It takes courage to be an author, to declare and publish to a busy, perhaps skeptical world what you have experienced privately … to tell in “bright lights” what you have seen and learned in dark places.
Long ago in Bethlehem, shepherds waiting and watching on a dark hillside experienced a wondrous awakening and illumination. Then, even as they stood there in awe of the heavenly hosts, the shepherds must have needed courage and bravery to leave their flocks in the care of their guard dogs and run into the dark, crowded city of Bethlehem to look for a newborn baby “in a manger” and then worship him as the promised king. Surely there were more qualified and famous individuals to use as messengers.
I think the needed courage gripped the shepherds because the authenticity of their experience and their certainty of it overcame their trepidation. They obeyed, they went, they told. And their story was full of immediacy and hope.
Sometimes we authors feel that way.
Though angels didn’t exactly appear to us in the night sky and declare wonderful tidings of great joy for us to write, Christian writers do sense a call from God and we experience wonder and the help of God (and perhaps even of angels) as we write. We certainly have good tidings to share.
Janyne McConnaughey is an example of one writer who has a life-changing story of hope and is compelled to write and tell her story to encourage others. I don’t know whether she has been “touched by an angel” but I know she has been touched by God with the courage to share her story. The title of her first book, BRAVE, tells that. And these comments from readers and reviewers on Amazon.com tell us of the authenticity and immediacy and hope in her story.
“There is hope!”
“A compelling journey”
“A very important book”
“A road less traveled … a path to healing”
“Kept me on the edge of my seat”
“Healing from complex trauma”
“A roadmap to freedom”
“Brave is a fitting title for this true story.”
“A beautiful soul shows us the way to hope and healing.”
“A book every person who has struggled with trauma should read.”
“This book can be your path to healing from childhood trauma.”
Whatever your place of waiting ‘in the night’—or journey in the dark— be encouraged. A savior is born and he brings good news to the oppressed, including those suffering from complex trauma.
In November I’m reminded of nature’s cycles of dormancy and productivity. Here in Colorado, many trees are losing their leaves. Grass will soon go dormant and turn brown.
Trees and shrubs have produced seed pods and cones; flower heads have released seeds that may sprout and surprise us in the garden next spring. Pumpkins have been cut open and seeds scooped out and roasted.
Author and field biologist Carol O’Casey unwraps the wonder of seeds—using science, literature, personal experience, and scripture—and applies this to the believer’s life of faith. In Unwrapping Wonder, she writes, “Often times, in order for us to blossom into the abundant life God has in store for us, we must accept our own spiritual brokenness—just as germination requires the seed coat to be broken.”
Don’t settle into dormancy and stay there.
“Are you lacking the life-giving water necessary to initiate the germination process? Do you long for an abundant, seed-coat-busting life? Abandon your dryness and lifeless routine. Risk heat. Risk exposure. Risk growth. And take heart. Jesus tells us, ‘Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds’ (John 12:24)”
Thank you for reminding us, Carol, that even during dormant seasons life is waiting in the seeds. Some plants will sprout surprisingly early, as soon as daylight hours start increasing. Meanwhile, wait in hope and expectancy.
As Carol says, “Allow God to unleash his power in your life. Be ready to sprout where you are planted. And live. Abundantly.”
“Are you hungry for a life that is more than simple existence, for something to give you hope, for surprises bathed in an eternal aura? Do you long for fellow travelers, for genuine community, a place where you can tell your story and listen to others? With whom you can share life and experience mission?”
So begins the book ON KITTEN CREEK: Searching for the Sacred by Nancy Swihart
God seems to make sacred the places where true Christian fellowship and community happen.
Inspired by Francis and Edith Schaeffer’s L’Abri center in Switzerland, Nancy Swihart and her husband dreamed of starting something similar in America, where people could come to learn about and experience—away from their usual distractions—”the God who is there.”
When the Swiharts left their thriving ministries, that were full of “promise” in Southern California and moved to a rustic, old 160-acre farm in the Flint Hills of Kansas, a missional center developed that came to be known as “Wellspring.” This loosely formed, and constantly evolving and renewing fellowship of folks experienced true, transformational community. Through the past thirty years, thousands of people of all ages have benefited from what Wellspring has offered in sacramental, creative, loving, and edifying ways.
Nancy’s memoir released this week.to the following praise:
“Nancy Swihart’s On Kitten Creek is an uplifting and thoughtful read. It will minister to your spirit and move you to give thanks for life’s simple gifts and cause you to reflect deeply about your life, as it has prompted me.” –Ken Canfield PhD., Founder National Center for Fathering; President, National Association for Grandparenting
“Let Nancy give you glimpses of His handiwork among us. Be inspired to look for sacred connections and creative opportunities waiting to surprise you within what may seem mundane in your own life.” –Kay Bascom, Author, Teacher, Missionary, and Conference Speaker
“A look over-the-shoulder and through-the-heart of someone with much to teach every one of us.” –Steven Garber, Principal of the Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation & Culture; author of Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good
I first met Nancy at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. Drawn by her warm smile, I became convinced that her story fit every part of Cladach’s stated purpose to:
• exalt Christ as Savior and Lord, and know God as Creator, Father, and Redeemer-King.
• witness to His presence and work in creation, and in our world today.
• encourage believers in a mind-set and heart experience of joyful faith and obedience.
• provide practical guidance for developing a life of health and wholeness.
• through the power of story, depict grace to a postmodern world.
Nancy practices listening prayer, gives of herself in hospitality, has searched for and found the sacred in her daily life, and has embraced mystery in the mundane—while caring for farm animals, taking prayer walks on the farm trails, hosting ministry events in the barn, or teaching at a Christian college and giving hospitality to students. Active in local churches, schools, and wider ministries, the Swiharts and their friends together have dreamed, laughed, cried, celebrated, served and shared the life of Christ creatively in ways we all long for.
Let Nancy inspire you to embrace the story that God is writing in your own life!
Are you listening, in prayer, to what the Lord may be asking you to do? Are you watching for His answers? Susan Roberts describes how saying “Yes” to the Lord led her on an adventure of devotional discoveries. I interviewed Susan to find out why and how she wrote Everywhere I Look, God Is There.