faith · reflections · writing

What’s the Presence You Really Want?

Last week the heavens cracked open and poured rain all over the blue-tinged mountains we call Appalachia. So much that when I returned home from my writers conference in Asheville, the local paper’s headline bemoaned how we’d gone from not enough rain to way too much.

Trees down. Roads flooded. A general soggy mess. And a couple days of sunshine not near enough to dry things out.

By the time I came home from BRMCWC, that’s pretty much how I felt too. A little soggy and a lot poured out–not quite like that Luke verse I love that promises a good measure. More like when my kids spill a glass of sweet tea and there’s a sticky mess.

All my new writer friends (and wow, are these people talented and creative and fresh voiced) came home and got to work. More Facebook pages and new blogs and book proposals have been created in the last three days then I can even begin to follow.

I came home and crashed.

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I had to read Pepper Basham’s new book, y’all. It’s part of my job after all. You should read it too. Especially if you need a nice break and a does of good romance.

Then that little ugly green streak quivered its way up my arm, heading straight for my heart. What if she gets an agent and I don’t? What if her book’s a bestseller and mine’s not? What if her blog goes viral and mine stays sleepy?

Yeah, even those of us who have “made it” get those niggling pains of fear disguised as jealousy.

Because that’s really what it is. Fear. Fear of never being good enough. Fear of never giving back enough. Fear of God not taking my offering and finding it as worthy as hers or his.

In my last few days, I finally swiped open my friend Matthew’s new book. He’s a Blue Ridge friend, of course. Last year, gala awards, same table. A Presbyterian pastor from Canada and a Southern Baptist girl from Georgia and we connected over the one thing that matters most–awe at what God is doing.

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In Let God Be Present, Matthew writes, “Moses needed more than the promise of God’s presence. He needed to see it, and see it now. He was at the point of really wanting it. He wanted it because he was the one who had to lead the people. He wanted it for his people because he knew they would be the ones who would have to try and live out the holy life of work and rest in God’s name, for others to see and be drawn to the most beautiful, wonderful, awe-filled relastionship there is. They would need to live this God-filled life.”

Matthew goes on to ask in challenge, “He wants the presence of God. Do we?”

Do I?

Because if I am truly surrendered to the Adonai of all, then my desire–before I ever open this laptop to tap out words or bend the spine of my journal to scratch them–will be for God’s presence.

Dear friends, if what you’re doing right now doesn’t invite God’s presence, may I encourage you to take some time and rest? Slow the busyness and invite God into your everyday ordinary. You might be surprised how He calls you out from there.

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Did you know my debut novel, Still Waters,  is available for pre-order on Amazon? I know, I still get all the grins. It’s in the cover design process with my publisher, but don’t judge a book by that–right? And if you want more info on how you can spread the word follow me on Facebook as Lindsey P. Brackett, Author.

just write life · Margin Mom · motherhood · writing

Definitely Not All That and a Bag of Chips

Let me tell you one of my absolute favorite reasons for attending writers conferences. Not only do I get to hang with my awesome friends whose minds work a good bit like mine, not only do I get to take classes from really smart people who become awesome friends, and not only do I get to network with awesome industry professionals who encourage and give me guidance,

I get respect.

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Some of my people. Aren’t they fun? Hannah Hall, Hannah Brock, Lyndsey Hulen, and Janet Surrette.

I’ve got a few bylines, great connections, and a job in publishing which means people approach me as a professional. Newbies ask me for advice and they want to talk this motherhood-writing-publishing-loving Jesus gig with me as if I know some secret they don’t.

Here’s what I know. I’m not all that and a bag of chips.

I’m a harried mom who has never really learned the art of simply playing with my kids.

I’m a stretched writer because I want to fulfill my creative endeavors and pay my bills.

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With Bruce Stewart, one of our prolific Splickety writers.

I’m a published author because of grace and maybe a little raw talent, but mostly a whole lot of right place at the right time.

Yeah, definitely not as together as I’d like to appear.

Two Saturdays ago I taught an online class about finding time to write. I had tried and true tips, funny anecdotes, and good connections to pass on to these writers.

But this past Saturday afternoon I cried hot streaming tears so hard and so fast, my daughters rubbed my shoulders and told me to just take my computer into the bedroom and close the door and work.

Because I had run out of time to finish edits to my never-existing satisfaction and my morning had not gone as planned and it’s the first week of summer and I’d gotten up early every day to work and I was so, so tired.

When I spoke with my editor she gave me some beautiful advice. “God doesn’t want your perfection, Lindsey. He wants your excellence.”

There’s a difference.

Perfection doesn’t exist for flawed, broken people. We can’t be perfect because that unattainable quality is reserved for the great Creator God. What we can be is givers of excellence, strivers of offering only our best, lovers of good works that resonate with souls.

And perfection actually doesn’t resonate with mine.

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The lovely Lucinda McDowell who is helping me market my novel and wrote my current favorite devotional, Dwell.

So I quit fiddling for now and sent in my manuscript. And I got a lot honest with myself. I’m terrified of the expectations I’ve heaped upon this book. But all I can do is the best I have right now, at this moment.

And that might not be good enough for some people. Everyone’s not going to love this novel that’s getting birthed from a small publishing house with a lot of wise people helping me along this journey.

Sort of like, everyone doesn’t read this blog. Everyone doesn’t think I’m all that. Everyone doesn’t believe I really have it all together.

And those might be the people I’m most grateful for. Because they push me to strive beyond my “good enough” and find that place where I can be excellent. And then they challenge me to find it over and over, again and again.

But never expect perfection. That’s a death trap of comparison and joy-stealing and self-hatred.

Perfection belongs to Christ. And we belong to Him.

writing

Hanging with My People at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference

It’s been a whirlwind of a May (always) around here. We spent last week in Washington, DC. Then we came home and I left for one of my favorite events of the year — the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers conference.

This year coming to conference is like coming home. Some of my dearest writer friends are here with me and it is my privilege to represent Splickety Publishing Group on faculty. So while I don’t have 1000 words in me for this space right now, I do have pictures and you know what they say.

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With bestselling author and great friend to Splickety, DiAnn Mills.
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Hanging with Pepper Basham who helps me understand marketing and writing and mothering all at the same time. She’s a fellow author with Lighthouse Publishing. 
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With Hannah Hall (she’s really that cool). We met two years ago at this conference and God has blessed me with her friendship and wisdom. Hannah writes beautiful children’s books.
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So many great gals in this pic. On the far right is Bethany Jett who changed my writing life by introducing me to Splickety and in the middle is the sweet and kind Blythe Daniel. If I wrote non-fiction, I’d want her to be my agent.
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Debbie and I are in the same online critique group with Word Weavers. She makes me a better writer and always has a smile to offer.