According to Merriam-Webster surrender means: to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win or succeed. to give the control or use of (something) to someone else.
One morning in a coffee shop in Madison Georgia we met to discuss our next writing project and faced a moment of surrender. Not a waving the white flag kind of moment but a sinking into the acceptance of God’s will. Were we going to be all in for God with our writing? In our faith journey we must reach that point of no return with God, “to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc.”
After writing children’s books for twenty years – writing hard, striving pushing, promoting – the success was good and sweet. Just the letters from children alone were worth the effort. When we started The Shepherd’s Song we had never written a book for adults – all our manuscripts had been less than 100 pages long. All of our contacts in publishing were in the children’s world. Writing a book for adults seemed a little ill-advised and crazy.
We had written down the title. We had discussed the idea. We fought it at first. But the idea sat before us on a piece of paper on the table of the coffee shop. Beside the paper an open Bible turned to Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Ps 23:1
The very words that prompted our idea challenged us as writers. Could we believe God’s promises in the psalm? Sometimes our first reaction to a calling from God is fear and resistance. “We can’t” “We have never” “There’s no way” We said all those things but as we let go of our resistance and surrendered to the idea, the fear was replaced by excitement.
Try to give your agenda to God. Keep saying, ‘Your will be done, not mine.’ Give every part of your heart and your time to God and let God tell you what to do, where to go, when and how to respond. God does not want you to destroy yourself. Exhaustion, burnout, and depression are not signs that you are doing God’s will. God is gentle and loving. God desires to give you a deep sense of safety in God’s love. Once you have allowed yourself to experience that love fully, you will be better able to discern who you are being sent to in God’s name. Henri Nouwen
By the next day we had each completed drafts of one of the first stories of the book. When we surrender we can let go of fear and accept any outcome.
In the surrender of any work there is a moment of fear, a moment of resistance, then a moment of relinquishing and finally the excitement and joy and peace. We have that peace as we move forward in our work trusting God and surrendering to His will. Surrender removes the fear of failure.
Can you relate to this issue of surrender? Where do you struggle with it?
Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.
There’s a question we should ask ourselves at the beginning of each creative endeavor: a painting, a musical piece, a book, a meal for our families, a fingerpainting project with the kids.
The question is: “Why?” Why are we making it, singing it, sewing it, cooking it, writing it?
The Shepherd’s Song dedication page has only three letters: SDG. But those three letters represent so much to us. The letters stand for the Latin term, Soli Deo Gloria, which means Glory to God Alone. Artists like Bach and Handel wrote these letters on their work to show that the work was created for the purpose of praising God.
In the creation of their compositions they found meaning and purpose by dedicating their work to God for His glory. It changed their work from earthly work to holy work.
To God alone belongs the glory.
We can ask the same question about all of our creative efforts. Are they for God’s glory or for our own glory? What is the intent of our hearts as we paint and write and cook and care for others?
If we can add those three letters, any work becomes holy work.
What difference does is make if our goal in all our endeavors is God’s glory? What do you think?
After twenty years of writing for children we felt called to make a change. We had not needed an agent before. Twenty years ago you could still have a manuscript read by a publisher without an agent, especially in the world of children’s books. Once we had a relationship with a publishing house we didn’t feel the need. Now that we were writing a book for adults, The Shepherd’s Song, and we were writing about our faith – the rules had changed. We needed an agent – but how could we find the right one?
Today we are on Vonda Skelton’s blog sharing 10 things we learned about finding an agent on our quest to write and publish The Shepherd’s Song. read more
Try to give your agenda to God. Keep saying, ‘Your will be done, not mine.’ Give every part of your heart and your time to God and let God tell you what to do, where to go, when and how to respond. God does not want you to destroy yourself. Exhaustion, burnout, and depression are not signs that you are doing God’s will. God is gentle and loving. God desires to give you a deep sense of safety in God’s love. Once you have allowed yourself to experience that love fully, you will be better able to discern who you are being sent to in God’s name. Henri J. M. Nouwen
According to Merriam-Webster surrender means: to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win or succeed. : to give the control or use of (something) to someone else.
Most writers are also readers. We are no different – we have always loved books. Our first library was the book mobile, a truck packed with books that came through our neighborhood once a week. Our most memorable library growing up in West Virginia was in the basement of the fire station. Our mother, writer and reader that she is, always made a great effort to put books into our hands.
Some of our childhood favorites had a direct impact on us and prepared us to become writers. We are telling about our favorites on Wanda’s blog:
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
Before we decided to collaborate on The Shepherd’s Song, we each had writing careers of our own. In those writing projects we had control of our own books. The thousands of decisions it takes to write and publish a book were all made by one person. Then the change. We decided to work together. Suddenly all those decisions had to be made by two people. That’s more complicated. Read more
Two great days of sharing Psalm 23 were the perfect launch for our book, The Shepherd’s Song.
God’s Word went out on chocolate, cards, books, tissue boxes, cupcakes, water bottles, balloons, cake, dog bandanas, stewed tomatoes and bouquets of spring flowers. Now that’s exciting.
We spent the days sharing Psalm 23 at an urban health clinic, a program for homeless women, a library, a fire station. a hospital, a local park, an urban school, a food bank, a group renovating houses, a retirement home and an ICU waiting room.
Here are some pictures of the fun:
And our favorite moment in video:
What a great two days of celebrating God’s Word and sending out the book and Psalm 23.
The Shepherd’s Song has stories about twelve people whose lives are changed by Psalm 23. When it was time to write about the rod and staff, we started with research. We learned that the rod and the staff are the tools that a shepherd uses to protect and discipline the sheep. The rod is a club that the shepherd uses to ward off predators. The staff is a crooked stick that the shepherd uses to guide the sheep and pull them back from danger. If we look at God as our Shepherd, the rod and staff would be his protection for us. How would we show this in a story? What does this look like in a real life? read more
The Shepherd’s Song has a cast of characters and all those many characters meant many names. Each name provided us with a challenge. Like choosing a name for a baby you want it to be just right. read more
We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:4
One day when we visited a school to talk about writing we learned something from a second grader. A little guy raised his hand and said. “I can do the stories, I just can’t do the words.” He captured the struggle that every writer (or wannabe writer) faces.
How do you get the stories out of your head onto the paper? How do we even have the courage to begin? Often we write and rewrite stories over and over in our heads, but they never make it to the written page or screen.
Today at Blogs by Christian Women we are sharing some scripture passages that were important to us over our years of writing and some of what we learned on the road to publication. read more