"Look at the nations and watch-and be utterly amazed. (Another version says, "Be Astonished! Wonder!) For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told." Habakkuk 1:5 (NIV)
I must admit, I really haven't spent a lot of time in the book of Habakkuk. And I can't even remember how God led me to this verse...most likely through a morning devotion or a Bible study that I've done recently (probably Priscilla Shirer's Discerning God's Voice). But God has "utterly amazed" me by doing "something in [my] days that [I] would not [have] believed, even if [I had been] told"!!
Please bear with me as I give a little background, so that you can see the intricate working of God's hand over the last months...even the last years...to bring me to this place of astonishment. I just must testify to His goodness and praise His Name!
I can remember feeling a nudge from God to "write" for years. There were seasons where I would actively pursue writing and be obedient to God's prompting (even to the point of "quitting my day job" after the Beth Moore study Believing God), and seasons where I was "flat out" disobedient (hindered by a lack of discipline, bound by the wildernesses of life, or just too busy...with four daughters, a husband in ministry, and going back to my day job, another area of "calling" by God, as a teacher of Kindergarteners. I love my students!)
Since 2003, I have made efforts to "hone my craft" by attending various writers conferences (Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Proverbs 31 Ministries' She Speaks/She Writes Conference, Children's Authors' Bootcamp). The Christian writers' conferences have not only educated me on the "ins and outs" of writing and publishing, but have been amazing times of Spiritual renewal, as well as meeting treasured friends who are also pursuing a God-given dream.
Okay, enough background...here's the astonishing, wondrous, unbelievable story of God's working! In February of this year, I was browsing the website of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. I was lamenting...and honestly having a little pity party...because I couldn't go this year. (Now the reasons that I couldn't go are not cause for lament! The conference is May 18-22. Well, my precious daughter, Rachel, is getting married on May 17th!!! That is an occasion for great joy! And May 19-22 is the last week of school...my final week with my precious Kindergarteners. I can't miss that!)
Now, back to the lamenting...as I was reading all the amazing workshops that I would be missing, I couldn't help but notice a link on their website...the Gideon Media Arts Conference. Now, the only reason that it even caught my eye was that I was going to be teaching about Gideon in my Bible lesson at school the next week. Odd or God? I think God!!! I clicked on the link, scrolled through the workshop listings, and initially thought there was really nothing there for me...until I happened upon the name of Cindy Kenney, an amazing well-known author and editor for companies such as Big Idea Productions and Exclaim Entertainment. She was offering a class called "Creating a Picture Book Layout" which was open to only 12 participants and required the submission of a completed children's picture book manuscript. Feeling, like Gideon...the weakest and the least...I "put out a fleece" and emailed my manuscript to Cindy, honestly having faith as small as a mustard seed. In just a few days, I received an invitation to join in the class. I emailed prayer warrior friends and family and said, "What do I do now?" I was heartily encouraged to Go!!
Lest you think that this is the climax of the story, may I just say that it was only the beginning! When I entered the classroom where I would be working with Cindy Kenney and Josiah Williams (a very talented illustrator), I feared that I was in the wrong place. No one was there. I was in the process of calling the front desk to ask if there had been any room changes, when Cindy and Josiah walked in. They came and sat beside me and said, "We've got a little something to tell you. It's going to be just the three of us." All I could think or say was, "Habakkuk 1:5!!" Yes, I was astonished! In Wonder! Utterly Amazed! I had come thinking I would be 1 of 12. I was 1 of 1!!! I had 5 unbelievable days with Cindy and Josiah.
And that's not all! I was 1 of 3 in a class called "How to Write for Brand Publishing," learning how to write for established brands...coming home with actual opportunities for assignments with VeggieTales, Precious Moments, and BOZ the Bear!
I spent a week amid well known authors, movie producers, screen writers, actors...all seeking "To spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through all types of media!" I sat under the teaching of Phil Vischer, creator of VeggieTales. I had the awesome opportunity to join in a class of 4 and actually interview with Matt Stockman at WMIT radio station, 106.9! (Thanks Ann Bruce!) I got to eat meals and just "hang out" with the most amazingly talented, God-honoring people!! I'm resisting the urge to name drop...okay, I can't resist...Ray Blackston, Ted Baehr, Michelle Cox, Vonda Skelton...I could go on and on!!
Odd or God? Only God could have orchestrated those days!! I can't wait to see what is to follow!
How does God want to "utterly amaze" you? In what area are you waiting for Him to do "something in your days that you would not believe if you were told"? Believe Him! Our God is able!!!
Lord, thank you for your promise in Matthew 17:20, that even if I "have faith as small as a mustard seed....Nothing will be impossible for you." Thank you for desiring to lavish your love on us and provoke us to "Be astonished! Wonder!...[and] believe...." Help us to trust, to seek you and follow you, to obey! You are amazing, God! Amen
(And by the way, did I mention that the amazing parents of my Kindergarteners donated a brand new laptop in January for my use in the classroom? I could not have successfully completed the workshop without it!! God provides!!)