Embracing Risk Despite Self-Doubt

smiley-150548_1280Everyone, no matter how talented, competent, or blessed, suffers from self-doubt at some point or another. But that doesn’t mean we must be trapped in our insecurities, and we should never allow our feelings of inadequacy overshadow our faith, because really, this journey we’re on is not about us and what we can or cannot do. It’s about what God longs to do in and through us.

So take a breath, release your grip, and embrace risk. Today my guest Bonnie Leon talks about what happened when she stepped out of her comfort zone and the incredible journey her risk-taking launched her on.

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Take a Risk
by Bonnie Leon

If writers want to write they have to take a chance. The world is full of possibilities … but risk is required to obtain them.

I never imagined writing as a career until I stepped out of my comfort zone and attended a writer-1421099_640writing conference. I showed up feeling like anything but a writer. In fact, my primary reason for being there was to determine if I had it in me. Not just the skill but also the heart. During my growing up years I’d never dreamed of being a writer. And if it was part of me, wouldn’t the passion to write have shown up before the age of forty? That still puzzles me.

Feeling lost and somewhat like a wide-eyed child, I joined a line of conferees who were checking in. What was I thinking? I wasn’t a writer. Not like all the others … or so I thought.

With the help of kindly attendees and staff I was slotted in an Advanced Fiction class. I definitely didn’t belong there. I was a writing newbie.  Quaking, I took my place in the classroom, very much needing a reminder that God was at work in my life. Sandy Dengler was the teacher. She was amazing and fun, and a great teacher.

The more hours I spent in the class the more certain I was that I didn’t belong there. The other students could actually write. I was just goofing around with words.

If the insecure part of me had taken charge that first day I likely wouldn’t have returned to class. But there was another piece of me that wanted to take a chance. I quieted the voice in my head that said I didn’t belong, and then I began to learn. Like a dry sponge, I soaked in the knowledge cocktail being offered.

It was an incredible experience. I spent time with lots of writers, published and unpublished. I took a risk and handed some of my work to the pros for critique. They offered great suggestions and encouragement. I was SO out of my league, but I didn’t care. This was a new beginning, and I knew it.workplace-1245776_640

By the end of the conference I was ready to begin my first book. I connected with local writers and we started a critique group. None of us had a lot of experience in the writing world, but we fumbled along and managed to help one another.

The following summer I set off for the conference with my first ever book in safe keeping. I was about to reveal my work to editors and I was scared. What if they thought my writing stank?

On the third day of the conference I had an appointment with the acquisitions editor from Thomas Nelson Publishing. She was dog-tired. Certainly this wasn’t a good time to present my book. I nearly chickened out, but instead, with my heart pounding and my stomach tumbling, I waited my turn. It must have been a 100 degrees in that room and the editor didn’t look happy. At that point, I was sure she could chew rocks.

When my name was called I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I act like I was someone else … waiting for someone else?

On quaking legs I walked to her table. When I introduced myself I was surprised to see a warm smile. Hope lit up my insides.

books-1149959_640While she read my first chapter, my mind told me how foolish I was. She’d likely say I needed to return home and learn to write. She set the manuscript on the table in front of her. I drew in a ragged breath.

“This is wonderful,” she said. “Is it finished?”

Had I heard right?

I told her it was completed and she asked if I could write a preface and send it to her with the first three chapters. I figured I could learn what a preface was when I got home.

That was the beginning. Thomas Nelson contracted me for that book, The Journey of Eleven Moons, and two others in the series.

If I’d been too afraid to take a risk it never would have happened. Has it all been successes since? No. But I’ve experienced many mountain-top moments and I’ve written and published twenty-one novels. I’ve learned to love the craft of writing and the beauty of story.

Dare to believe you can write and be published. Take a Risk.

***

url-2The Land of White Nights:

The lure of the nineteenth-century gold rush calls to Erik, a civil-war veteran. He and Anna, his Aleutian bride, set sail for a new life together in Sitka.

Anna stands strong against the adversities of the new land with its unfamiliar culture and fearsome challenges. She fights her fears and the prejudice of others, while growing her newfound faith in the white man’s God.

When forced to move farther north and begin again, Anna refuses to give up, allowing nothing to stand in the way of her family’s happiness. They discover joy as well as heartache in the Alaskan wilderness. But will Erik’s love of gold put all they’ve worked so hard for in jeopardy?

***

DSC_0110Bonnie Leon is the author of twenty-one novels, including the recently released To Dance With Dolphins, the popular Alaskan Skies and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons.

Bonnie’s books are being read internationally and she hears from readers in Australia, Europe, and even Africa.

She enjoys speaking for women’s groups and teaching at writing seminars and conventions and especially delights in mentoring young authors. These days, her time is filled with writing, being a grandmother and relishing precious time with her aged mother.

Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and seven grandchildren.

You can find Bonnie at https://www.bonnieleon.com, on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

 

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Sidelined

We all make plans for our lives. We have ideas of what we want to do, what we want to be, and how our lives should go. But what happens if our plans aren’t the Lord’s? Bonnie Leon shares with us her experience…and how God’s plans led to her calling.

But first, a giveaway! Bonnie is graciously giving away a paperback copy of her book, To Dance With Dolphins. To enter, leave a comment below. Enjoy this piece from the back cover:

To-Dance-with-Dolphins-Front-Cover-2-197x300Twenty-two-year-old Claire Murray has suffered from a mysterious disease for years. Her social circle has shrunk to a small support group for people with chronic illness and disability. But what if life could be about more than doctors, pain, and medications?

Claire and three others—old grouch Tom, hippy-holdout Willow, and moody Taylor—hatch plans for a cross-country trip to swim with the dolphins in Florida. Only a day into the trip, they unexpectedly need help. And who happens to be hitchhiking along the highway but a young, good-looking loner named Sean Sullivan? However, the last thing he wants is to be harnessed to a bunch of ailing travelers.

Though the journey proves difficult, following God’s plan might be even harder. Will they find the courage to follow their dreams and dare to live again?

And a fun, pre-devo note: Jennifer Slattery’s next release, Breaking Free, a novel that is getting some great early reviews (read those HERE), is available for pre-order! You can get breakingfree_n1664109that HERE. You can read a free, 33-page excerpt HERE.

Sidelined? by Bonnie Leon

The day after I wrote a blog about my new and healthier perspective on being “sidelined” I had to leave church because I couldn’t stop crying about the life I’d lost.  Something small set me off—the introduction of a pastor search team.

girl-517555_640Sometimes it doesn’t take much.

I don’t want to be part of the search team, but I do want to be part of my church … the way I once was. My disabilities have benched me.

I couldn’t stop the tears so I left church. Once in my car, the tears turned to sobs. What was going on? I prayed and cried some more.  I decided it couldn’t be hormones—I don’t have any of those left. I knew the culprit something I thought I’d worked through—my feelings about being sidelined.

Evidently those feelings were not resolved.

June 11, 1991 a log truck tipped over on a corner and hit my van. I was alive but at thirty-nine my life had been permanently altered. We, my body and I, have been through a lot. We’ve been through numerous battles—won some, lost some.

After years of struggle I finally reached a place where I could be involved in my church and community. And I knew my boundaries.

My life was full—family, baseball games, volleyball games, basketball, track and football. I made it to nearly every competition for my children and grandchildren. I relished the concerts and parent nights. I taught Bible studies, led women’s ministry, worked alongside my husband in small group ministries. I also taught at writing conferences and shared my heart with women’s groups. It was a privilege and a joy.

In recent years all that has changed. I’ve had to curtail most ministries and special activities. It is a heartache, a disappointment.

I’ve been “sidelined”.

The word, sidelined, is not accurate. But there’s a voice in my head that tells me it is. Until last Sunday I thought I’d shut off the lying voice.

word-907382_640My life matters to me and others. It doesn’t look like it once did, but I have a lot to give. People love me and count on me. I have prayers to say, hugs to give away, and love to share. I am a friend, a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, one who stands shoulder to shoulder with those I love. It is a precious calling.

And I have books to write. I even wrote a novel about this topic. To Dance With Dolphins is a story about a unique group of friends who live with disability. They taught me about the possibility of finding hope and joy even in the midst of disappointment.

We never arrive, at least not this side of heaven. Insecurities and struggles have a way of returning and taunting. But they can only have as much power as we give them. God is bigger and more powerful than all of it. Everything is possible. If we stand with God, if our hope is in Him, and if we surrender our will to His we will discover lost hopes and dreams, new paths and callings.

There is a lot I do not understand in this life, but I do know this—I have not been sidelined. And neither have you. God uses all who are willing to listen and hear and see the possibilities.

I am disabled, and my life is rich.

The Lord will never sideline us, we can only do that to ourselves.

***

Bonnie Leon is the author of twenty-one novels, including the merecently released To Dance With Dolphins, the popular Alaskan Skies and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons.

She enjoys speaking for women’s groups and teaching at writing seminars and conventions. These days, her time is filled with writing, being a grandmother and relishing precious time with her aged mother.

Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and eight grandchildren.

You can find Bonnie at https://www.bonnieleon.com, on Facebookhttps://www.bonnieleon.blogspot.com, on Twitter, and Pinterest.

Let’s talk about this. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” We’re not promised that our plans will work, but we are promised that the Lord’s plans will be His best for us; we only need to trust Him.

Are you able to relate to Bonnie’s story? Has God ever changed your path? If so, how did you react? What helped you through those changes? Share your thoughts in the comments below.