I was right, but that is perfectly okay. I am simply a nobody set out to do God's business. God has a way of keeping us humble, and again, that is okay. Though the crowds were very small at Mass Hope, and sales were few, I did get to experience some great quality time with my oldest son. I watched people and learned things that will stick with me forever. Did you know that in a group of teenagers, there is always the loud one who will beg everyone else to see what the free item on the table is all about, but they never go and get it for themselves? The others never seemed to care, but the one who truly wants the prize will keep insisting that they all go and check it out. Then there are the other children who will take a prize, and then leave, only to come back with more friends so they can get a free item too. AND, sometimes there are the ones who go off, and then come back hoping to get to pick twice! Yes, it was quite the eye opener.
Also, another thing I learned was that my son (and I) could get kind of goofy after spending ten hours behind a booth, hearing the same speech over and over again as the people next to us hawked their wares to everyone who walked by (maybe I need to write a unit study curriculum and sell that! Those seem to go like hotcakes!) Anyway, I had a little knight kit in my stuff at the convention, so JJ and I put him together and named him Brad. (See the picture at the bottom of the page if you care to meet him.) Brad kept us giggling even as people hurried by, some taking time to stop and ask what we were about. The problem was there were three other huge booths that sold fiction books and many people had already purchased what they wanted by the time they arrived at mine. The ones who did stop were very thankful for my purpose in writing the books, and as moms they appreciated the fact that the material in the books was trustworthy, clean, and uplifting, directing the readers to Scripture and Godly lessons that we all can benefit from. Many took cards and said they would be in touch later through my website.
The best thing that happened though, was the fact that two vendors approached me about my series and after talking for a while, they expressed an interest in reading my books so they might sell them in their stores. As I learned from one very kind vendor, I should always offer an interested vendor a book so they can read it and check it out. So I gave away two of my books and I am praying that the Lord opens up the door for my books to get spread through other sales people. I had prayed the Lord would open the doors He wanted open, and do what He would during the convention. I believe that everything happened just as He wanted, and yes, even though I went away feeling a little saddened more books did not sell, I feel hopeful for the future and in the fact that His work is not over yet. So, learn to never stop learning and I believe the Lord can give us wisdom in every area of our lives, if we only let Him direct our paths.
The first picture is how our booth looked at the beginning of the show. The second pic is of JJ and I, and the third pic is poor Brad. He was the knight we made and I really thought he was cute. JJ had had enough of sitting so he threatened to hurt Brad with his remote control spider he got if I did not take them home. It was a long afternoon.
This is it. I am finally here. For two years I have been wanting to set up a booth at MassHope, but every year I always felt the Lord was telling me to wait - wait until next year. Wait until I had all three books finished. So I waited. It was not until this last January that I felt the go ahead. My third book was published and I had a complete set of books. It was time and this is it.
When JJ and I left the house this afternoon, with the other four children in good hands with Joe's sister, I was worried about one thing - getting to the DCU center to unload without dealing with crazy drivers and one way streets. I do not like city driving. In fact, I hate it. I am a country girl at heart and I try to stay out of cities as much as I can, but once in a while I need to enter one for something big like this and so I pray, with all my heart, that the Lord will open parking spaces and clear the roads ahead of me. And once again, just like He always does, the Lord made everything work out beautifully and there were plenty of people around to direct and show me where to go. Plus, to make it even easier, our booth was right near the door where we were bringing everything in so we did not have to walk very far. Everything came together without a hitch.
Yet, as I sit here in our hotel room, I cannot help but feel a little bit of panic welling up inside me. I do not understand why. I came without expectations, or so I thought. I came wanting to glorify the Lord with the talents He gave me. I set up my booth with books, workbooks, coloring books, and lots of bright colored things to draw children to my table. I want to give away stickers, candy, and little prizes to put smiles on little ones' faces. So, why am I worried? I think it may have to do with the fact that I feel like a nobody. I have been to a few events like this before and things did not go as well as I had expected - that is why I try to come to this without expectations. True, I did not attend any event as large as this, so maybe I am comparing what may come tomorrow as what happened in the past. I need to put the past aside. I need to stop comparing what was and focus on what will be. I need to rest in the Lord and let Him do His work. I really am nothing. It is all about Him and it is all to glorify Him. So, I can rest in the fact that what ever happens will be all ordained by Him and may His hand be upon us during the next few days. God bless.
It was my choice. Nobody could force me to make my decison, yet the voices of many people, past and present shouted in my mind. The two doors stood wide open, one to my left and the other to my right, both beckoning me to enter. Each door had a unique display of items scattered about the door frames, and each one had a faint light shining out from beyond the doorway. A large book lay spread open on a table in the middle of the room, but I refused to look inside. I did not care to read the words I had heard so many times in my lifetime, words that I could quote backwards and forwards, but to me, they were just that...words.
Many of my friends had chosen the door on my left. They would often poke their head back into the room as I stood waiting to choose, and tell me how much fun they were having. To me they seemed to be having an awesome time. It also seemed that they really cared for me and wanted me to join in their merriment and parties. They told me I could do anything I wanted and not have any rules to follow. What could sound better than that? I could play games all day long, and eat pizza, never having anyone to cater to or care about. It could be just me and FUN all day long, every day, for the rest of my life. My friends promised me I would not have any regrets for choosing the left door...who needed the right door when there was so much to offer from the left?
I took a good look at the stuff scattered around the right door and felt a little disgusted. All that I saw there were dirty rags, old rusty chains, and big, heavy loads that had been discarded to the side. It did not leave a pretty sight in my mind of what lay beyond the right door. Maybe there was light just beyond, but why was there so much dirt and junk near the door?
I turned to the left door and paused. This side looked so much more inviting. I could hear the jolly calls of my friends waiting for me to join them. Freedom seemed to be just beyond the left door. What did I have to lose? I stopped in front of the door and looked at the items scattered there. I noticed a few Bibles lay on the floor, a layer of dust on each one. Also scattered around were some books with titles like "The Path of the Righteous," "Living Holy Lives," "A Relationship with God," and "The Way, The Truth, and The Life." I shrugged. This way looked much more interesting to me. I made my decision, but the book in the middle of the room began to glow brightly, as if it knew what I wanted to do. I did not care. The way to the left seemed to be right to me. I took that first step and crossed the threshhold and entered a bright new world of adventure and fun.
It was easy going at first. I hurried along and did my own thing. The path spread before me with good fruits that had my name on them. I ate each one, enjoying the new freedom I had, glad with the decision I had made. Yet, even with my friends around me, I felt alone. I needed more as I went along - more money, more friends, more good fruits to revel in. Oh, I had fun, and followed my own rules. Nobody told me what to do and I stayed up as late as I wanted, hung out with who I wanted, ate the foods that I wanted, and spent all the money that I had. Yet, all that time there was that nagging feeling that I knew better. That I knew there was something else out there, waiting for me to change my mind. The words I had heard so many years before began to haunt me at night as I tried to sleep. It became so bad I began to stay up during the night just so I would not have nightmares. I grew tired and irritable, unable to be nice to the friends that were around me. Nobody wanted to be near me anymore. I came to a breaking point in my life and decided I wanted to leave the left door. Yet, when I tried, I realized I was chained to my choices; a thick, heavy link chain was tied to my feet, keeping me from moving forward. I tried to run, but the chains yanked me back. The only part of me that could reach any part of the door was my head. As I struggled to get back to the other side, I realized that the reason I had only seen my friends' heads poke through was because they were chained just beyond the reach of the doorway too. Nobody had told me of the chains. Nobody had ever told me of the pain I would encounter from eating the fruits that were spoiled, and nobody had told me of the loneliness I would feel when everyone had forsaken me. It was a horrid realization of emptiness and I wanted to escape the awful chains that held me bound. The more I struggled the more bound I became and my legs grew entangled in the hard links that threatened to choke me. I finally fell beside my bed, the hard cold steel around my neck. "Dear God, help me! I don't want this choice for my life! Please help me out and save me from this life of worldliness and sin!"
As I lay on the floor gasping for breath, a light suddenly appeared in my room. I opened my eyes and saw the image of a man standing beyond the doorway.
"Come," He said to me.
"I can't come," I choked. "I am all tangled up in this mess."
"Yes, you can come," He replied gently. "Just take my hand and follow Me."
With great effort I reached out my hand and as He took my hand, I felt the indent of a hole inside His palm. With the help of His scar, I was able to get a good grasp and pulled myself up to a standing position. As the chains fell off my neck and coiled at my feet, I heard my so-called friends laughing at me, mocking me, calling me to come back. They told me I was crazy to leave them, and that I would never have as much fun as now.
I did not look back. I had been released enough to walk to the door, but once again the chains kept me from going through the doorway. I looked at Him in desperation.
"You must give your life completely to Me," He quietly said. "Follow me. Believe on Me, child, and you shall be saved. Give up what lies behind and start a new beginning, beyond the right door."
"Yes," I cried, "Yes, I believe You are the only Way and I want to become Your child! Free me from these bonds of sin and I will serve you faithfully forever!"
He gently reached out and with one swift movement, released me from the bonds that held me back, and led me to the door on the right. The chains fell off my feet at the right door and as I went through I felt so free. The emptiness left my heart as the fullness of His joy filled my soul. I was FREE because of His love and mercy - I am glad to say I am free today because of what He did on the cross. Amen.
I've been delievered, oh praise the Lord,
I've been delievered by His Word,
The chains of sin are broken,
I've been delivered, oh praise the Lord.
There's been a big change in me,
A big change in me.
Now I am happy now, now I am free.
He brought me out of bondage and into liberty.
Oh, oh, oh, there's a big change in me.
I wrote this little parable today because of something the youth pastor said in church Wednesday night. He asked, "Why are we losing so many youths to the world these days?" He said something like this: Kids in the church today are looking at the chains of sin and thinking it looks fun. That is where they want to be.
Our children are not grasping the truth of what we believe. We must strive to be real to our children. We must strive to teach them and admonish them about the chains of the world. We must tell them of what God has done for us and teach them that He can do the same for them. We must teach them that it is not about rules and regulations that demand us to do right. It is about a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. When it becomes real in a person's heart, than we just naturally want to do what is right. Sacrifice is not sacrifice when you love the Lord. It just comes from the heart. You just want to do it because you love Him. I remember one time a lady told me she did not have to dress modestly because it was in her heart. "It is okay that I don't do it on the outside, because it is in my heart and God knows my heart." I am sorry, but if it is truly in your heart to do, than it will become evident in the way you walk, talk, dress, etc. So, make sure our children know the truth, teach them how to have a relationship with the Lord, and trust the Lord to take care of their hearts. He loved them before we did, right? Pray, pray, pray for our children in this tough world.