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Posts Tagged ‘book signing’

Jo 17Can you remember a time when you went somewhere with a particular purpose in mind, only to find God had some surprises in store for you—or perhaps even an entirely different agenda? What was your initial response? Did you perhaps feel a little ripped off, like I have at times? After all, what could God be thinking, to mess up my lovely plans!

A couple of weekends ago, my author friend and I were promoting our books in a Koorong bookstore. Our day started off well. On arrival, I found someone had bought one of my books already and was waiting for me to sign it. He also insisted on having his photo taken with us, so, for a few seconds at least, we felt like celebrities! While things were a little slow after that, we still had some lovely conversations with customers and sold a few books. Besides, there was always hope things would improve after lunch. But we had no idea of the special experiences God had in store for us.

Our first ‘God surprise’ came via a friendly man and his severely disabled teenage son who was in a wheelchair. I chatted briefly with them, before moving away to talk with someone else. But when I returned, the man and his son were holding hands with my friend and praying for her! Later, I discovered the man’s son had felt God wanted them to pray with her about a particular health issue, so, after ascertaining that this was indeed something my friend suffers from, they had done exactly that. I silently joined in the prayer then but also felt so humbled that this young man had listened to God and was so keen to pray for others. What amazing, compassionate people, so full of the light and love of God!

Later, when it was almost time to leave, a lady came by whom I had met several months earlier when we had last signed books in the store. She and a friend had subsequently met with me for coffee and, on that occasion, I had told them about some issues our grandson Zain was having at school. Now, as she greeted me, her first words flabbergasted me.

‘Hello—so lovely to see you again! How is your little grandson Zain? My friend and I have been praying for him by name that God will provide the resources that will help him.’

This beautiful lady, with so much else going on in her life, had gone on faithfully praying for our grandson. What’s more, while I could not even recall her name at first, she had remembered his name and was so eager to hear what was happening for him. Again, what a wonderful, humbling, encouraging ‘God moment’!

Initially, I saw these experiences as interruptions. I did not want to be side-tracked from what I thought was my much more important task of engaging with new customers and promoting our books. But how wrong I was—and how much more amazing were the things God had planned for us that day!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ Isaiah 55:8-9

 

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Jo 23This week, I managed to do something I have never done before in the eight years I have been signing my own books. In one brief moment of inattention while talking with a customer, I wrote my maiden name instead of the one I have had for almost forty-six years now! For a moment, I could not believe it. Feeling very embarrassed, I owned up to my silly mistake, hastily reached for a second copy and tried again. And this time, I managed to write my name correctly!

How did I do such a thing? What could have caused my mind to flip back through all those years? One would think forty-six years would be long enough for a change of surname to sink into anyone’s brain. Perhaps my momentary lapse had been due to tiredness, I decided. After all, I had just finished speaking at a women’s breakfast. On top of that, there were those four one-hour long creative writing workshops I had given one after the other the previous day to high school students from four different year levels. Many moons ago, I used to be a high school teacher, but had barely set foot in a classroom since. So these workshops had not only required much effort on my part but had also sent my mind reeling back to past years.

As I later told my husband what I had done, however, I began to see a profound personal lesson emerging from it all. Throughout all those years since I had changed my name from Wardrop to Berthelsen in 1969, God had never left me. God had been with me even through that turbulent teaching period of my life, strengthening me and enabling me to keep going. The previous day, as I had stood in front of those students, I had felt almost a different person from the one I had been all those years earlier. Back then, I was so insecure, struggling to survive in a sea of noisy students. Now I felt so much more confident and at home in myself. Now I was delighted to be able to share my heart for God and my passion for writing with the students in front of me.

These days, it seems I am quite able to forget my own name in certain circumstances. That book with my maiden name in it now resides on a shelf here in my study as a permanent reminded of this fact. But I know one thing for sure. God will never, ever forget my name. And God will continue to watch over me with great love and faithfulness until that day when we meet face to face. The words God spoke to the Israelites so many years ago are also true for me today—and for you:

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands … Isaiah 49:15

How blessed we are to belong to the God who knows all things, including our past, our present and our future, and who will never ever forget our name!

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I could have gone away on a short trip with my husband these past few days, but, much as I love him, I was not interested in going. For starters, we have only recently returned from a busy time interstate, followed in quick succession by the launch of my non-fiction book Soul Friend. But secondly, I knew I needed some space—just a few quieter days when I could get my bearings again. Have you ever felt like that?

At times when I have been too much ‘with people’ for my introverted self to manage well, an old poem I studied at high school pops into my head. It is by Wordsworth and begins like this:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

Now in these past few weeks, I have been very happy that ‘the world’ has been with me! I have been part of events that were very necessary and with people whose company I enjoyed. I have given input at a writers’ getaway. I have sat signing my books in a bookstore. I have spoken at three meetings in widely differing settings. And I have held my own book launch—a wonderful time when friends came together to celebrate the release of my very first work of non-fiction. I loved relating to people in all these contexts. But there comes a time, even after the most rewarding run of public events, when the world definitely seems too much with me.

I doubt Wordsworth meant exactly what I mean by this phrase. It seems he was writing about the materialism he saw in the world around him—how people had lost touch with nature and with the whole spiritual dimension of life. It is hardly too materialistic for me to care about speaking at meetings where I hope to point people to God and encourage them to use their gifts to bless this world in whatever way they can. And it is very necessary for me to promote my new book via a launch or any other way. After all, I believe in it and want people to read it. Besides, even if all my books sold at every event I spoke at, I would not be raking in my millions!

But after such busyness, I feel I need to give myself time to find myself once more, to let the fragments of my spirit come together again, as it were, to sense God’s close presence around me and to be realigned with God’s purposes for the next thing I am to do. Not that I jump into preparing for that straight away. For a while, it is as if my spirit needs to be healed, replenished and strengthened by God’s Spirit. And for me, that means quietness and space by myself—a little retreat from that place where the world is too much with me.

Just now, I found myself longing for some encouraging verses from Scripture. I picked up my bible and the page opened at Psalm 46:

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (10-11)

That says it all, don’t you think?

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