Jennifer Sienes

As I sat at my desk preparing to write this article, the deadline hovered over me like a cloud of doom, and my mind was…well…blank. Nothing. Nada. Zip. This seems to be a normal occurrence, lately. I’ve tried to pray through it, work through it, and read through it. You know, hoping inspiration would come as I read the Bible or devotions from my go-to sources—Streams in the Desert and Walk with God. But nothing was forthcoming.

I will admit, there’s a part of me that’s in a bit of a panic over it. You see, I’m not just uninspired with the article, but with my new novel, as well. I just can’t seem to get past chapter three. Then I read some of Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird and realized this is what many (dare I say most) writers go through on occasion.

The fear of inadequacy.

This was on my mind yesterday as the hours ticked away. My daughter, Nikki, is visiting for the week, so no one would expect me to write. A short reprieve from that gnawing fear. As we drove around to experience the Tennessee sights, I perused the list of podcasts from Focus on the Family I’d stored for just such an occasion and connected one. I couldn’t even tell you which podcast it was—not the date it was recorded nor the subject matter. Nevertheless, God spoke to me loud and clear.

The interviewee touched on the common malaise of human inadequacy. Hmmm. Coincidence? I think not. He reminded me of Gideon from the book of Judges. Poor Gideon. First, he asked the Lord to prove Himself. Not once, but three times. Who could blame him, really? The pathetic lad was asked to go into a battle he clearly felt unprepared for. Then, just to make things interesting, God downsized his army—from 32,000 to 300—and gave them each a trumpet, a clay pitcher and a lantern in place of weapons. It would be clear that when (not if) Gideon’s miniscule, weaponless army conquered the Midianites, it would be through the power of the Lord.

Then there was Moses. He was asked to face the powerful Pharaoh and demand that he let God’s people go. Armed with a staff and a weak voice, Moses felt inadequate. Go figure! But again, it was God’s power that freed the Israelites from the clutches of the evil Pharaoh, not Moses.

I’m certainly not comparing myself to these superheroes of the Old Testament. But if God could arm Gideon and Moses (and let’s not forget David and his mighty slingshot) to succeed to such amazing heights, surely, He can give me the words to complete a mere novel (not to mention a 600-word article.)

I get so caught up in my inability, I forget who’s really in charge. There are times I wonder if God is paying attention to me with so much on His plate lately—especially with the state of this world nose-diving its way to destruction. But then I read His promises in the Bible. I remember how faithful He’s been in every situation I’ve faced in my life. I remember that this whole writing gig was His idea, not mine. And I realize, He’s putting me through this season for a very specific, character-growing reason.

So, I persevere.

I pray that if you’re in a season of inadequacy, confusion and/or disillusionment, you’ll remember God’s promise to be with us always and persevere, too. It sure beats the paralyzing fear of panic.


Susan K. Beatty

My Journal by Isobel Parker

Isobel’s Mission of Courage


Reading someone’s journal or diary (when we have permission, of course!) can help us understand the individual’s character and how she understands life. Even Isobel keeps a journal before her story starts in Isobel’s Mission of Courage. I hope you enjoy getting to know her.


Orange, Orange County, California


November 15


I’m not much of a writer, or reader, but my mom suggested I keep a journal. She thought it would help me process my breast cancer journey and coming back to the States after so long. New Guinea has really been my home. Except the five years of a state-side college and marrying Todd. So here goes.


November 20


Is it a bad start that I haven’t written anything here for five days? Well, we are moved into our loaner home. And, oh my, I love it! It’s almost like one of those famous painted lady houses in San Francisco. It’s a big old farmhouse painted green with pink trim. And the town is so old-fashioned Americana. It has a town square and an old-fashioned drug store.


November 22


Thanksgiving’s tomorrow. I’m trying to be thankful in spite of this breast cancer surgery. It’s a bit scary—a lot scary!—to think of having both of my breasts chopped off. My nurse navigator recommended I join a support group. I’ll look for one next week.



November 27


I can’t seem to get the hang of writing daily. Elijah started school today. He was a little excited, but nervous. I don’t know what I’ll do while Elijah’s in school. And Todd started his job with the air ambulance and 24-hour shifts. I need to find a way to keep busy while I wait.



November 28


Two days in a row! I should get a medal or something. What will I do? What can I do? I’ll have to look for little ways to help others before my surgery. I doubt I’ll be able to help anybody after that.


December 1


So much for my streak of writing every day. My surgery is scheduled for December 29. Yikes. At least I get to have a normal Christmas first.


December 4


We found a great little church just a few blocks from us. Pastor David and Mrs. Kirkland are an older couple and already so supportive of us. I helped serve refreshments. But that’s such a little thing. I need to do more. Also found a support group. It meets in a couple of days. I’m pretty nervous about attending.


December 7


Yesterday was my first support group meeting. It was a relief to realize I was not alone and that I could talk about my emotions that others would probably not understand. The leader, Marissa, was so kind and energetic. The first member I met, Olivia, was bald! She’s lost all her hair in chemo. She was sweet and tried to encourage me, but, I don’t know. My hair’s always been my best feature. What will I look like without it? Oh, and both ladies are Christians! Thank you, Lord.


December 13


Ugh. I got into such a funk that I couldn’t make myself write. I guess hearing the other support group ladies talk about their experiences scared me. But Todd prayed with me—several times! And I’m trusting in Jesus more. Maybe if I could find a way to lend a hand somewhere. Dad always told me it was our duty to serve and that we would have less time to think of ourselves.


December 24


We helped deliver Christmas baskets today. They tried to tell us they didn’t need help. I sort of insisted. C’mon, who doesn’t need help, right? Todd said I was being too pushy. But in the end, I think everyone was glad. I know I was happy. Now it’s a peaceful Christmas Eve around the fireplace and the pretty little tree we got.


December 26


Christmas was nice, but quiet. I’m grateful Elijah will be staying with the Kirklands during my surgery Friday. I’m trying to trust the Lord that all will be well. Regardless of the outcome, He will be with me through it all.


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Mission work seems to be in Isobel’s DNA. But there’s cancer surgery and a homeless woman. What’s the Lord doing here? Could Isobel help her? Or would it be the other way around? Isobel’s Mission of Courage is coming September 8! Just click on the Isobel’s Mission of Courage button that will take you to the pre-order page. Find the instructions to claim the free short story on my publisher’s website.