Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Book in the Offing

I'm back. You probably didn't even know I left--and left this blog hanging, flapping in the breeze.
I left because I felt like I was writing into the black hole, with all of those blogs out there, what did this one matter? And because I'm a writer by trade, I have a bit of a prima donna mentality. I WRITE to be read, knowwhatImean? I don't write just to write. I admit it.

But Sharilyn and Becki used to read my blog, and you know what? They matter. So Becki and Sharilyn, fasten your seatbelts. I have a lot to say.

Guess what? My book, God, Up Close and Personal, is going to become a reality. (Becki, you always BELIEVED, and thank you for that.) Several months ago, I sent three chapters of my manuscript to The Writer's Edge, a Christian writer's service. It's a service that is highly respected by the Christian publishing market, and you pay them something like $150 to evaluate your manuscript. You get either a thumbs up, or a thumbs down. If you get a thumbs up--and I did--then they list your book on their website, and publishers peruse that website looking for new material.

Of course, I expected that finally--FINALLY--my book would be discovered. In fact, after a few weeks on their website, someone from Tyndale Publishing called me and wanted me to send some of my chapters to them. YES! I had believed that God would bring me a royalty publisher, but never, ever did I believe it would be the venerable and highly-respected Tyndale. And, in fact, it wasn't. I never heard from them again, even after calling and leaving a message.

Hmmm. OK, Lord, what now? What now? A handful of Christian vanity publishers contacted me, and I treated them with veiled scorn. I was above vanity publishing, even though it is far more respectable now than it was ten years ago. All of the writer's manuals tell you to steer clear of vanity publishing, because no one will take you seriously.

But that was before the publishing industry became so incestuous, wanting only to publish works from established authors; and fearful, afraid to take on new authors who have no platform, notoriety, or even a popular blog.

And then it happened. I'm not sure what happened, but something changed in my head and in my heart. I received yet another e-mail from a vanity publisher, and something, perhaps the Holy Spirit, nudged me. "Why not?" it said. "Why not self-publish? Did it ever occur to you that if you self-publish and your book begins to sell, it will be apparent that it's Me doing it, and not the marketing department of Tyndale (or some other similar royalty publisher)? Remember, I'm the wild, unpredictable God, not one who takes the obvious path."

So then I sent an e-mail to my husband, giving him all my arguments as to why I'm thinking of doing this. He knows that I have a tendency to follow after bright, shiny objects, so I wanted to convince him that I'd been chewing on this for a while--not just suddenly jumping on the bandwagon. Of course, this involves cold hard cash--in the thousands--and I wasn't sure how he would respond. Without hesitation, he shot an e-mail back to me and said, "Absolutely. You should self-publish your book."

Whoa. Confirmation number one. But there was this one little glitch. My book was stored on a little flash drive which I'd managed to lose about seven months ago. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to print it out before I lost it, so I did have a hard copy. But if I did not find the flash drive, I'd have to retype about 250 pages. And the thing is, I'd been looking for this flash drive off and on for months. I knew that it was around somewhere, and for some reason, God was not bringing it to light, even though I'd asked him many times.

So I went to God. "OK, Lord. I want to know that You're in this with me. I want you to give me the green light. I want you to say, 'Go, and I will go with you.' Please, Lord, bring the flash drive back to the surface." Wouldn't ya know, about a week after this prayer, my daughter came up to me and said, "Mom, guess what I found?" I knew, instantaneously, what she had hiding behind her back. It was as though a great big "YES" dropped down from heaven. YES, I'll go with you! YES, go forward, Gwenn!

Interestingly, she found the flash drive in the same suitcase I have used several times over the past year. It was in the inside pocket. But, of course, I never found it there.

God's timing is perfect. You know, I started that book when I was 49. I'm now 52--and for at least the last year and a half, I've been trying to find someone, ANYONE, who would give it a chance. It had to wait for His timing.

So, here we go. Movement. Finally. Praise God.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Honest Scrap

My wonderful friend, Becki, (this is not Becki in the picture, but rather my youngest daughter Jillian), whom I have never met in person, never spoken to on the phone, but met through The Christian Woman Blog, and who BLESSES me beyond belief, has "tagged" me to write down 10 honest things about me. OK, Becki, you got it girlfriend. Here goes:

1. I am a total idiot when it comes to computers. I mean it. I do not have the aptitude for them, and I have no patience for them. Yes, I have a B.A. in Journalism but my brain refuses to wrap itself around computers and I look with envy and longing at blogs like Becki's, ( with all the cool music and photos and graphics, and I sighhhhhh.

2. I am still wondering what God's plan is for my life. Still. I am 51 years old, and still going to Him and saying, "What is it?" "Am I there yet?" I've always had this feeling deep down that God was going to knock my socks off--that I was going to do something really amazing for Him. This doesn't necessarily equate to fame. It just equates to my own personal barometer wherein I finally get that feeling and go ahhhh, now I get it. But I haven't gotten it yet, so I keep thinking I haven't done it yet.

3. This relates to number 2. I do feel that one of His plans was for me to be a mom, and that has been the most fantastic thing ever. I have been remarkably blessed with two wonderful, amazing daughters. Now that my oldest is 14, and she is an exceptional student and really involved in church, I can say unequivocally that it is due only in small part to my husband and I, and due in very large part to our amazing and glorious God. Honestly. I look at her, and think, wow, with all of our mistakes, we couldn't possibly take credit for how great she's doing.

4. This relates to number 2 as well. Even though I keep thinking I'm supposed to be doing something cool for God, I have a tendency to look at other people's lives--people who are completely content in simply living--and envy their content. I keep thinking I should be content and keep wondering, "Am I there yet?" My two best friends are like that--they have no big plans or dreams, and find joy in simple things day by day. I often wonder why I can't be like that.

5. My biggest dream has been to have a book published. Most of my friends know that, and most know that I have yet to do so. I am having one of the chapters of my book published in a well-known magazine, but that is as close as I've come. So far.

6. I am fairly anti-social, and getting more so with each passing year. I used to wonder why I didn't like parties even in my youth, and why now I shun the walks with the neighbor ladies. I have always been a one-on-one person, and still vastly enjoy those kind of visits with my close friends. In the last few years, I have made peace with the fact that I simply don't need or want a lot of people around me. I can spend whole days by myself and be perfectly content. (Thank goodness for school days. I love my children, but I love my quiet time, too.) I figure by the time I'm 60, I'll be an out-and-out hermit.

7. My anti-social nature does not apply to my relationship with Jesus. We have constant conversations. I am madly, hopelessly, profoundly in love with Him.

8. If there is a byword for my life, I believe it would be "faith," because that is what God continues to teach me. I keep thinking I've passed the test, but as soon as I pass that test (apparently not with flying colors), along comes another huge test. If there is a second byword for my life, it would be "resilience."

9. Relating to number 8, I never, EVER, thought my life would turn out like this. I grew up on Disney's fairy tales, and thought I'd end up with a modern-day version of that. But nooooo. It has been quite a wild ride, with a lot of pain and tragedy. But I have seen God's hand in every part of it, and He has pulled me out of a number of pits and set me on the rock that is higher than I.

10. I am wildly blessed by my friends and my children. During the months before my recent separation, and even now, I have been astounded by the number of friends I have (even as anti-social as I am), and by their love and faithfulness and encouragement. They have absolutely blown me away.

So, there you go, Becki.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Letting Go

OK, so I haven't been faithful to my blog. You know why? It's an ego thing. I didn't think anyone would read my blog, so I didn't want to write it. But then I happened to take a look at my profile. 212 visits? What the heck? Thanks, guys. Whoever you are. I'll get serious now.

If you've read my two other posts, you know that I have been experiencing some huge challenges in my marriage. I am now separated. And most readers would read "divorce" in those words. But, in fact, I would have you read the word "separated" and have words like "breathe" and "quiet time" and "healing" come to mind. Because that is what it is for me.

A few years ago, I began to pray earnestly that God would recreate our marriage. I made it clear to Him that I wasn't just asking Him to fix it or make it better. I wanted Him to make it new because that's what He specializes in. Behold, I am making all things new. (Rev. 21:5)

I had no idea how He would do that, or even if He would honor my request. But for two years, during the toughest two years of our married life, I prayed and prayed over our marriage. I also tried and tried to do the right things. Finally, when my husband began to look at apartments and houses to rent, regardless of what I said or tried to do, I realized I had to let go. Key words here: let go.

When I did let go, I knew in my soul that it was the right thing to do. It was scary and still is, certainly, but it was the right thing to do. I was like a child who kept trying to fix a broken toy on my own. It was as though I was saying to my Father, "Just show me how to fix it and I'll fix it." But He wanted me to let go, place it in His hands and walk away, with complete faith and confidence that He would make it new. It took me two years.

Now I'm here, living apart from my husband, sharing the kids. It's a weird place to be. It's only been a week, and at times I love it, and at times I feel like a ship without a rudder. But one thing I know for certain. God is near, and He will uphold me with His righteous right hand. And I will not be disappointed in how this turns out. (Psalm 22:5)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Different Marriage in Heaven

"For in the resurrection, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven." Matthew 22:30

This verse used to bother me. It was hard to comprehend how my husband in this life would not be my husband in the next life. I pictured seeing him in heaven, waving and saying, "Hi," but feeling a disconnect. But not too long ago, the Lord gave me insight into this.

When we see the Lord face to face, we will instantly fall head over heels in love. His magnetism will be so intense, we will have eyes for no one but Him. Just like Peter and James and John, we will want nothing else than to follow Him and remain in His presence.

Can you imagine Peter's wife, wondering why Peter suddenly had little interest in her, and kept following after a man, leaving her for whole days and nights? What must she have been thinking?

I will want no other man. He will be my husband, and I will be His bride. That's why the church is called the "bride."

"And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I shall show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." Revelation 21:9

It will be the same for my husband. Christ is the great equalizer. My husband and I will look at each other in heaven and smile, and know that what we had here on earth was nothing compared to being married to the Lamb. We will still love each other, but we will be absolutely smitten by Him. Of course, our marriage to Christ will not be sexual, but rather one of pure love and relationship.

And because there is no marriage in heaven, we will not have cause to feel guilty when we fall instantly in love with that wonderful "Other Man."

We won't have to win His affections, either, because He is already wildly, lavishly, head-over-heels in love with us. When our eyes meet, we will melt, because His eyes will be shining with His perfect love. He, too, has waited expectantly for us to come to Him, to see each other, face to face.

We will not have to wait in a long meet-and-greet line in heaven, hoping just to get a glimpse of Him and shake His hand. Just as He has blessed us with His Spirit individually here on earth--moment to moment, every day of our lives--He will be with us in the same way, our individual Savior and Lord, and the Lover of our Souls.

It will be the perfect marriage... a marriage made in heaven.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Why I am Not Disappointed

This is my very first blog, my first shout into cyberspace, except for e-mail, of course. Hello, hello, hellloooooo... Will anyone read this? And if so, will they be "not disappointed"?

That actually isn't why I gave my blog its name. It comes from a verse in the Bible which touched me recently:

"In Thee they trusted, and were not disappointed." Psalm 22:5b

Have you ever read a verse in the Bible that, on the face of it, seemed pretty simple, but then, on second glance, was packed with meaning? This verse was that for me.

The Bible exhorts us to trust in God. Verse after verse calls us to cast our cares upon our Heavenly Father, and trust in Him. And that's all well and good until that trust is put to the test. Then, when that trust is all we have to cling to, like a rope dropped out of heaven, while everything around us is crumbling, we may begin to wonder, "What happens if I trust in this rope? How long will I have to hang here? Who's extending the rope and how strong is He? How can I be assured that He's someone who really cares about me and has my best interests in mind? Is that Someone really able to take complete care of me?"

That's why the second part of the verse above is so meaningful. "In Thee they trusted, and were not disappointed." Not disappointed. If you choose to grab onto God's rope, you may not be able to see where He's taking you. You may look down and see nothing but rubble and clouds of dust as your world falls to pieces. You may hang there for some time while God does His work behind the scenes, but you can absolutely KNOW that however it turns out: you will not be disappointed. If you trust in God, He will reward you by exceeding your expectations.

I know because I've been there. My trust in God was put to the test nearly two years ago when my 20-year-marriage ran into a brick wall. I never even saw it coming. It just seemed that all of a sudden, I had a bitter husband who became increasingly distant, like an astronaut who was floating away from me in space, his lifeline severed by...himself.

That's why I'm writing this blog, to talk about why I am Not Disappointed. Our marriage is still very rocky. I am actually typing this with one hand, while gripping onto God's rope with the other as I hang precariously over the rubble of our first twenty years.

I am not writing as one who has made it back into the land of happy endings. I am writing as one who is still in the midst of a troubled marriage, still dangling by God's lifeline, still trusting in Him who makes all things new.

This is not to say that God is not working in our marriage. The fact is, God has had to do enormous foundational work before He could even begin to reconstruct our marriage. That takes time, and as one with very little patience, I have often lost heart. During those times, I have repeated that verse over and over: "In Thee they trusted, and were not disappointed."

In future blogs, I will share about the things I've learned through these last two years, and how, time and again, God has revealed Himself through this process, and urged me to keep believing that if I trust in Him, I will not be disappointed.