On Not Winning

As you may know, Stuck in the Middle, book one in the Sister-to-Sister Series, was recently a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers' Book of the Year award. The award ceremony was in Denver on Saturday, Sept 19th. My book didn't win. And you know what? That's okay. Really.

There were five finalists in this category. Of those five finalists, I didn’t know one of the authors, but I’m sure Leanna Ellis’ Lookin’ Back Texas is a terrific book. It’s on my nightstand to read. The other three authors are my friends. J. M. Hochstetler, who wrote One Holy Night, was my mentor at my very first International Christian Retailer’s Convention a few years ago. She and her husband were so kind to me, and showed me around the convention. They also drove me around Denver in their little Mini Cooper. Since then I’ve gotten to know Joan even more through a couple of author groups to which we belong. I love Joan! How could I not want her book to win?

Then there’s my friend, Ann Gabhart. Summer of Joy, is a beautiful book! I love the story, and the characters, and I love the author. Ann lives not far from my home, and we’ve done booksignings together, traveled together, had lunch together, and shared our hearts with one another. How could I not want her book to win?

And then there’s Sharon Hinck. She’s one of my dearest friends! Sharon and I enjoy long phone calls with each other, and deep heartfelt prayers for each others’ families and marriages and hopes and dreams. In fact, I have prayed specifically for Sharon’s book, Symphony of Secrets, and she has prayed for Stuck in the Middle, too. How could I not want her book to win?

As I sat at the banquet surrounded by supportive friends, I admit I considered the possibility that maybe, just maybe, they would call my name and I’d have to wind my way through the tables from the back of the room up to the podium. (It looked like a very long way to walk in heels!) I thought about all the people I would thank, those who have helped me with this book and with my career. But I also thought about Leanna, and Joan, and Ann, and Sharon. These are my sisters in Christ. I want God to bless them abundantly!

When they announced the winner, Symphony of Secrets by Sharon Hinck, everyone at my table turned to me with sorrowful faces. They whispered, “I’m sorry.” My reply was, “It’s okay! I’m ecstatic for Sharon.” And truly, I am. God has given my dear sister a precious gift, and I’m so excited for her!

Since that night, I’ve pondered my feelings about not winning that award. It may be hard for some to believe, but I am not one bit disappointed. I’m thrilled that my name was listed alongside such tremendous authors, such strong godly women. I wonder – is it only in Christian publishing that we have this special bond? Is it because Christ is at the center of us? I’m not the only one who feels that there is no spirit of competitiveness between us. When someone is honored, we all rejoice, because God is honored. He’s honored in our books, in our careers, and in our friendships. That’s the most important thing.