The Day God Bought Me Flowers
Two months ago I woke up one morning and asked “What shall we do today, Lord? It’s Your day that you have made, you choose what I should do.” He responded– Farmer’s Market, write your story, and deactivate Twitter. Did I literally hear his voice in my room? No. I heard it in my heart. In my mind, I didn’t want to go to the Farmer’s Market. I wasn’t feeling well; I was tired and all I wanted to do was edit, but I had the strong urge that I needed to go the Farmer’s Market. It was an instinctual feeling.
When I arrived at the market, I heard the same voice say, “Buy yourself flowers.” This was weird because I never buy flowers unless it’s for a friend. Again, in my mind, this seemed absurd, but the instinct was loud and clear. “Buy yourself flowers.” Well, I only had 20 bucks to spend, and I figured while I was at the market I would purchase kale, radishes, berries, and carrots. The bouquets I was seeing were $18! Seriously? If I bought these flowers I would have nothing left for my produce. I wandered awhile, feeling physically worse because I was having a food reaction. My stomach was hurting so badly I was nearly doubled over. I bought my produce and wanted to leave right away, but I still had the strong sense I was not to leave until I had purchased flowers for myself.
I only had $8 remaining. I sat down to rest and prayed while I was at it. “Lord, please can I leave? I feel wretched and there are no flowers here I can afford.” I took a deep breath and decided I would indeed just leave. As I walked forward, I came along side a produce tent that I had already scoped earlier; what I hadn’t noticed before were the buckets of bouquets off to the side. Imagine my shock when the price for these gorgeous flowers was–$7! I got goosebumps all over and my heart swelled with immense joy. I even forgot about my stomachache.
God bought me flowers that day and taught me that if I ask, He will answer. And the answers come after I obey to where I am led. When I’m looking for Him, I will see Him. When I am listening for Him, I will hear Him.
Later that day, I deactivated my Twitter account for my editing business. I didn’t know, why but I obeyed anyway. The answer eventually came.
The Day God Asked for His Business Back
Yesterday I woke up at 3:20 am. As I tossed and turned, I had a funny thought. Maybe it was a vision. Maybe a daydream. I don’t know. It feels like a memory of something that actually happened only I wasn’t aware it was stored in my brain. But in the dark, this memory came so vividly:
There was a giant white house with many windows and a blue front door. Though it was daylight one could tell from the street that all the lights inside the house were off. But I had the sense someone was home. Me.
The words I heard said, “Though it is dark, someone is home. The Holy Spirit will lead people to knock. They won’t know why nor who will answer, if anyone. They will be uncertain but will feel the need to knock. Should the Holy Spirit prompt you, you will answer the door. Check with Me before you invite them in.”
I didn’t need to ask to what this was referring. The Lord has been switching off the lights in my business one by one. In July He asked me to deactivate Twitter. Though I didn’t understand why, I felt great relief when it was gone. In August He asked me to unpublish my Facebook business page. This was much harder for me to understand, and I felt sad. “Is this the beginning of the end?” I prayed this question with the dedication, “Lord, if it is your will to end Pen to Paper Communications, then I will do so. Please be clear.” The only answer was, “Trust me for I know the plans I have for you and they are good. You are still an editor.” I found comfort in what I was hearing in my heart–I knew something cool must be coming. He assured me that I was still an editor; after all, he didn’t ask me to get rid of my business website. People could still find me.
September arrived as did His request for my website to be turned off. I went into mourning at the thought that this might be the end. “Lord, are you asking me to give back Pen to Paper Communications? It is your business and I have always known this, but I cannot tell for sure if this is really you. I don’t want it to be over. But if you are asking me to hand it over, then I will. Please please be clear. Give me a good sign–yes the business is done or no it is not.”
I have heard nothing but silence for the last two weeks–until now at 3:20 in the morning with this funky memory vision thing.
I came downstairs to read Hearing Heart by Hannah Hurnard. She’s my spiritual hero. I am on chapter 3, titled “I am Ready.” This is the same chapter that completely changed my perspective about prayer when I read this book the first time. All the same things stood out again, but something new poked my heart this early morning.
“But whenever we say truly from the heart, “I am ready” for God’s will, whatever it is, we shall certainly experience his faithfulness and providential dealings in ways which to other people will often appear extraordinary.”
She goes on to challenge that in order to experience something spectacular in answered prayer that “perhaps something a little more spectacular in the way of faith is required first, for after all, faith is being willing to test the faithfulness of God, and one cannot often do that secretly and safely. It generally means openly taking some sort of risk and being willing to look a fool before others.”
I chuckled because ending my business would definitely seem foolish in the eyes of the world. It is thriving. My editorial calendar has been filled to the brim since my first client back in January 2012; every single client so far has been published; I have four book-clients currently in process; I have a huge project w/sequel slated to begin January 2015; while I haven’t made oodles of money, I have made enough to satisfy my two goals of buying my friends lots of presents and giving away as much money as I can to missions, causes, and people who need it; I’ve been teaching, coaching, and mentoring from individuals to conferences; I’ve met the most incredible people and heard stories that have changed my life; I been immersed and welcomed into communities of people I used to judge, stereotype and fear– of/for whom I now adore and advocate. My life is rich in spiritual and personal blessing from this business.
Foolish is an understatement. To shut off all the lights would most certainly seem foolish and crazy and perhaps even stupid to others. What if I was interpreting all this incorrectly?
As I processed and felt more sure about what God was asking me to do, I continued reading. Ms. Hurnard says, “He has never once allowed me to make a mistake if I was really willing to obey.” It reminded me of the time I was asked to lead a group of recently-released incarcerated men in a writer’s workshop. I was terribly uncomfortable with the idea but felt God was really and truly asking me to say yes. And I did. I began preparing my class, and as the date arrived to begin teaching, the non-profit organization went bankrupt and the class never happened.
The Lord has never allowed me to make a mistake either–even when I felt I was floundering around. “Mistakes” have always revealed lesson and blessing.
I read further, “For he does often cause us to walk in darkness, having no light at all on the extraordinary path by which he is leading us, but then his precious assurance is, ‘What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.'” (NIV Translation: “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
Again, as with so many times in my relationship with Jesus, my mind did not want to do what He was asking. It made no sense within the confines of my own understanding–nor would it to my family, friends, peers, and colleagues. But my heart knew it was time to shut off all the lights on Pen to Paper Communications. I got goose bumps, which I have come to recognize as the breath of the Spirit.
I began to pray in earnest, and I declared to God, “I am ready to give the business back to You. I lay it before you and trust whatever Your will is in this.”
After my prayer I logged on to read a friend’s email who, interestingly enough, had decided to read Hearing Heart after I had spoken so much about it. He laid out his early reflections and the first quote he addressed:
“[God] always enabled me to do the things that I dreaded, after he had first made me willing, and though it cost much pain and inner struggle, the joy which followed obedience outweighed everything else.”
I have no fear but a great sense of peace. I am sad and even shed tears as I write this today, but I know without a doubt the joy following my obedience will far outweigh everything else. I am willing to face whatever is next. Of course I have imagined the worst, like maybe I am about to tragically lose my husband or one of my children and need to have no committed projects. I can’t imagine the best because God always has something far better than I can ever imagine. Pen to Paper Communications started out extraordinarily and exceeded far beyond what I ever thought it would be.
I will end with this. My husband offered the best words of confirmation and assurance for me: “”You know, He only took back the business. You are still a talented writer and a skilled editor. You still embody a great passion and unique set of skills for what you do. He took the business but not the heart.”
He’s so right! I love writing and editing and life. I will keep writing and keep advocating for great editing. In fact, I am currently working on a manifesto and my own book. I still believe in my clients who are now all friends; I still have a passionate belief that stories matter and should be shared. Oh friends, I am still a writer and I’m still an editor, just one without a business. Whatever comes next, I am ready.