On New Beginnings

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Three times in three weeks, I have bit. it.

As in I crash landed so hard on my backside, it made my teeth shake. Three times. 

One fall happened after I leaned on a stool too far left. The other two occurred when I was simply walking – nothing tricky. But apparently for me, walking is tricky.

Sometimes, the tumbles trickiest to recover from are those that follow a new beginning. Of course, a new beginning can soar on wings of glorious success. But sometimes it takes off and crashes, and you are left flat out laid out. And when that happens to me, I want to tear out of town and scurry my red-faced self off to safety rather than shake the embarrassment off my skin and out of my hair.

I am learning just how much courage it takes to trust the process of trying again. Would you join me over here to share what you know about new beginnings, too? And if your new beginning has (literally or figuratively) knocked you on your backside, I offer a special prayer at (in)courage just for you.

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The current new beginning that glares neon bright in our family has been our oldest children (twin sons) beginning high school. My friend Stacey Thacker (wonderful writer of her own blog and creator of the Mothers of Daughters blog) is mama to four daughters, and her oldest child started high school as well. While we were both in Dallas for the Declare Conference, we thought it would be fun to get together and talk about this whole high school business. Specifically, about our mama fears and struggles with this parenting stage, as well as how we stay connected with our older kids. (Subscribers: click here to watch video.)

(One note: in the video, I didn’t give the correct title of the book my husband is working through with our boys. The title is actually called Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle: Honest Conversations About Sexual Integrity by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. Here is the link to the corresponding book for daughters, too.)

(A second note: this is my first ever video recording of this nature. This is Stacey’s 384th (give or take a few). It won’t take you long to figure out which of us is the knows-what-she’s-doing, professional one.)

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I’d love to know: what new beginnings find you in this season?

Why Writing a Book Is Like Being a Pregnant Elephant (and hopeful words for *all* writers)

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I’ve been pregnant twice and birthed three babies. My first pregnancy ended with my husband and I doubling our family by adding twin sons. My second pregnancy ended with the birth of a beautiful daughter we named Faith because that pregnancy, laden with difficulties, required faith like we’d never known. And though the calendars told me neither pregnancy made it to 40 weeks, I secretly wondered if I’d been pregnant much longer.

Yep, for many soon-to-be mamas, the days carrying new life inside stretch and pull endlessly, and you begin to feel like you’ve been cradling a baby (babies) forever.

14832560285_f1c6e6431c_o(Pregnant with twins at 33 weeks.)

I recently read that an elephant’s pregnancy lasts 92 weeks, or more specifically, 645 days. I know that’s not super surprising given the size of an elephant, but I doubt that gives the mama elephant on day 462 of her pregnancy much consolation.

As my deadline for turning in the first draft of my book approacheth, I think I can identify with the pregnant elephant, at least a little. Considering the book won’t release until fall of 2015, I am not even halfway through this “pregnancy” and it feels like I have been working on this project much longer than I have. I’m not complaining, however. While I do get tired and sometimes wonder if I’m in over my head, I am surprised at just how much I enjoy the writing process that this book requires.

But to stretch this elephant-book comparison a bit further, I’ll just get crazy and say the process of writing and birthing a book is more akin to being a pregnant elephant who first struggled with infertility. Because for me (and most writers, I think), there was a good deal of time between when I first felt the spark to lean seriously into publishing and when I read a positive response from a publisher.

To be sure, my hands held many a negative reply first.

When I first shared my book news with y’all back in May, I asked if you’d be interesting in knowing more about my own road to publishing. Many of you said yes, so here’s a bit more on that subject.

The proposal that led to the book I’m currently writing wasn’t my first rodeo. I went to She Speaks in 2011 armed with my first proposal. One editor told me no flat out, but the other liked it enough to take it back to her publishing board. Then the pub board told me no. And before you think that is where the no’s ended for me, think again. I wrote another proposal that was turned down, too.

And there were several smaller no’s tucked inside those big ones.

So yes, I know what it’s like to hear a regretful no. Or rather, several no’s. I know what it’s like to look around at the dirty floors you haven’t mopped this side of forever and wonder if your writing time shouldn’t be used elsewhere. I know what it’s like to have a college degree in something other than writing or English and wonder if you should just be sensible and go back to doing what you paid a lot of money to learn how to do. I know what it’s like to take something seriously by pouring endless amounts of time into it even though it doesn’t add to your bank account and even though some of your friends think all this “writing” is really an excuse to play on facebook the whole live long day.

I know what it’s like to push through the doubt and bravely compose a proposal only to get an unfavorable response. I know what it’s like to tell yourself, “See? That’s what you get for thinking you have what it takes to do this.” 

I also know that nothing of value comes to us the easy way, and we have to grow thicker skin and not let the questions or doubts or rejections stop us from answering the callings God gives. We have to let our faith steep in the Truth that says we will spend our time on what God created us to do and believe in what God says He will do.

If I never had another book published, and it was very clear to me that this was a real possibility, I still had to go on writing. I’m glad I made this decision in a moment of failure. It’s easy to say you’re a writer when things are going well. When the decision is made in the abyss, then it is quite clear that it is not one’s own decision at all.”

~ Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet

So to any of you writers who hope of things not yet seen, can I scoot my chair close to yours and give you a word of encouragement?

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If you are writing because you want to write, then keep writing. If you feel yourself coming alive doing it regardless of how many no’s find you, don’t let rejection still your pen. If you feel in your heart God is directing your creativity whether you’re outwardly praised for it or not, whether your words are published or not, then please keep creating. Keep doing it for God’s eyes and trust that if others are meant to see it, He will bring it to them.

And that no you recently received? Let’s instead call it a not yet. Because while I don’t know what specific plans God has in store for you and your talents, I do know He wants to birth something from your creativity. Something wildly beautiful, something wildly needed.

And until the day you get to hold it in your arms, may you hold onto the Hope that lies in things unseen.

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