Learning the Hard Way

My parents used to say that if we didn’t listen to them, we’d learn the hard way. I watched my older sister, Jill, “learn the hard way” several times and while that didn’t necessarily deter me from making my own mistakes, the saying stuck with me. Call me stubborn but here I am approaching 45 years old and still “learning the hard way.”

As most of you know, I’m on this path to become an author. It’s been several years in the making but I’ve let so many other things in life become the priority. I’ve said “yes” too many times when I actually meant no. Whether it has been putting other people’s priorities above my own or saying yes to too many subbing jobs, it doesn’t matter. I haven’t protected my writing time. Time that has been graciously given to me by God and an extremely patient and supportive husband. And now, God is letting me know that I am going to have to learn my lesson the hard way.

See over the past year, I have applied for seventeen permanent job openings within the school system that I substitute teach in. 17! That’s seventeen time-consuming applications. It’s also seventeen rejections. Seventeen times on the brink of depression for not getting a more stable job that in all reality only pays a few dollars more on the hour than what I currently make as a sub.

So what do we naturally do? We pray about it. However, when I pray about it, I keep hearing God say to me over and over again, “I’m telling you what you need to do, why are fighting my calling?”

This past week, I got another two no’s and I try hard not to let it kick up the dirt of depression but it does, maybe not as strong as it has in the past but it’s still there seeping into my confidence. When I sit quietly and think back on my week, I can clearly see what I am like when I’m home writing and what I’m like when I sub.

When I sub, I am completely depleted. My energy is next to zero. My patience towards my son is low. My interest in making a healthy dinner turns into a frozen pizza or a take-out menu. I want nothing more than to crawl into bed at 3:30 in the afternoon and stay there until the next morning. My whole life, everyone always told me that I have teacher qualities and ask how come I’m not teaching. I’ve always known that it’s not for me. So why do I sub? Well, it’s added income for trips, hockey, lacrosse, and a few other treats. Plus it’s the same schedule as my son who is the top priority.

Now when I write or focus on my new publications company or work on 2 Scripture Sisters, I’m energized. I don’t necessarily follow a 9 to 5 schedule but I can go long periods of time researching, learning, planning, and writing. And I still have the energy for my son and husband when they get home later in the day. It’s my true calling. It excites me for what it can become. I just need to be stronger at saying “no.” I have to become a protector of my writing time like the protector I am to my son. A shift in my mindset has to happen and God is helping me do this.

How is God helping me with this shift? By saying no. He is the one keeping the doors for all those open jobs sealed shut. I mean He’s not even cracking it open just a smidge. He won’t let me even put one toe on to that path because it’s not my path to take. He has made it very clear which path he wants me on. If you don’t know what I talking about, please read my previous blog post.

So what am I doing now besides learning the hard way? I have one more sub assignment before school lets out and I have no intentions on applying for any more jobs. Whether or not I’ll be subbing next year is up in the air. But I do know that writing, developing my publications company, and working to build up 2 Scripture Sisters will be my focus this summer along with my son, the pool, and hockey camps.

Love,

Denise

 

Know that God has overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net.

                                                              Job 19: 6

 

A Deep, Humbling, and Frightening Wake-Up Call

As a writer and an overall creative person, I’m never short of ideas. However, what I lack is stamina, perseverance, and confidence. I’m not an implementer. Or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself from 2017-2018 and into the early months of 2019. I rely heavily on others to get the job done. I’m quick to suggest ways to improve a story or a situation and I’m great at “what if…” scenarios. Unfortunately, “what if…”  and “how about doing this…” can get you only so far in life.

I have a serious confession to make and though it’s not easy to admit considering I have only admitted this secret to my husband, my sister, and my close friend who is also a creative person, but here it is…I have fifteen (15) unfinished manuscripts. I actually have nineteen manuscripts. Four are completed with two rounds of edits and several rejections.

Believe it or not, it’s not the rejections that stop my progress. I actually don’t mind being told “no, your story isn’t for us” because it usually comes with some constructive feedback. But clearly, they all lack something. So they sit in a drawer, unrefined.

With that out of the way, there is one story that I want to focus on. This is the novel that weighs on my conscious every day I breathe. I’ve been working on and off of this story for over 2 years now. Most people would say stop, put it aside and come back to it. People have offered to be beta readers and hold me accountable but none of that works for me.

This story pitch immediately raises eyebrows and excites many when I tell them about it but I can’t finish. For the longest time, I didn’t know why. There is an agent who is eager to read it if I move it to another age group (middle grade to young adult) so I can include more “adult” themes into the story. I can see her point but I can’t bring my story and characters to that point. So what do I do? I let everything in life take priority over this one story. I say “yes” to so many other projects and jobs that can justify my delaying the finishing of this story.

So here’s the part of this “confession” that brings me to the title of this blog post. One night I had a dream that shook me to my core. I woke up gasping for breath, heart racing, a tear, and sweat-soaked pillow, and sheer physical exhaustion from panic. I have anxiety and suffer from panic attacks but never had I experienced one in my sleep.

In my “dream” it was my judgment day. I sat at a large conference room table with about twelve people all around. Some people I knew and others I didn’t. God passed out my unfinished manuscripts and other story outlines to them. As He passed them out, He told me that since He has given me the gifts of a supportive husband, time, and imagination I have no excuses as to why I never fulfilled my purpose of storytelling. As each person read through the manuscripts and story outlines they were excited at the potential that these stories held. I fought with every ounce of strength in me to get them back, yelling, “those are mine!” I felt as if someone was taking my child away from me. It was deep. It was humbling. It was frightening. I fell to my knees sobbing, bruised, regretful, and sad. On the brink of being utterly broken, He lifted me up and gave my stories back to me and with a warm embrace, I woke up (figuratively and literally).

It was tough love. It was an awakening that I will never forget. I am working towards finishing these manuscripts one at a time. I now know what has stopped my progress. All these years I’ve been focused on the wrong purpose. I was writing in hope of fame and accolades. I was writing to appease the commercial markets. I wasn’t writing with a God-filled spirit. I wasn’t writing to glorify Him. Knowing this, I now confidently say “no” to many other busying things to protect my writing time. I am filled with a new spirit to get healthy so I can live long enough to write stories and to continue sharing His grace through the gift of the storytelling.

He is the one laying a path for me to walk. Today, I boldly and obediently follow His path. I pray you will surrender whatever it is that you struggle with to Him.

~Denise

Be Bold

There are times when we don’t feel like we are the beacon of light God wants us to be. However, no matter if you are feeling like a night light plugged into a wall, or a beacon from a lighthouse, remember that both will pierce the darkness. Keep shining my friends.

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