Trust–More Than a Back-Up Plan

When I had an idea for a book about two years ago, I put it on the back burner in my mind. Who has time for writing when you’re raising/homeschooling three kids, right?

One weekend my husband and I went on an overnight road trip without the kids. On the way home, somehow we decided to make a list of hopes and dreams. Anything went.

Onto the list it went. “Write a book.”

I didn’t know we were going to delve deeper into our list items, although I should have, being married to Chip and all. 🙂

“What would you want to write about?” he asked.

“I don’t know…I sort of have an idea I’ve tossed around.”

“Well then, let’s get it on the calendar and you can start writing!”

*uh…*

And so it began. I took an evening, hid away on our back porch with the laptop, and started writing. The story poured out of me. After about a zillion rounds of editing (being brand spanking new to this and all), I finally had a completed manuscript. But then I was left wondering, “what now?”

After reading stats on how few manuscripts get accepted by agents and publishers, I was tempted to quit. But I loved my story. I believed in it, and continue to believe (as basically every Christian writer says) that God gave me this story to tell. I had to trust that he would get his message out however he thought best.

Maybe I would send it around to a handful of agents/publishers and if I didn’t get any bites I could pursue self-publishing (which is a completely valid option; doesn’t need to be last resort, fyi).

After reading over and over how important networking is for writers, my husband and I attended an amazing writer’s conference (Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference). We learned a ton, made some friends, each won an award for our respective manuscripts (awesome!), and finally, on the last evening, we met Deb Haggerty. Deb owns a publishing company (Elk Lake Publishing Inc.) and “publishes what she likes,” as she put it.

She viewed the print-out of Chip’s story, Under the Dancing Tree, and offered him a contract on the spot (it released a couple months ago – check it out on Amazon, it’s a perfect Father’s Day gift!). She invited me to send my proposal after the conference, which I did. I had to trust that if it didn’t work out with Elk Lake, God would lead me and my story where he wanted us.

Even though I knew it could take weeks or even months to hear back, I was so nervous and excited I checked my email every hour or so. Less than 24 hours later, I heard back five words I’ll never forget.

Power Up has a home.

My heart almost stopped. I told Chip. I called my mom. I couldn’t stop smiling (smiling’s my favorite).

And so the roller coaster began. While Deb agreed to publish it, she requires all her authors to have literary agents. That felt like a potential dead end. Not a lot of literary professionals are keen on middle grade book ideas, unfortunately. I had to trust that if God opened a door with Elk Lake, he would lead me to an agent.

A couple months later I signed with an agent and was signing a contract with Elk Lake to publish Power Up. A happy ending, right? Except it was just the beginning.

Thoughts plagued my mind – what if nobody likes it? What if nobody buys it? What if, what if, what if.

The publishing process has its stressful moments, and I remember one evening after everyone else was in bed, sitting alone with my anxious thoughts, lost in worry.

Then I heard a quiet voice.

You say you trust me, but worrying about it all shows that you DON’T trust me. Give it to me; you can trust me.

It was a sobering moment for me. So I took a deep breath and attempted to do just that. Staying on top of the worry is an ongoing, but worthwhile, effort. My instinct tells me I have every reason to worry and be anxious. But giving in to the worry only reduces the gift that Jesus offers (to carry me/my burdens and work it all out for good) to a back-up plan.

Though my book, Power Up, is really close to being published, it’s down to getting the final details right. Worry still tempts me. What if, what if, what if…

But I don’t want to relegate Jesus’ faithfulness to my back-up plan. He’s got his plans for me and for this book all in the palm of his hand, where they’re safer than any place I could ever dream.

What does your journey of trusting God look like? Are you handing your burdens to him in full trust? Is he simply your back-up plan for when you finally reach the end of your rope?

I pray you’ll find the courage to trust God more than ever before, in whatever circumstances you’re experiencing, and have faith in his ultimate goodness and love for you. Even when life is messy, he is a trustworthy God, of this you can be sure.

8 thoughts on “Trust–More Than a Back-Up Plan

  1. As someone who is on the same journey you were once on trying to find representation, this is so encouraging! Thank you for sharing! And congrats on getting closer to releasing your book out into the world! Hugs!

    1. Be encouraged, Holly — just follow where God leads one day at a time! Even if we don’t always care for his timing, it always ends up being best. You got this! Hugs back!💕

  2. What if, what if, what if…..is me! Putting yourself out there as an author is exciting and scary! It took me months of praying and crying out to God before I took the leap to self-publish. I was pretty freaked out, and kept asking God, “did I write what you wanted me to write?”
    Letting Him take care of the outcome has been the hardest thing for me. It’s that trust thing again, which is the theme of my book. Of course.
    Proud of you for stepping out and doing the hard thing!

    1. Exactly, Meghan! I’m sure my journey mirrored yours pretty identically! It all keeps coming back down to trust, doesn’t it?? Thanks for the encouragement!💕

  3. What a journey, Jessie. I’m glad Chip kept the wheels turning. Your book is published already so I’m reading this a little late, but I enjoyed seeing how God worked in your journey. I think it’s great that you got a publisher and were forced to sign with an agent because I went the self-publishing route and everything’s on me. For me, in the Bible study arena as a self-publisher, it’s a long road to even one sale. I gave away my first Bible study for free earlier in the year and that got great reception. Giving away a book for free is so much easier than selling one!

    I think this that you wrote is a key truth: “God gave me this story to tell. I had to trust that he would get his message out however he thought best.” I tell myself something like that every time I think about the things I’ve put out there or plan to put out there: books, blog posts, in-person Bible studies… We can’t discount that dynamic in our relationship with God. God will use everything He gives us if we let Him.

    1. Thanks for sharing all of this, Stephen! And honestly, even publishing traditionally, there’s a ton more on me than I ever dreamed. So I can only imagine how big of a project it was/is for you. But like I told myself before mine was released, if even one person buys it and their life is changed, it will be worth it. And the tricky, somewhat-discouraging thing is, we’ll never know the reach our books have had. And so we plug away, trusting that God is making a way and will take our offerings and turn them into whatever he had planned all along. 😊

  4. So great, Jessie! It’s so hard to trust when things don’t seem to be going anywhere close to right. If we learn to trust in the master plan life surely must be….lighter?

    I’m glad you stuck with your dream!

    1. Yes, it is definitely much harder to trust when things aren’t going even close to right. I’ve been there too and it’s hard. But yes, with a big picture view that God is working it all for good (whether we understand or not), it’s much easier to keep trusting and plowing forward! Thanks, Nicole!💕

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