Last night, I gave a program at the library.
I talked about my book, "Real Spiritual Spinach - Faith for the Journey," and read excerpts from it.
Four people showed up.
Two of those included the library director and another employee.
Under other circumstances, I might have been discouraged.
But I wasn't.
Well, partly because it was such a good experience. I had the chance to share things God has taught me. I got the opportunity to talk about my columns to a receptive audience. I was very comfortable around kind, friendly people who supported me. And the local director for a Royal Family Kids Camp in our community also had the chance to talk about the August camp that took place in our area.
Best of all, I know God was there.
I sold eight books, double the number of people who attended. Not a bad deal at all.
But more than that, I think I'm re-evaluating this thing we call success.
If my main intent is only to autograph and sell books - and I don't have time to talk to someone who's really hurting - then what have I accomplished?
Oh, I believe the books can really help people. After all, they contain some of God's word and Bible stories. Yet if I get so wrapped up in selling books so I can buy more books to sell and don't minister to people, am I really fulfilling what God has for me to do?
It takes time and patience to listen to people sometimes.
Even so, I think God has given me some wonderful experiences.
Chuck and I went to Altoona, Iowa, for a book signing on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Business was slower in the pharmacy/bookstore that day. The manager said the store was swamped the day before - Black Friday. I may have been able to sell a lot of books that day.
We sold 10 on Saturday, not bad at all.
But that's not necessarily what I'm going to remember from that day.
What I will remember is the joy of reading some of my stories aloud to the manager and the clerks when customers weren't coming in the door.
And I hope I never forget how - at the end of the signing - the pharmacist came from the back of the store and bought a book for his wife. He had been listening while I read the stories. I have a good, loud voice and he could hear them in the back of the store, while I sat near the front.
He walked up and told my husband, "Your wife is a good reader," right before he had me autograph a copy.
That was a wonderful moment.
Also wonderful was hearing a couple of the store clerks sing. And after the store closed, the owner and his wife took us to a very, large, modern church - complete with theater-style seating and cup holders for cappuccino sold in the large foyer. The church had a worship band and words to songs were projected onto two very large screens. It was Saturday night and one of the pastors, decked out in a T-shirt, jeans and headset, sat on a stool and preached, while images of some of what he talked about flashed on a screen overhead.
After the service, the manager and his wife took us, and some of their family members, out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. That was a treat.
We went back to our hotel (the store had put us up in a nice hotel for two nights). We left five extra copies of the book on consignment at the store. We got up and had breakfast, compliments of the hotel for the second day in a row, and then headed home.
In October, Chuck and I went to a bookstore in Des Moines, Iowa, for the day. The owner and clerks were great.
One elderly woman came in to buy a book. She said her sister-in-law was dying in a hospital and that Saturday probably would be her last day on earth.
But the woman wanted to get an autographed copy of my book. She and her husband came and were so kind and friendly.
And I was touched.
The store owner fed Chuck and I lunch and gave us a coupon to buy something at the store.
That was great, too!
We sold 14 books, not bad at all since we're not known in Des Moines.
But the kindness of the people in the store was what I'll remember most. Once again, it was a lovely experience.
In the Bible, there's a verse that, in part, talks about not despising the day of small beginnings.
I think there's a lot of truth to that.
I don't know where God will take us on this journey, but I'm determined to enjoy the journey and not only be focused on the destination - whatever that might be.
And perhaps that's one of the greatest gifts of all.