When we bought our house from my parents a couple decades ago, my father was excited to show me a large fossil rock in the backyard. It looked like it could have been the vertebrae of an ancient critter, maybe that of a huge hawk.
Since Todd has moved rocks and stones around to make garden spaces, we have no idea where the fossil went. I have felt a little sad about that over the years, but no worries, we have another one.
Last week, Todd called me a fossil. After I heard it a couple times, I told him to cut it out. He’s a teaser. It was Valentine’s Day. I sulked. He apologized, I forgave him, the rest of the night was perfect, except that I didn’t sleep because I had an early flight to Tucson to catch. It was time for some good family time with my sister and her family.
But I’m wondering. What does it mean to be a “fossil”? There was a period of adjustment after I stepped down from my job a couple years ago—stepped out and over—to pursue new things. I have never for a minute thought of myself as retired. I waited a long time to discover this place of peace. I work hard at writing every day. My days fly by.
Maybe you can relate, for over a year after I left my job, I felt I wasn’t doing enough, and applied for a few jobs, then was relieved when I didn’t get them.
Does that make me a fossil?
But now as I think about it, I don’t know if that’s necessarily a bad thing. If you can find a sermon in a stone, there’s a novel in a fossil!
This past week, I was in the parking lot of Outpost to pick up some groceries for Todd while I’d be out of town, when I noticed I had a message from the Literary Agent I had queried several weeks ago. I had to blink. They are very clear that the Agency now gets a hundred queries a week and can no longer respond to all of them. If you don’t hear anything in six weeks or so, it just wasn’t a fit. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. I didn’t expect a response. I stood there reading the message with instructions to forward on my proposal and sample chapters to her direct email. Stunned, I blinked again.
Some wonderful things have happened to me during this time since I’ve left my job. Richard Rohr says it something like this, you spend the first chapter of your life making the container—all the exterior things that allow you to feel safe—that takes a long time. The second chapter is about filling it. Some never fill it, he says. I want to fill mine with the Fruits.
And there I stood in the produce section at Outpost, of all places, reading the response to my query to take the next step. I couldn’t believe it. But God. Even if it goes no further, I’ve made it to a new step and that feels good.
I’m new at all this. You have to wonder what possessed me to attempt to be a writer of all things during this, my second chapter of life. Plus, anyone in the business of writing today will tell you that traditional publishing keeps changing, it’s a little crazy like everything else in the world today, like me. And then there is AI. Even traditionally published authors are moving into self-publishing so why would I even try? Why wouldn’t I?
Our stories about God’s transforming power to change lives are important to share and put down on paper. They are His stories to use as He pleases. This keeps me motivated. Plus I have the greatest writing coach, Laurie Scheer, who has walked through each step with me and continues to. And if you need help with your platform, or anything really, writing coach Ann Kroeker who helped me connect to the literary agent, is amazing too.
I prayed if publishing wasn’t a part of the plan I could let it go, and felt at peace.
Because writing allows me to connect more fully to life, to the stories of my youth, to look deeper into who my parents were, who people are, to grow in appreciation of all that life has blessed me with, to see love grow, to see healing, to experience it, to appreciate the beauty in life, and most of all the sacred moments God opens my eyes to each day. Writing helps me to be present, to pay attention. You have to. It flows from the best place in you, in the moment you’re in.
When I doubt myself, Todd says to just move on to the next poem or story or chapter. He’s such a good husband. He keeps me on my toes. To me, there’s nothing more wonderful then this place of peace called Home.
I have to laugh at myself. There was a time when I thought surrendering it all to the One who made it all, meant I would lose who I was. I’d become boring or bored. But I was so wrong. Since the day I decided to follow Jesus, my life has been nothing but one big adventure. And I would lose it all to gain Him. It’s not about religion, but an amazing ever-growing, ever-deepening relationship with the God of the Universe. I don’t write this to try to convince you of anything, just to share my story. We are each on a unique journey. For me, obedience took a twist, becoming a form of respect that flows out of love and turns into this breathtaking freedom.
And now that I think about it, fossils last a long, long time. Just like good books! And that’s a very good thing. 😉
Feature photo: Peter Burton, Unsplash