Monday, February 4, 2008

God will grant you the desires of your heart

One of the reasons it took me so long to get a book published…besides of course that I was no good…was that, at the beginning, what I wanted to write didn’t fit anywhere. The world of Christian fiction is wide open now, but fifteen years ago it barely existed.

The primary publisher of first time authors was Harlequin. They have a lot of lines these days, but that wasn’t always true. Except for Silhouette romances, which were really sweet, the few other lines had profanity and fairly graphic bedroom scenes. This wasn’t something I was willing to write. So with the exception of Silhouette, my books didn’t fit anywhere. I still remember vividly reading that Harlequin was opening a line of Christian romances called Love Inspired. They did this, I’d say, because books like the Left Behind series proved there was a huge market for books that included people of faith. I believe I was writing for ten years for an area of fiction that hadn’t been born.

There’s a line in Petticoat Ranch that says, “Pastor Roscoe had come west as an answer to a prayer that Sophie wouldn’t even begin praying for five years."

I like to think of God being ahead of us. Preparing us in ways we haven’t even imagined. He did this for me. I’m a firm believer that dreams can come true. And we need to make God a partner in our dreams. Praying for ourselves, for a thing like getting a book published seemed wrong, even sinful. Asking God for what I wanted seemed worldly, but I did it anyway.

I prayed hard for God to grant me this desire of my heart.

In Luke Chapter 18, Jesus tells this parable. Yes, Jesus was a storyteller, I love that. He tells the parable of the woman who went before the corrupt judge over and over asking for justice. In other words, she nagged.

The judge gave her justice just to get her off his back. The end of that story goes, “If the corrupts judge will give someone justice, how much more will your Father in Heaven give you justice.”

So, I nagged the Lord. It felt wrong, selfish. When I prayed there was a niggling place in my heart that would way, “You don’t pray for your children this much. You don’t pray for your friend who is sick this much. You don’t pray for your unchurched neighbors this much."

But still I prayed. I did add to my basic prayer though. After each time of pausing to pray, “Lord, help me get a book published." I added, “And let me write something worthy.” Worthy of God. Words that a person might read and be touched, changed, their hearts lightened, their faith strengthened, their unbelief challenged.

I’m telling you about the prayers because God gave me the deep desire of my heart. God blessed my words and my work. My dream came true and I don’t believe it was wrong of me pray for this. To put my hopes and dreams in the able hands of my Savior. I want all of you to let God into your dream. I want you to think about prayer in a new way. It’s not sinful to ask God for what you want. It’s more likely that it’s a sin NOT to ask. It’s wrong to keep God out of something this important to you.


Say the prayer to God with joy. Pursue the dream and desires of your heart in partnership with God.

20 comments:

LaShaunda said...

Mary,

Thank you for your prayers. As a writer who is praying for publication. Its good to know I'm not in alone in my prayers. You continue to pray and so will I.

Thanks for sharing.

Missy Tippens said...

Lashaunda, thanks for commenting. You're definitely not alone.

Wow, Mary, that was powerfully said.

I prayed that prayer many years ago, not long after I started writing with publication in mind. I opened up and risked asking my Bible study to pray for me as well. (Thank you ladies at County Line in the weight loss Bible study!) Then one time while I was praying on my own, pouring my heart out to God, I felt this peace, this assurance that it would happen. I've held on to that promise like a dog with a bone all these years! In the meantime, I moved here and began in another study group and asked them to pray. Then I started a ladies Bible study, and they prayed along with me--for the last several years. (Thank you FUMC ladies!)

Well, today, several of those ladies came to celebrate with me at my first book signing for my Steeple Hill release. They felt like they had birthed the baby with me, and I know I couldn't have done it without their support.

So those of you who write "in the closet", go ahead and come out and share your dream with others. I know how scary that can be. But their prayers can really help in those times when you get back terrible contest scores or when you get a form rejection. The prayers can keep you going.

And one thing Mary didn't say is that God knows anyway. Like she said, she felt selfish asking God, but He knew those desires all along. So we might as well share them and listen to His guidance.

Sorry this is so long! I'm in a very reflective mood tonight after my signing. It was like the culmination of a 10-year process that involved lots of people. :)

Missy

stampedwithgrace said...

what a great testimony, thanks for sharing! please enter me in the contest, thanks!

Janet Dean said...

Mary, I love that line in Petticoat Ranch and the reminder that God goes ahead of us. That He wants the desire of our heart, especially when it's to write for Him. A wonderful post.

Janet Dean said...

Missy, by including your friends in prayers for publication, you've given them the blessing of seeing God work. And now they can share in the fun! :-)

Janet Dean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim said...

Mary,
You will never know how timely this is for me! I am returning to my first love - writing - and I've been afraid to ask for that deep desire, that others would see my words and be touched.

Thank you so much for this wonderful admonition. It applies to all of us in a very intimate way!

Blessings,
Kim

Gina Welborn said...

Why is it we feel guilty for having a heart's desire that's not something either family or God related?

Last week or so, my oldest daughter Jerah (10) asked me if I could have one wish granted, what would I ask for. Immediately I answered with "That all my children come to faith in Jesus." Then I felt bad becuase I only limited my wish to my children. What about all the other people in the world? Am I so heartless that I think of myself first?

A couple days ago on the blog Melanie mentioned how difficult going into bookstore was because of the yearning in her heart to see her book(s) there. Boy, did I understand her desire. But I also felt...hmmm, what's the right word...shamed for wanting something so selfish. Should I?

Yeah, I could cope the wonderful rhertoric of "I'm writing for God so my upmost desire is to be published to honor Him." And I do, but the reality is my yearning really has more to do about me, because let's face it God doesn't need me being published to bring glory to Himself. The grace and mercy He demonstrated through the cross is so beyond anything my puny body can produce or speak.

So I think "Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you."

What are all these things?

Our heart's desires. Not all are good, not all our bad, and just because we have one that's not "I want this soley for God's glory" doesn't mean it's sinful or wrong. Yet...

In my head, I hear the words to an old DC Talk song.

Is this one for the people? Is this one for the Lord?
Or do I simply serenade for things I must afford?
You can jumble them together, my conflict still remains
Holiness is calling, in the midst of courting fame


Okay, I think I've chased a rabbit, but when I think about praying for my heart's desire, I can't stop considering my motives.

Mary Connealy said...

"Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you."

And this verse is the foundation of the Seekers, Gina.

All the comments are so great today. And I diverged from my usual comic style for no real reason I can imagine, so, since God has a better imagination than me, I decided I'd let the post stand.

What do you all think?
Some of us have prayed for years with no contract in sight. Where is the Lord in that?
And my books, I love them but they certainly don't have the ministry power of...Francine Rivers or someone who writes with such faith. So are my words worthy? Or

Okay, I'll stop now.

How about them Giants, huh?
I was rooting for them for the most profound of reasons. I like Payton Manning and Eli is his brother. As long as sweet reason prevailed in my decision of what team to be for, huh?
I also like that Eli is married to his college girlfriend. What a nice man.

Julie Lessman said...

What's this??? A serious Mary Connealy??? I'm sitting here tearing up instead of laughing??? You are one complicated woman, my friend.

Incredible post. Made me cry, really. Beautiful and oh, SO TRUE!! I absolutely love your line from Petticoat Ranch that says, “Pastor Roscoe had come west as an answer to a prayer that Sophie wouldn’t even begin praying for five years."

WOW! So true ... and so God!! Thanks for touching my heart, Mare.

Love ya,
Julie

Mary Connealy said...

Just knowing I made Julie cry has pulled me out of my reflective mood and cheered me right up.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Beautiful post, Mary. And to see your success now...wow. The prayers are a treasure. Wish I'd heard this post years ago. LOL!

Hugs,

Cheryl

Patricia W. said...

"It’s not sinful to ask God for what you want. It’s more likely that it’s a sin NOT to ask. It’s wrong to keep God out of something this important to you."

Yep. God's no genie but I think He enjoys seeing His children happy. I know I feel that way about mine.

Some years ago, God spoke into my heart about a favorite and oft heard Scripture: He will give you the desires of your heart.

Most often, this is interpreted to mean that God will grant our heartfelt desires. But He let me know that that's only one side of the coin. There's another meaning, that He will give or plant in our hearts, the things that we desire most.

I can't imagine how it could ever be a sin to ask Him for that which He's already planted in me and is waiting to bring forth.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I make Julie cry fairly often and I know it makes my day, Connealy!

:)

But she puddles up easy, so it's not all that difficult. Hormones, you know.

What a lovely group of ladies and wonderful comments.

Is it Armegeddon or something? Did I miss the memo...???????

Mary Connealy rooting for Eli Manning and the Giants against the almighty powerhouse of the New England Patriots, a history-making franchise.

From Boston.

As a Yankees fan, I'm okay with New England losing although I wouldn't have minded their winning either. Tom Brady is cute.

But so is Eli Manning, and he seems to be just a good ol' boy, with a gentle heart and the courage of conviction and competition. And they're giving them a parade tomorrow, in Manhatten, and how could that be bad???

And he's got a funny older brother who'd make fun of him big time if he lost, so Thanksgiving would be rough, oh, wait, they'd be playing football anyway, so make that the fourth of July, although I loved Peyton's post-play-off commercials. Wonderful. Empathetic. Honest.

The writing thing? God's timing?

No clue.

But since He's proven himself time and again in retrospect, I won't doubt him now.

(That tune changes about as often as the wind direction, so don't put too much stock in it for longer than, oh, say, a minute or two. Maybe three.)

But Mary I can soooooo empathize. I can't pray for God to have me published. Can't do it. He knows my heart. Always has. Knows my soul. Always has. He holds me in the palm of his hand.

But I can't believe that my urge to write supercedes genocide, war, poverty, depression, mental illness, and Alzheimer's.

So I lift my heart to him, sure that he understands, and focus on trust.

And that works for me, most days.

And not writing like Francine? Touching hearts? Bringing people closer to God, to Christ?

Sooooooooo not true. People are touched in so many different ways that it takes a myriad of awesome writers to reach the hearts of the readers.

Think for one minute: What would contest judges do to Francine's writing today?

Seriously.

They'd take those beautiful long passages and red-line them. They'd scold her for head-hopping, then tell her she started the story at the wrong place.

Please.

So the writing dynamic has changed and yours will appeal to a different audience perhaps. (Don't ask me to define different. You're from Nebraska. Trust me. There's plenty of room for all of us. I'm a New Yorker... We know these things. That's 'cause we're weird.)

And I love it when you let the introspective side of you show. It's so.....

...totally outside the parameters you allow people to see on a normal day.

Of course Sybil had lots of personality 'quirks' as well, so maybe we're just seeing Mary's alter ego.

If so, she's a keeper, Connealy.

Ruthy

Mary Connealy said...

That's right, next post I'll write as my 'adolescent boy' personality.
As always, Ruthy, thank you for bringing up genocide.

Janet Dean said...

Mary, I'm tickled you were cheering for Eli and the Giants! What an exciting game for us fans of the Manning brothers.

cooper said...

Hi Mary,
Wow! Painters talk about 'getting in the zone'. I think there must be a writers zone somewhere too.

But you used the n word (nagging!) Did you know that if you twist nagging slightly and puff it up a little bit, it becomes 'encouraging' I learned this in Sunday school, sort of :) We were working on 1 Corinth 12, talking about talents and gifts that we've been given. If you look close, right between the lines where it talks about encouraging being a gift, there's nagging. And I firmly believe if you nag with a good heart~
Ok, I'd better go paint, huh? But thanks for this writing. It's stellar and as somebody else wrote, powerfully said.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Hey, Mary! Sorry I didn't comment yesterday. I did my first day of substitute teaching. I made three first grade boys cry. Beat that! Ha!

Hard, hard day. I may never go back.

Anyway! Thanks for the post. I have always felt too guilty and selfish to ask others to pray for my writing, but two sweet ladies at my church recently told me that they're praying for my writing and praying I'll get published. I was so touched. I know most of my reasons for wanting to get published have nothing to do with glorifying God. I'm just being honest here. But I love God with all my heart, and writing my books honestly FEELS LIKE WORSHIP.

Oh, I was so pulling for Eli Manning. Gotta love those sweet Southern boys.

Gotta write that Southern fiction! So little time ....

ForstRose said...

"...put my hopes and dreams in the able hands of my Savior. ...let God into your dream. ... It’s wrong to keep God out of something this important to you. ...Pursue the dream and desires of your heart in partnership with God."

Wow so much crammed into those words and that is just a few phrases out of the post which had so much more in it's entirety.

Those few phrases though were especially meaningful to me to read right now. Reminders to bring God into my hopes and dreams and expect that He wants to fulfill them because they are part of who He created me to be and He will use my dreams to inspire someone else or encourage them or reveal Himself to them if I am seeking Him wholeheartedly. Right now my hope is not to see a book with my name on it being bought by readers but to use my love of reading and good writing as well as my ability to put things into words to share wonderful books that others have written with other readers and even better if I could somehow use those things that I enjoy (reading especially) to pay the bills.

While I don't know if or when that might happen I do know He is faithful to provide even when I can't see how it will work out and He has already brought me some new author friends and tons of ways to get free books for reviewing them as well as friends who became authors that I am blessed to be able to help with WOM (word of mouth) marketing for their new books. I have also discovered many new wonderful books and favorite authors in the last few months.

Mary thanks for the encouragement for others who are pursuing the hopes God has planted in our heart even if its not to be a published author.

I look forward to reading some of your books one of these days. I know a friend offered to loan me her copy of Petticoat Ranch a few months but I already had a soaring TBR pile so told her I'd get it from her later but she highly recommended it so I will be sure to get it from her as soon as I have a spot of time to read it.

Please enter me in this week's drawing.

Thanks,
Melissa
forest_rose[at]yahoo.com

Sally Ferguson said...

Mary,
Thanks for expressing what has been deep within me. It is encouraging to know that the season of waiting will prove to be the season of preparing!