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Happy 40th Birthday: A Forty New Things Series

My turn to turn off the birthday plate.

Today is my fortieth birthday. For some crazy reason, I devised a plan to try forty new things this year. I borrowed the idea from our pastor who spoke about the importance of stepping outside our comfort zone. “You should never stop taking first steps” was the phrase I scribbled in my journal on that monumental Sunday.

I shared a few things from my list already in the article Forty New Things. Today I will expound on that initial list. This experiment has been more than merely adding items to list. It has been a project of self-exploration, discipline, and determination. Trying forty new things has been both thrilling and terrifying.

I’ve learned rejection sometimes follows risk, but so does great reward.

Accepting the title as writer was the first new thing I had to overcome. I have a desire to pen words to a page and hopefully encourage someone else along the way. Coming to terms who I really am (a wife, mom, obnoxious sports mom at times, friend, pharmacist, encourager, and writer) was absolutely freeing. No games, no drama, no masks, just me. And at forty years old, I like me.

I’ve made several uncomfortable steps outside my comfort zone this year. I attended a writer’s weekend retreat, ordered Red Chair Moments business cards, joined the American Christian Writers origination, and the local Roanoke Valley chapter. In May, I scarified a week of vacation to attend the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in North Carolina. While at the conference I pitched ideas to publishers, editors, and agents. I applied for writing and blog contests and lost. I submitted multiple articles for publication and was turned down.

God’s ways are not our own (Isaiah 55:8). I’ve learned not to misinterpret a hearing the word no for when what God really is saying is not now. Using those same writing samples, which were initially turned down, I was extended an invitation to write for Inspire A Fire and Focus on the Family’s children’s magazine, Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. In addition, I had several devotions chosen for the 2016 publication of Penned from the Heart, a 366 day devotional book.

Rejection stings and so does a dog bite. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced both this summer. A few weeks ago, I was attacked by a German shepherd. I see this dog often on my morning run and I don’t know why he chose to take a bite from my right hip. It hurt and so did the tetanus shot that followed. But a random dog bite won’t keep me from running, nor will a rejection letter keep me from writing.

My Circle of Seven

Since January, God has placed amazing people in my life as a result of stepping outside my comfort zone. My friend Brenda Shumaker author of Decorating Your Heart and Home, holds the keys to opportunity. She introduced me to Editor, Vie Herlocker who encouraged me to attend the BRMCWC. I prayed for God to send me at least one friend at the conference and He sent me seven. (You can read all about that answer to prayer in the article Circle of Seven.) I met writer and Editor Cindy Sproles, author of Mercy’s Rain. I will never forget the sound of her sweet Appalachian drawl when she spoke the words I longed to hear, “Why, yes you can write.” I also met my favorite author Susan May Warren and captured her autograph. Last month I had to opportunity to meet Rwandan genocide survivor, Amen Mirbaraka. She has a powerful testimony of God’s deliverance from blood and evil to blessings.

On a lighter side, I bought my first diesel car this year and I am thrilled about 52 mpg on the highway. I am also proud to announce I have progressed from the Twinkle Twinkle melodies to playing Bach. My progress on the violin is slow but I enjoy the challenge. While I’m on the subject of the violin, Rachel participated in her first off Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof. This was my first time watching this amazing play. The students and musicians at RVCS rocked the show. Speaking of musicians, Chris and I experienced Harry Connick Jr. in concert. What can I say? He and his musicians are incredibly gifted and I look forward to attending another concert.

My list is still growing. I hope you have been encouraged to step out of your safe and comfortable world and try something new. Yes sometimes rejection follows risk, but so does great reward.

Gotta go. I think I hear birthday cake calling my name.


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