Dream Chasers is Finished!

There’s been a lot of good stuff going on in my personal and professional life over the last six weeks. That’s an awesome thing, of course, but it means that I’ve had to put off sharing some especially awesome news until now. But the wait is over, and now I’m super excited to announce that my newest book, Dream Chasers: Living in Pursuit of a God-Sized Dream is finally done and will be available for purchase this upcoming Saturday, November 15th!

Dream Chasers Cover

Isn’t it pretty? I have to give a huge thank you to my BFF/SNOO¬†(that’s “Best Friend Forever/Support Network of One” in case you don’t know) Rashada Nunez, who put this beautiful cover together for me. She also served as a sounding board, personal cheerleader, sympathetic ear, and accountability partner through this whole process. What can I say? She’s awesome. Go check out her blog if you have the time. It’s at www.designsbyrashada.com

If you want to check out the book, the kindle edition is available for pre-orders on Amazon now. You can have a look by clicking here!

If you’re curious about the content of the book and you want to catch a sneak peek of the content, you can head over to my twitter page and respond to my latest tweet with the hashtag #amazoncart. Amazon will apparently send you a free sample, which I think is pretty cool.

Ok, that’s all. I’m done with the shameless self promotion. Thanks for stopping by ūüôā

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An End in Sight

This is the last of the posts about the book that I’d posted on my other blog. I wrote it at the end of last year …

Just earlier this week I got some incredible news and an amazing opportunity regarding the book that I’ve been working on for the past few years.

On the one hand, I’m so excited that I can’t wait to tell you all. But on the other, I’ve realized that so much has happened since the last time I wrote about the book, that there’s a lot of catching up to do first.

For starters – I’ve gotten some really amazing feedback and direction from a few key people (especially my mom) that has helped me crystalize and solidify the central argument that the book is making. That, of course, has meant massive re-writes (again), and a lot of time spent back at the drawing board (but in a good way).

Also, I realized a few months ago that my cover, while awesome, felt a lot darker than I wanted it to. So I called up my best friend/favorite graphic artist Rashada Nunez (designesbyrashada.com) and together we came up with a completely new cover design:

 

Isn’t it awesome?

And as if that weren’t enough good news, just a few weeks ago one of the senior pastors at my church got wind of this project and asked for a copy of the book to read. Of course, I was incredibly reluctant to give her what still felt like a work in progress. But I ordered the proof copy anyway and gave it to her to read.

Her feedback has been so positive, so encouraging, that it’s motivated me to push to actually produce a finished draft.¬†

And then just this week she called me into her office to share even more good news. She wants me to build a 12 week Bible study course around the book so that they can offer it (and I can teach it) during the next semester of Bible Institute in our church’s main location in Queens.

When she first told me I was so shocked and honored that I couldn’t come up with an intelligent response. ¬†I think the words “that’s crazy” were the first thing that managed to come out of my mouth. And then of course I started crying. Because it really is a crazy gift from God, and it is so far beyond my wildest expectations of what might happen with this book that I still can’t really believe it’s happening.

But I agreed. And next semester I will be teaching My Brother’s Keeper as a Bible Study course in my church. That means by the time the spring semester starts the book needs to be completely finished, published, and available for sale.¬†¬†

I have 6 weeks. And suddenly it feels like I would need a year to finish everything I have left to do.

And yet there is no question in my spirit that this is a God-ordained moment of opportunity. So even in the panicked scramble that I am about to dive into, I cannot help but find peace. If this is His plan, then it is in His hands. What better place could there possibly be?

An Open Door

The 5th of my original posts on my experience in writing my first book and the journey that God took me on in the process:

The funny thing about the doors that God opens (in my life, at least) is that they never come with a bang. ¬†They’re never big, awesome, public displays. ¬†They don’t normally look like the type of thing that should blow your socks off. In fact, most of the time they begin in the most mundane and ordinary of ways and at the most unexpected of times. ¬†In this particular journey, after six months of nothing, the last thing I was expecting was to see a door suddenly opening in front of me. But it did – and it all started with the most ordinary of occurrences – it started with a conversation.

I was talking with my pastor and a few other people at a our weekly women’s Bible study. We were discussing a wonderful blog that’s written by our bishop’s wife and published on the church website, and my pastor mentioned that she wanted to find a way to turn it into a daily devotional book. ¬†As soon as she said it my ears perked up. ¬†The conversation continued around the topic – discussion what it would take to make it happen. “We could have it bound at Staples” was one comment that was met with some enthusiasm, and I suddenly realized that no one else in this little circle understood how doable this project was, or ¬†how quickly or professionally it could be completed. ¬†What’s more, they had no idea that I knew exactly what needed to happen to see it become a reality.

So I started telling them about ISBNs and print-on-demand technology and a few of the other nuggets I’d discovered in my research. ¬†I think some eyes started glazing over – and I don’t blame them, I was in total nerd-mode and probably making absolutely no sense to anybody but myself. ¬†It wasn’t long before we moved on to another topic of conversation (coffee, I think). ¬†But I went home that night with the absolute assurance that this was something that I could do.¬†And so I sat down that night (and for many nights over the four weeks that followed) and set to work “creating” this book.

It was so liberating to be working on something that wasn’t my own writing – the freedom and the joy that it gave me was frankly surprising. ¬†And as I worked on the book I found myself diving back into my research on publishing. I went back to re-learn everything about what makes a book good (and it’s so much more than the writing!) ¬†But this time around my mind was like a sponge. ¬†I just couldn’t get enough. ¬†My brain was whirling around at a mile a minute, filled to the brim with a wealth of new information. ¬†And the best part was that I had a project waiting for me – one that allowed me to put into practice every single new tidbit of knowledge that I came across.

It took several weeks to do all of the editing, formatting, and layout work. ¬†Who knew that font selection and line spacing would become so important to me? ¬†But finally it was done. ¬†I surprised my pastor with a pdf of the final product (she didn’t know I’d been working on it) and then I waited for … well, I didn’t really know what.

The funny thing was that with all of the work that I’d poured into this project, I had no defined expectations of what would happen as a result. ¬†I hadn’t even thought about who might see it or what they’d think. I’d just worked on it for the sake of working on it. ¬†It was something that I could do for my pastor, for her pastor, something that might bless them or help them. ¬†And it was something that I knew that I had the resources to complete.

Sitting back when it was over, waiting for whatever response this little project was going to receive, I marveled at the way that God had orchestrated this whole thing.  The story was far from over, and my biggest breakthroughs were still on their way.  But in that moment I felt so blessed.  I saw how God had orchestrated the past few years of my life in order to prepare me to complete this task.  I suddenly felt as though everything was clicking into place.  God had set me up to pick up all sorts of obscure and practically useless knowledge along my way, because He knew full well that the day would come when I would have the opportunity to put that knowledge to use for His glory.

But isn’t that so like God? ¬†He knows the task that is waiting for us 1, 5, or 20 years down the road. ¬†He knows the tools we will need to be successful. ¬†And He is so faithful that He provides us with those tools often long before we even realize that we need them. ¬†The junk that we’ve collected over the years – the experiences, the trivial knowledge, the random expertise that seems completely useless … all of those things are given to us by God for our benefit and for His glory. ¬†He is the grand designer, and He knows every tool, every cog, every instrument that we require. ¬†He isn’t IKEA. ¬†He doesn’t leave us with extra pieces at the end of our journey. ¬†He is precise, He is exact, and when the pieces of our lives begin to fall into the pattern of His plan … well, it’s a breathtaking thing to behold.

A Word in the Void

Part 4 of the story of how I got started in writing a book, and the journey I took to finish it:

After a year of writing and editing, I was “enjoying” a long six month hiatus from the entire book project. Truth be told, my biggest enjoyment came from not having to think about the book any more. ¬†I was sick of it. ¬†I had spent so much thought, work, and energy on it that I simply had nothing left to give. ¬†As I said in the last post, it wasn’t like I intended to walk away from it, but I completely lacked the motivation to go back.

It was a weird 6 months. ¬†Every once in a while someone would ask me what was happening with the book. ¬†The question often left me speechless, fumbling for some kind of answer (shocking!) ¬†But I never had anything to say to them, because in all honesty I didn’t know. ¬†I couldn’t tell if this was something I was ever going to want to go back to, or if it was a dead project. ¬†I knew I had written it for a reason, but I wasn’t sure any more if it was ever going to see the light of day. ¬†Every time I seriously considered picking it up again, I felt drained – like it was a black hole sucking down every ounce of my creative energy.

But One of my favorite things about God is His constant attentive awareness of our every thought, dream, and desire. ¬†God knows about the things we dream of. ¬†He knows about the things we’ve lost. ¬†He knows about the places where we’ve tried and failed. ¬†And the amazing thing is that He doesn’t forget! ¬†The passage of time and the accumulation of dust don’t diminish His awareness. ¬†He is always there, waiting for the perfect moment to fill the void that is created by our lack.

That’s what makes Genesis 1:2-3 one of my favorite passages in the Bible:¬†And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. ¬†And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

There was the earth – formless, lifeless, dark, empty … VOID. ¬†But even then the Spirit of God was there, hovering, waiting. ¬†And all it took was one utterance from God’s mouth to change the entire nature of that void and empty place.

Of course, in our “void” moments it can be so hard to see that way out. ¬†We have such trouble imagining the incredible instantaneous change that can come from our empty situations. ¬†Yes, we KNOW that all we need is one touch of God’s hand, one word from his mouth, but when the waiting seems endless and the darkness is so dark, our knowledge often conflicts with our expectation.

But my favorite thing about this verse is that it tells us that God spoke and there was light. ¬†It was an instant change. ¬†It wasn’t gradual. ¬†You couldn’t see it coming. ¬†In one moment darkness was upon the face of the deep, and in the next, that darkness was replaced with light.

We get so busy squinting at our horizons, looking for the first glimpses of a far off sunrise, that we lose track of how suddenly God’s answers will come upon us. ¬†Or at least I do that … all the time. ¬†You think I’d learn after all these years, right? ¬†That was me though, squinting off into the distance, occasionally searching for a clue as to what (if anything) would become of this year’s worth of work that was now collecting dust on my shelf. ¬†Little did I know how suddenly God would turn this situation around for my good and for His glory!

A Broader Vision

Here’s the second of the posts that I’d written a year ago about the incredible journey I’ve been on in writing my first book.

After I’d finished the terrible first draft of the book, I set myself to the tedious task of editing the content. ¬†At first I thought it would be a simple matter of polishing a few rough patches, but as I read through the text from beginning to end, the lack of flow really began to stand out to me. ¬†I had done exactly what I’d imagined at the beginning of this process – I’d effectively written a dozen super-long blog entries. ¬†They all worked as stand-alone pieces, but when I tried to patch them all together it became evident that they weren’t really fitting.

Now I don’t know about anyone else, but for me editing my own work is painfully difficult. ¬†I’m fine with working on someone else’s text. ¬†I was a writing tutor in college, and I’d always considered it my specialty to help student develop cohesive arguments and put them on paper. ¬†I can’t diagram a sentence to save my life, but I’ve always been able to tell you when a sentence or paragraph felt “awkward”. ¬†But when I already know what I’m reading – when it’s something I’ve written, it takes an active concentration to dig those pieces out, and a lot of work to re-imagine how they might fit together better.

So for the next six months or so my progress became difficult and slow.  I would work through a draft for several weeks, and then put it away for a week or two.  Then I would come back with a fresh perspective and find a whole new mess of problems.  I was playing author and editor at the same time, and the work seemed endless.

At the same time, in order to remind myself of what good writing sounded like, I started to pick up other Christian books from my shelf that I hadn’t read or hadn’t read in a while. ¬†One of those books (again, there is a blog entry about this somewhere in my archives) was What You Do Best in the Body of Christ. I’d started reading it years before, and put it down after a chapter or two. ¬†But this time as I was reading through it God began to speak to me in a very real and personal way. ¬†So much of what was written was so based in practical common sense that it seemed almost foolish, but these logical and “obvious” statements inevitably led to questions that I’d never sat down to actively consider, and they were questions that needed answers.

The essential premise of the book is that we are each given a specific mix of personality, passion, and talent that God desires to use for His glory. ¬†Finding the right way to use that mix is what will make us successful. ¬†For example, not everyone who has a passion for evangelism is going to pursue it in the same way. ¬†Some people love approaching strangers on the street, but there are others who are more comfortable inviting their neighbors over for coffee, while others were “born” to preach to large crowds of people all at once. ¬†Finding the right way to use your gifts in pursuit of your passion is key to following your call.

Like I said – common sense, right? ¬†But as I went through the exercises that the book suggested, and as I wrote my results down on paper and looked at them, it was like God was ripping a curtain away from an entire realm of possibilities that I’d never considered. ¬†There were connections that were obvious, ministries into which I’d already fallen, work that I was already doing. ¬†But at the same time God was revealing a path that I’d never even thought to consider. ¬†If I tried to explain the dots that God was connecting in my head it wouldn’t make any sense, but they were there, and they were so clear that He might as well have written them out for me. ¬†I was going to help my church start a publications ministry. ¬†I was going to help them write and publish books, curriculums, and literature that could be read and used by the Body of Christ around the world.

Now anyone who knows me will know just how crazy that sounds. ¬†I’m an accountant. ¬†I have NO experience in publishing, and NO idea how that kind of business is run. I’m not a terrible writer, but that’s like wanting to start a record label and expecting to be successful because you’re not a terrible singer. ¬†And on top of all of that I go to a smaller suburban satellite congregation of a much larger church in the city – it’s not exactly like I have easy access to the pastors to be making these kinds of out-of-the-blue propositions.

But there it was, as plain as day, and as soon as I saw it, it began bursting in my heart and my spirit like a bottle of soda that had been shaken and then opened.  It was impossible, absolutely absurd, a task to which I knew myself to be uniquely suited, and for which I was absurdly unqualified.  And yet somehow I knew that it was so right, so divinely inspired, that there could be no question.

There it was – the broader vision. ¬†I had started this journey with an idea that I thought was big: I was going to write a book and get it published. ¬†I was going to put words on a page that would help other Christians with their daily lives. ¬†But God’s idea was bigger – so much bigger that it had never even entered into my realm of thinking. ¬†It was still impossible, still absurd, but now it was there – like a seed that had been planted.

At this point there was nothing for me to do but to continue on the path that God had set me on. ¬†And so I took this seed of a vision and I wrote it down. ¬†I prayed over it. ¬†And I set it in my heart. ¬†And in the meantime – I continued to work on the book. ¬†But this time it was different – I wasn’t an author struggling to edit my own work any more. ¬†Now I was a future publisher, learning the ins and outs of editing from the perspective of an author as well as an editor. ¬†Suddenly this monotonous task (and believe me, it was monotonous) was no longer a drudgery, but an incredible learning opportunity.

God had given me a broader vision, and it had changed my whole perspective.