Often people ask me to submit work, and I do it most of the time. The funny thing is, I always assume my work is going to be rejected. I mean, every writer gets rejected. Dave Long rejects me so much I just automatically assume he's going to do it. Well, I used to. I will never, ever submit anything to Dave Long again. Ever.
Of course, one should never say never. I may send him something later on tonight.
Anyway. When I was with NavPress, I was crazy about the Editorial Director Jeff Gerke. We'd volley hilarious emails back and forth, and even now we still keep in touch. He wrote me one morning and told me that Jay Payleitner was accepting submissions for the One Year Life Verse Devotional Bible and that he wanted editors to send him writers. Jeff asked me to submit something.
Me, in a Devotional Bible???
Yeah, right. But I thought about it, and decided to take the challenge.
Have you ever thought about what your life verse is? One of my best friends said her life verse is Psalm 16:6, "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." Another friend didn't say that was her life verse, but she was telling me she had a good life. She always felt like her testimony should have had a few more rough edges. I thought that could be her life verse, too. I'm glad for friends like these. Boundary lines that have fallen in horrible places suck. God knows they do.
I knew right away what my life verse is when Jeff challenged me to submit. "Blessed are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 5:3. Sometimes I know what it means. Sometimes I don't. I think I will spend my whole life learning it. I've spent my whole life so far, just beginning to know it.
I wrote about what it's like to worry when you send your kids to school with holes in the knees of their jeans that child protective services is going to come after you. And you know, it didn't occur to me to sew those pants. I was too depressed to think of that. Or do it, God help me. I wrote about how we always ran out of food stamps before the end of the month. I knew this reality before senators or congressmen "experimented" and found out how hard it is to feed a family on those rations. And I worked while getting the food stamps! Real live jobs. And I have a college degree, beloveds. I still couldn't make enough to live well on, and I'm not alone. We weren't living in luxury, either. Well, we were compared to people in other parts of the world. This is American poverty, and it isn't even Appalachian mountains American poverty. But that wouldn't have been much comfort on days when I didn't have much to feed my kids, and I was working. But God always provided. I did feed them, even if it was a lot of ramen noodles. Some people don't get ramen noodles, or even clean water. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. I was rich at my poorest compared to some.
I wrote about Jesus entering into poverty with me, and gathering my harvest of sorrows to Himself, always beckoning me to come to him. He is rich, but became poor for our sakes. For all of our sakes. He knows what it is to have less than is expected of you. Yeah. Let that penetrate your mind. Come on, what is more humbling than the incarnation? God in a diaper.
Anyway, I wrote my short entry for The One Year Life Verse Devotional Bible, and then I got back a cryptic email six months later that told me a whole lotta nuthin'. So, I assumed I was out. I always assume I'm out, but tonight I got a "final" email that said my entry was selected. In my bio I said I was "a second generation welfare mother struggling to get out of poverty with grace--and a little chuzpah." Ken will have a stroke if he ever sees that bio. But it was the truth at the time.
You know what? Things are different now. I'm not on welfare at all. I actually am a rare bird. I'm a CBA writer who makes a living, a lean living, but a living just the same, writing novels. I remember when I met my agent, Chip MacGregor. I said, "Help me get off of food stamps." In less than a year he did. I am free, by God's grace, and maybe more than a little chuzpah, from any government assistance. I am praying the cycle of welfare dependence stops right here and that my kids will never have food stamp cards or babies born on Medicaid--unless we live in a country where all citizens have Medicaid, which I believe we should.
I'd change that bio, but it reflects where I was when I wrote it. Maybe it will give hope to people who are broke and broken that they too can be chosen to write devotionals. Ha! I don't know. I just think we all need a voice. It just can't be the middle class white folks saying they're piece. And that's what it is too often in the CBA. Lord, help us. Anyway, Jay Payleitner said the book was going to the typesetters, and if I tried to change the bio now he'd probably have a stroke. At least I'm here to take Ken to the ER. I don't know who Jay has around to help with medical interventions.
Anyway, that's just a bit of newsy news from my big fat literary life. You can pre-order the Bible at this ridiculously long link:
Here's the blurb:
Is there a verse from the Bible that has special significance to you? Maybe it’s one piece of Scripture God used to inspire, challenge, or rescue you at a turning point in your life. Maybe it’s a verse you learned as a child from a grandparent. Or one you recite each morning to begin your day. The One Year Life Verse Devotional contains stories of well-known authors and speakers, athletes and entertainers. Uncover how these key verses helped define people’s role in God’s plan--whether they are Bible characters or ordinary people. Discover God’s revelations to his people through Scripture, including your very own life verse.
Hey, tell me what your life verse is. Or what you think it could be.
I love y'all