When the Lord began to nudge me to move toward retirement, I was unsure of what would be next. I knew it would allow me more time to visit children and grandchildren out of state, but I was never a person who had hobbies like golf, tennis, or other things that I was eager to have more time to pursue. My husband wondered what retirement would be like for me because he had already retired and had some hobbies that he now had time to develop and enjoy.
What I knew was there was a clear sense from the Lord a year in advance to leave my full-time professional and ministry life for this new season. And I felt a peace about it without a plan or direction in mind.
Six months after retirement I learned about a Writers’ Boot Camp that would be coming up in Colorado led by Margaret Feinberg (one of my favorite authors) and Jonathan Merritt. I was immediately interested in going and the date and place came at the end of a planned family vacation to Yellowstone National Park. There was also financial provision from monetary gifts I received at the time of my retirement. Everything fit in place and my husband was happy to see me do this and add those extra days onto the trip West.
I couldn’t help but smile when I recalled first hearing Margaret speak at a conference of The American Association of Christian Counselors. It was a grand conference and full of great options from early morning until night. Her time to speak was early in the morning after I had been there for several days and I was tired and planned to skip her session because I really did not know her so wasn’t looking forward to hearing her as I had other speakers.
But the Lord had other plans. 😊 I woke up that morning and felt convicted for plans to skip her session and sensed the Lord make clear that not knowing her was not a reason. So, I went and was so blessed by her message that I bought every book she had written by then that was on sale following her message.
Writing had always been a love of mine since childhood and for a brief period when our children were very young, I wrote for a local newspaper doing a variety of stories including several major full-page feature stories where I took the photographs to accompany the articles. Then other opportunities came that I was led to accept and the writing I was paid little to do was set aside.
Over the next 40+ years I would do a variety of things including leading a regional women’s ministry, tutoring learning disability students, teaching a developmentally delayed junior high class, applying for and being accepted in a graduate school program that led to a new career path as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Independent Marriage and Family Therapist. Along the way I had the opportunity to speak, lead worships, and minister with my husband. Writing was something that would cross my mind and something many had encouraged me to do, but there was no time for it with all these things, raising our two children from birth through weddings and becoming a grandmother.
The decision to go to a writing conference felt like a big risk and leap. Whatever made me think I could or should write? I had long ago wanted to write a book, but never had a definite idea of what I would write about. Hadn’t everyone else written about every idea or theme anyway?
Despite my timidity, I signed up for the time in Colorado, but if I had known what I would need to do before I went and got the instruction I knew I needed, I would likely not make that choice.
You see, after registering I found out that prior to coming I needed to create a website and write several posts to this blog. Yikes! I had no idea how to create a website and for all the writing I had done, the world of blogging was not on my radar. But the Lord had that covered as well.
I called a young woman whom I met when she and her husband had done premarital counseling with me. She had recently completed a graphic arts degree and I asked if she could help and she agreed. We met and she gave me wise counsel about which program would be easiest to navigate and we laid out the pages that would be on the site (even though I had no clue about what pages I should have). Next came the choice of a name for the domain. I had no idea, but we brainstormed a bit, and nothing fit until I recalled that this young lady suggested one page be for my photographs (a hobby I developed as a result of my stint with the newspaper). It was then out of nowhere the name, A New Lens, came to my mind. It connected with the photo page and also with the one sense I had about writing – use a new lens to look at a theme, topic, idea, etc.
Within a short time, the site was created, and the domain became my own and with a great deal of trepidation I wrote a first article May 7, 2015. I felt so exposed and every doubt about writing crept in and shouted in my head. Worse yet was knowing Margaret and Jonathan (whom I didn’t know at all) would see how poorly equipped I was and then my doubts would be confirmed.
The conference was challenging, scary, and amazing all at the same time and yet I learned a great deal. The bonus was hearing that published authors struggle with doubts as well and much of what I was fearing was common among the others attending the conference. An extra blessing was having a chance to spend one evening in Margaret’s home with some of the other conference attendees and enjoy dinner that she and her husband prepared for us.
I returned to Ohio with my head swimming. I had learned a lot, but most of what I needed to learn would come from doing, from stepping out into what felt like thin air and writing.
The possibility that my “voice” might be able to say something that others had already written about still felt impossible, but I sensed the Lord nudging me yet again to step out of the boat and not compare myself with others. One other clear thing from Him was I was not to be focused on the numbers of people who did or didn’t read what I wrote or comment on it. My part was to write what He led me to write about, not to map out a long list of ideas and start researching them. My part was to obey.
It is now five years, hundreds of posts, and a published book later and I cannot pass this date without telling you the story. It’s important because you may have a dream tucked away that you would never expect to come true for a long list of reasons. You may have doubts or not believe it’s possible for you, but I want you to know that if this was a dream that really came from Him don’t be surprised if it shows up after you have set it aside and believed it was just all in your head. The Lord can surprise us in every season of life.
I thank Him each day for this journey and how it has drawn me closer to Him, grown my trust, and enriched my life. But I also want to thank you for stopping to read what He leads me to write. Some of you have been doing that for a long time and I have developed sweet fellowship with you over time. Some of you are new to this website and we are just getting acquainted.
The Lord has not shown me to change course so I will continue until He does, but I wanted to pause and note this 5-year mark and share a bit about how it all happened.
Sola Dei Gloria