Today is my book’s birthday! Renew was published one year ago, so today is a good day to reflect on what I’ve learned the past year. I hope these reflections encourage you.
1. Labels are just labels.
The author label is just a label — a one-word description of a project I accomplished. We often read labels of others and allow the descriptor to validate them or their skills. While I’m not discrediting the hard work of writing and publishing a book, I’m also not putting too much weight on being an author or allowing that title to add unhealthy pressure or prideful prestige.
How about you?
What label do you wear? I gently remind you that the God who hung each star in place also knows you by name. God is keenly aware of all the labels you wear, but his love and grace for you are not dependent on what you do. It’s challenging to rest in his grace, yet it’s necessary for our wayward souls.
2. Kingdom work doesn’t usually follow the framework of the world.
The New York Times Bestseller List is just a list. I wrote Renew while thinking of one reader and whispering a hopeful prayer the book would encourage many readers (and “many” would be defined by God, not me). I knew my platform was “too small” to make the acclaimed list of bestselling books.
I wrote anyway.
I edited anyway.
I re-edited and proofread a bajillion times anyway.
I worked hard for my one reader, striving to be faithful in the small things, as the scripture says. Of course, selling millions of copies would be great, but I’ve learned that Kingdom work doesn’t usually follow the framework of the world. There’s a delicate balance here: seeking advice from the successful while holding our work with open hands to the One whose view of success is often beyond our ability to fully see.
I asked questions, considered the practices of other authors, and evaluated advice. But, ultimately, we have to balance our calling to finish the work within the confines of how we are intricately created to glorify our Creator, not a culture.
How about you?
Are there certain levels of success you strive to attain? Is there a culture surrounding your work, family, hobbies, social media feeds, or even church that emphasizes ideals that don’t align with scripture? If you are a follower of Christ, know that Kingdom work — bringing the Light of the gospel of Jesus into a dark and hurting world — looks different than work of the world. So keep looking to God’s Word, prayerfully evaluating what God has for you to do.
3. God’s timing is perfect.
I’ve known this for a long time, but it’s a truth I continue to learn. I originally wanted a publish date of Spring 2020. I pushed for it, and honestly, I heaped stress on myself, striving for a date. But in early 2020, it became clear that Renew would be published later.
Then we all entered a worldwide pandemic in the Spring of 2020. And I marveled at the Providence of God. He knew I would lack the capacity for a book launch because of the chaos of virtual learning, grocery shortages, and confusion from a situation no one understood.
Several months later, Renew launched into the world when many people felt disoriented, overwhelmed, and spiritually dry. For such a time as this.
How about you?
Is there a goal you keep pushing toward?
An outcome you strive to attain?
A prayer you’ve prayed a thousand times that remains unanswered?
I’ve been there (and still am). What I’ve learned and keep reminding myself is this: hindsight gives us insight into the grand story God is writing. Yet, in the present, we can become depressed, distraught, and discouraged as our expectations of timing don’t unfold. Let’s trust the Author, especially in the difficult chapters.
4. God does abundantly more than I can ask or imagine.
I’m in awe of a God who can use words I wrote months earlier to apply to a reader’s present circumstance. I witnessed this first-hand this past summer at my church. Our women’s ministry read Renew together. I spoke every week, then enjoyed time at a small group table where we chatted and shared. Our Thursday evenings together renewed me in fresh ways, and the study ranks right up there with one of my most meaningful moments as a writer. I heard ladies share what God was showing them, how they were learning and growing in their faith, and unique insights from the weekly reading.
During the writing process, I often prayed God would use my words to connect hearts to him. There’s no way I could comprehend all the ways he would do that. Hearing personal stories of renewal deepens my faith in a God who not only answers prayer but uses my words in unique ways in individual hearts.
How about you?
Where have you seen God take your small offering and bless beyond measure? Take a few moments and thank him.
Pray faith-filled prayers. Ask God for the desires of your heart (and align them with his). Then keep your eyes open to see the abundance of a good God who does more than we can ask or imagine.
5. God uses encouragement to confirm gifting.
There are days I doubt my abilities, wondering if the work of my hands makes any difference in the world. Somedays, I veer off onto the slippery path of comparison, where the enemy lures me to linger, knowing if I stay there, I’ll become a bit depressed, jealous, and unmotivated to share Light with the world.
And then I’ll receive a spark. Someone will compliment my writing, sharing how my post or article or book encouraged their faith.
The match strikes.
Hope ignites, pushing back the darkness of doubt.
God uses another’s encouraging words to confirm my gifting, cheering me on in my writing.
How about you?
Don’t underestimate the power of an encouraging word. If you see the work of Jesus in another, cheer them on. Your message may be the flicker God uses to help someone fight the darkness with faith.
And on the days where the shadows of doubt loom in your own heart, recall encouraging words spoken to you. Message a trusted friend and say, “I could use some encouragement right now.” This isn’t fishing for compliments; it’s intentionally seeking Light when the day is dim. Fight the dark with goodness.
Perhaps you are celebrating something today, or maybe you’re just trying to make it through the day. Whatever today holds for you, know that the Author of Life loves you and has good works for you to do.
Whether it’s writing, parenting, teaching, nursing, supervising, calculating, presenting, counseling, or countless other gifts, may the works of our hands bring glory to the One who gives us the time and place to use them.
If you’ve read Renew . . .
Would you leave a review? Your review helps me celebrate the book and makes it possible for more people to hear the message of Renew. Really, it’s the best birthday gift you can give me! You can write the same review at leave it on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Christian Book, Books-A-Million. If you also enjoyed the Renew Companion Journal, I’d love you to write a quick review for it as well!
If you haven’t read Renew . . .
Consider this your invitation to refresh your heart. If you’d like a fresh framework to guide your time with God, moving you from weary to refreshed, Renew is for you.
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