Monday, September 15, 2008

. . . the rest of the story.

I wrote a piece of my story about my path to writing in the post below but because of one comment--I feel the need to share the rest of the story.

Fifteen. I counted fifteen journals not including two half-filled ones buried in my dresser drawer and another one reserved for my devotions. My oldest diary dated back to seventh grade when I needed a private place to record my unrequited crushes. Although I started writing at an early age, it wasn’t until the blessing of an unusual friendship that I gained the courage to call myself a writer.

Lori and I met online with five other women at a Christian website for stay-at-home mothers. From counselor to Christian bookstore owner, I loved working with people, but the day came when I longed to spend my days with my daughter who had grown into a teenager despite me. We lived in a rural area so the opportunity to meet mothers was limited. I finally searched the Internet and discovered a group of ladies who also had chosen to stay at home with their children.

“We’re calling you dependable Lori – because you always remember to pray for us no matter what you’re doing,” Wendy, a mother in our group, wrote from Canada. Lori encouraged each of us through her emails to be the best mother possible. Although we six ladies grew closer with each subsequent year, I never shared with them my desire to write. I considered writing a hobby – nothing more.

Two years into our friendship, my husband took a job in Florida. We packed our belongings to start a new life there. I obtained employment as a social worker in a nursing home to help with growing finances. After six months of many sleepless nights, I handed my supervisor my notice. “I’m so sorry I have to quit but I can’t deal with the all the deaths and sorrow.” She hugged me goodbye as I wished the job had been God’s plan for me.

With my husband’s support, I turned to Real Estate and studied for my license hoping I was more suited to sales than dying people. Lori and the other ladies cheered me on but still I wasn’t happy. Homes sold faster than they came on the market but I was more concerned with witnessing opportunities than earning big commissions.

Throughout all my career changes, Lori offered a compassionate ear. “Keep praying about what God wants you to do.” She encouraged me even after she received a diagnosis of cancer that defied all the usual treatments. Brokenhearted, our group rallied around her until we found a way to visit her in Baltimore a month before she died. I knew the night her sister called to tell me Lori had entered heaven, I would write her story.

Months later, I wrote Yellow Flowers, a testimony about a young mother who touched the lives of many through her persevering faith. Ignorant of publishing protocols, I submitted the article to the only place I hoped would consider it—the magazine that hosted our stay-at-home mother’s site.

They accepted it.

The moment the email appeared on my screen, I knew all those years scribbling in my journals, and all those nights pounding a typewriter …had been part of God’s bigger plan to help me encourage others through Lori’s story.

My friend’s ceaseless commitment to God and to our group forced me to take a hard look at God’s plan for my own life. One evening, my husband suggested I stop messing around and find my passion. My real estate career had dwindled alongside my feelings about it. Since we were more financially secure, I no longer had to work outside the home. He set down the book he was reading and turned toward me. “What about your writing?” he asked.

Doubt burned my cheeks. I ached to share my stories. But how could I turn my scribbling into a career? I had only one story to my credit. Then I remembered how I felt after I mailed copies of Lori’s story to her husband and two young children. The possibilities to serve the Lord and reach others through the written word seemed endless.

I called my broker the next day to give my notice.

After three years, I still battle doubt each time I click ‘send’ for a new submission. But I have no doubt when I consider how my journey into writing began. It didn’t start on the porch that night with my husband’s gentle nudging…nor did it begin at the age of eight when I penned my first poem to my mother. I know for certain my writing took flight the moment God placed a faithful friend into my life.


AnooCre8ion said...

Thank you for sharing this Terri. You have encouraged me so much more than you can imagine. I truly thank God for "meeting" and "knowing" you.


Anonymous said...

Amazing insights. It truly is amazing how the Lord goes before us and "clears" our path. Thank you for being so open and honest with your personal walk.

Janna Qualman said...

An amazing story, Terri. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Barbara J. Kirby Davis said...

God is SO amazing!! I have experienced the same thing so many times in my life. He has truly blessed me with His Guiding Hand.

Melinda said...

That's beautiful, Terri! This year has been "my year" for the doors to start flying open. This call into writing has been a complete surprise to me, but He's confirmed it again and again. Like you, something I thought was a hobby, that occasionally encouraged others, has turned into something different altogether. Something deeper, something with eternal value...a hobby that was really a dream I didn't realize I had.

Sounds just like God, doesn't it?

Thanks for stopping by my little corner of cyberspace. It's been a pleasure visiting yours!

Blessings to you this day,

Angie Ledbetter said...

What an awesome tribute to your friend. I'm glad you found your passion and your path. Keep walking!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

ditto...ditto...ditto! I'm not dealing too well with the rejection, but regardless of the continuing flow of letters, I keep to the pen.

When you're a writer, you're a writer, despite what the world might say.

And by the way, I've probably got you beat on the drawers and files filled with ramblings from my past. When I look back on some of it now, I cringe. Not some of my better stuff, but all part of the process of becoming.

Keep to it. Keep to Jesus.


Joanne said...

How nice to read your journey here! You faced many forks in the road, and each time chose right. How fortunate for you and Lori to be a part of each other's lives.

Linda said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing this. It is always so amazing when we can see the hand of God in the paths we take. Doesn't it make it so much easier to stay the course when the going gets tough - as it always does eventually!? Your story really blessed me today. Thank you.

Stonefox (otherwise known as Heidi) said...

Awesome, Terri. And now I see you being that friend to many others. God bless you on this path He has placed you on!