To review from the previous parts of this story wrapped around this one-word ~renovate~
- So, why am I riding the struggle bus?
- Better yet, if I know I'm riding the struggle bus, why don't I choose to get off?
- What do I hope to gain from this ordained 'waiting quiet time' in my life?
Great questions, which I daily ask God and myself. To the last question first, I believe the reason I'm still home, in the quiet, and trying to learn to rest is so that I will, at the appointed time, be able to disembark successfully from the struggle bus. And I believe while the struggle (internally) is real, it is of great value and purpose for the next destination God has for me. I also believe as I choose to accept the idea of rest, this quiet time may last longer than I would normally choose for myself. I want to willfully give in to God's choosing for me.
God help my want to, please!
So, why the internal struggle?
I asked the Lord for a tool in my hands to give to fellow sojourners; a tool which would point our eyes to Jesus and His word. The Lord faithfully answered my prayer by giving me a book to write. 31 Days of Gleaning with Ruth: questioning my way through a famine season is a devotional and discipleship book through the Old Testament book of Ruth. And it has been pivotal in helping me (now studying through the book for the fourth time) to walk through my own personal famine season with my faith gratefully still intact.
So now what, Lord? All I know to do with this beautiful gift with which you've graced me is to grace others with it. To make this tool available. To share a valuable resource of God's love and hope.
Herein lies my struggle. The methods. The voices. The proven strategies. The trending marketing techniques. Do this to be seen. You've got to make your voice heard. Define your target audience. If you want to be successful in getting your message out, you've got to promote yourself. Sell, sell, sell... Advertise, advertise.... promote, promote... knock on every door, call everyone you know, build your email list and push for new subscribers.
All of that proven striving has led me into too many anxious moments of feeling like I must not be doing enough to get the word out. Listening to the voices of marketers, publishers, and social media experts have only buoyed my stress level and heightened my sense of failure.
I've spent hours learning about Facebook advertising, Instagram marketing, and devising strategies to bolster my online presence. At the end of the day, I'm not a salesperson and promoting myself just doesn't feel right.
But, the experts say it's the only way to be successful.
So, what's the definition of success?
Typically I'm not much of a follower, which is why I so relate to that one sheep Jesus had to leave the 99 to go find, break its leg and carry back on His shoulders. However, when I want to learn something new I go to the experts. Thus, when I wanted to learn about reupholstering furniture I sought out a friend who knows how to do it. When I wanted to learn how to knit I sat with a neighbor who knows how to knit. So, when I self-published a book, I connected with writing groups, authors, and a lovely local young woman who had experience with self-publishing.
Though I have the printed books, a logo, and website for my ministry, along with the business cards and matching thank you note cards, the horizon appears suddenly dark and "what's next" is unclear. Other than my most valued roles of wife and mother, I've never worked so hard in all my life. Without going back to college, I've learned more than I ever imagined about social media, websites, self-publishing, the craft of writing and much, much more.
Most importantly, by allowing myself to struggle through, learn new information, and try new things, I've learned even more about myself and my God. My faith has been stirred like never before, and my spiritual muscles have been stretched and strengthened in ways I might have never known except for this wandering path so far through 2018.
So, what good has happened while I've been striving for success?
Additionally, and most importantly, God has been at work on His plan while I've been busy coming up with my own ideas for utilizing the beautiful tool in my hands. Amazingly two women, one from across the ocean and another from many states away from me in the US, contacted me early in the year regarding my book. They had been reading some of my blog posts and were interested in meeting with me by Skype to pray together. What a fascinating and exciting turn of events - one I probably couldn't have orchestrated if I had tried to do it.
Our friendships have grown over the seven months of this year through our continued prayers for one another. The graciousness of God and of these two dear women along with their prayerful writing team over at Beloved Prodigal has produced a 6-week Facebook live private study group with women from all various locations around the world. We're gathering weekly around the word of God and praying for one another. I'm looking forward to many more Skype prayer sessions with my precious new online friends, and what else our Father might have in store for all of us.
Actually, as I look back over the months of striving to create an online presence, I realize the Lord has opened me up to a number of online friendships with women right here in the U.S. Earlier in the summer, I was surprised with an opportunity to meet my online friend, Mary Geisen, in person. Our coffee time in Ohio is one of the highlights of my summer. There are a couple more online friends who don't live so far from me with whom I am hoping to visit as soon as our Heavenly Father makes a way for our connection in person... if He does.
Additionally, it was God's idea through a local friend, who offered her beautiful lake home, to hostess a women's retreat. Thus, twenty beautiful women from 11 different church congregations around North Georgia gathered in June for the first Naomi and Ruth Retreat. We experienced much gleaning in the word of God, and we returned home with many more friends than when we arrived. I believe God did what He intended to do in His girls, and I believe discipleship seeds were planted there.
Oh, and let me not fail to mention the One Word Ponder group of beautiful and pondering women who spontaneously and organically formed from our book study this past spring. The Lord has been so gracious to highlight a single word each week since early May, which we have obediently held out to Him asking Holy Spirit to redefine for us. It's been a fertile time in God's Word. While we're meeting with Jesus in His Word and listening, He's tilling up the soil of our hearts, sowing seeds of Truth, pruning and watering our faith for a greater harvest in and through us.
As we've pondered, we've journaled and shared the fruits of our journey in person monthly. At the direction of our Father, we've spent the summer growing and gleaning truth from one another. These beautiful One Word Ponderers have been more of an encouragement to my heart than I could ever express. As icing on the proverbial cake, I've been amazed and grateful for the way several of the ladies have allowed their testimonies to be shared on this blog.
Therefore as I look back over my shoulder, 2018 has been a year of learning to follow where my Shepherd is leading. Taking time to reflect, I truly have experienced life in my sweet spot as I have allowed my Father to orchestrate my steps. When I've tuned out the loud voices screaming for my attention as to how to be successful, I've then been able to hear the whisper of my Shepherd calling, "This way, Lisa." The fruitful times of this season have been the times I have listened to His voice and obeyed His directions.
So, what have I learned from this renovation project?
This rest stop from the struggle bus has already been amazingly therapeutic! Holy Spirit has turned on the light of revelation on my stinkin' thinkin'. And I think truthfully what I've gleaned (so far) through this renovation project might be similar to King David's experience which we reviewed back in Part 2 (1 Chronicles 16-17)
- I can come up with all manner of good ideas based on cultural norms and popular trends, and find the backing of trusted people. (It's not that my ideas or experts' ideas are bad, but I need to seek and follow God's ideas.)
- If I don't seek the Lord's ideas, I pray the Lord will cut in and make His voice known to me as He did with David through Nathan. (This is why it is so important to have trusted prayer partners for seeking God's face, His wisdom, truth, and way.)
- I desire to remember daily God is the One who chose me to walk with Him, to write a book, and have it in my hand as a tool. (Holy Spirit is good to bring conviction when I stray from Shepherd's side. Having good sheep friends is helpful for staying put as well.)
- God is the One who holds the grand plans for His Kingdom and He will ensure His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. (I can dream and imagine and create, but everything I think of needs to be held up to God's plans to see if mine matches with His.)
- God's ways are not my ways. He doesn't need the current trends or marketing strategies or an online presence to fulfill His purposes. (I need to obey God rather than men. period. His way = success. period.)
And thus, I sit before the Lord, my King, and say to Him as did David,
"Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?" 1 Chronicles 17:16 NIV
I truly believe this quiet time, rest time will be as long as my Shepherd deems necessary for me to know Him more intimately and to become even more attuned to His voice. When I have learned to obey as quickly as I hear, He will know I am ready for what He has next. I'm grateful for the desire to experience my Shepherd and know Him more deeply as we traverse this uncharted path together. He is good. He knows where we are going. He sees me. He hears me. He chose me. And He's delighted in my obedience.
And if you sense that I've forgotten these truths, you have my permission to point me right back here. Thank you in advance.
There'll be more to follow I feel sure. So you might stay tuned as the renovation project continues... eyes on Jesus... let's become shiney with His glory!
~ Meet Lisa Brittain ~
Hi. I'm so glad you stopped by. My name is Lisa and I am the founder of this website. My ministry is called Eyes on Jesus and Shine which comes from Psalm 34:5
My desire is to help others run toward Jesus and not away. I want to walk with you and introduce you to Him. I'll leave you two alone so you can find out for yourself; Who He is and who you are as you become adopted into God's family.
I love to walk through life with friends who help me keep my eyes on Jesus, and then I get to help them too when they forget. My hope is to live the overflow of my walk with Jesus so that His love shines bright through me and becomes a contagious joy for everyone I meet for the rest of my days on earth.