After two (!) vacations in the past six days since school has ended, I’m settling in to reflect on the spring (March to May). This quarterly practice is heralded by Emily P. Freeman – and I’ve loved this discipline of looking back before moving forward.
Small isn’t insignificant.
When I started this blog one year ago (April 1 was my blog birthday!), I thrived on people’s comments, likes and shares. A writer always wants their words to be read. But as I’ve wrestled with “platform building” (in working writer’s lingo), I’ve realized that it’s the small one-on-one interactions that fill my heart. When someone says God’s work in my life (which overflows into blog posts and social media) has encouraged, comforted or challenged them, I’m thankful. Every time I hit “publish,” I pray that I serve those who need pointed to God’s goodness.
Another small work that has produced great fruit (at least in my heart and I’m praying for eternity) is a parents’ prayer meeting at my son’s school. In a small step of obedience, aligning with my Word of the Year (pray), it’s such a sacred 30 minutes each week that I wrote an entire post about it here.
Disappointment doesn’t have to derail our determination and dreams.
Ok, I’m sorry for all of the alliteration, but the lesson holds true nonetheless. April was a less-than-stellar month for me. I had several opportunities not work out and I let it rattle me. I consider myself an optimistic person – and we’ve dealt with much harder things than ego bruising – but I didn’t expect rejection to affect me as much as it did. In fact, I allowed several guest post deadlines to pass because I was wallowing in my Eeyore-like state, whom I quote (using my best Eeyore voice): “End of the road. Nothing to do. No hope of things getting better.”
I know, I was a barrel of fun for a couple of weeks! Anyway, I’m happy to report that I gave those feelings of disappointment their proper time and space. Now I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and pursue some dreams again.
Author Jeff Goins shared on Instagram, “If you’re not getting rejected, you’re not in the game. Time and again, we read that success comes from failure. Yet, in our own lives, we avoid it like the plague. We play it safe, never risking too much. And our souls shrivel in the shadow of mediocrity.”
And then, in the middle of my melancholy, this gentle reminder from Scripture:
Sometimes you have to get above the clouds to gain perspective.
To cheer me up, my sweet husband sent me on a plane across the country (thank you, airline miles!) to see a dear high school friend in Washington. It was five days of shopping, coffee, fresh mountain air, reminiscing about our silly high school years, belting out 90s ballads, and catching up on decades of God’s work in our hearts and families. I needed that time so badly. Breakfast on the deck with a view of Mt. Rainier? Yes, please! What a gift!
Cheering on other writers and getting into community is fun.
I attended my first book launch party for Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing and it was just lovely. Two Raleigh friends joined me – and in a room full of 200 people, it struck me how personal, friendly and generous the hosts were. We had such a lovely time meeting other writers (many of them fellow hope*writers friends), learning how to do a book launch party right, and meeting Emily. When an author believes she’s serving the reader – an offering of help and hope – you can tell the hard work of book publishing is worth it.
Other community-building includes fellow blogger Heather (At Our Family Table) and I meeting on a monthly basis to set goals and talk writing – we even took a field trip to the art museum grounds to gain inspiration. Check out her spring list here. And my hope*writer pal Susan (at susanely.com) is a constant source of wisdom and comfort for me. She and I took turns this spring being both teacher and student for tech issues with each other. Here’s her spring top 10. Both Heather and Susan provide much-needed insight, humor and encouragement. Thank you, friends!
I also served on the book launch team for my friend Heather Dixon’s second Bible study, Determined: Living Like Jesus in Every Moment. It’s a convicting and thorough six-week study of Jesus’ life in the book of Luke. Heather takes no shortcuts in getting to the heart of Jesus’ ministry, his determined love for us, and what determination to live like Jesus means today.
Learning from an older, wiser saint is life-giving.
A sweet conversation with a senior saint was borne out of my newsletter, which has turned into monthly get-togethers. I’ve long admired Sharon Woodard, a woman in my church who has served Jesus faithfully while living with chronic pain as the result of polio as a child. Listening to her stories encourage my faith in a good God, and when I’m lamenting about what to do with the rest of my life, she shares simple statements that are huge “aha!” moments for me, such as: “Each morning, I wake up and say, ‘Lord, what can I do for you today?’”
Sharon even published a book to ensure her family knew of God’s grace through it all. We are reading through Elisabeth Elliot’s Suffering is Never for Nothing right now – if you struggle to make sense of suffering, you need to read this book! And find an older friend who is willing to spend some time with you. Not only is she wise, she is witty!
You can read other What I Learned posts – and I encourage you to make a list of your own, even if it’s in the comments, privately in your journal, or shared with friends on social media.
If you missed my Mother’s Day series in May, which have been some of my favorite posts to share, you can catch up here.
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