Thursday, January 11, 2007

Collected Blessings

I have a rock collection. Some are shiny quartz or polished agates. Some are just interesting pebbles I've picked up on hikes or along lake shores. I love to hold them in my hands and admire the colors and patterns and shapes.

Today I'm doing the same with some blessings I've collected in the past weeks. As I hold them in my hand and look at them again, their beauty sings to me.

1. Just before Christmas, a group of women in a state far, far away, sent me a surprise gift. They had been praying for me and quilting. And while they tied the knots in the quilt, they prayed over me. Me! A woman they've never met. A friend had told them, "I know a writer who is battling some chronic health problems and feels discouraged." That's all they needed. They prayed. Then they sent me the quilt. I bawled when I wrapped the fabric around my shoulders and prayed. "Lord, forgive me for thinking you weren't noticing. Thank you for seeing my pain and sending love my way."

2. I was working on my monthly e-zine, but feeling weary. I want to communicate with readers on a regular basis. I love my Book Buddies. (By the way, if you want to subscribe, just visit the Contact Sharon page of my website and insert your email. I send out a devotional thought, prayer requests, prayers, and some "inside scoop" about the writing life and upcoming events on the fifteenth of each month). But according to my mailing program, only about fifty per cent of the e-zines are even opened. My days are so full of work, I struggled as I worked on articles for the coming issue. Monday I asked, "Lord, does anyone even care? As I pare down my activities is this one I should continue?" That night several people approached me at a meeting to specifically say that they looked forward to my e-zine each month. They didn't know the doubts and the questions I'd been wrestling with. But God did. He answered me.

3. I'm wrestling with rewrites on my third Restorer book. I continue to confront my longing to be a better writer than I am. "Lord, don't you realize there are lots of people better at this? Are you sure you want me doing this?" In the past few days, He's sent a flurry of emails from readers who had no idea that I was confronting these doubts. Warm, kind women taking the time to write and tell me that my first novel meant something to them. Writing email prayers of blessing on my work. The timing startled me. I often ask God questions and strain to hear an answer for months. This time, in the speed it took to click open my emails, He gave me tender reassurance.

I wish I had the kind of strength to sail forward without needing reassurance. But the truth is, I'm often timid, confused, and bewildered by the things God is calling me toward. For some reason I expect Him to be a drill sergeant and bark at me to "toughen up" and "get with the program." Instead, He scoops me up and gently whispers, "I understand. I'm with you. Trust me."

If you scoop your hand into your box of agates--the experiences you've collected in the past few weeks--are there some that sparkle with particular beauty? Hold them in your palm and savor them. And post a comment to tell me about them, so I can admire them, too.



Sheryl said...

I know that a 50% rate of opening may be discouraging, but in fact, that is actually very good :-) I work for a ministry that sends out a weekly email, and I believe our rate of opening is around 10-25%, which is pretty average.

BTW, I greatly look forward to your monthly emails :-)


Sharon Hinck said...

Thanks, Sheryl!
That gives me some needed perspective. Clearly I was having a "glass half empty" kind of day. :-)

Cathy West said...

Hi, Sharon,
Thanks for your encouragement today. I know it's hard to get out of the slump sometimes. How neat to know others care and are praying for you.
Keep at it. You are a blessing to us.

Sharon Hinck said...

Hi, Cathy,
I'm praying God will send you lots of sparkly, beautiful agates of blessings you can clasp, admire, and rub your fingers over - soaking in the beauty that helps chase away the sting of rejection, discouragement, and doubt.
BIG hugs, Sharon

donna fleisher said...

Hey lady!

Cuz of your letters, I tried out Vertical Response for my Christmas letters and loved it! I hit 65%, which I'm disappointed about, but next time I'll tweak it to keep it out of people's spam folders.

It's fun to hear what you're up to, and how you're doing. Keep up all the hard work. : )

Cheryl Klarich said...

Sharon. Thank you for sharing your successes and struggles. Your ministry is really "just who you are". The books are a vehicle that help launch the everyday and the imagination- to the savior. God bless you.

Sharon Hinck said...

I'm SO glad Vertical reponse worked for your Christmas letters. Coolness!
I "spam check" my ezines, but the one that is sent to ME still ends up in the "junk mail" folder sometimes. Frustrating. Everyone's filters are different - so I'm sure many get lost in cyberworld. But all I can do it try - and if people start noticing they aren't hearing from me, they can check their junk folders. :-)

God's been speaking to me a lot lately about how the books are a catalyst for meeting people, praying with people, encouraging people. Although I hope He uses the books, I suspect sometimes the REAL ministry is happening in the activities SURROUNDING my writing.