When You Don’t Do Anything At All


apples 1

Do you remember my fable of the Cherry Tree a few weeks ago. During an email exchange with April Gardner, one of my clients, she shared her own fruit tree tale. As soon as I heard it, I asked if I could use it as a follow-up blog. She was happy for me to share it with you, so here you go!

I enjoyed your recent blog post about your cherry tree struggles. I have an apple tree that I do NOTHING to. No pesticide, feeding, trimming. Nothing. I’m a bad apple-tree parent. So I’m not surprised when the apples are puny and full of bugs. But when I came home from a trip last Monday, I was stunned to find my tree overflowing with huge, ripe, bug-free apples. I have no idea why the bugs stayed away this year. There’s no rhyme or reason to it (which is why I could relate to your post), but I’ll take it! And every time I look in my backyard at that tree teaming with future pies and sauces, I can’t help but grin. It’s an early producer so all I need to do is head out there and start picking!

apples 2What a gift from my ever-caring God. He knows I need these beautiful apples right now. Only He could have made this happen, because Georgia is plagued with every gardening pest known to mankind. And if it isn’t a bug, it’s a fungus or a bird. Or the HEAT! I can’t seem to grow anything here. How did the pioneers survive??

Strangest thing too, because my tree is in the dying process. It has some sort of blight that will kill it over the next few years. It’s beyond hope. I told my husband early this spring (after seeing how far along the blight is this year) that we had no hope of any fruit whatsoever this season. And yet it’s the best year ever. Now isn’t THAT a picture of God’s power? When we see nothing but rotten hopelessness, He sees potential and brings abundant life from seeming death.

How many ways can I apply THAT to my life right now…?

How many ways can we all apply that to life? And to our careers as writers. It made me think of one application in particular.

Overnight successes.

Yes, those authors who write a story in a matter of months, send it off, and suddenly have an agent and a contract. That’s hard enough to take, but when their books shoot to seemingly overnight best-sellerdom? That is so NOT fair! Now when the rest of us have worked so hard for so long, doing everything we’re “supposed” to do! And though we may rejoice with these blessed folks, there, dwelling in the deep recesses of our minds and hearts, rings the cry: “When is it my turn?”

Friends, if you’ve found yourself wondering that, know you’re not alone. We’re all trying, and waiting, and hoping. And, for too many of us, “success” seems as elusive as ever. More so, when you consider the changes in the industry, the houses that are closing down lines, the even more limited number of slots for writers, proven and unproven. It would be so easy to fall into a “Woe are we!” mentality nowdays. The sky is falling! I know, because of piece of it just landed on my head!

I understand those feelings. The worry and dread. The sense of things going out of control at the worst possible moment. And I understanding watching someone else’s rise when you feel as though you’re on the decline. And yet…

And yet!

The Creator of the universe, Almighty God, is not bound by what we do or don’t do! He’s not controlled by fluctuations or shifts or seemingly depressing changes in our market, or in any market. He is here, with us, active and at work. And He has his hand on us, on our careers, on our writing. He knows exactly what we need, be it overnight success or long years of perseverance. But His goal isn’t for us to be published. It’s far greater! It’s for us to be used by Him. To show a weary world what it is to be watched over by an “ever-caring” Father. To be His ambassadors, through not just our writing but through our actions and words as we follow this call to write for Him.

Whatever path He has you on, know that we’re in this together. More important, God is in this with us. He will supply. He will sustain. And “when we see nothing but rotten hopelessness, He sees potential” and speaks abundant life into seeming death.

The Master Gardner is present and at work. For you. For me. For our careers. All to bless a weary, lost world. What a joy to be given a part in that harvest!

24 Responses to When You Don’t Do Anything At All

  1. Anne Love July 31, 2013 at 4:04 am #

    To be used. To show a weary world. To be ambassadors. Ahhh, yes! I’m on my feet cheering Karen!! What a great post. It behooves us to recall these things, and to be on our knees humbly offering the King our gifts and talents. It behooves us to pray for fruit that can feed many starving souls.

    • Jaime Wright August 2, 2013 at 8:34 am #

      I so needed to read this (eh, Anne, after my teary woe-is-me synopsis crisis last night?)!

      God IS the Director of my path. Whew. I’m going to kick back with my coffee now and let Him lead. All for HIS glory…

  2. Ron Estrada July 31, 2013 at 4:17 am #

    Well said. I’ve had many a “woe is me” moment. I’ve lamented that it’s not fair that I have to compete with only an hour a day to write, or that I don’t have a quiet space to do my work…the list goes on. But when I compare my vision of publishing “success” to the riches and glory of eternity with my Savior, my “woes” seem trivial, even childish. I also must remind myself that many of those overnight success stories have greatly impacted my own life. This week I’m listening to The Shack on audio book during my drive time. I expected to be annoyed with some psuedo-theologian who didn’t deserve to write a best-seller. Instead I find myself challenged, deep in thought, and changing my perceptions, even feeling closer to God in the middle of I-75 traffic. I may disagree with the author on a point or three, but he has succeeded in drawing me into a story and making me think. I am grateful that he wrote this book and not me. I would surely have screwed it up with my own bias. I can say the same about many books and authors. Thank God for all of them who have stretched my imagination and challenged my beliefs.

  3. Naomi Musch July 31, 2013 at 4:23 am #

    That third to the last paragraph… I found myself turning it into a prayer of praise. Thank you for the great post. Can’t be reminded of this often enough.

  4. Heather Frey Blanton July 31, 2013 at 5:20 am #

    I suspect I’ll read this more than once today, Karen. Thank you for writing it. I’m in the process of writing my sequel and am struggling with keeping God the focus. Not, “I have to crank out the sequel now!” mentality. I definitely want him to do with my book what HE wants, pull from it HIS idea of a harvest, not mine. Thank you for the reminder!

  5. Amy Boucher Pye July 31, 2013 at 6:08 am #

    Amen, sister. Love this post.

  6. Meghan Carver July 31, 2013 at 6:14 am #

    Beautiful words, Karen and April! Thank you for this much needed mid-week encouragement.

  7. Susan Gregory July 31, 2013 at 6:43 am #

    Thank you both for the reminders.

  8. Julie Sunne July 31, 2013 at 6:53 am #

    Powerful! Thank you for this.

  9. Bethany Kaczmarek July 31, 2013 at 7:04 am #

    Ah! I love it, I love it! Especially this: “He knows exactly what we need, be it overnight success or long years of perseverance. But His goal isn’t for us to be published. It’s far greater! It’s for us to be used by Him. To show a weary world what it is to be watched over by an “ever-caring” Father.”

    I’m so bad at knowing what I need, but HE is perfect. I trust Him completely. My only goal is to be found a faithful steward of the gifts He’s given. And whatever He wants for me, I want too. Thanks for the post. I’d hug ya, if you weren’t on the other side of the continent.

  10. Sonya Contreras July 31, 2013 at 8:35 am #

    Thanks April and Karen. Especially needed with homeschool start-up—Satan always makes me question my ability, my motive, my purpose…I wonder if the worms are just to big in my fruit to even bother.

    Thanks for reminding Who is in charge of the harvest. It is something to hang on to—and savor.

  11. Jane Baker July 31, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    I just finished reading Ethel Herr’s Introduction to Christian Writing with my critique group. At the end, she reminds us that success is writing what God asked us to write, being true to His leading and our beliefs. I think I’ll have it tattooed on my forehead, or written backward on my glasses, or something.

  12. Cristine Eastin July 31, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    “They will still bear fruit in old age,” Psalm 92:14. What a great promise. Now I’ll always pair it with April’s apple tree. I don’t know what it means in terms of my writing career, but I trust the Lord will use me if and how He sees fit. Thanks for the encouraging post.

  13. Micky Wolf July 31, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    A ‘tasty’ and delightful word for the day! Thank you, Karen and April, for sharing your wisdom and encouragement. God knows so much more than we do of the plans He has for each of us…your thoughts are a wonderful reminder to renew our trust and hope in the One who always has our best interests at heart, even and especially when it doesn’t seem to make sense. And as so often seems the case, just what I needed to read and soak in at this moment in time.

  14. J.D. Maloy July 31, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    How this post resonates with my spirit! Years ago my wise older sister reminded me about Paul’s words in Romans 5:3 “Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

    Ms. Gardner is spot on. Our goal isn’t to be published, it is indeed far greater! Amen! When I find myself suffering for Christ, and it isn’t usually in regards to writing, I recite one of my life verses and then act boldly. “For I consider the suffering of this present time not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18. What a blessed Christ centered perspective.

    Thank you, April, for speaking bravely and sharing your story with us.

  15. Jean Huffman July 31, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    Karen & April, such a powerful, powerful reminder of God’s love! As you so eloquently said, our Heavenly Father is always at work in our world. What a GREAT, GOOD GOD we serve!

  16. Jo Huddleston July 31, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    Karen, when I check my email each morning and see I have a post from you, I set it aside to read in a calm part of the day when I can savor your words. Your precious words always come to me at the right time–the time when I need them. Whenever an interviewer asks me who or what inspires my writing, I answer Karen Ball–from the first time I met her in Tulsa at a writers’s conference. I pray for you happiness and contentment all your days. Thank you!

  17. Joshua Shaw July 31, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

    Karen, thank you for the encouraging post. It’s so easy to overwork in fear of never being accepted by a publisher or agent. But on the other hand, it’s also a temptation to “quit with the pipe-dreams and move on,” as one of my oh-so-lovely high school teachers wants told my class.

    Our Father delights in us and our writing more than we could ever imagine and it’s a joy to be reminded of that ever now and again


  18. Kay Aniel July 31, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    Amen! Thank you for such beautiful words of encouragement! Glory to the One who knows all things!!!

  19. Andrea Cox July 31, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    Hi Karen,

    I’m so glad April agreed to let you share her fruit tree story. Along with yours, they’re testaments to God’s work in nature (and in us). Thanks for sharing!


  20. Cheryl Barker July 31, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    I love your perspective, Karen. I couldn’t agree more about God’s individual plans for our lives and careers. And yes, what a privilege it is to be used to bless others through our words. We are blessed!

  21. Tanara McCauley August 1, 2013 at 12:09 am #


  22. Pat Jaeger August 1, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    How beautiful. God truly is our source. Thanks ladies for sharing. This goes in my notebook!

  23. Bonnie Leon August 6, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

    Love this Karen. Beautifully said. Thank you.

    It got me thinking about those who land a contract lickety-split. I was one of those. The first book I EVER wrote sold to the first publisher to look at it. That book became a bestseller. It was a fabulous experience, but looking back I also see the flaws in the process.

    I didn’t have the opportunity to persevere and to work at my craft or to become a better writer before my first book was tossed out into the sea of books for the readers to see. There is a lot to be said about the long journey toward publication. It’s a time when we writers should mature and grow in our craft as well as our relationship with God. We learn about leaning hard on Him when there is no one else and how He so gently reaches down and picks us up out of the pits we stumble into. The relationship between us grows richer, deeper.

    Oh, and that book? Well, I love the story – The Journey of Eleven Moons. But it’s definitely not my best work and throughout the years I’ve wished I could snatch it back and have a redo.

    With the ebook revolution that’s what I’m doing . . . kind of. The original is still available, but I’m revising the book and re-releasing it late this summer.

    I don’t want to sound ungrateful about how God sent me on my writing journey. He had a plan. He opened every door – for reasons only He knows. But I just want to leave a reminder to those who are still working and striving to get that first book “out there”. The journey isn’t all bad. It offers a lot to be thankful for. And besides, just because a first book is a bestseller doesn’t mean the rest of the journey is a piece of cake. Just sayin’. 🙂

    Grace and peace to you from God.

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