Bye-bye, Comfort Zone! Hello, Abundant Life!

face1By Raelee May Carpenter

Louise tricked me.

You know how it’s hard to get a three-year-old to eat healthy things sometimes, so instead of just saying, “Eat your vegetables,” you give them a choice. “Do you want the carrots or the beans?” Either way, they’re eating something they should be eating, and they feel better about it because they have options.

That’s what Louise, the president of my local writers group CCWA, did to me. We’re planning our big January conference. And it is a big deal, okay? Last time, Donald Maass—yeah, that Don Maass—was the headliner, and we scheduled agent pitches, and lunch was great. Plans for this one are even bigger.

We’re having four workshop tracks instead of only three. We’re voting on our list of speakers to invite when Louise looked at me, “Rae, which track do you want to be on?”

“Fiction?” I replied. Then, Holy Cow, did I just agree to teach other writers at this Big Deal Conference?

 You see, I’m shy. Painfully so. Standing up in front of groups of people is not something I do. I’m the type who literally went to therapy to learn assertiveness skills. I thought my career dream of “novelist” was consistent with my introverted (to put it mildly) personality, but to be a successful writer nowadays, you get to be the one doing most of the marketing.

Putting myself out there? What does that even mean?

I’m not quite sure how I got on the board of this big-dreaming, fast-growing writer’s group. I thought I’d only agreed to edit the newsletter. Next thing I knew, I taught a free dialogue seminar, made a list of literary agents I personally am responsible for inviting to the conference…and—if that weren’t crazy enough—agreed to present a workshop to a roomful of writers who’d paid hard-earned money to be there.

I think God tricks me into these things, too. It’s freaky, really, but…

I think I need these tricks.

As I’ve joined writers groups and made friends in them… As I’ve attended events and forced myself to talk to people… As I’ve submitted work to publishers… As I’ve connected with people in the scary, wide world of social media… As I’ve planned events and reached readers, I’ve learned there’s only one way to get good at all that stressful social stuff I’ve never been able to do. By doing it.

I’ve been blessed in the thousands of ways—big and small—God pushed me from my comfort zones and into the great, wide world of following the dreams He gave me. I won’t lie; it’s been a rough, scary road, and it’s soooo not over. Sometimes I look at how far I still have to go to get to where He wants me, and I can barely breathe.

But when I look back at how far I’ve come, I jump for joy. Sometimes, I even look forward to the next trick He’ll play. I know it will take me someplace good.

He will take me someplace good.

Unlikely Mergercover of unlikely merger

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

Raelee May Carpenter is a Christian and an author of contemporary fiction, inspirational essays, and modern mythology. Her work is passionate, descriptive and just a little edgy. Raelee’s three lifelong passions are faith, people, and words. She’s a tone-deaf music fan and “Mumma” to a young-at-heart, rescued Beagle mix. She has ADHD and ASD, and she is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Her favorite thing to write about is the force that saved her life: Grace.

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