Following God-given Dreams

Booksigning 11You sense God calling you, nudging you to surrender fully to His call, but you’re not sure where that will lead. To make matters worse, doubts, fears, and insecurities well within, making it hard to zero in on that still, small voice that speaks courage and peace and confidence. This journey of obedience, of full surrender, is never easy and rarely quick, but today, a sweet friend, multi-published author Shannon Taylor Vannatter, shows us it’s worth it–worth every tear, every hurdle.

As an added bonus, she’s giving away a copy of Rodeo Song to one of you, randomly selected from the comments below. (She’s also donated three of her books to three different charity fundraising events, including Takin’ it to the Streets’ first annual Hope for the Homeless event. You can see her donations here.)

I also want to congratulate the winner of last week’s give-away. Mary C. Wilson, congrats! You won a copy of Connie Almony’s novel, At the Edge of a Dark Forest! I’ll contact you soon to arrange how best to get that to you.

Living My Dream by Shannon Taylor Vannetter

At times since I first started this writing thing back in 1999, the publication journey has been a roller coaster. From the time a Print On Demand publisher published my book without my knowledge to when my traditional publisher decided to close my line, I’ve been on the verge of pulling my hair out, and have lain in the floor crying. But despite my rollercoaster ride through the publishing landscape, I’m still writing and I’m thankful I’m a writer.

On a spiritual level:

1. I get to fulfill my calling. From the time I became a Christian at fifteen years old, I felt like there was something I was supposed to do. With writing, I get to fulfill my purpose by doing something I thoroughly enjoy.

2. I get to share Jesus with nonbelievers. A non-believer is more likely to read the romance novel their friend loans them than the Bible. I recently got a letter from a Muslim man in prison telling me how much he enjoyed one of my books. He still sounded Muslim from his letter, but maybe my book planted seeds.

3. I get the opportunity to draw Christians closer to Jesus. Some of my characters are Christians, some of them aren’t. Most of them make mistakes—just like real people. I use my characters blunders to draw them closer into fellowship with God. Maybe a reader will identify with my character’s journey and take steps to draw closer to Jesus as a result.

4. I get to preach. I’m not saying I want to be a preacher, but the overall theme of all of my books is this: Love doesn’t make the world go around—God does. My characters learn that love is only lasting if God is in the center of their hand-in-marriage-1422245-m (1)relationship. So many young people in the world need that message. It gives me great joy to know that mothers and grandmothers often let their daughters and granddaughters read Heartsongs because they trust the books are clean with a spiritual message.

5. I get to connect with Christians all over the world. It makes my day when readers contact me to say my story touched their hearts. Tangible proof that I’m doing what God called me to do and that I got the message across that He wanted me to share.

On a personal level:

1. I get to work from home and my schedule is flexible. I can take time off when my son is home from school sick. I get to attend all of his school parties and events and work my writing schedule around my family. During the school year, I write while he’s at school. I work my deadlines around summer vacation, so that during the summer, I’m mom. If I need to get some writing done in the summer, I do it when he’s not home, he has a friend over, or after everyone else goes to bed. If I write until 2:00 am, I don’t have to get up early for a regular job the next day.

Writing requires a schedule, but it’s flexible enough, I can be mom when I need to be and I don’t have to worry about babysitters. Yes, he’s twelve now. And my mom left me home alone when I was twelve. But he’s a boy. Boy’s are a different species – they like snakes, fires, and guns. Enough said.

2. I can take the day off for church functions. Since my husband is a pastor, member visits, hospital visits, and funerals are a large part of our lives. If I had a regular job, he’d have to go it alone and I wouldn’t be able to be as involved with our congregation as I am.

3. My son is proud of me. He tells everyone, “My mom is an author.” He thinks it’s cool that none of his friends can say that and that I’ve taught fiction writing classes and spoke at career days at his school.

4. Through the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, I’ve made friends all over the globe. I have lots of

Shannon and me (Jennifer) at the ACFW conference in 2009

Shannon and me (Jennifer) at the ACFW conference in 2009

friends, but writing friends get me like no one else does. Not even my family. And since writing can be such a solitary pursuit, friends who get you are a God send.

5. Having a job that requires daydreaming. All of my life, I’ve tried to listen and pay attention, but my mind would wander. With writing–having a wandering mind is encouraged, an active imagination is required, and daydreaming is allowed. I hear voices and have imaginary friends, but everyone thinks it’s okay and normal since I’m a writer.

And that just scratches the surface. I won’t even get into how I write in my jammies most of the time.

Rodeo SongRodeo Song:

JENNA WENTWORTH FOUND THE MAN OF HER DREAMS 

But when silken-voiced Garrett Steele set out for stardom, he left Jenna—and his cowboy past—far behind. A chance encounter at one of his concerts propels him back into Jenna’s life. But, once burned by love, Jenna must guard her heart against the captivating singer.

Once upon a time, Garrett vowed he’d be a success, no matter what. But that path shattered his soul. His reunion with Jenna makes him long for things he once took for granted. Now he must show her that he’s found what he was looking for all along…right here in his hometown.

Purchase Links:

Mardel            Deeper Shopping            Amazon            Christian Book          Harlequin

Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife/award-winning author. She lives in rural central Arkansas in a town with a population of around 100, if you count a few cows. Shannon writes inspirational contemporary romance and it took her nine years to get published in the traditional market.

Shannon hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as her characters struggle with real-life issues. Their journeys, from ordinary lives to extraordinary romance through Christ-centered relationships, demonstrate that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family and doing craft projects.

You can visit her online at her website http://shannonvannatter.com and blog: http://shannonvannatter.com/blog

You can connect with her on Facebook,  GoodreadsPinterest and Twitter.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! I believe we all have a calling. For some, that may mean saving money and paying off debt to spend quality time with their grandchildren during retirement. For others it may mean launching or serving in a ministry, writing a novel, or honing a talent to be used for God’s glory. Or perhaps God’s calling you to step out in faith and courage to invite neighbors to a women’s event at your church.

All of those callings can feel frightening, but as Shannon reminds us in today’s post, the rewards of obedience are endless!

What is God calling you to do, and what steps are you taking to obey? You can share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

And don’t forget to stop by Faith-filled Friends to read about the making of my novel, Beyond I Do, which is now available on Amazon for pre-order at a discounted price. I also encourage you to stop by Takin’ it to the Streets to read about one of my less-than glamorous yet more memorable moments.

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13 thoughts on “Following God-given Dreams

  1. Right now I am doing exactly what God has called me to do – working for a wonderful ministry & spending time with my Granddaughters & showing them what the love of our Lord is 🙂

  2. I am encouraged by Shannon’s testimony. She reminds me that “God’s got this.”
    She also reminds me that it’s not going to be easy and I have to keep my ultimate purpose in mind every day. My husband is a Baylor graduate and spent 20 years working in Ft. Worth, TX. He has taught me to love all good things Texan, including cowboys. I’d love to read Rodeo Song.

    • Hi Ann. Sometimes I have to remind myself “God’s got this”

      My husband was born in Texas and spent part of his childhood there. His dad lived in the San Antonio area until he passed a few years ago. We’ve visited frequently over the years and still visit his step-mom. We call her Texas Mom. I love all things Texan too, including cowboys.

      • I love Texas, too! I’m especially partial to the San Antonio area, maybe because our family spent such a special family vacation there. 🙂 Of course, I love Arkansas, too. 🙂 Especially in the fall!

    • I like that reminder, too, Ann! I also love your focus on your ultimate purpose. I’ve learned over the years, the how can change dramatically. Early in my faith-walk, I was very involved in children’s ministry and was certain I wanted to be a Children’s Director, but God used those early years to spark a love for writing. Then, He redirected me. Although I still serve in the church (and believe all believers should without exception), I now know my calling is to write. And yet, the purpose is the same: to glorify God, grow closer to Him, and be an instrument of His love and truth. 🙂 To me, that simplifies things, whether I’m wiping snotty noses, having dessert with a neighbor, or writing a novel.

      Shannon, I loved how you shared all the benefits of writing. I’ve often mused on how God’s writing has been one of the greatest gifts to me as a mom. It gives me an outlet while my princess is at school but provides the flexibility that allows me to enjoy my family when they’re around. And I’m so glad you were at the conference! What a bright ray of sunshine you were! 🙂

  3. Jennifer, I’m so glad we got to meet. And like I said in one of my private e-mails, I was flattered you wanted your picture taken with me. Denise Hunter, Brandilyn Collins, and Susan May Warren were walking around that conference. And you asked me?

  4. Shannon is a wonderful author! Her books are always clean and I can share them without being afraid that someone will get embarrassed by the contents!

    • Thanks Shelia. I set out to write clean romance because I couldn’t find any to read. At the time, inspirational fiction was in its infancy and I didn’t know it existed. But the more I wrote, my characters kept talking to God, so I let them. Once I started trying to get published, I learned there was a market for what I was writing.
      I’m very conservative and old fashioned. I just couldn’t write anything my parents couldn’t read. My dad embarrasses the fire out of me telling people, “That guy’s got one of those scruffy beards like Shannon writes about.

      • Shannon, that’s what I loved immediately about your novels as well. You know how to tell a great story without making me cringe or blush! Which is why I am also quick to recommend your work to others.

        That’s funny about your dad. I remember a post you wrote here about his support of your writing. Dad’s are awesome!

      • Thanks Jennifer,
        I hate books that make me blush or cringe. I’ve given up on reading secular books and stick with inspirational. And I so appreciate your support Jennifer. My dad is awesome. He’s 73 and just retired from being a ranch foreman. He’s not sitting in his recliner either. In fact he doesn’t have one – he says they make people lazy. He still has cows and he’s a go, go, go kind of guy. He tuckers my mom out some times and she’s only 70.

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