Today is is with great pleasure I bring to you a pair of sisters I met at a women's conference in September. The Writing Sisters is comprised of Betsy Duffy and Laurie Myers and they'd like to talk to us about Prayer, so without much further ado here they are....
Prayer Made the Difference
The Shepherd’s Song was a different writing experience for us. After twenty years of writing children’s books for the general market we were now writing our first book for God. The books we wrote before were from a Christian worldview. What made this book different was our desire to submit every word to God and to reflect in our words what He would say. An overwhelming task on our own.
But what if we could connect with God and hear from Him as we worked. C.S. Lewis wrote once about “taking dictation” from God. The connection with God was key. But how?
As we shifted from our writing for the general market to the idea that we would write for God, prayer became important and critical. We prayed individually, together in groups with others and we enlisted a prayer team to pray for the writing of the book.
Three times stand out as we reflect back over how prayer entered our work and kept us grounded and focused as we wrote The Shepherd’s Song.
The first came at the beginning of our efforts. When we began writing together, we were full of enthusiasm and ideas. We both took off with to do lists and ideas and quickly we became stressed and anxious. A book by Andy Stanley, Visioneering pulled us back and helped us focus.
The book challenged us to look at whether we prayed first, then acted, or acted first, then prayed.
The question was convicting - the notebooks full of our plans and ideas were the evidence against us. In our enthusiasm we had gotten ahead of God. What to do? We stopped and made two decisions:
We decided we would stop all action and spend one week just praying for the book and for direction.
And we also agreed we would never move forward on an idea or action unless we were unified through prayer about the decision.
Throughout the week anxiety vanished. Clarity came, peace descended. As we individually surrendered the work to God He brought us into unity.
The second prayer time came later. The book was finished and accepted and paralysis set in. Now what. The second book, The Father’s Prayer, was drafted and outlined but we were blocked. At the same time we were working to build a platform and determine what we should be doing for marketing the first book.
Was it right? How did we know? We stopped again and brought the work and ourselves into a time of deeper prayer.
This time God spoke to us through a book by Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle, The Forty Day Prayer Challenge. For forty days we read the devotions and “circled” our work in prayer during our personal time with God. It was amazing how God used these devotions to speak to us separately and together as we submitted to Him through these prayer times.
Reading this devotional series together and praying through Batterson’s forty days helped us to connect with each other and with God and allowed God access to us through our time with Him.
The third was a prayer for protection. During the year leading up to publication we both went through difficult times with friends and family, mostly medical issues. We were both pulled off track and struggled to keep focus while undergoing struggles to take care of those we loved. We remembered our great grandfather’s favorite scripture from Ephesians 6, the armor of God.
We began to pray this daily for each other. Each morning we would turn to this passage and pray each article of armor for the other –belt, shield, helmet, breastplate, sword, shoes. As soon as we started, peace reigned and through our outward circumstances did not change, we had peace and we able to resume our work on the book.
The end result?
We don’t know how the book will be received or what will happen as it goes out into the world but the end result for us is peace. We have no regrets about the writing, no doubts about any decision along the way. We have assurance that the book is in God’s hands to use as He will.
Prayer is the key.
The Writing Sisters, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers were born into a writing family, and began critiquing manuscripts at an early age for their mother, Newbery winner Betsy Byars. They went on to become authors of more than thirty-five children’s novels. Their first book for adults is The Shepherd’s Song, Howard Books, March 2014. Find out more by visiting their website and facebook page and be sure to sign up for their newsletter!
Follow the incredible journey of one piece of paper—a copy of Psalm 23—as it travels around the world, linking lives and hearts with its simple but beautiful message.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures…
Shortly before a tragic car accident, Kate McConnell wrote down the powerful words of Psalm 23 on a piece of paper for her wayward son. Just before she loses consciousness, Kate wonders if she’s done enough with her life and prays, “Please, let my life count.”
Unbeknownst to Kate, her handwritten copy of Psalm 23 soon begins a remarkable journey around the world. From a lonely dry cleaning employee to a soldier wounded in Iraq, to a young Kurdish girl fleeing her country, to a Kenyan runner in the Rome Invitational marathon, this humble message forever changes the lives of twelve very different people. Eventually, Kate’s paper makes it back to its starting place, and she discovers the unexpected ways that God changes lives, even through the smallest gestures.
With beautiful prose evocative of master storyteller Andy Andrews’s The Butterfly Effect, this story will touch your heart and remind you of the ways God works through us to reach beyond what we can imagine.
The Shepherd's Song: A Story of Second Chances can be purchased at Amazon in Hardcover, Paperback & Kindle. Also at Barnes and Noble Hardcover, Paperback, Nook and Large Print!
Now, enjoy an Excerpt:
Kate McConnell opened her eyes. Where was she? There were bright lights above her. Movement. The sound of a siren wailing.
She closed her eyes and opened them again, hoping somehow this all would go away. It didn’t.
An ambulance. She was in an ambulance.
What had happened?
A man’s voice called out behind her. “Female, age about forty-five, multiple injuries. BP: ninety over sixty. Pulse: one-forty. Respirations: twenty-five, short and shallow.”
Each bump and jolt of the ambulance brought pain, crushing pain in her chest and stabs of pain down her right leg. Kate tried to grab her chest, but her arms were strapped down. She shivered uncontrollably. Her blue sweater and pants were covered in something wet—gooey and wet. Blood. He was talking about her.
A brief memory came—her car sliding on the slick road, the sound of breaking glass and crunching metal. A car accident. Panic rose in her chest. She had been in an accident.
The newspaper would later say it was the worst traffic accident ever on that section of I-95 between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore—twenty-five cars, six semis, and one bus. The temperature Thursday had been fifty-five degrees, a beautiful day. Then, Friday, it fell to thirty-one, unusual for October. A sudden snowstorm dropped more than two inches of snow in just ten minutes, creating whiteout conditions that took everyone by surprise, including the drivers on I-95.
The voice behind her continued its calm clinical assessment. “In and out of consciousness. Possible head injuries.”
“Help,” she whispered. Each breath was raw. There wasn’t enough air. Dizziness swept over her. She tried again. “Help.”
“Hold on. Try to stay awake.” A young man leaned over her, making eye contact. His voice was calm, but she saw fear in his eyes.
She tried to nod but couldn’t.
“Be still; we’re on the way to the hospital.”
Everything in her wanted to fight free of the straps and the stretcher, but she couldn’t even move her head. Pain radiated from her chest and leg.
The voice began again. “Bleeding profusely from a gash in right leg—looks like an open fracture. Possible internal injuries.”
For a few seconds there was silence, the only sound the hum of tires on the road.
“Will do. We’ll be there in five to eight minutes, depending on traffic.”
What had happened? Kate remembered her morning, speeding from one activity to the next, pushing her old station wagon to the point where it shook. An early-morning run to the grocery store, then back home, then a twenty-mile drive to deliver dinner to a friend who was recuperating from surgery, then a stop to drop off the dry cleaning, then five more things on her to-do list. Then the snow had started.
The cleaner’s. She had been trying to get back to the dry cleaner’s, but for what?
She felt a hand on her forehead, and she opened her eyes. The young man’s face came into view again. His nervous eyes studied her.
“What’s your name?”
She tried to focus. Her name?
“Kate . . . McConnell.” She gasped out each word.
She tried to come up with the answer, but it was too confusing. Tears welled up.
“It’s all right. Just stay with me.”
“What hap—?” She wanted to finish the sentence but could not.
“You were in a car accident on the interstate.” He held her arm, feeling for a pulse. “There was a pile-up. It’s a mess out there.”
Her mouth opened and closed with a question unasked. She wanted to say the words, but nothing came out.
“Matt,” she finally gasped out the name of her son. “John.” Her husband.
“No one was with you in the car. Just rest and stay calm. We’ve got you.”
She could feel the sway of the ambulance as it passed other cars. The voice faded in and out. She closed her eyes.
A new thought came. She might die. Would it be like this, the end? So fast? With so much undone?
Kate’s mind drifted back and forth, weaving in and out of the events of the past week.
“I don’t think my life matters,” she had told a friend. “I’ve been a Christian for almost twenty-five years, and I haven’t accomplished anything. I can’t point to one single person that I’ve had an impact on, even in my own family.”
“Of course you have. You serve on the church worship committee, you deliver meals every week to people in need, and you’re always writing down scriptures for people.”
“But are those the important things?” Kate had asked. “Do those things matter?”
John. He mattered. And Matt.
“Oh, Mom,” she could hear Matt say. “You don’t believe all that stuff.”
Matt, who had drifted away from faith when he’d started college, now refused to go to church at all.
She couldn’t get through to him.
Was she really dying?
Someone lifted her eyelid. It was the young man. He looked closely into her eye, as if he was examining her soul.
“Stay with me now.”
She felt the ambulance sway, then the jolt of a sharp turn.
“Help,” Kate gasped again as pain stabbed through her side.
“Stay with me.”
A wave of dizziness. Then nothing.
Hope you enjoyed this Thursday Thoughts... I sure did!
Hope to see you next week but until then....Take care & Be Blessed!