Bible Gateway

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My Talent

As I was studying my devotion for the day, I read about how God gave men in select tribes of Israel, a talent. He did this in order to accomplish His goal of building a temple.

A man from Judah and a man from Dan were given such Godly wisdom and knowledge in craftsmanship they were able to construct anything. However, the scripture, which struck a chord in me was not only did God give these two men the ability to build, but they were also given the ability to teach their skills to others.

This led me to think...what is my God-given talent? And how can I share this skill with others?

What must I do to find my talent or skill? Or perhaps I already know and need God to confirm His word in me?

When I was 14, a man I had never met before ask to pray with me. While he was praying, he began to tell me things I had never told anyone before. When he ended his prayer, he held my hands and said, "This day God is placing a talent in your hands that you will use for His glory."

Now through the years, this has bugged me. I tried everything to figure out what this talent was...like playing music. I can honestly say playing the piano is not my gift. My brain seems to wake-up and realize the math involved in playing and then shuts down. I also tried playing the alto saxophone, I played decently, but not great. Cross music off my list.

Then I tried floral arranging. I love flowers. I have made bouquets, corsages, pew bows, and floral archways for many weddings. I enjoyed working in floral shops. However, within the last couple of years I have developed allergies to flowers. The kind of allergies that send me to the ER. Today, it's silk or nothing at all. Not to mention my wrists hurt from working in this industry. Probably from doing the same movements day after day, year after year. Cross floral design off my list.

About four years ago, I had this brainstorm that maybe...just maybe my talent might be writing. However, as I learn the craft of writing and offer my projects up as a sacrifice, I find only rejection and insult.

Not that I think that any talent God gives will be met with glorious approval and contracts, but a little encouragement would go a long way. Which is why I enrolled in the Christian Writer's Guild Course. So far, the encouraging words my mentor sends me ignites my creativity. I am working on articles and novels. And I haven't written anything, since the last writer's conference I went to several months ago.

With the encouragement of my critique partner, Janet Brown, and my daughter, I am now considering re-writing some of my manuscripts for the YA market. Possibly this is what I'm meant to do?

In researching the YA market, I came across this list. Look it over and see where you are...me? I think I'm somewhere between 6 & 7. (This is from Writing for Young Adults, by Sherry Garland)

Stage One - Dreaming. You read voraciously, love words and language, an admire authors. You have great ideas that might make good (young adult) books but, for one reason or another, you haven't written anything down. You are "thinking about writing a book."

Stage Two - Planning. You finally get some words down on paper and tinker with them off and on. You subscribe to writer magazines, read how-to books, join a writers group and even attend local writers conferences. You enjoy writing and the companionship of writers, but you do not try to sell your material.

Stage Three - Hopeful. Your friends say you are talented. You work diligently on your book for weeks, months or even years until you feel it is perfect. With your heart racing, you send off your first manuscript. You anxiously check the mail. As you tear open the self-addressed 9 X 12 manila envelope, you envision how you'll spend the advance.

Stage Four - Depression. You receive your first rejection. Then your second, third, and fourth. You shout at the absentee editor, or cry, or eat a box of chocolates and commiserate with your writing friends. Every item you send out is rejected, usually with no more than a form letter. Self-doubt soars.

Stage Five - Withdrawal. You convince yourself that you are totally untalented (or that the editors of the world do not appreciate you.) You shelve your manuscripts in the attic or garage and tell the rodents to enjoy them. You hate all successful authors, especially R. L. Stine.

Stage Six - Rejuvenation. At the bookstore you notice a (young adult (YA), romance, historical, contemporary, or whatever genre you write) bestseller that's eerily similar to your manuscript. You think that your name could have been on the spine. You dig out all the old dust-covered boxes, renew your subscription to writers magazines, join another writers club, attend more conferences, meet writers and editors and take a writing course. This time you set goals.

Stage Seven - Persistence. You set aside time for writing, usually late at night, early in the morning or on weekends. You experiment with techniques and styles until you find the one that feels right. You research the market and send out professional-looking work.

Stage Eight - Breakthrough. You sell your first short piece. It's for a regional publication or a children's magazine and you only receive ten dollars for it, but you celebrate anyway. Rejections still come, but they are personalized, encouraging and does not paralyze you.

Stage Nine - First Big Sale. An editor makes an offer on your manuscript. One year later, it is published. The future looks rosy.

Stage Ten - Sink or Swim. You sell more articles or maybe even another book. You stash away money until you have enough savings to survive for one year, and then you quit your day job. You write every day and keep several manuscripts in the mail. You are hard-working and dedicated, knowing that if you do not sell, you will have to return to your dreary job.

Stage Eleven - Career Author. Your income derives solely from writing and speaking engagements. As a published author, you are now a business with all the ramifications that it implies. The pressure of meeting deadlines, coping with bad or inaccurate reviews, balancing school visits with research, writing and family, keeping tax records and handling promotion can turn your hair gray. But you keep going; the rewards outweigh the headaches.

Did you recognize yourself at any of these stages? I did. And it makes me feel better to know that if I keep trying there are still stages ahead to recognize.

So, the questions hitting me today are: What is my talent? How can I play my talent forward and bless others by teaching them? What are my goals? How can I make the successful leap from stage six to stage seven?

What questions plague you? How can you find your answers?

5 comments:

Annette O'Hare said...

Thank you for this wonderful post Debra. I needed to read these words today. Praise God that you persevered until you found your true God-given gift. I pray that we both will see our YA offerings come into publication this year.

Margaret Daley said...

Thanks, Debra. Now I know why my hair is turning gray.

Margaret

LaShaunda said...

Debra,

Thank you so much for this post. I was stuck at stage 5 for a long time, questioning my gift too. I will keep these stages. They're good to see where I'm heading.

Donna Alice said...

Hi Debra, This is a lovely blog and I look forward to reading more. Yes, I recognized myself in the list!

I was curious about the man who prayed for you as a teen. Was it someone you knew? Or possibly an angel?

Debra said...

Thank you all for dropping by! I found that list to be encouraging and am glad you did too.

Donna, to answer your question, I did not know this man. I had never seen him before. My pastor (at that time) said he had a chance meeting with the man at our denomination's general conference.

I like to say he was my angel of mercy, a messenger of God.

However, I don't know.

I'll give y'all some more details. That morning at church, I went to the altar to pray. When I stood to go back to my seat, a visiting man stopped me and offered to shake my hand. I didn't think this strange at all. We attended church near a military base and often had visiting soldiers vist our church.

That evening, my parents and I went to church. Afterward, we had a fellowship. This man stayed for it as well.

My father talked to him a bit. The man told my dad he was from out of town and he woke that morning with God telling him to travel to our town. He told God he couldn't see how he could afford a trip since all he had on him was a $20 bill. He said he felt God nudge him to go by faith. He said he felt impressed that he was supposed to give a word of knowledge.

As usual my parents were the last to leave, since they helped clean up the fellowship hall. We were readying to leave when this man (we never knew his name) asked me if he could pray with me. I looked at my dad and then to my pastor, shrugged and said okay.

At this time, I was going through a spiritual, perhaps it's better to say a demonic oppression. I couldn't describe it, so I didn't tell anyone. All I knew was that I was afraid to go to sleep at night.

As this man prayed, he would stop and describe in detail what would happen to me when I tried to sleep. He even describe in detail how I reacted and even very personal thoughts I had during this traumatic situation. At the end of his prayer, he prophesied that my hands would be used for God's glory.

The man said he had wanted to leave after lunch that day, but didn't have a peace about it. After praying with me, he felt released to go home.

Just a side note, when God tells you to do something, He will make provisions for you. This man who only had $20 on him for gas money was invited out to eat for lunch after the a.m. service. He was invited by another member to rest at their home. At church, we had a potluck after the p.m. service. And when he left he had money in his pocket, he didn't know he had. (My father slipped it in when he wasn't looking.)

What did I learn from this experience?

*There is a God and he loves me enough to send someone to explain to me what was going on in my life and to rescue me. (I have not experienced anything like it since God delivered me from it.)

*When God prompts me to do something, I should trust him to take care of me.

*Always check up on my children. When they say they can't sleep...ask questions. If they seem bothered by something...ask questions.

*And the whole demonic oppression I experienced...is worthy of a novel.

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