s what God wants for me either.
We are all sons and daughters of a Father who loves us beyond our earthly imaginings. We’re all on equal ground in his eyes. We all belong.
If there is any good in me, it comes from Him. Any talent, all from Him. Insecurity, fear, feelings of insignificance? Not from Him.
So when I’m in a room of over 500 people? Sure, I freak out a little. But I do belong. I belong because we all do. We’re all connected. All on equal ground. I may not have the confidence that some of my peers do. I am not in that place right now where I could get up and speak with boldness to an entire room full of people. I may never be. But that doesn’t mean I’m not just as important in the eyes of God. That doesn’t mean I can’t trust Him to take my gifts and use them for His glory. I absolutely must.
That is my identity.
That’s really all there is to it. So simple, yet often so hard to live out. But I’m trying. It’s all we can do, isn’t it? Try.
So that’s my bit of honesty today. I pray that if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, like I am, perhaps this may help a bit. Sometimes it’s good to know we’re not alone in this.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14
So honored to be a recipient of this year’s Grace Awards! And since I’m knee deep in edits this week, it gives me something to celebrate! And blog about. 😛
The Grace Awards, a reader driven awards and the most democratic awards in Christian fiction, now in its sixth year, is very proud to announce its 2015 WINNERS. This year we had an array of widely diverse judges (multi-published authors, traditionally published ones, indie authors, and avid readers). Our judges commented on how pleased they were with the high quality of the finalists chosen by readers this year. Several judging teams ‘complained’ they had trouble picking a winner because all three stories nominated were so good. This only serves to justify the faith we have in our Christian readers who nominate the finalists. That’s what the Grace Awards is all about.
We’ve tried to use, if you will, a separation of powers in choosing our winners. Readers nominated (via email) the finalists in six categories. After the nominations were counted, finaling titles were given to our judging teams. From that point on there was no…
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Source: Guarding The Writer’s Heart