Your Encouragement Means More Than You Know

The desire to say “thank you” has pressed on my heart this week. So thank you. Thank you for reading my blog each Monday. Thank you for the likes, the shares, and the comments. Your encouragement propels me onward.

It was never my intention or desire to blog. In fact, I despised blogging. But as I met and spoke with various writers, I heard the same suggestion time and again, “Start a blog. Build a following.” It frustrated me that I couldn’t be like Jo March (of Little Women) and deliver my typed manuscript, garnished with a red geranium, into the editor’s hand. No, today’s editor likes to see a following before he’ll touch your manuscript. So I’ve been warned, anyway. Still, I held fast to my stubborn belief that there is always an exception. I wanted to be that exception.

Then, in November of 2012, the Lord nudged me toward the vast world of blogging. It all started with a train ride to Warrensburg, Missouri. I had already drafted a few blogs, as recommended by my writer friend, Christy Fitzwater. As the Texas Eagle chugged through Longview, Texas, I typed the following blog post draft:

November 18, 2012 Longview, Texas  

Temple to St. Louis  

There may or may not be a full blown station. There may or may not be an open ticket booth. No scanners, no pat-downs. Just keep your shoes laced and show your driver’s license. The ticket taker checks his list for your name and then you board. If the train’s not full, any big, reclining window seat could be yours.  

Traveling anywhere via Amtrak is pretty awesome. If I didn’t love flying so much, this would be my preferred method of traveling.  

I didn’t find a window seat this time, but I found an interesting seat mate. After the standard “where are you headed” introduction, I discovered he’s from Seattle. I explained to him my Northwest connection and my Empire Builder experiences and it was all conversation from there. We praised the Northwest and talked about Texas cities and the irony of the “Don’t Mess With Texas” slogan. I learned he’s a democrat and I’m pretty sure he learned I’m not that into politics. He shared his fascination with Montana – a topic I’ll gladly jump into – and we shared our various Montana stories. How fitting that my first Texas train experience opens with a reminder of home.  

(God is always watching out for us, even in the little things.)  

My seat mate stopped off in Dallas to catch a Seattle-bound flight. By now the Texas Eagle is crossing the Red River into Arkansas and the world is lit up with porch lights flashing past. (We’ll pass through Little Rock in the dark and I can’t help but think about Mattie Ross and Rooster Cogburn and wish the sun would stay out a bit longer.) By breakfast time I’ll reach St. Louis and it won’t be long until I’m in Warrensburg, Missouri to visit the Reavis side of the family for Thanksgiving. I’ll give them a full report of my Texas Eagle experience and ask again about the train romances in our history.  

Really, just boarding the train at the Santa Fe Depot in downtown Temple is romantic enough.

Oh, the romance. Oh, the nostalgia of train adventures. Dusk settled on our journey northward and everything turned rosy. Then flu caught me. I was travelling on a stuffed-to-the-brim Amtrak car the year the flu was unstoppable. I will spare you the details of my despair.

From the observation car, I watched the big city lights of Little Rock flash past. I had abandoned my coach seat for the benches of the deserted observation car. Light sleep came in waves and I prayed for God’s protection as strangers came and went. (I’m not a fan of falling asleep in public places.) I awoke to the sun shining on St. Louis’ arch. In the hurried station, I settled in for a six-hour layover. I discovered all the sleeper cars to Warrensburg were booked. Six hours later, I sat next to a kind woman who wanted to talk the whole way to our destination. When we finally arrived, I could barely lift my own backpack.

Dad says that when we got to Auntie Jane’s house, I laid facedown on the guest room floor and slept until dinnertime. I spent the rest of my vacation eating saltines and grapes, and watching ESPN with Dad and Uncle Dave. I also downloaded A Novel Idea: Best Advice on Writing Inspirational Fiction to my Kindle. I rolled my eyes as I read the chapter on blogging. But, before Thanksgiving Break came to a close, I had designed my new blog site, “Petty’s the Muse,” and set out to draft thirty posts before going public.

Two years passed. I pushed “Petty’s the Muse” aside. I shied away from the vast blogging world and stopped drafting. But this March, I dove in. I decided not to wait for those thirty drafts. I decided to take the risk.

And you, my readers, are why I keep writing and risking failure. Some posts are better than others. And some are shorter than others. I apologize for being long-winded today. But I wanted to express my appreciation for you. I put this off for two years partly out of fear. I asked: What if no one cares about my posts? What if I never develop a following? I thank God for the opportunity and courage to share my musings with you each Monday. And, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3). Your loyalty and encouragement are sweeter to me than you know.

Please also pray for me. “Muse Mondays” started out as a “devotional” blog, but experimenting with the narrative style has me praying about some new things I’d like to try soon. Stay tuned and Happy Monday!

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