Not too long ago I was in the parking lot of my local grocery store when I saw an older gentleman pushing his empty grocery cart towards me and I heard the Lord whisper to me “put up his cart.”
In the following few seconds, I argued with the Lord because I felt that the man in the parking lot was perfectly capable of putting up his own cart and I questioned if I heard the Lord correctly in the first place, because it seemed like an odd request.
I smiled at the gentleman and said, “Hi” as we put our carts back in the cart return.
I walked back to my car and began to pull out of my parking spot. So did the parking lot man – and another grocery shopper. Right in front of my very eyes, they had a little parking lot fender bender.
I felt terrible. I called Jason and he assured me that the accident was not my fault. I knew that I hadn’t caused it but I felt that if I had obeyed the Lord I could have prevented it. If I had just put his cart up, he would have left sooner and not backed into the other car.
The Lord said to me, “That is what prevention is. You can’t see it on this side of heaven because it didn’t happen. You have to trust Me.”
If I’m being honest with you, I’ve struggled with trusting Him and I’ve come up with numerous reasons and excuses for not promoting my book: I don’t have time, I can’t afford to hire a publicist, I’m pretty sure that no one wants to talk about childhood sexual abuse, I don’t want to promote myself, just to name a few. I realized that the enemy has been whispering these lies to me and I have been believing him.
I’m finally calling his bluff.
I’m making time. I’m investing in myself, I’m talking about abuse, and I’m overcoming the fear of promoting my book and telling others what the Lord has done in my life.
Because you can’t measure prevention. You can’t see it on this side of heaven.
I’m praying for faith to trust Him more as I hear Him tell me which way to go. And I’m trying not to argue with Him like I did that day in the parking lot.
2016 is really here and I’m not quite sure I was ready. My son, Sam, just informed me that he is half way done with middle school. Gaaaahhhh! And Faith keeps reminding us that she is going to first grade THIS YEAR (like, as in August). Why are my kids getting older and also why do they keep telling me about it!?! They were JUST BABIES!!
As the new year approached, I couldn’t help but consider what my goals would be for 2016. I was thinking maybe 2016 could be the year that I make my bed. I never ever make my bed so this would be a huge accomplishment!
One of my sweet preschoolers from First Foundations gave me a cute Starbucks chalkboard mug and I was already making plans to write my goals or maybe some sort of motivational quote on there so that I would see it every morning when I drank my coffee. That way I could remember to make my bed.
But then on December 29th I accidentally read Book Launch Blue Print by Tim Grahl. This quote jumped off the page “…launch your book, change the world, then keep writing.”
Great. 2015 was “tell your story” and now 2016 is “launch your book.” I was really hoping for something a little less put-yourself-out-there-to-face-rejection.
Jesus tells a story in Matthew 25 of a master who left his servants in charge of his estate while he was away. This parable keeps speaking to me as I go through the book writing, publishing and now marketing process. Jesus has left us in charge until He returns. He is saying to each of us, His followers, “take care of this world, keep making it a better place – until I come back.” He gave me this one talent – this book – and like the servant in the parable with one talent, I want to bury it in the sand because I am terrified.
Matthew 25: 31 – 34 says, When the Son of Man comes in all His majesty accompanied by throngs of heavenly messengers, His throne will be wondrous. All the nations will assemble before Him, and He will judge them, distinguishing them from one another as a shepherd isolates the sheep from the goats. He will put some, the sheep, at His right hand and some, the goats, at His left. Then the King will say to those to His right, “Come here, you beloved, you people whom My Father has blessed. Claim your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of creation.” (The Voice Bible)
He has given all of us “talents” while we are here and put us in charge of taking care of His estate until He returns. He has given us talents so we can love our neighbors, take care of orphans and widows and feed the poor – just to name a few.
What if you took your ‘talent’ – your giftings or things you are naturally talented at, your money, your job, your education, your influence, your story, your ministry, any or all of the things the Lord has blessed you with – and use them to make the world a better place until He comes back?
It doesn’t have to be “big”. I work as a teacher’s aide at a preschool Monday thru Friday so most days I use my talents to love children, prepare their craft and help them learn through art. I love it because God has given me a love for art and a love for children. Some days displaying patience when fifteen three-year-olds need to go to the bathroom at the same time or teaching a four-year-old how to use watercolors doesn’t seem “big” – but it is.
The enemy wants us to believe that the “little” things don’t matter and that if we aren’t displaying our gifts or ‘talents’ in front of a large crowd then it is pointless. But that is a lie. Often, the people doing the most important work are the ones we can not see.
So don’t compare your talent to anyone else. And don’t bury it in the sand. Take it and use it!
We may see a portion of the return of our investment here on earth but one day we will see fully. And on that day He says to us, “Come, beloved, and take your inheritance.”
I wrote the quote from Tim’s book on my chalkboard mug so I would see it every morning. That way I will remember not to bury what the Lord has given me but use it to change the world.
A quick update on Tell Someone: I just completed the first round of revisions and redesigned the cover! To make the book a little more personal I wrote the title and subtitle with a sharpie on notebook paper and added a paperclip to make it feel as if I am handing someone a note. I wrote the book for my eight year old self, but my prayer, as I send Tell Someone out into the world, is that it would also touch someone else’s life. Maybe someone else out there needs to know that they are not alone. Here is a sneak peek of the cover:
In other book news, Jason also wrote a book about his childhood: Herb Slides Home. I joke that he wrote it in an hour but the truth is that Jason has actually been telling this story about playing pasture baseball with his brother and cousins for years and finally decided to write it down. He illustrated it on the weekends and I encouraged him to put it on Amazon’s Create Space. I am so proud of him. He didn’t struggle with fear or perfection the way that I did. He just did it.
Guess what? You can do it too. Don’t give in to the lie of scarcity that says “someone else already wrote a book about a school full of wizards battling evil or kids getting covered in cow poop while playing pasture baseball or whatever it is you want to write a book about.”
You have a message that the world needs to hear.
So write that book, record that album, start that business, take that class, buy those art supplies and get to it. It’s not too late.
You have a message that the world needs to hear and there is beauty in your art that the world needs to see. We can’t get enough beauty. We don’t roll our eyes when that Adele song comes on again thinking “not again.” No way! We turn up the volume and sing along with her!
We want to sing along with you.
We want to see the beauty in the things that you create. Maybe your creative outlet is the very avenue that you are supposed to use to share your message with the world.
Don’t believe the lie that you are not creative. We are all creatives.
Elizabeth Gilbert says in her latest book, Big Magic, If you’re alive, you’re a creative person. . . . The guardians of high culture will try to convince you that the arts belong only to a chosen few, but they are wrong and they are also annoying. We are all the chosen few. . . Now go make something.
Maybe you don’t make movies, compose music or write love stories about vampires, or maybe you do. We are not all going to be good at everything. Find out what you love to do and go do it. I have friends that take beautiful photographs, others that sew amazing quilts and clothes and window treatments. I have friends with keen eyes for design that can decorate and remodel a house like nobody’s business! I have friends that host parties, act in movies and decorate delicious cakes.
In fact, I am in still awe of this birthday cake that my friend Brandy made for her son back in May:
Yes, it is an actual cake that you eat!
Here is the cake I made my son for his eleventh birthday:
They are almost exactly the same except mine was from a box and it is falling over and also the icing is sliding off. Do not even talk to me about fondant. I could not even bring myself to write “Happy Birthday Sam” on the cake because I am like a 2 year old scribbling with a crayon when it comes to squeezing icing out of a tube. I just stuck two Lego shaped candles in the top for the number eleven and that was literally the best I could do.
We are not all going to be good at everything.
Find the thing that you are good at, that thing that brings you joy, and share it with the world.
“Your book sure is doing a lot of good sitting on your desk!” My friend’s sarcasm spoke straight to my heart and I knew that she was right. After sitting on the corner of my desk all summer, I finally sent my manuscript and artwork to the publisher and it is currently in the “content evaluation” phase.
I have honestly been struggling with fear. I’m afraid that it isn’t good enough and I’m afraid of failing or being seen as a failure. I guess what I’ve learned is that following Jesus isn’t about failing or succeeding but about being obedient to do what He has asked of me. He told me to tell my story so I am going to do it the best that I can and leave the rest up to Him.