Sometimes you wait for something for such a long time that you think it may never happen.
Sometimes you hope and dream for so long that you almost decide to give up.
Sometimes you wonder if your dreams are just crazy or that you’re not up to the dream after all or that you’re getting too old to actually accomplish it.
Sometimes you doubt. A lot.
But then God does something so entirely unexpected that you just have to believe He was in it all along, just waiting to gift you with your dream when the timing was just right.
That’s my story these days.
After years of trying, discouragement, rejection, discouragement, hope, and more discouragement, I was ready to quit my dream. I regularly told myself, “I’m not really a writer” or “I’m too old for this” or “Nobody wants to hear what I have to say anyway.”
(Lies! All lies, by the way.)
He planted the dream many years ago, and he had a crazy plan all along. How he chose to unfold that plan is crazy in itself!
Last spring I went to a writer’s conference—one I had attended several times in the past—where I taught a class on writing prompts. But this year I decided to get a little bit brave and submit my book proposal to editors before I left. There’s a service for this kind of thing at this conference. If an editor sees your proposal and likes it, they can contact you to set up an appointment during the conference.
And that’s what happened. Two editors contacted me and wanted to talk about my idea.
Turns out that they both liked my proposal and wanted to take it further on down the publishing road. Now, what you have to know is that this road is very long and winding and sometimes comes with road blocks and detours, often with no communication at all. You just have to wait until the traffic clears and more people see your proposal and give you a green light.
Or reject you. Which is what happened to me on the Wednesday of our beach vacation back in June.
There I was, sitting on the beach, enjoying some precious time away with my family, when I stupidly checked email to find a rejection letter from one of the publishers I had spoken to back in April. (There’s a lesson here: don’t check email from the beach!)
Tears ran down my face from behind my sunglasses, and I broke the news to my family later that evening.
I was pretty sad. Not necessarily surprised (I have had plenty of rejections in the past), but sad. And questioning whether I should keep writing or just hang it up.
I’m not sure what I did the next day—I think I took a long bike ride or something—but I know I had a heavy heart hangover that morning. I couldn’t face social media, so I just stayed away from my computer until around lunchtime when I quickly checked email.
Remember how I said I had talked to two editors? I hadn’t heard much of anything from the second one, and I had kind of written them off too. I figured I’d get in touch with them after vacation, but again, I didn’t have much hope.
But on Thursday of vacation, the day after my rejection, there was an email from the editor of the second publisher telling me that they were going to be looking at my proposal THAT DAY and he’d be in touch the following day to let me know the outcome. I kind of laughed at the timing, then prayed hard and asked my family to pray as well.
And then we went to the beach.
Later that night I checked email again to find a note from the publisher telling me that they liked my proposal and, get this, THEY WANTED TO PUBLISH MY BOOK!
You guys, that was 24 hours after the rejection. Twenty-four hours!!!
To say my head was spinning would be an utter downplay of how I was feeling. How on earth could I go from such a low point the day before to finding out that I was going to receive a contract? It still feels surreal to me.
Here’s what I know. There is no way any of this was a coincidence. God knew all along that I was going to get rejected, but He arranged it so that I was on vacation with my family. No better people to get rejected with!
Not only that, but he also arranged for the second publisher to look at my proposal the very next day. How crazy is that?! VERY CRAZY!
And that is how I know that God has said, “OK, Shelly, the timing is just right for you to pursue this dream.”
You see, for so many years the dream of writing a book has been stirring in my heart, but the timing hasn’t been just right. I loved being a mom to my kids (I still do!) and wanted to be here for them while they were here at home. I also loved being a professor and a mentor to students.
But my youngest is off to college soon (!) and my nest will be empty in the fall. I stopped teaching a year ago, so I have time to write now (as long as I can discipline myself to actually do it!). The timing, for me, is just right.
And the book? I’m excited to tell you that it’s a book about parenting with purpose and intentionality. It’s about asking why we do what we do to instill spiritual and family values into our kids instead of asking how.
Because I firmly believe that if we start by asking why, the how will follow.
I hope you’ll join me on this journey by praying for me as you think of it. I’m sure I’ll be sharing more as time goes on, but today, I just want you to laugh along with me at the timing and the goodness of God.