Once there was a little girl.
She lived in a rural area, surrounded by forests of pine and streams and rivers. It was among this beautiful wildness that she would play and laugh and dream and hide in the trees for hours at a time so she could write her stories, her trusty dog Bandit at her side. (Or waiting patiently beneath whatever tree she sat in.)
But writing stories wasn’t her only dream. No, her imagination was much too big to be contained to a single dream. She was going to write stories and songs and poems while she conquered the world. She dreamed of soaring across the sky as a fighter pilot; of standing on a stage surrounded by a stadium of fans as she sang and played her heart out. Her world was limitless, both on her filled-to-brimming notebook pages and in reality.
As the girl grew, some of her dreams began to fade. Others took their place. Oh, she still wrote her stories and songs, and scribbled religiously in her journal. These new writings spoke of young love and heartbreak, her struggle to fit in, and then her eventual decision to discard that notion and just be herself. Later, she wrote and spoke of dreams of traveling as a missionary to Cambodia. Of giving of herself to help those who had stolen her heart; this desire sparked by extensive conversations with a dear mentor at church camp. The words she wrote now spoke of her longing to do something great. And so the girl went away to a Christian college, hoping to learn all she could to further her dream and call of ministering to those whom she believed needed her most.
And then, the little girl got lost in the dark woods.
Curiosity got the better of her and shoved her dreams to the background. The girl wandered down a path that she had no idea would take agonizing years to get off of. It was new. Different. Intriguing. This path offered so much she wanted to explore. So much that looked pretty on the outside but was corroded and ruined beneath the surface.
Eventually, the path led the girl to nothing but pain. She made terrible choices. Horrible things happened to her.
She stopped praying.
She stopped writing.
She stopped dreaming.
She wanted to stop living.
Then one day, quite unexpectedly, light returned to her life. She called out to God. She started dreaming again. She fought to live, because now she realized just how much she had to live for. She discovered a new calling. A new group of people much closer to home that needed her in a different way that she’d never dreamed of. People that she could only reach, only touch, because of where she’d traveled on her journey in the dark.
After accomplishing a few of the entries on her new list of dreams the girl, now a woman, revisited the very first dream she ever had.
And the woman wrote her story on fresh pages that smelled of hope and looked like redemption. They whispered of healing and sang of grace.
~The story told of a rebirth. A new beginning. The reclamation of a life once thought ruined. A story of hope, of the light that shines into the darkness.~
Today, that story goes out into the world. Those battles are out there for all to see, even though at first I wanted to keep them hidden. I had a plan for my life and it did not include spilling my guts onto a page in such a personal, exposing way.
And yet, here we are. Rebirth: Book One of The Reluctant Warrior Chronicles has officially been set free into the wild.
It’s a surreal moment. For weeks now, I’ve been tied in knots, vacillating between sheer joy and utter terror. Even as recently as yesterday, my heart was in my throat blocking my airway and my stomach was somewhere down around my bare feet.
Strangely, as this morning dawned and I opened up Amazon and viewed the page where the “Pre-order Now” button had been replaced with the “Buy Now with 1-Click” button, a mysterious calm settled over me. Peace, strong and true. Hope that this story would reach those it was meant to and start a chain reaction of people identifying with the characters, then considering their own situations more deeply, and maybe, just maybe, finding healing. Finding their light in the dark. Finding hope and grace where they thought none existed.
Sure, it’s a lofty goal. It’s a huge dream. And that’s okay. Why? Because we need those dreams. Where there are dreams, there is vision; where there is vision, passion follows. From passion comes the push to action, putting the dream into motion.
And today, the little girl who dreamed big as she sat high in the trees in the backwoods of Arkansas is still right here with me. She’s jumping out of that tree, raising her arms in the air, doing that funky little wiggle dance with the dog circling and jumping around her, and yelling across the valley, “We did it. We did it! Yep, yep, we did it!”