Wednesday, November 11, 2009

His Gift, Not Mine!

The following story isn't easy to share, but I will anyway. In fact, I didn't post sooner because it took a few days to sort it all out in my mind and heart.

The girl had spent hours wrapping her gift. She made sure the white paper was smooth with no wrinkles. She'd worked her fingers raw to get the bow on just right, retying it at least ten times. One loop stretched over her thumb, and she cringed when she noticed it was still longer than the other. No time to fix it again because the double-doors opened to the master's throne room.

Taking a deep breath, the girl stepped inside. The majestic chamber spread out before her. Diamonds and sapphires sparkled on the walls, rays of sunshine lanced through the vaulted windows, and the scent of lavender made the tension in her body melt away like snow on her tongue.

At the far end of the room the master sat on his throne. He leaned forward and motioned for her to come.

Holding the gift out, she stepped toward him.

Eyes twinkling, the master smiled as she put the small box in his large hands.

"Thank you." He took the bow between his fingers and pulled.

"Careful." The girl reached out, but yanked her hand back.

The master stopped pulling on the ribbon.

"Sorry. It's just that . . . it was a lot of work tying that thing."

He chuckled and plucked at the bow.

"Here, let me help you." The girl pulled on the ribbon until the bow disappeared. She looked up at the master.

He smiled down on her, still holding the gift.

"The paper is very delicate. Maybe I should help you unwrap it?"

The master held out the box to her, and she unwrapped the gift.

She lifted out what she had so painstakingly made, and he smiled, admiring it. As he reached for the gift, she snatched it back and said, "Let me take care of this for you."


I'm sorry to say, I'm that little girl. You see, I wrote a story (the series I've been working on and put an excerpt of below). Well, I wrote it for God. Not because He needed entertainment, but to win people over to Him, to please Him. I've spent years perfecting the craft just so I could write this one, special story. Do I have other stories in me? Yes. But this one was my special gift for Him.

Right when I finished the first book of the series, I stumbled upon a publisher that wanted it, and I'd barely finished typing the last word! So, I cleaned it up as fast as I could and shipped it off to the publisher, only later finding a gazillion typos in the thing. Just like that crooked bow. Ugh. Well, about a month later, I heard that they wanted to publish it! I was thrilled!

After some email problems and simple misunderstandings, I felt I needed to help God out. To make a long story short, I got an agent and decided to go to the bigger houses with it. So, I took my manuscript and ran, seeing dollar signs and my book sitting on the shelves at Borders and B&N.

Well, I started networking, building up a new blog for writers, got active on all my loops, joined more programs, and dove into every little thing the big houses suggest writers do, which means "no time for writing." I became tired and overwhelmed, and at one point I'd lost the whole reason "why" I wrote this story. To serve God. To please Him and make Him smile.

During all of this, that small press came knocking on my door a few times, asking for an update, but I brushed them off, thinking God needed a little hand. After all, how could He sell my book unless I went through a big press?

As I knocked on all their doors, the big houses all liked my writing, calling me things like "an accomplished writer." One editor said, she didn't really like first century stories, but was surprised how well this one "sucked her in." Etc. But . . . either they weren't publishing this era of fiction, or they already had an author who wrote in that time period, or their lists were full.

Remember that one editor I really, really wanted? Well, she LIKED my story, but didn't have room for it. But . . . she liked it! That to me is a huge compliment coming from her. I also think they're wanting more suspense novels.

After that, I had yet to hear from Zondervan, and by this time . . . I was discouraged. Even without having heard from Zondervan, I wanted to go back to that small press. But I was hesitant because as a small press just stepping out in the publishing world, I wouldn't sell nearly as many books as I would through a larger house. God needs help! Or . . . maybe He doesn't? He is God after all. He's a lot bigger than those "big houses." Hmm. So, I told my agent that I was 85-90 percent sure I wanted to go with the small press and would she give Zondervan a call and get an answer. At this time, I found out that the editor's workload at Zondervan, just doubled. So, even before my agent made the call, we both knew what the answer would be. Yep, you guessed it. "No." But, allow me to add for my own pride's sake, even she said she liked my writing. Whew!

So, I'm going with the small press. Now the question is, do they still want my story. I won't know until after the first of the year.

What I've learned: I have other stories I've written for myself, but I wrote this one for God. Well, I'm going to let Him have it and quit trying to do what I think is best. It's His story. I'll finish the other two books with just as much passion and pleasure on the pages, and hand it over to Him as His gift. I'll let him open it Himself and let Him do what He wants with it.

My prayer now is that it will please Him.

P.S. I never would have come to this conclusion so quickly and smoothly without the council and guidance of my bestest friend, Wendy flower.


  1. Thanks for the honesty. I know that my first book (non-fiction) was the one God put on my heart and wouldn't let me write anything else until it was finished. And, believe me when I say I tried to write other stuff.

    I obeyed. I wrote it to the best of my ability. I put it out there. I got a contract and published the book. And, then I expected it to sell huge amounts because this was God's book. It hasn't.

    Yet, I still hear stories of people whose lives were touched by reading it. And I learned a lot about the industry from the inside out. And it built confidence to have something in print. And I'm still getting book signings scheduled for it and a lot of practice in marketing.

  2. I noticed this morning in my devotions that the talents the master gives are called his possessions. He'll take care of that gift in you. Your story is beautiful and He sees your heart. Take courage and keep working. He will see that our work will honor Him in the ways He desires.

  3. It's always hard to give up that dream of big publishers, big success, big sales numbers for the books closest to our hearts; but you hit the nail on the head. We have to give those plans to God fully and trust Him to use them as He always willed, from the moment He put the kernel of an idea into our minds. Lovely story, Sandi.

  4. May God bless you and yours from the wealth of His glorious riches.

    A J

  5. Sandi --

    There are many good things about small publishers, and you're about to discover them. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.


  6. It looks clearer now that you're looking back but I'm sure it's hard for any of us to see what we're doing (how we're holding on and not letting go) when we're in the middle of it. May God bless this book and your willingness to share this special part of the voyage (navigating on your own) with us, Sandi,

  7. Sandi,
    I think we all go through this as writers. We get caught up in the fame and fortune and forget the real reason we started writing in the first place. I'm so glad you've returned to your First Love. But watch out now! When we turn over everything to God, He has a tendency to blow our socks off!!

  8. I've been caught so many times in the trap of trying to help God out and do it "for him" instead of letting God be God. God has gently pried my fingers away more times than I can remember in the three plus years I tried to get my medieval, the book of my heart, published. For me, I have to continue surrendering my writing every time I find myself trying to control the outcome.

    Blessings, my friend. God is faithful and we just have to let him have his way. Keep praying and surrendering and letting him lead you. It's obvious your heart is very tender toward Him. God lifts up the humble, and he will lift you up in due time.

  9. Thank you for sharing so candidly, Sandi. You've blessed others with your honesty. Truly you aren't alone in struggling with surrendering your writing to the Lord. Thanks!

  10. Candee, I'll keep all of that in mind. If my book can touch even just one person, it will be worth it.

    Christine, thank you for your encouraging words. I'll definitely keep at it. :-)

    Roseanna, thank you for your lovely comments. I have such peace now that I've handed it over to God, versus confiscating His gift!

    AJ, thank you for that uplifting verse. xxx

    Amanda, you're right. There are many good things about small presses: ulimited shelf time, more attention from the publisher because you're not one writer our of a gazillion others, etc. :-)

    Debra, thank you for your kind words. I pray God is pleased with this story.

    MaryLu, I've definitely turned it over to Him. I'm done trying. Exhausted and worn out is more like it. :-) Wendy, my good friend, loved your line about God blowing our socks off. Thank you for taking the time to come by and comment.

    Melanie, I wish I could say I'm always humble. I haven't been very "humble" toward this small press, and now there's a chance they won't even go for my book! Aaack! Anyway, God has a way of teaching us these lessons, doesn't he? LOL

    Susanne, it's so good to see you here! It's nice to know I'm not alone. Thanks! {Hugs}

  11. Hi, Sandi! Thanks for the update! For some reason, this didn't come up on my dashboard. I find this really exciting and hopeful, to be honest. Your series will see publication. The Lord gives us testimonies for a reason and yours is powerful. Take faith in his promises. I'll send you a related quote from my pastor this morning, but I'll do it by email. Anyhoo,
    thank you for your honesty. I so relate to what you've said as well as to what Candee said. As hard as I try to find interest in writing something else, I'm driven to finish this novel, too.

  12. Victoria, thanks so much for dropping by. It's funny that you mention "taking faith in His promises." I recently asked Him to help me have more faith in Him. Boy, does He take those prayers to heart! LOL :-)

  13. Sandi, what a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing this very important lesson from your heart. I believe God will honor you for releasing this to Him and you will be very pleased with the results.

  14. Jan, thanks so much for your encouraging words. When I start to doubt, I'll just come right back here and read your words. Thank you so much! xxx

  15. Sandi,
    God teaches us stuff in everything doesn't he? He's so good that way. And don't beat yourself up about wanting the big publisher; you're only human, and I think it was completely normal to at least want to TRY for it! I mean, who wouldn't want that? I feel quite certain that Jesus just patiently watched & waited while you looked around at other publishers, but I don't think his smile over your life or the book you wrote ever left his face. He feels your joy and your anticipation of wanting your story (written just for him!) to be published, and it will be! I'm excited to hear about the smaller publisher you're now going after!

    Thinking about you every day, my friend!

  16. Karin, it's so great to hear from you! Thanks so much for coming by and lifting me up. xxx

    Oh . . . yes, the "book" is also me. :-) I'm running two blogs. Yes, I'm nuts.

  17. I hear your books are wonderful and I would like to start reading them. My e-mail address is