Seeing Rejection as God’s Intervention

 

During the 2010 Writing for the Soul conference, I pitched the first draft of my Contemporary Teen novel. The agent gave me positive feedback on my writing and invited me to send her a complete proposal.

 

Elated, and still green regarding the business side of writing, I slapped together a cover letter and submitted a synopsis and the first three chapters of my manuscript. I waited for her to hand deliver my contract.

 

Instead of a contract, I received my SASE with a wonderful rejection letter.

 

She said she enjoyed my voice and thought my writing was strong, but she didn’t think she could find a home for my project.

 

I shelved the manuscript and asked God what He wanted me to do next.

 

Keep learning.

 

I obeyed.

 

In 2011, I attended the Christian Writers Seminar and the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Later that year, God led me to Inspire Christian Writers.

 

I’ve learned so much about the craft and business of writing over the last two years. My amazing critique team challenged me to bring my writing to a higher level of quality. God refined the focus of the message He wanted me to share and brought me through some much needed pruning, both spiritually and as a writer.

 

I didn’t pluck that old manuscript off my shelf until February 2012. After I reviewed my synopsis and read through the first three chapters, I praised the Lord.

 

Thank You, Father, for not allowing this manuscript to be published in 2010.

 

My manuscript has gone through the refining fire. Hallelujah!

 

As I prepare to pitch the revised book as a part of a series during this year’s Mount Hermon conference, I’m grateful for the initial rejection in 2010.

 

God’s divine intervention.

 

When I forget God’s plan is perfect and I’m tempted to take rejection personally, it helps me to remember that agents and editors, just like writers, are accountable to God.

 

We are all responsible for using the gifts God gives us to produce a work that honors the One who sends us as His messengers.

 

We’re on the same team.

 

Having a positive attitude over something as negative as a rejection is all about priorities and perspective.

 

My top priority must be pursuing God, not publication.

 

If I believe He loves me and has my steps ordained, I have to believe every detail of my life is sifted through His love and covered by His grace. That includes every rejection letter, as well as every letter of acceptance.

 

When my perspective is filtered through God’s Holy Word and dependent on a personal relationship with the Lord, I can trust Him when He opens and closes doors.

 

It’s my job to remain teachable, flexible, obedient, and totally dependent on God as I surrender to His will, sharpen my skills, and respond with thanksgiving to His divine intervention.

 

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How has the Lord helped you process rejection in your writing journey?

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A Man of His Word

My father volunteers his time to teach kids the art of archery and serves during various archery competitions. When he commits, he shows up ready to work. His friends and family take him at his word because he’s faithful in keeping his commitments.

 

During this week’s New Testament reading, God’s faithfulness resounded when one man “took Jesus at his word.” (John 4:50, NIV)

 

In John 4:43-54, a royal official “went” to Jesus and “begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.”

 

Jesus’ response sounds a little like a rebuke, on the surface. “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

 

The royal official was persistent. “Jesus replied, ‘You may go. Your son will live.’”

 

Here’s the twist.

 

Scripture says “the man took Jesus at his word and departed.” He believed, obeyed by departing, and showed us an example of walking by faith.

 

In this world of instability, God is constant and unchanging.

 

He is a Man of His Word.

 

We will face obstacles. We will experience heartaches. We will become weary, discouraged, and sometimes riddled with fear and doubt.

 

John 16:33b affirms this truth and provides the hope that we can count on:

 

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

 

God moves obstacles.

 

“ . . . I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20-21

 

God heals heartaches.

 

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

 

God provides rest to the weary.

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

 

God squashes discouragement and fear with His loving presence.

 

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

 

God holds onto us, with compassion, when we doubt.

 

“Come,” [Jesus] said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:29-31

 

The Bible reveals how God keeps His promises. Testimonies, from other believers as well as from our own lives, affirm that the Lord is faithful.

 

Even when we can’t see the good in a situation, or feel the burden being lifted, we can trust God. He remains the same yesterday, today and forever. He will never leave us, nor forsake us.

 

Hallelujah!

 

What happens when we take God at His Word and walk by faith in the midst of tough circumstances?

 

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Following God through the Valley

 

 

 

 

 

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Once I transitioned from hobby writer to professional freelancer, I set reasonable goals, worked hard to continue honing my craft, and plugged into a fabulous critique group through Inspire Writers.

 

Determined to keep God in the center of my writing process, I made it a priority to spend time studying His Word. I prayed before writing and acknowledged His constant guidance.

 

Seeking God’s direction at every turn empowered me to follow Him through the Valley of the Unknown. He nudged me off the fiction track and into the realm of nonfiction writing.

 

“But, Lord, I’m a novelist.”

 

You’re My servant.

 

“But I don’t know anything about the art of creative nonfiction.”

 

I’ve equipped you to learn, so follow My lead.

 

Knees knocking, I obeyed. I joined the nonfiction track for beginners at the 2011 Mount Hermon Christian Writers conference.

 

I arrived at Mount Hermon, trying not to think about the completed fiction manuscript I’d left at home on my bookshelf.

 

Through honest critique, I accepted that my teen devotional was not focused enough to market as a book. My instructor, Jan Kern, suggested I separate the articles and submit them to magazines.

 

I refused to give in to discouragement. After all, I’d gone to Mount Hermon to hone my craft, not pitch a book.

 

I asked God to help me learn more about magazine submissions and picked up the blog posts I’d submitted for critique. The posts were short illustrations based on experiences with my dog.

 

My critique was encouraging. But, who would want to read a book of doggy devos?

 

I determined to enjoy the rest of the conference learning, meeting new friends, and spending some time with the Lord.

 

As I prayed and moved forward, God orchestrated one divine appointment after another. He secured me an invitation to submit my nonfiction project to a publishing house that was not even considering devotionals during the conference.

 

Talk about God’s grace.

 

I pitched an idea that had barely begun to spark in my mind. I accepted the invitation to submit, without even knowing what was included in a nonfiction proposal.

 

Faith? Insanity?

 

Whatever you call it, the following eleven months challenged me intellectually and spiritually.

 

Committed to obedience, I studied the art of writing devotions. The feedback from my critique group strengthened my writing skills.

 

I submitted my proposal on March 5, 2012. Whew! Waiting for their answer couldn’t be as hard as completing the proposal, could it?

 

It wasn’t until a few days after I pushed send that I realized what God had been doing over the past year. While I was working on my devotional, I was also submitting short stories to a teen magazine editor I’d met at Mount Hermon.

 

Since the 2011 conference, I had sold four stories to ENCOUNTER – The Magazine and a poem to Devo ‘Zine, the teen magazine published through Upper Room Ministries.

 

God had been helping me build my readership with teens. All I had to do was follow Him through the Valley of the Unknown.

 

This year, along with my nonfiction proposal, I’ll be pitching my teen novel at Mount Hermon.

 

I don’t know where these open doors will lead, or if they’ll be slammed in my face. But, I do know that God is faithful and good.

 

I can acknowledge every closed door as an exciting opportunity to grow and submit to the next step He has planned for me.

 

I can trust His leading, even when He takes me on what looks, to me, like a detour.

 

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How has God used a detour to increase your faith?

 

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A Christian Writer’s First Step

 

 

The writing ministry the Lord placed on my heart bloomed from my passion for seeking God’s face and serving His people.

 

The Lord opened my eyes to the struggles of my sisters in Christ. He nudged me to write cards of encouragement to people He brought to my mind.

 

My favorite phrase became: “I have a card for you!”

 

Writing is a powerful tool for ministry.

 

I didn’t wake up with the sudden realization that God wanted me to write a book. I didn’t even start out wanting to be published.

 

All I knew was that the Lord had given me a gift of encouragement, a tender heart for His people, and the ability to form a complete sentence. He also blessed me with an active imagination and a love for revision. Twisted, but true.

 

Praying for guidance, I decided to trust God’s path instead of trying to pave my own way.

 

The more I learned about the craft and the business of writing for publication, the more I understood that the process requires hard work and perseverance.

 

I determined to walk through any door God opened for me. With a desire to be obedient, I asked Him to make it clear if He wanted me to pursue publication.

 

His answer was, “No. I want you to pursue Me, do your part as I equip you, and trust My plan.”

 

Submitting to the Lord was my first step as a believer who uses writing as a tool to communicate God’s truth and encourage His people.

 

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How has God used your unpublished writing, or the unpublished writing of someone you know, to minister to the hearts of His beloved children?

 

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Photo by Lindsie West

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Small Sacrifice

 

When I first heard the Gospel, two sisters in Christ taught me that receiving Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior was just the beginning of my spiritual journey.

 

One woman, Joy, invited me to read through the book of John with her. I was a giddy school-girl, falling in love with God for the first time.

 

The second woman, Barbara, bought me a study Bible and became my mentor.

 

I wanted to know God and grow deeper in my relationship with Christ. I wanted to experience the life of abundance He promises. So, empowered by the Holy Spirit, I began to read and study God’s life-transforming Word.

 

The process of saturating my heart with Scripture continues to be worth the small sacrifice of time.

 

I’ve learned two important things about spiritual growth and maturity.

 

1. God does the growing.

2. I have to commit to do my part.

 

In 2011, I facilitated an online Bible Study. We read through the One Year Bible for Women. This year, I invited women to read through the New Testament. The reading, alone, takes a minimum of only five to ten minutes a day.

 

I suggest starting with prayer and reading the daily passage several times slowly. I encourage deeper study, too. The reward outweighs the time you invest.

 

So far, we’ve journeyed through Matthew, Mark, and Luke. On March 10th, we’re stepping into the book of the Bible that changed my life forever.

 

Falling in love with my Savior helped clear my perception of myself and others.

 

If you want a life-transforming experience, join us as we read through the Gospel of John.

 

One chapter daily for twenty-one days.

 

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Are you willing to sacrifice a few minutes a day to read one chapter of the Gospel of John daily?

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Forget Me Not: A Prayer of Empowerment

 

“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.” Psalm 77:11-12, NIV

 

Almighty God. Creator

Good Shepherd. Lord. Redeemer.

Provider. Healer. Savior.

Abba.

Lover of our souls.

Mountain Mover.

Tear Dryer.

Lifter of our heads.

You are the same yesterday, today and forever.

Praise the Lord!

Help us focus on Your Truth, who You are, and what You’ve done for us.

Remind us of Your past faithfulness, as we wait expectantly for You to work all things out for the good of those who love You

Empower us with strength, diligence, courage and hope which do not depend on what we can see today.

Flow through us from the blink of an idea to the completion of a first draft. Refresh us with Your presence as we revise, polish, and finish well, for Your glory alone.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.” Psalm 95:6-7a, NIV

What characteristic or promise of God is empowering you in this season of your writing life?

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Previously published on the Inspire Christian Writers blog.

 

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Mind Your Manners

My husband taught a Life Skills workshop during youth group, last week. He shared some great information that would give students an edge as they prepare to enter the work force. One of my favorite tips was a simple gesture of minding your manners.

 

“Mail a thank-you card to the person who interviewed you.”

It sounds easy, but it’s not a common practice of potential employees. In fact, manners seem to be becoming a scarce commodity in the world, as well as in the church.

During this week’s Bible reading, I was reminded that ungratefulness is not a new concept.

In Luke 17:11-19, nine men forgot their manners after being blessed with a life-changing miracle.

Jesus meets “ten men who had leprosy.” They cried out to Him for healing.

“When he saw them, he said, ‘Go show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed” (Luke 17:14).

These men called out to Jesus. They didn’t hesitate in obeying Him. All ten were healed!

But, in verse 15, Scripture delivers a convicting shocker:

“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him . . .”

Is it truly that easy to become so overwhelmed with an answer to prayer that we forget to thank the Giver of all good things?

A quick recap of my week made the answer to that question all too personal.

Did I thank God for every blessing I received, last week? Did I praise Him for protecting me every time I made it home safe in my car? Did I acknowledge Him for helping me through every tough time, for filling my lungs with air each time I took a breath?

How about those little blessings that can easily be taken for granted?

I woke up this morning. Thank You, Jesus!

I had a ride to church. Thank You, Jesus!

I enjoyed the beauty of a sunset after what felt like a long day. Thank You, Jesus!

I own a Bible and am allowed to read God’s Word without fearing for my life.

Thank You, Jesus!

As we go through each day, there are so many tangible expressions of God’s love that can slip through the cracks without so much as a simple “Thanks, Lord.”

Let’s not miss a chance to thank our Heavenly Father for being present in the extraordinary and mundane moments of our lives.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:4-5, NIV)

What would you like to thank God for on this glorious day that He has made?

 

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