Have you ever seen The Emperor’s New Groove? I’ve documented my love for this all-too-often-ignored-and-unknown gem many times here, but, since I derived this post’s title from one of my favorite quotes from the movie, I thought I’d give it another plug. If it’s not on your family’s movie night rotation, it should be. I accept expressions of gratitude in the form of almond croissants (the extra-gooey kind) and Dr. Pepper Icees (can you tell my inner pregnant girl just took over the keyboard?). And if you don’t fall in love with Kronk and have the urge to start creating your own theme music…well…I’m just not sure we can be friends.
ANYHOO, what in the world does that post title mean anyway? Lemme ‘splain. (Because you know I’m not going sum up; I don’t have that setting in my brain).
At one point in the movie, Cuzco, a narcissistic South American emperor who has been turned into a llama (natch) by his jealous personal adviser, gets turned into several other things including a parrot, a turtle, and a whale in an attempt to return him to human form. When he finds himself transformed BACK into a llama after being zapped with several other potions, he claps his now familiar hooves together and happily chortles, “Yay! I’m a llama again!!!”…before realizing that, wait, that’s not where he was trying to end up.
That’s a little bit how I feel telling you that, in 2 years time, you will be able to buy a book written by none other than yours truly!
That’s right! I’m going to be a published author!!
(See? I signed a paper and everthing!)
Which…after holding the dream of doing just that in my heart for practically my entire life and writing steadily on my blog and social media for almost 9 years, should feel a bit like being turned into a llama again. (Wait, wasn’t I already a writer?)
Only, it doesn’t. It feels wonderful. And a bit surreal still.
You see, I started this blog (as 5 Days…Five Ways…anybody remember?) with the express purpose of growing a readership so that I could then bring that readership to a publisher and say, “Here! Look! These people will read my book!” I mean, it was also a huge creative outlet for sure. But still. That was the goal.
Except, when I first started that iteration of my blog, I “only” had three kids and had no idea the journey the Lord had in store for our family over the next 9 years. Suffice it to say that, though I never stopped writing, and I even took some steps toward the formal publishing process, the concept of actually publishing a book while homeschooling + fitness instructing + teaching Spanish at a home school co-op + running a business + keeping a house decent + raising 8 small humans + being a good wife felt a bit like fiction.
The desire to write never diminished, though. And, over the years, the Lord began to reveal to me a need that I could meet here on the blog but especially on social media (where I do a fair bit of micro-blogging). More and more, I received messages from fellow mamas asking me questions about child-training, homeschooling, time management, Biblical motherhood and so much more. And more and more, I realized that, even as inadequate as I often felt to answer, the Lord was equipping me, through my own experiences of trial and error and prayer and perseverance with my kids, to answer many of these questions in a helpful way. More and more, he gave me a heart for championing motherhood, and as I embraced it, I encountered more and more kindred spirits and fellow mamas searching for direction.
You can be sure that I compose all of my correspondence in this orderly and well-coiffed condition (ahem).
Now, let me be the first to say that I do not have all the answers. Only God does. But I have found some really simple rhythms for our family that have helped so much in increasing the levels of peace and productivity in our home. I really feel like in the shaping of me as a mama, God was also giving me meaningful book content galore.
Because, here’s the thing: I can sit down and write about anything and everything for hours. It just flows out of my brain onto the screen. But, in all of my years of yearning to write a book (let’s just pretend that novel I wrote when I was 26 doesn’t count, m’kay?), I never had a clear enough vision for the content to actually be able to craft a cohesive topic from start to finish. My interests are wide and varied. But I knew that I didn’t want to write a book about thrifting + exercising + mama tips + house-building + + +
So, what did I want to write about?
It wasn’t until I started using the hashtag #hardisnotthesamethingasbad and receiving lots of feedback that it was a concept that mamas wanted to hear these days that I began to really own the personality and giftings that the Lord has given me as a mother. I am determined, (fairly) disciplined, relatively organized, and a good communicator and motivator. (Keep in mind that I am also notmany other things). Pushing through the hard to find the good is something the Lord has grown in me over the last 14ish years of being a mama, and it seemed to strike a chord with many of you.
How much hair is too much hair? Asking for a friend.
And suddenly, I knew what my book should be about. To that end, I started writing. It felt exciting! And then, I got pregnant with Shiloh. And the writing took a backseat to the fatigue and nausea of pregnancy combined with regular life.
The beginning of that book skulked around the corners of my mind, though, teasing me with the possibilities, if only I would commit. I knew I had enough to query an agent or approach a publisher with at least a hope of being accepted, but my perfectionist streak just wouldn’t let me do it, and I wasn’t willing to sit down to take the time to research the “perfect” agent or publishing house when I wasn’t as far along as I wanted to be.
Fast-forward through one of the busiest summers and falls of our lives (so. much. travel), and I found myself smack in the middle of November, 2019 with Christmas right around the corner.
Shaun travels a fair bit at the end of the year, and he was gone on a trip that week. I remember I was upstairs doing laundry and listening to an audiobook, while the older kids were at my mom’s and Shiloh napped. I had my phone in my hand with my earbuds attached as I headed from my closet to the laundry room, and it pinged to let me know I had a new email. I almost ignored it, since I was on a roll and wanted to finish my chores before Shiloh woke up.
But then, I noticed it was from someone named Heather at a publishing company.
Here’s the thing: I get a fair number of emails from publishing houses, most of them asking me whether I’d like an advance copy of this book or that to review.
I never get particularly excited when I see them in my inbox, but for some reason, I indulged the tiniest micro-fantasy of, “What if?” when I saw that email from Heather come through. Mid-stride on my way to the laundry room, I thought, “What if it’s not another request to review someone else’s book but instead someone’s asking me whether I’d like to publish one of my own.” I dismissed that as silly and kept walking.
But then, I looked down at that first line of the email again, and my heart did a little half-somersault. What did the rest of that say? Something about…
I opened the email.
I read it. And then I read it again.
And then, I screenshotted it and sent it to Shaun.
When he’s on work trips, he often can’t answer my texts right away, but I received his response in mere seconds:
“WHAT? No way! That’s amazing!”
And it was. Because, you see, my “micro-fantasy” had blossomed into full-fledged reality. Heather had been following my blog for years. She had had three children at the same time as my last three (Theo, Honor, and Shiloh), and she really related to what I had to say about motherhood and how I approached life from a Biblical perspective. She had been wanting to reach out to me for a while, and she wondered whether I had ever considered publishing a book.
I stood there vibrating with excitement and tried to compose my racing thoughts into something resembling coherent prayers (Lord, please, THANK YOU! show me, oh, if it’s your will, should I? OH MY GOODNESS, LORD! LOOK WHAT YOU DID!). After a few minutes, I wrote something calm, cool, and collected back like, “Hi there, Heather. Thanks for reaching out. Actually, publishing a book has been on my radar for a while.” (HA) “What did you have in mind?”
And thus began what was ultimately a months long back and forth conversation about my book. If I have learned anything about the publishing process so far, it is that it does not move quickly. But that’s okay. I’ve waited 37 years to get here so far. What’s a couple more? I submitted a proposal. It was accepted. There was some negotiation over the title. I ultimately thought it might be better to write a different book first, so I wrote another proposal, and that one was accepted too with a title to match.
And so, here we are!
I am writing a book about motherhood that I hope will be a great help to many (Lord willing). And it will be published in 2 years by a publishing house that is godly and Biblically focused, and I am just so in awe of how the Lord saw fit to orchestrate this in his perfect way and timing.
At one point, Heather (whom I have enjoyed working with immensely) said something like, “So, normally, you would have gone through the process of finding an agent, and then they would have reached out to us, and we would have gone back and forth and then you would have submitted a proposal, but since I, the publisher, came to you, we’ve skipped all of that, and you’re much further into the process than you would have been at this point,” and I just sat there grinning my face off in disbelief and joy (I mean, I knew all of this was true already, but, man, to hear “your publisher” say it kind of drives the pure awesomeness of it home).
ANYhoo, that’s my big news. You know, other than twin baby boys. SPEAKING of which, one of the things that I remember marveling at when I first got the email from Heather was that the Lord had given me this opportunity while I wasn’t pregnant. And then, of course, a couple of months later, before the process had been finalized, I was. With twins.
But this time, it’s different. I know without a doubt that the timing is right. It’s from Him. I have purpose and focus and, yes, energy and excitement (even though I also have a need to nap sometimes) to write the words HE has for me to give to you. And it’s kind of (understatement alert) amazing.
Just in case you (like I) have always assumed that “stuff like this can’t happen to me,” apparently it can. No guarantee it will, of course. But, man, has the Lord taken me on quite the roller-coaster in the last several months as he’s revealed the plans he has for me. Good plans. Exciting plans. But also plans to grow me and stretch me and challenge me like never before. And it has been so interesting to look back and see the ways that he was preparing each of my steps in advance along the way.
Would you be willing to pray for me as I start this long process that’s ahead of me? I’ve often heard writing a book compared to growing/birthing a baby. (And the writing usually takes about 9 months). So, if you count the twin boys in my belly, then I guess that means that I’m sort of, kind of pregnant with triplets. Ha! Now, there’s a scary thought (no need to take notes, Lord).
And what about you guys? What are the long-held dreams from the Lord that lie buried in your heart, maybe too deep to imagine that they could ever rise to the surface? I really encourage you to continue to seek his face for direction and hope. He is the God of both. He is also the God of perfect timing. 2 Peter 3:8-9 says: “Beloved, do not let this one thing escape your notice: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some understand slowness.”
But mostly, he is good. Oh, how good He is.