Happy Thanksgiving! We have now officially started our holiday season and have an excuse to listen to Christmas music nonstop. How fun is that?
Here’s my news! I published a devotional on Amazon this week! The Kindle version will be free on Amazon for three days starting November 28th, through Saturday, November 30th.
Be sure to download your copy.
Some of you may have read the initial bones of it when I first wrote this 7-day devotional three years ago. After that initial sharing, I didn’t think much more about it and it just sat in a folder on my hard drive. That initial devotional was expanded to #NoFear: A 7-Day Devotional Journal.
My video announcing the release and sharing the backstory of the devotional.
The Backstory and the Focus of the #NoFear Devotional Journal
As I shared in the video above, the origins of the journal began back in 2016. The months leading up to the election were extremely acrimonious and divisive, but even more than that . . . there was a lot of fear. People were not playing politics, many were literally afraid that they would experience personal harm depending on the outcome of the election.
That seemed so odd to me. Regarding any particular political office, I may not like who won an individual election, but I don’t think life as we know it will end because a single person won. Our society isn’t dependent on any one person, regardless of the office they hold. We have laws. We have checks and balances. If we, as voters, make a bad choice, it may be rough and unpleasant for a while . . . but we will get through it.
Where was this coming from?
That question led to the devotional.
The devotional was sitting forgotten on a folder deep in my hard drive. Then last year, some friends from the apologetics program launched a journal dedicated to cultural apologetics, An Unexpected Journal. Our first issue launched online, but the plan all along was to also publish it in a print format. Setting up a web site and publishing online is the easy part, especially when you have all the tools to do it. There was much more that had to happen to be able to get the print versions produced.
Since our effort was completely bootstrapped and since we didn’t have major funding behind us or have any idea what the reception of the journal would be, we decided the easiest and most cost-effective way would be to publish on Amazon (which was Createspace at the time.) But in order to publish on Amazon, we had to have a tax ID number and a bank account. Unless we wanted to run everything through an individual person (which we didn’t), that meant we had to form some sort of legal entity to publish under.
Before we could publish on Amazon, we had to have a tax ID number and a bank account. Before we could get those two things, we had to file as a nonprofit organization. Before we could do that, we had to work out nonprofit bylaws and establish a board of directors, and a number of other things that went along with starting a nonprofit organization.
When we finally got everything in order, we had already published our second quarterly issue online and were half-way to publishing our third. In the end, I was the one assembling and formatting the manuscripts, organizing the covers (not the artwork, those were created by my amazing friend Virginia de la Lastra), creating the digital copies, and publishing them on Amazon, Draft2Digital, and Barnes & Noble.
None of which I had ever done before.
It had been my intention for years to publish a book, but I always seemed to get sidetracked in the details. How do you format? How do you make covers? How do you get those digital versions created?
I have always been someone who can figure things out. Being in a generation that didn’t grow up with technology but had to learn it, I’ve learned the ins and outs of software programs and explained it to and wrote instructions for others. I’ve learned how to upgrade and troubleshoot computers. I taught myself web design and learned how to work with any number of web platform programs and scripts. I learned how to apply what I learned as an undergraduate in marketing to the online space. If I don’t know how to do something, I read, research, and figure it out.
In spite of that, publishing a book just seemed like too much. It seemed too overwhelming. But we had three completed issues sitting there, so now I had to figure it out. I did the same thing that I had done in the past with everything else: I broke the process down into steps, ordered them, and then researched each one. We ran into some challenges with copyright, contracts, and Createspace initially, but after many emails, headbanging, and phone calls, we finally were approved to publish. All three went live on Amazon within a week of each other last September.
So what does all this have to do with my devotional?
The first thing is that publishing a book was something I didn’t think I could do, but my experience with AUJ showed me I could.
The second thing is that there was something about that intense period putting three issues together all at once that made something click for me. A book is just a collection of chapters. Duh . . . I know. But for some reason, a whole book seemed like a huge unsurmountable mountain. My experience with the journal made me realize that it’s not. It is a series of steps that you take one at a time.
After the three went live on Amazon, I went back and looked through all of the things I have written over the years and realized I have several things that could be expanded into a book, the #NoFear devotional was one of them. More than that, as I researched books of that type, I found that so many of them come from a New Age and a self-directed perspective. And that is not the answer.
When you have a problem with yourself, you can’t look to yourself for the answer.
There needed to be more voices pointing to the true source of Peace, and my devotional could be one of them.
So I have a mostly done book, I know how to create and publish a book . . . it should be easy-peasy right? Maybe it should have been, but it wasn’t.
It was almost entirely done, except for the introduction . . . and I had a huge block in writing it.
I created a cover, asked for input, my daughter hated it, so we redesigned it. Then my computer, an awesome Asus that got me through graduate school and had been chugging along for 7 years, went out. I had to move everything over to a new computer, reinstall programs . . . you know how it is, it’s time-consuming. Somehow in the middle of all that, I lost the Photoshop file of the new cover. Then it happened again. And again. At this point, I’ve created that cover so many times, I could probably do it in my sleep.
By the time I got my computer back with everything I needed it to be, then the company I host with updated their servers and almost every site or script I had installed ran into some sort of problem. Some were conflicts caused by plug-ins that I had been using for 10 years. Some were settings that needed to be changed. Some were caused by corrupted updates. The problems were caused by a variety of factors, and each one had to be researched and troubleshot . . . and this all happened at the same time.
All the problems were fixed . . . then I get sued by a multi-billion dollar REIT with their phalanx of lawyers trying to steal another domain name I own by falsely claiming trademark infringement. I won.
Then this new computer goes down. I wasted a lot of time trying to “fix” it thinking it must have been some sort of corruption from the endless Windows 10 updates because it didn’t seem possible that it could actually be a hardware issue . . . it was new. It was a hardware issue. Back to replacing, reinstalling, and trying to salvage files from this damaged hard drive that failed after just 7 months.
What Is the Point?
Why do I tell you all this? I’m sharing this because I know I’m not the only person going through a crazy amount of obstacles (that isn’t even all of them, just those that directly impacted publishing the devotional). If this is you . . . you are not alone. If it feels like spiritual warfare, it probably is.
The thing is, I had, and have, been asking God what He wanted me to do and which direction He wanted me to go. The only clear response I got was a dream about a book. But one thing after another happened to block and delay something that I should have been able to finish a year ago.
It took me way longer than I thought it would, but it”s done and it’s up.
That is my message to you, whatever direction or vision God has given you, no matter what comes, just keep going. Keep on pushing back and pushing through.
When it seemed like I Just. Could. Not. get it done, I looked back on all the problems we had getting the journal in print and thought, “We got those through. I will get this done.” Going forward, when it seems like I cannot finish a writing project, I am going to look at this little devotional and tell myself, “Just keep going.”
Is It Worth It?
When you do in-person ministry, most of the time you see the impact of what you are doing. When your ministry is writing, it often feels like words are just going out and unless you are a big name with tons of book sales, pageviews, or video subscribers, you are likely not getting that same sort of feedback and validation.
But the worth of something is not determined by bestseller charts or subscriber counts, the true value is what God places on it. When I write something, I think of it as my offering to God. In the case of this devotional, even though it is a little thing . . . it was a sacrifice. I think, “God, you gave me words . . . I made this for you” and I always think of this verse.
The Lord is God, shining upon us.
Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise you!
You are my God, and I will exalt you!
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 118:27-29
For Fellow Writers
Don’t think what you write isn’t worth it. If you are writing for God, He will value it and He will use it. I can remember so many times when I was in the darkest period of my life when I would randomly come across an article that God used to speak to me. It was an encouragement when I needed it.
I love the story of Joseph Pearce, who will be a contributor to the upcoming issue of An Unexpected Journal on G.K. Chesterton. He was a fairly prominent Neo-Nazi for a significant portion of his life. Do you want to know what brought him out of that life of hate? It was words. Not debate or argument, but writings from people like G.K. Chesterton, Tolkien, and many others. He likens their works to candles that led him out of the darkness.
Writing for the One
Remember that each page or video view represents a person created in the image of God. Someone God loves and wants the best for. Would you dismiss having a true impact on one person? God doesn’t. In Jesus’ parable about the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-17), he goes after the one.
God made you with a specific purpose in mind. How you communicate will be like no one else. It may be that you will put things in a way that only you could that will break the hold of darkness from someone when nothing else would. Even if only that one person is impacted by your words, it is worth it.
Keep Things in Perspective
I think that we often dismiss the reach we actually have. Even on my YouTube channel with doesn’t have many subscribers yet and currently gets far fewer views than this site, my videos still get watched by more people in a week than 95% of the churches in America have in the pews. How crazy is that?
The enemy is bombarding the airwaves with his message. Let’s determine to create more candles that God can use to dispel the darkness.
We may not know how God used them until our recap in heaven at the End of Days . . . but He will.