Monday, December 09, 2013

Dam Is Not a Four-Letter Word

Gina Holmes is a #1 Barnes and Noble and Amazon bestseller, and her novels regularly appear on CBA and ECPA bestseller's lists. She is a Carol Award winner and two-time Christy finalist. Her latest novel, Wings of Glass has been named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal, as well as a finalist in Romantic Times' Reviewer's Choice Awards. Holmes is a practicing Registered Nurse, a wife to the love of her life, mom to two boys and stepmom to 3 daughters. She and her family make their home among the Blue Ridge Mountains in South-Western Virginia. You can find her at: ginaholmes.com or on facebook.


(Reposted thanks to Dina Sleiman)

"He dams up the streams from flowing, And what is hidden he brings out to the light." Job 28:11


Years ago, I was at a standstill not only in my writing but every aspect of my life, I was dammed. After years of writing my heart out, faithfully waking up every morning and cutting open a vein, I was met with not a contract but with an abrupt end to my creative juices.

At that time in my life I was running a Bible club out of my house and saw lots of children come to Christ for the first time. I was an AWANAS leader and Sunday school teacher at church and was blessed to lead other children into the church fold. It was a time in my life that I thought I was doing everything right by God.

Instead of reward, I was met with a total damming of my life. I was given final rejections on a novel I could have sworn God led me to write. My serene life as a stay at home mom was over in the blink of an eye when I found out my husband had been fired and was on his way to another state to start rehab. I hadn't even known he had a drug problem.

Over the next few years the writing was no more than a trickle. Church fell by the wayside as did the Bible club that had been such a beacon of light for children in my neighborhood as I got my shaky footing and went back to work to support my family. My husband eventually asked for a divorce and my life was over as I knew it.

That was a dark time in my life. The darkest. I knew God hadn't forsaken me. I had that head knowledge but my heart ached and questioned.

That's  when I began to read Job's story again with fresh eyes and God gave me that verse as His explanation. So much sin in my heart was revealed to me at that time of dammnation--pride, idolatry (publishing related), and a host of others, as well as all that was wrong at the time in my husband's heart and life.

Through that damming, true to His word, God revealed what was hidden. Once it was, the clean up could begin. Boy did it.

It was in the aftermath of this that I began to write Crossing Oceans. The story of the dying mother was really the story of a dying wife, Sunday school teacher, mother and, yes, writer. But our God is one of glorious resurrection.

Is God damming your life right now? If so, it may feel more like damning, but trust Him. He won't let you go, and He WILL use all things, no matter how ugly, for your good.

And when the stream is allowed to flow again, the waters will be so much cleaner, cooler, and nourishing to all who drink of them. Especially to you. Especially to Him.

33 comments:

Bryce Daniels said...

Beautiful words, Gina.

Thank you for this. Whoever doubts that there are angels among us doesn't know what he or she is talking about.

I'm off to re-read the Book of Job. Been too long, and I need the reminder.

Gina Holmes said...

Thanks very much, Bryce.

Julie Garmon said...

Oh, Gina. Thank you for your honesty. Such powerful words of hope for us all.

xoxo!!!

Nicole said...

Powerful, brutally honest post and testimony. Thank you, Gina.

Marcia said...

Thanks so much for filling in Gina! I had one ready and thought I'd scheduled it here but put it on another blog instead! Ooops. :)Marcia

morganlbusse said...

All I can say is "wow" and that God used your words to touch my heart.

Thank you Gina.

Heather said...

i needed this today, in so many ways. it's so hard when you know God wants you to write, and that He helped you write your novel, and then it meets with rejection after rejection. you begin to question all your gifts/abilities and wonder if there is any kind of place you "fit." i'm so glad i'm not the only writer who has gone through/is going through this time of "damming." i love your term for it, b/c that's exactly how it feels! thank you!

Patty Smith Hall said...

Gina, What a blessing you are! And so honest with yourself, something I struggle with myself. Thank you for opening your heart to us today.

Ane Mulligan said...

It was a long, dark walk, but praise God, He led you through, stronger than ever and more open to His voice. Sometimes, the bleating of the other lambs crowds out the Shepherd's voice. I'm so glad you heard Him, Gina. Love you, my dear friend.

Leah Morgan said...

Thanks so much for sharing this; your past experiences brought two recent ones to mind, one just this evening. I led my 8 year old son to Christ. It was such a touching, crystal pure moment. He leaned over during the church service and asked me, "What does it mean to yield to God?" I asked where he'd heard that, and he pointed to the pastor. Turns out he was paying closer attention to the sermon than I was! I spent a great deal of time answering his questions during the prayer time at the close of the service, and then we prayed together. He later told a few people that he'd asked Jesus into his heart and said, "I can FEEL it too!"

I was touched also by your mention of Job since I too had a run in with him. I just taught a Sunday school class on the final chapters of Job, God's words, not Job's struggle. I wanted to direct our gaze toward how awesome and fearful He is, so much so that He conceived and formed the thing that terrifies us, like Leviathan. (Or for me, Giant Squid as long as a school bus. Did you know their suction cups have teeth? Teeth!)How much more magnificent in power is He than the horrifying things He made? I think we forget His might in the luxury of being His friend.

Two days later I spent the day counseling a student from my class who is away at college. I gave her counsel I feel passionate about and experienced in. Hours and hours of give and take later she was bettered and enthused, but I felt defeated. I had given her wise words for the purpose of directing her away from heartache, but I'd followed God's prescribed method in this area and I had....heartache. How was that? Why was I being rewarded evil for my faithfulness? I went to church the following evening consumed by the question, and my pastor stood up and directly answered it. He said sometimes trouble comes to those who stir it up by the choices they make, the sin they live in, but other times trouble comes precisely BECAUSE we have done the right thing. He directed our attention to Job.....
Hadn't I just been considering Job's God and His words? But I overlooked what I also needed to see there. God's words at the beginning of the book. "Have you considered my servant, Job?"
It's frustrating to feel the other side of the equation, that right living does not always produce right outcomes, but a fresh perspective from Job reminds me that my life is not a formulaic malfunction. God often permits the unlovely for a beautiful purpose and I'm encouraged by that truth. Think Joseph.

sally apokedak said...

Thanks, Gina. It's always good to hear of God's faithfulness, thought times of trial. Very encouraging.

Marti Pieper said...

On my way to church yesterday I was whining to God, asking him if He couldn't just make things easier.

"Do you want to stop being a warrior?" came the question deep in my spirit.

Sometimes, I do. But then I read words like yours and remember He says to come and die. And I lay myself down again. Because whether or not it becomes easier and whether I ever get up again, I'm in.

I'm glad you are, too. Thanks for the reminder.

Cathy Gohlke said...

Thank you for sharing this very personal testimony, Gina. Our Lord walks with us through all the dark places, sits with us, comforts us, brings us up into the light. It's so good to share these stories--they are encouragement and inspire renewal. God bless you!

Donna Collins Tinsley said...

What an awesome, poignant and needed word of testimony! So many times the things I write about seem depressing if it wasn't for the Word of the Lord to give hope at the end. Too many Christians are afraid to write about the pain of "real life" and those of us who haven't gotten their "happy ending" yet. Look at the Hebrews faith chapter.

Hebrews 11:32-38 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
They key encouragement and beauty of those verses is: "the world was not worthy of them." I say the same of you, dear sister. Thank you for your honesty!

Gina Holmes said...

Leah, that's awesome! Praise God for your son's decision. Ane, I love you too. Everyone who left a comment, such beautiful truth and encouragement in your words. Thank you.

Julie Arduini said...

Thank you for this authentic post, Gina. You crafted a beautiful visual for us to keep in mind as those broken places come. There truly is purpose to it and on the other side, blessing and provision comes just as you wrote. May those come in abundance to you.

Jim Hamlett said...

An encouraging post, and a very appropriate analogy with the "dam." Many of us can identify with your struggle. Again, many thanks for sharing.

Jean Ann Williams said...

I always love honesty when it's coupled with love and God's word. Way to say it straight, Gina.

Ron Estrada said...

Thanks for sharing that, Gina. It's funny, when I met you way back at the ACFW conference in '05 (I think), we were both unpublished and trying to find our way. I suspected you'd be one of those who achieved the goal, though. I've experience some damming myself. Mostly just from the pressures of work, family, church, etc. I started to feel sorry for myself I suppose. This was the year I started turning it around again. Even though I'm still unpublished, it's worth the time and trouble to know that I'm doing something I was meant to do. I hope my kids will carry this lesson with them, that it's never too late to chase your dreams. God never lets us down. When He plants a gift inside us, He'll continue to encourage us, even when the damming is all we can see.

Lori Ann Freeland said...

Your post touched my heart today, Gina. Thank you for your vulnerability and for sharing.

Dina Sleiman said...

Just as good as the first time :) I remember when I read it I though, "I hope that doesn't happen to me." LOL. But I had a feeling that it might.

Gina Holmes said...

Thank you everyone for the kind comments. Ron, I have no doubt God has a plan for you and it doesn't quite look like the one you had for yourself. Dina, it blessed me so much to know it blessed you. I needed that encouragement yesterday and the reminder of this post myself. I would never have chosen this damming but I'm so glad for the results of it.

Nicole said...

The encore just as powerful as the original. Profound.

Ane Mulligan said...

I've watched your journey and have always been proud of you, Gina. No more so than now.

Ane Mulligan said...

Ron, always chase your dreams! I'm living proof of that. I began writing script in my late 40s and novels in my late 50s. I got my first contract recently after nearly 11 years of God holding me back. But my children and grandchildren have learned from it!

Myrna Loy Ashby said...

Gina, thank you for this post. Open, real, raw, and uplifting. I don't know when I needed to read the words you wrote more than today. My writing has been dammed for so long that until I read your post, I didn't think it possible to experience God's flow on the page and other areas of my life. Right now, the world outside my door is frozen, my heart and mind have begun to thaw. Thank you so much for pointing the way, reminding me - and all the others who follow you - of the power of God through words He still inspires.

Paula Bicknell said...

This post really touched me Gina. I've had the hardest year of my life. But God is faithful. Reading the book of Job after I had a breakdown this past March helped me see God more clearly. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It strengthens my hope.

Gina Holmes said...

Watched my journey? Ha! You were a huge part of it. Thanks Ane. I'm proud of you too!

Gina Holmes said...

Thank you for that.

Gina Holmes said...

We strenghten each other's, which is exactly how God intended it :)

Martha W. Rogers said...

Blessings to you, Gina, for letting God really take control and direct your life. thank you for being open and honest. When I finally opened up about my brother and his imprisonment as a pedophile, I found my Christian friends opening their arms with love and support. May you always find that in your friends.

Gina Holmes said...

Thanks Martha, I did and I do. I hope you continue to as well.

Gina Holmes said...

Thanks to everyone who commented, (old and new). You've blessed me.