Response from a Reader

letter   The following letter is an email I received in response to a blog post I wrote a few weeks ago.  You can read the post HERE

Their is nothing a writer loves more than to know his writing has touched someone.  I am so thankful that God has allowed me this outlet to express my love for Him and my desire to beautifully reflect Him.



(Response to The I’s Have It 5/19/09)…part 1

     Admittedly, I am one of the people who the author talks about whom are “increasingly dedicated to finding our purpose or God’s will for our life.”  I have prayed for God to show me a “burning bush moment” too many times to count.  When I was 11, I was in so much pain emotionally, physically, and spiritually, that I asked God to take me home.  I could not imagine why He would put me or allow me to be in a place where no one understood me, (or in my flawed perception…no one would care).

     Why am I here? What does God want from me? Why do I feel so hopeless and without purpose?  I could not hear God…the only option I had to protect myself was to close off from the pain and shut everyone out.  Through God’s grace, patience, and perseverance, (His as well as select people he brought into my life) He has helped me through many trails and temptations.  When I was about 21 years old, after an indirect effort on my part to end my life, God put Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:10 into my heart, and thanks to Him working through my niece, I made a promise to never again make an effort to end everything.  I still wasn’t able to hear God or understand why I was brought here, but I knew then without a doubt (and as I can see now looking back, that I really was here for a purpose.  Many people would tell me that I was not here for selfish reasons, and that I was supposed to be in the world, but not of it…I was set apart, but I didn’t really accept or internalize it until much later.  It is a universal truth that the Lord can take us home at any time, and everything truly is about His perfect timing and purpose for our lives.

     I continued to question my purpose, and also be frustrated at the seeming lack of interest from Him.  I kept trying to find earthly reasons for my existence.  Anyone who even barely knew or knows me would tell you that MY biggest goal in life was / is to have a family of my own…but that wasn’t, and so far isn’t HIS plan for me at the moment.  I finally gave up pushing so hard for that, and eventually (after 4 Ph.D application denials), have accepted that very seldom does anyone find out what their purpose(s) is/are.  It is clear to me that God wants us to be childlike in our faith (Mt. 18:3) and start out very small in our work for His kingdom.  As the previous author stated…and I truly believe, if we do the small (seemingly unimportant at times, though it may be) stuff (i.e. cleaning latrines in the previous article), God will most assuredly ask us to do greater and bigger things through Him, for the good of His kingdom and people.  I feel it is immensely important that we keep praying for guidance and direction (Jeremiah 29:12) and asking the people we trust for help with our mission.

     I don’t know where I am going on this earth, but I do know I am here to do His will and to do what I can to bring my small part of His plan to fruition.  The reason I can’t see anything more detailed than that is simple…I am not ready.  Thankfully, He has given me awesome, God inspired, brothers and sisters to help me on my journey, and I have been given to them to aid them in theirs.  I am constantly reminded that I must many times allow myself to “Be still and know…” (Psalms 46:10)…while I wait for His timing, so I can continue on in my service to Him.  May God Bless you as you continue to seek His truth for your life.  “Burning bush” moment or not, He is with us always (Mt. 28:20).

  First let me reiterate that you (the reader) are very important to God.  Each of us are so valuable that God sent His Son to die a horrible death on the cross so that we can be with God in heaven forever.  Nowhere in the Bible is their a verse that says we are unimportant.  However, we are also a selfish and prideful people with a heart that is naturally bent towards wanting more than we have.  In a non-Christian’s life this is expected and normal, but in a Christian’s life this is the opposite of how we should act and feel.  Christians are supposed to love like Christ, rejoice when others succeed, and be happy when God uses someone to accomplish great things for Him.  But too often we get wrapped up in self and become bitter toward God because He hasn’t made us successful (as we envision success) or we aren’t where our plan was supposed to have us.  There is a country song out that says “if you want to hear God laugh tell Him your plans.”  How true!  God has a plan for all of us, it is written out clearly and concisely in His Word.  All we have to do is read it and obey.  Like my friend said, small things before big things.  You can’t put a three year old behind theBig_Wheel wheel of a race car and expect him to win a race, but you can start him out on a Big Wheel and let him terrorize the cat.  If you want to “do great things for God” start by doing the small things really well. 

  Never give up on your dreams, just be willing to do something else if God tells you to.


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Sweet Dreams

Dreams.  We have all had them. Maybe you dreamt about being a fireman or a garbage truck driver. How about a follow-your-dreamsballerina or a doctor. My dream was to be a cartoon/comic book artist. Unfortunately I found out you had to have the ability to draw to do this. I could copy another drawing or comic picture but I could never draw my own, so I gave up. I went through the astronaut phase and the Superman phase. But then real life bulled it’s way in and all those dreams fell by the wayside. Car payments, rent payments, jobs and then family got in the way. There are personal dreams and God-given dreams.  I don’t believe they are mutually exclusive either.  If your heart longs to do something how can you say that it was not planted there by God?  Obviously if it is a dream that would compel you to disobey God then it didn’t come from Him, but otherwise, no one but you can decide if it is or is not God’s will.

My dream to co-pastor a church with my Dad was God-given. My wife and I prayed and prayed and finally we decided to go for it. We gave up just about everything and moved back home with my parents. We lived with them for almost two years. It started out with my wife and I an our two kids living with my Mom and Dad in a three bedroom house and then Amy became pregnant with our third so then there were 7 in the same house. It was tight and it was hard but we sacrificed for the dream. My parents bought a new house and moved out giving us the old one. Things were starting to look up. The church we were leading decided to go a different way and we decided to leave and start a new church. We didn’t want to split the current one as we felt that would be wrong. Well, the startup was a failure. The new church didn’t make it. We tried and we did not succeed. I lost my job and had to move up north to find work leaving my wife and kids with my folks and my Sister and Brother-in-law.

But I will tell you this, I would do it all over again. Why? Because I can say I tried. I took the plunge. I jumped. Even through all the problems and pitfalls I have come out the other side with a stronger marriage a renewed relationship with my parents and a best friend in my brother-in-law. We may have failed but we succeeded at the same time.

Yesterday we looked at the following verse;

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (New Living Translation)

Fighting the good fight, finishing the race encompasses following your dreams.  What is your dream?  What have you always wanted to do or be?  Did you succeed, did you fail?  Did you even try at all?  Even Jesus could not do everything He wanted to.  Seriously, don’t you think He wanted everyone to accept His free gift of salvation?  Failure is not a sin.  Failure is a part of life.  It is how we grow.  It pushes us to new and higher levels.  The failure of Jesus to reach everyone He talked to spurred Him to sacrifice His life to win those that He could.  In the garden when He was praying He asked God if their was another way.  God said no.  Jesus then has a decision, accept His fate or deny it.  Knowing that if He does not die untold billions would go to hell He accepts the torture to come.  And because of that sacrifice millions upon millions have attained eternal life in heaven. Mark 14:32-41 His failure became a sacrifice which ensured his success.

A friend of mine has also followed his dream, he has self published his first book and is currently working on the second. The authors name is Nathan Parks.  You can read about and order that book from this website.  ” The Nephelium: Book One in the Darkness Trilogy”   I put together some interview questions and he took time out of his schedule to answer them.

The following is that interview:

1. What is the name of the first book?

The first book is called The Nephelium – which is based upon a belief that demons and/or angels came down and had relationships with mortals and today there is a generations of half mortal/immortal beings that live among us.

2. What is it about?

The main path through the book is that we all come to a place in our lives that we must make a choice and that we must realize that that choice will never just affect us, but will most affect us and those around us, even generations. It deals with the struggle of humanity to find reason and purpose, and how to deal with understanding principles that others have instilled on you.

3.What genre would you classify this book in?

Wow, good question. I would put it in fantasy. Fantasy use to mean dragons and elves, but I believe it has expanded. This book takes the reader into the world of angels and demons, but shows how that true world is where we get our vampire mythology from. So, it is a mixture. I believe it has a lot for everyone within it.

4. Why did you choose to write this type of book?

I have always been drawn to books that are fantasy based, and also those that deal with the supernatural. I was raised in a strict religious environment. I was not allowed to read books that had any “demonic” or “magical” things inside. As a child I became the victim of a child molester. I needed that “escape”. The world of fantasy and the supernatural was there. I think people are drawn to this type of book because they live “every day” life. They want that chance to escape. As I write I want them to taste, feel, hear, smell and see everything! I don’t want them to just read it…I want them to experience it!

6. Why did you self-publish?

Well, there are a lot of reasons. (laughing) For one, the publishing industry is just like any other industry. If you are an aspiring singer it may take years for any of the “Big Boys” to catch on to you, and even then by the time they get done with you…you may not recognize you. They control you. (and understandably so…it is their money they are using to push you) Publishing is no different.
The big publishing houses have their “favorite” authors, and sadly enough I think to many of them have gotten to big! They have forgotten what it means to LOVE the art, and they have forgotten the fans that put them there. The publishing houses only know that these authors make them money.
When I first got close to finishing The Nephelium I started thinking about someone taking my manuscript and changing it around. I didn’t do this for money. I wrote from my soul; as I think most authors do; it made me sick thinking that someone could tell me how my dream was to go or end. I felt that if no one liked the book the way it was, OK; it wasn’t for them. I honestly was prepared that only those around me would “like” it.
My wife and I talked it over, and it was important for me to get this book out there, and I understood that with self-publishing I wouldn’t have the “big” markets, and that it would be a task to promote, but I just felt it was the right thing to do.
From there a whole larger vision began to emerge, but I know we will talk about that in a minute.

7. Any advice for people wanting to get a book published?

Buckle up! That is all I can say.  Have ever heard the statement, “If it was easy everyone would do it”? That statement is very true. Self-publishing is not for everyone, but at the same time getting published by a publishing house is not for everyone. Neither of them are easy, it all depends on how passionate you are about your dream. There is a poster I saw once about how many times President Lincoln “failed” at different things before becoming President. I keep that in my mind. What is your motivation? If you want to become rich and famous…this may not be for you, BUT I am NOT the one to tell you that! I will NEVER take someone’s dream from them.
Sounds funny, but the best advice I have found so far are the “Dummy” books. I have the “Self-Publishing for Dummies” and “How to Get Your Book Published for Dummies”.
I am going to start posting  information that I believe I have learned on my Facebook group that is for my book.

8. Does this count as ‘a dream come true’?

To start off with? No. Where I am today? Yes! What I mean by that is sometimes we have allowed people, situations, or even places or status, to steal our dreams. Many times our dreams are shoved so far down because of being told over and over it wont happen, or that is to hard, or “do you know how many other people have tried that?”. Because of this, many times we don’t even remember it was a dream.
When I was about six years old I “wrote” my first story about an Indian boy. I remember a lot of it even to this day. I was excited about it! I was going to be a writer. Then life happened. As I said before I was molested as a child, and then that changed me to where I started living behind masks. You can’t chase a dream if you are hiding.
Other things in life started happening, and I allowed words, people and situations to drive me deeper into hiding, and soon all I could think about was building the walls of protection around me, and my dreams vanished! Don’t get me wrong; I still wrote, but it was all apart of building my protection. My writings really were for me, and I was building my world through them.
It wasn’t until years later, a broken marriage and a broken spirit that I found my dream again. I started rekindling my faith, but it was MY FAITH, and not the faith that someone told me I had to have, and then the beautiful and stubborn spirit of my new wife shoved me back into the light of my dreams.
She found some of my writings and started pushing me to write more and get published. She was with me the first day I held the Fed-Ex package in my hand and I knew that inside it was the first edition of my novel. I was shaking!
I would have to say though that that dream has grown. The book series and my writings have become actually a tool to a larger dream. I have a dream and passion now to help others rekindle and rediscover their dream. So, yes, it is a dream come true, and also a dream builder.

9. What is your larger dream?

Do you have a few hours? You and I have known each other for years, Shawn, and in fact you were the first person that really encouraged me to write and prepared my spirit for my wife’s encouragement. You also know that I have a passion for people! I have a passion to see people reach the heights that they are capable of and I would say most people are not even scratching the bottom of that height. They are still in the taxi, in the parking lot of the adventure outfitters that is sitting at the bottom of the mountain of their dream!
My larger dream and passion is to use The Eternal Series and my passion for writing to propel others to their dreams! How? To give them the platform, the encouragement, and the push! I am still putting it all together, but my dream is to have artists who need a platform, to draw or paint or whatever the world of the Eternals. I want other writers to jump into the world of the Eternals, let me guide them, and then have them write about what they see, and who they meet. I want photographers to capture in their photography the essence of this, and then the fans to find their niche somewhere that will encourage them to capture their dream, and run with it!
I have an idea how I might get this to work, but not fully sure yet, and yet that in and of itself is the pursuit of a dream! I don’t know where this will take me, and I don’t know how long it will go, but I do know I will continue until it has run its course, and then I know that at that point there will be another dream to pursue!

10. What advice would you give folks about following their dream?

Get up! Get up! It starts with one foot forward. I have thought about this a lot, and I guess off the top of my head I could break it down like this.
1. Get up – I don’t know what has knocked you down or has chained you, but for every day that you allow it to keep you there…IT WINS! Why don’t you be the winner!
2. Believe – Believe in yourself, but if right now you can’t…find someone that will! Rotten creates rotten; stop hanging around rotten. I will believe in you! Find someone that will!
3. Readjust – let the dream be your target…define it…write it down, and you be the arrow. You may not get their directly, but never stop shooting for that target. Be flexible, but not quenchable. (Hey…I just came up with that. I like that)
4. Never stop – it sounds cheesy I know, but it is so true. Even today there are times I think, “Sheesh, do I really want to write? Do I really want to do this?” I catch myself and say, “Why are you about to return to your chains? You are free”.

11. Any last comments?

First, thank you, Shawn, for doing this, and I am excited about you pursuing your dreams in helping people also through your blog.
When it comes to dreams and making them happen I guess I could say this:

“Living is when you turn to the person who stole your dream and say, “You know, I think I can handle that better than you,” and you take it back.

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