The Shocking Thing I Learned about Last Year

My business coach, Denise Martin (who is amazing), asked me to do an exercise a few weeks ago. I hemmed and hawed a bit, then finally got to it. And I was shocked at the repercussions.

You may know me as a driven person. I certainly know myself this way. I don’t like that, and I’m hoping to change more and more, but there it is. So the thing she asked me to do was to recount my year and look at the things I tried to initiate as well as the surprised God brought about.

After I read both lists, I was both shocked and humbled. Here they are:

Things I tried very hard to make happen:

  1. Launch The Muir House in such a way that it would sell well. (It didn’t, though Zondervan did a great job of creating a page for the book on my facebook page and sent out lots of influencer copies.)
  2. Advertising on MaryDeMuth.com. It’s been a fairly successful endeavor, but not as consistent as I’d like.
  3. Sent a letter to my first stepfather in hopes of clarifying some memories, but received nothing back. Yet another dead end on some loose ends I can’t seem to tie up.
  4. Tried affiliate marketing. Pretty much the same result as advertising.
  5. Created several ebooks and a few print books. I’ve been mildly successful.
  6. Attempted to pitch and sell fiction again. I do believe I’ll write it again, but the timing’s not right.
  7. Tried to figure out SEO. Made several posts optimized on MaryDeMuth.com. Saw absolutely no return for that labor.
  8. Tried to reignite a couple friendships, but they didn’t work out.
  9. Tried to start a memoir about my father, but every time I researched and sat down to write it, a huge blanket of depression descended over me. I abandoned the project until I feel strong enough to tackle it in the future.
  10. Advertised 11 Secrets to Getting Published through an email list that cost way too much and had very little result. (Ouch.)
  11. Tried a chiropractor. The whole process just freaked me out.
  12. Tried to write a short novella based on The Muir House, but the time of year (Christmas) and my schedule wouldn’t allow it.
  13. Uploaded The Quarryman’s Wife as an ebook, then re-read it and caught way too many embarrassing errors. Yikes! Note to self: edit and re-edit and hire someone else! (Yes, it’s fixed.)
  14. Paid to have a forum put up on my site. Big disaster. Money spent for no return. (Golly, I hate that!)
  15. Thought Jesusy would be a great title for my growth book until we polled my readers. They HATED it. Back to the drawing board.

Things God orchestrated in 2011

  1. Gave me a sweet time with my sister, her hubby and my nephews in Washington.
  2. Introduced me to Michele Perry, author of Love Has a Face. Meeting her had a huge impact on my faith and the way I view my walk with God.
  3. Orchestrated a nonfiction book contract with Thomas Neslon. I absolutely did very little to make that happen. (A huge nod to my agent Esther, and to Bryan Norman, my editor there for believing in me.)
  4. Provided a scholarship to attend the Relevant conference in October. (And this year, I’ll be a speaker!)
  5. Gave our family a sweet vacation spot in Colorado that we could afford. Our family had an amazing week of outdoor beauty and reconnection.
  6. Provided a dear friend and photographer who took our family pictures this year for free.
  7. Reminded me of my eldest daughter’s skills and married that to my need for an assistant. Together we make a formidable force. She gets paid (something she needs) and I get assisted!
  8. Created fans for Beautiful Battle without me asking or seeking or trying. Folks are already reviewing the book and hollering about it without me having to ask.
  9. Inspired me to launch Write Uncaged after a stint at the Relevant conference where I learned that I could actually find income sources by teaching others.
  10. Approached by a pastor who watched me speak at the Christian Book Expo a few years ago (about parenting) and asked me to do a parenting conference in February this year. I did no finagling to find this opportunity.
  11.  Appeared on The 700 Club, telling my thin place story. I honestly don’t know how they found me.
  12. Created a deep sense of camaraderie among my senior girls discipleship group. That kind of group is rare and beautiful.
  13. Completed Beautiful Battle on the strength of some friends’ ardent prayers. That was a hard book to write.
  14. Opened up two very fruitful speaking opportunities in California and Indiana, where I felt God truly move through me to touch women’s lives.
  15. Approached to speak at the Orange County Christian Writers Conference about memoir. While there, had the opportunity to be coached by Alice Crider. Her words helped reorient my heart and perspective.
  16. Provided for my business.
  17. Connected me to an excellent accountant after my bookkeeper retired. And he saved me a lot of money immediately.
  18. Provided a full tuition ride for Sophie for the college she wanted to attend.
  19. Connected me to a group of young bloggers/marketers that ended up creating a new kind of book tour for The Muir House.
  20. Attended Catalyst Dallas, which showed me there were speakers out there who spoke like me—more gut honest and raw. This greatly encouraged me.
  21. Approached by Faith Village to be a regular blogger. Totally unexpected.
  22. Guest posted on Michael Hyatt’s blog a few times. Always a grace encounter!
  23. Asked to write a devotional for iShine ministries, which brought in much needed income.
  24. Changed from Turning Trials to Triumph to Live Uncaged. I went through a long process to figure that out, but ultimately God whispered the Live Uncaged to me. It fits. It so fits.
  25. Provided much needed business and life coaching through Denise Martin at Bridgelite.
  26. Kept putting people in my life in random ways that helped me see that abundance lurked on the horizon.
  27. Kept me connected to Randy Ingermanson who has helped me tremendously in thinking strategically about my web presence and time management.
  28. Provided a husband who cheerleads me in my work.
  29. Provided for our son Aidan to go to Ghana this last summer.
  30. Provided an excellent surgeon for my grandmother who has stomach cancer. They removed it without having to remove her stomach.
  31. Gave me the words to write my growth book with Thomas Nelson. Also not an easy book to write (or live out.)
  32. Approached to be a part of a new business for writers. Looks to launch this year sometime! Excited!

What I Realized

  • God did far more initiating (with success) than I did. And His God-incidences were far more interesting and fun than my drudgery.
  • Why in the world do I fret so much? What is it about me that strives and tries and thinks that my efforts amount to much? Am I that crazy?
  • There is peace in letting go of the reins of my career. God obviously knows better than I do.
  • A caveat: Just because some of the God things resulted in cool things and some of my things resulted in failure, doesn’t mean that’s always the way things work. Sometimes God leads us into situations that look like failure in order to teach us something. And sometimes our own us-inspired victories have lessons aplenty. The key is resting in God’s sovereign plan, however that may unfold, and entrust the results to Him.
  • What I do in my own effort apart from God profits me nothing.
  • It’s vitally important to seek God in everything I do.
  • Simply moving forward with impatience can bring potential disaster.
  • God’s surprises often involved people and relationships.
  • God will equip us if we open our eyes to the experts He sends our way.
  • I can trust God. Scheming is for the birds!

I’d like you to try this exercise and get back to me in the comments section. How has this exercise shocked you? Changed you? Moved you? Convicted you?

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