FEBRUARY 2015 AUTHOR UPDATE
When we last spoke (on August 28, 2014,) I had reached a critical impasse in my life and career. After fifteen years and thirty books, I was seriously contemplating shutting down my websites and putting an end to my writing career. It was just too hard trying to juggle everything by myself. The wind completely went out of my sails. Things were looking mighty dismal (particularly with respect to my finances,) and I was on the verge of losing my house, my car, my security, and my sanity.
How did I get here, God? What am I doing wrong? How did I end up back on the gerbil wheel of insanity?
Little did I know how miraculously my Higher Power would answer these desperate questions.
I thought my faith was strong, that I had reached a place in life where I fully trusted God. But did I really trust Him? Or, was I trusting in my own dysfunctional devices and making less than effective choices? What was God trying to teach me? What lesson did I really need to learn?
Readers who have heard me over the years on TV or radio know I’m uncomfortable when a host calls me a “boundary expert.” Although I have devoted myself to this topic for many years, the fact is I’m one of the most boundary challenged people I know. Truthfully, it’s my Achilles heel. I’ve felt called to write books on this topic not because I’m any kind of expert, but because this ministry is how God teaches—and reaches—me. Learning how to handle difficult choices causes me to delve deep into God’s Word for wisdom, discernment, and direction. Consistently learning how to regain my balance, trust God and find sanity is how I’m able to authentically share the Six Steps to SANITY with others. However, knowing this doesn’t make the lessons I need to learn any easier.
When we last spoke, I was drowning under the pressure of seemingly never-ending financial struggles. I was gasping for air and going down for the final count when a fellow author (and close friend) stepped in to throw me a life preserver.
Mary DeMuth listened to my anguished cries of defeat and despair. And as she prayed for me, something miraculous began to happen. I realized I had to stop fighting so hard to keep my head above water. I had to stop trying to do it all and fix it all. I realized that in a sincere desire to help myself, I had only enabled myself! I became my own worse enemy. Clearly, I wasn’t practicing what I preached.
I had to jump off the gerbil-wheel of insanity and actively apply (not just talk about) the Six Steps to SANITY, starting with the “S” step.
Lord, please help me to STOP repeating the same behavior and expecting different results! I can’t keep up this pace any more. If it’s Your will that I lose everything I’ve been trying so desperately to hold, so be it. I’m trusting You to take care of me and clearly show me what You want me to do.
I didn’t know which way to turn any more–I had to YIELD everything to God, the “Y” step in SANITY. So, I prayed for wisdom and discernment, Mary prayed for me to find peace and relief from the fear and pain, and together we asked the Lord to help us find possible solutions.
YIELDING everything to God wasn’t easy. Admitting I didn’t have the answers and asking for help wasn’t easy. Nothing about the six months following this massive melt-down was easy. However, it has been the most spiritually enlightening and fortifying season in my fifty-nine years of life. I feel like I’ve come out of a spiritual fog—like I’m seeing the world—and God—through new eyes. And I just had to tell you—and thank you.
So much has changed since we last spoke.
When I realized I needed to STOP the insanity, I was leasing a small house in the DFW area, but I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to downsize and move. I began to actively explore alternative living situations and started to sell off my furniture, jewelry, books, and other personal property. It was crunch time. Next, I weighed my writing options, and I was torn. This is really all I know how to do, but it’s very hard to make a living in this business, especially as a single person who is solely responsible for every expense and struggles with Dyslexia and Adult ADD. When another friend suggested a GoFundMe Campaign, I was immediately against the idea. However, after seeking feedback from trusted advisors and after a great deal of fervent prayer, I felt convicted to tell readers (like you) what was happening.
I prayed for strength to follow the “A” step in SANITY and ASSEMBLE supportive people online and offline to help.
I’ve always been transparent in sharing my life experiences in my books, but this level of vulnerability was very risky. Close friends were well aware of my increasing financial difficulties, but for the most part I appeared quite successful to the public. In our world, it’s one thing to share the emotional and psychological fallout of abuse, abortion, addiction, and even divorce…but it’s another thing entirely to share financial despair and desperation.
However, within days of revealing my critical situation to readers, God showed Himself through the loving generosity of my brothers and sisters in Christ, who called, prayed for me, sent encouraging letters and email, and contributed financially to help me stay afloat. I wept. Several people offered temporary rental homes. And God continued to show His provision through my gracious and compassionate church community. I was overwhelmed at the outpouring of love I felt.
However, while this sudden influx of financial blessings would allow me to address immediate needs and temporarily stop the financial hemorrhage, it wasn’t a long-term solution to the ongoing problem. Although deeply grateful and blessed by the help, I still had to face the fact that it didn’t look like I could make it on my own as a freelance writer—I couldn’t seem to generate a consistent flow of dependable income or clients, and I couldn’t keep up with the growing demands of handling all the administrative tasks and marketing and promotion responsibilities in addition to the writing. As much as it broke my heart, I began to think it was time to give up on my writing dream—to consider that maybe it wasn’t a calling after all.
Lord, I’m almost sixty years old, what am I supposed to do for income? I have nothing in savings, nothing in reserve, how am I supposed to live? I need you to show me…
Before August came to an end, the Lord clearly revealed His will about my calling. He gave me a miraculous writing project that took me out of self-pity and self-reliance and placed me on a path where His love, grace and mercy were so visible—so viscerally apparent, that I had no doubt whatsoever I was walking completely in His will, that I was doing exactly what He called me to do.
A Book Years in the Making
When Susie Jennings, the Founder of Operation Care International approached me to help write her book on miracles, I was familiar with the project. I was one of several writers who had bid on the writing project several years previously. At that time, I presented her with a sample of how I would write/edit one of her miracle testimony stories. I enjoyed working on The Widows Pendant, but that one story had taken a considerable amount of time, and my projected fee reflected the hours it would take to complete thirty-one true short stories using Susie’s notes and ideas. It turned out that Susie’s book wasn’t a key priority for her back then, and she set it aside when God called her in another direction.
However, when she called me in late August things had changed and now she needed a complete book in less than one month. It would take an extraordinary commitment (and supernatural power) to accomplish the work within her requested time frame.
I completely agreed that Susie’s ministry message of how to understand and care for the growing homeless population needed to be shared, but I was in the throes of a monumental life change—selling, packing, and trying to figure out where I was going to live and how I was going to survive. The GoFundMe Campaign had just launched, and I was overwhelmed with life. I didn’t see how I could possibly help.
However, Susie was determined. She was certain I was the person destined to be the midwife to help give birth to her first book. And so, Susie did what she does best—she prayed for a miracle. She prayed that God’s will for my life—and for her book—would be revealed to both of us. And I prayed, in earnest, desiring to be led by God’s spirit and not by my own will or financial need.
It quickly became apparent to Susie (and me) that God wanted me to work on this book, at this moment, for a fraction of the fee I initially proposed, and in a crazy timeframe that seemed humanly impossible. I prayed daily (often hourly) for God to do His miraculous work through me.
Okay, God, Your call to take on this project is coming in loud and clear. I will be obedient. Use me to help Susie share her story and the amazing ministry and message of Operation Care International. Please handle everything else in and around my life—and give me the wisdom, strength and creative vision to make this book possible–and pleasing to You.
Time was critical. Susie had carried this baby in her heart (and on pages and pages of notes) for many years, and the time had come for her “child” to be born. By the first week of September, I was putting in 15-hour days in the delivery room. I worked over 280 hours during a 37-day stretch on nothing but this project. I wrote and edited while I ate. I prayed about the project in the shower. I even took hard copy print outs with me to the bathroom. The only time I stopped was to sleep, or to respond to the comments and financial blessings readers were sending online.
Together, in record time, Susie and I gave birth to 31 Days of Mountaintop Miracles, One Woman’s Journey of Unconditional Obedience. The manuscript passed from my hands to the publisher on October 1, and Susie received her first shipment of books on October 14, in plenty of time to give 1,000 complimentary copies to guests at the Annual Roaring Lambs Hall of Fame Banquet on November 15, where Susie was being inducted into the Hall of Fame for her lifetime achievement as the Founder of Operation Care International. It was a monumental day for Susie, in so many ways.
Susie Jennings’ life of obedience is a powerful testimony of faith, and her ability to see miracles in every moment is inspiring a nation.
Susie’s beautiful and anointed book on miracles had a miraculous birth of its own, made possible by both of us trusting in God and faithfully walking in His will every step of the way, and by readers like you who helped me survive. With 100% of the proceeds from all book sales going directly to Operation Care International, I am deeply honored and blessed to be the person God used to help bring this extraordinary collection of 31 Days of Mountaintop Miracles into the world.
The Miracles Continued
As I worked 15-hour days and prayed for God’s provision, financial gifts from hundreds of people enabled me to stay afloat. Before October came to an end, the Lord helped me pay off several significant debts. He also brought me a roommate to help with monthly expenses, so I could remain in the house I was renting. Then, through earthly intercessors, He introduced me to several serious clients who were looking for a professional writer/editor. The tide had shifted, and so had I.
I believe God was changing my life because through this entire crisis, I was changing how I honored and served Him. I had learned a powerful lesson during this journey about unconditonal obedience.
In his book, The Blessed Life, Pastor Robert Morris writes, “God is a rewarder. This is a truth about God of which many Christians don’t seem to be aware. He loves to reward us when we diligently seek His presence, His will, and His ways. He rewards good work, and He rewards good stewardship.”
I had worked hard over the years and tried to be a good steward—or so I thought—but the reality was that I had failed miserably in actually walking out the words in Joshua 24:15, “…choose this day whom you will serve.” In my fear of not being able to make ends meet, I had been serving the spirit of money—mammon—and not the true Spirit of God. I have always tithed, but not with the kind of intentional committment and loving obedience that blessed God.
As God began to open the eyes of my heart with new wisdom and give me new direction, I began to read and interpret His Word in a fresh new way. Suddenly, every message at church seemed to address my financial issues and lead me to applicable scriptural teaching. As the blessings in my life increased, the more convicted I felt about the biblical mandate of stewardship and tithing.
I believe that because of my faithfulness and obedience to Him and to this conviction, He has rewarded me in unimaginable ways, including the blessing of bringing some very important book projects into my life for this New Year. Projects that I feel are destined to inspire readers around the world.
Six months ago, my life was falling apart as I tried desperately to keep running on the gerbil wheel of insanity. Although money is still tight, I’m no longer drowning. I’ve jumped off the gerbil wheel and I’m trusting God to provide. Today, I’m wealthy in blessings and rich in God’s love. Today, I’m on the road to sanity and peace.
Thank you, Mary. Thank you, readers. Thank you, God.
Maybe you have challenging relationships with adult children, difficult people, toxic relatives, or even with food. Perhaps you’ve experienced an internal struggle with your own stress, expectations, or habits—or maybe you feel like I did—frustrated over your job, career, purpose, or finances. When setbacks happen in life, we can’t give up. We can regain balance! God is always in control, and He will never give up on us—so we mustn’t give up on Him, on ourselves or on the people in our lives. The Bible teaches that we can do all things through Christ, who gives us strength. SANITY is possible—one step at a time!
The SANITY Support steps work—no matter what trial or tribulation we might experience. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that (even me!) God loves us and wants the best for us. He does not cause bad things to happen, but He sometimes allows them to happen for a purpose that we don’t always see clearly. In my recent situation, I had to learn to stop placing so much emphasis on generating money—and more on being a good (and obedient) steward of what God was providing. I had to change my perspective in order to regain balance in my life and set healthy boundaries with my own thoughts and actions. Practicing these SANITY steps can help us find balance, especially when life spins out of control.
S = STOP repeating our own negative behavior
A = ASSEMBLE supportive people around us
N = NIP excuses in the bud
I = IMPLEMENT a plan of action
T = TRUST the voice of the Spirit
Y = YIELD everything to God
I respect and appreciate you as a reader, and I want to be professional, responsible, and dependable in communicating with you. My vision for this newsletter has always been to provide you with valuable resources that will meet your needs, empower you to stand strong in your faith, and help you set healthy boundaries.
Thank you for allowing me to give you an update on my life in this February 2015 issue, to share my heart with you. Thank you to those who have shared your hearts with me. May the peace of God that passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds. And may you feel the love and protection of Jesus with every breath you take.
Barnes & Noble Book Signing
Susie Jennings will be conducting her first public book signing at the Lincoln Park Barnes & Noble. Please mark the date on your calendar and stop by to say hello to Susie, show your support for Operation Care International, and get your signed copy of 31 Days of Mountaintop Miracles!
Saturday, March 21, 2015
3:00 – 4:00 PM
Barnes & Noble – Lincoln Park
7700 West Northwest Hwy. Ste. 300
Dallas, TX 75225
PS: If you’re at a place in life where you feel this newsletter isn’t what you need, please simply return to the Mail Chimp email you received from me and click on the UNSUBSCRIBE link at the bottom, and you’ll automatically be removed, no questions asked.