Wednesday, March 22, 2017

My Long Highway Home



My Long Highway Home

by Elizabeth Musser


I’m home now. After almost twenty-five years on this writing journey, I’ve finally found my way home.

I certainly don’t mean I’ve found my permanent publishing house. I’ve had four different American publishers and four different international publishers along the way, and the book I just launched was my first indy novel.

I don’t mean I’ve finally settled into the perfect routine, finding the way to balance my 30+ year career in missions with my calling as a writer. I still juggle, after all these years.

Nor do I mean that I’ve become a savvy marketing-social-media-writing genius.


What I mean is simply I’ve come home to accept that my writing life will always be on a roller-coaster. And I’ve come home to embrace the simple truth of receiving what has been given me to do each day, John-the-Baptist-style. He said it first. “A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven.” (John 3: 27)

He made his home in the desert and refused to play the comparison game with his godly God-like cousin.  He did his job, and he let Jesus do His. John the Baptist lost his head along the way, doing his job. But he didn’t lose his heart. His heart was Christ’s. All along.

I hope it doesn’t sound heretical to use John the B as an example, but he’s helped me so very much these last months as I’ve delved deeper and deeper into all the craziness of launching a book in this slot of space during the 21st century.

He’s led me home, back to Jesus. Not just back to “Hey, Jesus, help me write this next scene,” but a desperate, “Dear, Holy God, Savior of my soul, I am going to be completely overwhelmed with these tasks before me UNLESS You step in and guide my steps and help me receive ONLY what is given me to do today.”

It’s embracing every aspect of the life I’ve been called to live and living it moment by moment with Jesus.

Oh, I know I was supposed to be doing this all along, from that Sunday morning when, at nine years old, I walked down the red-carpeted aisle to the front of the big Baptist church and gave my life to Jesus.

And admittedly, this 40+ year journey has brought me further and further along the road to total dependence on Him. But it’s brought lots of brokenness too.

Love, love, love this Persian Proverb:

Isn’t that what Jesus does for us? He keeps shining His truth into all the dark places of our heart until we break, we confess, we repent and we cling again to Him. He tears off the layers of pride, one-by-excruciatingly-painful-(at times) one.

Ever since I was six years old, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up—a writer. When at nine, I grabbed onto Jesus, my prayers to Him were often, “If you’ve given me this gift of writing, show me how to use it for You.”

Always, always, Jesus put others in my life to keep the dream alive: my grandmother, my teachers and professors, my husband, our prayer partners who received my quarterly letters from France and wrote, “You have a gift; you should write a book.”

And then, at my first writers’ conference, I re-met a friend and former fellow missionary who was now an editor at a publishing house. He believed in my first story. So after almost thirty years of praying that prayer, from little-girl dreams to young-adult ministry, I received my first contract to write a novel. The year was 1994, and sitting down at my computer to write felt like getting a hug from the Lord. Every day.

I got to do what I had longed for and dreamed about ever since I was a small child.


But I was also living my other dream as a missions’ worker, helping to start a French evangelical church. And that job was not all croissants and cathedrals, wine and cheese. It was so, so very heart-breakingly hard, pouring ourselves out in a land filled with fascinating culture and breath-taking beauty and deep, deep disappointment with God.

I had a husband, two young sons, a missionary team, hundreds of prayer partners to correspond with, a fledgling church and my first contract. Perfectionist that I was (am?), I determined that I should be a full-time wife, mother, missionary and novelist. I literally almost worked myself to death. I got sick. For three long and extremely painful years.

I was broken.

When people used to ask my advice for getting published, I’d say write, write, write and pray, pray, pray.

I still give this advice. But I add, Cling. To Jesus. Like those grapes on a vine. Tenaciously. Please don’t let your dreams outsmart you, so that you think it’s being done for the Lord but it’s really just a lot of stuff being done.

That only leads to me and you being DONE.

I had to choose to be true to my callings, day after day after day, which meant some days were spent writing, some days spent with a struggling young believer, some days were spent in bed, recovering from illness. Some days were so dark that I could only thank Jesus that so many others were interceding for me.

But I held on. Tight. To Jesus.


Finally, after I had clung (clinged??) to that Vine long enough, well, I began to bend, bend, bend.

My most recent part of breaking, bending, clinging and coming home was admitting that, in this slice of life on earth, I had to accept the blood, sweat and tears of the business side of writing as simply a part of the job. Everyone who works has parts of the job that are enjoyable and other parts that aren’t. Did I think I could somehow skip (or at least skimp) on the parts I disliked?

Coming home has meant embracing social media, little by pulling-my-teeth-out little, realizing that although it is crazy time-consuming, it does give even more interaction with my wonderful readers. On my long journey home, I don’t think I would have persevered if it hadn’t been for my readers. “Your books have drawn me closer to Jesus.” “I had strayed far from Christ. Your novel helped bring me back.” “Thank you for writing stories with a soul.”

And in this season of writing, coming home has meant being inspired by true stories of our colleagues pouring out their lives for refugees, and of refugees finding Jesus at a ministry center near Vienna called The Oasis that serves up coffee and Christ.

So I penned The Long Highway Home.

Right before the novel went to print, I found the perfect verse to start with (you know, after the title page). “A highway will be there. It will be called the Way of Holiness.” Isaiah 35: 8.


I also came across another quote from the Persian poet Rumi that seemed absolutely PERFECT to add under the Isaiah verse:


Except.

I googled the quote again, just to make sure
Sigh. (And you can go ahead and google the quote to find out his name, but please finish reading this post and commenting first.)
Rumi had actually written it. He didn’t. A really weird (living) guy who believes in a lot of weird stuff said it. I couldn’t start the book off with him.

But it’s true, isn’t it? In the body of Christ, we are all just walking each other home.

So today, I want to ask you this: How has Jesus broken your heart and helped you bend thankfully to Him in praise? Are you clinging to Him? Who on this journey of life in Christ has helped walk you home? Anything you need to give up to Him during this Lenten season?


“I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him will bear much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15: 5










GIVEAWAY:
Leave a comment answering one of Elizabeth's questions above or just to welcome her, and you will be entered to win a copy of her latest novel, The Long Highway Home.


BIO:
ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France.  Elizabeth’s highly acclaimed, best-selling novel, The Swan House, was named one of Amazon’s Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia’s Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years.  All of Elizabeth’s novels have been translated into multiple languages. The Long Highway Home has been a bestseller in Europe.

For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions’ work in Europe with International Teams.  The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren who all live way too far away in America. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog. See photos from scenes in The Long Highway Home on Pinterest.


Back Cover Copy for The Long Highway Home:

Sometimes going home means leaving everything you have ever known.


When the doctor pronounces ‘incurable cancer’ and gives Bobbie Blake one year to live, she agrees to accompany her niece, Tracie, on a trip back to Austria, back to The Oasis, a ministry center for refugees that Bobbie helped start twenty years earlier.  Back to where there are so many memories of love and loss…

Bobbie and Tracie are moved by the plight of the refugees and in particular, the story of the Iranian Hamid, whose young daughter was caught with a New Testament in her possession in Iran, causing Hamid to flee along The Refugee Highway and putting the whole family in danger.  Can a network of helpers bring the family to safety in time?  And at what cost?

Filled with action, danger, heartache and romance, The Long Highway Home is a hymn to freedom in life’s darkest moments.


160 comments :

  1. Elizabeth, welcome, welcome, welcome to Seekerville. I'm pulling out a chair and giving you a favorite mug and a plate of lemon cookies. I read your post twice and I feel the need to read it yet again. There is just so much to think on here. Especially the walking each other home part.

    Yes. Absolutely. Loss is a time for a push pull with Jesus..and in the end you realize that the choice is simple. Walk with him or walk away. That's no choice because there is nothing without Him.

    I must go and think on this some more. Thank you so much for being with us today and giving me lots to think about.

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    1. Thank YOU, Tina, for having me on Seekerville. It's an honor to be here. Yum, I love lemon cookies with a cup of tea! So thankful for the Lord's patience with me as I learned to break, bend, cling and walk on home! These are the things I'm thinking about a lot these days, too.

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    2. Tina, you're so right. We either walk toward/with the Lord...or we walk away from Him. Seems these days that folks think there's a gray area, but it's all or nothing. You can't be partially God's. Like virtue. You embrace virtue or you don't. There's no half-virtue. You're either working to be virtuous or you're not.

      Getting off my soapbox but continuing to medicate on the truth, which doesn't straddle two worlds. Truth is black or white. Not gray.

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    3. Ah, not medicate...meditate. My bad! :)

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  2. Yes, I agree with Tina. So much to think about and take from this post thank you.

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    1. Thanks, Mary! As I said to Tina, these are all things the Lord has me pondering right now. So thankful that the Christian life is a journey and He always walks with us.

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  3. Thank you for this beautiful post, Elizabeth. No doubt it will help many, like myself, who are experiencing difficulties in their life. It's certainly one to read several times.

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    1. Thanks, Jill! Isn't it so true that the Lord uses the hardships we go through (and learn from) to encourage others more than all of our successes? May you feel Jesus' gentle touch today as you cling to Him in the midst of difficulties. Blessings!

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  4. I love the diversity of your path... The stops and starts and tangles are such a normal part of life that I often wonder why writers don't realize they're just as much a part of writing.... The 'Jo March' within us sees that hand-drawn manuscript being lovingly accepted in Manhattan....

    But the reality is quite different, and the juggling is real. I'm so glad you're here today, Elizabeth. Congratulations on your successes and wishing you much joy as you tackle a new road in indie publishing.

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    1. Merci, dear Ruth! Delighted to be here. And so thankful for a place like Seekerville that can help aspiring writers understand more about the craft but also hear from writers who are further down the road--and have a more realistic picture of this wonderful, roller-coaster ride that we are privileged to share.

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  5. Wow, what a powerful, thought-provoking post. Loved it all, but this seemed to leap out at me: "Please don’t let your dreams outsmart you, so that you think it’s being done for the Lord but it’s really just a lot of stuff being done." I really needed to read this...today. Thank you, Elizabeth.

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    1. Laura, I agree. I love those words.

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    2. Laura! I hope you saw my congratulations yesterday! :)

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    3. So thrilled about your Golden Heart nomination, Laura! Congrats!!!

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    4. Laura, same here. So many quotes jumped out at me, but this one was a gem.

      I'm the queen of getting STUFF done. Or at least I have a lot of STUFF on my to-do lists (yes, plural lists!!)

      How much gets done is debatable.

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    5. Laura, that quote resonated with me too. Sometimes it's hard to tell if your dream is outsmarting you.

      Elizabeth, thank you for sharing your journey with us. The blurb for your book gave me goosebumps. Sounds like it's right up my alley with action adventure and Intrigue.

      I know this sounds shallow, but I really need to give up sugar for Lent. I was off it for six months and I caved two weeks ago with See's Candy. It's like I've opened Pandora's box! I need to focus on the reason for Easter, and it's not because a chocolate bunny fell in love with a jar of peanut butter. GAH!

      Please put me in for the drawing, I'd love to read your book.

      ~ Renee

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    6. Laura, that quote resonated with me too. Sometimes it's hard to tell if your dream is outsmarting you.

      Elizabeth, thank you for sharing your journey with us. The blurb for your book gave me goosebumps. Sounds like it's right up my alley with action adventure and Intrigue.

      I know this sounds shallow, but I really need to give up sugar for Lent. I was off it for six months and I caved two weeks ago with See's Candy. It's like I've opened Pandora's box! I need to focus on the reason for Easter, and it's not because a chocolate bunny fell in love with a jar of peanut butter. GAH!

      Please put me in for the drawing, I'd love to read your book.

      ~ Renee

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    7. Thankful that it was helpful, Laura! I have had to learn so much of what I wrote here the hard way, but how kind of the Lord to let our hard lessons benefit others, too! Blessings on you today.

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    8. Renee, IMHO, giving up sugar for Lent doesn't sound trite or shallow but more like IMPOSSIBLE! So I am very proud of you for being off of it for six months. One thing that has helped me with my Lent offerings is to have 6 days of fasting (from whatever--sugar, TV, movies, wine--I live in France=) and one day to feast (not binge), enjoying the pleasure of tasting or seeing something worthwhile and good that I have been sacrificing. But that probably wouldn't work too well with sugar!

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  6. Thankful that it was helpful, Laura! I have had to learn so much of what I wrote here the hard way, but how kind of the Lord to let our hard lessons benefit others, too! Blessings on you today.

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  7. Welcome, Elizabeth! Please enjoy Tina's cup of coffee and smile as your journey of the heart has touched this aspiring writer. We are walking a journey fraught with difficulties and to cling to the Lord is the only way through! Btw, Tina, our sermon series for Lent is push/pull to thr Lord in a Journey Through the Wilderness.

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    1. Oh, Olivia, may Jesus grant you all the strength (His strength) you need for today as you cling to Him. Blessings on your writing!

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  8. An amazing post. Home is being who we are in Him.
    KB

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  9. Elizabeth...

    So good to have you with us on Seekerville today. Your post touched my heart.

    You wrote: “Dear, Holy God, Savior of my soul, I am going to be completely overwhelmed with these tasks before me UNLESS You step in and guide my steps and help me receive ONLY what is given me to do today.”

    Your prayer has been mine over these last few weeks packed with too many tasks that I could not have done on my own. So I had to rely on the Lord. For the past couple of years, I've been trying to live and write in His perfect time. Again, it happened that each task was completed on time and in His perfect time. I continue to be filled with gratitude for the gentle way he leads me. He is an awesome God.

    I loved seeing you at ACFW last year! Blessings and hugs and continued success with your writing...done always for the Lord!

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    1. Thank you, Debby! I am so honored to be here with you today at Seekerville. It was a special treat to see you at ACFW and now to be here! Awesome God, indeed. And so very patient with us!

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    2. You wrote: “Dear, Holy God, Savior of my soul, I am going to be completely overwhelmed with these tasks before me UNLESS You step in and guide my steps and help me receive ONLY what is given me to do today.”

      This is another for over my desk. My books only get written on my knees. Which can make for some awkward writing positions. LOL.

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    3. Tina, you should write a post entitled 'Writing Novels on my Knees'! I am thankful (on most days) that I am easily overwhelmed so that it drives me more quickly into the Savior's lap, saying "I can't, but Lord, you can!"

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  10. Elizabeth, welcome! I loved this post. It so touched me. Your words confirmed what I've been feeling God doing in my life recently. Thank you so much for sharing what's on your heart.

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    1. Thrilled to be here, Missy! And as always, I am humbled and thankful that my words can be used by the Lord to hear His words for our life. Blessings on you!

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  11. Such a beautiful post, Elizabeth. You got me thinking. What do I need to give up? Control. I want control in my stories and right now, the story isn't coming. I need to trust Jesus in this crazy season I'm living in.

    I've been blessed to have a few wonderful writerly friends walking me home as I traverse this writer's road. I am beyond blessed to have them walking beside me. And communities like this one, where there is much encouragement and wisdom.

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    1. Oh, my, Jeanne! Giving up control! Yep. One year for Lent I gave up control, comparison, competition and complaining. I have to revisit these often, giving them back to Jesus. So thankful that you have a few writer friends to walk with you on the roller-coaster ride. My first years writing I felt so alone (before internet and living overseas). What a joy and blessing as I begin to get to know other believers who also were writers. Bless you as you persevere. May that story tiptoe in and surprise you.

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    2. Jeanne,
      Between your reply and Elizabeth's post, I am inspired.

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  12. What a moving post. I'm home today, literally. It's a sick day with no voice. Laryngitis is not good when you're the music teacher. I pushed it too hard yesterday and now I'm paying for it. There's got to be a parable in that somewhere.

    There have been many times when things in our life weren't working out. We fussed and fumed. But it wasn't until we got down on our knees and cried out desperately to God that the answer we needed finally came. Your thoughts on that really hit home. Thank you so much for sharing.

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    1. So sorry you are 'home' because of sickness, Bettie, but LOVED what you said. Why do we fuss and fume first instead of falling to our knees? Little by little, year by year, I'm learning. Thankful for so many others who remind me by their example. Blessings on you and may you rest well in Him today.

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    2. Bettie, praying that your voice heals quickly. Sending gentle hugs and chicken soup! :)

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    3. So sorry, Bettie. Praying for you!

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    4. Thanks for the prayers. Kitty is purring, dog is barking, and I'm eating some chicken soup and hoping.

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  13. Thank you for sharing from your heart, Elizabeth. It's too bad you couldn't use that second quote because it's so true - we're all pilgrims and one of the Lord's gifts to us, is each other. I'll be reading your post over several times to absorb it all. So glad to have you in Seekerville. Have a blessed day!

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    1. Thanks, Laurie! Yes, I was bummed not to be able to use the quote, and I even said to my editor (who agreed that we couldn't use it) "But all truth is God's truth, right?" And it is, but still, I didn't want to be a stumbling block. But I am so thankful I got to use it in this post because it has resonated with me. Lord, may we intentionally 'walk each other home', especially as one writer to another. Blessings on you!

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  14. Welcome, Elizabeth! Your post couldn't have come at a better time for me as I struggle through more ups and downs in this constantly changing publishing business.

    After a thought-provoking discussion on prayer last night at our small group, then receiving yet another email from my agent about a manuscript rejection, I'm leaning harder than ever on Jesus for the day-to-day strength to keep doing what I've always believed He called me to do. Really glad I have my Seekerville sisters and friends to walk with me on the journey!

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    1. Myra, I'm sorry about the rejection. It certainly is tough. I, too, am thankful for the support here at the blog.

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    2. By the way, I love your new photo!

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    3. I'm so glad the post was timely for you. And I hurt for you with that rejection email yesterday. Sometimes I have to work very hard not to remember just the rejection emails from my agent--not to see an email pop up from him and think "Oh, no, now what?" It is all about leaning into Jesus, as you said. I have been asking the Lord to give me a Holy Indifference to all the craziness of this writing journey. I can't not feel upset with bad news, but I ask Him to give me His perspective and that I won't let it preoccupy my mind and/or obsess over rejection. Blessings as you trust Him today. May you feel His favor!

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    4. MYRA, I'm so sorry about that rejection. Hugs to you and the reminder that God still has lots of stories He wants you to write for Him.

      Janet

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  15. By the way, The Swan House is one of my very favorite books! I can't wait to read this new one!

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    1. Wow,thank you, Missy! I'm honored and encouraged to here you say that. I'm not sure where you live, but if you're ever in Atlanta, you can visit the real Swan House and eat at the Swan Coach House. A wonderful outing!

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    2. Elizabeth, your comment made me chuckle. I don't know if Missy has ever been to the Swan House, but she's had ample opportunity because she lives in GA! :)

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    3. I wondered about that but didn't know. I'd actually love to know where all the Seekers live!

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    4. Yes, I've been to a wedding at the Swan House! It's beautiful. And I thought of your story the whole time I was there, Elizabeth. :)

      I actually live about 30 minutes outside Atlanta. But all my kids are in school in Atlanta so we're there often. :)

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    5. I'm a Mississippi gal, born and raised, but I have the heart of a gypsy. :)

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    6. Missy, what's your town called outside Atlanta (now greater Atlanta is SO huge) and where do your kids go to school?

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    7. Okay--Pam is a Mississippi Gypsy and Missy (not to be confused with Mississippi) is a Georgia Peach. Where are the other Seekers from?

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    8. I, too, loved your book and the actual SWAN HOUSE. For those who don't know, the Swan Coach House has long been THE place for ladies and their daughters and friends to lunch! I took my girls there soon after we moved to Georgia...so many years ago! :)

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    9. Merci, Debby! Yes, it is THE place for bridemaids luncheons etc. And the Gift Shop carries several of my books. It is a hug from the Lord to go there and sign books and meet with book clubs

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    10. Elizabeth, our house is in Lawrenceville now. And our church is in Duluth, which has a really cool downtown area.

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    11. Yes, Lawrenceville is practically Atlanta and Duluth is Atlanta. Ever changing. I need to visit the downtown area of Duluth. Decatur has a wonderful European-like downtown. Do you ever go to the Decatur Book Festival?

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    12. I also meant to add that Debby and I are in GA, Pam is in Mississippi, Cara is in FL, Glynna, Sandra and Tina in Arizona, Julie in Missouri, Ruthy in NY, Myra in NC, Mary in Nebraska, Janet in Indiana, and Audra in Colorado. We're from all over!

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    13. I've never attended the Decatur Book Festival but would love to someday. It just seems like we always have plans for the holiday when they hold it.

      But we do love downtown Decatur! Our son and daughter-in-law live near there and we love to try out the restaurants with them.

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    14. Thanks for the info on where you are all from, Missy! The DBF is very fun-although I am usually at my booth and it gets pretty busy so I don't get to take part in lots of other activities. But definitely worth the visit!

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  16. Welcome, Elizabeth!

    May God bless every step of the rest of your journey - and all of Seekerville!

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    1. Thanks, Phyllis! Or as we say over here, "Merci!"

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  17. Welcome to Seekerville, Elizabeth! Your post couldn't have come at a better time. It went perfectly with my Bible study lesson this morning and hits me at a perfect time. Kinda like God used you as an exclamation mark to the point He's trying to get me to understand. Thanks so much!

    Blessings to you as you continue answering God's call!

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    1. Merci, Jackie! And of course, your comment is a big encouragement to me! He's like that, isn't He? He never wastes our pain and uses all the little and big events of our lives to move us along on the journey home. I'm always thankful (well, eventually, if not initially) when God sends me an exclamation point to get me to pay attention. Blessings as you listen and journey forward with Jesus.

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  18. Elizabeth, your post today is like a refreshing drink of water at the end of that long journey.

    I'm soaking it in, and praying that I can recognize, embrace and complete that one thing that I'm supposed to accomplish every day instead of chasing the fifteen things I've mapped out.

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    1. Amen, Pam! Yes, I literally pray this out loud each day and open my hands to let go of all the other things I've planned. Sometimes saying this out loud to the Lord and using a simple hand gesture helps the truth travel from my mind to my heart. Love your word 'embrace'. Blessings on you as you complete that one thing!

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    2. Adding to this... according to My Cowboy, my one job today is to keep an eye on the 10 heifers in the pasture in front of the house.

      All of them are due to calve at any time.

      I wonder if my cowboy had a word from the Lord this morning?

      :-\

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    3. He was probably reading Scripture about lambs and substituted 'calves'=)But I'm sure watching that miracle of life will be inspiring for your next novel!

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  19. Uh-oh ... getting a late start for my VERY special guest, but I can see Elizabeth has things well underway!

    WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, ELIZABETH, and I'd like to reiterate just how much your post touched me when I read it. Thank you for powerful insight into a truly important subject, not just for Christian authors, but readers too!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  20. Oh, Julie, it is truly an honor and delight to be here. I have a feeling I'll be hanging out at Seekerville lots more. I am so glad a place like this exists. As I keep getting my toes wet in the social media/blog sphere (I know, years late), it is a joy to discover places that matter--if you know what I mean. Thank you for fixing the graphic too=) Sending hugs!

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  21. Elizabeth, I loved, loved, loved this message from your heart to ours. As I read, I thought, "I know, I know." Please accept a cyber hug.
    I smile each time I see your name because the mother of a dear high school friend had the same.
    On this journey of life my beloved friend Renee McBride made a statement that changed my heart and perspective in a personal relationship.
    I can't wait to read The Long Highway Home. Thank you for encouraging me today.

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    1. Hugs to you, LoRee! You're a blessing to me too!

      ~ Renee

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    2. LoRee, thank YOU for your encouraging and I just love receiving (and giving) cyberhugs! And now I have two questions: Where did the other Elizabeth Musser live? AND what is the statement that Renee shared that made such a difference? (If it's not too personal to share.)

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    3. Elizabeth Musser lived on a farm near Oakdale, Nebraska.
      Renee said, "You can't do the work of the Holy Spirit."
      Thanks for asking.

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    4. Ok, don't know any other Musser relatives of my hubby in Nebraska, so probably not related. LOVE Renee's quote. Early on in my marriage, someone reminded me that I was not my husband's personal Holy Spirit! Humbling and SOOO helpful for the long haul!

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  22. So many of us are overwhelmed with what we think we need to accomplish on a daily basis.

    We must write to meet our deadline.
    We must go to the day job.
    We must prepare to file taxes (ugh).
    We must go shopping if the fam is going to eat.
    We must promote the book that's coming out next week/month.
    We must update our website/interact on social media/prepare a newsletter.
    We must _________ (fill in the blank).

    I realize that a closer walk with God, reading God's word, and a vibrant prayer life are key to peace that we're following God's will for us TODAY, but sometimes everything on the list that's staring us in the face needs to be done, sooner rather than later.

    Elizabeth, can you speak to us about putting this sense of daily contentment into action?

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    1. Great observations and question, Pam! I am so very 'there' with you. When asked to describe myself with a few adjectives I say 'creative, relational AND easily overwhelmed by life.' So that's a caveat. But to be perfectly honest, I have had to let the 'write everyday' go during different seasons of my life. There have been some seasons when I pulled back a little and the Lord said STOP! Completely. For a time. To heal. To do what was given to me today. I have had to come weeping before the Lord at times and say, "I give up. I don't have to do this writing thing any more." This was a very significant point of brokenness for me because for my growing up years, writing was the only thing I felt I could do very well. So I had to swallow my pride and dreams and open my hands and be willing to let the writing life go for a season. But, the wonderful thing was, every time I did that, the Lord said, "No, don't stop writing. Just change your focus again to me." So everyday I have to CHOOSE to focus on Him and to REFUSE comparison, self-pity, control. Obviously some days I'm more successful than others. Going through a chronic pain illness made my priorities suddenly glaringly simple: either I chose a healthier rhythm of life, or my family suffered. Don't know if any of that makes sense or helps, but those are a few random thoughts.

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    2. Once again, this is right where I'm at. I've been so discouraged by weeks on end of no writing at all, feeling pressured to keep going. And I feel the gentle prompting from the Spirit of God to refix my eyes on Jesus. Not to give up on writing, but to take time to rest. Thank you for being an affirming voice!

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    3. You are very welcome, Megan. I am so thankful for all the godly women the Lord has put in my life to help me hear Him better, but often it really is the Holy Spirit's sweet whisper to my exhausted soul that pulls me back. And meditating on Scripture that is speaking to me is a huge help too. I take file cards on my daily walks to memorize and meditate and reflect (that or I'm planning a scene in the book I'm working on!) Either way, I look like a crazy (well, I am) because I'm talking to myself as people walk by=)

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    4. Thank you both, Megan and Elizabeth, for discussing this. I've been dealing with some of the same things. I'm just now hearing God's direction to start focusing on the writing again. But I need to keep my eyes and "ears" on Him.

      Elizabeth, I can just see you talking to characters while walking. LOL

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    5. And Pam, too. Thanks for bringing up the question.

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    6. I SO want to be elegant and sophisticated and share how I deal with the ever growing list of self-imposed tasks, but I'll just be honest... basically I play whack-a-mole. If anyone is unfamiliar with whack-a-mole, just go watch some videos and you'll get the gist of it.

      Each day is like a smashup of Groundhog Day and Whack-a-mole all rolled into one. lol

      But, like Phil in Groundhog Day, I DO move forward a little each day, so that's a good sign! :)

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    7. And then we are feeling totally overwhelmed, yes, we can always play 'whack a mole' (of which we have a few in our front yard and they are clever little creatures sometimes!)

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  23. Oh, Elizabeth. You wrote this to my soul.

    You said: "Perfectionist that I was (am?), I determined that I should be a full-time wife, mother, missionary and novelist. I literally almost worked myself to death. I got sick. For three long and extremely painful years."

    This is me. Right now. In the middle of sick and clawing my way out of it. Trying to do do do too much instead of taking time to abide.

    God knew how much I needed your message. I've read it over and over since it went up last night.

    I posted John 3:27 over my work space to meditate on throughout the day.

    Thank you for the much-needed reminder to cling to Jesus.

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    1. (I think I posted this in the wrong place yesterday, Megan. Not sure you saw it)>So thankful my words (from lessons learned the hard way) can be used by the Lord to bless you, Megan. I will add that I asked about ten very close family and friends to pray the same thing for me daily--that I only do what I was given each day. It has been SO freeing and even exciting to watch the Lord answer this prayer and to have my prayer warriors check in with me. So you might consider that too. Blessings as you listen to the Lord and heal.

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  24. So thankful my words (from lessons learned the hard way) can be used by the Lord to bless you, Megan. I will add that I asked about ten very close family and friends to pray the same thing for me daily--that I only do what I was given each day. It has been SO freeing and even exciting to watch the Lord answer this prayer and to have my prayer warriors check in with me. So you might consider that too. Blessings as you listen to the Lord and heal.

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  25. This is a beautiful post, Elizabeth, and just what I needed today. There is nothing so bittersweet as broken heart before God. I run from it and yet I crave it. Thank you for sharing your heart on Seekerville.

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    1. You're welcome, Cindy, and thank you for your encouragement. Bittersweet it is, but oh, so worth it. Blessings on you today!

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  26. Elizabeth, I saw you at the Decatur Book Festival soon after The Swan House released. Are you planning to attend this year's event?

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    1. Debby, I am not sure--we will just be moving back to the US (for 9 months) and I had hoped to be launching my novel The Wren's Nest (a sequel to The Swan House and The Dwelling Place) but I don't think I can pull it off. (It was going to be coming out especially for DBF because parts of the book take place there!) but that was when I was with Gilead. Alas! Have you ever signed or had a booth at DBF?

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    2. I handled the GA Romance Writers' booth for a number of years. Then stopped attending due to family gatherings over the Labor Day Weekend. I'm wondering whether to go back this year.

      I know The Wren's Nest will be well received! :)

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    3. Well, keep me informed if you do go back and we can hug each other across our booths (if I'm there=)

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  27. Elizabeth, thank you for this inspiring, beautiful post! I'm a perfectionist. I don't like messy. Yet too often life is messy. I sometimes look at other writers who seem to be doing it right and try to figure out their secret so I can do it right too. Perhaps what I really want is "easier." I need to accept the mess and just muddle through clinging to God's hand.

    Janet

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    1. Oh, Janet, I resonate with this! I think I usually want 'easier' and 'comfortable'. Fortunately (although it FEELS unfortunate), Jesus does not give me 'easier'. I'm pretty sure I would stop clinging to Him if He did. And one of my many idols I have to lay down is comparison-because, yes, it can look like other writers have it all figured out. When I feel comparison crashing in, I go back to Jesus' words to Peter in John 21: what is that to you? You follow Me! Blessings as you keep clinging and accepting the mess. But Jesus, give Janet some unmessy moments too, please!

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    2. Elizabeth, thank you for your precious petition. Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy.

      I think you're exactly right. If Jesus gave me easier, I might not only stop clinging to Him, I might skim the surface instead of digging in and plowing through and finally getting to the power in the story He wants told.

      Janet

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    3. Yes, agreed. But I still want you to have a few unmessy moments! That doesn't have to translate to 'easier'. Blessings!

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  28. Elizabeth, your thoughts on accommodating all in life which overwhelms us touches me. I'm learning to take each activity as it comes and trying to adjust my expectations. I especially like this quote "It’s embracing every aspect of the life I’ve been called to live and living it moment by moment with Jesus." Yes, THIS! Thank you....as we walk home together. Blessings!

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    1. Thanks, Sherida! I agree--it's taking things one at a time and putting them before Jesus. Sometimes that seems even MORE time-consuming until I remind myself that so often, when Jesus is in the midst of all the mess and I'm giving time to Him, all the rest gets done more quickly as only He can help us do. Blessings!

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  29. Elizabeth, what a powerful post. Thank you so much for writing it.
    As I read along I'd see something and want to comment on it, then I'd read something ELSE and want to comment on THAT.

    I will read this multiple times to get all the beauty and wisdom from it.

    This is first:

    John the Baptist lost his head along the way, doing his job. But he didn’t lose his heart. His heart was Christ’s. All along.
    <<<
    This is something I think is so fundamental to our faith. Faith does NOT assure us of comfort, not even survival. Except the survival of our soul. And I think once we realize that, it changes everything we see about God, about our own life, about how we measure success.

    Thank you Elizabeth.

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    1. Thanks, Mary, and I totally agree. The survival (and blossoming) of our soul is what matters most. I wish I actually believed this with my actions and choices as much as I believe it with my heart and, yes, soul. Blessings!

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    2. He said, "Take up your cross and follow me." I find it hard to embrace my cross. I always want to toss it aside.

      Alas, that's not what He tells me to do. :)

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    3. Unfortunately, I can relate, Debby, to the 'hard to embrace my cross.' Sigh. He is so patient with me.

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  30. Hi Elizabeth, I am a big fan..love your books and have read them all. Especially loved The Swan House (have been there; worked near it yrs. ago) and can't wait for the sequel. I live in NE GA now. Would love to be entered for the giveaway for this great sounding book!
    Thanks!

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    1. Bonjour, dear Jackie! Yes, you have encouraged me before with your kind words about my books. Thank you! I'll be posting information about The Wren's Nest (the third in The Swan House series) in the coming months on my FB author page and website and Readers Letter. But I'd really appreciate your prayers for me to have wisdom as to self-publish it or wait to hear from yet another publisher (all previous publishers have turned it down). It is already out and doing well in Holland and comes out in Germany soon... Blessings on you!

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  31. Elizabeth,

    What a beautiful post; I so appreciate you sharing these struggles. Just like Jeanne T, I find letting go of control as I follow the path is key.

    Best,
    Laura

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    1. Thanks, dear Laura. Letting go of control! Yes and yes. It's a daily (and sometimes hourly)relinquishing of my will for His. And oh, I have still have soooo much to learn about this. Blessings!

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  32. Wow. Wonderful. Heartfelt. Inspiring. Thank you for this post. Jesus. Nothing else need be said.

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    1. Thanks, Linda. Yes, Jesus! Clinging to Him. May I 'cling' all the more quickly, day by day. Blessings!

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  33. Welcome Elizabeth! Thank you for sharing your journey with us - - and your heart. In 2010 a friend of my sister's (and a big Elizabeth Musser fan!) gave me 2 of your books as a get-well gift (I had my spine rebuilt at Piedmont in Atlanta). Oh my! The Swan House and Words Unspoken are on my Keeper Shelf! You do have a gift with words.
    I'm a lifelong Atlanta girl (born in Atlanta and lived in the surrounding area my entire life) so I always enjoy learning about others from this area! :) Thank you again for spending time with us today, and blessings as you serve and write for our Lord.
    Southern Hugs, Patti Jo :)

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    1. Thank YOU, Patti Jo! Very honored to be here today. And love 'meeting' another Atlanta gal. So sorry about your spine but Piedmont in a good place to be if you have to get 'rebuilt'. So glad you enjoyed SH and WU (as I call them!) Yes, most of my books have at least a nod to Atlanta--even this one about refugees escaping Iran and going to Austria. Can't take the Southern out of me! Blessings!

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  34. Beautiful post, Elizabeth. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

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    1. You're most welcome, Josee! Blessings!

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  35. You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens

    What an absolutely wonderful proverb. Thank you for that, Elizabeth! You heart 'showed' in your post.

    Best wishes with your book,
    Nancy C

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    1. Thanks, Nancy! Yes, as I researched Persian proverbs for the novel, this one literally took my breath away, as did the one below it. So glad my heart 'showed' and not merely 'told'. Blessings!

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  36. ATTENTION SEEKER FRIENDS!!

    OUR LOVELY GUEST ELIZABETH LIVES IN FRANCE, SO IT'S HER BEDTIME NOW, BUT SHE PROMISED TO CHECK BACK TOMORROW TO RESPOND TO ALL ADDITIONAL COMMENTS. THANKS FOR COMING BY AND GOOD LUCK IN THE DRAW!

    HUGS,
    JULIE

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    1. So then, Julie, when Elizabeth says, "Bonjour" she's NOT quoting that Beauty and the Beast song???
      That's right where my thoughts went!!!

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    2. LOL, Mary, maybe! But Elizabeth ALSO lives in France, so maybe it's a combo of the two? ;)

      Hugs!
      Julie

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  37. WE ARE ALL JUST WALKING EACH OTHER HOME. Yes, so well said.
    I love your books, Elizabeth!

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    1. Oh, thank you, Esther! Is that you? My friend whom I met at the Member Care conference in Germany? How are you? So thankful we had those few days to walk with each other! Blessings!

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  38. ELIZABETH, I LOVE this post! Thank you so much!

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  39. What a powerful testament! Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing. I understand all too well what you mean by 'the roller coaster'!
    Hugs,
    Sue

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    1. Thanks, Susan! Yes, it helps to know others are on the same roller coaster and to hear how they manage it with Jesus, doesn't it? Blessings!

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  40. Wow, that post was so beautiful. I can definitely relate with the perfectionism. And the thinking you have the perfect thing in your book only to discover that there is an issue...

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  41. And the places our journeys in Christ and in writing take us...

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    1. Thanks, Boo! perfectionism-sigh. So thankful the Lord is faithful to keep praying my fingers open so He can lead me on the journey. Blessings!

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  42. I was pretty broken when my previous career dead ended before it had hardly begun. But when I had no job, and no clue what to do with my life, that's when I decided to start writing. That, too, has been a tough journey with lots of self-doubt. But I see the gradual improvement now, and God is good in spite of me. I need to give up that internal voice (if that's even possible) that tells me NONE of my writing is good when I've had a bad writing day. I do need to cling to Jesus more. Thank you for the inspiring post.

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    1. Thanks, Lara! Giving up that internal voice--amen! I used to call it recording over the cassettes of lies with the truth. Now I need to say uploading or downloading or streaming or something else, I guess. LOL. Whatever we call it, replacing God's truth with our very flawed truth is the way to freedom, isn't it? Blessings as you write on the good and not-so-good days!

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  43. Thank you, Elizabeth, for opening your heart to us. Sometimes, when we feel alone, it's nice to read that others hearts are dealing with the same affliction. Yes, we need to keep our eyes upon Jesus. He inspires me everyday with his love, miracles, blessings, and steadfastness to my issues. Praise Him!!

    Blessings to all Seekers!

    Marcia

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    1. Thanks, Marcia. It IS so helpful (and hopeful) to walk along with others on our journey, especially one that is so very tumultuous-the writing life. We walk each other home and sometimes, Jesus just stoops down and carries us, doesn't He?

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  44. Sorry I'm late. I've only got time to pop in and say hi, then hurry off and type like mad for me Speedbo.

    Also, Mary, I just got my Building Fiction book today. Thanks so much for the little surprise you popped in there. It really made my day :)

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  45. She lives in FRANCE!!!!! Okay, that is so not fair. I want to live in FRANCE!!!

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    1. LOL, Tina! I just saw Beauty and the Beast this week, so ever since, I have imagined Elizabeth strolling through the marketplace in a French countryside hamlet with a book in hand, calling Bonjour to everyone she sees! Yes, she's a lucky girl. :)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    2. Ahem, gals, did you NOT read this paragraph from my post: But I was also living my other dream as a missions’ worker, helping to start a French evangelical church. And that job was not all croissants and cathedrals, wine and cheese. It was so, so very heart-breakingly hard, pouring ourselves out in a land filled with fascinating culture and breath-taking beauty and deep, deep disappointment with God.

      Truly, France was the BEAST to me for many years in ministry. It broke me. Or as I sometimes say, "France chewed me up and spit me out." And I sometimes went on a rant when a well-intentioned person would say, "Missions in France! Must be NICE!" I'd grit my teeth and mumble, "Fine, You try it!" But over the years, I have embraced the beauty of France and so much that is wonderful--it IS a lovely place to live. And I came to the conclusion (after writing 'Why did you call me to France') that God didn't need me in France but I need God more in France than I would have in my comfortable American environment. Soooo, end of rant=)! And I haven't seen Beauty and the Beast yet, hasn't gotten to France.

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    3. Oh, sweet Elizabeth, I love your post and your reply to this comment made me laugh. As the sister of a former missionary, I love your response. I'll never forget the time a woman was awestruck and asked me what it was like to have a sister who was a "real live missionary." LOL She looked horrified when I told her I used to think missionaries were special until my sister became one and I realized they were just regular people. :-) My sister cracked up when I said it.

      I am way overdue to review this book that you were so generous to share with me. My sister passed away in February after a journey with Younger Onset Alzheimer's and I've had some other things going on as well.

      Sending you a Texas-sized hug! <3

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    4. So sorry to hear about your sister, dear Linda. I'm sure the grieving is not easy--I can't even imagine as I grieve the one year anniversary of Mom's death.
      Is this the sister who was a missionary? Yes, we missionaries are painfully normal and regular or perhaps slightly deranged. No worries about the review. You can let me know if you have time to read it. Sending hugs!

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  46. I'm late, but this is a beautiful post and so true. I've been bent up all over through various things life has handed -health, overcommitment, issues with family. I appreciate your candor and reminder about the vine. Indie business is a lot of work but also joy. There's a nice group where we secretly vent if you want to join, LOL. Prayers and blessings ❤️

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    1. Thanks, Janet! Fortunately, in the midst of all our stuff, He reminds us to keep clinging to Him. I'd like to know more about your indie group where so secretly vent! Blessings!

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  47. Elizabeth, I so enjoyed this post. I am right where you are. Roller coaster to the end. I know without my critique partners and fellow-authors walking me home I would not be where I am today. God has broken me in a lot of ways. He's taken away many of the ministry things I was involved in. Placed me in a different church and given me responsibilites outside the church so I can't jump into the things I once did. He has left me my writing which is now deeper, richer and more fulfilling because His call to use this gifting is clear. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Oh, thank YOU for sharing your heart, "Jubilee" (since I don't know your real name--but Jubilee is pretty wonderful). Yep, brokenness, dying to pride, be willing to give up writing and the Lord giving it back. These things. I know my writing is deeper too because all the different ups and downs the Lord has let me life. Blessings!

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  48. Thank you for a beautiful and thoughtful post, Elizabeth. I'm not sure I've ever let myself break like I need to do that I learn to cling to Jesus like I should. You've given me a lot to think about. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you, Glynis. Yes, the breaking is not fun. Sometimes I couldn't help but break, but sometimes, as you said, it was a choice of bending the knee and relinquishing control and trust He knows better. As a young mom, I heard a pastor say 'The Lord never uses someone mightily whom he has not first wounded deeply.' That scared me and gave me a lot of food for thought. Blessings on you!

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  49. Thank you Elizabeth for this very inspiring post. I love the title "The Long Highway Home" and I also love the scripture that you chose to share in the beginning pages. All of us who claim Jesus as our Savior have an earthly journey to complete before we make it home. Some of us are given many years to try to get it right and others have a short time but in the end, our destinations remains the same!
    I hope to read this book soon and I pray that you have time to write many more books.
    Thank you and Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thank you, Connie! Yes, our destination remains the same and if we can help each other along the journey, it brings Him glory, doesn't it? Blessings!

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  50. Thank you for this post, Elizabeth. Your journey has been monumental, to say the least. Keeping focused on our Lord and Savior through this whole writing journey makes it the joy that it is. I don't know how anyone could write without a strong faith-based support team. Hugs and blessings to you.

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    1. Thanks, Rebecca! Yes, I agree. I am amazed with a few of my writer friends over here who have no support from family. Faith-based support team and wonderful (vocal) readers are indeed a blessing!

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  51. Like you, I have struggled with my writing--what kind does God want me to write, does he really care that I do? Thank you for this post--you have shed a piece of encouragement my way today.

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    1. Terri, if my story can encourage others to persevere with the Lord in their story, well, it doesn't get much better than that. Be blessed!

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  52. My husband and I were missionaries in Hong Kong for 19 years, and then the Lord sent us to Cambodia. I did NOT want to go to Cambodia! I finally said, "Okay, Lord, I'll obey, but I won't enjoy it." Eventually He broke me enough that I realized He's sent us there as a gift - the friendships we made were so special! He wasn't trying to punish us, but give us special people as friends and family in Christ!

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    1. Oh, Margaret, thank you for sharing your story! The breaking is so hard, but then we do indeed bend and see the beauty of His plan and the fruit it produces. Blessings on you!

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  53. What an encouraging post, Elizabeth! A beautiful reminder to me that peace lies in surrendering our own designs and letting God lead us. Thank you for sharing your journey!

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    1. So thankful that the things the Lord is teaching me can be an encouragement to others. He had such a good idea with the body of Christ, didn't He? Blessings!

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  54. Hello Elizabeth. Thank you for your thought provoking post.

    I recently journeyed through the worst two years of my life, but I leaned into God and He carried me through even though I often couldn't see it at the time. The prayers of my friends and family lifted me when I couldn't pray. I love your books, please enter me in the draw for The Long Highway Home.

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    1. Thanks, dear Ruth Ann! I too have had the experience of the prayers of the body of Christ lifting me in times when I couldn't pray. So glad you enjoy my books and blessings on you!

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