Thanking God for Closed Doors

When my older brother’s children would stay at my parent’s home, my mom and dad would often close some doors so that my nieces and nephews wouldn’t get into things they shouldn’t. Naturally, their little hands would reach for those doorknobs.

There’s something about closed doors that we inherently dislike. The mystery of what’s on the other side tempts us to pry open doors we have no business entering.

As a writer, I know my professional life will have its share of rejection letters, but recently, I’ve received nothing but them. Thank you, but our publishing house is changing directions. Thank you, but we’re no longer representing fiction. Thank you, but this project doesn’t meet our needs at this time. 

On the plus side, every one of the rejections has been positive. The agent, editor, or publishing board liked my writing and the potential to work with me  in the future… but not today.

Closed doors hurt, especially when we keep our noses too close to them. That’s why I had an honest talk with God. Why all these closed doors? What are You trying to tell me?

And then the truth smacked me: God is closing doors, because I need to focus on the amazing open doors staring me in the face. Next month, the last book in The Rogues trilogy publishes, becoming my sixth book published. Completing this project is a blessing and accomplishment, and I’m thrilled for my readers to enjoy The Reactionary, the final saga in Portia’s story (releasing February 19).

Beyond that, I’ve been praying over a decade to meet and marry a godly man. The dating road was strewn with disappointments, as many of you can relate. I’m thankful for my single years, but they weren’t always easy. However, as I’m preparing for marriage now, I realize it won’t always be easy either, but it will be worthwhile. According to Sacred Marriage, the union of two sinful people offers the greatest opportunity for sanctification possible. In other words, both singleness and marriage have their joys and challenges.

The bottom line is that God has answered my prayer for a godly husband in James, and this is perhaps the biggest open door of my life (apart from my salvation).

In fact, by closing so many writing doors, God is allowing me to focus on and enjoy the wonderful opportunities before me. If He had opened doors for more projects at this point in my life, I would likely become overwhelmed with all the commitments and unable to give myself wholeheartedly to what matters most.

So today, I’m thanking God for closed doors and ignoring the enemy’s whispers that God is through with my writing. Instead, I choose to celebrate the writing journey that is before me, and even more than that, the adventure of becoming Mrs. James Parnell.

Photo credit: Aja Skye Photography

Has God closed any doors for you recently? If so, what open doors might He want you to focus on during this time instead?

~ Kristen

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Thanking God for Closed Doors – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

Dreaming Isn’t Dangerous. Doubt Is.

If you told me a few weeks ago that I’d be planning a spontaneous trip to Italy in a month, I wouldn’t have believed you. I’d probably have laughed and then sighed, Wouldn’t that be nice?

Truth. I really am planning a spontaneous trip to Italy next month.

Let me back up the story. A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a colleague and landed on the topic of travel. I told her how much I admired her working from Italy last spring, and that in my dreams, I’d do the same thing some day. I shared how my next novel takes my heroine to Italy and that seeing those places first hand instead of through research would be amazing.

She replied, “Well then you have to go! I’m planning a trip soon. Want to come?”

I hesitated for only a moment. Although some logistical questions ran through my head, my answer was yes.

She came back to me a few days later with a more concrete plan and a question: How serious are you about going to Italy? 

If I remember right, I told her 88% or some random percentage like that, because once again, there were some work details that had to be approved. (And then there was the matter of begging someone to watch my cat Ness, who has a reputation for not being the best house guest.)

But guess what? That elusive 12% worked out. I might just have the best boss in the world, and I do have the most amazing family, because they agreed to keep Ness from starving.

As I tackle the next challenge of packing only a backpack, I see a few takeaways I hope might encourage you.

Focus less on obstacles and more on the prize.

As you read my story, you probably noticed the times I hesitated. Caution raised a flag. What ifs popped in my head. If I hadn’t investigated those questions and pursued the possibility, I might still be sighing to myself, Maybe one day.

I think the same is true in our Christian lives. Sometimes, God calls us to an opportunity, and we spend more time stressing about all the reasons it won’t work instead of realizing all the ways it very well could.

I’m learning that dreaming isn’t dangerous. Doubt is. After all, Jesus never criticized people for having too much faith. He chided them for having too little (Matthew 6:30, 8:26, 14:31).

How much we miss when we doubt! But when we dream and allow God to shape those dreams, possibilities often unfold in ways we could never have imagined.

Dream bigger and expect great things.

Maybe life jades us a bit as we grow up. As children, people tell us we can be whatever we want to be, but the truth is that life has many gatekeepers that prevent some of those dreams from coming true. (Sorry, kids, but only so many people can ever be president.)

However, we shouldn’t always conform to what’s reasonable or realistic, because sometimes, God delights in impossibilities. After all, Jesus turned water into wine. Peter walked on water. Paul turned from persecuting the church to boldly proclaiming the gospel he once sought to destroy. The Bible is full instances that defy logic or even nature itself.

You may say, Sure, but that’s the Bible. That’s not my life. Perhaps instead of focusing on what seems impossible, we should start risking, start daring. I like what my pastor said Sunday on the subject of taking risks for God.

“The problem is not that we dream too big. It’s that we dream too small.”

– Pastor Ken Whitten

Choose adventure over comfort.

I confess. I like my routines, things like 8 hours of sleep, a cup of coffee in the morning with my quiet time, fresh laundry, and a clean house.

Travel hacking with only a backpack isn’t going to guarantee any of those things and will likely stretch my comfort zone. But that’s a good thing, right? Because which would you rather be: Home and perfectly comfortable or sleep-deprived in Italy? Allora. (That’s Italian for “um,” I believe.) Yeah, 100% the latter.

The Christian life is something of an adventure, too. We can content ourselves with our church and devotional routines, or we can step out and try something that might seem a little scary. Maybe you’re not sure what that might be. I’m not either. But we can pray about it, and ask God to show us how He’d like us to step out in faith. Perhaps the answer will surprise us.

How might God want you to dream bigger? 

~ Kristen

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Dreaming isn’t dangerous. Doubt is. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

 

 

3 Habits of Satisfied People

More than likely, our lives have or will turn out differently than we plan. Even so, we can know the satisfaction of a life well-lived. The deciding factors have less to do with mountain-top moments and more with our everyday habits.

Last month, I had the opportunity to share with Alpha Omega Academy’s graduating class some habits that will help them live meaningfully, and I don’t think these practices are just for teens. They’re ones I have to work on intentionally every day. Maybe they’ll help you, too.

Habit #1: Guard Your Priorities.

We might be able to multi-task, but we can’t do everything. Or, if we try, we’ll do less well. Guarding our priorities means saying “no” to good things so we can “yes” to better ones.

By “better,” I don’t mean in terms of importance but in terms of our calling. Is this task or responsibility part of our God-given assignment? Is it something we should do or just something we could do?

The truth is that guarding our priorities sometimes means letting go in order to respect our commitments. But in the end, honoring our calling is more important than pleasing everyone.

To read about the other habits, click over to DailyPS.com. I look forward to your comments. 

Have you implemented these habits into your life, or what habits would you add to this list?

~ Kristen

 

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3 Habits of Satisfied People – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Honoring our calling is more important than pleasing everyone. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)