Category Archives: determination

The Work of My Hands

I come from a family of highly intelligent, highly educated, extremely hardworking and successful overachievers. So, naturally, I married an overachiever, and then gave birth to another overachiever. I have always been proud just to know these people, and prouder still to be able to call myself “daughter”, “granddaughter”, “niece”, “wife”, “mother”, “aunt”, or “sister” to them. And I have always wished I could return the favor, offering them a teensy, tiny little bit of pride in me.

But I chose to be a writer instead. (Writer: n. A person usually without discernable accomplishments or income, who often lives in his or her parents’ basement and borrows money.) I knew that my chances of ever becoming a published novelist were roughly the same as my chances of winning the lottery, and therefore, I knew that professionally, I would probably never inspire pride in anyone anywhere – not even in myself.

And I was right. I spent two and half years writing two novels that would never be published. But not only was I not proud of this, I felt deeply ashamed – and guilty – guilty, for wasting literally thousands of hours of time and effort that would’ve been better spent elsewhere.

So, I decided not to write anymore. That night, I said to God, “Okay. That’s it. I give up. I don’t know what I’m doing, so tell me what it is that you want me to do. I’ll do anything – dig graves, repair plumbing – whatever you want. Please, just tell me what you want me to do – and don’t be subtle – you know how dense I can be!”

The next morning, as my then ten-year-old daughter was getting ready for school, she said to me, “I really wish you’d write a book for people my age, so I could read it.”

I thought about this, and figured I didn’t have anything better to do while I waited for God to reveal that I was meant to be a plumber or something. So, I said, “Okay, I’ll try.”

After my daughter left for school, I sat down at my computer and did just that. I had no outline and no plan, but the words came anyway. About ten pages in, I realized I was having the most fun I’d ever had writing. The book I began that morning was called Something to Sing About, and the first publishing house I sent it to snapped it right up for publication.

I was so happy… and proud. I thought I’d finally found my place, and that life – at least my writing life – would be much, much easier after that.

But it wasn’t – life’s sort of an uphill battle, isn’t it? Just as my first novel went to press, my editor left the publishing house and the publishing industry altogether – placing me back at square one. But even so, I continued to work on my second middle grade novel.

Two more years passed, during which I wrote and rewrote, and tried not to worry – that I was a one-hit hack.

Now, as you may or may not know, my second middle grade novel, entitled Lula Bell on Geekdom, Freakdom & the Challenges of Bad Hair, recently – FINALLY! – sold to a publishing house. And once again, I felt happy…and proud.

But last Friday, I learned that a close friend had been diagnosed with cancer. I have been busy praying for my friend, Rick, ever since. Yesterday morning, I got out my prayer locket, to put Rick’s name in it and wear it – keeping my prayers close to my heart.

And do you know what I found in my prayer locket when I opened it? Inside was a little slip of paper which read only, Lula Bell.

So, it turns out that I am not accomplished, but blessed. And I have no right to feel proud – not ever – only grateful.

As if I needed additional proof, this afternoon, I came across the following passage in a beautiful book I received from a friend just this week (Thank you, Susan! I love it!): “And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.” – Psalm 90:17

(What? Yes, of course, I have more than one friend! But I admit it is shocking – more proof that I am just blessed.)

So, I come to you today, humbled and grateful, wishing you the beauty of the Lord, all the joy and hope of Easter, and many, many blessings.

And I leave you with this quote from Eleanor Powell: “What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.”

P.S. If it’s not too much to ask, please include my friend, Rick, in your prayers.