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Friday, June 11, 2010

Finding Contentment by Joyce's Client Lisa Harris





I’m pleased to present a guest blog from Lisa Harris who is a missionary in Mozambique and has lived in Africa . Lisa’s newest book is Blood Ransom published by Zondervan. The second book in this series will be Blood Covenant. It will be released in 2011. There has been a huge response to Kathy Macias’s recent blog about human trafficking. Blood Ransom, set in Africa, is the story of a young man who sees “ghost soldiers” killing and kidnapping his whole village including his family. Even though this story is fiction, it is based on fact. Be sure to pick up a copy of Lisa’s book at your bookstore or library. It’s an exciting, suspenseful read.

CONTENTMENT

A few days ago, I opened up my email and smiled. Not only were there two raving reviews about Blood Ransom, but an email from Joyce letting me know that an editor was requesting a series from me for possible publication. Not bad for one day.

But then I opened the last email. It was from a fellow writer friend of mine who was passing on some not so good news. Apparently, we each had a book we'd written that been voted on a site as being the two worst books this blogger had read so far this year.

Ouch!

I was quickly smacked back down to reality, but it also got me thinking. How often do we put our confidence in what we do? We win an award, receive a compliment, and get that pat on the back for something we did at work and we're on the top of the world. But that happens when our boss complains about our work, our best friend is mad at something we did (or didn't do), the kids whine about dinner, and the bathroom scale registers a few pounds to high.

It's like a yo-yo that never stops bouncing. Or when it does, it leaves us feeling as if the world has crashed in around us.

Here is what I was reminded of. I'm more than what I do. Yes, there are people who love my books, but there are also clearly those who don't. I've received awards for my books, but have never reached the best-sellers list in the CBA let alone the New York Times list, but that's okay, because that isn't who I am.

So who am I? Who are you?

We are children of the King of Kings, the creator of the universe. God has called us to follow Him, to serve others through His strength, to find intimacy with Him, and to discover that who we are is not based our accomplishments anymore than it is based on our regrets and failures.

Does that mean I stop trying to make that best-seller list? No way. But in the meantime, I don't ever want to forget who I really am.

Paul put it this way, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13

I know there are a number of you who are struggling right now as you dream of signing with an agent. Or perhaps you’re still waiting to sign that allusive first book contract (or in today’s environment, your fifth, or tenth, or twentieth book). It can make finding contentment seem impossible. For today, I'm praying that God's peace, a peace that transcends all human understanding and logic, guards your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

God, we want to be more like you. Content to dream big, but also to enjoy the ups and downs of the journey while we get there. We want to be content to love family, friends, and those around us. We want to be content to serve others in Your name. Content to cry with those around us when our hearts are breaking, but also to never forget that true contentment can not be found in our circumstances, but only through you, because You are the one who gives us strength to get through each day.

Be blessed today!

Lisa

4 comments:

writer jim said...

Lisa,

That is an excellent post everyone should strive to put into practice. GOD notices people that have faith and are content to trust HIM. I am positive writers can be content God will use their work when their goal is to honor God. Following is an account of when I was fully content in trusting God.

House / fence

Once we had to sell our house. We had 2 months to vacate. We had to be OUT Nov. 18. We needed to buy another house.

We searched hard for over 7 weeks, but couldn't find a house for sale that fit our needs, and finally: Nov. 18 was just one week away. My wife was very upset because I didn’t at least look for a place to rent. I told her, "I am totally content. God knows we need a house. I promise you, He'll have the right one for us exactly on time. DON'T WORRY."

Almost every day for over 7 weeks of searching…while going down a road we use, my wife admired a certain house, and she’d say, "Look at that house. I just love that house! I wish it was for sale."
The next morningas we headed up town my wife told me if I knew what was good for me I would look for a house to rent today…before we were a homeless family on the street. She was in a panic. I said, “God will have the right house for us exactly on time.” She said, “Well, exactly on time better be right now!” A ways down the road we came to the house she admired every day. A ‘for sale’ sign had appeared overnight. I went to the door, and the lady said, "My husband found out last night we have to move to New York for his job. We are shocked. They gave him only one week to get there. We have to be there on the 18th."
Of course, my wife was in awe as she watched me buy her dream house—a house she needed on the 18th.
As we left to head back to our old house, my wife said she’d like me to buy some wood fencing for an unfinished section beside her new house. I said, “I noticed that too. It will take 8 sections to finish it.”
She said, "Let’s go buy it now, since we are using the truck.”
I said, "No, I want some fence with a weathered look to match the other fence."
She said, “Jim, go buy the fence. How do you think you could find weathered looking fence?”
I said, "God just gave us the house you dreamed of, exactly on time. How could it be hard for Him to get me 8 sections of weathered fence?"
As we arrived back home the phone was ringing before I unlocked the front door. A stranger asked if I would come give him some advice (concerning my area of expertise in my newspaper ad).
I said, "Sir, its no problem...I like to help people. I'll come over right now. Don’t worry, I won’t even charge you a dime. I’ll give you free advice." As I arrived he was taking down the last of 8 sections of fence. He said, "It's almost new. It's been up just long enough to get a weathered look. You don't need some free fence, do you?" The man got one minute worth of free advice…and he helped me load my free fence in my truck.
Less than 30 minutes after I told my wife I was fully content God would find me that fence, I was blowing my truck horn at her to come see her fence.

Kelly Freestone said...

Lisa, girl, lemme tell you what: I needed this post today.
I felt your prayer and heart through your words.

God's word doesn't go out void.

Lately (and I've mentioned this to a few people for prayer) I've felt so inadequate!
I know we writers go through this a lot, but I feel like I just don't have much inspiration!
I'm missing that WOW factor in my work...I've been asking God to show me what to do, I keep finding ways to grow and learn, and not be stagnant.
However, I love writing, and I'll never give up, published or not.

I know He's truly the author, and I'm just the vessel, but I really want something WOW to come out again and again and again...That's my prayer.

I'm so thankful for your willingness to post this for us.

It reminded me why I do what I do...it's certainly not for the money, lol...it's all for Him.
He's going to work through me and I'm going to give Him the glory for being able to touch at least one life down the road, just like you did here today.
God's blessings on your endeavors. :)

Have a good day, hon.

Lisa Harris said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Jim. I love stories like that that so clearly demonstrate the incredible love God has--caring for even the small details of our life.

And Kelly, I'm so glad this post touched you and reminded you that our worth comes from who He is and His love for us. The writer journey is full of inadequacies (trust me, I've been there) but remembering that it is all for Him and His glory changes the perspective, doesn't it. Don't give up on what you're called to do. Our timing isn't always His, but learn from the journey, keep an open and willing heart, and he will use you to touch and bless those around you!

Be blessed today!

Lisa

Barbara Marshak said...

Thank you, Lisa...this really hits home for me after two "big" rejections, two days in a row. One was from the first agent to request my whole mss, and the second was from a career initiative grant I'd applied for to cover some expenses connected to my writing.

You covered all the points I'd been sorting through in my mind, finding "joy" apart from circumstance, feeling God's peace, and working through my mix of emotions. It seems no matter the stage of one's career, the rollercoaster of ups and downs remain a part of it. Especially when we're in it for the long haul--as I intend to be. :)