Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Surviving the Tests



“Problems can slow us down temporarily—but they don’t have the ability to stop us. Only we have that power.” ~Wayne Cordeiro

I was given a magnificent gift from my husband two years ago. He encouraged me to follow my lifelong dream of becoming a full-time writer. He even provided the funds for me to enroll in Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild (CWG) apprentice course.

I bounced along happily for six months with two writing deadlines a month. The busy holidays of that year made finding time alone to write very difficult. I was working on assignment #12 when a major disaster hit our extended family. A nephew, under the influence of drugs and alcohol, beat, robbed, and left a man for dead the day after Christmas.

Reeling from that and trying to be the support for my mother-in-law (she always comes to me with the big troubles), I was unprepared for the break-up of our oldest daughter’s engagement on New Year’s Eve. We all felt like we had lost a member of the family, and it was doubly painful watching our 2 year old grandson as he had become very attached to this man.

I took a leave of absence from my part-time job as a church secretary so I could focus on our family full-time. After a month my husband and I determined that the best place for me was home again on a permanent basis. At time of these back-to-back crises, I also took a break from my writing course, intending to get started again in March. Then more crises hit.

Court dates for our nephew (his conviction of 2-10 years in prison), my sister’s surgery that revealed cervical cancer (caught early PTL!), our younger daughter’s devastating break-up from her fiancé of two years, a dear friend’s diagnosis of aggressive breast cancer just days before burying her mother (a victim of the same cancer), our beloved dog dying, our son’s bout with mono (loosing 24 pounds in two weeks from a severely swollen throat), my back giving up its job supporting my body (weeks of physical therapy to recover mobility after two years of pain), our son’s engagement breaking off.

Although I have been able to fulfill most of my responsibilities to my immediate and extended family and to my church and a mission church, my dream of pursuing a career in writing slowed down until it appears all movement forward has stopped. I can’t believe that 18 months have passed since I requested a break from my writing assignments.

I am very sad that I let myself get beaten down so much that I let loose of my God-given dream. I am very much ashamed to realize that I have not grasped tighter to the Father’s hand, instead relying on myself to get through the problems.

One thing I have discovered after looking back over the past 18 months—every month (almost every week) something arises to test me. My response to the testing is a clear indicator of my walk with God.

Times when I came to a complete standstill, I was relying on my own strength. Times when I slowly made it through the problems, I had spent hours immersed in God’s Word and in prayer.

I really would like to get back to pursuing my writing education in order to fulfill my dream. I believe God gifted me with the talent I have. I am battling myself right now over requesting an extension on my CWG course mostly out of fear.

Two promises I am clinging to with both hands as I try to decide whether to request the extension—

“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” ~2 Corinthians 12:9

And—

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He will do it.” ~Psalm 37:4-5








Karen is hosting In Other Words at her site In Love W.I.T.H. Jesus. If you want to participate, write a blog about the quote in the box above on your site then click on the link to Karen's blog and leave your URL in the Mr. Linky box. You will also find links for the other participants' blogs.

8 comments:

Karen said...

"My response to the testing is a clear indicator of my walk with God." Good point that is very true. My response to testing hasn't always been where it needed to be but its slowly improving as I walk closer and closer to Jesus.

Denise said...

Thanks for sharing your heart.

Julie said...

Patricia,
Thank you for your kind comments on my devo at the Cafe' today. That's how I found you.

Bless you...you have had a rough season. I know how taxing rough seasons can be, though different circumstances. Sometimes you feel as if you are in hurricane force winds trying to put one foot in front of the other and walk forward. I remember feeling like I was in "auto-pilot".

Don't let fear hold you back from following hard after your desires. Papa God gives us the dreams and then prepares us for their fulfillment. Think of Joseph. He had the dreams, then went to slavery, then prison for his preparation.

I am certain the circumstances you have been living under have been more preparation for your writing. At least that's what I found in my own life.
The hard circumstances have sloughed off much of the dead to allow the life to burst forth. I'll bet when you start back up you will find something deeper coming out of you.

I have started and stopped writing several times since God brought it to my heart. Each time I start back there is more depth and surety in what I write.
I have found God and His faithfulness in places and it starts to come out.

Praying for a breeze of His Spirit to blow over you today, refreshing you to follow hard after Him.

Thanks again for your kind words.
Julie

Bonnie W said...

Patricia - I enrolled in the CWG course back in 1977 when my son was a year old and Norm Rohrer was in charge of it. It was a great course then, but I stopped after 6 lessons because I was terrified ofthe writing process. The thought that an editor would have to read what I wrote... AHHHHHH!I also didn't think I had anything of interest to say to a reader. (That was 2 novels and countless blogs/articles ago!)

But if God places the dream in your heart, He will nurture it and cultivate it until it grows into a beautiful flower. Looking back over my life now, I can see His hand each step of my writing journey as He taught me courage and confidence to step out and do what He has called me to do.

I know He will do the same for you. When you look back years from now, the crises you have faced will have effectively helped Him hone and nurture some aspect of your writing life.

Never be ashamed that you had to take a break, but do pick it back up and press on. He's still got some amazing words for you to write - probably for someone else who's going through their own major crises -one right after another like you.

Thanks for sharing your heart today!

Laurie Ann said...

Great post! I am amazed at all you've endured. Your testimony was so well-written and full of God's grace and love. My response to the problems I have faced have not always been as I would like them to be, but I am amazed at the God of second-chances. He lovingly sends me reminders through people just like you! I do hope you pursue your dream. Have you read What Happens When Women Walk in Faith? It's a wonderful book by Lysa TerKeurst.

Maisie said...

Oh what a year of problems you have had. I'm sure that the Lord has really strengthened you during this year. This past year ended up being not at all like I had planned it would be either. It's a growing time though. God knows how to make it all worth it.

Tami Boesiger said...

Sometimes a season of rest is in order. Don't beat yourself up over it. Remember our time frame is not always God's. Press on a day at a time and seek God's guidance on this. He will give your answers.

You've been through a lot, Patricia. It's okay to heal before you dig in again.

Heather@Mommymonk said...

Wow - I wouldn't be so hard on yourself for slowing down for 18 months after so many trying events. Sometimes it's ok to take a break (that's not the same as giving up!) and now you're back in the saddle again. I hope you keep pursuing this dream. It's an exciting ride, isn't it?