Do you have a crazy, never-gonna-happen dream that you keep toying with in your mind? Like it’s so crazy you barely mutter it under your breath to God, but once in awhile you glance sideways at your dream and say, “Hi, God – THAT THING.”
This is my editor Sandy. Right now she’s going through my book baby and probably making it better. I picture her with a ginormous red pen, going “Cluck cluck, oh honey, you can’t write that,” and I hope she draws a big “A” on the top of my manuscript with a circle around it, because the nerd in me still longs for the affirmation of school days.
Sandy is beautiful and poised and about fifty times smarter than me, so when I’m around her I start to sound like this: “To write is good. I read good. Me likey the books. Books good, writing good. Makey me happy. The words are nice.”
I have this goosebumpy story to tell you about her. I describe my life as a God-ride, because He keeps doing unexpected things, and I don’t really believe in coincidence.
My trip to Zondervan a few weeks ago was actually not the first time I’d met Sandy. The first time I met her was at the Allume conference a year and a half ago.
When a friend invited me to go to Allume in 2012 to hear Ann Voskamp speak, I didn’t even know what Allume was. I just heard “Ann Voskamp” and was all, “Dang, yes, absolutely. If that woman is leaving the farm and hiking across the border to see us, then I am there. Wherever.”
Then I found out it was a conference for bloggers. Well, I had a blog. Kinda. The spot I’d been using for the last three years to tell about our adoption and orphan care adventures was going bye-bye, and I was starting at a fresh place on the world wide web. Unexpected.org: Steer into the Surprise. Since God continues to surprise me, it’s fitting.
When I walked through the doors of Allume, I had 45 followers on Facebook. Pretty much just my In Real Life friends who love me enough to click “like” when I ask them to. I entered a ballroom filled with real bloggers, the ones with sponsors, businesswomen, ones who have plans and know what they’re writing about all the time. Hey, did you read the one I wrote about a piece of poo in a Starbucks cup? Life-changing.
I had no idea what I was doing there, but I wanted to know. I soaked it all up and took notes in the little free journal they gave us, because I didn’t even have an iPad or bring my laptop like everyone else clickety-clacking around me. I didn’t even bring a pen.
I ran into Ann Voskamp waiting for the elevators and thanked her for the post she wrote that made me brave enough to come, and she’s the same in real life as she is on her blog, just oozing Jesus and grace. She’s probably never put a turd in a Starbucks cup, but I bet she’d pray for me. (Or maybe she has, in which case, solidarity, sister.)
On a whim, I attended a breakout about publishing, and on a panel of publishers and agents, I saw Sandy. She encouraged us to work on our writing, that the most important thing was good writing. I scrawled down everything she said.
At dinner later that day, I ended up sitting at her table (Not a stalker. To-tal co-in-ci-dence. Or God-thing, cuz He knew I’d want to tell this cool story.) and watched as she walked around and introduced herself to each of us. I was impressed that she took the time to get to know us individually. She looked me in the eyes, asked me what I blogged about, and listened. I stumbled out some words about orphan care and adoption and motherhood and steering into the unexpected, and I think I left out the part about poo. I took her card and ran my finger over the Zondervan logo.
After the conference, when I got home and emptied out my suitcase filled with books and business cards, I found her card and set it on the desk in my closet. Every day, when I sat down to work on my writing, like Sandy said, usually in the middle of the night or during the couple of hours when Evie had preschool, my eyes would scan that card and I’d think someday. A crazy dream, so far removed from my real life, completely unrealistic.
At dinner the other night as I signed my first book deal, I got to tell her that story, of propping her card on my desk and looking at her name every day.
Dreams really can come true. Mine is writing, just so much writing, and getting to write books that hopefully people will want to read, to write down words that break barriers and bring people closer to each other and closer to God. And also spontaneous musical theatre in the park.
What’s your dream? What’s the thing sitting on your desk or hanging on your fridge or wiggling in your heart? Today I’m praying that we’ll be brave together, that we’ll be dream-chasers and big pray-ers to our God of surprises.
featured image from Jared Tarbell https://flic.kr/p/deKa6W