Hoping God Proves Me Wrong

So far, my annual writing retreat has been a reflection retreat. I’ve been in quite the writing slump for quite some time. It’s even been hard for me to journal (that alone is usually a sign I’m not in a good place). The past six years have been filled with losses for me. I have been grieving the loss of my sister. My father suffered a stroke which has taken much of him away from me. And in between those two life altering events I have also had several dreams shattered. Things I had invested my time and my heart in were snatched away, one after the other.

As someone who has held Ephesians 3:20-21 as a life theme, this has been hard to process. That verse says, “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” I’ve always followed that with, “And I can imagine BIG things!”

Well, I always followed with that . . . until now. More recently, I actually told someone I am now afraid to dream big or follow my passions because it just leads to disappointment. 

Thankfully, the friends I do this writing retreat with are what one of them calls “safe haven friends.” On the first night of this retreat, when we usually list our goals for the week, I shared my struggles and confessed that I had no specific writing goals – or at least none that I’m motivated to work on. They listened, asked probing questions (the good kind that showed they cared and wanted to understand), and they agreed to be in prayer for me.

Last night, one friend asked if I had heard of Mandisa’s new album Out of the Dark. She explained that the songs were written after Mandisa had dealt with the loss of a friend to cancer – a friend for whom she had been praying and believed God would heal.

I was intrigued, so I listened to a few podcasts where Mandisa talks about it. When Mandisa said, “That was just not the way I thought the story was going to end” I knew I had to buy the album. The song “Prove Me Wrong” resonated so strongly with me, but I’m still processing the how, and why, and where it leads. I can’t imagine I won’t do a follow-up post (because I do still believe God will ultimately prove me wrong), but for now I’m just going to share a portion of the lyrics and the video.

 

Would it be wrong if I asked you for proof?
I wish that I could just believe, without questioning
I’m just being honest with you
And they say your ways are better
But I still don’t understand
And you can’t hold me together
And this can’t be your perfect plan
Prove me wrong
Prove me wrong
All this pain
This sorrow in my heart
I can’t find my way out of the dark
Prove me wrong

 

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Let me tell you about a few of my writing friends’ projects …

As you may have read previously, I go on an annual writing retreat with a few of my friends. It started with a group of four in 2012. It has been fun watching their works progress throughout the time we’ve been together. We’ve had some new friends join us more recently. They’ve added to the excitement and motivation of the event (as well as to follow-up discussions on a private Facebook page we share).

I’m happy to share the most recent publications of two of these friends.

Mombarded: A Devotional JourneySusan Lawrence has a new book out called Bombarded: A Devotional Journey. Susan was the more experienced writer in the group our first year, so she has many other resources as well. I have so appreciated her patience and encouragement to us newbies over the years. (I’m also thankful she’s willing to share from her stockpile of candles when I burn through mine in my all night writing sessions.) Susan is a beautiful woman of God with a heart full of joy and a countenance of peace that is contagious. You can find more information on Susan and her writings here.

 

Across the Miles by Rhonda JamesRhonda James joined our retreat for the first time this year. Like Susan, she was already a published author. I had the privilege of seeing her work with great passion on the final phase of her new book Miles Apart. She stays with her characters and story throughout the process (even in her dreams) in a way I had never witnessed. Rhonda is a sweet and fun-loving Christian woman. I enjoyed our time with her and look forward to getting to know her better. You can learn more about Rhonda and get a copy of her new book here. The page of her website I chose to share says the book is due out in June, but of course she finished before deadline. Still, it has a great excerpt from the book I thought you would enjoy.

Seeing their work in print has motivated me, so I’m off to my writing cave. I do believe I will have the complete draft of my book finished by mid-summer. Here’s to the joy of writing, and to the joy of knowing these wonderful writers.

 

I’m Going to Eat a Live Frog – Things You Do on a Writing Retreat

This is the third year I’ve participated in a writing retreat with a group of friends. Our plan is simple:

  1. Rent a vacation home far enough away from our daily lives that we can’t be sucked back into our normal routines. The place must have enough space that each of us has a private area to do our work.
  2. Meet at the beginning of our time together to establish our goals. We each write them out on a giant sticky note and hang them in the public area for all to see and monitor each other’s progress.
  3. Have an evening meal together (we each take one night to prepare the meal). When we gather at the table, we update one another on how we’re doing with our goals. There are also lots of laughs, a good amount of encouragement, and sharing of tips for those who may be facing obstacles to creativity.
  4. Other than our one daily mealtime, we honor each other’s need for solitude. It would take an extreme emergency to knock on someone’s door. We communicate through a Facebook page so each of us is free to check the announcements whenever we desire and not feel pressure to respond immediately.

At last night’s meal, I shared that I’m having trouble getting started on my main writing goal – completing the full rough draft for my book. Since I can’t seem to get into that “zone” I need to get into for productive writing, I’m trying to knock some of the smaller goals off my list – things like working ahead on my Encourager’s Devotional Series for this blog.

That’s when one of my friends mentioned the video below by Byran Tracy and the concept of “eating that frog.” The logic is the reverse of what I’ve been doing. Tracy advises to tackle the big thing first – the thing you’re likely to procrastinate about doing. In other words, don’t let the smaller tasks distract you from the more important one. Continue reading