How Prayer Helped Alison Inches Write Designs and Doodles: A Muppet Sketchbook

When faced with the seemingly impossible task of writing a book in eight weeks, Alison Inches turns to God.

By Alison Inches

Categories: Abundance, Guidance

I was asked to write a biography about Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets. The deadline was intense -- eight weeks to write a 128 page book. It didn't seem humanly possible.

After I met with the archivist and interviewed Jim Henson's friends and family, I had a ton of notes, pictures and information -- but absolutely no idea where to begin. So I started with God. I knew deep down that impossible tasks can be done through reliance on God. The Bible is full of individuals who faced monstrous challenges and were victorious. One of the first things I had to do was "bind the strong man," as it says in Mark 3:27. For me the strong man was fear, self-doubt and lack -- a big lack of time.

One of my fears was how to organize the artwork to tell a story. The passage, "God is not the author of confusion, but of peace" (I Cor. 14:33), helped me to face the puzzle before me. The statement, "Precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little and there a little" (Isa. 28:10), gave me courage to take the project one step at a time -- no matter how small the step.

Soon I began to trust God and this passage from Psalm 90 became one of my humble mantras: "Let thy work appear unto thy servants and thy glory unto their children" (16). I also prayed to know, "With God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:26).

When I was tempted to think it was my book, I reminded myself of what Jesus said: "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5:30). I also reflected upon this passage from Genesis: "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (1:31). What a relief it was to know that God's work was already finished! I began to realize I was merely transcribing what He had already done. I listened with all my heart. Questions would come to me like: Can you imagine the world without Kermit, Miss Piggy, Rowlf or Gonzo? And the words began to come. I realized God had given me a voice to praise these wonderful characters and my God-given voice was adding to the overall chorus of praise for the Muppets. I knew this would please God.

Near the end of the project, when I had been working around the clock, my walks or runs up Mount Tamalpais every day were particularly helpful because I would pray for two hours. The following passages were especially comforting and inspiring:

I will love thee, O Lord, my strength…. For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness." (Ps. 18:1, 28)

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint. (Isa. 40:31)

It got down to the wire. I had three chapters to go and one weekend left. I felt totally burned out. To get away from my desk, I went to my mailbox and found a letter from a dear friend. She wrote to say she had been editing a book by Joan Walsh Anglund -- one of my favorite illustrators from childhood. One time, I had told this friend how much I loved Joan's books and how I had saved all of her calendars. I also told her how I had cut out Joan's pictures and stuck them on gifts and school notebooks. I even made wall-hangings from them. I treasured every detail of her artwork, especially the loving expressions on her characters. My friend remembered this story and shared it with Joan. Included in my friend's letter was a picture by Joan Walsh Anglund drawn especially for me. I squealed with joy as I studied the picture of two little girls side-by-side on a log. Joan sent loving wishes and a note that said "…it means we are all kindred spirits."

I sat down at my desk and put Joan's picture in front of me. These two little faces beamed so much love at me, I no longer felt deflated. Now I knew God was right there with me. And I finished my deadline.

When I turned in the manuscript, I expected a lot of rewrites. But the editor didn't request a single revision. She made a few minor edits before publication, and the book debuted to nothing but glowing reviews. I knew, without a doubt, that God had written this book. I had come to realize that I hadn't tried to get God to perform a miracle for me. Instead I was a witness to what He had already created.