Here is a conversation I had with some close friends, wound between my thoughts today. Its part of the journey I walk, and I know you do too.
"Something really scary happened today" I said. "Something I knew was coming but didn't want to admit...here it is...
I continued, "The next book I write in The Resting Traveller series is NOT about the topic I had previously thought and had been preparing for, though that one is coming someday soon I am sure... instead, the next book is to be released SHORTLY AFTER my first book.... as a self guided, reflective study guide to be paired with, Into The Forest, the book I just wrote".
Welcome to my table reader, currently seated alongside us, you will find fear, shock, honour, excitement and dilemma, though fear is hogging most of the seats at this point. During the beta testing period of my publishing journey, comments were increasingly made that there was need for a study guide, though I was choosing to be deaf to those suggestions. I wanted my book to just provide a framework for personal reflection that could be found within their own closets of contemplation, for my readers to use my book as a way to see their own story and walk accordingly. I felt, that if I were to draw the lines of what I personally interpret and see with any type of study or devotion or guide, that I would be doing a great dis-service to the artwork painted upon each page. Art is meant to be studied uniquely, to personally prompt discussion of the heart, promptings that will be different to each one who stands before the canvas. That is when Papa reminded me, that a good tour guide within the gallery, will bring the audience to the piece upon the wall or the stand, and point out the important factors while alluring the crowd with questions that invoke further possibility within the soul. I need to be a good tour guide of the book within my hands. I hold a gallery, I must not let anyone wander through without the possibility for a hand to hold.
I continued to tell my friends,
"Since the completion of the book, I am continually meeting people in need of what Papa God had shared with me, I give them a copy of the manuscript because their sorrow is now, they are in need of medicine now, unable to wait for the printer to complete its work upon the press. I invite them to become yet another "beta reader" thinking my task was complete as I handed out my gift to them. I was unaware that what I had shared with them was also a map to a journey that some of them didn't know how to take alone. They were in the art gallery without a tour guide, they were about to wander around with no idea where to start, no suggestions of how to see the portraits and sculptures and poetry within the walls. I am irresponsible to share with the world this gift without also giving them the tools to unwrap it".
I have no choice, I must follow the leading of Papa and write the study, my journey in the forest is not yet complete. Have I introduced you to fear? It is seated right next to me now, and it smells. Fear is a shadow I have walked with for many years, and here it sits next to me at my table, among highly honoured guests stinking up the place. My apologies to you all.
"You see" I say, "If write the study, I am no longer just an artist painting a picture that you the reader can interpret, no longer just an artist with her works upon the wall for anyone to visit and walk away with their thoughts...if I write the study I would then become; A TEACHER."
Why does that scare me?? Because writing a piece that allows the reader to come to their own conclusions and guiding them with insight is an entirely different thing. One holds me accountable only to the level you the reader interpret, the other, holds me in a position directly, for I am leading you directly to certain conclusions, pointing out specific colours and shapes within the pages. It brings possible increase to the name calling I already anticipate. Names that could hurt, wounds created with ignorant voices that prefer to speak rather than listen. And that is not really what I would choose if I had a choice. Pain is something I would prefer not to invite upon myself, I just walked through a large chunk of suffering and the break from it has been nice.
"I am asking for MORE trouble by agreeing to this, agreeing to become a further "trouble maker" as I have been so firmly labeled many times. And yet here today, I hear those audible promptings from Papa, it is time to OBEY, which in latin means to: hear, listen, follow. It is time to OBEY, and BEGIN." At the start of this year, a close friend asked me what my word for the year was, what word did I hear from Papa that I could lean on and be encouraged by all year. When I told her my word she said without hesitation, "I think we need to pray about that, because it doesn't sound right for someone who is trying to learn rest". LOL. I had been in a season of learning to rest. A time of discovering how to calm the mind, body and spirit during times of chaos, and the word I heard was a little opposite sounding to the nature of rest.
The word given to me? The word I journaled and pondered with deep intensity for my understanding of it was in severe lack: EXPANSION. EXPANSION defined is: becoming larger or more extensive. Growth, increase in size. Broadening. All things that to me are shocking, as I had no idea one could find such growth in a time of rest. I felt shocked at the new places I would be moving for the year, and excited to see the reality of such a word. Oh there you are shock and excitement, are you enjoying the wine? Shock, maybe if you sit beside fear you could invoke your own kind of shadow upon it, give it a good shake. Im sure excitement would like to see that too!
I continued to tell my friends deeper details of this new word and promise, laying out a map of where I had been with it, and where Papa was taking me. "You all know I like to art journal, its my place every now and then to release what I feel, and document the journey through art and text, colour and design. Looking at the day I journaled about EXPANSION, there was an obvious message that continued in the pages to follow.
After EXPANSION, I wrote a simple expression of 3 words, an explosive message directly after the call to expand: FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS."
I unknowingly was creating a page that reflected the plans of Papa, reflected the plans of my true self. Part of the expansion was the step of dreaming, awakening those parts of me and following them. My journal was becoming a place for my soul to be unleashed, my true self unveiled.
Turning the pages I began to walk forward to clear understanding that at the time I had no idea was even woven within. I continued to share with my support team, "Turn the page again and you will find the word RETURN. I wrote about being a child and I drew childlike pictures. I was RETURNING to my true self, RETURNING to the child Stacie and the gifts and beauty I was given as a that child."
Here I sit absorbing what God is sharing and all I can think is... I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING. I have written a book, a book that was simply me pouring out what was inside in a transparent way. I just let the words be vulnerable, the love be free, the passion be true, and here those same words are being used to do the very thing I have longed to see happen in my life... they are healing people... they are healing me. EXPANSION, DREAM, RETURN. Three words that are driving me, changing me, unveiling me.
But of course, I cannot just simply accept those words, no, my heavy humanity calls out for doubt and shame to take the last seats at the table and I am filled with sour aroma, the only words now upon my tongue are "For who I am?? What little that I have could anyone want? You are nothing, no one will want this book, your words are powerless, YOU are powerless." This table is overcrowded now, this wine is so sour.
I know you, my reader have been right where I am. You have had the darkness pulled away and seen the marvellous light, you've walked forward to find the lost story of your heart... to only cover yourself back up, the feelings of unworthiness shrouding you, convincing you to cower to a position of retreat.
It was this part of my story that I was reminded by a friend of mine to look at my true reflection once again, her words piercing me like arrows, halting the ill mannered dinner guests with three words... WHY NOT YOU?
She began her shots from the quiver with this: "In prayer this morning, God told me your heart is the heart of a genius... misunderstood often, as most genius' are. Your book will allow others, depending on their relationship with God, to hear him at different levels, just as a church will offer "milk and meat". The masses will be able to digest your words at their own pace, skim over what seems complex, maybe one day go back to it when they are ready"
I read her words and yet still, I felt as though perhaps, God had chosen the wrong person to deliver the book I wrote, the wrong person to continue teaching people. I felt inadequate that I would be able to write a study book to accompany my novel, too small to shelter myself from the backlash I feared. I kept thinking, "There must be someone else. How can I be the one to do this?"
In perfect fashion of the love of God, he spelled it out through the lips of my dear friend. "It is no surprise that you are feeling unworthiness saying who am I? All the people in the bible that made impacts for generations felt unworthy and said who am I? Moses asked God if there was someone else, Mary did, disciples did. That is exactly why it is YOU. You are his humble servant. Confused still as to why it is you? Let me help further. This is the Father using his sweet, willing, unsure daughter, just like Mary, to share his love."
WHY NOT YOU?
We do not understand the gravity of who we are and what we hold within out hands. We do not grasp the nature of goodness within us, the power of love and offerings of healing balm we hold just by being the we that we are. We do not understand that it is not about transformation but a removal of things in our way. Fear, shame, doubt... they are merely in my way as I journey to see the true picture of me! And innocent child does not fear, a child races beyond fear to discover the impossible possible! An innocent naive child has no hesitation, looking five steps ahead before creating and building and forming with that which is found in their hands...NO! They fashion effortlessly, without care, without counting any cost.
It is not arrogant to recognize the gifts we have or the treasures we are, it is a step of understanding who we are. And when that is paired with love and humility, combined with the desires of Gods heart to see the broken repaired and the lost found, it is a combination that is UNSTOPPABLE.
Under my childlike drawing I wrote BREAK OUT. Because once there is EXPANSION and we DREAM the desires we were born with, we not only can RETURN to the things woven in our DNA, in our childlike nature, we can BREAK OUT of the shell and discover what it looks like to live it all out.
It is time to let the innocence of being a child break out, break loose from the heavy fabrics of labels and the devastation of fear. Don't let these unwanted and smelly dinner guests steal anymore of your fine foods or break the crystal dishes that you treasure. Cast them away and replace their seats with confidence, authority, truth of your being, and courage to press on. If you let those features set your table, they will provide such lavish feast, you will be sustained through anything Papa God requests of you; even writing a study guide such as I, teaching such as I, sharing my vulnerable heart with the world such as I.
"My heart will beat as a childs, I love my innocence.
I see the world through simple eyes, and it is good.
I will plant my seeds and they will grow... unstoppable."
EXPANSION...FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS...RETURN...BREAK OUT