I’m happy to share that my manuscript is done!! There will still be a few more weeks of smoothing out the formatting details with the company that is helping me self-publish this book-baby. But I’m feeling very thankful right now! Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me and encouraged me to finish my manuscript for She Won’t Shrink Back: A Story of Building & Believing. (!!!!!!!!!!)
Today I thought it would be fun to share with you my chapter titles and their corresponding “building blocks.” I came up with the idea to include a “building block” with each chapter after a conversation I had with my dad last March while we were in Florida. I had worked on the first 4 or 5 chapters before my trip to Florida, and I had printed them off so Dad could read them on our vacation.
In the first chapter, I had written that the decisions we make in our twenties are more important than we realize. Too often those of us in our twenties want to focus on fun and exploration instead of doing the heavy work of building our lives. One thing I had realized is that our decisions in our twenties add up to an important structure for our lives. And for the rest of my book, each chapter is a narrative essay that shares an experience and a decision from my twenties that have been important in shaping me.
After Dad read those first few chapters, he told me that he thought that at the top of each chapter, I should include the main decision that I made from the experience I describe in that chapter. I nodded and thought that would work well for this particular book. Since my book follows the storyline of building my house, I decided to call these decisions “building blocks.”
The book has 26 chapters, which is fitting because it is about the first 26 years of my life. :) If you followed my blog in 2014, some of the themes will be familiar to you. Since then, I have taken those ideas and spent hours and hours digging deeper and developing them into what I am really hoping to communicate.
Here are my chapter titles and building blocks…all the ways I’ve learned not to shrink back. Can’t wait to share the whole book with you!
She Won’t Shrink Back:
A Story of Building & Believing
1. The Trail of My Twenties
Building Block: The decision to build well.
Building Block: The decision to lead instead of follow.
3. My College Crush
Building Block: The decision to speak up.
4. Keep Knocking
Building Block: The decision to be persistent in prayer.
5. Buying Land
Building Block: The decision to listen and obey God’s voice.
6. A Shove in the Back
Building Block: The decision to run after it.
7. So Young and Brave
Building Block: The decision to be brave.
8. Four Bedrooms
Building Block: The decision to make room for compassion.
9. Pursuing Foster Care
Building Block: The decision to hold out my arms even when I’m scared.
10. If You’re 26 & Still Living with Your Parents
Building Block: The decision to control my attitude and honor my parents.
11. Thanks to My Mom
Building Block: The decision to value the things my mom taught me.
12. Walking around with a Broken Heart
Building Block: The decision to hang onto hope that my healing would come.
13. Bye, Bye Basement
Building Block: The decision to let go of expectations.
14. Perseverance Isn’t Pretty
Building Block: The decision to persevere.
15. Breaking Ground
Building Block: The decision to believe that God would fulfill what He promised to me.
16. Leadership Boot Camp
Building Block: The decision to not give up, but to grow as a leader.
17. Wet Cement
Building Block: The decision to keep serving because it’s worth it.
18. Seminary Graduation Day
Building Block: The decision to study and learn from others.
19. Building without a Man
Building Block: The decision to trust that my season of life and my role in God’s plan match up perfectly.
20. What Do You Do (Or Don’t Do) to Find a Husband
Building Block: The decision to ask God for a good spouse.
21. Picking Out Paint
Building Block: The decision to focus on gratitude instead of materialism.
22. Having a Mother’s Heart When You’re Not a Mom
Building Block: The decision to risk love.
23. Money, Money, Money, Tomorrow
Building Block: The decision to trust God instead of my bank account.
24. An Eternal Home
Building Block: The decision to view life with an eternal perspective.
25. Getting My House Keys
Building Block: The decision to see my resources as a gift from God.
26. Blessed Is She
Building Block: The decision to believe that what God said to me would be accomplished.
I intended to post this yesterday, but my heart is all over the place this week. ;)
Our days can bring an interesting mix of emotions. Days like today I think about the words in Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Days like today I go back and forth between the two: mourning and rejoicing, rejoicing and mourning.
I have to choose both.
When I love someone, when I love you, there are times when I’m faced with the harsh truth that I can’t fix it all for you. Most of the time, I only have the power to mourn with you.
I wish I could make your pain evaporate and bring your smile back this instant. But I am not your saving grace. I’m reminded of that today—that only Jesus can be your Savior.
Honey, my heart aches for you. I want to shield you, heal you, free you from your burdens. I want to keep you by my side instead of letting you go your own way for the day. But I am not your saving grace. I can’t be your everything. But just know that I will mourn with those who mourn. I will mourn with you.
You didn’t deserve these burdens, I tell you. I love you, I tell you. But how is that enough? And did you even hear me? I can’t stop the pain, and I can’t stop the fall out. But I’m right here, and I’m praying for Jesus to give you peace.
And then, as hard as it is, I have to go on my way. I have other people who need me too. They need me to rejoice with them, and I must choose that. The world doesn’t revolve around me or even you. So today I need to rejoice too. It might feel forced at first, but rejoicing with others is part of loving others. And I know I can’t neglect that.
Rejoicing brings me life and gives me hope; it strengthens my heart and helps me to keep a healthy perspective. It reminds me of God’s goodness, it doesn’t let me doubt God’s power, and it helps me to be a better friend, a better sister, and better coworker.
Today is the day that the Lord has made, with all the mourning and rejoicing, and (help me, Holy Spirit) I won’t shrink back.
P.S. I promise to have some news for you about my book next week. :)
Mary works at Brookville Road Community Church, where she leads children's ministry and women's ministry. She is the author of She Won't Shrink Back: A Story of Building & Believing.