Not Until Forever (book 1 in my Hope Springs series) turns ONE later this month! Which means I’ve now been on this indie publishing journey for a year. When I first started last January, I have to confess that I had no idea what would happen or how it would turn out. But after much prayer and consideration, I took the leap and trusted God to bless it in the way He knew was best. I couldn’t have imagined then how richly blessed I would be through this journey or how God would shape and grow me through it.
As I look back over the past year, here’s what I’ve learned about indie publishing:
1. Readers are amazing people. Seriously. One of the greatest blessings of this journey has been meeting readers from all around the world, including each one of you here at Inspy Romance. Before I started publishing these books, I didn’t realize that people I’d never met in *real* life could become such wonderful friends. But it’s such an amazing feeling to know that readers are willing to take the time out of their day to review my books, send me a note of encouragement, share my books with their friends, and even pray for me. What a wonderful community of people to be a part of!
2. Other authors also wonderful people. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating—the Christian indie writing world is a close-knit community and everyone is there to lift each other up. I’ve been so grateful especially for the authors who are much more experienced with all of this who have taken me under their wings and offered their advice, guidance, and support (special shout-out here to Valerie Comer, Alexa Verde, and Autumn Macarthur). I know none of them *have* to do that. They do it out of their kindness and their genuine desire to help other authors succeed.
3. I couldn’t do this alone. I am so not the kind of person who likes to ask for help. Honestly, I’d rather muddle through and take twice as long to do something than ask someone else to help me (I think I may have a bit of a stubborn streak…better work on that). But as much as the writing process itself is solo, getting a book into the world is a team effort, and I’m thankful for everyone who is willing to join in making that possible, from my cover designer (who also happens to be my husband) to my amazing team of advance readers.
4. God is faithful. I knew this already, of course, but wow—He’s really used this year to show me that He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). When I started writing these books, my prayer was that God would let them find at least a few readers and touch their hearts with His love. Well, He has done abundantly more than that. The books have found more readers than I could have ever imagined, and every time I read a review or receive a note that says, “This was the book I needed to read right now,” I know: that wasn’t me, that was all God. It’s humbling and awe-inspiring all at once.
5. Writing and publishing are hard work. I think this is probably a given, but what I’ve really learned is that even on the hard days, it’s a blessing to get to do what I love and to use the gifts God has given me to serve Him. I am thankful for that privilege every day.
Coincidentally, I also celebrated my birthday this month. It was a bit of a milestone birthday, as I turned 40. I have to confess that this was a birthday I had been dreading from the time I turned 30. But now that I’m here, I have to say, the view is pretty good. God has abundantly blessed me, and I feel like He used my 30s to grow my faith and to bring me right to where he wants me to be. I’m excited to see what he has in store for my 40s.
As I look back on my past decade, here are a few things I’ve learned:
1. It’s not about me. Younger me was ambitious. I wanted to do big things and win people’s approval or praise. Sometimes I worried that people would look at my life and see it as “small.” But now I realize that my life isn’t about me at all. It’s about glorifying God. That’s what we’re here for.
2. Worry and fear don’t do any good. I confess, I’ve always been a worrier, and with four kids, it seems like there’s always something to worry about. But how many times in His Word does God tell us not to worry, to cast all our anxieties and cares on Him? He is always in control, He is always with us, and He always knows the plans He has for us.
3. God gives good gifts. I used to get so caught up in comparing my gifts to other people’s—and inevitably feeling like I came up short, especially as a pastor’s wife. I am not super-outgoing (like many writers, I’m quite the introvert), I don’t play the piano or the organ, I don’t sing in the choir. But what I’ve come to realize over the past decade is that God has equipped me with my own gifts to serve Him in my own way. And that is true of every single member of the body of Christ.
4. Time in God’s Word and prayer are necessary. Not necessary as in we must do it or else we will be punished. Necessary as in we need God’s Word and presence in our life in the same way as we need food and water. It nourishes us. It strengthens us and grows our faith. It sees us through the hard days and the wonderful days. It is our lifeblood.
5. Contentment comes from God, not from things or even experiences. I’m not big into having the newest car or the latest gadgets, but I have to admit that sometimes when I see other people going on vacations left and right, I feel that old sin of envy rear its head. But more and more, God is showing me that I can be content right where I am (even if that’s in snowy Wisconsin in the middle of winter). Because the secret to contentment has nothing to do with what we have or what we do in this world. It’s all about knowing Him.
6. The end isn’t the end. Birthdays inevitably make us think about the fact that we’re one year closer to the end of our time on this earth, however many years the Lord may choose to grant us. But that in itself is a blessing, since the end of our earthly life brings us to eternal glory in heaven. As Paul says, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
Okay, this post has gotten rather longer than I’d intended. I’ll blame it on the fact that turning 40 has put me in a rather reflective mood.
But let’s close this out with a #giveaway! I’d love to know how you enjoy celebrating your birthday. One person who comments by January 22 will be chosen at random to win an ebook of Not Until Forever.