Fast from discouragement, be full of hope
As a gardener I had never anticipated becoming an author. My first book was released in the spring of 2011 with two other manuscripts currently in flow to be published. The publication of my first book required an unwavering trust in the Divine hand. This is the story of how the first little book came to be.
For several years I had coordinated volunteers at St. Francis Retreat Center in
, and with them created prayer and memorial gardens on the center’s grounds. Several volunteers and retreatants wanted to know how to create their own outdoor prayer spaces, so I developed a program to help them with the process. DeWitt, Michigan
Recently unemployed and having the necessary time, I compiled all of my program materials and wrote the book A Garden of Visible Prayer. I felt almost immediately God’s attentiveness to this project; nearly the entire book was hand written in the Adoration Chapel. It wasn’t until I shared the typed manuscript with a journalist friend that the concept of publishing was introduced. A seed of hope was planted…a very small seed mind you, and one that God personally tended.
Over the next eight weeks my world would dramatically change. It was almost as if I were in a little boat on a fast moving stream shooting white-water rapids without a paddle. If God would have spoken, I could imagine him saying “Get in, sit down and hang on. We’re going for a ride.”
The events that followed were lined up by His hand. My phone call to the Catholic Writers’ Guild found the president unexpectedly at home that afternoon. A member of the guild had paid double tuition for the upcoming writer’s conference and I was the recipient of their generosity. I was offered to share the drive to the event in
and would not have to pay for transportation and as a volunteer at the conference, my lodging would be paid. And surprisingly, because of a cancellation, there was one slot left open in the book pitching sessions which were booked six months in advance. New Jersey
I was humbled and dumbfounded. I shared with a few friends what had transpired in the past week and word quickly spread. In a matter of days checks arrived to cover the last of my expenses…food.
Considering all the events that had taken place with no real effort on my part I should have been at peace, but I wasn’t. I was going half way across the country with people I didn’t know on money I didn’t have into an industry I knew nothing about. I was nearly overcome with fear at the prospect of what I was about to do. The morning of my departure was spent in the Adoration Chapel again seeking my Lord, and once I found Him and took hold of His hand I didn’t let go for the next ten days.
It wasn’t until the sixth day of the adventure that the book was pitched to a publishing editor. I stood in the hall with fifty other writers all waiting for their seven-minute pitch session with various Catholic publishers. The anxiety was nearly suffocating as potential authors waited their turn. So far that morning no one had successfully secured a publisher. I was surprisingly calm for I knew all of this was out of my hands. I hoped that my book proposal would please the editor. I hoped I would be open to hear why my book was insufficient and how to improve it. I hoped I wouldn’t faint.
I sat down with the most gracious woman I had ever met. She asked a few questions, asked for my written book proposal, asked if I had a completed manuscript I could send her that afternoon, and then handed me her business card. A business card was confirmation that the manuscript was worthy of publishing. My breath caught in my throat as I stood to leave. The golden ticket, her business card, was in my hand.
Going through the exit door and into the far end of the hallway, I said nothing to the watching crowd as I held up the golden ticket. A roar of recognition exploded with cheering and applause and shouts to one another that the gardener had succeeded.
There were a few more twists and turns along the way to being published. But all through the process I knew it wasn’t about my book…it was His book and He had prospered the works of my hands (Ps. 90:17b).
I will be eternally humbled by God’s attentiveness. Whenever I face discouragement or worry about my writing, I have proof that everything is in His hands. I simply hope to be open enough to cooperate with his will.