Tag Archive | calling

Dream Musings and Music

Not all dreams become reality. Sad isn’t it? People come along and kill our dreams. Sometimes real life interferes.

When I grew up I wanted to be a disc jockey. You know. A DJ. I love music. Always have. I enjoy singing. I love to talk, so radio seemed like a great place for me. But my father told me that radio people don’t get paid much and work odd hours. I had a friend in radio at one point and he had to use a different name on the air to protect himself from his fans. Oh, to have such trouble!

I played saxophone through high school but gave it up for choir. I did well there. Won some solo ensembles. I always wanted to play guitar. Twice I’ve taken guitar lessons. When I was in a band they let me play on one song.  Yup. I was that good! *snicker*.  Actually, I’d have been great if I could have been disciplined enough to practice more.

Jonah's VacationI also wanted to be a singer but had a pastor years ago who gave me a reality check. He told me “Susan, you’re good but you don’t work at it. You’re a B-grade singer but could be an A.” Ouch! I did work at it and got good enough to be in a band for a short time.

Jonah’s Vacation was a great experience. Hard work. Amazing musicians. My next book, Feta & Freeways is dedicated to Jim, Rob, Jeff, Erick, Mark and Irene (she joined us months after this photo was taken.). I learned so much from these people (including how to belch although Jim was definitely the master of that and he didn’t have a microphone to help!)

13620018_1411151115567715_4418536725403216346_nI don’t sing for others much anymore. I did for a while. I worked at it. But now I only get an opportunity maybe once a year to do that and play my guitar. I miss the synergy of being in a band. I admire groups that have that “magic” when they play together.

I based my next book on a lead singer of a band (and his friends). Yeah, it’s a romance, but it’s so much more than that. I based it off Burlap to Cashmere. I wish I could play guitar with even a 10% of the skill they have. Can you see the joy they have as they play together? Makes me smile every time I see this photo I took from the last time I saw them live.

Maybe someday I’ll get there. Not everything has to be for the purpose of performing. Maybe playing guitar and growing in that skill will only be for me and God this time around. I can remember the past fondly and rejoice that God gave me those opportunities. And I can write and encourage others who can pursue them.

Maybe words on the page are meant to be my song in this season of my life. Why that makes me cry I don’t know, but dreams are like that. Sometimes it is okay to grieve what you can’t have. Life isn’t fair and God doesn’t always give us what we want for His own reasons. Hard to believe but that’s often a good thing. Sometimes to make room for one dream we have to sacrifice something else we value. We don’t always recognize what those choices will be…time, family, finances…there’s a cost for pursuing dreams. And there will always be those who will try to stop us, defeat us, criticize us for following God’s direction. Dreams God calls us to follow become “callings”. And they are only worth pursuing because He is the one who leads the way.

This is a live video I took from Burlap to Cashmere’s performance in Green Bay in July of this year. Gifted and a called. The “closing jam” as it were… featuring Johnny Philippidis and his amazing guitar skills. Part of the song is the Dialing God Instrumental from their Freedom Souls album. Enjoy. Maybe someday I’ll have that 10% to enjoy for myself.

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The “God Answered my Prayer” Conundrum

Lots of things stew in my crazy brain. Much of it I’m sure you’d not want to read about. Complexities and backstory would bog down the fact that emotionally turmoil is festering underneath what many perceive to be a cheerful exterior.

One recent thing though has been cooking. I have a friend who has a book doing extremely well. She’s breaking all the “rules” for promotion and marketing. I love her to bits and I’m thrilled at her success.

No. Really. I am. She’s a dear sweet friend.

I asked her what she thinks is the secret to her success. Her response: “We’ve been praying.” She does. She prays. She has people who have prayed as she’s worked on her novel for over 10 years. Yes. You heard me. Ten years.

Here’s where the conundrum comes in. I pray too. I’ve had people pray for me as I write and struggle with life. My books haven’t sold as well although they get great reviews and I’ve done so many things to promote them. I’ve had people who I respect as authors, promise to read and promote my books who have failed to do so. I’ve done so for their great novels. Grrr. Frustrating to say the least. But God can take care of them.

God is doing 10000 thingsWhich leads to a variety of thoughts.

  • Does God not love me or my book as much as He loves my friend’s?
  • Success isn’t really about how many books I sell.
  • But I could really use the money sales could net for me due to challenging life circumstances (duh, like we all don’t face those?)

And then I scold myself.

  • It should be enough that I worked hard and my books are well-received and people have found their faith encouraged or challenged by reading them.
  • It should be enough that God has brought people into my life to minister to and encourage because I have written and published my novels.
  • It should be enough that God knows my heart and my needs. All of them. He’s got my future in the palm of His hands.

So why isn’t it enough? Why do I struggle?

The issue isn’t God.

It’s me.

I’m a fallible human who struggles with insecurities on so many levels.

I struggle with depression and anxiety.

I lack support from people who should be there for me but who had sought to sabotage me every step on my journey.

They failed.

Because: God.

God has gotten me to where I am. He has brought me through so many struggles and pain beyond what I could ever dare to share here.

And my writing isn’t a job. It’s a calling. I need to own that and realize that a calling doesn’t come with a windfall. It comes with a cost.

And a blessing.

But sometimes I fail to see that amidst the pain and struggle that sometimes visits my life.

So I’m grateful for my friend, her faith and our beautiful relationship. She is also called and God’s blessing on her work has no bearing on the way He is at work in my life.

Because we are all unique and God’s work in and through us is also unique.

How often I forget that when the “should’s” come knocking on my door.

How about you? Where have you struggled with the “should’s” in your own life?

The Last Detail (Book Review)

the last detailThe Last Detail is the most recent work of Lisa J. Lickel and while billed more as women’s fiction, it has a nice romantic thread to it.

Merit is a medical missionary who is injured on the field and sent home to recover. The only problem is, the mission board refuses his request to return to the field. Cast adrift and trying to figure out what to do with his life, he moves into a large empty home that is an inheritance left to him and his sister. While struggling with his value and direction, he is intrigued with Amalia who has taken on the task of managing final details of the estate that the house is a part of.

Amalia runs a business called The Last Detail, (hence the name of the book), that helps people with other end of life planning beyond the funeral. She is stuck in a relationship with the funeral director, Hudson, who assumes they will marry. Can Amalia break out of her rut and embrace a larger life than the one that had been prescribed for her by her parents and business associate? Perhaps one that takes her beyond the borders of her city?

Both characters have to struggle with their relationship with God and with each other as obstacles continually emerge to confuse and complicate their lives.

I don’t want to give any spoilers away! Just read the book and enjoy the story as it unfolds. This is a well-crafted story that has hung with me for days after reading it.

That’s it, I Quit!

I met with some writing friends recently and we were talking about the crazy life of an author.

The struggle to get a story just write right.

The reality of writing, revising, rewriting and then being told it’s wrong or an editor wants you to do it differently.

The conflicting opinions on certain “rules” (no head-hopping for instance, something that is more acceptable in secular fiction).

The length of time it takes to get any response from an editor or publishing house.

Being accepted and then still finding your work isn’t “good enough” for that particular person.

One gal said, “I’ve quit three times this past week.”

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I hit a spot last week too where I was beset by self-doubts.

Most authors struggle with these thoughts at some point.

If you don’t write, I hope you can understand this. Writers spend hours, days, weeks, months YEARS crafting the book that is held in your hands. Every step along the way feels like a benchmark but is laden with pitfalls.

You get an agent–but they want you to make changes before they try to sell your work.

You get a book contract–and the editor of the publishing house asks you to make changes to the writings of your heart and dreams.

You finally get published and  people condemn it.

That’s an awful lot of criticism for an author to have to deal with. Then, it starts all over again with the next book.

So why did I sign up for this masochistic career?

Because God called me to and His purposes in my writing are bigger than my dream of being published. How often I lose sight of that when life is overwhelming and I just want to cry, curl up in a ball with my puppy and lick my wounds. Well, he’d be licking his butt – probably a good illustration for how distasteful this torture is.

And most of us don’t get paid until after the book is published and people take their shots at us.

So I expect I’ll be serving my resignation many times in the future. God never seems to take it very seriously though and I’m glad he undersands the wounds and struggles in the process.

It is a process–and not always pleasant, but I am learning more about myself as well as how to write better. The reality is that will be a lifelong process. There is no “arrival” in this career. At least not until we get to heaven and see our names published in the Lamb’s book of life. Now that’s worth struggling for.

Righteous Writing

I was thinking about writing, because, well, I’m a writer. Right? It’s what I do it’s who God has designed me to be and I’m struggling to realize that this is not just a fun hobby – but an actual calling. I don’t have to feel guilty for enjoying my “work.”  I don’t feel guilty doing ministry “work” (also unpaid) so why do I feel like I need an excuse to write, or that it is less important than say. . . doing the dishes?  My writing is just as much of a ministry – or at least I hope it is.  Sometimes the need to write almost becomes an obsession.

Still, three weeks into the school year I’m struggling to find ways to make time for writing. For this blog. For refining my craft. For revising my novel, writing queries, investigating potential agents and on and on and on.  Also for setting up the names and characters for my next NaNoWriMo novel.  That will be another Regency Historical Fiction, Lord Phillip’s Fate (working title, just go with it for now. . .) that picks up where The Virtuous Viscount left off.  (Don’t worry, Pesto and Potholes will also have a sequel . . . eventually.)

If you ever felt like you had a story inside and want a challenge – I’m going to lay it out for you now. Join me in November for the adventure of a lifetime at National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.com).  I’ll be tackling writing Lord Phillip’s Fate and expect to exceed the 50,000 words in 30 days.  I know I can write a novel without this – however – it’s fun!  So come along for the ride and who knows?  Maybe you will reconnect with a friend from 25 years ago (like I did last year which lead to reconnecting with MORE friends!).  Or maybe even just letting people read your attempt will bless them in some way too.  Or maybe you will simply be able to say, “I did it! I’m a WINNER!”  Let me know if you decide to come along for the ride so we could be writing buddies and cheer each other on!

Dishes are still calling. . .