Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Trusting In Things You Cannot See

I hung up the phone discouraged. Fearful. Completely out of control. Feeling a small loss compound itself until it started to take over.

I would never, ever see it again.

My heart squeezed in a painful way even as my mind reminded me, "it's not the end of the world." Yet the sense of loss inside of me would not go away. This made me feel shallow and flighty which made me feel even more discouraged.

Discouragement stacked on discouragement as I felt the high of the weekend drag to a low.

But just a minute. Let's rewind to the weekend. This will all make much more sense if we start there.

This past weekend I left my babies at home and flew to Charlotte, NC where I attended a Christian's writer's conference called She Speaks. My attendance at this conference had been in the works for six months, and to say I was excited was a severe understatement.

I have spent over a year writing this manuscript (and years before that learning the tools and craft of fiction), and knowing that I would have face-to-face meetings with publishers kicked my writing into high gear. The book was all written, but the polishing and tightening and polishing some more continued. 4am work hours...naptime work hours...late night work hours....the help of an awesome writing mentor. I worked hard to be 110% ready for these meetings. 

And so last weekend the big trip arrived. My sister picked me up from the airport (did I mention I also got to see both of my sisters on this trip?), and we headed to the conference together.

I loved this conference. It ended up not to be the big fiction focus I was looking for (more nonfiction), but the spiritual encouragement, the sessions on writing and publishing, the emphasis on platform and the responsibility that comes with this, the speakers that all challenged me in my walk with the Lord AND my writer's life...I loved this conference.

And then the publisher meetings...they went quite well. This was all God because I was a nervous wreck. In fact, Liz Curtis Higgs prayed for me before one meeting and as she grabbed my hands she prayed, "Lord we know Deanna must be SO nervous because of how COLD and CLAMMY her hands are!" (-;. (Yes, long time member of the "cold and clammy hands" club here. (-:)

At this conference I had two publishers and one agent express interest in my manuscript.

I left encouraged. Humbled. Amazed. Thrilled. Terrified. At peace with whatever God had in store for my book-- even if that means that all of these publisher leads end up not working out. He was already working this far above my greatest expectations.

He had a plan, and I was just watching it enfold. This was a beautiful thing for me as a writer who tends toward self-doubt and anxiety.

He's got this. He proven this to me over and over again this past weekend as I met with industry professionals and pitched my book and they were full of encouragement and wanting to see more of it.

I left the conference on cloud nine. Trusting. Excited as to wherever God is going to lead this. I knew that he had a special plan for this book. I was merely the messenger, waiting on his timing.

Enter: the airport.

Apparently every single connecting city in the entire WORLD (okay maybe not the entire world but you get the idea) was under severe weather and all flights were grounded.

Long story short, I was told that my only way out of there was to buy a direct flight through a separate airline that didn't have a layover in one of these grounded airports. (As Vermont was apparently the only place without weather that night)

So at the last minute, at the recommendation of the gate attendant with promises for being reimbursed, I switched airlines, barely making it onto this direct flight, barely making it home, barely escaping a night  (possibly more) stuck either there or New York depending on how the storm timed out.

The airport was mobbed. Seriously, the worst I've ever seen it. I knew I couldn't make it back through security to grab my checked bag and recheck it onto my new flight. At the gate they said not to worry about it because it would  make it to Vermont eventually since it was checked in on another Vermont flight.

I was out of choices. I got on the airplane not sure what would happen to my suitcase, trusting that I could believe what the airport people told me and that I would see my suitcase again. 

You guessed it. I arrived in Vermont, but the suitcase was nowhere to be found the next day when the other flight was to have landed. I called all the airlines-- suitcase was nowhere.. Also, neither airline would take responsibility for it since it had been checked on a different airline than the one I flew. I couldn't even put in a solid baggage claim report so that they could track it down.

My pretty little silver suitcase was gone.

Now I just have to say, I am a minimalist when it comes to clothes. I prefer to have just a few nicer articles of clothing that I mix and match (all of them were in the suitcase). Just a few shoes (all in the suitcase) and just a few jewelry statement pieces (all in...you guessed it). Also gone-- every last bit of makeup that I own and ALL the notes I had taken during the conference. All of my teaching wardrobe and favorite things...poof.

I tried to take the kids swimming...the only swimsuit that fits me in the entire world...in that suitcase.

So my mind was all in turmoil about this. It felt like such a big deal. Everyone I called about it sent me to someone else who knew nothing about it with no ideas how to help me, and I just felt so discouraged. It had already been a huge nightmare just to get home. Now...to lose all my things?

It was while I was wearing an ill-fitting swimsuit and loading the kids up out of the pool that it occurred to me.

Satan was not happy about what went down this weekend. Not happy at all. This is more than just encouragement and interest from publishers. This was about my heart. About spiritual growth. About trust and peace.

And so Satan took something that meant a lot to me and spun it out of my control....out of sight...out of the ability to even track it down.

And I know that there is no verse that promises us that all our luggage will be returned thusly to us. No. But in that moment, I knew that God had this too. Just like he had proven over the weekend with my book.

God had that little silver suitcase safely in his hand...even if this meant that I was never to see it again. This wasn't just a random bad thing that happened. I knew I could trust in a God who was powerful enough to find one tiny little lost suitcase in the ocean of suitcases between Vermont and North Carolina. And if he chose not to? I could trust that too.

I found great comfort in this.

So I prayed for trust. And to be able to see his goodness in this small situation that was a big deal to me. While I prayed I felt a strange peace that I would see it again. Even though the airport odds were stacked against me.

I kid you not, not two minutes later I saw a missed call on my phone, "Hi, there's a suitcase with your name on it in Charlotte, NC. Are you going to come pick it up?"

Long conversation led to conversation led to conversation (this was my entire day yesterday) which led to them saying it would either arrive last night or sometime this morning. The Burlington airport was supposed to call me when it came in.

At first I was excited, but then no call...no call...no call. Did it get lost again?

I still felt so at peace though. I knew that God had this. I pictured one of the dresses in the suitcase and planned on wearing it to church on Sunday. 

Around 10:30 this morning I got tired of waiting and needed an activity for the kids anyway, so I felt a nudge to go to the airport and watch planes with them.

(And you know...ask about the suitcase at the same time...totally unrelated of course. (-;)

Want to hear something funny? We arrived just as it was being unloaded and wheeled toward us. The flight had just landed. We didn't even have to wait. It was perfect timing.

My pretty little silver suitcase had been found.
As I drove my suitcase home with pretty much my entire wardrobe that I was convinced I would never see again, I was so overwhelmed by God's ability to take care even of the little details that seem so insignificant. Of how I can trust him even when it feels so out of control, out of sight, out of the probable.

He's got this.


4 comments:

  1. Wow what an amazing testimonial of faith. And you are right God's got this. I have a little plaque in my office that says just that to remind me no matter what God's has it in His hands to use it for good, what Satan had intended to use for bad. Love that you got your silver bag back and love even more that you have a new book coming out.

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  2. Oh I loved this!! So often it's not about the circumstances but about our trust in a loving, caring God. It's about our attitudes about a God who is greater than anything we cherish here on Earth. What a great testimony!!

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  3. Oh that is just the very very best. God is just so good and delights and showing us in the smallest and most intimate ways!

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