Miles to Go and Promises to Keep

Photo/KarenJordan

“But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep …” (Robert Frost).

Many years ago, I sensed the Lord’s direction to begin writing a very personal story from my family’s life. So I began to record my thoughts even while we were still embroiled in the middle of the crisis.

Roadblocks. Yet every time I would attempt to complete a book proposal for this particular project, something thwarted my efforts.

I don’t just mean a little bump in the road. I’m referring to situations that seemed impossible to get through—like my mother’s fatal illness, my daughter’s three orthopedic surgeries and difficult pregnancies, my daughter-in-law’s seven miscarriages and two miraculous births, and my father-in-law’s lengthy terminal illness.

And that’s not counting all the roadblocks in my journey to publication. Oh, my! Where do I begin with that one?

Red flags. So as I approached this long-drawn-out project again—this time working on it with my daughter Tara—red flags waved all around me. Again, it looked hopeless. And to be honest, when I returned home from our last brainstorming session, discouragement covered me like a heavy cloak. And my emotions tempted me to return this story to my “What was I thinking?” pile once again.

Reminders. Then, I remembered my “40-day Challenge: Telling the Stories That Matter Most.”

I also began a study the life of Moses. And I thought my mission looked impossible!

Moses faced the unimaginable tasks of his calling with great fear. He knew he didn’t have the strength or the abilities that he would need to complete the undertakings God had asked of him. He was aware of his weaknesses and limitations; yet, he wanted to embrace God’s promises. But at each step, he faced his own inabilities in light of God’s plans.

As I study more about Moses, I’m reminded once again of God’s steadfast commitment to keep His promises. Even my unbelief, fear, and doubt will not divert God’s plans. I may get sidetracked and distracted, but God remains faithful to His Word.

God also promises to provide all I need to complete the work that He began in me.

“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in (me) would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish …” (Phil. 1:6 MSG).

Reflection. I’m grateful that God continues to invite me to join Him in His work. And I don’t sense that He has given up on me like I’ve often done with Him. He will forgive my complaining about my circumstances and blaming others for my failures.

So I’m holding on to God’s promises now, even as I write this confession of faith. And I pray if you are struggling with a similar issue, you will revisit His promises to you, too.

Are you facing an impossible project now? What lessons are you learning in the process?

Just Look at Me: Encouragement for the Highly Distractible Writer

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When my sons were toddlers, they were so easily distracted (look: a squirrel!) that I often knelt down and gently placed my hands on their cheeks to help them listen.

“Look at me,” I’d say, waiting until their eyes met mine. Then I asked them, “What did Mommy say?”

Lately, I’ve felt God kneeling down, kindly pressing His hands to my cheeks. “Look at me,” He says. It’s not only a call to attention, but to single-minded devotion.

“Yes, Lord, ” I reply, taking my eyes off Facebook, Pinterest–even the Wordserve Water Cooler–and focusing on Him.

I feel Him kneeling down when I get jealous about other writers’ accomplishments; when I spend too much time clicking and too little time praying; when my tendency to compare Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers distracts me from the reasons I write.

Last week, I let Satan discourage me. Look at that author, he said. She’s your age and has written twice as many books as you have. Plus, she has a radio show, and her speaking resume is much better than yours. 

I started to get insecure, until I remembered the Lord’s hands on my cheeks. “What did I say?” He asks.

“Just look at me,” I respond.

I get it, Lord, I really do.

However, it’s hard to keep my focus when I am required to use social media for my part-time editing job. Plus, our post-recession world of high technology and low discretionary income means that book publishers’ marketing budgets are shrinking, while editors’ expectations are rising.

Sigh. This business is not always good for a highly distractible author…and yes, the apple does NOT fall far from the tree. (Look: a new webinar on building your tribe!)

I know I’m not the only author who struggles with this. Or at least I hope I’m not. So, let’s lean in and focus on our Parent’s eyes for a second.

“Do you hear what I’m saying?” God says.

When we spend time with Him, and hear His perspective on this crazy profession He’s called us to, we realize that He has uniquely called each of us to a highly specialized path.

I don’t have to be like anyone else. Although God calls me to work diligently at my craft and creatively tell people about my books (not for my glory, but His), I shouldn’t obsess about numbers, lists, or honors. All that leads to a place called “Crazy-ville.” And trust me, I can get there on my own.

My fellow scribes, God is calling me–and you–to be faithful and obedient:  “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33)

Just look at me, He says, and write what I’ve told you to write. Write out of the overflow of our relationship, and trust me for everything else.

As a friend says, “God’s got this.” We can trust Him. After all, those heavenly hands on our cheeks are nail-scarred…from His scandalous, all-consuming love for us.

When to Tell Your Inner Editor to Shut Up!

We’re not supposed to tell people to shut up. We’re supposed to be polite and considerate.

 Icon Design by Creative Freedom  All copyright for Shimmer Icons belongs to Creative Freedom Ltd.  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/3.0/

Icon Design by Creative Freedom
All copyright for Shimmer Icons belongs to Creative Freedom Ltd.
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/3.0/

I’m here to tell you that sometimes we need to tell our inner editor to shut up.

I’m not saying we don’t need to edit our work. On the contrary, I even wrote this post, 7 Tips for Self-Editing, but there is a time and a place for said editing.

When you’re writing your first draft, I strongly advise you not to edit. Let your ideas flow. If you try to edit now, you may never finish your novel. Or worse yet, you’ll stifle your creativity.

There is another voice, one that may or not be your inner editor. The one that tells you this isn’t any good. Why on earth did you think you could be a writer? You should just give up before anyone discovers you can’t really write.

These, my friends, are the voice of the enemy. Do not believe his lies.

Recently, I heard these words burn through my mind. When you begin to hear the lies, turn to our source of truth. Pray that God’s voice would be the only one you would hear. Ask Jesus to silence everything that is not from Him.

I’ve started doing this every time I sit down to write. It is making a huge difference. We can choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.

If you’re trying to write your first novel or first draft of a new project, focus on getting it all out on paper or the computer screen. It’s fine to check and make sure your book is keeping in check with your outline and overall story and character goal, but don’t try to make it perfect.

Have you ever had to tell your inner editor to shut up? Do you have any tips to keep yourself going when you feel like giving up?