Wow, posting twice in the same month! About a week and a half ago, I posted A Christmas List for the Christian Wife, and now this! This return to writing for Chapter 3 Ministries was made possible because it is Christmas time, and therefore I’m taking a break from a major writing project that I’ve been working on.
Since I’m still on my break, I thought it might be a good time to share more about my project and update what’s happening at C3M. This post is also for my future self. It might be interesting to look back at this post someday and see how things worked out.
I mentioned my writing project in a ministry update back in April of 2020. In that update I wrote:
“After a lot of praying and weighing of options, I have decided to turn most of my writing energy towards a major project that I have wanted to finish for years. This means that I will be writing for my ministry here less often.”
And that was the plan. BUT things happened, and my project didn’t make it to the top of my To Do list until July 2022! The good news is it has stayed there – except during this Christmas break.
Ok, so what is “it”? My major writing project is a full-length novel! It is a work of fiction. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but it’s what you might call an allegory saturated with biblical themes.
The Birth of an Idea
I have been excited about this writing project since 2006. In the winter of that year, my family was on vacation in Maine. We used to head to Florida to visit friends in the wintertime, but for some crazy reason they moved back to New England! Since the Maine coast was within driving distance, yet still far enough to feel like we went somewhere, it became our new winter vacation destination.
During our 2006 Maine vacation, our daughter and I went to the movies. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had come out and was still playing. Since all the homeschoolers we knew were fans of the books, we decided to go see it. I remember liking the movie for the most part. But more than the movie itself, I was taken with the type of story it was. I liked the concept of implanting biblical themes into a story – and creating an allegory. Having already read and enjoyed Pilgrim’s Progress, I wondered, could I write an allegory? And if I did, what would it be about?
At that time, I happened to be deeply studying a biblical topic. I realized instantly that this topic would be a perfect fit for the type of writing I was thinking about. And so, an idea was born!
Working the Idea
After I got the “big idea” for my story, I worked at shaping it for a couple of years. There were lots of details that needed to be worked out. Lots of brainstorming! My family helped me with that. Some of my favorite memories are the brainstorming sessions that me and our kids had when my husband would run into a store, and we waited in the van. Their little imaginations were on fire! Though this story will NOT be for children, they were still able to contribute to various parts. My husband was a big part of the brainstorming too. He still is! He’s been creative and supportive every step of the way.
After writing about three chapters, using the original concept for my story, I burned it all! Well, not literally. But as my story came together with more ideas and more biblical themes, I realized I needed to make some adjustments. This meant some new characters, new outlines, and more brainstorming! Writing this story has been a lot of work, and there’s a lot more to do. But it’s work I love.
Balancing Life’s Responsibilities and other Ministry with Writing
From 2006 on, I wrote whenever possible. I picked up my story and put it down again for various reasons. Being a wife and mom came before writing. Though I saw my novel as ministry because it is being written for the glory of God and has a strong gospel theme, my family is my first ministry. Also, homeschooling came before writing. That was eighteen busy and precious years. Helping my husband with his business also came first. Other ministry work, both local and online, came first. Decisions had to be made all the time about how to spend my time, and by extension, how my writing would fit in. Those decisions were based on my overwhelming desire to serve God every day in the ways that are pleasing to Him. I have long said, if I’m alive, I must serve God or what’s the point of living?
Another example of decision making regarding the time spent on my novel involved this very site. Back in 2013, we were still homeschooling. Since our oldest child had graduated in 2012, I was down to just one student. This meant there was now “extra” time for me to expand the ministry work that I was already doing in addition to my family. My husband and I talked and prayed about how I could best serve God in that freed up time. What form would that work take? Should I pick up my novel again or expand the online ministry work that I had been doing since 2010?
My husband and I decided that the right option was to expand my online work, and it would take the form of my own website. So, Chapter 3 Ministries was born! It seemed better for me to work on something that could have immediate impact (this site has new readers everyday even when I’m not regularly posting, not to mention the women who contact me with questions or for help) than work on a book that might never get finished or never get read by anyone.
The ministry possibilities of my novel were far from immediate, so for seven years I stayed the course and wrote for C3M. My husband, family, and others in real life come first; but online work like C3M (and the accompanying Facebook and Twitter accounts) has been an outlet that has allowed me to do more that I could have imagined. What a blessing it’s been to be able to serve in this way since I have been mostly couchbound – and now mostly homebound since 2008.
As mentioned above, in 2020, how I should best spend my “extra” time was evaluated again. This time my husband said, it’s time to put C3M mostly on hold and work on the book. But life is funny, and as previously stated, it didn’t make it permanently to the top of my “To Do” list until July 2022.
I should mention that this would be my second book. Somehow in the seven years that I wrote for C3M, I also managed to write A Zero Fluff Bible Study for Women: The Deity of Christ. Before I opted to give that project the time it needed, my husband and I did another assessment. Putting that study out would mean putting my novel (and other ministry work) on hold once again. Since I was being asked for a book version of my study, it seemed right to give it all the time it would take. Honestly, I have ideas for a whole series of Zero Fluff Studies and for at least one or two marriage books. I could have easily taken that path, but instead we decided to put those ideas aside and try to get the novel done. Lord willing, I will come back to those things later. We’re doing the best we can to manage my time to best serve God and our family. It’s something we all need to consider and revisit now and then.
Writing With Disability
For me, writing is slow. Though it is less often than in the past, chronic nerve pain still drives me to the couch about four times a day. And even when I’m up, my heath can prevent me from writing.
When I first became couchbound in 2008, my writing would have come to an end if I had not discovered speech recognition. For how do you type well when belly down on the couch? Thanks to speech recognition software, my laptop, and a mic, writing didn’t disappear from my world. Using speech recognition software is not as easy or as fast as typing, but it worked. In fact, at this point, most of the “writing” for my novel has been done this way. Speech recognition technology has gotten a lot better over the years; but thankfully, in more recent years, I have been able to sit up longer and type!
So being a wife, being a mom, homeschooling, my husband’s business, this site, other online ministry, local ministry, another book – also friends, extended family, showers, a wedding, graduations, a new grandson, and life in general have all affected the writing of my novel. And of course, the big one – my health.
And that is where the prayer requests come in. Could you please pray that if the Lord wills, I might finish this work? Could you please pray that my health won’t slow me down anymore? It already slows me down plenty. Most days I’m doing ok – probably better than in the past, but I’m always in some degree of pain. Some days are still very bad. Honestly, I don’t think I’m a brilliant fiction writer, but I think I have a good story to tell. I pray it might someday get into the world for the glory of God, and that it touches many lives.
Please also pray that my writing and story are faithful to the Bible. That is my earnest prayer too. If it wasn’t faithful, I wouldn’t want it to be read by anyone. In my mind, I envision a finished book that if a theologian was to pick it up, they would see sound biblical theology and layers of meaning. But I also envision that same book being picked up by an eighteen-year-old woman who reads it, is moved by it, and grows closer to or turns to Christ – not needing to even consciously grasp the full measure of symbolism and biblical themes in the story. Big goals. Lots of work. Lots of risk.
Writing Despite the Risks
Telling you about my project is a risk. I might fail. That could be embarrassing. I’m also risking time, time that could be spent on other ministry work. It might take me another two years to finish the first draft. And then comes the rewriting and editing. I’m risking hours, days, and years for something that might never see the light of day.
But I know that the Lord has everything in His hands. His will be done. If I never finish this project, or if it never gets published, or if the Lord returns first, it is being done for the Lord and the gospel. That is ministry worth the risks. Lives will hopefully be touched in ways I haven’t imagined. Who knows, maybe someday you’ll read it. Maybe you’ll love it!
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You and all that you do for the Lord have been and remain in my prayers ! Congrats on the new grandson! They’re the best and another avenue for ministry. Praying you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Yours in Christ,
Hi Joanne, Thank you so much for your prayers. They are deeply appreciated. Thank you for the congrats on our new grandson too. He is such an incredible joy. Love him like crazy! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family! <3
Hello Sharon, it’s great to read more from you. Congratulations on your new book project and being able to stick to it despite your busy schedule and health issues. I’m praying for you and excited to read your future work. I’m a huge fan of your Zero Fluff Bible study (such a breath of fresh air to read) and your reviews and warning you’ve shared when you’ve attended Bible conferences that are out there (such as Beth Moore).
I see from the above post that you have a grandson, Congratulations. So happy for you. I’m a grandma too and sooo loving it. Our little man brings such sunshine into our lives. It truly is such a wonderful, different experience and my husband and I are so thankful and blessed.
Have a Marry Christmas and may the NEW YEAR bring many blessings for you. Tami
Hi Tami! Thank you for your kind words about my work. It is always a huge encouragement to hear that it is well received. And thank you for your prayers! They mean a lot! Congratulations on your grandson too!! I am right there with you loving every minute of it. They are such a blessing. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!
Glad to have specifics to prayer on for you. Also, glad you took the risk to tell everyone about your dream. It will take awhile, but you’ll get there. I do think swimming 3X/week in a heated pool during the summer will kick in your creative juices. Yup….in fact, I’m quite sure of it!!!!
Thank you for the prayers, Amanda! And I agree. The pool will do the trick! Looking forward to it and seeing you again! <3
Sharon, I will pray for you and I appreciate all you have shared in this post with so much honesty. I have learned so much from you and your study resources and all the emphasis you put on context. I would love to read your book if Lord willing it comes to fruition. Praying for your energy, strength and wisdom each day and for you to be kind to yourself as you move forward with writing.
Hi Christine, Thank you for your prayers, kind words, support, and encouragement. Your comment is truly edifying. Thank you!