When I first began signing my books, it wasn’t difficult for me to decide what to inscribe. The reason is my whole story is about “Keeping the Faith.” When I didn’t yet believe, I searched for Faith. During life’s struggles, I prayed for Faith. When I met my husband and he believed, I yearned for Faith. When dreams didn’t happen in my own timing, I dreamt for Faith. When my mind worked against me, I cried for Faith. When all those around me stepped away from their Faith, I hoped for Faith. Having Faith has not always been easy, but it has been the roots of keeping a dream grounded and everything in my writing world connected. Faith was what caused me to believe in God’s purpose and what caused me to take the leap and say, “Yes, I am going to write this series.”
At first, it was exciting. I sat down and in two and a half hours wrote my first draft of the first book. Surprisingly, the words rhymed and the words seemed to dance on paper as they left my finger tips. My husband being my first editor loved the book except for the ending. In his opinion, the ending didn’t live up to the rest of the book so we changed the ending a bit and then we both approved what we imagined to be our signature book. A book we thought would help a lot of people. A book which captured many of the questions and feelings that roamed the hospital walls during my volunteer years. We packaged the book and I drove to a Christian writer’s conference with words in hand. At the conference people said, “Don’t change a word, let me work with you, what a good idea”, etc. I came home with an agent, a hop in my step, and tools in my back pocket.
However, soon the hop became a slow walk and the lessons learn and my childhood ignorance about the publishing world began to show it’s ugly face . To everyone’s astonishment even myself the book took 4 years from creation to printing. Honestly, over the 4 years, my husband gave up on the idea being successful. In some ways can’t blame him because it was not his dream since he was 12 years old, but my dream. Looking back, my biggest mistake was not counting on God’s support but counting on earthly support (such as my husband and others) and not knowing those around me had an internal timeline and financial reservations from the start. The timeline hit me at full force not because of the number of days, but because of the lost opportunity of children and families who needed to hear the message sooner, but wouldn’t. The timeline which got pummeled with confirming my artist, learning about adobe publisher, book dimensions, color bleeding, etc. Then there were costs of buying books to sell at events, emotional costs of not everyone being as passionate about the books as me, the burden of not knowing what to do when the extra income was not coming in when needed, the dying passion inside of myself which was wanting to do this all on my own, the sadness of not building a legacy I hoped to build for my daughter, and the evil voice inside that constantly said maybe the book isn’t as good as you thought. In the mean time, having friends quietly walk away because they don’t hold the same torch for faith, having family support you but perhaps not 100% supporting the idea or content, and having a husband who wants to support you but deep down wishes your dream was solely a hobby and not a purposeful addiction. Even worse, my initial ideas to get the book out to the market , either got crushed, flopped, or never came to fruition. Ideas of book donations, selling at large Christian events, providing books at raffles, or getting celebrities to support my cause all went without a ripple; which is tough for a dream maker who carries hope and passion on her sleeve. Perhaps this is your story.
Believe me, this is not the story we wanted to tell or a gratified pity party, but a good question to ask is if we had the choice would we do this again? This is a tough question because the child inside of me says how can you quit, the person with passion and purpose says how can you not make this work, the person with guilt says you’ve given up before you’ve started, the person with hope says how can you forget the people who your books are meant to impact, and the person with faith says nothing good ever comes easy. Many times through this journey, the disciples are vivid paintings in my mind because one unexpected day they gave up everything to follow someone who many times was ridiculed and crucified by others. They gave up friends, family, and their lives to follow what their heart said was the right path, but have to imagine, at times, their inner voices said, “Am I crazy”, “Why move forward?” and “Why is this so hard?”
Quite frankly this is me right now – “Am I crazy”, “Do I move forward”, and “Why is this so hard”? When I am honest and not stuck in a human brain, I am reminded of four important Godly bits of wisdom which is I am holding onto the reins too tight, my timing may not be his timing, his voice is more important then anyone’s voice including both my and my husband’s voice, and his plan may look different then mine. Just like my husband had a different plan, I believe God sometimes has a different plan. It’s in these moments, all I can do is keep the faith, pray, and believe. The miraculous thing is when you give up control soon you gain perspective. Where you may have missed his nudges, suddenly they become very clear. A good example is a recent encounter of mine. A man who bought our first book about Cancer approached me at a work event. He came up to me with a smile and a hug and said the book helped him and his best friend’s family through a difficult situation. His best friend knew she was dying of Cancer, but did not know how to approach her children with the news. The purchaser of the book desperately wanted to help his friend, but didn’t have the right words to say, so, he said all he did was hand her the book. His friend’s response was…you’ll never know how much the words in the book helped my family. Since then, she has passed. Crazy enough – I never thought of the book helping children whose parent was dying instead of a parent afraid of losing a child to Cancer.
This scenario taught me what I preach; which is we all know the word Faith, but do we always believe in Faith? Do we believe in Faith when provided small instead of big doses. Take the book agent who told me at a book conference that it’s ok if your book is not meant for the masses. It is ok if God has meant your book to only reach one person. Through my journey of marketing this first book, I’ve thought a lot about this statement because in my heart of hearts I wanted this book to reach more than one person, but back to my earlier statement it’s got to be whatever God wants not what I want or what my husband wants. The problem with putting Faith up for interpretation is wanting to put parameters on how Faith should work. As I’ve learned through many internal and external battles, you can’t control the outcome no matter how hard you try or believe when the work happens so should the reward. In other words, Faith is not a drive thru restaurant or something where you can order what you want when you want it. We don’t donate to a charity and then somehow win the lottery. Our Faith can’t be about what has happened for us lately, but about living with God from day to day.
Right now as I’ve had book, parenting, career, and relationship sagas happening all at once it’s hard to remind myself there is a bigger picture and to know it won’t always be this way, but my husband’s right you have to have a little faith. You have to breath. You can’t give up on Faith when the going gets tough. You can’t think there is a big “L” on your forehead and failure just follows you around. Those who have given me gifts of wisdom including the key board player in the group “Unspoken” have said – are you trying to control what happens or is God in control? He said to me, “As I’m sure you’re aware – God not me made me famous. He said when God wants something to happen it does.” As I continue this writing journey and try to help other writers along the way, I know the only truth is to “Keep The Faith.” All else will happen in due time. In the mean time as I am now talking to different publishing companies, I know none of this is going to get easier, but I do know I can count on God’s grace. So my gift to everyone reading this blog is to follow your purpose, don’t give up, and like my book signing – “Keep Your Faith”.