My Journey as a Writer
"The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord, and you also will testify."
- John 15:26b, 27a -
- John 15:26b, 27a -
This morning, on the drive to school, after we had prayed the rosary, my daughter said, "I'm concerned about the five Advanced Placement (AP) courses I'm taking next school year."
At that moment, I knew I needed God to speak through me. I didn't want to give the wrong advice. I prayed in my mind, "Lord, use me as your mouthpiece."
And the first thing that came out of my mouth was, "What made you say that?"
She heaved out a sigh and said, "Right now, with just these two regular non-AP summer classes, I feel so tired and demotivated already. What more with the 5 AP classes?"
And I surprised myself with my answer and knew it to be divinely-inspired.
"To compare these two summer classes with your 5 AP subjects, you need to compare your reactions to these. Didn't you tell me that you hated these two subjects... that you dozed off in class out of boredom? And yet, the five AP subjects that you're about to take next school year made you so excited. You actually look forward to it. Realize that there are things that just flow easily from you, like your singing. Didn't you find it easier to present your research paper by using the Bohemian Rhapsody as your melody for your research summary and incorporated it in your powerpoint slide presentation because you hated public speaking? And you got an A for that. Some things flow naturally from you with less effort because that is your natural talent and gift. Just like a boat, when you do something that's not of your own interest, it's like sailing against the wind. But like your musical paper presentation, it was like you captured the wind with your sail and your boat traveled faster. It's like active transport in biochemistry when you do things that do not flow naturally from you. But when you use your talents and gifts, it's passive diffusion. It does not require much energy."
She nodded so I went on. "That's why we never forced any course on you for college. We always tell you to find a course that would develop your natural inclination and your passion so you don't end up with a job that you need to drag your feet on Manic Mondays and would always Thank God on Fridays. We want you to have a work that every day seems like a weekend."
She laughed, and I knew it made sense her. "So don't feel afraid and overwhelmed with your AP classes. He will give you the grace necessary to do these. But you have to offer all these to God and lift it up to Him. Allow Him to intervene. Tell Him, 'Lord, if I'm doing too much, please block or remove any AP subject that is not Your will.' Like I told you, He never imposes His will on people. You need to allow Him so He can intervene. Informed consent, that's what He obtains from us," I said and spoke like a research nurse that I once was.
"He will show you all the options before you. If you choose option A, this is the consequence. If B, then this and so and so forth. Sometimes, we think God is punishing us when bad things happen because of a wrong decision. Well, in the first place, He already gave an indication that that bad thing would happen if you do it and yet you still choose to do it. So the consequence shouldn't come as a surprise to you. Then there are options that He would present as more difficult, but He will also show you a better outcome from that. If you choose that, you need to brace yourself for the hard work, but He will assure you of a more glorious outcome. Remember Jesus--even He sweated and cried tears of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane and had said, 'Lord take this cup away from me.' He was not really excited about His crucifixion. He saw what was about to happen, but the Father also showed Him the glory that would come out of that severe suffering. So in the end, He chose the difficult option and said, 'But not My will but Yours be done.' And see what glorious victory the resurrection gave Him. So do the same. Don't be afraid. Offer it all to God, and you will find the courage to do His will."
I pulled over to the curb. My daughter smiled and said, "Thanks, mommy," and got out of the car. As she took out her stuff from my backseat, she said, "Love you."
I smiled and said, "Love you, and God bless your day."
I sighed as I pulled away from the curb. Amazement and awe filled me as I reflected on what God had said to her through me. I smiled when I recalled how she once said, "How do you do it? I ask one simple question, and you talk and simply slip into a homily seamlessly."
I said, "I guess this is God's call for me, to preach and spread the good news to you on my driver's seat. This," I tapped on the steering wheel, "is to be my pulpit."
And yes, God did it again. I chuckled.
And I thought about the "informed consent process" God did with me concerning my manuscript. He also presented me with two scenarios when I debated whether to self-publish or to publish traditionally.
I chanced upon Rachelle Gardner's ebook last March, How Do I Decide? Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing (A Field Guide for Authors). God used it to speak to me. Before reading this book, I had considered self-publishing in Amazon Kindle for ebook and Amazon Scout for print and prayed to God about this. Both will not cost me anything, and I can have my book published without the rigorous process of querying, pitching and sending my manuscript to agents and editors and risk rejections.
After reading the book, I remembered what happened to my first self-published book, Running the Millionaire Lane. The Claretian Publications printed 1,000 copies, and most of these just gathered dust. After going through the Longridge Writer's Course, I realized I had published a rough draft. It was sheer vanity that pushed me to self-publish. No wonder people called it Vanity Press. Although my book had inspired some to start running, the book did not succeed as I hoped and dreamt it would.
Now, I feel the call to undergo the rigorous process of traditional publication for my novel. A book I deemed to help build God's kingdom deserved no less. I will avoid Cain's path; he presented the Lord with ordinary crops and did not make Him happy. I will imitate Abel who presented God with the best of his flock, thereby garnering God's favor. This would mean hard work, sacrifice, and patient waiting for the perfect time. God will get the book published in due season but not until He had purified my skill and my intentions, like gold tested in fire.
Prayer and discernment had revealed to me that if I choose to self-publish the trilogy, I would be so busy marketing the first book, I will not have the time to write the second one and the third. My impatience and haste will only lead to greater delay. And the risk of failure is higher because my book would not be refined, and not marketed professionally. I know there are those who've succeeded tremendously in self-publication, but they are more talented both in writing and marketing than I am. I know my weaknesses in both areas, and the only way to combat these is through traditional publication. This decision had given me peace.
It's the same decision-making process God did with my writer's life. He made me see what I enjoyed doing most, and it was blogging and novel writing. So I streamlined my efforts and let go of all the others. I felt more centered, focused and at peace with my writing career and ministry. It was a slow progress, but less chance of stumbling and falling on my butt.
I entered the garage and parked the car. The drizzle this morning had become a downpour, so I went straight to the treadmill for my 30-minute daily run.
The Youtube video, Supernatural Secrets of Destiny Dreams by Dr. Michelle Corral caught my eye. I had a weird dream this morning; and actually, not just today but for several weeks now. Perhaps she can shed some light into those dreams.
For instance, last week, I dreamt of two surgeons, fully scrubbed with masks, caps and gloved hands holding surgical knives. But I noticed that from waist down, they didn't have legs. Instead, their lower halves looked like trunks of trees with branches and some leaves. They looked odd and queer. They both addressed a patient (or was it me?) and said, "We need to operate on you and take out your trunk because it looks weird. You need to have real legs." And I thought, geez, why don't you operate on yourselves first. When I mentioned this to my aunt, she had said, "Wasn't that the same message that you wrote in your blog about taking out the plank in your own eye first before taking out the dust from the other's eye?" She was right. It was a call to humility and avoid a judgmental attitude.
The video only affirmed all of God's messages for me on discernment, humility, and the works of the Holy Spirit. He had used Dr. Michelle Corral as His mouthpiece and had spoken through her. He had addressed my concerns as He had addressed those of my daughter's this morning.
He also cast a light on why I had more dreams lately. I didn't realized until now the value and significance of night prayers. I thought saying my morning prayers were more important and missing my night prayers did not matter much. How wrong I was!
He truly speaks in many ways—through dreams, people, events, books, and videos. I only need to listen so I’d recognize His voice, choose from the many options, and decide well according to His will.
Amazing grace. Amazing God.
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