I entered 2018 trying to figure out where to go from here. In the Tahoe woods in November, with the leaves rustling under my boots, I walked. Prayed. And pondered not only the story I was working on, but the reason why I write stories. And if I should keep writing stories at all.
Life is so busy. For all of us. We only have so much time here on earth. So much life energy. There are so many things we all could be doing. Are you using your life energy to do what God has called you to do?
Where are you headed in 2018?
After some serious soul-searching, I’ve decided I want to serve my tribe. I reminded myself of this yesterday after a long Christmas break of being a short-order cook, the maid, the laundress, the yard worker, the chauffeur, all the things I normally do just multiplied 24-7 with the boys out of school.
Vacation was a lot of work for me!
I started to feel a little resentful (not at my kids, at our insurance company) as I sat at the pharmacy trying to fill a prescription for one of our sons. I’d planned on writing this week, but instead, have spent the week driving back and forth to the doctor’s office and the pharmacy because of sick kids and insurance problems on top of everything else.
But this is my tribe. My family. I meet their needs the best I can and the rest falls where it falls. So I didn’t write this week. I served the ones I love.
I want you to know that I think of you as my tribe too. My blog family. I want to meet your needs as well and let the rest fall where it falls. This past Thursday night, I joined a marketing class because I need to learn how to market the books I’m writing. Can I just tell you I absolutely hate marketing? I’d rather write books in secret and have somebody else sell them under a different name on a different planet. When people ask what I do, I could say, I’m a short-order cook for four growing boys and never mention that I’m an author. This would be comfortable for me.
Since I’ve become an author, I’m way out of my comfort zone. And I’ve been trying to figure out how to navigate this new aspect of my life. In the publishing world, perhaps in many of our modern-day worlds because social media is such a monster, you hear that you must build a platform. Every time I hear “platform” I think of a hangman’s noose. They built platforms in the 1800’s to execute people for everyone to see. I’ve watched famous people build their own platforms and then hang themselves on it. I want no part of that.
And this word “platform” comes up again and again in marketing so I’ve avoided marketing. But the class I signed up for on Thursday nights taught me something special. The instructor said, “don’t build a platform, build a tribe you can serve.”
I loved this notion. A tribe I can serve. A group of people I can grow with. Learn with. Do life with here on my blog. So I’m stepping into 2018 with the intent to serve you. I realize that probably a lot of you don’t read my books, and I don’t mind that a bit. In fact, it’s kind of a relief. Writing books is hard!
These photos are from a few years back, but this is how I feel trying to write books. Some days it’s too much for me. I don’t want to offend people and some readers are offended by my stories. In a way it makes me laugh as I bang my head against the wall because before I became a Christian, my first literary agent told me I needed more sex and violence in my novels. Now I hear I need less sexual tension and violence in my novels.
This may be news to you, but the Bible is full of violence and God doesn’t shy away from sex, either. He created us as sexual beings and He compares his love for us in sexual terms. He even calls us whores when we go after other gods. The Bible has made me blush a number of times. The year we read the entire Bible out loud to our kids was shocking when I was a brand new Christian.
I love God and I want to live openly and honestly. I want to write openly and honestly too. I’m a sinner who needs a savior. And I write about sinners in need of a savior. Honestly, it’s exhausting worrying about what offends people. I plan to worry less in 2018 and just write as truthfully as I can.
And I want to post blogs that are of use to you. When I started this blog eight years ago, I did it because my literary agent said I had to. I had no idea what I was doing. I was just trying to become a published author. But as the months went by, I began to enjoy sharing the lessons I was learning on loving God. This is what I decided to blog about each week back then, but I’ve never thought of myself as a true blogger.
In 2017, I asked myself, is this blog worth my life energy? I’m having a hard time getting books written because I don’t have a lot of writing time. Now that I no longer answer to an agent, do I really need to keep blogging?
What I decided is that you are worth my life energy. You’ve become my friends. My tribe. My blog family. I can’t imagine not sitting down each week to blog with you. You’ve helped me grow in my faith. And grow as a person. And grow as a writer. I love you guys!
So I’m making a commitment to serve you this year. In 2017, Scott and I decided to put some ads on this blog because we kept having to take ads off the blog that were hijacking it somehow. I want you to know we’ve made sixteen cents off our ads in the past several months. Yes, that’s a whopping 16 cents. Haha!
I tell you this because I know some of you are concerned I’ve gone commercial. Also, the truth is, I do well on Amazon when I give my books away. I’m not making much money as a writer yet, but I could truthfully hold up a sign that says, “Will write for praise.” I love it when someone tells me, “I couldn’t put your book down. It really got a hold of me and made me think about God.” But more than this, I want to get to the place in my life where I truly write for “the praise of his glory” Ephesians 1:12.
Until then, I will do my best to help you think about God. Not the God of religion. The God of relationship. I don’t know about you, but the God I know doesn’t fit into my box. I hope He doesn’t fit into your box, either. The living God will shock you, surprise you, and scare you to death. He also loves you so much He died for you.
Do you know Jesus yet? I want to help you know Him more. I want to know Him more.
Today Scott and I sat down and changed the ads here because we want to serve you. We selected some of our favorite devotional books to share in the sidebar. These are devotions our family reads. I’ve also added the Daily Audio Bible. This is a free app and we don’t profit from it at all. But you will profit if you download the app and listen to the Bible in a year. If you want to grow in your Christian faith, reading the Bible is the best way to go.
We’ve also added The Lulu Tree where the tractor has gone in Africa. There are so many places to donate these days, but this is one of the places our family loves to share our blessings. Most of you probably already have your favorite donation spots, but if you don’t, The Lulu Tree is doing wonderful things in Sierra Leone where my friend, Pastor Sonnel is adopting his country’s orphans.
I realize this is not an entertaining post. Sorry about that. It’s really just me letting you in on the direction I hope to go this year. I’ll still be posting about life, love, and farming, maybe even doing more stories on farming in the spring, since a number of you have asked about farming. And of course, I’ll write about our boys because they make me laugh and we all need to laugh. If I didn’t have a sense of humor, I wouldn’t survive being a Bicknell mom.
Thank you so much for taking this time with me each week. I so appreciate you! Here is Cruz awhile ago copying me in my writing glasses. My hair looks like this too most days when I write. This picture makes me laugh because Cruz said, “Look, Mom, I’m you, the writer!”
Kids are so funny!
So I asked you a question at the beginning of this message. What do you want to achieve in 2018? I also want to let you in on a little secret. Life is so much sweeter when you’re serving others. If you are sitting around expecting to be served, you’re on the wrong road. God created us to love Him and love our neighbors. Part of loving is serving. Who do you want to serve this year?
Where are you going in 2018?
My tribe loves to go in Opa’s jeep. This was a few years ago, but aren’t they a cute bunch?