After my first year with Belly of the Whale Ministries, I got all jazzed up about offering a full slate of creative prayer programs for the fall of 2015. I enthusiastically put together these "Creative Pray-dates" and spread the word through Whale Spouts, social media, flyers, pamphlets and direct invitations. This was going to be great!
Then, an amazing thing happened... no one signed up! Not a single solitary person! I couldn't decide if I should be devastated or if maybe, just maybe, this was a hint that God was nudging me in another direction. I tried not to take it personally and prayed hard for clarity about what to do.
I had previously led a few programs on coloring mandalas as a way to pray and folks had responded quite positively. So, rather than spend my energy planning for programs that it appeared no one was interested in attending, I decided to cancel the fall programming schedule entirely and threw all my energy into creating a little resource that I called, "Praying with Mandalas." I ran off a few copies at the local printer and used them for a few small retreats (see pic above of the original cover).
Before I knew it, Praying with Mandalas took on a life of its own. Upper Room Books got on board and offered to publish a print edition, create an on-line eCourse and even requested a second manuscript that became Mandalas, Candles, and Prayer: A Simply Centered Advent. Had my "best laid plans" not been a complete flop, I would never had had the time or space to flip my focus and follow God's nudge toward writing, coloring and praying.
Now when my "best laid plans" seem to fall apart, I pray for eyes to see if there just may be a sacred flip flop afoot - a chance to be surprised by the holy spirit blowing in new and fresh ways that I would have never expected. Who knew that as I entered my fifth decade of life, my kindergarten passion for coloring would re-emerge!?
Are there sacred flip-flops happening in your life as well - moments when your "best laid plans" seem to unravel right before your eyes? If so, I pray that the wounds from these slamming doors may be healed by the refreshing breeze of the Holy Spirit blowing in through an unexpectedly opened window.
Thanks be to God for the blessings of sacred surprises and faith-filled flip-flops.