Shannon here: Suzanne J. Bratcher shares a devotional, plus a chance to win an e-book copy of her Contemporary Mystery, The Silver Lode. Comment or answer the question on any post dated Oct 15 – 18 to enter. Deadline: Oct 26th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Suzanne:
Focus verse: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Phil 4:13, KJV)
Almost everyone I know lives with ongoing challenges. One friend juggles a full-time job with three children at home. Another friend home-schools her four children while her husband travels for work. I don’t know what your ongoing challenge is, but I’m pretty sure you have one. Mine is medical, specifically Multiple Sclerosis.
You may know someone who has MS, or you may have it yourself. But for those of you who aren’t familiar with this neurological disease, its symptoms vary widely, depending on which nerves are affected. One characteristic, however, seems to be almost universal: unpredictable bouts of overwhelming fatigue that can’t be pushed through. MS fatigue is like no other. The best way I can describe it is to imagine yourself walking into a glass wall. One minute you’re moving at your normal pace and the next you’re flat on your back.
Now to juggling MS and writing. Almost any writing teacher will tell you the two cardinal rules for writing success are to write every day and to set a word count for each writing session. Maybe you already see my problem. I can’t function every day. Even on days when I can function, I can’t push myself through to a certain word count. It took me three years to write The Copper Box, my first published novel.
But for my second book, The Silver Lode, I had a publisher’s deadline of one year. I was about halfway through the first draft when I realized I couldn’t meet that deadline. For one thing, the story required three points of view, something I’d never attempted. For another, my MS fatigue was on a collision course with my writing schedule. I wasn’t getting enough writing days and some of the days I got weren’t long enough to meet my word count. I got more and more frustrated.
Like all Christian writers I know, I feel called to write the stories God gives me. I prayed about my writing and felt reassured. I decided that reassurance meant God would give me the writing days I needed as well as the energy. But as C.S. Lewis reminds us in the Chronicles of Narnia, God is not a tame lion. God’s ways are not our ways, and God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we expect. I didn’t get that extra energy or those extra hours. The days ticked by and I got farther and farther behind schedule.
Then as I wrote my way into a scene where Paul searches for his kidnapped son against a ticking clock, he suddenly remembers Philippians 4:13 and says aloud, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, even find Scott before…” I stopped writing. The focus passage for The Silver Lode is the story of Jeremiah watching the potter remake a ruined pot. How had Philippians suddenly come into the story? It didn’t take long for me to realize the Holy Spirit was giving me that verse. I grasped it and held on. Every morning after my quiet time, I went to my computer and repeated aloud, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, even finish this scene (or this chapter) before I crash.”
Did I meet my deadline? No, but my publisher extended grace by giving me almost an extra month. Did I turn in a polished draft like I always do? No, but my editor reminded me about those pesky adverbs that creep into my writing when I’m not paying attention. In the process of eliminating the adverbs, I found awkward sentences to rewrite, paragraphs to cut, and even a scene that was out of order. By the time I sent the revised manuscript to the second editor, it was in much better shape. The final version that arrived in the publisher’s inbox may be some of the best writing I’ve done yet.
Friends, we can do all things through Christ if we trust God with each day and each task we are given. The strength we receive may come from the help of a friend or even a stranger, but God will provide it if we stay open to unexpected reminders of God’s faithfulness.
Prayer: Father, help us trust You with each of our tasks and each of our days. Help us listen for Your encouragement and Your guidance. Amen.
About Suzanne: A mystery fan since her first encounter with Nancy Drew, Suzanne Bratcher, PhD, lives in central Arkansas in a village with more trees than houses. A retired English professor from Northern Arizona University, she writes mysteries and romantic suspense set in the Southwest. The Silver Lode is the second book in her Jerome, Arizona Mysteries, stand-alone stories following the same characters. Learn more and connect:
About the book – The Silver Lode:
Billion-dollar copper camp alive with rags-to-riches stories
Beneath the ghost town that clings to Cleopatra Hill, a maze of abandoned mine tunnels conceals a vein of silver ore mixed with pure gold. Seventy years ago the discovery of that silver lode caused a murder. Are more coming?
Historian Paul Russell is about to lose his job and the woman he loves, so he doesn’t have time to search for the legendary silver lode. But when a student drops a seventy-year-old cold case on his desk, a murder connected to the silver lode, the mystery offers Paul the perfect opportunity to work with Marty Greenlaw and win her back.
As Paul and Marty search for the silver lode, suspicious deaths begin to happen. When Paul’s son disappears, the stakes become personal. Will Paul and Marty solve the mystery of the silver lode in time to rescue Scott? Will they survive to grow into a future different from what any of them dreamed?
Can’t wait for the drawing or worried you won’t win? Get your copy now! The Silver Lode – Amazon
Question for Readers: What seemingly impossible task has Christ strengthened you to accomplish? How did God provide the strength?
Come back Oct 18th for Suzanne’s romantic excerpt!