when the fig tree doesn’t bud

Full disclosure?

I may or may not be crying a bit while I write this.

Fortunately, I also have a bag of barbecue chips by my side which makes things a little better.

I wanted to give all my friends an update on my book publishing process, and it’s a painful update this time. One of my main goals in making this blog is to be transparent – to override the facade of social media perfection.

So here goes.

* crunches chip. sniffles. crunches another chip. *

Okay. Ready.

I blow through about 3 children’s chapter books a week, since that’s what I’m writing.

* okay, not ready…more sniffles. *

Anyway. I spend hours reading them, studying them, diagramming them, and re-reading them.

I found one a few weeks ago that as I read it, page by page, I got that hot feeling in my face that happens when a teacher calls on me and I’m caught daydreaming or that time I got pulled over in a speed zone or now, that hot feeling I get when I’ve found a book parallel to mine.

Yes. Parallel to mine.

*sniffles.*

I was sitting in the minute clinic waiting area, just wilting with each turn of the page. And not because of the ringing in my ears or the fact that I couldn’t breathe through my nose.

Good news?

My writing voice is extremely different from this author’s. My characters are extremely unique from these characters.

(So I can keep my babies. I love them. I don’t want to give them up.)

But the plot….oh, the plot. There it was. Laid flat on each page.

Months of work. Months and months and months of work and someone else did it first.

IMG_2337

But hey, other good news?

This book turned out to be a New York Times bestseller.

Dad says I should take that as affirmation that I know what I’m doing. That I know my audience, and I know what’s relevant to them. And praise God, I picked up this book before I spent too much time sending mine out.

But my heartache.

Couldn’t this have been easier?

Could my first book have been the one?

I know it doesn’t usually happen like that for authors, but couldn’t I have been the exception?

Maybe “easy” isn’t God’s plan for me or this book.

Maybe I’m learning what it means to persevere. Maybe I’m learning what it means to have faith in what I believe the Lord has promised me. The kind of faith that I can’t muster up on my own…the kind of faith only God can give. Maybe I’m in the process of creating books so much better, so much more developed, so much meatier than my first one, that kids will love them and benefit from them even more.

Maybe I’m learning to be real with people and not apologize about it.

I have faith that someday, I’ll hold my published book in my hands and I’ll read it to a class full of littles knowing that I didn’t give up.

Knowing that I didn’t lose faith in God even when things didn’t go my way.

Even when the disappointment was real.

Even when my 6-month project had to be filed away.

Even when the stomach dropped and the tears came because that book was like my baby.

I have faith that someday, I’ll tell littles not to give up. To follow their heart’s desires.

Because by God’s grace, I’ll say, I didn’t give up either.

And a beautiful book happened because of that.

So, with tears in my eyes and a knot in my throat, I’m on to book 2.

Ann Voskamp is a delight.

Ann Voskamp is a delight.

Thank You God, for teaching me to bow my head and to bend my knees and to run the good race with You as my anchor and with faith as my shield.

Dear reading heart, if you have a goal, a God-given heart desire, press on. Press on. 

I have a feeling we’ll be glad we did.

And may we, the bold dreamers who face disappointment, call our hearts to sing this anthem:

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen

and no cattle in the stalls, 

yet I will rejoice in the LORD,

I will be joyful in God my Savior. 

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

he enables me to tread on the heights”

-Habakkuk 3:17-19.

Blessings and joyful strength to you,

Robyn

May I offer some encouragement? (And some cookie butter?)

Can I just say one thing before I say anything else?

Go to your nearest Trader Joe’s and buy some COOKIE BUTTER! (Could ever there be two words so perfectly made for each other that we should have put them together centuries ago?!) The cookie butter mixed with cocoa (YES. You heard me right. MIXED WITH COCOA.) looks like this and I can guarantee you will be dancing a happy jig with spoonfuls in your mouth!!:

Still not sure if it's a condiment or a food but it's AMAZING.

Still not sure if it’s a condiment or a food but it’s AMAZING.

Can you tell I haven’t been working for two days? 

Yeah, just me and the cookie butter.

……..

……..

…….. Just kidding. (Sort of).

So, anyway, this week I got sick.

On Monday, actually.

(And yes…I know today is only Tuesday so this post will be short because I. Will. Rest.)

But remember how I’m a fellow planner with all you fine type-A folks? Well, I had my week laid out quite nicely already.

And then I got sick.

And not the kind of sick where I could battle through and still get things done, apparently.

Because I tried.

I gallantly stubbornly went through Monday morning trying to check things off my list, mail my queries, clean the house, prep for my nanny babies, and of course play with Tuck so he wouldn’t tear up the new carpet with his colossal amounts of jungle-cat energy. (Note to self: check up on whether or not Tuck has the DNA of a wild bobcat or a panther or something).

Needless to say, Monday morning ended with me in bed and all the lights off and I couldn’t even open my eyes for Downton Abbey. Yes, I know!!!! Nuts, right?!! Lady Mary couldn’t even get me to stay awake. That’s when you know it’s serious, folks.

I was spent.

And yet, running a fever and attempting to hear noise above the ringing in my ears, I was still frustrated. I was frustrated because I didn’t want to rest.

And this morning when I woke up with my head full of bowling balls or balloons or something of that nature, I was still frustrated. I still didn’t want to rest.

Because then, this week wouldn’t be productive enough by my own standards.

Like, as if I didn’t perform and check-off all these things on my to-do list, then my week would be for naught.

But maybe the Lord has more for our weeks than checking off to-do lists. 

And He whispered something into my heart and so, by God’s grace (and above the ever-present ringing sound caused by the rather painful state of my eardrums at the moment), I turned my ear to listen.

“Will you rest in Me?”

Wait….But…

But, I can’t, see, I actually have this list of things on my agenda and they’re very important to me and…

But then…..I’m tired.

Physically, tired.

My head is throbbing.

And I have no choice.

So I rest.

And it was then, in the blessed quiet submission that I realized, no matter what I have on my schedule, I am free to always rest in Him.

It’s what we’re promised as His children: to be led beside quiet waters, to be soul-refreshed, to be led down the right paths (psalm 23:1-3) when we give Him our hearts and our trust.

No matter what else is on our agendas, there is one constant that is already filled in for us on each page: Be held.

“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands” (John 3:35, emphasis mine).

“My sheep [followers of Christ] listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 11:27-30).

So my prayer is this: When I am sick, may I rest in Him. When I am well again, may I rest in Him. When I’m working, may I rest in Him. May I be led from worry to the quiet waters of His love.

Perhaps it took a physical slow-down for the Lord to remind me to trust Him. To rest in Him.

Now, I think I’ll go eat a spoonful of cookie butter and watch Lady Mary marry Matthew Crawley for the third time.

Blessings and rest to you,

Robyn

Peace in the Waiting

I suppose when I’d set out to publish my children’s book, I expected it to get picked up over night.

It didn’t.

It’s actually only been 2 months. In robyn-is-waiting-for-something-time, that’s like the equivalent of about 100 million years. In getting-a-book-published-time, that’s like, half a second.

And just because my book hasn’t been picked up in my timing, I subconsciously started questioning, “Well, but, didn’t God lead me here? Isn’t this the desire of my heart? Didn’t I follow Him into a risk and didn’t He promise to provide? Wait…did I hear Him correctly when I decided to make this my career? Was this a bad idea?”

And the questions continued until this weekend when they finally came to a head and exploded in a volcano of ALL THE FEELINGS. (Plus, you know, being in the middle of a move takes emotions like 10 notches higher than normal anyway).

Tears streamed down my face and my sweet husband pulled over and gently asked me what was wrong.

“Um.”

I furrowed my brow and honestly couldn’t name it because there were lots of trivial SUPER important things wrong. You know, like, the armoir that’s been sitting in our new living room, will someone PLEASE take it so I can paint the walls and I haven’t had chocolate cookie quarry ice cream in like two weeks and and Tucker doesn’t like the new spot of his cat tree but my coffee bar has to go SOMEwhere and which moving box are my t-shirts in, again?

But, no. Those weren’t what was really bothering me.

“I just….sniff…I just want….”

I felt myself pout a little. Because I knew what was really bothering me.

(And I thought I was going to be mature about this whole waiting-for-my-book-to-be-picked-up thing).

Alas.

So I let it out.

I just WANT my book published! Like, NOW! I mean, I thought it would have been picked up already!!! I thought since God lead me here that He would do it super fast, and did I do something wrong? Did I make a mistake and that’s why this is taking longer than I thought it would?

Michael’s gentle voice brought me back from the rabbit trail of questions. “I don’t think God works that way.”

Of course, he’s right.

But I wanted to keep pouting. Because, you know, that’s very mature of me.

So I did.

And Michael continued. “You know, do you think this is the best time for your book to be picked up? I mean, we don’t even have our office set up because we’re in the middle of a move. Do you think maybe God knows better than you when it’s the right time?”

Well, the man had a point.

“And don’t you ever have to say ‘not yet’ or ‘no’ to your kids when they want something, because you know what’s best? Even if they don’t understand?”

I nodded.

Oh.

And then I sat back in that passenger seat and thought about my nanny littles.

I say ‘no’ to them lots of times; when my adventurers want to be more adventurous than I think is good or safe, I have to say no. Or if they want dessert before lunch, I have to say “not yet. Just wait a little longer for it.”

And they don’t always understand or agree, but I do what’s best for them.

Because I love them.

So I sat and thought about just how much I care about those littles, and how I say ‘no’ or ‘not yet’ because I love them and want the best for them…and then I thought….

how much more does God, our Father, love us? Love me?

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith” Galatians 3:26.

And since He’s our perfectly loving Father, He has to say ‘no’ or ‘not yet,’ to us, too.

Because He loves us.

And all of a sudden I became His little, wanting what I want right now, wanting that publishing deal, and begging for it with tears.

And I know He doesn’t mind my contending with Him.

I also know He knows what’s best.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:9.

You know what’s hard? Worshiping a God whom you’re afraid has forgotten you.

But you know what’s strengthening? Trusting that God is who He says He is. Taking His Word for truth.

And living it.

Even in the waiting.

sunset

He bends down to paint His love for us each day

Blessings to you,

Robyn