Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Brimming with Joy

Do you ever have those times in your life when you feel like your joy is just brimming? I'm going through one of those periods and I'm so grateful to a loving God who answers prayers. That's not to say that everything in life is perfect or that I'm without my challenges and weaknesses. Quite the contrary. But I see how He's blessed me and I can't help but praise Him.

At church on Sunday, not only was I blessed to have my own children witness of the truths they're learning about God's love and His miracles in their lives, but the whole congregation was bless to hear from a little six year old angel. Sometimes, the most profound truths are expressed in the most simplest forms and with such power and conviction as to move the soul. I NEEDED to feel my Heavenly Father's Spirit and in a mighty way and he answered my prayers. What the little girl sweetly testified in front of our whole congregation was simply that God answers prayers and that we just need to lift our voices to Him. The Spirit confirmed it so powerfully within my heart and from her father's account as he gazed out over the congregation, at least 80% felt just as I did: moved to tears and stirred in the soul. It's moments like those that are simple, sweet, but powerful and I'm grateful to have experienced it.

About nine months ago, I was motivated to begin writing my first novel. I've considered the opportunity just as I have  considered other software projects. Yet, there was something so immediate, impulsive and gratifying in the exploration of something I had never ventured to do before. I'm not a writer by education or trade and yet, the inspiration over a six week period was nearly constant, driving me to complete the first draft of a romance novel.

When I've mentioned to friends that I was either writing or working on publishing a novel I've had polarized responses when they discover the genre; romance. The women are almost 100% engaged, excited and bewildered that I could possible write such a thing. The men usually sniff, express in their body language a mocking attitude, and 100% of the time simply say, "Oh." Clearly, the audience was not meant to be men and many men have wondered why I would spend any time at all exploring such emotions and drama required to make a novel interesting.

The experience was liberating and meaningful as I weaved a tail of young, late twenty somethings yearning for love. The tale is not terribly original as love and relationships aren't new in humanity, civilization or to the written word. But how the feelings for people are assessed, change, qualified, and made real was part of why I wrote the book. Another reason for writing it was to discover the love I have for the city where I grew up and for the woman I fell for in my youth. The locations are a collection of so many experiences we shared in high school and it was fun to review those moments and feelings.

After months of editing, with the help of four incredibly helpful and willing friends, a copy of the novel was finally ready to publish. But just as is characteristic of my personality, rather than pushing forward and immediately publishing it, I sat on it and let it ruminate for additional months while I filled my time with Seminary preparation, soccer matches (only coached 2 teams) and yes, writing more novels. In the background I prepped the work to be published via iBooks (Apple's digital content delivery system for books).

That is until yesterday. After searching what was required to publish the book on Amazon Kindle, I realized the time to act had come. I quickly prepped the text in another format (Word Doc is their preferred format) and uploaded the text along with a cool book cover provided by the talented photographer Lindsay Walden

With a few clicks, the book was published and with hours it was available for purchase on the Amazon book store. 

Of course I've had some minor tweaks to make, including correcting who actually wrote the book, but the experience was incredibly gratifying and exciting. 

Along with the publishing of the book, I ramped up the social media marketing and over-invited my FB friends to like the book's FB page ( Feedback has been largely positive, though I've not heard any non-editors that have yet to actually read the book so we'll see how my ego is after the first few nasty reviews.

Along with the publishing of the book on Kindle, I finished my first draft of the second novel in my trilogy Equilibrium Exposed. 

It will likely be another year before I get around to publishing the second book as I'd like to let the first one sit in publication for about a year first. But that also gives me plenty of time to finish the last in the series, another exciting venture I never would have thought to attempt just a year prior.

Lastly, today, the 19th anniversary of my marriage to my dear wife Rebecca causes my heart to swell with gratitude for God's gift of mercy. As a token of that love, I hope she can see the culminating activities around publishing the love story on Amazon and iBook (pushed the button this afternoon during lunch) as a way of saying, "I love you!" She is so very patient and giving and she deserves more love than I'm capable of offering. Yet she freely chooses mine and it fills me with gratitude for being chosen to be hers.

So why am I happy? God answers prayers. He fills me with love. He's blessed me eternally. Am I without struggles and trials? Weaknesses? Grief? Certainly not. But He knows the better path to travel and He beckons me ceaselessly to follow Him on it. My source of happiness is in Him and all that He blesses me with. Grateful I am to have eyes to see it and heart to accept it.
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