I’ve never wanted this blog to be all about me, which is why—even though I write lots of personal content about my children, motherhood and parenting, my faith, and my work and life in general—I’ve always tried to write in such a way that the content is applicable and relevant to my readers, whether that means sharing what I’m learning, offering encouragement, or rallying others to get involved in helping women in the developing world. In other words, I’ve never wanted this blog to become an online journal or a newsreel of what’s happening in our little world. (There’s nothing wrong with that by the way, but it’s not what I write here for.)
However, what I’m about to share is personal. I’ve been prompted by some long-term readers (who have turned into beautiful friends) to share more about my writing projects and, specifically, an opportunity I have that I need your help with. In essence, they challenged me to trust you a little more, and to go out on a limb.
But first, some background…
What I’ve been working on (online and offline writing):
I think most of you “regulars” know that our family is on sabbatical in America right now — our Radical Sabbatical to be exact. You probably also know that during our break, Ryan has taken the lead in caring for our kids and I have been focusing on developing my writing. I’m nearly ready to begin submitting my first manuscript to publishers – a children’s picture book about a little boy who learns what poverty is and how he can help change the world, too. Honestly? Kid Lit is something I never imagined pursuing, but this is a book I felt I couldn’t not write. Engaging people – even little ones – with poverty issues is something I’m clearly passionate about, so from that perspective it’s definitely a fit. I feel so strongly about the message of this book and I hope the spirit of it will eventually reach far and wide, whatever happens with my publishing endeavors.
There is a long road ahead of me so don’t be looking for anything to come of this immediately. My published friends all tell me the exact same thing: book-writing and publishing is not a quick process, so don’t get discouraged if it feels like things move slowly. (Also? Kid Lit = the hardest market to break into.) Plus, I’m still learning how the publishing industry works in general, and it’s a massive learning curve. All I can do is keep writing, keep asking questions, learning, and knocking on doors, and keep moving one step at a time in faith as I sense God leading and doors opening. God’s been challenging me to take risks and so I am slowly stepping out as I gain confidence.
I’m also working on an eBook that I’ll make available here for free when it’s ready (thank you to all those who gave feedback about it on facebook, twitter, and here on the blog). My objectives with the eBook are four-fold: to say “thank you” to readers who have journeyed with me here over the past several years, to inspire people to action (more about that later!), to practice the process of book writing and editing, and to help build my online presence in preparation for pursuing traditional publishing with other projects. I’m in the editing stage of the eBook now – keep an eye out for that this summer, hopefully sooner than later.
At the same time as all of this, I’m working on some articles for publication on other blogs and online newsoutlets and magazines as well as the long, hard work of writing a book for adults, which my hope is to pursue traditional publishing for. (I have three more books I want to begin after that…. but, one step at a time, right?! Yeesh.)
Through all of this I’m learning that book-writing is not a quick process (like pumping out blog posts can be), nor is it for the faint of heart. This is hard but satisfying work, and a fantastic change of pace for me. Ryan has been my biggest cheerleader, and I’ll tell you one thing to look for in a husband if you’re not yet married: a man who believes in you even more than you believe in yourself. An absolute gem, he is, and I’d wish a husband like that on any woman. (How’s that for some free bonus advice? wink.)
All of that leads me to what I’m about to present next – an awesome opportunity that I need help pulling off.
I’ve been invited to a writer’s retreat in Italy.
In a few weeks I’ll be going to a writer’s retreat in Italy for 10 days. I know – ITALY. It seems to good to be true, and I’m still pinching myself. It’s a small group of 10 Christian authors and writers led by an extremely talented and well-connected literary agent in the Christian publishing world. Most of the writers going are her clients – either published authors or influential bloggers with book deals – and a couple of their spouses. Honestly, I feel a little out of my depth and yet also filled with faith that God set this up for me to step into. (The whole thing is a really cool story – ask me sometime if we go out for coffee.) Ryan and I know it’s one of those God-opportunities we couldn’t manufacture if we tried.
The retreat is in Florence and Tuscany and will be a mixture of spiritual retreat, sightseeing and inspiration, and time for writing and connecting with the other writers. I’ve looked at the itinerary and it’s pretty much a dream! (Did I already say I’m still pinching myself?! I HAD TO RESTRAIN MYSELF FROM WRITING THIS ENTIRE SECTION IN ALL CAPS, I’M THAT RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED. Oh, and add to the mix that I’ll get to see my nun-friend from high school days at the Vatican in Rome for two days at the end of the retreat and you get me all kinds of giddy. OH MY FREAKING GOSH.)
Why I need your help getting there.
I know that you guys know some of what Ryan and I do since my stories from Papua New Guinea have been some of the most popular on the blog, but you may not be aware that we are actually self-funded in our work. What this means is that for the last fifteen-ish years we’ve not received traditional paychecks from the organization we work with (YWAM), but have relied on churches and families and individuals who believe in our work to contribute toward our ministry and living expenses.
At times this has been hugely challenging (no one likes having irregular paychecks or having to fundraise to feed your kids or put gas in the car) and yet it’s also been a huge faith journey for us that has caused us to grow in so many wonderful ways – learning how to trust God to meet our needs in ways that are a bit… different to most people, as well as learning what it means to give and receive in the context of our “village”. Through the last decade and a half, we’ve never gone without our needs covered and have enjoyed things far “above and beyond” at times, too. Indeed, we are a blessed family.
So, this is my “need”…
All of this happened in the last week or two and was definitely not something we had planned on or budgeted/saved for. In reality, there’s no way we can pull off this trip without a miracle taking place in our finances. Someone who believes in my writing has already covered a huge chunk of my costs, and I’ve had a few other smaller donations as well, so we’re in the midst of fundraising for the last bit now, in addition to our biggest need: the airfare to Italy and back.
And oh! I was so resistant to talk about this here since I already fundraise for women in developing nations through our Love A Mama campaigns and didn’t want to bring any personal fundraising over to this blog. (I reserve that for our family blog, which is more “newsy”.) BUT, I’m taking a leap of faith with this and asking you readers who know me, know some of our family story, and believe in the future and longevity of my writing (both here and offline) – would you consider making a donation toward this writing retreat in Italy? This is not a need for our family (obviously), but we do believe it’s an incredible opportunity – one that’s too good to pass up.
You may not think that your $30 or $50 or $100 donation is enough to help much, but trust me (as one who has seen big miracles happen in small increments) your gift can help, regardless of the amount.
Thanks for considering helping me seize the opportunity.
Thank you for reading this way-too-long post (I’m breaking alllllll the blogging “rules” with this one). Just a side note here: one of the hardest parts of writing is letting go of the fact that you might not explain yourself well enough, people might judge you according to something you didn’t intend, or your motives and priorities might be misunderstood. It’s a lesson in humility and faith. It’s also a lesson in believing in your message, even though it might not be “perfect”, and putting it out there anyway. (Plus, doesn’t it feel more sensitive when we’re approaching the topic of m.o.n.e.y?)
And so, it is with a small bit of trembling that I prepare to hit “publish” on this post.
I can’t foresee using this platform for personal fundraising again any time soon (you can follow our family here for ministry updates if you like following our work), so thank you for bearing with me and considering this highly personal request.
We thought you’d understand since you are, in fact, the ones actually reading my writing. 🙂
Blogging has taught me so many things, but one of the best things it’s taught me is that the people on the other end of the screen are friends and sojourners and fellow learners and teachers, too. Thanks for being a part of my village. And thanks for considering helping a girl’s writing trip to Italy dream come true!
And you guys, I’m going to Italy! ITALY!! I-T-A-L-Y!!!!! (hold me)