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A Writer's Story
by Jennifer Smith
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Last week, I felt like throwing myself a ďWelcome Back!Ē party.

See, last week was the first time Iíd written anything since I left my newspaper reporter position in June. Well, when I say ďanything,Ē thatís not totally true. During the past 10 months, Iíve journaled quite a bit, though not as much as I wouldíve liked. I penned my first family Christmas letter for my husband and me a few months ago (and I agonized over it, like I used to over my back-page features at the paper). Oh, and I worked pretty hard on making our wedding invitation diction as perfect as possible last summer, too. (Does that really count?)

Even still, for someone who spent every week pumping out article after article like a machine, Iíve been on quite the hiatus.

Iím not sure why I abandoned writing for so long. Maybe I was more burnt out than I realized. I spent nearly three years at the paper and during that time, I ate, slept and breathed words. I would wake up Tuesday mornings (my deadline day for the weekly paper), pleading with God: ďLord, I donít think I can do this anymore! I have nothing to say! I donít know how to do this! God, get me through this day. Speak through meÖbecause if you donít, I wonít have anything to turn in today.Ē Praise God, He heard my desperate cries and always responded in amazing ways. Today, Iím convinced that I didnít write a single word during my newspaper days: The Lord simply used me as an outlet every week to send messages of truth to my hometown of 10,000-or-so people.

What a humbling realization that is for me.

I dreamed of seeing my work in print since I was in junior high. Writing was my forte, so it seemed natural to want to turn that into a career. The older I got, the more discouraged I became. I wanted to be an author, but very few people can do that straight out of college. I spent three long months following commencement searching for the perfect writing position and consistently came up empty. By late July, I was in utter despair. My prayers became more and more urgent as my checkbook balance dwindled. At that point, I was willing to settle for just about anything and had pretty much kissed my writing dreams goodbyeóat least, for the immediate future. Little did I know that God was still with me. He just wanted me to surrender my dreams to Him and trust Himónot myselfóto get me to that point, in His timingónot my own.

Two weeks later, I got a call from the paper offering me an internship. My publisher offered me a full-time reporter position three months after that. I canít even describe the emotions that flowed through me the first time I caught a glimpse of my byline in print! My dream was being realizedóI was writing and getting paid to do it! Sometimes, I still canít believe it actually happened. Then, I thank Godónot only for that time, but also that itís over.

My reporter days were filled with moments where I just didnít want to do it anymore, but because my paycheck depended on it, I didnít feel like I had much of a choice. It was write or donít pay your bills. Write or donít eat. Write or give up the dream. So, I kept going. With Godís strength, I persevered, and it was worth it. Maybe I stopped writing simply because I couldóbecause I felt like the choice was mine again. But Iím more certain that I stopped writing because, once again, God has had other plans.

Last February, I met a man who, quite simply, turned my little world upside down. Just a few weeks into our courtship, the Lord let us know that He had plans for us as a pair. That spring, we spent nearly every weekend on the road, driving 4-7 hours to be with each other. It didnít take long before I was faced with a point-blank question: Which one is it going to be? Your career or your long-distance love? I chose my sweetheart, and Iíll never, ever regret it.

Since then, Iíve come full-circle: I quit my job, moved (three times), married and moved backóall in a matter of nine months! Iím not the same personóI have different priorities and different plans. But that same dream lives inside me. Iím not a reporter anymore, but Iím still a writer. Iím not sure what that means right nowóbooks, articles, Christmas letters once a year?óbut Iíve committed my plans to the Lord and wait expectantly to see what His course looks like.

I know itís not going to be easy. The Enemy hasnít changed; he still tempts me to believe the same thing he taunted me with when I was a reporter: ďYou donít have anything to say. You canít do this. Who wants to read what YOU have to say?Ē Iíve bought into it some days, when it seems easier to just sit still than take the risk. But I wonít surrender to Satan. God gave me the gift of writing for a reason, and I WILL use itófor His glory, in His time, for His purposes alone.

So, last week, I felt like throwing a party. Iíve calmed down a little this week. Today, I just want the Lord to speak to me, through me and use me as His chosen writing instrument. My reporter days were some of the most difficult I ever experienced in my young life, but I long to return to that placeóthat desperate place where I knew, without a doubt, that God was using me to accomplish His will.

They say to write about what you know, and Iím sometimes persuaded to believe that in my mid-20s, I donít know much. But what I DO know is that God is good and Heís used me before. I trust Heíll do the same as I sit at my computer, in this new season of my life.

ďThe sovereign LORD has given me words of wisdom, so that I know what to say to all these weary ones. Morning by morning He awakens me and opens my understanding to His will.Ē ~Isaiah 50:4~

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