This summer, while there will be a few road trips on our family’s horizon, I’m taking a virtual trip down memory lane back to when my writing adventure began. Today’s flashback takes us to the turn of the century. (How old does that make me sound?)

Once upon a time, there was a busy mother of two toddlers who dreamed of someday writing a book. You see, she’d been an avid reader all her life and often escaped the stress of mothering a special needs child by disappearing into a fictional world of a great book. For awhile, her stack of library books was enough.

Until the day she woke up in the middle of a vivid dream. Unlike most nighttime musings, this scene actually made sense in the real world…and then lingered in her memory all morning until she found a notebook and wrote it all down.

By the time she had a dozen such ideas filed away, the decision was made. Once her children were both old enough to go to school, she would finally sit down at the family’s new computer and begin to write the stories for real. Thus–just months away from this virtual starting line–a surprise pregnancy felt like a death knell delay to her dream.

Around the same time, her husband got a new job in a new town…which led to a new church and the intentional decision to get involved in the choir and women’s Bible studies to fill her time until the baby went off to school and she could finally start writing.

That brings us to the fall of 2004. My oldest two kids were in the first and second grade, the baby was about nine months old, and I was singing in the choir during all five (yes, five!) church services on Saturday night and Sunday morning. This particular weekend, the pastor was launching a new series called “Climb the Mountain” based loosely on one church member’s dream to climb Mt. Everest. The choir provided back-up during the worship time, then slipped back into the loft at the end of the sermon so we were ready for a final number.

For the life of me, I cannot remember what song we sang to close each service. But I distinctly remember hearing the pastor’s closing challenge. What dream was I pursuing and could this be my time to climb the mountain?

Saturday night, I wrestled–okay, I actually argued with God–over whether or not He meant me and this whole crazy writing thing I’d been hoping to do. Did God seriously want me to start now with a baby underfoot instead of waiting for a “better” time later? By Sunday morning, the question had shifted from “Should I write?” to “What should I write first?”

Now, I’ll honestly admit that more arguing with God ensued. I wanted to start with a fabulous fiction idea…but between the Sunday morning services, my mind flooded with a non-fiction book idea instead. The alliterative title and even a dozen different chapter subjects jumped to the front of my mind and I scribbled them all down on the back of a bulletin.

Confession number two? Even though it was clear God had given me this first idea, I still wanted to write a novel. And I tried. I plotted out a rough outline for a story, researched a potential setting that made sense, and started writing. But the words just wouldn’t come. 

That following summer in 2005, our church choir joined a bigger choir for a denominational conference and God used that sermon to hammer home a truth about obedience. I went home, set aside my fiction project, and pulled out my dusty church bulletin with the title Pigskin Parables across the top. This book exploring the similarities between the faith walk and the game of football would be my “first fruits” offering to God. I would have to trust Him to handle the rest.

With a new resolve, I aimed to write a chapter per week. I actually wrote it long-hand in a notebook while chasing (and cleaning up after) a toddler and then transcribed the words into our computer during his naps. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I had finished the book.

Now what? Having absolutely no idea what to do next, I did a little research about Christian publishers and how to approach them. Most of the big names said I had to have an agent (which I didn’t), but many also mentioned using a service called The Writer’s Edge. For a small fee, I could submit my book to the service…and if they deemed it worthy of consideration, they would add a blurb about it to their monthly report that went out to several dozen of the biggest Christian publishers.

It was a long shot but it was the only open door I saw. We scraped together the fee (I think it may have become my Christmas present) and by the end of the year, my first book had been accepted for their report to publishers. Merry Christmas to me! The year 2005 ended with a completed book-length manuscript and my first virtual-stamp-of-approval. 

What about you? What dream have you put off in life? What mountain do you wish to climb? Or have you been like me pursing your own thing instead of the path God told you to walk? What would happen if you were obedient instead?

My Trip Down Memory Lane – 2000 to 2005
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