Today I am in North Carolina at the She Speaks Conference, where I am speaking about using Pinterest to build a platform. To be perfectly honest, it is sort of a full-circle moment for me, and although I had originally planned to write something completely different today, I couldn’t help but take a few minutes to reflect on how I got here.
You see, almost two years ago now, I eagerly updated my Facebook status with the following message:
By then I had been writing this blog for more than two years. I had written hundreds of blog posts and thousands upon thousands of words. I already was a writer, I just didn’t dare see myself that way.
But my dear friend Kasey, who has been such an inspiration and amazing prayer partner to me over the years, responded to that post with a challenge. She said, if you really want to write, you should go to SheSpeaks.
She went on to explain that SheSpeaks was an inspirational and instructional conference for aspiring writers and speakers, and that it had been pivotal in her own writing journey. It was there that she had met her literary agent and begun to take the steps necessary to write her book. Then she said, I think they have a special one coming up in January. You should go.
I clicked on the link that she sent and saw that a.) the price to attend the conference was almost a thousand dollars and b.) the conference was almost completely sold out except for one more spot in the writer’s track.
What Kasey didn’t know, couldn’t possibly have known, was that about a week earlier, during my morning prayer time, I had very clearly heard God calling me to write, perhaps more clearly than I’ve ever heard anything in my entire life.
Just write, and I will take care of the rest.
I’m not one to say that lightly. If you’ve read my story, you know that God and I have not always been on the best of terms. And furthermore, I’m not that kind of Christian. I’m not a charismatic. I don’t raise my hands in church. I pray and read the Bible and truly believe with all my heart that I have been saved by grace, but most of the time I am very much aware of just how much of a sinner and a disaster I really am.
I called my husband at work and said, all in one breath, there’s this conference in January that I’ve never heard of before, and it costs almost $1000, and there is only one spot left and I can’t tell you exactly why, but I feel like I really, really need to go. Like God is telling me to go. And I know that is totally weird but I have never felt more strongly about anything in my life. So can I go?
I don’t really know what Chuck must have been thinking right at that moment, or even whether he could understand what I was asking, I was talking so fast. I knew he was going to say no, that it was too expensive and that there was no one to watch the girls and that it was crazy to think that God was telling me to go. After all, we’re not really that kind of family. Furthermore, Chuck is not a quick decision maker. He has to ponder and reflect and agonize over even the smallest choices. It took us 2 months and 3 trips to Home Depot just to choose our kitchen faucet.
But he said yes.
He said, very simply, if you feel that strongly that this is what you need to do, then you should go.
And so I went. But I have to admit that somewhere between November and January, I lost most of my nerve. I was going, but I was scared. Terrified, actually. I didn’t know a single person who was going to be there. I didn’t even know why I was going. I wanted nothing more than to just not go. But I went anyway.
It was a leap of faith.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but it doesn’t take all that much introspection to see how God’s hand was on that conference, orchestrating all the pieces to fall right into place. In fact, when I look back I can see how clearly that moment was one of the biggest turning points in my life.
In the shuttle from the airport to the hotel, who happened to be seated in front of me but Crystal from Money Saving Mom. Despite my completely spastic introduction, we became fast friends, bonding over a random plate of fries and a pile of ketchup packets. Over the past two years, she has become one of my closest confidantes. Few people challenge, encourage, or inspire me more, and if her friendship would have been the only thing to come out of that weekend, it would have been totally worth it.
But it wasn’t the only thing.
My small group leader, Karen Ehman, also became a good friend and mentor, and helped guide me through the process of writing my book proposal. I met my friend Angie, who like Crystal, has been an amazing encourager and prayer partner. I was also challenged in one of the main sessions to find an accountability partner, which inspired me to ask my friend Edie to fill that roll.
While at SheSpeaks I also met Esther Fedorkevich, who would end up becoming my literary agent. Esther is a no-nonsense kind of gal, and quite frankly she intimidated the heck out of me. She warned me from day one that she wasn’t the kind of agent who would hold my hand (and she hasn’t) but she did go to bat for me, ultimately securing a two-book deal with Zondervan Publishing. My first traditionally published book, Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life, will be released at the end of the year.
All because of one leap of faith.
I think sometimes in life it is easy to stay in our comfort zone, to not act because standing still seems safer. We stay still because we are afraid of the unknown. We are afraid of making a mistake. We are afraid of looking stupid. We are afraid of failure.
We are afraid to trust God.
Because he gives us the choice. In fact, in any potential leap of faith there are usually three important choices along the way. All three require trust.
First, we have to make the choice to listen. We will never hear the call to action if we don’t take the time to be quiet and just listen to what God might be telling us. In my own prayer time, as in much of life, I generally like to be the one in control. I have a list of prayer requests I need to address, and agenda for exactly how I’d like my devotion session to go. But every once in a while I actually manage to Just. Stop. Talking. And I listen. And those are the moments where God is waiting to speak.
Second, we have to make the choice to obey. When that whisper, that nudge, that deep conviction appears, we can’t push it away. Our temptation is to argue, or to ignore it, or to tell ourselves we are crazy, that the whisper isn’t real. But we know, deep down, that we have been called to obey.
And so we must say yes.
Yes without knowing what may happen. Yes without necessarily having any actions steps in place. Yes to the plans that he has for us.
Finally, we have to make the choice to follow through. This is where the rubber meets the road. We can’t just say yes and keep standing there. There comes a moment where we have to close our eyes and jump and just trust God. To let go of the notion that we are in control and instead open ourselves up to all the possibility that comes ahead. We have to keep going, even when we feel like quitting, and trust that he who begins a good work in us will always, always see it through to completion.
It has been almost two years since that first leap of faith. Looking back I can see it was the moment that changed everything, and that God has always had a plan, even if I couldn’t tell what it was. And since taking that first leap, I’ve taken several more. I’ve found that it is always a little scary, but it does get easier each time I make the choice to listen, obey, and follow through.
God is waiting for us to let go.
Are you ready to trust him?