Sitting at my desk, I mindlessly scrolled through my Facebook feed when my eyes caught her name-Kristin Schmucker. A friend slash acquaintance, Kristin and her husband had recently lost their daughter Sophia in stillbirth. Kristin’s Facebook post stopped me in my endless scrolling: “Losing Sophia has taught me to go out and try all those things I’ve always wanted to do.” I paused. It was a long pause…
I thought, what have I always wanted to do? Life is short. Of all the gifts in the world, the gift of life often falls unnoticed. What am I doing with this gift? The answers muddled together. I thought, I’m too old for this. Ha! No really, I felt old. My fourth child was just one month. As a wife and homeschool mom, I had to do things like laundry and make dinner (have I mentioned how much I detest cooking?). But now there was this big, bold question flashing against my messy reality, “What does God want me to do?”
The answer: Write a book.
I had always wanted to write. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved making stories with words. After reading Kristin’s post, I knew that’s what I was going to do.
We were living with my in-laws because of our recent move from Alabama to Michigan. I was still writing. The “chasing your dreams” craze occupied most of my thoughts. When I finished the book, I anxiously awaited my husband’s critique. But his honest opinion crushed me. (I was incredibly immature). He said the book was missing something. He said it didn’t make sense!
What? Discouragement settled in and regrettably I ended up stuffing the book in a drawer. The book stayed in that drawer for about six months. During that time, I struggled with my health. Lots of tests, but never any answers. I also struggled with panic attacks and extreme anxiety. But we grow the most when we walk through the valley with Jesus. In that valley, the Lord taught me about fear. Fear can paralyze you-if you allow it, or it can chase you to the arms of the all knowing Savior. I learned to trust and fear God. I learned that my health did not have to determine my happiness. True joy is knowing Jesus.
Eventually, God moved me to open that drawer. The “chasing your dreams” mentality changed to “chasing Jesus”. When I wrote, I worshipped. I prayed and labored because I wanted every word I wrote to be full of Him. When I finished, I nervously gave the new edited version to my husband. My heart pounded as I waited for the verdict. I’ll never forget when he read it for the second time. I was sitting in our 1970’s Ethan Allen retro green chair when he came over to me and laid the book in my lap. Then he bent down to kiss my forehead and said, “That’s it.” His voice rang with approval.
I later sent the book to Kristin. After reading it, she emailed me, “…This is beautiful. Sitting at my desk in tears because it is so simple and powerful and such a beautiful display of the gospel. I love it…This will touch so many hearts.”
Afterward, I sent my work out to a Christian Publishing Company. When I recognized their number on my phone, my heart literally skipped a beat. What would they say? Would my book be rejected? I answered the phone and waited. “I have good news for you, Rachel.” The rest of what she said is a blur. My head buzzed with excitement. That is until I got the other news. I had to pay between $3,000-$4,000 in order for this company to publish the book. What? I thought they would be paying me? My limited publishing knowledge discouraged me. I didn’t expect the excitement of my manuscript being accepted to end so abruptly. But I was hopeful, and so I decided to turn down their offer.
I realized I needed to educate myself about the publishing world. After talking with someone who had years of experience in publishing, I came face to face with the facts. Traditional publishing has it’s challenges. Apparently, you need to be a people-person. He called it a “platform”. But honestly, it sounded like a popularity contest. You also need to hire an agent. He even mentioned that publishing companies can spend up to $500,000 on a single book and author. The conversation left me feeling small and extremely inadequate. Why in the world would a publishing company invest that much in me?
I’m not popular. I never have been. Ha! Ever since 2nd grade when I told Meredith that she was a jerk because she talked smack about a someone, I knew that popularity wasn’t for me. In public school, I sat at THAT table-you know the one where no one really fits into a mold? Introverted, with a quiet confidence-that was me.
Socialization gets me all awkward inside. In large groups, I tend to blur into the background. But in order to make friends, you have to be friendly, right? Friendliness is a choice. But being friendly doesn’t come easy for me. How is this going to work? The honest answer. I have no idea.
After praying about it, I decided to look for an illustrator. I found Sara through a mutual friend and paid her to do the illustrations.
She just finished the last painting. What’s next? A whole lot of prayer. I don’t know what will happen with this book. Will it get published traditionally? Will everyone hate it? What if I fall flat on my face? But not knowing is part of the journey. That’s what faith is-jumping without seeing where you’ll land. I’m not sure what God’s plan is for this book. But I know His plan is always for my growth and his glory. And that is what I pray for.