I am not brave. New experiences make my stomach churn. Entering an unfamiliar setting fills my heart with fluttering butterflies. Add a room full of unknown faces and I will remove myself from the situation to curl up under my comfy afghan in the safety of my living room. As the rain drizzled this morning, the quiet of my empty house created a haven of solitude and the afghan on the sofa beckoned, but I refused to indulge my introverted tendencies.
Today, I attended my first gathering of Inspire Christian Writers for the December Workshop. I put on my brave face, prayed through my short drive down the freeway, and gulped my way through the entrance to the local library.
Once inside the gathering place, I located a seat in an out-of-the way corner and settled in. Watching the other attendees enter leisurely and chat with each other, I refocused my mind on the task at hand: come up with something interesting or witty to say so I don’t trip over my words should someone ask me a question. A few kind souls opened conversation, and I settled a bit more into my corner of protection.
Then, author Wendi Lou Lee began her keynote address with “lucky has nothing to do with it.” A firm believer in God’s ultimate plan for my own life, this woman was speaking straight to my heart.
“When I was a kid, I thought, ‘Man, we are so lucky,” Wendi reflected as she recounted her time portraying baby Grace on the popular television series Little House on the Prairie. “But luck had nothing to do with it. I was baby Grace so that, many years later, I could write this book and share my faith with a very unique audience.” I nodded in agreement. A life-long fan of Little House, I am that audience. When I graduated high school, my brother gifted me with a laptop that played the Little House theme song, instead of the traditional startup jingle. Here before me was not only someone who had been intimately involved in the show, but she shared my faith, as well.
Wendi didn’t set out to be a writer. In fact, it wasn’t until she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and spent months recovering from surgery that she felt the need to share her story. What started as a blog to communicate her medical journey with family and friends turned into an outpouring of “everything,” as she put it. “I had never been so bold in my faith. I’m usually too self-conscious, but I became an open book.” She claims the medication affected her mental filter, but I see that shift as a movement of the Holy Spirit.
From that blog, Wendi developed the beginnings of a memoir, but God had other ideas for Wendi’s story. During her first visit to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in California, she was asked, “What do you write?” She detailed her journey through brain surgery and the creation of her memoir, but everyone she spoke with passed on the project.
Then she decided to share another idea she had been harboring in her heart: a devotional centered around her faith and the lessons she learned through Little House on the Prairie. This wasn’t a well-planned and mapped-out book proposal; it was a back-pocket inkling of an idea. One publishing representative jumped on the concept. The book, published earlier this year, is titled A Prairie Devotional. Through each daily reading, Wendi shares a significant quote and event from the beloved show, adds the connection to her own experiences, and relates it all to a truth from the Word. Throughout the book, she encourages readers to hold fast to what matters, through the ups and downs of life. And what matters is the purpose and plan God has for us.
Over the years, Wendi has seen God’s hand move in her life in multiple ways, creating divine appointments and presenting challenges that sharpen her faith. “God orchestrates your life from the time you are born. Was my role as baby Grace a miracle of someone being in the right place at the right time? No. It was God’s grace at work in my life, long before I could see it.” It is this message of trusting in God’s sovereignty that Wendi weaves through her devotional.
Today’s experience was, for me, a divine appointment and a reminder that God’s thoughts are not my thoughts, and His ways are not my ways. As a teen, after school each day, I rushed home to catch Little House reruns before starting my homework. I watched baby Grace refuse to eat her dinner and stare at her older siblings with wide blue eyes. Little did I know, God was orchestrating my steps just as he orchestrated Wendi’s. Had I remained my introverted self and hidden away in my box this morning, I would have missed the incredible blessing of meeting Wendi, who is an absolute delight. I would have missed learning what it means to “throw the box away,” and allow my God to make me brave enough to trust His plan. Wendi is right, you know. Luck has nothing to do with it.