Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Long Journey

Last Wednesday our women's prayer group at church discussed how God answers prayer. Of course, we were asked to share a personal example. There are many instances when Father came through for me miraculously, His timing perfect, His provision above and beyond what I could have hoped for. Still other times when He said no, and for years I struggled with accepting His answer, petitioning Him again and again, then years later coming back to His feet to rejoice and thank Him for opening my eyes to see His great mercy and wisdom in saying no. But the example He prompted me to share is one I'm living right now, one where He said wait.
For more than fifteen years, I've been writing a novel. So long, in fact, that I also have written a sequel and scenes, notes and story archs for at least three others. It's turned into an entire series. It's been revised and edited and critiqued so many times I've lost count. Still, in the dark recessess of my back-up hard drive, I have no doubt that the original copy lurks somewhere in all its raw glory. And I've been praying since shortly after its inception about getting this book published.
Umpteen years ago, a writer would submit a manuscript to a publisher, who would then decide whether or not to publish it. Sounds like a simple process, right? Yeah, well, those days are gone. The literary agent has become a clearing house of sorts for publishers that have become inundated with unsolicited manuscripts. Rare is the book that makes it to print without a great agent's representation. In fact, finding an agent has become as daunting, perhaps more so, as finding a publisher was a decade ago.
I don't have the typical novelist's journey. I haven't queried five hundred agents. I don't have an entire room wallpapered with rejection letters. Don't get me wrong. I didn't just pen a novel and put it on a shelf. I majored in English, took college-level creative writing and book editing classes, interned for a local publisher, joined writers' groups and critique groups, and recently attended some writer's conferences. I've been a diligent worker bee (most of the time). But the Lord made it clear to me that the writing was really all that I could control. The rest was in His hands.
At a recent conference I was blessed to meet Jonathan Clements, one of those truly genuine people you meet only once in a while. It was a divine appointment. That's the only way I can explain it. I walked away from that meeting with an amended prayer...not even a prayer so much as a conviction: Lord, that's my agent. That's the one. Jonathan asked for the first three chapters, and I sent them. A few weeks later, his partner, Cari Foulk, asked for the rest of the manuscript.
In the meantime, I ran into discouragement from some surprising places. But the Lord kept speaking wait. That's His favorite four-letter word, by the way. He also said trust Me a lot. It helped that my husband and my best friend echoed Him.
Then last week, I received validation unlike any I've ever received before. I had a phone call with Cari. She liked my manuscript! Just as with my writing journey, I won't put everything she said here because some nuggets are meant for me only. But to cut this short, today they offered me a contract.
I am now represented by Tribe Literary Agency, part of Wheelhouse Literary Group! God's goodness and mercy never cease to amaze me. Why am I always so surprised when He does what He says He'll do? Perhaps it's the waiting.
So tonight at my women's prayer fellowship, I get to share with them an answered part of a fifteen-year-long prayer. One where God said wait, and bit by bit has said yes.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Buttered Perfection

I've recently gotten into baking my own bread. It's healthier for my kids because I can use organic ingredients and whole grains, it's delicious, and it costs much less than buying it at the grocery store. Plus it's quick and fun.

Yes, I said baking bread is quick. And fun. And no, I haven't lost my mind. I stumbled across a wonderful recipe book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg. That's how my romance with baking bread began. They have a new book out now, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and it's even better than the first. My favorite recipe so far is their "100% Whole Grain Maple Oatmeal Bread," found on pages 145-146 of the second book. I served it the other night at our home group Bible study, and let's just say Doug and I were picking the crumbs off the serving tray as the rest of our group pulled out of the drive. With a little butter, this bread is perfection.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Grace Sufficient

“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is perfected in weakness.’” 2 Cor. 12:9a

Isn’t that an amazing thought? So when we’re unable, He’s capable. When we’re tired, He is our rest. When we’re weak, He’s strong. And when we see no way, He sees not only the path, but the destination.

Imagine all we could accomplish if we just let His strength be perfected in our weaknesses.