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My Ride from Sceptic to Writer

I’m leaving for my first writer’s conference this Thursday. Gulp. Yes, it’s the conference that inspired this ridiculous story about my fears. I’m not really worried I’ll make all those mistakes and I know I’ve been blessed tremendously by experienced authors who have helped me create the materials I need to pitch my story to agents and acquisitions editors, but I’m nervous! And this will be the first time I leave my kids and husband alone together for three consecutive nights. So please, please pray for all of us.

In honor of this conference—where I’ll put on my writer-hat and announce to the world I have a story for them—I’m sharing a little of my journey from sceptic writer. Hope you enjoy!

I’ve always loved to weave intriguing stories. As a child, I created mystery games and led my friends around the house collecting clues that would twist into an elaborate story. As a teenager, I was happiest spinning make believe stories around the campfire. In college, my Christian-fiction-author professor even accused me of being a writer. (For more, click here) Still, it never occurred to me that I could be a professional story teller.

As a Psychology graduate student, I allowed several university administrators to read my private journal as part of an investigation into a professor’s behavior. I did it because I believed with all my heart that it was what God wanted me to do. Many of the pages were filled with personal prayers to God, and so I believed if he wanted to share his letters then I shouldn’t stop him. But the pages also exposed brokenness in my own soul that I preferred to keep silent. To ensure that could never happen again, I stopped journaling my thoughts. If I slipped up and wrote a few pages, I was always quick to destroy the evidence.

Then tragedy struck. My husband’s cousin was killed in a heartbreaking bus accident. A young college student attending the same private Christian university I had, she was on her way to a mission trip when the driver fell asleep at the wheel. The bus veered off the road and flipped injuring many but killing only her. The last image I had of her—beautiful face alight with amusement at her family’s teasing—stayed with me. Her sweet spirit and potential all vanished so tragically. I had to process all the questions. How could God allow this? How must the bus driver feel? What would guilt like that feel like? How do you heal from such a terrible loss? Still, I refused to write down my thoughts.

But the words forced themselves out in my dreams. Instead of my story or her story, there was a new fiction individual I could write about. She had lost her mother and sister in a car accident that was her fault. Emma’s story was tragic and painful, but through her struggles I found the answers I sought. God was always with Emma even when she didn’t see it. He never stopped making her into the woman he intended. He brought her back to the career in architecture she had abandoned, freed her from her own brand of self-punishment, and even redeemed her first childhood crush along the way. Cole had some betrayal of his own to deal with before he could offer his heart to his best friend. Together they found peace and healing that only God can provide.

With so much ground to cover this manuscript became an epic. However, I still didn’t see myself as a writer. During this time, another story had materialized also from a dream—in part to escape poor Emma’s trials. This new character seemed to have it all. She’s living her dream as an aspiring actress with her first speaking part in a major motion picture. She’s fun, cheerful, beautiful, and determined to follow the Spirit.

Trisha’s story seemed more in line with what I believed most women looked for in an inspiring fiction escape so the seed finally germinated that I could write for other people. Of course, I soon learned that Trisha wasn’t as open and shut as he appeared. She had secret struggles and hurts she didn’t talk about. And she was in love with the film’s assistant director. A guy whose adulterous mother left him with trust wounds to overcome before he could let Trisha close.

Isn’t it amazing how God can take some of the most difficult times in our lives and make them beautiful and good? Excited about my creation, I dared to ask my cousin, a devoted Christian fiction fan, to read my first draft. And she loved it!

So, I immediately published and became extremely successful. Bahahahaha. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. That was for all you newbie writers out there, who expect the journey is easy because God’s in control. You will always have lessons to learn and skills to mature. In fact, I’m reminded—often—the more you know, the more you realize just how little you know. But that’s okay. It’s the way it should be. There is great joy to be found in this voyage to our Father’s arms.

Thank you for joining me in This Trial to Love Life.

 

This Trial to Love Life

I’m excited to share—my blog has a new name. Drum roll, please. Introducing…

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The longer I live the more I suspect, this life is simply a journey packed with trials meant to point us to fullness in Christ and ultimately to God. James 1:2-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (ESV). This was my favorite verse during my cancer trail because I finally got it. Continue reading “This Trial to Love Life”

Have Faith. Don’t Stash Your Stuff

This year we adopted a young Border Collie. I know very little about Bailey’s life before she became ours. The girl we got her from said Bailey had been abused, kept chained away from food and water, but didn’t go into detail. Other than to say, Bailey hated men, which apparently didn’t apply to the male’s in our household. Continue reading “Have Faith. Don’t Stash Your Stuff”

Chemotherapy Made Me Ugly…Beautiful

I have cancer. The words permeate my brain even through the haze of sleep. They haven’t been far from thoughts, since my diagnosis the week before. I offer up another pleading prayer for guidance and snuggle back to sleep.

My double stroller cast a long shadow in the cool morning. I push it along the sidewalk in front of my house, sauntering our way to my son’s elementary school around the corner. My youngest resting inside while my four and seven-year-olds run ahead.

I have a disease people die from. The words still ring surreal. This isn’t the sort of thing that happens to women with three young children to raise. Had I done something wrong? Was God done with me? Or maybe He just wanted me home.

Continue reading “Chemotherapy Made Me Ugly…Beautiful”

Bloom in Season

As I walked my kids to school, my kindergartener got excited over the “helicopter” seeds that had fallen from a tree. He tossed one up and watched it spin to the ground and my other two boys joined him.IMG_1696 2.JPG

After a few moments, I forced them on and they found some dandelion thistles to blow. The seeds went flying onto the street and sidewalk.

The obvious parallel of the parable of the sower and how some seeds fall on the road and get trampled came to mind (Matthew 13). But when I tried to discuss it with them, somehow the lesson became about how all creation points toward our creator.

I followed them around the corner. “Yes. God made us just like he made the plants, flowers, and trees. But we have more opportunity to impact than a tree.”

Continue reading “Bloom in Season”

Professional Conference Anxiety, Anyone?

When a friend asked me why I hadn’t signed up for the American Christian Fiction Writer’s conference yet, I had to stop and consider what had stalled my determination to go for the first time.

Gulp.

Seems it’s one thing to pound away day after day at my computer but quite another to dress up, spend money, and declare to the best in the business that I want to be a professional writer.

Not just that, but all that’s involved with traveling and feeling safe in a new place, trusting my instincts to make good decisions and not to make a fool of myself. Not to mention, wanting to blend in and needing to promote myself. It’s enough to make my stomach hurt.

So, like any decent psychology graduate, I analyzed what was holding me back. I processed my fears. And just as an aspiring author would do, I wrote a story about my anxiety thus creating Lilly. Because not even I could be this big of a mess! Let’s pray none of poor Lilly’s experiences happen to anyone attending the ACFW conference in September.

Continue reading “Professional Conference Anxiety, Anyone?”

Child of God: Facing Illness Without Fear

I have stage two breast cancer. Now is the time to decide if I want to do chemotherapy because there is no turning back after this procedure.

I lay on the pre-op cot awaiting the surgery to insert a port below my collarbone. The device will permit powerful chemotherapy drugs to be administered directly into my heart so my blood can dilute the chemicals enough to prevent them from burning my blood vessels.

My brain’s foggy from lack of sleep, and my thoughts whirl with the sentiments of the anti-chemotherapy crusaders whose words kept me from sleeping the night before. They tell me I’m young, and there’s still time to undo my cancer with healthy foods and herbs to allow my body to heal itself. The medical professionals say they have a treatment with a high success rate.

A treatment that could kill me, give me a different cancer, leave me damaged and unable to raise my three boys.

The confusion swirls in my mind. Who do I trust?

Please go to http://jerushaagen.com/child-of-god-facing-illness-without-fear/ to continue reading my guest post on author Jerusha Agen’s Fear Warrior Blog.

The Time Change and Ungrateful Children

The time change put our family in frantic mode this morning. I had to yank my three-year-old, Isaac, out of bed so I could take my five and nine-year-old to school.

He wailed.

I wanted to scream, “You wouldn’t feel this way if you’d gone to sleep last night, instead of sneaking out of bed to play with Legos until midnight!”

But I just strapped him into the car seat while he cried and yelled, “No. No. I don’t want to go. I’m cold.” As if he ever got to choose not to go.

Continue reading “The Time Change and Ungrateful Children”

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