Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year Thoughts

Where did 2012 go? I have often wondered at how fast the years fly by as I get older. But this past year has seriously gone by in warp speed, leaving me struggling for breath and energy as the new year begins. I heard someone say that they were having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit because it seemed like we had just celebrated Christmas a couple of months ago.
I can relate.
The past year was jammed crammed full of new things: new state; new house; new community; new jobs; new church; new friends at work, church, and writing group; new clients for editing; new contracts for books. Exciting and scary at the same time. And some of the things I’d done for several years were more difficult to keep up with.
Like blogging. J
Early in September I had an offer to do a work-for-hire devotional project for Barbour Publishing, and I accepted, thinking I had plenty of time to work on it and on Calming the Storm Within. Especially as I didn’t have a specific deadline for the latter. Well, I didn’t think I did. But when the contract came for Calming a month later, my agent and I had misunderstood the editor in a conversation that took place in August. She was hoping the manuscript was ready to turn in, so it could be released as soon as possible.
Of course my people-pleasing gene stepped to the forefront and I promised a print-ready manuscript in a week. Then that pesky perfectionism raised its ugly head and proclaimed the manuscript totally unusable in its present form. My agent and the editor, among others, said to ignore those and take what time I needed to complete the manuscript well. But I still raced to finish the book—before Thanksgiving, then before the middle of December, then before Christmas, and . . . well you get the picture.
Because of the content—the subtitle is tentatively God’s Peace in Depression and Anxiety—I expected spiritual warfare. And got it. I asked for prayer on Facebook and at church. And got it. The ones who are reading it for content and grammar, punctuation, etc., have given me great feedback including how powerful it is. Which  ramped up the people-pleasing/perfectionism to new levels. Sigh.
The week before Christmas I started to fall apart—emotionally and physically. Through the weeks of writing, I prayed daily for the Lord’s direction and strength. And He gave it. But not as fast as I expected/wanted. Each day was a struggle between me, my flesh, the enemy . . . and the Lord.
Finally, the Lord got my attention during one of my morning quiet times. He reminded me once gain that His thoughts are not my thoughts; His ways don’t follow my expectations; and His timing is perfect. Nothing I was doing could change those facts. Once again I realized that many of my struggles weren’t because of the enemy—they resulted from my own attempts to speed up His timing. And that had me fearing failure to please my editor and to produce a publishable book.
But the truth is I wasn’t ready to write the last two chapters in the book. Nor was I ready to relax and enjoy the reason for Christmas as I was seeing it as more a bump in the road, a distraction.
Don’t get me wrong. I desperately wanted to see my kids again, as I hadn’t seen them in person since May. And I desperately wanted it all to be perfect, without having to rush back for Roger to be at work (no vacation days) or having the book still to complete. The warring desires left me frustrated and confused.
However, the Lord had a different lesson for me to learn. He reminded me that He was still in control; He was still working all things together for my good and His glory; and He didn’t see the task of finishing two books in the next three weeks as impossible. My part was to relax, to still my spirit, and allow Him to be God.
He kept bringing to mind Mary, the mother of Jesus. When the angel told her she’d been chosen to give birth to the Son of God, the promised Messiah, she didn’t hesitate before saying, “May it be to me as you have said.” In spite of the obvious struggles she would have, she chose to submit herself to God’s control, and she trusted Him to go before her to smooth her way. Was it easy for her? No. But she remained submissive to His will and to His timing.
God reminded me that my only responsibility was to trust Him. No matter what obstacles appeared in my path; no matter what opposition I faced; no matter what. Period. Trust and obey.  And for Christmas week, I was supposed to put the book aside and concentrate on worshiping Him and having a great time with my family.
One more lesson in learning to be content with what He has given me. Especially when it wasn’t what I expected or thought I desired.
We had a wonderful Christmas, celebrating with my sister’s family in Nebraska. Kathy flew in from London, Randy and Nikki drove over from Colorado, and we drove up from Missouri. This year my brother and sister-in-law were unable to make it as they are full-time caregivers for her parents. But we were able to Skype with them—so thankful for the technology that allows for us to share moments like this.
When we returned to Missouri, I expected the Lord to tell me it was time to get back to work on Calming. (I really need to get those “expectations” under control!) But He didn’t. Instead He had me work on the book-for-hire project and bringing my prayer journals up-to-date on my electronic copies.
My birthday is New Year’s Eve, and I like to take that day or several days to reflect on the past year’s events and my personal spiritual progress. That leads into the upcoming year and what goals I believe the Lord would have me pursue. I don’t really make resolutions, but a brand-new year presents a blank slate that is waiting to be filled. Some of the events are already in place—like the releases of my first nonfiction book, Calming the Storm Within; my first fiction in April, A Shelter from the Storm in Sundays in Fredericksburg (TX); and the book-for-hire project, Encouraging Words for Women: Hope. Along with that comes a lot of marketing and promotion in various venues. Some is already in place.
At the end of November, my new author website went live. It combines my writing and editing services, and it will soon include a new blog and resource page for Calming the Storm Within. You can see it at Many, many thanks to my friends Bonnie Calhoun, and Jon and Bruce at SKWD Ministries who made it happen!
I will soon have an author page on Facebook to go along with my personal page. And I hope to learn how to use Twitter more effectively in the next few months. So I have plenty to keep me busy in the months ahead. So many new things, new experiences. More opportunities to trust the Lord to provide and work in His timing and in His way.
The old year is past . . . the new is before me.   
And God is still the God of the impossible. Working His will and His plans and purposes for me, in me, and through me.
“Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward--to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.” (Philippians 3:13–14 msg)

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