It has been a blessing for me to connect with Jennifer Slatterly these past few weeks, a writer much farther along the journey of life, faith, and writing than I am! I am delighted to welcome her as my first guest blogger, and I know you will be blessed by her insights as I was. Thanks so much, Jennifer!
Last summer, after two months of neglect, I decided to spend some time working in our yard. Had I gone out earlier, I’m sure I wouldn’t have ended up with such a tangled mess. Much to my dismay, in that short period of time, while I was comfortably tucked away in my nice, air conditioned home, nasty leaf-devouring insects found permanent residence in our bushes. By the time I noticed them, many of the once green leaves had turned a soggy brown. Insects had spread from one bush to the next until three out of our six bushes were completely infested.
Again, had I caught this earlier perhaps I could have trimmed away a few of the infested branches, leaving the rest unharmed, but as I worked through the rotting limbs, I soon realized I would have to butcher the plants entirely, reducing them to their small knobby stubs, if they were to have any chance of survival. And so I began the long, cumbersome, and rather disgusting work of hacking. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pretty. When I finished, it looked like a giant steam roller had pummeled through my yard.
As I lugged my bulging lawn-waste bag up my driveway, I laughed at how closely my life resembles those bushes. As a child of God, I was created in love and planted with care, but thankfully, God doesn’t neglect me for months on end, allowing hideous infestations to take root in my heart. Thank goodness, He is a much more careful gardener than I. Most of the time, He trims away a gnarled branch or infested limb before it hinders my growth, but every once in awhile, when I, by my own selfish desires or careless attitude, allow a pesky little creature to make its home amongst my tender leaves, God must step in and hack away, just as I had to with my bushes.
As was the case with my bushes, it is not always pretty. In fact, to the outsider, it may look like I have been pummeled by a steam roller, but just as I knew what awaited my bushes come next spring when they were able to blossom disease free, and even more importantly, just as I knew what they would look like if left to their own devices, God knows me, and what my heart would look like if He let the insects of pride, fear, anger, hatred, selfishness, and covetousness fester in my heart. And so, when necessary, God brings out His bush whacker, reducing me to the tender stub that remains connected to Him. And at times it is painful and ugly, but because I know He only acts in love, I will focus not on the gnarled branches that lay tossed aside in the trash but instead on the promise of new growth come next spring, doing all that I can to cooperate with God’s pruning process. With God, each cut, each disappointment, each failure, each confessed sin, is a chance for new growth.
Jennifer Slattery is a novelist, publicist, and freelance writer living in the Midwest with her husband of sixteen years and their thirteen year old daughter. She works for Tiffany Colter the Writing Career Coach as an assistant publicist, is the marketing manager for the literary website, Clash of the Titles and writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the Christian Pulse and Samie Sisters. She’s also written or numerous other publications and websites and has finaled in numerous writing contests. You can find out more about her and her writing at her website: Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud (http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com)
Writers, want to add juice to your book proposals? Need help building a novel-sustaining platform? Want to turn your novel from good to great without going broke? Jennifer can help. She’ll create a marketing plan uniquely designed for you that targets your readers. Don’t have the time to implement the plan? That’s okay. She’ll do it for you, setting up guest blog slots and interview opportunities, writing press releases and relevant articles, and more. She’d also love to review your work, highlighting your strengths and helping you zero in on and strengthen your weaknesses. Contact her at Jenniferaslattery@gmail.com to find out more.