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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

By Lisa Karon Richardson

We’re faced with innumerable decisions every day. From the mundane to the monumental we all have to deal with making choices. Even when we can’t choose our circumstances we have to choose how to react to those circumstances.

One of my biggest struggles has been trying to find the Lord’s will as I navigate life’s maze. I’m getting better at recognizing my shepherd’s voice. It seems to come easier with familiarity. (Except for those times when I pretend I can’t hear it because I don’t like what He’s telling me. But that’s another post!)

When it comes to my writing though it is easy to be sidelined by discouragement. To question the validity of my talent, my ability, and my capacity. Authors put so much of ourselves into our writing that when it is rejected or dismissed it feels very personal. There is lots of talk in writers’ groups about developing a tough skin, and that is absolutely a must.

But even with rhino hide, when that sixth or fifteenth or thirty-third rejection letter comes in, it’s really easy to begin to doubt. I would venture to guess that the same thing holds true for anyone who is pursuing a dream.

If the goal were easy to achieve it wouldn’t be a dream. A dream is challenging and makes us stretch. A dream causes us to look not at what is, but at what could be. If your dream isn’t just a little bit impossible, maybe you’re dreaming too small.

Because of its very nature a dream is vulnerable to attack by what we consider “reality.” It’s a pretty human tendency to believe that reality is what we can see and touch, when in fact this life is the illusion, and reality is found in the spirit realm. Your destiny is not hemmed in by probability.

If you’re struggling with the decision to continue pursuing a dream or to throw in the towel I want to leave you with a thought from Cynthia Ruchti, American Christian Fiction Writers’ last president:

“God has never used discouragement to direct his people.”

If you’re in a place where you are trying to decide how to proceed, just keep that truth in mind. There are lots of valid reasons to set a goal aside, but don’t quit on your dream simply because you’re discouraged or doubting your worth. That is most definitely not the voice of your shepherd calling to you.

What dream are you pursuing? Have you ever felt like giving up? How did you find the strength to keep going?

Lisa Karon Richardson has been creating stories, since she was little. Influenced by books like The Secret Garden and The Little Princess her early books were heavy on boarding schools and creepy houses. It took her awhile to figure out why grandma thought it was unrealistic for boys and girls to share a room! Now that she’s (mostly) all grown-up she still loves a healthy dash of adventure and excitement in any story she creates, even her real-life story. She’s been a missionary to the Seychelles and Gabon and now that she and her husband are back in America, they are tackling a brand new adventure, starting a daughter-work church in a new city. Her first novella, entitled Impressed by Love, part of the Colonial Courtships collection, is coming in May, 2012.


19 comments:

  1. Oh, Lisa, I love that quote. "God never uses discouragement to direct His people." When I read that, I have to turn it around and ask myself, "where does the discouragement come from?" I need to stick that on my mirror, on the refrigerator, over my computer.

    I tend to get discouraged because I'm not as productive with my writing as I want to be. I wish I could write more words faster.

    Thanks for the encouragement, Lisa!

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  2. Thank you so much for this post. I get discouraged when I can't give the time I want to give to my writing. I teach high school full-time and it soaks up much of my waking hours (and a few of my sleeping ones too). I get frustrated when I can't get my brain to shift gears from teacher mode to writer mode.

    I've had some recent struggles with the "why do I bother writing" issue. After much prayer and some great advice, I put aside those thoughts and emotions and just concentrated on the writing. It helped get the focus off me and back onto what God has for me to do.

    Thanks again for this post. I love the quote!

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  3. Suzie, you are up late, woman! Even on your side of the planet!

    I'm glad you found encouragement in the post. And I agree, when I read that quote in an e-mail Cynthia sent years ago (I think before she was actually president of ACFW) It was like a lightbulb went of in my head. If discouragement is my motivation then I'm not heading the right direction. Simple as that.

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  4. I'm so with you Christine. I've been working part-time and have just been asked to go full-time in April. A part of me is intimidated and reluctant since it seems I let go of so much already to pursue writing. How much worse will it be when I'm working more? But we really need the additional finances.

    I'm trying to take a deep breath and let God have this one. Not that I imagine it will be easy, but stressing about it isn't going to make it any easier.

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  5. I wrote a long comment around 7 and... it wouldn't "take". I think that was a blessing for you guys.

    Suzie and Christine, you do so much with a full time job that you shouldn't feel frustrated. I know it happens because am the same way. My mom used to say "too pooped to pop"--I look forward to writing all day and then I have to put on the booster rockets by the time I get to my desk.

    for you two and Lisa, I pray that God gives you clear direction on how to balance all there is to do.
    Thanks so much for sharing.

    As for dream? I haven't felt like giving up in a long time. I know that when the writing looks like the aforementioned P word, I can improve it. I know I'm a writer and God orchestrated a time for me to move forward in my dream so I'm very content!

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  6. That's a good place to be, Deb. Resting in him and just plugging along. I wish I was there more often... ;o)

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  7. Yeah, Lisa, I was up way too late last night. I'm paying for it now, though. I might need to drink some diet Dr. Pepper.

    But! It was worth it to go to sleep feeling encouraged and thinking about how God isn't the one who discourages us. I love it! And I'll never forget it, again. Yes, I'm sure there was some part of me that knew that, once upon a time - or at least I shouldhave known it. Sometimes it amazes me the way we get so caught up in things that we forget the most important things. Maybe I shouldn't say we. I get so caught up, Iforget the most important things about God and His love for us. Thank you, Lisa, for reminding me of that, too.

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  8. Well, here I go - forgettingagain.

    Christine, I meant to say how awesome it is that you teach high school. Teens need great role models.

    And Deb, I meant to also thank you for your wonderful encouragement.

    Have a great day, ladies. Mine will be a very long one. But I face it feeling very encouraged! :-)

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  9. I know how you feel, Suzie. I was up at 3:30 night before last and couldn't go back to sleep. I was so tired by last night I crashed, but I still managed to get a lot done. You can do it (with the aid of caffeine!)

    And believe me you're not the only one to get caught up in the moment and forget how God directs us.

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  10. Lisa, I think I need to take your quote and have it plastered on every eye-level surface in my house.
    Discouragement has been a huge problem for me, not so much with writing, but definitely in ministry. And much like malaria, once you've had a bad round with discouragement, it seems to keep trying to come back! Thank you for sharing this. It hit the spot.

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  11. Niki we've been there too. Ministry is so draining and tough and Satan hits us where it hurts. Always trying to make us doubt, because he knows faith is so strong.

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  12. Having spent just two weeks sitting on the "other side of the desk" as an acquisitions editor, I already see things very differently.

    Lesson #1: It's not about wanting to say no to anyone, it's about who we have space to say yes to.

    Lesson #2: Editors tastes are very subjective and play a huge part in the process.

    Lesson #3: An editors time is very limited, so you need something to catch their attention.

    Lesson #4: Everyone is on a journey. Just because you aren't ready yet doesn't mean they won't be rooting for you in the future.

    Taking all that into consideration, I would encourage authors to network and get to know editors. Find out what they like. Find out what they read. Ask about their families and pets. Make sure they remember your name.

    And look at every "no," as a "not this time."

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  13. Great post, Lisa.

    I'm pursuing the dream of publication. I want to bring an awareness of God's love and promise to readers through entertaining, emotional stories.

    No, I can't say I've ever reached the point where I feel like giving up. I must admit I've felt like throttling people who've rejected my submissions, though.

    God is my strength. And the feeling that He has something big waiting for me. If I do my part and keep writing, He'll do His and reward me - either here or in heaven. Easy Peasy.

    Anita Mae.

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  14. Dina, that's an interesting point of view. I bet we'll get a lot of insight from you as you get comfortable in your new role.

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  15. Love that attitude, Anita! You'll make it for sure with that kind of thinking!

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  16. Very encouraging!!! Thanks, Lisa!

    Blessings everyone. :)

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  17. Lisa, what an encouraging post! And if anyone needed it, I'll confess it was me.

    I've been through a few very discouraging years. And dwelling in discouragement only leads you to more defeat and discouragement.

    It's time to dream again!

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  18. Barb, I know your story's are publisher ready. It's just a matter of the market opening up to more cozy type mysteries in the CBA. I loved your heroine. She cracked me up. Keep on keeping on.

    And you make an excellent point. Following discouragement only leads to defeat. Which is one way we know it's not from God. Through him we are more than conquerors!

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