His email came at an interesting time, I must admit. I was in the thick of preparing a proposal for a book I had been working on for six months. I knew nothing about proposals, publishers, literary agents, or how to format chapters. All I knew was that I was supposed to show up to that desk in my office each evening after our boys went down. So that’s what I did. And that’s when his email landed in my inbox.
“I was at church Wednesday evening and saw on the Welcome Table your flyer, ‘How 936 Pennies Will Forever Change How You Parent.'”
I knew the piece of paper he was talking about. Our family pastor had asked permission to print it a few weeks earlier, for Child Dedication Sunday. It was the story of our own son’s dedication, six months prior, and the gift of 936 Pennies that completely changed my perspective on time and parenting. After the blog post went viral, our pastor asked if he could print a copy to give away during future child dedications. Of course I eagerly agreed, never knowing where that piece of paper would land. It landed in this gentleman’s hands. He went on in his email, “You clearly have a knack for writing—and I checked out your website, to find you really write a lot. 🙂 I hope many young parents will read your story.”
I didn’t know much about Mike and his wife. But I thanked him for his kind message, and told him that I was currently working on writing a book about the penny jars. He responded and asked if he could connect me to a friend of his, a writer involved in a local writers’ organization. I recognized the name of the organization, but where from?
Only a couple of weeks before my husband had stumbled on their website. “You should check this out.” He told me. They held meetings once a month, and a conference annually. “Yeah, maybe.” I was a bit preoccupied by my proposal, and another conference—my first—that I was preparing to attend. I placed the organization on my “someday” list. But then the gentleman from my church brought up the very same organization. I signed up to attend a meeting the very next month.
Then my season went dark. After attending a large conference and presenting my proposal to some very big publishers, I entered a time of silence. Now, looking back, I am so thankful for it, for those months of wondering whether the work would produce fruit. Asking myself daily if I should keep sowing, pruning, weeding, writing. I did. And God kept showing up, even if I could not see it. For four months I heard nothing.
It was during that silent season that I decided, very last minute, to attend the conference of this local writer’s organization that Mike had introduced me to. That is also when I decided, again last minute, to sit down with a literary agent. I expected nothing but direction. If this agent could look over my proposal and offer me some guidance on a next step, I would be happy. He offered so much more.
He offered me a contract to be represented by him. But only once I made three revisions to my proposal and sample chapters. First, bring my husband into the story more. second, address the reader more. And third, add more Scripture. I knew he was the right person for the job. And the next spring that was confirmed when an email from him made my heart skip as soon as I saw the first words of the subject line,
“Hooray! and Hip Hip Hooray! Bethany House….”
I started to shake before I even hit “Open” on the email. The tears fell as I called my husband. The book would happen. The message on intentional parenting would go forth into many hands. And I could trace it back to that stray piece of paper found one ordinary Wednesday evening on our church welcome table.
God is in the details, friends. He cares deeply, and so He enters into our stories and engineers the details to bring forth beauty. Not because we deserve it–but because He wants us to know the joy of entering into His work, and seeing the fruit of His love. Do you believe today that He is maneuvering the details of your life? Do you believe He is writing a great story? He is.
Today, 142 weeks after Mike discovered that flyer at church, 936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting is released! Over three years after my husband and I decided to begin this journey, not having any idea what God would do with it.
He brings us to empty fields, gives us just enough of a glimpse of the glory to come, and calls us to get our hands dirty. Then He brings forth the fruit. But only after His own hands have been busy in that soil preparing every little detail of the harvest–His harvest.
If you are in a wintry season, waiting and hoping and holding your breath for spring—remember that winter does not stop the growing season, it is during the long, cold, often dark and silent days that our hearts grow.
If you are deep in the soil of spring, sowing and praying and willing for the growth to come, know it will, but only in His time and way.
If you are sweating it out in the summer months hardly keeping up with the weeds determined to choke out the fruit, stay diligent. He will.
And if you are standing at the brink of harvest, heart skipping as you consider the fruit of your labors, remember that harvest, too, demands some back ache. Fruit left in the ground wilts, chokes, and returns to the ground. Be faithful, friend, in the harvest. And pray.
Because our job is simply to show up, knowing that He will, also. In the smallest of ways that we could never orchestrate ourselves— the ones that make the biggest kingdom impacts. Like a scrap piece of paper discovered on a welcome table.