Thursday, September 27, 2012

Just a Taste

Now that copy-editing is nearing completion, my level of excitement is skyrocketing. Because after developmental editing is done, my book will be ready to hit the shelves. Almost. After developmental editing I get to make all the fun decisions, like how the cover design will look and what I want written on the back. But after all that, it will be ready! I was telling Ben the other day that the one thing I am most excited about is actually being able to talk with people about the book instead of just telling them about it. After people have read it, I can have conversations with people, I can talk to my readers about how they related to the characters and if the message affected them in any way, and how they were affected.

My editors are working very hard to make sure that I will be able to have conversations like that. During developmental editing, my editors will be polishing my work so that the message is strong and clear. I know this already because the first response on the questionnaire I have to fill out before developmental editing even begins is this: Describe the main message/intention of your book in ten words or less. Ten words! For a writer, this is not an easy thing. I could write pages and pages about the message and intention! If you’ve been reading my blog religiously, you know how wordy I can be! I haven’t responded to this questionnaire yet, but believe me, I’ve been thinking about this response every spare minute I have. The message is the core of my work; if it is weak I lose the power to reach hearts and stir up emotion. So I want it to be as strong and as clear as it can be, so that is what I hope will happen after developmental editing. Any changes I make to the work will be so that the message is stronger and more influential.

I want to give you all a bit of a sneak peak of my book. One of my main goals, one of my deepest desires, is for people to be able to connect on a personal level with the characters. I want the emotions of the characters to be real, tangible emotions. I want people to read my book and say, “I relate to that. I’ve felt that before.” So when you read this book, you will see that a majority of the work is divided into two sections: dialogue and inner thoughts. The story is told from first person perspective, so you get a direct look into Molly’s thoughts…all her desires, fears, and every single emotion in between. I wrote it in a way that is similar to the way that we all function. For example, when we worry about things, we don’t just worry about them once, work through them, and then stop worrying about them. We keep worrying about things. We might work on those worries, yes, but oftentimes those worries keep us up at night and cause us to lose sleep. So it might seem that I write about a specific emotion over and over again, but that is because as humans, we hang onto things. Events impact us for more than just one occasion. The impact is lasting. I revisit the same worries, fears, and other emotions over and over again because as humans, we do that. We revisit things even though we may have worked through them already.
So…here ya go! A small glimpse of what I’m talking about.

It was dark. I hated driving in the dark; not being able to clearly see what lay ahead. I was limited to how far my headlights shone onto the road. That’s how my life was like right now, though. It was dark. I couldn’t see what was ahead of me because I had no plan anymore. I was just blindly wandering down a path to who knows where. Anywhere but here, though.
The weight of the past few months was crushing down on me. My shoulders felt like a gigantic boulder was strapped to them. Being in the car didn’t help either; the small space was closing in on me, suffocating me. For the first full hour of the drive I sobbed uncontrollably; loud, heaving, gut-wrenching sobs from the deepest part of my heart. I hadn’t allowed myself to cry like this before because I was always afraid someone would hear me and ask me what was wrong, and I knew I’d never be able to tell them the real reason why I was so broken and empty.

Sorry for the randomness of this little sample, but it took me forever to find a piece that didn’t give away too many details! I really wanted to give you guys a little sneak, and to show you how real Molly is to me, and how her emotions have affected me. I don’t think anyone who doesn’t write or love to read can understand just how easy it is to become a character. I didn’t just live in Molly’s world. I was Molly. I became her so that I could experience her feeling and write about them in a real way. You people have no idea how long I walked around as Molly! It was ridiculous. And then I started writing the second book, so it hasn’t really ended. She’s still a part of me, and I still walk around in her world. That’s the great thing about writing and reading though. Being able to step into a completely new world is absolutely exhilarating, and I can’t wait for you all to step into Molly’s world with me!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

God Speaks

Today was one of those awesome days where God spoke right to me. Life is crazy for me right now. And a tad stressful. Probably the most stressful thing for me right now is the lack of control I have over my money. Last year I had more outside scholarship money and didn’t need to have an off campus job, but this year is different. And even though I am working and earning a paycheck, it seems to disappear right away; right back into the school. So instead of just trusting that God will take care of me, I worry. Even though I know that every month my school will be paid for, it still stresses me out. 

The thing that annoys me most about this whole money deal is how it affects my willingness to give. Tithing has always been a priority for me, and usually I write a check every two weeks without giving it a second thought. Lately, there have been many second thoughts. Every check that I get now, I immediately subtract how much my tithe should be and cringe. I hate that. It says right in 2 Corinthians 9:7 that “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” I can pick out three key points in the verse where I fall short…so, so short. I am reluctant to give. I feel like I have to. And I’m not doing it cheerfully. Again…I HATE THAT. Skipping a tithe or cutting it short is worse, because it tells me that I am not trusting God. 

A few weeks ago Ben and I went to Central Baptist Church in Sioux Falls, where they are currently doing a sermon series on handling money. The pastor said something that really struck me. We are managers of money. It’s not ours, it’s God’s. The reason he blesses us and entrusts us with money is so that we will use it in a way that brings him glory and to advance his kingdom. How can I do that with my heart in this shape? I know I am being a horrible manager right now! Whatever amount of money God sees fit to bless me with is what I have to manage, no matter if I feel it isn’t enough. It is enough. And I want to do a better job at managing it, which means giving because I want to. It means giving because it brings me joy to see the church advance the kingdom of God. It even means giving cheerfully…gasp! Is that possible right now??

Throughout these last few months I have been relying on myself much more than I should be. I keep telling myself that if I just work more hours and only spend money on what is absolutely necessary, everything will be fine. Those are all good things to be doing, but the problem with that mindset is that I am a human. I am weak. I can’t work as many hours as I want because I have school. And life is messy, things come up unexpectedly and I never know what I might encounter on a month to month basis. My deepest prayer right now is that instead of relying on myself or turning to my parents or Ben to supply my needs, I first turn to Jesus. I know he gives me resources such as my parents and Ben to help me out, but again, they are human and to turn to them first and rely on them more than God is not what I need to be doing. I want to rely on God. I need to rely on God. 

Here comes the good part. As this was all weighing on my heart yesterday, God stepped in and said, “Whoa, hold on, my child. I got this, okay? Don’t you remember how I have always taken care of you? Why are you doubting?” On the way to church this morning, the David Crowder Band song “Let Me Feel Your Shine” came on, and it almost brought tears to my eyes. It explains the state of my heart dead on, so I am sharing the lyrics with you, with a few parts taken out:

This place is trying to break my belief
But my faith is bigger than all I can see
What I need is redemption
What I need is for You for to put me back on my feet

I swear I'm trying to give everything
But I feel I'm falling, oh make me believe
What I need is resurrection
What I need is for You to put me back on my feet

If I could feel You shine Your perpetual light
Then maybe I could crawl out of this tonight
If I could feel You feel You shine
Oh let me feel You shine
So beautiful and warm
So beautiful and bright
Like a sun comin' out of a rainy sky
Oh let me feel You shine Oh,
Let me feel You shine

I lift the knife to the thing I love most
Praying You'll come so I can have both
What I need is for You to touch me
What I need is for You to be the thing that I need

This world does such a good job breaking my belief. How easy it is for me to take my eyes off of Jesus and begin seeking out other ways to supply my needs. While I will continue to do all I can to meet those needs, I want more than anything to trust that when I can’t do it, God can. And he will. He always has, and he always will. 

God knew I needed more reminders of his power this morning. The Sunday school lesson today was on faith. We talked about how faith means holding Christ supremely valuable, that he is an all satisfying treasure. It means we are satisfied with all that he promises to be to us in him. It is a full assurance that God will do what he promised. Full assurance. I don’t see room for doubt in faith at all! In the end, what we hope for in a happy future is what we worship…and what we worship is what we serve. I don’t want to worship or serve money. I want to worship and serve Christ. Last but not least, faith is measured by the amount of joy we have in God. Since I’m being so honest, I’ll keep going. My joy in Christ is low right now. And that’s simply because I don’t make time to open his word and fall on my knees, to cry out to him and lay all my burdens on him. I have to keep beating myself with scriptures like Matthew 11:28-30 that says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Sounds a heck of a lot better than what I’ve been doing lately. 

The biggest thing I have learned in the last month is that the only thing I need has already been given to me. I need a savior. I need redemption. Since I already have assurance of those things, why I am wasting my time tearing down my faith instead of drawing closer to God and strengthening it? 

So thankful I have a big God who uses these kinds of situations for good. This isn’t ideal. But as a Christian I’ve made the choice to put myself completely into God’s hands, trusting that he will lead me to wherever it is I need to go. Anything I encounter along the way is tiny compared to my God anyway, so what good is fear? 

Time to say goodbye to fear. Prayers appreciated.