A Perfect Gift

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God recently surprised me above what I could have asked or imagined. As my tears flowed and shock coursed through my veins, James 1:7 flashed in my mind.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

My local writers’ group asked if I’d put together a presentation on entering writing contests for our January meeting. Though the thought of getting in front of adults makes my stomach somersault, I’d had a feeling for months that this would be part of my writing path.

Sharing what I’ve learned. Helping other writers on their publishing journey. Guiding those a few steps behind, so they can catch up.

I was nervous but really excited {but nervous}.

(Did I mention I was nervous?) 

In preparation I pulled together this information and that information, eager to share all I’d learned in a *hopefully* positive and coherent manner.

A couple writer friends from the group got in touch, letting me know they’d be there. Grateful for their support, I gathered my materials that evening and headed to the church where we meet.

I arrived fifteen minutes early, just behind a group member who’s about to move. We chatted about the process of packing up her home of many years. I unloaded the books I’d brought and set out the paperwork for the presentation on entering writing contests.

A couple minutes later, another person walked in. When I glanced sideways, smiling a welcome, my breath caught.

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Someone so dear, so unexpected, walked in. And though we’d never met, I knew her.

Almost three years ago, Vie judged my entry in a contest (I didn’t know this at the time; we only connected afterward, when I emailed my thank you letters to judges).

Her comments on that entry (my middle grade story) touched and encouraged me tremendously. In some moments, those precious words kept me afloat amidst a sea of negativity and rejection.

  • I printed the email and taped her comments to my computer and the bulletin board in our office.
  • I read and reread those words when road blocks and closed doors and sheer time weighed on my shoulders and made me want to give up.
  • I hoped and prayed to meet her one day and give her a big hug for the gift she’d been and the kind encouragement she showed.

We live quite far apart, and finding an opportunity to meet at writing conferences never materialized.

So when she appeared that evening, smiling tentatively as I’m about to give a presentation on writing contests, I lost it. (She wasn’t sure if I’d recognize her.)

She said she’ll never forget my face. I just remember bursting into tears because of the gift it was to see her in person, at that moment.

(She happened to be in my home state when she saw my post about the presentation.)

Having her there….it meant the world. It was a gift from God I hadn’t expected. But isn’t that just like the Lord? We think we want this or that, and instead He surprises us with such good and perfect gifts.

This sweet woman’s encouragement three years ago also affirmed the heart of my presentation that night:

We’re not writing in a vacuum. Pray for others. Encourage others. God calls us to love and serve others on this writing journey (sometimes, even above ourselves).

This is the key ingredient to the writing life…loving and helping others. Otherwise, we write in vain.

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…” (Phil. 1:3)

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Starting Tiny

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What’s your favorite fruit?

We eat a lot of apples and strawberries in our house. I also love blueberries and raspberries, though no one else in my family shares my passion for them.

During the winter, I probably cut up two apples a day, dicing through skin and fruit flesh into four or eight slices to share.

When the apple splits open and those little, tightly packed seeds appear, I smile because I used to believe if I swallowed an apple seed I’d grow an apple tree in my tummy. (Six-year-old naiveté.)

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Now when I hold those tiny buds of new life in my hands, I’m always amazed by God’s creation. How ten or fifteen-foot-trees sprout from such humble beginnings, and then dozens, maybe hundreds of blossoms appear.

Followed by too many apples to count.

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Out of curiosity I looked up apple seeds & trees. In Florida, citrus trees thrive better than apple, but there are a few variety of apple trees that can grow in our humid, damp climate. Normally it takes four to ten years for an apple tree to reach maturity and produce fruit.

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This Christmas, while fighting the nonstop traffic and baking cookies and racing to find the perfect present, I’ve been desperate to keep my eyes on Jesus.

On God’s gift, starting so tiny and helpless yet bursting with hope and grace and forgiveness.

God could easily have sent His Son as a young man, or even as an adult to lead & teach the disciples, then go to the Cross to fulfill His part of God’s perfect plan.

But instead, He sent a precious seed of His grace…so small, so perfect, to grow into our Savior and experience life on earth as we do.

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This Christmas, I pray you and yours experience God’s love in a powerful way, remembering the tiny start to our Savior’s life and the enormous grace we’re offered through Him.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Cor. 9:15)