Everyone’s Going to Prom but Me

Have you ever complained or even silently whispered, “Everyone’s going to prom but me”?

“Uh, Kristen,” you say. “Prom season is over.”

To that, I reply, “You’re right. I’m not really talking about prom.”

Last week, I had the chance to catch up with one of my close friends for the first time in a while. She asked how marriage is treating me, and I told her we’re doing great. Life is just overwhelmingly busy, and I don’t have time to do all the things I want or think I should. Plus, I confessed that I need to get off social media. It just makes me feel “less than” when I see so many of my friends being absolute rock star writers, and I can barely scratch out a weekly blog post right now with all my college assignments piled on top of my teaching load.

“Oh, girl, I get it,” she said. “It’s like, Everyone’s going to prom but me.”

Have you ever felt that way? Maybe you feel that way right now. I’ve got good news and better news, so grab your coffee and join me for a few minutes.

The good news: Prom is wonderful, but so is Netflix in your pajamas.

We focus too often on the glittering spotlight, the shimmering dresses, and the most sought-after dates. Okay, maybe we did or maybe we didn’t care that much about prom, but stay with me. Maybe you could care less about the limelight or best-dressed award, but do you crave that travel adventure, that real-life “forever” romance, that dream home, or that other seemingly unreachable goal? Ah, now we’re on the same page, right?

Maybe you spent prom night on the couch in your pajamas, because you didn’t have a date. Or maybe you were like me, a home-schooled tomboy who didn’t have the option to go to prom (and frankly, didn’t care).

However, I’ll confess I’ve felt “left out” in other ways, and if you’re being honest, so have you. Maybe what we’ve wanted have been really good things, too, but for whatever reason, God hasn’t seen fit to give them to us.

Maybe a rejection is God’s mercy in disguise. Maybe a “no” is just a “not yet.” Or maybe a “no” is an opportunity to see if we will trust God regardless of what eventually happens.

The bottom line is that we can still find contentment of the purest kind when we don’t get to go to prom. We don’t find it in our circumstances. We find it in our Savior who supplies all our needs as He sees best (Philippians 4:19). The Apostle Paul shared his own personal example:

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13 NKJV)

Ah, we quote verse 13 for a spiritual pep talk on a regular basis, but how often do we notice the preceding verses? Do we ask God to let us be content when we’re full and when we’re hungry? When we’re on the mountaintop and when we’re feeling oh so low?

Our God who is with us in our prom-like moments is also with us on the couch when we’re alone and nursing our broken dreams with ice cream and Gilmore Girls. His presence can sweeten our less-than-photo-worthy moments and remind us that He alone satisfies.

The better news: Prom will come around again.

The Bible’s wisdom literature is among my favorites. Why? It points out the common-sense truth that we forget in the heat of the moment when we’re tempted to cry, Everyone’s going to prom but me!

Truth is, everyone isn’t. Social media creates a FOMO (fear of missing out) culture, thanks to all our beautifully filtered photos and featured life highlights. I mean, hello. I don’t post updates about all the student papers I grade or now the papers I write, because no one’s interested in my daily workload.

What I do share (and c’mon now, so do you) are those “prom” moments. Most recently, that special moment was my wedding, one of the happiest days of my life. So much joy and answered prayer rode on that day that I couldn’t wait to share about it!

However, let me jump to the other side of the fence (because I’ve been there too). For the many years I was single, scrolling through wedding pictures on Facebook was more like an exercise in self-mortification. Please don’t misunderstand. I was happy for my married friends, but I felt left out. Everyone was going to prom but me.

Here’s what I had to learn: God’s timing and plan are better than mine, and everyone’s stories are different.

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Special thanks to Solomon for putting that so eloquently. Read the next seven verses for his full summary, and then, journal a few lines of personal application to where you are right now. All our dreams might not be realized, but God has seasons of blessing in store regardless.

Next year, prom season will come around again. There will be new opportunities, new possibilities. However, don’t forget to soak in and enjoy the ones before you this day, even if they aren’t as glamorous as a prom date. They are here for only a season as well, so savor the moment.

The best news: Prom doesn’t actually matter.

Whaaatt? After all that, you’re going to tell me my prom-like dreams are a waste of time?

Well, yes and no. Cultivating the gifts God’s given us and chasing the dreams He’s placed on our hearts are not wastes of time. The Bible makes clear that we are God’s workmanship, created to do the good works He’s called us to do (Ephesians 2:14 paraphrase). That calling is a good thing and looks different for each of us.

However, God doesn’t need our achievements, even though in His grace, He sometimes sees fit to use them for His bigger purpose. He doesn’t call us to be successful, and he doesn’t guarantee life will be happy or easy. We too often lose sight of our real mission in our side-tracked frenzy to grasp what we’ve told ourselves matters or what the world places its money on.

Here’s another of my “prom” examples: It doesn’t matter if I’m ever a world-class writer or picked up by a major publisher or sell a boat-load of books. None of those things matter.

What matters is if I’m faithful with the gifts and responsibilities God’s given me. What matters is sharing His Word with others. What matters is living a life that pleases Him. What matters is hearing Him say, “Well done” one day.

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. (I Timothy 6:6-7)

You see, prom doesn’t matter. If we get to go one day, good for us! If someone else gets to go today, good for her! And the next time we’re tempted to whine, Everyone’s going to prom but me, remember this: Prom is nice, but it’s not the point.

Live in abundance, friends!

Kristen

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Where Do You Find Inspiration?

Photo Credit: Kristen Hogrefe, Orvieto, Italy

A common question people ask writers is where we find our inspiration. Regardless of your trade or career, you find inspiration for your craft somewhere or from something. However, the source isn’t always remarkable and doesn’t have to be. Today, I’d like to share some places I find inspiration to help encourage you to seek out your own.

From Creation

The Genesis record of creation repeats the words “And God saw that it was good” multiple times. Although man’s sin corrupted God’s flawless design, we still see the intentional purpose God crafted into His creation.

No wonder when I run, hike, or otherwise adventure in this world, I constantly find beauty that stimulates the imagination. When I visited Italy last year and explored several settings in my upcoming novel, I was overwhelmed with the the colors, sounds, architecture, culture, and cuisine (including pizza and gelato)! As I said before, the experience doesn’t have to be international or exotic to provide inspiration. Wherever we go, God’s nature provides boundless possibilities for subject matters and settings.

From Conviction

This February, the final novel in young adult, dystopian trilogy publishes. Some people have asked why I decided to write dystopian since it can sometimes be a controversial genre.

The reason is that I felt convicted to write a dystopian thriller from a Christian worldview with an overarching message of hope. So many dystopian books are dark with bleak outcomes, and while mine still includes many common characteristics of the genre, it offers a twist. It suggests that for a futuristic society to survive and thrive, its people need to rediscover heritage and the Source of true hope. As a result of my convictions, this theme underpins an otherwise classic dystopian tale.

From Conversation

I’m not the only person who likes to people watch at airports or tune in to random conversations, am I? Sometimes, a mere word or phrase catches my ear and suggests perhaps a title, a unique character name, a nugget of truth about human nature, or a humorous story to tuck away for later.

Even if those snippets never find their way into my writing, they certainly make me a better observer, conversationalist, and listener–all of which are necessary for being a good writer.

Where do you find your inspiration? Please leave a comment and share!

~ Kristen

This post first appeared on DailyPS.com. For more inspirational posts, visit DailyPS.com.

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The Revisionary Wins Selah Award

My heart nearly beat out of my chest as Eva Marie Everson, the Blue Ridge Conference Awards Director, called my name. Not just for finaling in two awards (an honor in itself) but for winning them both.

Last week, The Revisionary won one of Christian Fiction’s most notable awards, the Selah,  in its category of Speculative Fiction. It also received the Directors’ Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction.

At the Awards Ceremony with Conference Directors Edie Melson (left) and DiAnn Mills (right)

One of the best parts was celebrating with friends who also received awards. I remember meeting Lindsey Brackett at the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference a few years ago when we were just talking about our book projects, and now, she won three awards for her debut novel Still Waters. Go, Lindsey, and congrats to all the finalists and winners!

Pictured with Multi-Selah Winner Lindsey Brackett (left) and Awards Director Eva Marie Everson (center)

I want to say a big thank-you to everyone who helped make this moment possible, including my family and supportive friends, my editor Marji Laine, and mostly my Savior Jesus Christ who entrusted me with a writer’s calling. Writing can be lonely, thankless work at times, but most callings can be. Praise God for the endurance to keep going, regardless if the podium is in sight or not.

The Revisionary and its sequel The Revolutionary are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

~ Kristen

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Trust and Obey

fcwc-quoteMy grandmother’s favorite hymn was “Trust and Obey.” As a little girl, I liked the hymn just because she did. Now that she’s gone, its beautiful simplicity and her memory endear it even more to me.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus.

Sometimes, however, that faith gets tried with fire.

As a missionary wife and mother, my grandmother experienced death threats against her husband, buried her firstborn son in South America, and before her own home-going much later in life, suffered the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s.

Trust and obey?

Last week, author and teacher Dr. Dennis E. Hensley or “Doc Hensley” served as keynote speaker at the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference where he challenged writers to pursue their call, regardless of the doubts they have or “giants” they might face. He shared from God’s Word in Deuteronomy where God clearly mapped out the battle plan for Israel to conquer the Promised Land. God told Israel to go and take it, but the people focused so much on the impossible-looking details of the task that they refused. In consequence, all but Joshua and Caleb died in the wilderness and missed out on God’s best blessings.

“We don’t need to know God’s plan,” Doc Hensley said. “We just have to obey his orders.”

How God orchestrates his end-goal is for him to decide. We just have to take the next step and then the next one after that, in child-like obedience.

What “orders” has God given you today? Are you willing to obey them, regardless if the details look possible? 

Trust and obey.

Kristen

 

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