May 6, 2013

Living the Dream (Before You're Living the Dream): Guest Post by Amanda Dykes

Sometimes you meet people online, and you just click. Oh, and you're also just incredibly blessed by them and their spirit. Amanda Dykes is one of those people. I've not had the privilege of meeting her yet in person, but I've given her plenty of cyber hugs!

I asked Amanda if she'd be my guest and -- as is her nature -- she so graciously agreed. I know you'll be blessed by what she has to say today. Take it away, Amanda!

Sometimes I can be pretty slow to pick up on things.

For instance...I've felt this pull on my heart to write books for a long time. My whole life, really. I used to hold the Mandie mysteries in my child-hands and dream of writing books -- a series, even! -- that could minister to people and sweep them away into meaningful story.

OK, so my 10-year-old brain probably didn't think in those exact words, but I did have the longing to spin words into tales.

Finally, 1.5 years ago, I picked up my proverbial pen and started. I knew it would be a long time before (and if) I ever saw that book published, but that was my dream, and one must begin somewhere in the dream-chasing, right?

But there was a problem with my thinking, with my approach...one I've slowly, slowly begun to understand along the way.

In my head, the dream went something like this:

Step 1: Write book.
Step 2: Pray for, query, and hopefully find an agent.
Step 3: Pray for, submit to, and hopefully find a publisher.
Step 4: Get published. Dream has come true.

For the most part, that sequence has been sort of, mostly, that's-about-the-gist-of-it, accurate (as long as you envision about five more rounds of editing in there!). Right now I'm on Step 3, still praying for a publisher. Any of your prayers would be most delighted in, welcomed, and cherished! :)

However, there is one major flaw in the sequence. See that last sentence? "Dream has come true"? It's completely in the wrong place.

And see Step 1? There is a crucial--the crucial--part missing. Something that could change the entire list.

It should read like this:

Step 1: Write book because God has asked you to. Dream has come true.

Step 2: Pray for, query, and hopefully find an agent. Do so in obedience and with a servant's heart because God has asked you to. Dream has come true.

Step 3: Pray for, submit to, and hopefully find a publisher. Maintain a tight, tight grasp on the truth that God will do whatever He desires in this, and whether it ever gets published or not, you are following because He is leading. Dream has come true.

...and so forth. The success is in the obedience, not the outcome.

The joy is in the serving along the way.

Because some things will -- or rather should -- never change:

I want to write as much for God's glory now as I will if ever I'm published. I want to be as faithful to Him in pre-published "obscurity" as I hope to if ever I'm published, so that my life is worship to Him.

So that my heart will be trained on Him, my eyes fixed on Him, and so that if ever I do move beyond pre-published, I will follow hard after Him and never, ever lose sight of Him. So I'll worship the dream-giver, not the dream.

These are bold statements and they scare me a little, because of that pesky little "what if?" What if I stumble? What if I do lose sight? What if I never get there?

But these what if's are not the things I want ruling my heart. I want the Lover of my Soul to rule my heart...and my writing.

Oh, the heart-work that has needed to be done inside me on this journey! But...oh, how sweet, how freeing, to rest in a place where I take the next step in order to serve -- and in the serving, I'm living the dream.

Trust me, I don't always have it down. I mis-step and I falter. Far too often. But He is patient, so patient to help me begin again, each and every time.

Lindsay has done such an amazing job of fostering this warm, encouraging community here (I know you'd all agree with a resounding "Yes!"). It is so neat to be able to look at each person here and see the unique places God has them.

And to think -- in every single one of those places, no matter what stage of that person's particular dream -- God is working mightily. And in those four words, there is this truth: You are living your dream.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Your Turn: How do you see God working in your life right now as you live out your dream?

---

Amanda can be found most days drinking copious amounts of tea and scribbling away on her historical romance stories, set in the early 1900s. Let's just call the tea-drinking "research," shall we? Chocolate eating too, while we're at it.

She'd love to connect with you on her website at www.AmandaDykes.com, where she blogs and is currently hosting the Trust Chronicles event.

She also hangs out online on Facebook, Twitter, hosting the Book Bridge discussions at Novel Crossing, and at the Christian Fiction Book Club she co-hosts (they're about the begin reading and discussing Beth Vogt's new book, if anyone cares to join in!). She is represented by Wendy Lawton of Books and Such Literary Agency.

34 comments:

  1. I love that the success is in the obedience, not the outcome :) I need to remember this everyday!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lisa, me too! It's one of those every-single-day lessons for me. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. First of all, Amanda, you're beautiful. Inside and out. And it took me awhile to live the dream before publication. Fear held me back. But God and me...we had a chat. A few chats. :)

    This blessed me so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *Blushing*

      So many things have held me back, too, Jessica-- fear being one of them. And you, my friend, totally shine for our God on this journey-- you're a wonderful example to me!

      Delete
  4. This is such a beautiful post, Amanda. I love how you give the first version and then the second, sprinkling in God's will and how we should always make that our focus. It changes everything, doesn't it? Hugs friend! And hugs to you Lindsay! Thank you so much for sharing this on your beautiful blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lindsay's blog IS a beautiful place to be! :) And, my friend, your guest post today on Ritty's Adventure touched my heart deeply. Thank you so much! Hugs right back!

      Delete
  5. How funny - that is the EXACT same lesson God taught me in my waiting period (ten years from first novel started until first book published). You've worded it so beautifully. If God has called you to write, then write, and take joy in knowing you've obeyed.

    In late 2007, toward the end of my rejection-letter years, as a result of an exercise in Bible study, I made a list of all the blessings I'd received because I'd obeyed that call to write. It was long and extensive, ranging from meeting the most amazing writer friends to gaining the confidence to obey God in other areas of my life. The list made me cry. What joys I would have missed if I hadn't obeyed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Sarah, how I love your listing idea! I was just thinking a few days ago how incredibly blessed I've been by the friendships forged on this road. Such treasures... and you are one of them! <3

      Delete
  6. Thanks so much for being my guest today, Amanda! I love how beautiful and poignant your post is, and how it makes me think. I especially love the idea of worshipping the dream giver, not the dream. It can be really easy to get wrapped up in that idea of pursuing our dream...and forget the one who gave it to us in the first place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, so easy to get caught up in that. I've been there more than once. He's so faithful, so patient!! Thank you so much for having me today, Lindsay-- it's such an honor to be here, and so sweet to get to fellowship with this wonderful community you have. :)

      Delete
  7. Thank you for the glimpse into your heart today, Amanda. Your words point me to God -- reminding me to submit my dreams, my hopes to Him. To trust Him with all of it -- with my life -- the writing life and all the rest of it too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beth, I love that you point out that this trust can-- and should-- delve beyond the writing life, into every area of life. Thank you! You are a joy!

      Delete
  8. Amanda and Lindsay, nice to "see" the both of you over here today! Both sweet gals. I love this perspective, Amanda. It's so weird--you can't appreciate those "Dream has come true" moments every time they happen, but I'm definitely having fun looking back over more personalized rejections that were complimentary on my writing. I'm realizing that though they were hard to deal with at the time, it's just another step of God pushing me in JUST the right direction. There are definitely "valley" days and YEARS...but appreciating those "Dream come true" moments can make things so much brighter. Just COMPLETING a book is such a massive dream come true, and one most of us skim over as we press on toward our next goals!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heather, you're so right. Sometimes it's easy to rob ourselves-- and God!-- of those milestone moments by forgetting to be thankful for them, moving immediately on to "what's the next step?" I so want to be content at every stage, worshiping Him fully at every turn. Thank you for the reminder!

      Delete
  9. Amanda, I can relate to this post on so many different levels. As a little girl I had that same tug to write and minister to people. I was swept away by books and they helped to shape me in ways that nothing else ever could. All my life I told people I would become a writer "someday," but someday was always around the next corner. One day I realized I was living in "someday" and it was time to pursue my calling. I agree, each step of the way I'm living the dream. When I pulled my manuscript out of hiding, I was finally living the dream. When I typed "The End" I was living the dream. When I went to my first conference, when I started making writer friends, when I sent my manuscript to editors and an agent, all of it was living the dream. Being published is one of the goals on my journey, but it's not the "end" of my journey--all of it is bringing me closer to God and that journey will continue on for eternity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gabrielle, exactly. There is no "arriving," for then where would be the sweet, every-step-of-the-way journey with Jesus? I want to walk with Him every single step, wherever it may lead.

      My pastor once taught on the portion of the scripture where the disciples are in the boat with Jesus in the middle of a storm. He said "I'd rather be in the middle of the storm with Jesus, than safe on the shore but away from Him." Oh, my. This is so what I want. I'd rather be with Him even-- gulp-- if it means no publication-- than on the bestseller list without Him.

      (That is NOT to say those who hit the bestseller list are without Him. In the CBA it's such a joy to see authors on that list who DO honor God in their writing and lives. That was just the closest I could come to paralleling the storm thing in the writing world.)

      Delete
  10. I love this post, Amanda, and it's just what I needed to read as I linger right now at Step 3 in the CBA market. I also love the idea of listing blessings as Sarah says.

    Because I had already grown through the waiting times in having my first novels published in the ABA arena, for some reason I felt that God would pave my road through to CBA publication. Easy-Peasy. It has not turned out that way, and I have had to learn again the blessings of waiting, praying, and patience.

    Praise God, He is in control, and He knows what His people need. Maybe it's not me or my novels. Maybe I'm here to pray for others and to encourage others in their writing. And if that is so, I am so blessed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sue-- "Maybe it's not me or my novels. Maybe I'm here to pray for others and to encourage others in their writing. And if that is so, I am so blessed!"

      Wow. You dwell in a beautiful, annointed place. Praying my heart would be as servant-hearted as yours in this waiting period! Thank you for sharing this.

      Delete
  11. Beautiful, Amanda! Obedience seems to be key, doesn't it? And worshipping the dream-giver rather than the dream--wow, that's perfect. Love this post.

    It brought to mind three verses that have followed me around as I've worked to follow the dream giver. I've always had to remind myself how they point first to God, rather than to our dreams/desires. I'll paste them below in case they might speak to anyone else.

    Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Ephesians 3:20-21

    Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

    In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:4-6

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karen, your scriptures brought tears to my eyes. The first one you listed was also one I clung to as we began to travel the adoption road years ago... and to see what God has done-- just chokes me up. Thank you for copying these beautiful truths here for us.

      I've said it before, but I just love and am so blessed by your heart to honor God through your writing. It makes my heart rejoice when I see good things coming... like the release of "Mistaken," for example!! :)

      Delete
  12. Lovely thoughts -- thanks for sharing. I needed this encouragement today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for stopping by, Megan. Praying for you today!

      Delete
  13. I loved this post, Amanda! Thanks so much for hosting her, Lindsay. It's amazing how our perspective changes when we put God at the front and let Him lead the way. Keeping this handy for future reference!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, yes. I can get SO turned around when I try to take the lead-- a role I was never intended to take on! No wonder it feels like a crushing weight when I do! Thanks, Donna. You are a blessing. :)

      Delete
  14. Amanda, how DID you know I needed to hear these words today? I've been fighting discouragement. As I read your post, I realized it's because my focus is in the wrong place. It needs to be in the OBEDIENCE--the obeying in the "now" not leaning into the future. Thanks for sharing your wisdom today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jeanne, I'm so sorry it's been a discouraging season. I LOVE your description of obeying in the "now", not leaning into the future. What a perfect way to put it! I just know there's joy to be found in that place, and I rejoice with you in the learning together of how to dwell there. Thank you!

      Delete
  15. Lindsay and Amanda in one place = a double delight! Love you both.

    I wholeheartedly agree with this post. Enjoying the journey and remaining obedient to the Lord at every step is so important. That's what makes the difference between a "dream come true" moment and "living the dream." One is momentary, fleeting. The other is lasting and much more satisfying in the long run.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Keli, anywhere you are is a pleasant place to be! Your description of a "dream come true" moment and "living the dream" is perfect; I'd never thought of the difference, and you're absolutely right.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Such powerful truth in these thoughts! It should be part of every writer's orientation training. Seriously. So blessed to "know" you, Amanda!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cynthia, I'm humbled! You should know I have one article of yours printed out at my writing desk, and one quote from you as well- something you said months and months ago on the Books and Such blog in the comments. Thank you for the beautiful example of what it is to write for Jesus, for His people!

      Delete
  18. I so appreciate your honesty, Amanda! Beautiful words of truth. I am grateful the Lord has crossed our paths on this writing journey.
    And Karen, two of those verses are ones near my desk for a reminder too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathy, I'm grateful, too! You have a heart for Him, a heart for prayer, that I just love. Thank you for being here today!

      Delete
  19. Another Mandie reader!!! =) You could have been describing me. And we already know how much our thoughts on this topic mirror each other--you put it so beautifully, Amanda. We are indeed living the dream by being given the chance to stretch our wings, our fingers, and write for Him. I have many books on my computer that were for me and God.

    Prayers for you as you continue this winding journey!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your prayers, Roseanna! I love your description of the books being for you and God. He has his purposes for every word we write-- whether it sees the publishing light of day, ends up on the cutting room floor, or simply lives on the computer. Never without purpose. Thank you!

      Delete