The next thing

My mother-in-law had a saying I will never forget. When some new change entered our lives, whether good or bad, she would smile and say, "it's always something." Lately, I've come to realize what she meant by that phrase, and it has taught me something about myself. When stress enters my life in the form of some new expectation or demand, I normally take the attitude of - gotta get it done. When it's done, then I can relax. I've been asking God to change this about me because the older I get the more I realize the next thing will never be finished!

Perhaps this started in my childhood, because I recall being that student who would immediately start the next project and get it done while everyone else seemed to put it off. But I was the one sitting back and not stressing the night before a test or project was due, while the procrastinators were scrambling. It's a good thing to be early, I suppose, but it is not a good thing to stress until the thing is completed. According to one personality quiz I took, I am a person who likes things finished more than doing the thing. I wonder how many of you can relate?

The trouble is, there is always, always a "next thing." And I think God has a lesson for me in this.

This year has been filled with next thing style changes. To name a few, our daughter-in-law graduated from college, I turned in a novella on Naamah (The Desert Princess, a future e-book), Rahab's first draft was finally completed, I helped give our kids a bridal shower. Rachel edits came due, our son got married, our cat Shadow got sick, my pain level from fibro has risen, and just yesterday I discovered that Rahab's characterization needs work, which means more study, more rewriting, and our shower is leaking to the point of we can't use it. (And truly, these are small compared to the suffering of so many.) But we all have our triggers, and we all handle stress differently.

The moment I got the email from one of my critique partners about Rahab's characterization, my stress level started to rise. (I have low blood pressure and high muscle tension. Go figure!) But it was then that I recalled my earlier prayer for God to change me. I don't want to be that person that does not find His peace until I complete the next project. I want His peace in the midst of that project.

Perhaps He has allowed these things to help me grow? In any case, I told Him that I can't do this alone. I truly can't. And I will let you in on a little author secret - none of us can. That's not to say there aren't creative people who work hard and can produce great works apart from God's help. But with or without the Lord, we have to do a lot of practicing, even after many books under our belt. It's like learning a new, difficult piece of music on an instrument. We don't become a master at it on the first try. And for me, especially writing about biblical people, I can't get to know them if I don't ask God to tell me who they were. That's even true for the people that are totally fictional. I won't say my words are God's. But I can't do anything apart from Him. Through Him, all things are possible to those who believe.

So today I'm back to research on Rahab. I had hoped to finish this second rewrite before the writer's conference in September so I can start Abishag's story. I have three weeks until Rachel's page proofs come. In my own strength, I'm not up to this challenge. But in Him, I can.

Your prayers as I write this next book and novella are greatly appreciated!