It wasn't easy to write my first book. It wasn't easy to share some of my life stories in it either. Are people going to really buy this book? If they do, what will they say? What will people think? Will they just critique the "typos" they may find? Will they be judgmental of me and others who shared in the book? Will they like it? Love it? Hate it? How will I handle negative reviews - not everyone is going to be thrilled? These are all questions that played through my mind, especially as I got closer to publishing.
And honestly, there are days when I wonder if I even got it right. Did I tell the life stories of my own and those that others have shared with me in a way that glorifies God? Did I share the stories in a way that gets His message across? I came to realize these were all just ways in which the enemy was trying to discourage me from writing. I know that now.
But I also think it is human nature to have doubts about pretty much everything in life. But when doubts arise...when the enemy tries stopping you from doing the good things God has set you out to accomplish, there is always someone or something that will help to reconfirm to you that the right decision was made.
And that is absolutely the case with Just Be! Every time I have a doubt that I've shared what God would have me share in a way that is pleasing to Him, I get a message, or an email, or even a phone call that is encouraging. People that have read Just Be! and have found encouragement or confirmation or just whatever it is that they needed at the time within the words of this book would somehow contact me and convey to me just what they've received from it. And it melts my heart every time. The floodgates of tears open up (yes, I'm an emotional person who cries with not just sorrow, but tears of joy as well).
Every time I receive a message from a reader I shed tears of joy. And I thank God for setting me out on this journey. Little do the folks that have read my book, and shared their thoughts and feelings with me, know but they are encouragement to me. It brings such joy to know that God has not only used me, but has allowed me to touch someone's life or be the encouragement someone may need. And He's allowed me to see the good that comes from it.
I think the most surprising thing through this experience is that men have not only read Just Be! but many of them have also been touched by it. Why is this surprising? I had a general audience in mind when I wrote the book. I had hoped and prayed it would impact the lives of women all over the world. I never imagined it would have any impact at all on men. Not to be ugly....I just didn't. It was intended for women. But I am so thankful that God has allowed others that I never imagined to read the book and to be moved by the words within.
So my point in all of this is twofold......
First, share your story as God prompts you to do so. Someone else was meant to hear it. Give God the glory in all that you do and say.
Second, when you read a book that touches you, or gives you encouragement or support or confirmation....or whatever it is you gain from reading the book, write the author or publisher.....or leave your positive reviews for them to see wherever you can. It can make a difference in their lives too.
From the moment of conception we want nothing but the best for our children. We often wonder what they will be when they grow up. What will their interests be? Will they follow their dreams? And what will those dreams be?
I believe we should nurture the natural abilities and interests our children have from a young age. These interests and abilities come natural to them. And when we force them to be something they're not or do something they don't want (career path) they will end up being miserable......every now and then there might be a happy adult that comes out of that. BUT, what if we were to watch them, learn from them, observe them using their interests and abilities during play time.....and then, we help to nurture those interests and abilities....those talents and gifts!!
I manufacture bath and body products, and I work in the nail care industry specializing in diabetic foot care. Why is this important? Well, when I was a young girl I used to take my mother's perfumes, powders and lotions and lock myself in the bathroom to create my own concoctions. This would be an early interest in what I am doing today with the bath and body products. I've always enjoyed caring for people. I did work in the health care industry but wasn't fond of that. So being a Nail Tech specializing in diabetic foot care (and providing in home services to folks who are home bound) gives me that same opportunity to take care of others. I knew at a young age that I enjoyed creating scented products and helping people. But I never expressed that to my parents or anyone else (thus, locking myself away in the bathroom to make my concoctions). Had I made it known I know that my parents would have nurtured that in me. Thankfully, I found my way to a career that I love.
My next example is one of my own children....my oldest son, Anthony. He expressed to me when he was 12/13 years old that he wanted to be a Chef. I put my own things on hold and we opened a chocolate business for my son so that he could get some experience in the food biz. Of course, this wasn't a full blown restaurant (we didn't have the finances for that so we did what we could with our budget...which was chocolates and coffees). I remember so many people telling me how crazy I was because my son would change his mind many times by the time he is actually an adult. I remember people telling me I was wasting our financial resources and our time on doing this for him. I have news for all those who claimed I was wasting resources.......he is now a Sous Chef and he is nearly 25 years old. He might not care much for making chocolates anymore, LOL, but that experience helped to nurture what was natural for him....what he enjoyed doing. Then he went on to college and seeking out his own path into the culinary industry on his own. I take no credit for his abilities, talents and gifts.....that's all God and my son.
But the point here is this, nurture the interests, abilities, talents and gifts in your children when they are young.
And just for kicks, and to show that this story about my son is true....here's a link to a news article about it.
I am willfully disobedient every single day. I am, in fact, nothing but a sinner.
Yes, you read that right.... My true confession. I'd also be able to add "liar" to that statement if I said I did not sin every day. We all sin. And one sin is not greater than the other. God doesn't love me more because my sin was "better" or your sin was "worse". Sin is sin is sin all day every day. One sin is not greater or lesser, better or worse, than the other.
Someone walks into church and they are expected to be sin free from that moment on?
Or they are saved and automatically they are living a sin free life from that point on?
Are you kidding me?
I don't know about you but I need forgiveness daily. My flesh is weak. I break down and sin ..... Even with the things I know to be sinful (that's where the willful disobedience comes in). Truth is that God is always working on me. I'm His little hot mess. Yes, that's me. I'm sure there are days He'd like to just throw His hands in the air, walk away and just give up on me. But I am surely thankful that He hasn't done that yet.
I have tried to see this as being the case for others too. When I see and hear some of the things people do and say I sometimes start to get a little bit of a haughty attitude. Then I remember where I came from. I remember how willfully disobedient I can be at times. I remember how God loved me through it. I also remember how the changes in me happened over YEARS. And I know that God worked on me one sin at a time (and continues to work on me, which is why I say that I am a "work in progress"). I know God is not done with me yet. So then, I also know He's not done with you yet either.
The next time you look at someone and see they aren't living as they should (cheating, lying, drug addict, sex addict, homosexual, stealing, gossiping.....or any other number of sinful ways) remember that they are a child of God too. And they, too, may just be a work in progress. And it's not your place to tell them they aren't up to the speed you think they should be (calling out sinful behavior to a fellow believer is a different story for a different day). That's up to God. It's your job to love, guide and lead by example. And it's ok to admit that you are a work in progress also. We all have our weakness and temptations to deal with.
The next time you decide that you are going to judge someone else for their "sin", pick up a mirror and take a long hard look at yourself. You are responsible for YOU. I am responsible for ME. It is not our place to decide what sin the Holy Spirit should be working on in someone's life.....not one of us has been given Divine permission to dictate the order in which the Holy Spirit deals with sin in others. We are all just a "work in progress".
I'm just a work in progress. And I'm thankful that my Father is the Potter and can mend whatever is broken in this vessel. I am thankful for the sacrifice He made so that I may be forgiven, so that I may be saved. I am thankful for His grace and that it is available to me every single day of my life.