Bless You and Keep You

ACFWAdvice, Encouragement, Faith, writing 2 Comments

by Julia Fenstermacher

The day after Christmas, “Poetry Moment” on NPR (National Public Radio) featured a poem I wrote. The poem came to me this past year out of a time of frustration. I was very busy with good writerly things: my new author newsletter, attending the Write to Publish conference, serving as our local ACFW chapter VP, and creating posts for my social media. However I struggled to find time to write – the one thing I love to do – the one thing I think is most important as I pursue this dream of being a published author. I began to doubt that any of this busy work mattered, and felt the overwhelming desire to quit.

My pep talks were all over the place:

“You’ve worked so hard, don’t give up!”

“God is using you! That TikTok got thousands of views, girl!”

“Your book is awesome! Your beta readers love it!”

The words that stuck with me? WORK. VIEWS. BETA. Emotional translation: FRUITLESS, STRESSED, STUCK.

Clearly the end was near. God has always guided me out of a blue mood, so I prayed and took my thoughts to pen and paper as a proper writer should. Poised to write, a thought rose to my mind –

If my life were to end today, what would I say to it?

Suddenly, I saw Writer’s Life as separate from myself. There she sat on a park bench next to me, sipping coffee and watching the snowfall while musing on the next story she would write. While her cheeks glowed with ideas, mine flushed green with resentment. She looked like the old me,
nonplussed as she won writing recognition in high school or high marks in literature at the University of Delaware. Why? She simply loved to write.

She has no idea what the cost is: Fruitless, Stressed and Stuck. Time to break up.

I began my good-bye with a kind and appropriately sentimental, “Farewell.” I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, afterall. No need to be cruel and tell her what an undisciplined, out of touch joke she was, and to scat, scram, vamoose! I didn’t feel the sweetness of the words that followed
“Farewell,” but as my Mama used to say, “Say the right thing, and the feeling will catch up with you.” She was correct.

As I continued to write, a real admiration took shape. For starters, Writer’s Life had taken her writing from gift to glory, and into a ministry to empower girls. She adored the teen girls she mentored, and they inspired her to write for them. That was pretty cool. Once her brand identity
was clear, she started a podcast and bought a horse to teach girls about God through horsemanship. She called it Love & Horses. That was a lot of work, but a ton of fun.

I realized everything Writer’s Life had created, like love itself, was beautiful and would bloom in its own time. She planted seeds everywhere, and God would make them grow. That was a promise.

And if I ever had to leave Writer’s Life behind on that cold park bench, I know all is not lost. I’d press my mittened hand upon hers, smile, and like Aaron, who gave God’s blessing to the faces of Israel, give her mine:

Farewell my life and all that’s been,
May you live on and on again.

May ripples flow from love you’ve tossed
On hearts grown weak by sin’s deep cost.

May words like seeds bud bright and strong,
A poem here, a lovely song.

May God’s good grace that flowed from you,
Continue to make light anew,

And memories that often fade,
Grow instead and offer shade

To weary hearts in grief and tears,
Farewell my life, my love, my years.

Julia Fenstermacher is an author of Young Adult Speculative Fiction and is polishing up her first novel. She also writes songs, poetry and riddles for scavenger hunts. She lives in the Chicago Suburbs with her husband, Friesian horse, Diesel, and three cats. Julia currently serves as ACFW’s Chicago Chapter Vice President, is a member of Realmmakers, and coaches authors in their craft. Born on April Fool’s Day, she naturally cherishes the silliness, jokes and laughter of life. Join the fun at

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