The Author

Thank you

There were four of us crowded around the sinks in the dormitory restroom when I said it. “I feel like a scared little girl, and God has been holding my hand the whole time.”

We arrived Tuesday, in time for dinner, Heather and me, and a handful of others, eager to settle in and get our bearings before full immersion the following day. The conference was Write-to-Publish, and I wasn’t certain I had either the right or the margin to be in attendance. Eventually realizing this was a common emotion for a-hundred-plus other unpublished writers sprawling sleepless in dorm room beds on the Wheaton campus.

But He was there, like always, faithful. And He was holding my hand.

It’s the only way to describe it. The first morning, sitting with Starbucks and Bible on a quiet bench, awake at first light with time to linger. I chose a Psalm with plenty of markings, underlined phrases, pencil heart drawn in a margin. Familiarity the very best balm for a time like this.

I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me (Psalm 16:7).

And He had. I remembered. I’d dreamed His counsel the night before, when He showed me how to pitch my first proposal. Two weeks earlier I’d found Cynthia Ruchti’s books in our church library, reading two, cover to cover. My first appointment with an agent, and I may as well have been meeting a friend.

By the end of day one I’d pitched two books and nearly drowned in the firehose of too much information, but I’d never been more sure of Jesus. His presence, and my need for Him.

Day two felt like two weeks, and people I met yesterday seemed like old friends. We gathered to worship, overwhelmed by the sweetest sense of the Spirit. Humility and love, and if this is what it’s like to be utterly dependent, I’ll take it. I penned my name on appointment sheets, but He’d already scheduled divine meetings over cafeteria meals and bathroom conversation. Later I’d sort through my stack of business cards and remember, fondly, stories of friends.

Friday dawned with sun and birdsong. And coffee. Every morning Heather drove the short distance to Starbucks for my latte and her hot chocolate. By day three I’d found my voice. Practiced my pitch a couple dozen times, officially and not. I came with two projects, but His leading was clear. I’d settled on one. The Covenant Story. The life-changing story of God’s covenant love through the pages of Scripture. The book of His heart, entrusted to me.

Saturday morning, we made our way to one last class. One more keynote session. By now I was maxed out and weary. Mentally exhausted. Heather and I skipped lunch and loaded her Jeep for the drive back home. I could sleep until tomorrow, but I knew it wasn’t fair to my generous driver. I did my best to stay awake and engage in post-conference conversation. Telling Heather, it’s ironic, her Fully Present to Win, a book about unplugging our families to be present to life. And here I am thinking if I’m ever going to publish a book, I’m going to need to step up my social media engagement and then some. Not at all sure I have what takes—or the desire to do it.

Voices I haven’t listened to in three long days, take advantage, vie for attention. Doubt and fatigue. Regret over appointments not made, classes I’m thinking I should have attended. Should have done this and didn’t do that. I’m on the verge of tears when I realize what’s happening, and I muster the strength for one more battle. you’re a liar, you creep. None of it’s true; He was holding my hand.

Back home I compile notes, make my list of next steps. People to thank. Friends to find on Facebook. Books by newly published authors to order on Amazon. The life story of a publisher-turned-friend to read before bed. A proposal to polish, and send out again. Still not sure what it means for me to be a writer. What it means to steward this gift He’s given. I just want to be faithful. He hears me say it, and I know I can trust Him. Because He’s the Author.

And the AUTHOR was holding my hand.

Solla Sollew

Dedication

It was the perfect sermon at the perfect time. Yesterday morning, Father’s Day, and Maisy’s Dedication at Revision Church. We filled up a row from end to end – two Great-Grands, four Grands, and an uncle and aunt from Kiana’s side. Afterwards, clustering outside the elementary-school church for family photos, one of the Grandpas went ahead and said it. Our baby was the cutest one up there. Not one bit biased. Of course. And yet. Our little princess waved at the crowd from Daddy’s arms the entire time, and who could deny such an obvious fact?

From the Cat in the Hat to the Big Hearted Moose, Here’s What I Learned from Dr. Seuss. It’s the name of this month’s sermon series there at Revision, and I’d just been saying to Maisy before church that morning, the two of us reading books on her playroom rug. “You need more Seuss.” Those sing-song rhythms have the baby girl bouncing to the beat from the very first page of the ABC’s – Big D. Little d. David Donald Doo dreamed a dozen doughnuts and a duck- dog, too. And I swear I am not making this up, just as soon as I read it, that genius-baby emphatically added her own “DADDY!” to Seuss’ list of D’s!

And then, not two hours later, it’s Pastor Mike starting his sermon:

I learned there are troubles
Of more than one kind,
Some come from ahead
And some come from behind. 

But I’ve bought a big bat.
I’m all ready, you see.
Now my troubles are going
To have troubles with me!*

And it was the perfect sermon at the perfect time.

Three weeks exactly. Three weeks since the weekend of Jimmy’s grad party, and I remember, because I’d made a comment. Something about how stress-free I’d felt through all the whirlwind of house-selling and graduation and I didn’t know how, but I was doing great. And then, the next day, or next week for sure, just when I should have been breathing the biggest sigh of relief – it hit. The stress. And fatigue. Mental exhaustion, and okay, maybe physical, too. But it was something more, and I knew it.

I knew it last week, going out for my run, a podcast titled You’re Not the Boss of Me, and it’s Andy Stanley talking about how emotions can get the best of us. And just before tying on my ASICS I’d been praying with Kyle, confessing my stress, and a whole host of toxic thoughts taking up residence in my brain. You’re believing bull–.” My husband’s good counsel just before we prayed.

And he was right, of course. I knew it then. Knew it even truer after the Trouble in Solla Sollew and Pastor Mike’s sermon out of Ephesians 6.  He compared satan’s tactics to warfare by deception, using a scholarly term, which I didn’t write down. Not having picked up sermon notes on my way to save seats for our row of family, forced to write with pen in the margins of my own Bible, where it will stay forever next to the Armor of God. “The enemy’s entire strategy is lies.”

We don’t fight FOR victory; we fight FROM victory. Driving home later after dropping off a load of furniture for Nils in Cedar Falls, my Mom asks in a text – what was that quote?

That quote about victory, and how the enemy lost a long time ago, when Jesus climbed a hill with His own big bat, and now the best satan can do is deceive us.

he lies.

(Taking my cues from Charles Martin, who refuses to even give the creep a capital letter.)

And I hate to admit it, but I’ve been believing those lies.

Three weeks. Three weeks with a house sold and graduation finished, and the next thing on the agenda is a Writer’s Conference, and that’s when it started. You. Can’t. Do. This. Bone-weary, and is it possible for exhaustion be a bold-faced-lie?

It’s toward the end of Mike’s message, and he circles back to verse 10, and I’m flipping pages to find the place, making my notes. Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power…

BE STRONG. I’m rewinding the past couple of weeks, and all the ways I’ve been lacking strength. And then Pastor Mike says the very thing I’ve needed, and on Spirit’s impulse I’m hand to chest, audible gasp.

Be strong – is passive.”

It’s passive.

Be strong IN THE LORD and in HIS MIGHTY POWER.

This strength is HIS.

the enemy can only tell lies.

But my strength is found in HIS VICTORY WON.

And those troubles are going to have trouble with me…

 

*I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew by Dr. Seuss

Dragonflies

L A & N Mountain

The dragonflies were out yesterday afternoon when we returned from the airport. Somehow this seemed symbolic. My boys taking flight all over the globe. We don’t even have a kid in the state. Kyle’s comment at dinner – and his tone (shhh, don’t tell the guys) was noticeably giddy.

“Do you worry?” Friends ask, thinking about international travel, news reports about a less-than-safe country. And we are aware. But we’ve been here and done this, been doing it now for a handful of years. This letting go and trusting.

“Think of prayer as your first resort, not last.” We’re five in the Jeep, counting Sidney, and I compare it to calling Dad in a sticky situation. “You don’t even need cell service to connect with your Heavenly Father.” And then, it’s Jimmy, asking, “How long should we wait in between?” Between the prayer and dialing up Dad, LOL, but he wasn’t joking.

It’s the same answer I recently gave a friend, asking, doesn’t it make me nervous – all those Spanish conversations? Four and a half years of a secret language, and me left to wonder what they’re talking about. The limitations of an earthly parent – but there are no secrets from a Heavenly Dad. He’s got this, and then some.

Colorado or Colombia. (Iowa, too, although the imagined risks seem so much less.) And it doesn’t matter if they’re scaling mountains, or attempting to travel incognito as wealthy Americans, this mom knows enough about risks to fill her days with fretting. (Did I mention Kyle’s Saturday plan has him back up on the roof?) Glen Climb

Nils scaled a mountain, his first week or so out at The Glen. A seventy-five-foot rock at Day Camp training, and he sends the text. Conquered my fear and made it all the way up! His mother’s child, and the one kid I can count on to tighten the harness and return to sea level.

Minnesota law says kids are required to wear life jackets through the age of ten. Kyle’s reading from some website this week, thinking about our lake home, knowing I’m inclined to This Particular Worry. WATER. Which, I know, is ironic. My mom still likes to tell the stories of my first swimming lessons as a terrified child, and somewhere out there is a former swimming instructor with scars to prove it. To this day I’m not a big fan of water-sports. (Nils either, which is why he worked the register at the Aquatic Center and left the life-guarding to his big brothers.) And yet. Fear of heights and water aside, it’s a toss-up which I enjoy most, lake-view or mountain.

The weekend of the Grad Party it was Luke and Ali, and Jimmy and Sidney, out at the lake. “It could be a sled run in the winter, and a waterslide in the summer!” That steep slope from future lakeside porch to water’s edge, and my husband’s got more wild notions than the young adults. “How about a zipline?” We’d been talking about creating a safe path for Grammy, and I’m wondering if it’s a harness they’ve got in mind for her, too.

Good grief. Just when you think you’ve safety raised a passel of boys to adulthood, along come the grandkids. Which is to say, I’d better be sure I’m believing my own press. About letting go and trusting, that is. Honestly, I know my limitations. I learned a long time ago I’m a limited parent (grandparent, too, if we’re thinking future) and I defer to the Father. He is sovereign. I am not.

Now. About that ladder…