Tag Archive | teaching

Seasons

I was sitting in church yesterday and my mind was churning. All kinds of thoughts about how much things had changed in my life.

Many of those changes are good. Wonderful. A blessing. My hubby Ben is top of that list.

Some of them are to be grieved. Seasons pass and life changes. We change. 

Community Church Fond du Lac WI Women’s Worship Team at Ostoff 2006 (?)

I used to be the lead singer for a band. I had the confidence at that time. I used to oversee all the worship programming at a church in Menomonee Falls, WI, as a staff position. I used to be a worship leader… and it’s been years since I’ve sung on a worship team at church. Now that’s not totally the fault of anyone else because I’ve not submitted to an audition for a team. There are many reasons for that but the biggest one: I lack confidence. Every time I’ve sung at church in the past few years I received shocked comments: “I didn’t know you sang.” When I sing in front of others (or play guitar) I’m hypercritical and so worried about my “performance” and struggle because I want to be worshipping in “spirit and in truth.” I find I do that better from the congregation, holding my hubby’s hand. He loves to hear my voice and if only God and Ben hear me, I’m fine with that.

Jonah’s Vacation, late 1990’s Milwaukee WI

I’ve not been asked to speak at our Mother of Preschoolers (MOPS) group in years or any other event at church even though I have taught years of theology and even keynoted a women’s leadership conference at our church and possess a masters degree in Counseling Psychology. I coordinated MOPS and also led the Women’s Ministry for many years.

The fact is, if I promoted myself, I could probably speak at places – at my church and at others, or even sing, but one of the most vicious verbal beat-downs I ever received was from someone I looked up to in ministry. And it was all because I posted on Facebook about my writing, publishing, editing, speaking… you get the picture. Apparently, that made me evil, regardless of the fact that the most common things required of authors is to beef up their social media presence. I tried to a Matthew 18 kind of meet up for the purposes of reconciliation, but the person I had requested help from bailed on me. Time passed and I needed to accept that the perpetrator was someone I needed to disconnect from for my own health and well-being.

Now it feels like none of that happened. The band, the singing, the teaching… All gone in a poof of smoke known as…time. And I even fear doing too much self-promotion lest I encounter more abuse.

Oh, boo hoo. What a pathetic person I sound like!

Grief isn’t logical. I realized quickly that is exactly what I was doing – I was grieving. Grieving hits harder this time of year, sometimes out of the blue without me even realizing the date on the calendar. I should be able to predict it – but I guess I hope that maybe, just maybe, this year I’ll escape it.

I was wrong. But why do the above hit harder? It was all surface grief that covered over one major life event.

In late November 2003, I had a miscarriage.

Anniversary reactions are painful.

In December 2004, I gave birth to my daughter, appropriately named Joy Lucille which means “joyful light-bearer.” Lucille was my great-grandmother’s name.

Weeping may spend the night, but there is joy in the morning

Psalm 30:5b, Holman Christian Standard Bible

While her birth was something to rejoice in – her five-day hospital stay as we fought for her life – was not. Nor were the medical challenges that came later. For all that she’s healthy and a delight to my heart.

In November 2017 a judge hammered a nail in the coffin of a verbally abusive marriage. A relationship I had spent years grieving over so that one doesn’t have the same sense of loss to me. That was a relief.  God rescued me. He provided for me and my kids. He sustained me and I learned I didn’t need a man to have a good life.

I still wanted one. I still believed there were good men out there. I feared dating again. I kept my standards so high I shouldn’t have been able to find anyone that would meet my criteria. But God once again showed Himself. June 2018 I started talking with this great guy, Ben.

We began dating and it was amazing. Someone began slandering me to his family, but I quickly realized it wasn’t me personally that was the issue. It was anyone who would have won his heart. He’s worth that grief of those lies. He had to make a choice between maintaining a relationship with those people – or pursuing me. He chose me. And I’m so glad he did.

In December 2018 I married Benjamin. What a wonderful journey we’ve had so far. 

I’ll grieve my losses and be grateful for all that God has done to change my life for the better. It’s not all roses, and we still have challenges we face, but I’m blessed to have someone by my side as we face those challenges together. Someone to pray with me and for me. Someone who is proud to hold my hand and tell me he loves me. Not even a best-selling novel could beat that, or lots of adulation for singing or speaking anywhere. So I’ll let that go. If God wants me to do that kind of work He can make a way.

So I will grieve because the only way is to go through it. And I will rejoice in all God has done on my journey.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Be kind to yourself and others as we enter this season – underneath our smiles, many are struggling. 

Ben and me. December 2019

 

Why Attend a Writer’s Conference?

My husband Ben and myself are heading out on a road trip from Wisconsin to Philadelphia. We love being together and figured it was less expensive than flying and renting a car to do any site-seeing while out there as we padded our time to be able to do that.

I am attending as a faculty member at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference: Write His Answer. At heart, I’m a homebody. I get stressed doing the prep for a conference, the packing, making sure my notes are in order and arrangements for someone to stay with my kids and dog…

Then I attend and I am blessed beyond measure by the people I connect with, the friends I’ve made over the years who I get to see again, and the new ones I’ll make. Some vacation time in advance is always welcome. I love to teach so that is always fun.

Coming to be on faculty is not necessarily a financial boon to our family. This is a labor of love. A ministry to writers who are where I once was, wondering what I was to do with this story God had given me and not even realizing just how much I needed to learn!

Now I get to be on the other side, encouraging other writers on their journey, listen to their stories (fictional and real) and pray with them. So even if I take a financial loss, it is worth it from an eternal perspective.

I will leave blessed and drained. It will take me days to recover when I get back home because at heart I am an introvert.

Why should you attend a Christian writer’s conference?

  1. You will be blessed by the worship and teaching: inspired to write!
  2. You will make new friends. I have dear friends around the country who I met at writer’s conferences and our friendship goes beyond the written page.
  3. You will learn. Every person you meet, every one-on-one appointment with an agent or editor doesn’t need to result in a contract offer – but it can be a great opportunity to learn. And maybe at some point, that contract will happen! My first writer’s conference with agents and editors led me to one book contract within two months, a flash-fiction and a short story published within five months! Now the non-fiction didn’t pan out in the long run but I have to say that I learned so much from every person I met with, faculty or conferee.
  4. You’ll be exposed to great teaching and have the opportunity to bounce ideas off others.
  5. The people at a Christian writer’s conference understand you as a writer. The joys, the fears, the ups and downs. Not everyone outside of Christian publishing will get it. If you are a Christian author, these are YOUR people.

I’m sure I could come up with many other reasons but those are the first few that come to mind. If you want to come to Philly this week – there are still spots available and I’d love to meet you! Check out the website: https://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/

Blessings!

Susan