Stand By Me

My friend Kaylee, standing by me after our senior year of high school. {2007 feels like forever ago.} Grateful for her. Grateful for you.

My friend Kaylee, standing by me after our senior year of high school. {2007 feels like forever ago.} Grateful for her. Grateful for you.

This past summer we went to an event called “Taste of Orland.”

Local restaurants set up booths to sell everything from barbecue sandwiches to chicken enchiladas. Local charities set up tables to share information on everything from adopting a cat to supporting cancer research. And on center stage, a local country music band played covers of all the songs I used to sing in high school, and probably haven’t sung since.

In front of the stage there was a platform set up for anyone brave enough to dance in broad daylight. Mostly children, and a few women who obviously outgrew their self-consciousness. {I want to be them someday.}

A couple times I asked Toddler if she wanted to dance. Each time she ran to the dance floor. But each time she stopped short.

She wouldn’t step on the platform. Just stood on the edge and watched longingly as all the other kids pranced around.

After a couple failed attempts to go it alone, she ran back to me, grabbed my hand, and said, “C’mon Mommy!” This time we both stopped at the edge. But this time I knelt down and gave her a soft nudge so that her feet were finally standing on the platform.

Suddenly carefree, she let loose. Sometimes mimicking the dance moves of the older kids she admired. Sometimes standing in place and bobbing up and down. But finally dancing.

And always looking back to see if Mommy was still there. Still watching, still cheering her on. Still standing by her.

This year I found myself standing on the edge of my own “dance floor.”

Pursuing something I love to do {writing}, and working towards the next level {publishing}. I first admitted to myself almost two years ago:

Thursday, January 9, 2014. I want to write a book for adults. And get it published.

{No, not a porno.}

But this week on social media I was able to announce that I recently signed a book deal with Thomas Nelson, specifically with their division called W. Publishing Group. {OH MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS.}

It has been an exciting couple of months. Full of anticipation and biting my fingernails as I waited to hear from my agent whether or not any publishers were interested. And before that, waiting to hear if the literary agency was even interested.

But in order to be completely honest with you, I have to say that it has also been a long and bumpy road.

Yes, a road full of anticipation and excitement. But plenty of rejection and discouragement too.

Only nine months after admitting my goal to myself for the first time, I typed up my discouragement in a Word document. I recorded the voices of ridicule I was struggling to keep out of my head. And I actually named the document, “I Have a Dream…And It’s Wrecked.” {Extra points for drama.}

Friday, October 31, 2014. I have this dream. This pipe dream of being a writer. But right now, I have never felt more discouraged. The voices in my head are screaming at me:

“You’re too young to be a writer. You have no life experiences. Your audience will never be big enough to market a book. You have to speak in order to be a successful writer, and you fumble like an idiot. You don’t have a story worth sharing. You haven’t done anything big enough that would sell a book. Yeah, you have lots of ideas and passions, but how are you living those out? How are you practicing what you preach? You’re not even good at writing. Everything you write has been said already.”

Yes, dramatic. Harsh too. When I read those words again I wince just a little bit. But I don’t think I’m the only one who has struggled through this kind of discouragement. I’m guessing a lot of people could personalize that paragraph with words of ridicule they have heard in their own heads:

You're not pretty enough...

You're not good enough...

You have nothing to offer...

But then the encouragement.

The people who have supported me along the way. Those who have said “Great job!” and “Keep it up!” and “You have a gift!” and “Thank you for writing!”

So I just want to clear the air, you are awesome. In the least creepy way possible, a group of us girls were talking about you this weekend and what a blessing your blog is in our lives. Seriously. I think it is so cool how God has been able to use your gift of writing and gift of time at home to minister to so many people...even people you have never met like ourselves. I just wanted to let you know God is using you in big ways…SO thank you, thank you, thank you. Your blog is real, Gospel-driven, hilarious, and genuine. Be encouraged and get the book published...I'll be one of your number one promoters!  - Nicole

Those who have gently reminded me to keep my head on straight, my priorities straight, and my mind focused. Those who have said that it’s not actually about page views and followers and publishing, but about choosing to glorify God wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.

I just wanted to say a huge "THANK YOU" from the bottom of my heart for your blog post today! It couldn't have come at a better time! I love you and I love reading your writings! God knew what I needed and I thank Him for you and how He allowed you to touch my heart even though you're far away! – Nikki

Those who have walked with me up to the "dance floor," knowing it was where I felt God leading me to go. Who gave me a little nudge and then clapped and cheered whenever I turned around to remember I'm not alone. Who reminded me to first look up and remember I'm not alone.

Hey Kendra - I just wanted to let you know how much I have been appreciating your posts!!! You write so honestly and openly about how real life is, but have such a gracious way of incorporating God’s truths! What a blessing your posts have been to me, and I’m sure many others! – Heidi

Those who have stood by me through all the exciting “Yes’s,” and even more important, all the discouraging “No’s.”

I don’t write to receive compliments and flattery.

Not that it is never a weakness, a struggle. But we don’t live, work, or perform for other people’s praise. Not even for the praise of other Christians.

But sometimes we let the voices of the world become louder than the Voice of Truth in our lives. Sometimes we need the fresh breath of the Spirit's encouragement to wash over us and block out the lies and discouragement we are fed all too often. Sometimes we need to be nudged in the right direction.

Truth is always found in Scripture. But also in the wise voices of the Body surrounding us as well. As the Body, we support each other's work. As the Body, we don't have to go it alone. As the Body, we stand by each other. 

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds… {Hebrews 10:24}

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up… {1 Thessalonians 5:11}

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. {Hebrews 3:12-13}

So my questions for you are these:

Who can you say/write encouraging words to today?

Who could use a fresh breath of kindness? A gentle nudge in the right direction?

Who would appreciate a “Great job!” or “Keep it up!” or “You have a gift!” or “Thank you?"

Is someone you know making a tough decision? Going through a hard time? Starting a new adventure? Taking a leap of faith? Struggling with self-esteem? Heading down the wrong path? 

Or on the flip side, has someone been that voice of encouragement for you during an important time in your life? 

Please, reach out to them. Email this to them. Share this with them. Tag them. Call them. Text them. Your words can be short and simple. Your encouragement doesn't even have to be words.

You just never know when your "random" encouragement will become the perfectly timed truth that person needed to hear. 

As the Body, let's counteract the discouraging, mocking, ridiculing, lying voices of the world. Let's be God's Voice of Truth to someone who needs to hear it today.

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. {Proverbs 16:24}

 

Grace and Peace,
Kendra

 

P.S. I promise to share a few more details about my book soon! In the meantime, thank you so much for your encouragement over the past years in the form of reading, sharing, commenting, and most of all - prayer. I appreciate you so much and want you to know that God has used you to encourage me in a big way in the midst of writing, living, celebrating, and grieving. Thank you, thank you, thank you. What a bitter year it has been - mourning the loss of our daughter. Yet, what a sweet gift it is to watch God create beauty out of the ashes. Praise Him, praise Him.