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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Achievement (03/08/12)

TITLE: Connecting the Not(s)
By Lillian Rhoades


Connecting the Not(s)

When I think of achievements, I’m wary lest I put a question mark or a period where God puts a comma.

Recently, files that had I accumulated over many years lay strewn all over my living room floor. They represented ‘receipts’ that spanned a lifetime of things I’ve tried to achieve – obtaining a nursing degree, being a Super Mom, becoming a renowned writer, owning a home that I could leave to my children, gaining success as an entrepreneur, and learning how to become a more faithful follower of Christ. From this list, I’ve been successful with two, and at this stage in life, changing that average is where God’s comma comes in.

As I sifted through papers and tried to look beyond yesterday, the window of hope grew misty. All of my unfulfilled accomplishments reminded me of Moses who never made it to the Promised Land. Among the files was a paper written by my oldest son in his first year of college. The paper centered on his life as a student from early elementary days through high school. I had No idea of the struggles he’d experienced. I wondered about my failure as a Super Mom. Should I not have picked up on this? And yet, I’m grateful that he did not make the headlines as an accused killer of all those students that bullied him.

Among the stash, were papers that highlighted my entrepreneurial failures. I was going to make it big by charging into the world with sky-rocket ideas – JOIN THE HOMEOWNER’S SERVICE CLUB of AMERICA, Condominium and Townhouse Owners Welcomed (move over AAA). Mine was an “insurance plan” that never saw the light of a day.

LET YOUR HOTEL ROOM BECOME HOME was another rocket that landed without notice. The motto – A Play Away – was supposed to provide toys, games, and books for traveling families with kids.

Yesterday, Ah Yesterday! I don’t know why God did not allow me to successfully launch one of those rockets, but I do know He could have if He’d wanted me to do so.

The following not was among my most noblest of ideas. Before I moved to another County, my oldest son had always attended a Christian school. The new County did not have one. As Robert Kennedy once said, “Some people ask why, I ask ‘why not’?”

Why not mobilize the Christian community to build a Christian school? Somehow, My ‘Why not’ did not reach God’s ears, and my N.E.E.D (National Education Endowment Department) for Christian Schools went only as far as my ability to pay for my second son’s tuition years later, when a Christian High school was started. I smile now at the motto listed at the bottom of this one page dream, and note the irony of both Not(s).

Not a fund drive, but a service drive (Ephesians 6:6). Not an option, but an opportunity.

God had enough compassion to send me a decisive: Not this one.

Then there was the Christian Service Center for Children based on my experience working as a registered nurse in deprived areas of the city; and another one - Vacation Home Care-Caring for Your Home, Your Pets, and Your Plants. Not all of these ideas belonged in the Land of Oz, and I’m sure someone has turned them into thriving businesses. They were just not in God’s plans for me.

Finally, among my papers are rudiments of what His plan had been for me all along. Unfortunately, it took a long time before He caught my attention.

As I sat cross-legged on the floor, I reached for Q-Tips, my first Newsletter to parents when I worked as a school nurse. Then, underneath the pile other ‘publications’ – Consumer Medical News, The Child Care Times – A child centered monthly publication, and The Council Newsletter which was an actual non-paying job as Editor of the Newsletter published by the Council for Young Children where I lived.

I have not yet decided which papers to keep, but I do know that when yesterday’s mist has cleared, I will see that God is not finished with me; there’s a comma after my name.

On the way to achieving what God had in store for me, I received more than a few, “We like your idea, and our editorial staff has given…, but…” letters from Editors. But as a rookie writer, I also received my first check for an article published in a major trade magazine. To God be the Glory!

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This article has been read 498 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 03/15/12
Excellent job! I loved it. Congrats on your paycheck from the magazine! Yes!

This touched my heart...simply a wonderful and touching entry.

Thank you. God Bless~
Donna Wilcher03/15/12
Fabulous work! Well written and fun to read. I was right there going through all those old dusty papers with you. I've done the same sort of thing myself, and can relate.

Loved the title! Thanks for sharing this!

Catrina Bradley 03/18/12
I love that, despite all of the "nots", you didn't let discouragement take over - you never gave up hope - but kept trying and trying again until you found the dream God wanted you to follow. Conrats you your achievement- publication! (Tiny red ink: "county" isn't capitalized.)
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/18/12
I liked your title and how you illustrated it with you entry. I found it interesting that you achieved--not knowing, for sure, where you were going until you got there.
Amanda Brogan03/19/12
This entry is so inspiring! I often worry as the years of my life fly by that I will someday look back on all my goals that were not achieved. And yet, God does have a plan for every "not." My job is simply to be faithful and available to His work.

Thanks for your enduring faith in His plans. Great testimony here!

Dannie Hawley 03/20/12
Very creative title and excellent job encouraging us all to not give up. Your availability and efforts to meet the needs you see is commendable. Thanks for sharing your journey with us and indeed, it is easy to identify with you.
Kathleen Langridge03/20/12
I loved your opening comment. It was a great hook and I found the development of the theme constant through-out the entire piece. I identified with your process. It was well crafted. Good job.
Joanne Sher 03/21/12
Absolutely LOVE the first sentence of this. It's TOTALLY a keeper - and I am also a big fan of your perseverance here. Thank you for this!