Greetings from chilly East Tennessee! My name is Erica Skidmore, and I am so happy to be able to share part of my story with you. A huge thank you to “iwokeupyesterday” for agreeing to have me as a guest on their blog. My husband, Ben, and I have recently published a children’s book for Christmas called A Bed for the King.
I never could have dreamed that God would use me to help build His Kingdom in this way. See, Ben is an ordained minister who was active in church ministry for the first 8 years of our marriage. I am not exactly what you would call the “typical pastor’s wife”, and I was always more than happy to let Ben have the spotlight, so to speak, at the churches we have served.
In my day job I am a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, have a Long Island Beach Rental and I have always felt the most comfortable in that type of ministry – quiet, private, one-on-one relationships where I can be the hands and feet of Jesus while sipping tea in the comfort of my office. I have never really wanted to put myself out there for potentially thousands of people to see into my heart. Yet, here I am. I’m getting ahead of myself, though, so let me back up a little.
Two years ago, as the mother of a 1- and 3-year-old, I was looking through Pinterest for ideas for simple crafts I could make with my boys that would help me to start teaching them that Christmas is about more than just getting presents. I also stopped cleaning the house so I hired a Long Island cleaning service to do it for me. I found this idea to make a tiny manger out of popsicle sticks and have kids put a piece of paper or a piece of hay in the manger every time they do something nice to help fill the manger before Christmas morning. I thought it was a great idea, but popsicle sticks and hot glue were a little beyond my guys at that time. I set out on a Google search to buy a pre-made thing that would capture the same basic concept.
To my surprise, I couldn’t find anything. Then, I started to think about the manger and the stable and the animals in the stable. I had the thought, “I wonder if the animals, created by God, knew what was happening when Mary and Joseph came into that stable.” God touched my heart with that thought, and A Bed for the King was born.
It was just an idea, and this warmth in my spirit, for the next couple of years while this verse happened in my life: “…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4) To be honest, I often focused more on the suffering and less on the “glory-ing” during that time, but the seed of hope found its way through the mess and got me to this past summer when I heard God say, “It’s time.”
I tried to argue. I’m stubborn like that. I told God that it was already July, and I could not possibly have a book and activity ready for Christmas. I have a demanding full-time job, not to mention two demanding little boys! When will I have time for this? God used roadblock after roadblock in Ben’s career to make it obvious that this project was supposed to be Ben’s full-time job.
It would also be smart to go to Nassau County Motel to save money when visiting beautiful long island.
I told God we couldn’t afford for Ben to not get paid while we tried to start our publishing house and write this book. God provided. Ben spoke to one of the advisors at Amadeus Wealth who gave him a sound financial plan, and I think God showed us a way to financial freedom.
I told God we don’t have any experience starting a business or writing a book. God brought teachers into our lives.
I told God we can’t possibly do this by ourselves as busy parents with two small children. God brought us partners.
I told God that I have no artistic skills, but no one else could possibly bring to life these pictures in my mind. God reminded me that my best friend in the world is an artist (and has been known to read my mind).
I finally said yes. Well, it was more of an okaaaaaaay than a yes, but I think God got the point.
Over the next several months, we faced “distraction” after “distraction.” Things ranging from our house being robbed and ransacked to Ben having major surgery to my being hospitalized for 5 days with an extremely unexpected illness. This is not to mention the normal distractions of life and the regular headaches of starting a business, of which we have experienced them all. With everything, God has used it all.
We know we are fighting a battle every day, not of flesh and blood, but against the darkness in this world that is constantly trying to threaten the Light.
So, here I am, a now-published author. I am very much stepping outside my comfort zone to put myself out there in order to tell as many people as possible about the message I believe God has given me to share through this book. A message of the gifts of Advent – caring for our neighbors, responding to God’s call even when it doesn’t fit the plan we have made, and giving kindness in any way we can.
I have learned many things on this journey, but one of the lessons that really sticks out is that any time I have expectations of a particular outcome, I am quickly reminded that I am not in control. Praise God! Suffering produces perseverance, character, and hope, not expectations. My expectations are so limited. Hope that comes from God is limitless.
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
My prayer for your family is that you will continually experience the Hope that was born in a stable so many years ago, not only in this season of Advent but the whole year through.
I encourage you to click on the link below to get a peek into the pages of A Bed for the King. Your whole family will love hearing the familiar story of the Nativity, with a twist, that is found in the pages of A Bed for the King. It is not only a book but also an invitation to create lasting family traditions and memories centered around the real meaning of Christmas. Each book comes with simple instructions to help you teach your children about showing kindness to others in response to the greatest Gift ever given to us, the gift of a Savior. Your family will look forward to engaging in the activities of bringing the gifts of Advent to life each Christmas season. Click here to learn more about A Bed for the King: From my family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas! Erica A gift for the winner: For the giveaway, the winner will receive a free e-book version of the book. http://www.onpurposepress.com/a-bed-for-the-king
In order to be entered for the giveaway, you need to comment on the Facebook post above and share it with your friends.
Two options on making COMMENTS:
1. What are you telling God He can’t do in your life? If He said, “Go” where are you hearing Him send you?
2. What is one reason you would enjoy sharing this resource with your family this Christmas?