Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. - Ephesians 3:20-21
Words fail me as I write this blog. Many of you know that this week, the day after Thanksgiving, our precious friend Diann Hunt went into the arms of Jesus. She'd fought a hard, brave battle against cancer and inspired all of us.
Diann was one of the first authors to welcome me at the ACFW conference. That year, I felt God nudging my heart to begin praying for her healing. I had no idea how I myself would be blessed, inspired, and encouraged through that process.
When I think of Diann, I am inspired not to do more or achieve more, but to be more. As I thought through different topics for today's blog post, I knew I wanted to write about what's been on my heart, and that is this. As we flitter around each day, busy about our tasks, are we really living our lives? Will the words we say and the stories we write have a lasting impact?
I don't know why Diann got cancer, or why she died so young. But I know why she lived.
To love her Savior and everyone she came across.
Living like that-- making that kind of a difference-- takes intentionality. It takes persistence, courage, joy, and kindness.
And that is the heart we ought to be writing from as we craft our stories.
It's easy to get focused on each step of the stairwell, when God's got an elevator nearby. Do you find yourself so discouraged when book critiques and rejections roll in that you feel like throwing in the towel? Maybe each slight feels like a hard thwack, and you don't know if you can take much more.
Let me encourage you. Pray about your calling. Then, wait expectantly for God's answer.
He won't let you down.
It's easy to get so short-term focused that we forget the larger ministry God has on His heart for us. We want to find the agent, sell the book, and grow a blog audience-- and all while, what God wants is to change hearts. What an amazing privilege it is to be in the ministry of storytelling. Because stories change lives. And no matter what life brings, stories live on.
After Diann passed away, I found myself downloading her stories, at the suggestion of Ann Mulligan. You can find a list of them-- all full of her signature wit and charm-- on her website, http://diannhunt.com/ if you're interested.
I know this may sound cliche, but it's true... each moment of our lives, we create a ripple like tiny waves in an ocean. But the cool thing is, that body of water is going somewhere. Each ripple may seem insignificant at the time, but pretty soon, those waves grow, and someday, the ocean touches the sand. The question is, what kind of investments are you making?
I encourage you today to be intentional about the way your stories minister to readers' hearts. Sales numbers and networking and business plans are all well and good, but at the end of the day, it's the heart-level ministry that matters. And in order to write a heart-catching book, we must first pour our own hearts into our stories. Through all the rejection and disappointment and grief and pain, we must get honest with our readers and ourselves, and find that joy of the Lord in the hope that that conquers all.
Have you ever read a story that resonated with you on the heart level? What about the story made that impact?
Ashley Clark writes romantic comedy with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook,Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.