Monday, July 02, 2007

Decisions/She Speaks

It is good to be loved. First of all, by a Heavenly Father who sees to the details of my life even when I act flicted. (Karen, that was for you.) And second by friends who read my blog post or sensed there was something wrong with me at She Speaks and took the time to call or email their concern. And pray for me. And finally by my husband, who listens patiently when I am quite sure he wants to tear his hair out as I wrestle again with the same issues and doubts. The good news is, I am feeling much better. The bad news is, I am quite certain that this is not the end of my questions and doubting.

Our pastor preached a great sermon on dealing with the same stuff over and over yesterday at church. It helped me feel normal. He basically said that when you stop struggling, you're dead. You don't arrive until you get to Heaven. I liked that. It ministered to me and made me feel less strange. (If you would like to watch the sermon online and feel ministered to, go to this link.)

I still can't explain exactly what happened at She Speaks, except to say that there were several factors at play over the course of the weekend. One was not only my own publishing appointments not going well, but also several of my friends' publishing appointments not going well. I just felt discouraged by all of it-- and I got to the place of wanting to yell, "Stop the ride, I want to get off!" One word I kept hearing was "package." As in, great idea, great concept, just need to package it a bit different. Ie, make it palatable for the buying public. I know that publishing moguls know their stuff-- and I know that a book (no matter how good it is) that won't sell doesn't do anybody any good, but I also just get tired of the business end of publishing at times. And so, it sucked the wind right out of my sails pretty quick.

That set me up for questioning a lot. I wondered why I was there, what was I adding, was I really making any difference taking a weekend away from my family? Because the truth is, I do make a difference spending the weekend with my family-- so to be away from them is a sacrifice. And I wondered why I was making that sacrifice. And then I just wanted to go home. It is safe there, and I don't have to take any risks or face rejection. And then I convinced myself that home is where I was meant to be and not ministry in any shape, form or fashion. Folks, I was all over the map. I was driving myself crazy.

It took days of processing and praying to get to a sane place about it. I didn't really talk to anyone about it-- except my husband. He listened more than any one human should have to. And to his credit he never even seemed exasperated. He offered his input, he made his suggestions, but in the end he left me to figure it out. More than that, he trusted me to figure it out.

Two things happened last week that seemed "random" at the time, but later I realized that they weren't random at all.

The first thing was we swam against one of the speaker team members' kids' team and I talked to her a bit at the meet. She asked me if I had gotten an email sent by one of the team members about a dream she had had. (I hadn't.) In the dream a man dressed in black had entered the Proverbs' office through the back door and began to steal from the office. She sensed the danger in this man's presence and rushed around trying to warn everyone. When she woke up the next morning and had her quiet time, she felt God telling her that man was Satan and his goal was to steal from the staff in the days following She Speaks, just like in her dream. I realized that what I had been facing was, to a large degree, Satan's effort to steal from me and others through me. The interesting thing was, I didn't get that email, but God made sure I ran into that team member and He led her to share that story with me. It really helped me to see the stronghold Satan had on me for exactly what it was, instead of writing it off as "nothing."

The second thing that happened was when I was eating lunch with my new friend Kelly. She was so sweet in asking me how I balanced motherhood and ministry. I didn't fail to miss the timing as it was right as I was struggling. I was honest with her about that, but what stuck out to me was how she said that she had been observing me and what I do, and how that had given her hope that she could be a good mom to her girls while also pursuing what she is passionate about. I realized that I am not only doing this for God, or myself or Proverbs-- but for all the younger moms (how did I get this old?) who will come behind me and need encouragement as they try to figure out how to balance motherhood. This was powerful and encouraged me to persevere.

I talked with my friend Karen about this this morning and she said that she also struggles at times with balancing it all-- homeschooling, motherhood, homemaking, being a wife and then also doing the writing and speaking thing. She said there have been so many times where she just wanted to quit-- that it was too hard to try to "do it all." And in those moments, she felt God nudging her that quitting would mean failing to take the test. He was asking her to rise to the occasion-- to not only test herself, but to test Him in what He would add to her life if she would only take those first tenuous steps of faith. This also helped me put it into perspective. I need to hang on to that image of failing to take the test. The easy way out just seems so lucrative at times, but is that what will bring about God's best in my life?

I am thankful for those people in my life who help me when the tests come. Without them, I would most certainly fail miserably. On Saturday I leave to go to ICRS with my friends Lysa, Rachel, Micca, Susanne, and Glynnis. All speaker team members. All people who are doing this thing with me. All fun, vivacious girls who add to my life. I am going with my husband's complete blessing. I am looking forward to it. I am going with no designs or motives-- except to have fun and get some free books.

I am teaching a workshop on blogging at the AWSA conference on Saturday, and I get to be Lysa's "date" to the Harvest House author appreciation dinner. This will be my fourth time going to this shin-dig as her date. It is fun and has become something of a tradition. Is it hard to go be around all those published authors when I am not one? In a way, yes. I am human after all. But more than that, it is surreal to be in the same room with Elizabeth George, Emilie Barnes, Donna Otto, and others who helped me first figure out how to be a Christian wife, mother and homemaker. When I most feel like giving up, it is those ladies' sweet faces I picture. I know what a difference they made in my life-- and I know that writing books is worth it, and by default Christian publishing is worth it. Because I don't know where I or my family would be without their wisdom entering my life through their books. And so, I persevere because maybe, just maybe, God will use me to help someone else like those ladies helped me. When I think about it that way, I realize, how could I not?
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M. Milbourn said...

Hey Girl,
Glad God has given you some insight into this situation.
Much Love.

Mandy said...

I went through a very similar experience lately when all I could do was ask, "WHY?!" Then I read the beginning of a Stormie Omartian book in which she had felt just like this, and I too realized Satan had a hold on me. I had some one-on-one time with the Lord and prayed for his help, and in no time things were normal again.

Beth said...

I felt somewhat similar at She Speaks this year. But, we were facing a terrifying diagnosis for my 5 year old son the following Tuesday. As it turns out, God answered my prayers and he was fine. I think that stronghold of fear robbed me of my joy. I had so been looking forward to She Speaks again.
Now, I'm reading Lysa's book "What Happens When Women Say Yes to God," and it's exciting to see that only after 3 chapters I can see God working.

I had recently had to face the facts that I got terribly self-centered. I was trying to find my "place " to serve, and the quest for that became like an idol. I stopped focusing on God. No wonder I was getting so frustrated, and not finding that satisfaction I was seeking! Now,I'm just trying to focus on God. He'll lead me where I need to be, if I just follow Him...

I was in you blogging class, Marybeth. I started my own after that! There's very little on it yet as I figure this out, but this is me:

Happy 4th!!

Lauren Caldwell said...

This post was the most encouraging to me- even if it conveyed your discouraging moments. I missed the your class on how to write a blog because I was coming from an appt. and got all mixed up in my scheduling. But later, at lunch, I gleaned some tidbits from some gals who went to your class. I got raring to go again and updated my blog-
I am so ministered to by the candid sharing of all of you on the P31 speaker team- may I never shrink back from letting others see His power made perfect in my weakness.