let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfecter of faith.
When I woke up this morning, it was raining—not just in St. Louis, mind you, but in my mind and in my heart. It should have been light out, but it was dark as night, inside and out, and I could feel the tears welling beneath my eyelids, just begging for a chance to rain along with the weather.
It should have been a good week—I finished my edits for Love at any Cost and the galleys for A Love Surrendered, I got to jump back in to Marcy and Patrick’s prequel A Light in the Window, watch my precious grandbaby one day and made a great showing in the Family Fiction Magazine’s Readers Choice Awards. Which, by the way, many of you helped me to do, so I cannot thank you enough for your ongoing support and friendship—you are a true blessing in my life! Here’s the link if you want to check out the winners across all genres, but note that the best way to view it is to download the PDF for the May/June issue:
So, what happened to put me in such a funk? Well, to be honest, I didn’t really know. All I knew was that Wednesday I wrote like a house afire on Patrick and Marcy’s prequel and loved it!! And then yesterday? The clouds started rolling in. All of a sudden I hit the wall and not only hated everything I wrote, but found myself staring at the blinking cursor with no idea what I should write. Well, I thought to myself, that’s okay—everybody has writer’s block sometimes, and if I just keep writing, it will pass. So I did. But it didn’t. It only got worse until by evening time, I was not only depressed, I was completely unable to write anything—not e-mails, not my book, not my Journal Jot, nothing.
I prayed and tried to write some more, and I did, but it was complete drivel and for the first time in a long time, fear skittered through my body with the thought that it would never come back—that passion for the written word, that love affair with God and romance, that ability to bleed onto the keyboard. Oh, I was bleeding, all right, but it was inside—in my heart and in my soul. And as God is my witness, I didn’t know why.
Last night before I went to bed, I asked Keith to pray with me, and he did, telling me that he’s lived with me for almost 34 years now, and this, too, would pass. Somewhat comforted, I hunkered down with a book (my release from the terrors of the mind) and read till midnight, confident that, as Little Orphan Annie so boldly belted out in the musical of the same name, the sun would, indeed, come out tomorrow.
Only it didn’t. It was, as I said above, black as night … and so was my mood. “Do you have time to have coffee with me out on the porch swing?” Keith asked, and I jumped up immediately, something I usually don’t do on Fridays because that’s when I post my Journal Jot. But there was no gas in the tank, no fuel for the fire, no passion with a purpose. Just a drizzly black sky and a blank computer screen.
“How are you today,” Keith asked, the scent of our hazelnut coffee mingling with that of wet leaves and mulch. “Did your funk leave?” “No, I said, scooting closer, craving his warmth and love to shore me up. “If anything, it’s worse, and I don’t now why.” “Well,” he says in his usual calm manner, tightening his hold, “if there’s anything I’ve learned about you over the years, Julie, it’s that something triggered this, so let’s think back to see what it is.” “I don’t know,” I say, squinting into the misty woods as if the answer were written on the profusion of rain-slick leaves. “I was fine on Wednesday, and then Thursday everything went south.
And then it hit me—a situation earlier in the week where dear friends who I had expected to rejoice with me over the blessing of the Family Fiction awards never said a word. Not. One. Word. Maybe they didn’t get my e-mail, I thought to myself, so I let it go because my next thought was maybe I wasn’t supposed to send it to them anyway. You know, the tooting your own horn thing, which I really despise doing, but it’s a catch-22 with an author. You see, promotion is key, and you have to promote whenever you can, so I did—thanking my reader friends on Facebook for the honor they bestowed on me and sending an e-mail to my dear friends—not just once, mind you, because I thought maybe they didn’t get it, but two and three times with no response. There were so many of you who congratulated me on FB, and I thank you for that, but then I started feeling badly about even posting there because the last thing I want to do is make other authors feel sad or envious. Which, let’s face it—is inevitable with awards in a competitive industry like publishing. And I should know—and you should too—because God knows I’ve written—and repented—about it enough on this blog!
So, I started to spill this out to Keith, and the tears came and the bitterness grew and the day got darker and darker. Suddenly, everything was bringing me down—the dirty floor in the kitchen, the fact I haven’t ridden bikes with Keith in a while, the fact that I only made hot dogs and beans for dinner last night … It was a snowball—no, a hail ball—raining down on my life, damaging my joy and battering my passion to write.
“One of the things I love most about you, Julie,” Keith said, “and probably the #1 reason I married you beside the fact that you’re cute (debatable right now with a pinch in my brows and red-rimmed eyes), is that yes, you are a handful and a royal drama queen and sometimes you mess up a lot, something Amy doesn’t understand about you, but I usually do—most of the time …” He smiles. “But I can honestly say I have never met anybody who rights themselves more quickly than you when you’ve sinned, and that always makes me respect you and love you all the more. For instance, you’re bitter right now, and you’ve allowed it to steal your joy, your sun, your passion for writing, but I know that the minute you repent before God, forgive those friends and let it go, you will jump right back up and move on with what He has for you to do. Because yes, people’s approval is important to you, but you … simply cannot move or breathe without God’s.”
Suddenly the rain stopped, the clouds broke, and the sun came out—literally and figuratively. I knew then what I needed to do. I am an author for God—His grace and anointing allows me to do what He’s called me to do—but not with a wall of bitterness in my heart, shutting it out. Justified by the world, maybe. Justified by God? Never.
And so I laid it down—this sin that “so easily entangles” as our Scripture so wisely points out today, repented and “fixed my eyes on Jesus,” the Author and Perfecter of my faith … and yours. And now? Well, now my heart is light and my fingers twitchy, ready to get back on the keyboard and pour—my love, my passion, my faith in this amazing God—into every word I write. Because the rain has cleared and the sky is blue and the truth dawns bright like the sun, assuring me once again that the very “imperfect” faith of this author is being perfected daily by the “perfect” Author of Life.
Thank you SO much for your precious friendship and may your day and your weekend be free from rain, the dark of night and anything else that hinders, filled instead with the blazing light of His amazing glory and love.
NEW CONTEST TILL MAY 31ST!!! Three chances to win!! Okay, everybody, this is your chance to win a signed copy of any of my books, including A Love Surrendered, a $50 gift card AND have a bit character named after you in Steven’s story, A Love Surrendered, due out in October. DETAILS ON THE CONTEST TAB OF MY WEBSITE, SO CHECK IT OUT!!
NEW FEATURE ON MY WEBSITE!! I read somewhere (Publisher’s Weekly, I think), where authors need to put excerpts on their websites because it increases sales, but I have been MOST negligent in this, so I have remedied that. I now have a tab on my website called “Excerpts,” where I list my favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of my books, including my upcoming novel, A Love Surrendered. So spread the word if you know anyone you think might like my books—just direct them to my Excerpts link for a taste of my writing style, okay? Thank you SO much!!
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Barnes and Noble: