Friday, April 7, 2017

My Own Lazarus Story

If you've been around the Alley a while, you've heard me share about my journey to publication time and again. I would like to share a perspective of my journey that has some parallels to a well-known story.

Last Sunday at church, I had the privilege of giving a testimony about my writing after the pastor's sermon on the story of Lazarus. I'll give a quick summary of John 11 and highlight some keywords:

Even though Lazarus had been dead for four days, Jesus knew that he would show God's power and glory in this circumstance. After he was so moved by Martha and Mary's mourning over their brother, he asked the people to move away the tomb's stone--even though they were worried about the smell of death- the stink. Lazarus comes out of the tomb, fully ALIVE, and those who loved him unraveled his grave clothes and welcomed him back to life. 

 Funny, I'd offered to give a testimony based on my writing journey before I even knew what the sermon would be on that chosen date.

And, just as always, God met me and showed me how tightly knit Lazarus's story is to my own writing journey. I'd love to share my testimony with you all...especially since some of you play a big role in it.

The Sisters:

Pensacola 2015

Eight years ago, I had a story that I wanted to publish. Fortunately, I entered the Genesis contest--and fortunately, I didn't final. I actually realized from the feedback that I had a lot to learn. So, I became part of the ACFW crit group and met the lovely Ashley Clark. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship--one that would be crucial to my journey along all my highs, lows, and in betweens.
ACFW Conference 2016

After my first conference (encouraged greatly by none other than Ashley Clark), I walked away
thinking, I am on my way. After all, I had met with an agent, talked with a publisher--oh yeah, baby. I am getting published any day now. Um, yeah...we all know that's very unlikely. So, as I look back, and wonder what the purpose of that conference was...and I realize, I not only met Ashley face to face, but I met Pepper Basham...the gal who would invite me to be an Alley Cat a month later--a step into a life-changing journey.

The Stink:

The next years were difficult. I mean, having five novels subjected to rejection and criticism is never easy. It STINKS. Just like the four long days of Lazarus's death...I had several years of STINK when it came to my publishing pursuit.

But I had these amazing friends during that time--the Alley Cats and a handful of others. They encouraged me and prayed for me. We are writers at all different stages, but some how, the Alley Cats and I grew past our love of writing and found a sweet sisterhood.

And I knew this to be true when my unwavering focus on publishing--wavered, and a non-writing life crisis thrust me into the darkest season of my life.

Even though my prayer requests had nothing to do with writing, and my outbursts had nothing to do with the writing wait, these women became my lifeline. They spoke truth to me when everything around me was as dark and cold as a tomb. And they prayed. And prayed. And lifted me up when I was so far in the stink and despair I couldn't see God anymore.

The Stone:

And that's when God did something amazing. He rolled away the stone and met me in my writing. I wasn't writing for publication anymore, I was writing because God drew me close to Him as I poured my heart, and my writing became my place of worship.

I found worth in my writing that didn't hinge on publication. It was the catalyst for amazing friendships, and an intimate place for fellowship with the Creator.

The Grave Clothes:

Pensacola 2015
If I were Lazarus, and I was stepping out of the tomb, my Alley Cats would be the sisters who'd unraveled my grave clothes. They were the ones who prayed me through the stink, who spoke truth to me in love when I couldn't see past myself. 

Even now, when I have two novels coming out this fall, I realize that this past decade wasn't just a writing journey. Sure, writing is my passion--a sweet gift God gave me to meet Him in a creative way. But this journey?
The goal of publication was a nice motivator, but the actually living and breathing along the journey was what mattered most. It's the part that satisfied more than an earthly goal, but a powerful testimony of God's faithfulness to Christ-centered friendship, and a loving invitation to create alongside the Creator for nothing more than my own heart.


Angie Dicken is a mom of four children and lives in the Midwest with her Texas Aggie sweetheart. An ACFW member since 2010, she writes historical, historical romance, and dabbles in contemporary romance. Her debut, The Outlaw's Second Chance from Harlequin Love Inspired Historical releases in September of 2017, and her novel, My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah from Barbour, releases in November 2017. Angie is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. 
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Twitter: @angiedicken


kaybee said...

Angie, I do love this post. We always need to be directed back to Him. And we can't do it alone.
Kathy Bailey

Glynis said...

Amen! What a perfect tie-in from sermon to testimony. I identify with this so much. Aren't we all a little Lazarus in areas of our lives?

Pepper Basham said...

I love this so much, Angie!! I'm thrilled to see how God has used all of the various plot points in your life to bring you not only HERE in your publishing journey, but into my life!

I can't wait to see what he's going to do next! I'll be happy to celebrate your new 'life' along with you for as long as God lets me co-journey with you :-)

Angie Dicken said...

Thank you for reading, Ladies! Kathy, that's something I need to always remember--direct all I do back to Him. :)

Yes, I agree, Glynis--we are all a little Lazarus...through several seasons I expect!

You are amazing, Pepper...a true sister in my book. Love you!