This post is part of the Christian Writers Blog Chain (CWBC) topic for July: Celebrate. You will find more articles on this topic from the wonderful people listed on the sidebar to the left.
As I mentioned in my post on NonaKing.com, this month has been a study of celebration and agony. This year has been a broader study of the same, but that’s a different post altogether. For now, I will limit myself to speaking about Celebration.
A few days ago I began pondering what I could possibly say on this topic. There is the obvious for we Americans, the celebration of our Independence from the monarchy of England, but it rang too impersonal. There is, also, celebration of the fact I am finally here in North Dakota with my husband, reunited after about 80 days apart. But that isn’t what pressed on my heart.
To have celebration there must first be a reason. There is no oasis without a desert. There is no relief without first experiencing pain. There is no celebration without that first agony of daily struggle.
‘…when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD…’ Leviticus 23:39
‘…for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.’ Luke 15:24
When this challenge began in January, my husband and I apart during the week as he worked in Seattle (I was in Eastern Washington), I took comfort in the fact he would return each Friday evening. There also began to grow in the back of my mind the thought we were training for a future blessing. So, we waited, trusting our future to the Lord and facing our daily challenges with due diligence. Each weekend we celebrated the time with one another with laughter and fun. We treasured those days.
But the Lord intended another challenge and, as He does, prepared the way.
My husband was offered and accepted a job in North Dakota in April. It would result in unknown weeks and months of diligently stepping forward into the future God held for us. One by one, these challenges were faced and passed… and one by one another more difficult obstacle stood ahead. The Lord used these daily struggles to teach patience, perseverance, trust, discipline, and calm.
Now, as we near the end, we have reason to celebrate our diligence. We have made it through, our new home in the final stages of closing, our furniture soon to be delivered, and our future brightening through the final shadows of this particular wilderness.
The struggle has been difficult, yes, but I felt the Lord with me each day, as I do even now, and I relished the encouragement of my husband each evening when we spoke on the phone. These challenges have raised within me a new confidence and desire to act. The Lord has led us through, brought us together, and now guides us through to a celebration of victory. It will be a joyful day indeed when I can open the door of our new home and breathe a sigh of completion.
So please remember, if you find yourself in a difficult place in your life, there is an end. There is no way to know when that bend in the road will come about, but take heart in the fact there is a party waiting at the finish. The Lord loves to celebrate, I am confident in that, and we should relish the effect that joy has on our lives, present and future.
So, BBQ anyone? Rib-Eye Steaks and Bison Burgers at my house. I’ll make my famous Devil’d Eggs if you bring the beverages and chips/salsa.
Character builders are prolific throughout our life’s adventure. All are necessary, I suppose, but we mostly see that fact in hind-sight.
While growing up, I used writing to vent my stress and rage. It wasn’t a case of even understanding why I was angry. Writing was my outlet (when I wasn’t taking it out on my siblings). My characters were tortured, and looking back on it now I wonder how much was a mirror of my own life and how much was a metaphorical parallel. Regardless, it kept me sane and somewhat grounded.
When I began to crave romance and love, I provided that to my characters as well. They were a safe outlet, and a way for me to venture beyond the numbness which had protected me for so many years. The agony and happiness I wrote for my characters kept my hopes up for my own future. After all, everyone finds happiness, right?
Through the desert and the wilderness to the oasis I wrote. Long-hand. Pens and paper were a monthly (or weekly) staple. Even after I discovered the wonder of the computer (I built my own starting in college in the 90s), I still would write these adventures and scenes long-hand. It felt more personal. More of the emotion ventured from my soul to the page, leaving me a relief and encouraging a personal connection with these characters which seemed so real in my mind and heart.
Now it seems I am “channeling” the pain, frustration and rising and falling hopes of Sara Little from Searching for Sara as my husband and I struggle forward to purchase a house in North Dakota. He has been living in an apartment there since April 30th, and I have only seen him once (May 12th) and won’t see him again until July… and that only if we are able to close on the house we are seeking to purchase. Each day seems to throw another road-block in front of us, and though I have my Lord to help me up and over and down and through… I am so tired.
And who or what presses me out of these black moments? Thoughts of my husband. He is trying SO HARD to get us through this so that we can be together again, and the knowledge of his own frustration keeps me pressing onward. My husband is not a man who likes the feeling of helplessness, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he wants to save me from this particular challenge. Unfortunately, there is nothing really either one of us can do except muddle through and stay strong. Take it to the Lord and continue to step forward in obedience to His guidance….
It sounds remarkably similar to what Sara has struggled through in her life, her challenge as an orphan at the age of 12, and then her journey from England to America. It also makes me understand why I love being a writer. To see purpose for my struggles gives me a sense of calm, though I have no idea how to explain that concept to anyone. No one wants to suffer through a pointless wilderness, right?
A part of me is thankful for these challenges, because what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. And I know that the Lord doesn’t put us through obstacles that we cannot overcome [with His support]. Beyond that is a fresh reminder at how important these similarities are to drawing me closer to the mindset of my characters. The desperation. The frustration and anger. The tension and the moments of wanting to simply curl up in a ball and sob. To give up.
This particular wilderness will come to an end, eventually. They always do. What I look forward to is this additional life experience that will allow me to “write what you know” and make the character’s beginnings and endings that more real.
Forward motion is a good thing, especially when I have felt like life has been standing in the middle of the road with its tongue sticking out.
No one likes that, I’m sure.
Thank the Lord, the appraisal was completed more than a week early due to a cancellation. And today we finally received word that the rate for our new home mortgage has been locked. According to the hubs, “We’ve provided all the documents for preliminary underwiting, but more might be required for quality control and final underwriting.” Thank goodness.
Because of all the packing and moving, the Christian Writers Guild gave me a one-month extension on my ‘Fiction That Sells’ class, so I won’t be required to turn in homework for the month of June. Of course, if it turns out that the move actually takes place in July, I will complete my July homework in June and let them know the change.
It has been a struggle and a challenge to my character to have so many things waving in the wind. But I am taking it one step at a time and trying to cast my cares on the Lord. He sees the big picture and He knows how wonderful everything will be once we make it through this wilderness.
Just think how many additional experiences will be in my repertoire for “write what you know” requirements?
So, for the past 4 days I have been on vacation.
The hubs and I left Seattle Friday morning, picked up his last check from the office, and then took off down I-90 toward North Dakota. For me it would be a week-long vacation filled with homework from my Christian Writer’s Guild Fiction That Sells course. For both of us, it would mean looking for a house to equal our new home. Unfortunately, our choices are limited, even more so by the quality (or lack thereof) to the homes we view. After three days of looking, we have only two homes to seriously consider, and one of those would put a huge burden on our finances. Well, more of a burden than what M would care for.
But we have hope, as does our realtor (she is a peach!) that something soon will present itself. Our hope is that we can put an offer on a house before I leave on my solo drive back to Washington State Saturday morning.
It will be a long drive.
Lord willing, the house will close some time in May and I will be able to get us packed up and moved into our home in June. I am not looking forward to the solo packing, since M will be remaining behind in North Dakota, but maybe I can find someone to hire to help me pack?
Anyway, there’s the update. The Lord has us in his hands, the first part of my homework for this week is almost done, and we are zeroing in on our soon-to-be-home.
This month, the Christian Writers Blog Chain covers the topic of ‘Joy’ for the month of April. You can read the other posts by my fellow bloggers by following the links to the left.
April has been a chaotic bit of a month. Between the release of my romance novella, My Fair Princess, on the 13th, my husband being offered a job in North Dakota the same day, and me doing my best to persuade my company to keep me on via remote as we plan to move, it sounds as if there should be nothing but chaos. But there has been a peace and certainty through it all helping me stay strong against the panic.
Thanks to a Bible app on my phone, I have begun reading my Bible daily rather than “when I remember.” I have enrolled in a writing course through the Christian Writers Guild and have high hopes that it will help me break some bad writing habits. I have been more active in marketing and socializing, even pushing through those moments when I want to unplug and separate myself from everyone and everything. There has been joy surrounding every aspect of my life, and not just in the re-discovered wonder of plotting out stories for my waiting characters.
It is like God has offered me a different perspective, a… fuller view of life’s adventure and what it could mean to not only my own character but those around me. I see and respond to those people that have been brought into my circle of influence, and I try and be the best example I can be, understanding now the limited length of time in each situation.
Yes, the “limbo” is a challenge, but the Lord, in His wisdom, guided me through it a few times before, teaching me and showing me how to weather this storm with grace and strength. Encouraging me through words spoken by my husband commenting on how proud he is of my reaction to this tough time. There is joy in those words because I know my strength blesses my husband.
Now there is eagerness to peer ahead, to face these challenges I have willingly set. If all goes well, we will close on a house in Beulah or Hazen some time before July, I complete my writing course on time in August, and my next romance novel will release that same month.
16 O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided to build You a house for Your holy name, it is from Your hand, and all is Yours. 17 Since I know, O my God, that You try the heart and delight in uprightness, I, in the integrity of my heart, have willingly offered all these things; so now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here, make their offerings willingly to You. 18 O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, our fathers, preserve this forever in the [a]intentions of the heart of Your people, and direct their heart to You; (1 Chronicles 29:16-18; NASB)
What joys have you discovered this month?