I grew up playing basketball for a highly-competitive regionally ranked AAU team based out of Long Island, New York. From ages 12 to 18, I spent four nights a week in a gym running wind-sprints, doing ball-handling and shooting drills, blowing through plyometric circuits and getting my tail whipped by a former Division I football coach with fifteen other elite players from around the Island. On weekends, my dad and I would pack up his truck with Air Jordan 11s, ankle braces, uniforms and warm-up suits, and we’d trek up and down the east coast with the rest of our team to tournament after tournament. There were some weekends where I’d play eight games in two-days, hardly having time for to digest a full meal before I was back out on the court fighting through screens and finding my spot on the baseline of our two-three zone defense.
I prided myself on how tough and how focused and how dedicated I was.
I have a vivid memory of one instance where I refused to come out of a game when my nose was bleeding after getting rather forcefully elbowed in the face. I knew if the referee saw any blood, he would make me sub-out, so I sniffed and sniffed and sniffed for a whole quarter until I was literally cringing because of how much blood I was swallowing. (Gross. I know. But I’m much more refined now, I promise.) Eventually, my coach clued in on what was going on and subbed me out of the game. Furious, I blew my nose, took a swig of water and checked back in at the next whistle.
Sweat plus sacrifice equaled success. And nothing could keep me from succeeding in the game that I loved.
On the other hand, the amount of time me and my teammates spent in the gym and traveling on the weekends didn’t leave much margin for socializing with anyone who didn’t wear a basketball uniform. I can remember one weekend when we were about 17 and our individual high school social lives had somehow peaked. It was the beginning of October and it was each of our senior years. This particular weekend, we were just outside Philadelphia at a Blue Chip basketball tournament and despite going to different high schools, we were all missing the same thing: Homecoming Weekend.
I remember sitting in a hotel room, our entire team sprawled out over two not-quite-queen-sized beds as we took turns lamenting the fact that we were missing the premier social event of our Fall semesters. Gluttons for punishment, our fingers tip-tip-tapped on the keyboards of our Nokia bricks as we texted our friends back home. While we would be going to bed at 9 PM to get to the gym for warm-ups at 6:15 AM the next morning, our friends would be leaving the football games to go to the after parties.
Our 17-year-old brains sat there processing the weight of the sacrifice we were making as we packed our game bags for the next morning. And it a little bit sucked.
A couple months ago, Stephanie May Wilson published her first book, The Lipstick Gospel. I’ve followed Stephanie’s blog for years and from the moment she Tweeted about the book, I was excited to get my hands on a copy. And so I did.
I was already familiar with her story because of her blog, but reading Stephanie’s book reaffirmed everything I knew to be true about her heart and more. The realness with which she wrote about the way the Lord gripped her heart was something I both craved and thanked Him for. (If you’ve not read Stephanie’s book, you can grab a copy over on Amazon here.) But reading Stephanie’s book did more than just solidify the way I viewed her and her heart.
Reading Stephanie’s book was one of the hundreds of straws that broke the camel’s back.
(In this analogy, of course, the “straws” are things and people and circumstances that propelled me toward pursuing the dream of writing a book that God stitched into my heart years and years ago. The “camel’s back” is every single lame excuse for why I shouldn’t write a book that I’ve held onto with white knuckles up until this point.)
And so that poor camel’s back broke and those pitiful excuses shattered under the weight of the straw. And through a silly series of events that truly only God can be behind, I am proud / eager / anxious / excited / relieved to announce:
I am officially working on writing my very first book, set to be released in 2016.
And you know what else? Carl and Stephanie Wilson will be the ones coaching me through the platform-building, blog-owning and book-writing stages of this whirlwind process – and I couldn’t be more thrilled or thankful! Both Stephanie and Carl – the models in the swoon-worthy shot below -have already exhibited such excitement over the project, doled out much grace and been a concrete source of encouragement and accountability as I take some big steps toward big dreams.
But, friends, can I be honest for a quick New York minute?
I know this road is going to be bumpy.
I know this road is going to demand things of me that I’ve never given before.
I know it will be uncomfortable.
I know it will mean saying, “No,” to some things as I seek to remember the thing(s) that the Lord has led me to say, “Yes,” to. I know that some of these things will be easy to turn down. And I know that some of these things will feel like they’re having to be pryed from my very hands. I know that this step of obedience will force me to relinquish the concept that I can be all things to all people.
I know that this step of obedience will require great sacrifice.
And while some of those things – those good things that I have to say, “No,” to – have already been revealed to me, some of them haven’t yet. Some of them will come up and I will want to run head-on into their goodness, but I will HAVE to remember that I can’t. I will have to remind myself that deciding I want something more than I’m afraid of it means that every decision I make is made in service to that pursuit. And when it’s a Godly pursuit? When it’s a pursuit of a passion that’s been impressed upon your heart by the very same fingers that formed you? You take it seriously.
So – here’s where I need you to kick my butt, okay? Here’s where I need summadat sass to roll off your tongue and smack me in the face every once in a while if, of course, you’re willing.
- I need you to hold me accountable.
As often as you think of it – ask me how the blog / book writing process is going. Check in on me. Stephanie, Carl and I will work together to design a regular editorial calendar of sorts for my blog – so if you don’t see a blog post on here for a while, ask me what’s up. I not only appreciate accountability in this – I need it.
- I need you to give me your feedback.
If I write something that doesn’t seem to jive with what you know me to stand for – or what you think I stand for – let me know. If I write a series of posts that resonate with you and then I completely shift gears to a different style, voice, topic or direction – let me know. I want to write things that bless you and I want to strive to find the balance between writing what I know / remaining true to the voice God’s given me and writing about things that need to be written. (You can always give feedback in the comments section of each post or reach out to me in the CONNECT tab above.)
- I need you to encourage me.
Friends, this isn’t a plea for endless affirmation, but rather an admission that I can’t do this alone. I know that for as many good and rewarding and encouraging days as I will have throughout this process, there will be an equal (if not greater) amount of discouraging ones. I know some days will feel lonely. I know there will be days where I have to swallow blood and miss Homecoming and I know on those days – when the sacrifice of obedience feels like it just isn’t worth it – I will need you to remind me that it is.
I couldn’t be more thrilled to finally be doing something I’ve dreamed and prayed about for so long. It’s my sincerest prayer that you’ll follow along in this journey and that, together, we can fall deeper in love with the creative heart of a graceful God.
Photo: TOP //Creative Commons via Unsplash (Pixabay) MIDDLE// instagram.com/smaywilson