Trust the Clouds Will Part

During our latest trip to Beech Mountain, North Carolina, my husband James, our friends, and I enjoyed several hikes. The first two days were clear and perfect. No matter where we went, we had good visibility and conditions (even though they were a bit chilly for this Florida girl).

The last two days were a complete reversal. We woke to cloudy, drizzly skies. The forecast kept changing, and we weren’t sure if the sun would come out or not. Regardless, we took two slippery waterfall hikes. (When in doubt, hike anyway.) The views were absolutely worth the effort!

By late afternoon, though, the clouds still hung heavy and low. We had one planned hike left, but Roan Mountain required the longest drive yet and had the highest elevation.

Since it was our last day, we took the chance. As we neared the parking area, we caught glimpses of blue sky through the clouds. For a few minutes, the misty clouds cleared, revealing breathtaking mountains and deep blue afternoon skies. Moments later, the clouds rolled back in, but we swung on our hiking backpacks and started the climb anyway, hopeful the clouds would continue to give way.

When we reached the first outlook, they did. Waiting there were several photographers, and one practically bounced out of his skin for joy. “I’ve been waiting here all afternoon,” he said. “It’s been nothing but clouds. But now, would you look at that view!”

We agreed. It was stunning and totally worth the risk.

When Clouds Don’t Part

Sometimes in life, we take a chance, and the clouds still stubbornly hug the sky. Okay, you know I’m not talking about weather anymore, right?

We put ourselves “out there,” only to be disappointed. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve submitted a book proposal or made a pitch, only to receive a rejection or silence that speaks louder than words. All the effort that went into crafting the proposal to specific submission requirements feels like a waste of time and energy.

Maybe you’ve trained months to make the team, only to miss the cut. Maybe you’ve studied hard for entrance exams or standardized testing, only to miss the mark by one point. Maybe you’ve carefully groomed yourself for a promotion or new position, only to have someone else pass you by.

Seriously, we’ve all been there and felt our hopes deflate like a hot air balloon. But does that mean we should stop pressing on, taking risks, and giving opportunity every chance we can?

Absolutely not.

What We Can’t See Behind the Clouds

Maybe the skies of your current situation seem extra gray, but just because we can’t see the sun shining doesn’t mean it isn’t. God’s Word makes clear He has a plan for His children, a plan designed to give us “hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

On that hike up Roan Mountain, we went through a thick forest, which felt spooky in the late afternoon. Only the faintest hints of light sprinkled through the woods, and I found myself walking extra fast to get through the forest.

Waiting for me on the other side was a clearing, and just beyond, a view that stole my breath. The clouds had parted again, revealing a spectacular mountain vista. Even more stunning was the sunset we savored on the return hike.

We would have missed the majesty of clouds parting for a sunset if we hadn’t taken the risk to hike the mountain. That said, my encouragement to you (and myself) today is simple:

Take the risk. Hike whatever mountain you’re facing. And trust that soon, the clouds will part.

No matter what, the adventure is worthwhile.

~ Kristen

Box Jumps in the Writing Life

This is a traditional box jump, and this is not me. The box jump at my gym is a platform design, and I’ve yet to conquer level 4. One day!

When my husband and I joined a gym together, he introduced me to the box jump. In theory, it’s simple, a metal platform that you jump on with both feet at the same time. You can move to higher levels as you advance in ability. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

In theory, publishing is simple too. You have a great idea. You write it down on paper. You publish it, and it becomes a New York Times’ best seller.

And you laugh. Of course, publishing doesn’t work that way. Mastering the box jump isn’t so easy either. In fact, it has many parallels with the writing life.

Mental Hurdle: Fear

When I first step up to the box jump, all I can envision is catching my foot on the bottom and losing my front teeth. So, I stretch, procrastinate, and then finally step toward it. Deep breath. Swing arms. Grit teeth. And … freeze.

James gently reminds me, “It’s all in your head, you know.”

Mostly, he’s right. There are my physical limitations, but what’s really holding me back is my fear of getting hurt.

We writers have our share of fears, don’t we? Sometimes, we call them “writer’s block” where try as we might, we can’t find the next word of our project. We stress that we’ll never be able to finish, and our paralysis freezes up the wheels of our imaginations.

Other times, we face the fear of rejection from agents and editors. Although refusals are a realistic part of the writer’s life, that doesn’t mean they sting any less. Perhaps even more unnerving is the day we do publish something, and we fear no one will read it or like it.

However, as Scripture reminds us, fear is not supposed to be our focus. 2 Timothy 1:7 states:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (NKJV).

Although this truth doesn’t discount our very real fears, it does redirect our attention to think on what is true and what we can do through the power of Christ.

To read the full post, visit The Write Conversation. I’m grateful to Edie Melson for sharing this two-part series on her award-winning blog for writers. 

Even if you’re not a writer, you can probably relate. What are some personal “box jumps” you’ve had to overcome?

~ Kristen

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Box Jumps in the Writing Life – @kjhogrefe on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

 

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)