Ongoing Journey

Life is a journey. Writing is part of my ongoing joyful journey. Hopefully, some of the thoughts I share will be encouraging if your heart’s desire is to share God’s love through writing.

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

In my early twenties, a dream of “someday writing” became a compelling desire. A young stay-at-home mom with two little boys, I wanted to share some of the blessings God was providing daily. So I wrote of things I knew: successfully making my first homemade red velvet cake, happy dancing times with my little ones, date nights and special times with my handsome husband, and challenges faced and met with answered prayers.

Of course, I thought they were wonderful writings. Then I gave a few to the priest at the Episcopal Church I had attended for years. I was anxious to hear back from him. It was the first time I’d shared my stories with anyone other than my family. His comment was, “If you want to write, you need to take classes and learn how.” He probably said some other things, too, but those words were the ones I heard most clearly and those were the words that had me stop writing for almost a year. Hurt feelings aside, I thought I’d never write again because, obviously, I didn’t know how.

After a year or so, I tried again and just kept sharing with my family.

In my thirties, I decided to take a creative writing course at a local community college. The desire to write was still so strong, and hey, maybe, just maybe that priest had a valid point. The writer teaching the course was Jodi Thomas, award winning author, and very special lady. One of our assignments was to write a short fiction story before the next weekly class. I struggled and struggled and could not find any imagination that would help with that fiction tale. So, I wrote about what I knew, a true story about my husband, and titled it, The Knight in Rusty Armor. When it was my turn to read aloud in class, I explained that I just didn’t have any fiction in my head, and asked if I could read what I had written instead. She agreed, and commented, “You’re a columnist.”

That was the catalyst for periodic publications appearing in the Amarillo Globe News and The Quanah Tribune Chief. Wow! I was excited!  I was getting to share my words!

In my forties, I joined an area writers group and started entering contests and meeting real writers. One challenged me to write devotionals, so I researched that and had some devotionals accepted in The Secret Place, published by Judson Press. I also wrote and tried to find a traditional publishing house to accept two manuscripts, both Christian, non-fiction in a series called Let’s Visit, Lord. That’s when I learned, the first rejection hurts, the next twenty don’t hurt quite as badly, and all the rest just get added to the pile with the others.

I continued to write and share stories with family and friends. I also continued to keep a journal of wonderful family happenings and God’s blessings.

In my fifties, employed as an administrative assistant (formerly known as secretary, which I still think is a fine word), my employer of many years took his business to a new level and I was inundated with work. 8-5 became earlier to later and on some weekends, as well. Busy is good, but didn’t leave a lot of time for writing.

I was 63, still keeping the local main office running as smoothly as I could while my employer had an office in Montana, one in Dallas, and new projects ongoing in North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.

Right before Christmas, my employer planned a trip to Amarillo to visit with me. I had a “heads up” (when the Lord gives me a thought that something is up and about to happen) that he might be about to tell me that he didn’t need to keep the Amarillo office open any longer since he and his son were now both living and working in Dallas. After he and I visited, it was decided that I would start working part-time. After 29 years of working together, it was a huge change for both of us. I remember telling him that Jeremiah 29:11 says the Lord has plans for us to prosper, to give us hope and a future. I told him, “I don’t know the plan, but I know the Planner!”

The first thought, after questioning if my husband and I could make it work financially, was, “Finally, I get to write.” I’d been writing for many years, and now I would have time to focus on getting some of my stories in print and sharing them. I had planned to work full-time for a couple of years more, but I definitely felt my Heavenly Father’s assurance telling me, “The time is now!”

Wondering how I would adjust from working 40+ hours to 20+ hours and using my extra hours to write had me asking the Lord,  “Will you give me words to write, Lord? What if I run out of words?” God’s answer, “The Good News never runs out.” Another reassurance was when I was reminded of the scripture stating that God gives us the desires of our hearts. That means that he not only allows us to have the desires that are in our hearts, but He is the one who places those desires there. So, my desire to write is not selfish, but a fulfillment of the plans he has for me to serve him. The words he gives me and allows me to share will be of help to someone else along the way.

One day during this part-time adjustment, I just got tickled. I thought my father was telling me the word, “Blindfold” and I asked him, “You want me to follow you blindfolded, Lord?” His response was to give me a vision. (Yes, he sometimes shows me pictures to help me understand what he is teaching me.) The vision was a horse with blinders (not a blindfold!) on. That horse was heading straight for the goal with no distractions taking his attention off the direct, straight path. My father was lovingly showing me that he will lead me and I am to follow – straight on – no distractions.

A few days later, the CPA my employer and I had worked with for years, called to say he had a client who needed a part-time bookkeeper/secretary and asked if I was interested since he knew I was now in a part-time position and might have extra time. It felt great that he wanted to recommend me; such a compliment. I asked the CPA if he would let me pray and talk with my husband first before giving him an answer. I also told him that my real desire, the desire of my heart, was to write. The next day, I thanked him and told him that I would not be looking for additional work. After talking with my husband, praying, and remembering the vision of “no distractions,” I knew I was to stay focused on God’s timing, His guidance, and His perfect plan for me.

As I continued to work part-time and talk to my Father, I heard His gentle whisper, “My plans for you are so much greater than any plans you can imagine.” I continued to write.

On April 4, 2016, walking into my office, I was given a vision, a very clear image to help me along the writing journey. I was following behind Jesus.  His long, long very white robe was trailing, flowing gently around me, and encompassing the path as I continued to follow in his wake.  The billowing of the robe’s material was on either side of me and the path was wide open.

I was delighted when I noticed vapors of mists floating down on me. The vapors were blessings:  love, joy, gratitude, peace – every good gift that God has shared and continues to share with me.  They were falling gently and unceasingly.

I’m sure the smile on my face didn’t begin to compare to the joy that filled my heart at that moment.

This is what I learned during that awesome moment:  When we follow right behind, not veering to the left or the right, not allowing distractions to take our focus off him, he will shower us with blessings.  The blessings he gives will encourage us as we use our passion, our gifts, and our talents to accomplish the mission(s) he has planned for us.

During this time, my friend of many years, came to the office to have lunch with me. During our visit, she said that her husband had mentioned how great it would be if I wrote a book and she did the illustrations. She told him that my son, Barry, has a degree in fine arts and he would be the one working with me. I immediately told her that Barry had said for many years that he wanted to design the cover artwork for any books I might write. I thought it would be great if she did the interior illustrations. We started to get excited.

I thought I would be working on my previous manuscripts or organizing some of my daily stories into a book. It was not to be…

Sitting in the gazebo, visiting with my daughter-in-law, she challenged me, “Instead of working with stories you already have, why don’t you start now and write of the blessings as they come?” Wow! What an intriguing idea! That meant the Lord would be giving me ongoing blessings to write. I would be constantly watching for blessings and that meant I would be even more aware of being in my Father’s presence.

I prayed. He answered, repeatedly. Some days, I wrote more than one story. I was having a great time! On the days I didn’t have a story, I caught myself thinking, “What if I don’t get any more stories? I wanted 100 for the book and I’m not there yet.” There’s a story in the book about how the Lord settled me down on those days of waiting. I remember one day when I didn’t have a story, and I knew I was to sit down at the computer and wait. I did. Very soon, a story of another blessing came to mind and I was ready to type it.

On Friday, January 20th, 2017, I was talking with the Lord to find a word that meant we are encompassed by His awesome love, a love that is so much more than the human love we all know. Cherish, treasured, and valued were not enough to convey the hugely majestic all-encompassing God love I was referring to. The next day, Toni came to get me to go to a writers meeting. When we got into her car, she said, “I have a word for you, ‘Beloved’ – isn’t that what you told me God sometimes calls you?

Yes! That’s the word I needed and I thanked my Father and finished another blessing story for the book.

On May 31st, 2017, I sat in the gazebo with my husband and opened the box containing a proof copy of Today’s Joy, Tomorrow’s Hope. I laughed while I wiped away happy tears. My sweet husband took pictures. Then I THANKED GOD! I was holding a book with words sharing blessings that evidence God’s awesome love for us!

After making corrections in the first proof copy, ordering a second proof copy and approving it, the book went on sale at Amazon on June 28, 2017.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV) tells us “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory.

God is AWESOME and His blessings are all around us. Watch for them. Be aware. The more aware we are, the more we recognize the blessings. Gratitude for the blessings makes us more aware of God’s unconditional love and the warm welcome we will always receive when we seek to remain in His Holy Presence.