Welcome to the blog of author Tricia Goyer!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Thursday Tip...Writing with children...

Here is a story from Patty Hickman. It will be included the book Our Horn of Plenty, WaterBrook Press/Random House in the coming two years.

I’m going no mail because all of this chatter, like always, is just too much of a temptation. But before signing off, I’d like to comment on the thread that comes up from time to time about writer’s boundaries concerning family.

We promote Townsend and Cloud’s Book Boundaries in our church and I have to exercise boundaries with church folks and relatives. But when it comes to my children, I take a different approach than some writers and many will not agree with me, but I felt led to share this for those who may feel differently about how you keep office hours. As long as you do it according to God’s plan for you, that’s your accountability. (and guilt relief!)

When I came home to write, I had been in a high pressure job environment in Washington D.C. It was good in that it made me wise to the world and thick-skinned. But it also made me callous and that included toward my family. While I may have had the world by the tail in my office, my family was falling apart. At the time we had two children and they were growing up nurtured mostly by their dad, and even that was hit-and-miss. My son’s ADHD was a reason for me to pour myself into my work, let my hubby deal with his problems. I told myself that parenting wasn’t my thing and God had tooled me to administrate. I wanted to become a CEO and I could work those upper strings like mad.

But as my hubby and I drifted apart, the Lord gave me a picture of myself (yes, I claimed to be a Christian) that sickened me. I had to become literally sick of my own sin and pride. As a woman who has healed-up inwardly in my small group says, “I had to become ashamed before God.” One day I was sitting in my office, very content to stay the way I was. I had a staff of eighteen and we were rehabbing a D.C. high rise mixed-used building. I had just given everyone their day’s orders and was preparing my report. My rents were climbing so swiftly and my clientele profile elevating so much so that my boss called me panicking. I had quadrupled the rents. Was I insane?

I told him to come and pick up the new leases of the wealthy new clients moving into the building. Even the corporation owner’s wife was dropping in to visit me and get my opinions on matters like color schemes. The CEO was starting to call me directly rather than go through my own boss, and I was even managing that carefully so as not to upset my boss. Then my concierge got a phone call. My little girl had not shown up for school. She was going to this brand new neighborhood school that was a three mile bus ride from our home. I had put her on the bus myself. How could they lose her between my house and the school? The principal was in a panic and was racing to the classroom while I was packing up my briefcase to take a one and a half hour subway ride home to start the hunt for Jessica in a dangerous metropolitan city.

God had already been working on me which is why I took that job and left behind another that had required 70 hour weeks of me. But this was his final way of breaking through to me. In those few seconds, I felt a literal death inside of me, but also the birth of something I had never understood because of my upbringing—a passion for my kids! In that few minutes between my desk and that front door, I told the Lord, “I know that it’s taken a lot of retooling to get me to do what you want, but if you’ll give me back my little girl, I’ll leave this job and do anything you want.” Funny how pressure causes God’s will to pop to the surface!

Just before heading out the door, the concierge called me back and said, “The teacher didn’t take the roll right. She counted Jessica absent when she’s really there.” I nearly fainted.

At the same time that was going on in my life, God was calling Randy into ministry. We sat down as a couple and decided what we wanted our life to look like. We wanted a ministry life that glorified God and yet didn’t backburner our children. God was doing such a transformational work in me that I was literally craving my children’s company. I would use the same job skills to work and become a stay-at home mom as a writer and our children would get the full attention of us. They were only going to be with us so long and we wanted them to enter adulthood loving God and loving us.

Little did we know that Jessi would be called home at the age of twenty. I’ve often thought about those few years that we home schooled, the field trips, the home art classes and figuring out algebra, all the while I was writing novels. But we were together, doing life together! They could interrupt me any time with an important question or if they just wanted to tell me what was going on in their life.

What did I give up? Probably hours I could have spent marketing my books or actually meeting deadlines. But God gave Randy and me a biblical picture of family success. The world’s success calls our life a huge failure. What do they know? If they don’t know the beauty and transformational work of surrendering to Jesus Christ, they will know only an empty dead end, and I’ll say the same thing to ambitious Christians. My caboose, Jared, will graduate high school next year. He is a driving leader type and if we had not have stayed on our toes, we would have lost him, but he is serving God and we still do a home bible study with him. Josh has applied for the millionth time to music school. He may or may not be accepted, but either way our relationship is intact and he loves God.
So I haven’t written a hundred books in fourteen years, more like sixteen.But I’m building something eternal. I’m still a high energy choleric, but just a retooled one. As we aim Jared toward the graduation finish line next year, I’m building up the energy and plan to increase my speaking engagements and retooling to market myself. But I also remember I have a hubby to love and care for too.

I have a product that I’m very proud of regarding my writing. I’m a confident writer in that I feel good about what I submit to the editor; maybe this time under the radar has given me confidence as a writer or maybe it’s just my confidence in God. I just say all this to you younger moms and dads who beat yourself up and worry over that ridiculous best seller list. We all have our seasons, but the important thing is that we are building a life that holds eternal value and is shaped by God.


Jen's Journey said...

Awesome. I think I take a different approach than Boundaries suggests with my children, too. My husband claims I don't have enough boundaries with them when it comes to the time I spend with them. I discipline them, but I spend as much time as they want from me, when I am around them. Getting my husband to respect that has been a long road. But, I love my family and would do anything for them. I won't sacrifice quality for anything.

Christine H said...

I think writing sixteen books in fourteen years while raising a family and being a pastor's wife (with all the added demands on the family that entails) is AWESOME!!!!

The "Boundaries" book really saved my life. I think it depends which extreme you are coming from. I truly didn't even know what I wanted or needed because I was so used to catering to other people. I thought that was the "Christian" way to live.