Sunday, October 18, 2009

The "I Shall Not Die Blog"

Hello to all of my Blessed2Write Blog followers. Thank you for your ongoing support and most recently, for all of the feedback that you have given regarding my pending I Shall Not Die project. I would like to ask each of you to consider becoming "followers" of the new I Shall Not Die Blog.
This online journal was created as another means to keep me on task with completing this challenging project. Following it will keep you abreast of the progression of the forthcoming book and the accompanying motivational ministry. I know that sharing the journey with you and reading your feedback will be a great encouragement to me. There is also now an I Shall Not Die official website. While there, please consider pre-ordering the book and becoming a vision partner for this God-ordered project.
Thanks and God bless. I look forward to sharing this experience with you.

Monday, October 5, 2009

My First Nonfiction - Stay Tuned...

Today is Monday, October 5, 2009, and I'm going to try as much as possible to abbreviate this blog entry. There is so much to be said. This date marks the fourteen-year anniversary of the death of my beloved first husband. I've rarely put anything in writing about the life and legacy of Jimmy Lee Holmes. He was an outgoing, fun-loving, God-fearing man who was loved and respected by most. In addition to being a devoted husband, father, and friend, he was a highly gifted singer and preacher and served in the capacity of choir director, youth pastor, and ultimately as senior pastor. Until now, nearly all of my written referencing of him has been in the brief accolades that I've dedicated to him on the acknowledgements pages of each of my fictional novels. For most, this is the first time a visual image of him has been seen (see photo). So why, after so many years, have I now decided to write about him? The truth of the matter is that it wasn't necessarily my decision to make. God has said that now is the time, and I am finally adhering to His will.
On this day, I am actively embarking upon the challenge of writing my first nonfiction. Doing this wasn't an overnight decision. It's been a very long time coming. Even before Jimmy's death back in 1995, I had begun writing somewhat of a documentary that was based upon his life. I never had any intention to publish those notations, I was just recording them (with his input) as a way to have a written legacy for our daughters to read and keep close at heart. Something that would insure that no matter how many years passed, they would never forget their doting daddy. Unfortunately, Jimmy passed away before we could finish the project, and my zeal to write it died right along with him. In 1999 (I'd remarried by this time), my current husband bought me a new computer, and I sat down and began writing again. I remember opening a new document and the first words I typed were "I Shall Not Die" which was the title of the last sermon that Jimmy preached. Those words began a painful purging process that ended 125 pages later. I'm sure that I cried more during the weeks that it took me to write out those thoughts than in all the years of my life combined. Once again, those where private writings that I never intended to publish, and when I placed the period on the last sentence of those pages, I thought that all had been said and done.
Little did I know that God wasn't through. A private journal couldn't bless anyone but me, and God wanted to use Jimmy's life to touch the masses. It was a year later, the year that would mark the fifth anniversary of Jimmy's death, that the Lord began nudging me to pick up a pen and begin the process again. By that time, I'd begun writing Christian fiction manuscripts which were beginning to form a small pile behind my bed. There were still no publishing endeavors. I was writing for the therapeutic value only; I found that writing fiction stories was relaxing and liberating. Writing them brought me joy, unlike the experience of writing the "I Shall Not Die" memoirs. When I continued to feel the divine nudging to write a fiction piece based on Jimmy's life, I procrastinated. In this case, that's a nice way of saying that I refused. To a degree, I tuned out God's voice. I told Him that I would begin to write it before the end of that year, but I can't honestly say that I ever had any intention of following through with it. Thank God for His longsuffering and forgiveness.
From that point on, the call to write an "I Shall Not Die" project for publishing purposes never ceased. After reneging to obey within the fifth year, I began saying that I'd wait until the tenth year. By then, I reasoned, I'd be in a better position both mentally and spiritually to write Jimmy's and my full story; to go back and reopen the painful wounds of losing someone so dear so that I could expand upon the 125 pages that had been written in 1999. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that the ten year anniversary (2005) rolled in and out without me even so much as writing one word of the book that had been ordered by God years earlier. I have been abundantly blessed that even in my procrastination/disobedience, God has shown much favor to the Christian fiction novels that I have written and began publishing in 2002. But now I can't help but wonder where my career might be today had I been obedient from the start. Hmmmm....
At any rate, let's fast forward to the year 2009. This year, God made it clear that my five-year increments of procrastination were over. The well of His grace was running dry. October 5, 2010 will mark fifteen years since Jimmy's death, and the Lord said that October 2009 was the time to start writing, and October 2010 was the month of release. His unmistakable order began manifesting itself early in the year. I didn't realize at the time that it was His doing, but God allowed me to be hurt by people that I'd done nothing but helped. It was His way of revealing to me who my true friends and supporters were because only those who were true to the core needed to be in my circle once this journey began taking wings. Seeds of what was inevitably to come began being planted in me this year by people who had no prior knowledge of my past life with Jimmy or the charge to write this book that was initially given in the year 2000. The insight they had could have only come from God. The most prominent eye-opener for me was made during my April 2009 visit to Hamden, Connecticut where I had gone to meet with Genesis Book Club to celebrate the release of The Lyons Den. The day after the book release event, I visited Love Center Deliverance Ministries, and the co-pastor, Dr. Kim Carmichael was speaking. As she began praying for and prophesying to the people, she suddenly turned to me and told me that eyes had not yet seen nor had ears heard what the Lord was going to do in my writing ministry. At the closing of her prophesy, she said, "There's a book inside of you that you haven't written yet. God says that you know what that book is, and He says when you write it, you're going to see Him bless you on an international level. You will become a household name." My tears overflowed because I immediately knew that the book she was referencing was I Shall Not Die. In emotional contrast, I had to laugh recently when I went back home to speak at my father's church, and as he held a copy of one of my other novels in his hand, he turned to me and asked, "When am I going to see a picture of you on the front of one of your books? I keep seeing a picture of you on the front cover." I knew immediately that the book he was "seeing" was I Shall Not Die.
So the time is indeed now. As soon as I gave up the losing battle and told God yes, doors began to open (for speaking engagements) that will serve as preludes to the platform of my newly expanded empowerment ministry. Additionally, when I moved out of the way and allowed God to have His way, I found out that this process wasn't going to be the painful punishment that I'd been needlessly running away from. If I had just allowed God to finish speaking to me all those years ago instead of basically tuning Him out, I would have known that the manner in which He was directing me to write this ministerial tool would not bring on the intense pain that my fallible mind had concluded that it would. Writing it will not bring grief to me, neither will reading it bring grief to others. Instead, it will offer hope and equip God's people for such a time as this. I Shall Not Die is going to allow me to encourage people to live, and now, for the first time in fourteen years, the zeal to write it has returned.
My first nonfiction entitled, I Shall Not Die: Living A Psalm 118:17 Existence will make its debut in October of 2010. I have never been so excited about the writing of or the pending release of a book as I am this one. Stay tuned!