Christian Author Lorilyn Roberts' Blog

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Demonic Death Knell, by Lorilyn Roberts




There should be a funeral for dead marriages. There isn't.

At first the rain fell softly outside my bedroom window. Soon it increased in intensity. What began as a light mist quickly turned into a torrential downpour. The closed blinds could not shut out the lightning bolts that pierced the darkness. Thunder rocked my already frayed nerves that kept me up most of the night. Light finally arrived but the rain continued to pound relentlessly.

I dressed and ran out the door. I didn't know where I was going. Part of me believed I would never return. I wanted to run away from everything—life; Tim, my husband; the future, the past, the present—mostly I wanted to run away from myself. I wandered down the street through the pouring rain soaking through my clothes. I was a bad wife, I convinced myself, and deserved to be punished and sentenced to a life of misery. I walked around a fenced-in retention pond and headed down a pathway into the woods. I was ready to end my life of thirty years—a life that I saw no value in—wasted.

“God, why have you abandoned me,” I cried out. “Where are you?”

Lightning imprinted and disappeared across the angry sky. I felt fearful and fearless, in control of my thoughts, but my emotions spun out of control.

A stream bordering the woods near my house caught my eye. I approached the crest of the hill and was surprised to see it rambling on in the distance; I climbed down the slippery slope as raindrops seeped into my cold, waterlogged clothes.

As the rain fell harder, the sides of the creek turned to mud. I lost my balance and stumbled down the embankment as the cold water oozed into my shoes and socks. I smeared the slimy mess over my arms, legs, face, and into my blonde hair. The smell of the rancid water sickened me. I continued to cry out to a God I wasn't sure I believed in anymore, but if He did exist, I was angry with Him.

“Where are you?” I cried out. “Why don't you save my marriage?”

Over the seven years of marriage, I had kept my faith hidden because Tim couldn’t or wouldn’t relate to that part of me. If anything, he had belittled my search for understanding of the deeper things in the Bible, much like others had bullied me as a child. Anything from the Bible always stirred up controversy. I dragged Tim to church despite his protests because it was too hard to go alone. All Tim’s promises of a wonderful life as a doctor’s wife and supporting me so I could return to school had vanished—the way of  everything else in the marriage.

The religion classes I took at Santa Fe State College had given me an academic understanding of the Bible, but not the kind of heart knowledge that reached down into my soul. With the resignation of the pastor a few weeks earlier at the church we attended occasionally, Tim vowed never to go back. Rejected and feeling unloved, I’d given up.

The limestone from the muddy creek burned my eyes and scratched my skin. How many creepy, crawly things filled the water that now covered by body? I rolled over and stared up at the darkened, gray sky. Is this all there was? Was there nothing more to live for?

As dirty as I felt, it wasn't enough. There had to be something more I could do to become the ugly, dirty, unloved person that I was. I climbed out of the creek and headed back to the house. The rain had let up but not the seething pain that lashed out at me. When I returned to the house, I washed off the dirt in the shower knowing I had not accomplished what I wanted.

Then I remembered the pills in the medicine cabinet. I tried to dismiss the thought but I couldn't. I wanted my torment to end. Rejection consumed me. I longed to be loved, held, and needed. I felt like God had abandoned me. The lies were deafening.

I opened the medicine cabinet and searched for pills—anything I could find. I pulled out several bottles—an assortment of Tylenol, Bayer, and other things accumulated during our marriage. Not concerned with what they were, I opened each bottle and threw the contents on the table.

I sat for a long time staring at the scattered pills that threatened to end my life. They spoke my name, called out to me, and taunted me. I was in a trance. I took them and made a face—my face, with a mouth contorted into an upside‑down smile. Nobody could hurt me anymore. I took pleasure in the fact that the last act in my life was mine, not something somebody did to me.

As I reached for the pills, I was stopped by something far bigger than myself. A voice spoke to my heart out of the recesses of time and space, a word‑thought that was not of this world. It was not an audible voice, but it was as real to me as if it had been.

I saw myself standing in front of Jesus, outside the gates of heaven. He was waiting for me. From his lips came a question I had no answer to.

“Lori, how can you do this thing when I died for you two thousand years ago? How can you throw your precious life away?”

I stopped. The words were said in a gentle, pleading tone, spoken in a language I understood. I was in the presence of Goodness, even as I sensed a spiritual war waging in the unseen world around me. I felt fallen angels battling against the armies of God.

Demonic beings wanted my soul and unseemly forces beckoned, “Take the pills and end your suffering. You belong to us. Nothing in the world of light will ever change you because you are unlovable.”

Evil is relentless, especially when it thinks it can win. The clamor would have been deafening if my earthly ears could have heard it, but the battle belongs to the Lord. He knows His own and I was His. The choice was mine, though, to choose life over death. God's unconditional love lets us choose who we will follow, a love that does not condemn or control. Would I allow love to conquer hate or would deception convince me that despair was the only answer? Could I accept forgiveness as the path to freedom? Did I believe Jesus loved me, would never leave me, and had forgiven me?

I closed my eyes and prayed for deliverance from the darkness.

Jesus stood before me, His eyes seeing through to my soul. Hope would emerge if I could believe in His healing power. The Risen Savior created a sense of calmness where chaos had existed. An overwhelming sense of peace enveloped me. Love pierced the darkness and Hope raised His scarred hands, reminding me of the price it cost Him. The shadows began to lift, grudgingly at first, refusing to accept defeat. A veil of light embraced the dark surroundings and the demons fled. They recoiled because they could no longer see. They were lost—lost in darkness because the light had blinded them.

I knew at that moment, I couldn't do this heinous thing. I no longer believed the evil—an evil that tried to hurt me. I had been deceived. The fallen angels knew they had lost their hold on me—at least for the moment. The screams of hate by the demonic powers slowly trailed off as the darkness dispersed, leaving behind a cat-o’-nine-tails reduced to whimpering.

They would go in search of their unsuspecting next victim. For the moment, I was free from their taunts. An overwhelming sense of love caressed my soul. A deafening silence waited on cue for the celebration to begin. God’s angels began to shower me with grace.

The Immortal Being of the universes cast out my despair with His perfect love and covered me with mercy. No longer fettered with chains in a dungeon of defeat, I was free. For the first time, I felt loved.

I was now at one with “The One” who knew my greatest need. He embraced me as I had never been held, loved me as I had never been known—unconditionally. I was given another chance at
life. Poor in spirit, I had seen God.

I quickly cleared the brightly-colored pills off the table and threw them away. Their enchantment had lost their magic. No longer condemned, I was a new creature, a new person, redeemed by the Redeemer. Exhausted but renewed, I had seen a great light. Jesus had won—life over death. A celebration was at hand. If the rocks could have cried out, they would have.

Jesus said in Matthew 15:7, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” 

“God, please show me the way,” I begged. “Please forgive me."

For the last twenty-six years, God has never left my side, but I will never forget the day He delivered me from that demonic death knell. I thank God for reaching down and saving me, the wretch that I was. Little did I know then the great plans He had for my future.

By the grace of God, since that experience, God has restored by life many times over. I finished college and obtained my Master of Arts in Creative Writing. God brought me two beautiful daughters from the ends of the earth that are now fourteen and twenty-one. I was blessed with a job that allowed me to stay home and even homeschool them. I have published four books and lead a network of Christian authors from around the world. 

Most of all, my relationship with Jesus Christ has never wavered. Even though at times I’ve made mistakes and disappointed Him, God has been faithful and provided for all of my needs. I feel blessed for the doubts I once had because God showered me through those dark days with His perfect love and gave me hope. God is sufficient to meet every need, even when I am weak; and for that, I am thankful.




To check out Lorilyn’s latest book, Seventh Dimension – The Door, a YA Christian fantasy, you can purchase it at the following websites:



To buy Seventh Dimension – The Door at Amazon:  http://amzn.to/UBE1Mr
To buy Seventh Dimension – The Door as an audiobook:  http://bit.ly/11YrzMI
To buy Seventh Dimension – The Door at Barnes & Noble (Print):  http://bit.ly/WRkUha

REMEMBER: There is no pit so deep, no hurt so painful, no secret so horrid that God can’t cover it through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. Open up your heart to the infinite possibilities of living a life of love, no longer warped by bullying or scarred by deceitful words. Where there is life, there is hope—and healing!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Prisons of the Mind – Can Deafness Set The Captive Free


Recently a deaf person emailed me a letter that profoundly touched me. I don’t have permission to print it—hopefully at some point I will—but I wanted to share my response to her. I have a large contingent of deaf and hearing-impaired people who follow my blog. Her struggles are universal also, not just confined to those who are hearing disabled. I pray that my thoughts are Godly and thought-provoking. Salvation is a momentary decision but can take a lifetime of surrendering. Wherever you are in that decision, after reading this blog post, please share. This may be your moment….don’t waste it. 





By Lorilyn Roberts

Satan’s biggest deception is to masquerade as an angel of light. He wants to trick us into believing, if it were possible, that Jesus Christ is not the answer. The paradox is that God made us both strong and weak. We are strong in the sense that we fight for life at all costs, longing for what He gave us in the beginning – eternal life. We are weak in the sense that true happiness can’t be found except in our relationship with Him. If Satan can convince us we can be as God, our pride will make us reluctant to admit we need anyone or anything else. Humility lies at the beginning of the road to salvation.

There are many kinds of prisons and you’ve found one of them – the bottle. Prisons null our pain, but they also take away our freedom—most importantly, the freedom to choose. God also never takes away our freedom to fail but will never not give us what we need to succeed. The devil will give you what you think you want—God will give you Himself. Some prisoners will go to their grave having sold their soul to the devil—for this world and the next. For what? A lie. Ultimate freedom in Christ will never take away your freedom of choice. If you have made idols of your wants or lowered your expectations of what will make you happy, you will be imprisoned in your mind to false gods that will do nothing to save your soul. Sin feels good at the time, but a moment of bliss can bring a lifetime of regret. Ultimately, sin will destroy your ability to hear God’s voice. Don’t forget, eternity is forever. We will all spend eternity in heaven or in hell. The choice is ours.

You are strong in the sense you have found freedom by conquering your dependency on alcohol. God has blessed you with a spouse to love and cherish. As you have discovered, however, it’s not enough to be free FROM something. We need to find our freedom IN something.

There is not enough of anything in this world to bring us complete happiness. There is not enough power ball money, adoration of fans, cushy jobs, plastic surgery, or computer gadgets to fill our hearts. We aren’t made to have a relationship with idols. We are made for a relationship with Jesus Christ. Without Him, all other pursuits may bring partial or temporary happiness, but they are fleeting at best.

That brings me to the root of your quest for answers. Who is God? You were born deaf, and your whole life has been devoted to overcoming this limitation in order to survive in a world where nearly everyone else hears. You feel flawed, shortchanged, and your perceptions have influenced many of the choices you have made, both good and bad.

Has it ever occurred to you that God made you that way for a purpose? You might ask me, “Why would God do that?”

People ask that question in reference to their own “flaws” or “disappointments” or “lot in life” hundreds of time each day. I have asked myself that same question – I even ask it of others. Why did God take away my friend’s eyesight  (Author Janet P. Eckles, http://www.janetperezeckles.com/three-keys-to-claim-gods-miracles/)? Why did my beautiful adopted daughter from Nepal suffer for years with seizures? Why did God allow her to drink contaminated water from Nepal that gave her a brain infection? Why are there 150 million orphans around the world with little hope of being adopted?

My goal is not to make you feel guilty or to compare your disability with others. You have already done that plenty of times. We all have. That is part of Satan’s ploy, to guilt us into feeling like we are no good, or trick us into comparing ourselves with others with a legalistic yardstick—God does not measure our value in such a demonic, meaningless way.

We need to remember how much our sin grieves God. It took the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, to make it possible for us to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Can we know the evilness of sin and appreciate the price God paid in our fallen, depraved state? We can’t see it—except through suffering. We see sin when we see a young child die of cancer. We see sin on the battlefield during war, in a car accident that devastates a family, in a drug overdose that kills a young person, and in the sex trafficking trade in Nepal and India. We shake our fist at those things and proclaim the wickedness of man, aghast that any decent human being could rip out a young girl’s genitals and sell her as a slave. We cringe and become angry—angry at what we know is wrong and inhumane.

Our infirmities remind us of our need for Jesus Christ. We are driven to repent when we realize how weak we are in spirit to do even one good thing. Our blindness and deafness and diseases awaken us from an indifferent slumber and instill in us a longing for the day God will wipe away every tear. We don’t suffer in vain—we suffer for God’s glory. If we give our weaknesses to Him, something supernatural happens within us that is more powerful than anything man can invent or achieve. The Holy Spirit makes us bold, enables us to let go of past hurts and forgive. We are compelled to take our eyes off of ourselves and focus our hearts and minds on the one who created us. We remember once again we aren’t made for this world. We are made for eternity.

Your ability to rise above your deafness can only take you so far—it can’t overcome that emptiness within you that only the Holy Spirit can fill. In fact, Jesus Christ is so much bigger than your deafness, that if you truly allowed Him into your heart, your heart couldn’t contain Him. You would burst with joy—not that you are deaf, but that He’d given you so much joy. You would thank your deafness for allowing you the privilege of bringing others into the kingdom.

God has given each person many gifts. He has given you a gift of writing. If you want God to use you to help others, you need to claim one gift which you have not yet unwrapped. You need to claim His gift of salvation.

You have figured out how to live in this world marginally happy, but you know there is something missing. You are using the freedom God gave you to reject Him—His love for you and His salvation for you—forever. Forever is a very long time. If you die as a believer, you will be given a new body with perfect hearing. The greatest gift you will receive in heaven will be your appreciation for what you never had here. I believe my greatest gift will be the unconditional love of Jesus—the assurance that He will never leave me—I fear being abandoned.

What we don’t have here for God’s glory will be magnified in heaven, poured out, given with such generosity it will be as the stars that shine down on us or the sands that cover the seashore. If God lavished us with those perfect gifts here, would we really appreciate them? How many people have died lonely and broken—seemingly who had everything? How many truly happy people live in Hollywood? It is out of our need that God fills us, for then we know without Him, we are needy. The nothingness is what draws us to Him and enables us to be used by Him. We become His witness, His voice, His legs, His eyes, His ears, and His servants. We become part of the Great Commission.

Ask yourself: How can I use my deafness to draw people into a relationship with Jesus Christ? Use the one thing you don’t have to glorify Him—and you will find that your greatest suffering and need will become your greatest asset and joy.

Remember also, God loves you. He loves you more than you can imagine. Someday you will stand before heaven’s gates—will they open and allow you to enter? Don’t let anyone take away your desire to know the truth. As the Bible says, the truth will set you free. The search for answers will lead you down paths that only God can answer, that won’t be found in bottles of wine or quick fixes that lead to death.

I want to share a short excerpt from my book, Seventh Dimension – The Door, about a young girl who spent her whole life bullied and rejected by others. She was imprisoned by her worthless and destructive self-image. Read what the King did and ask yourself, is this not me?

Then the king turned towards me. I now knew the king completely—as my heavenly father, the father who loved me, the father who would never leave me or forsake me.
 “Your sins are forgiven.” He held out his hands and the fresh scars on his wrists overwhelmed me. Tears flowed freely. He said, “I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
A birdcage gently floated down from the sky and landed in his outstretched hands. He took the cage and hung it on an olive tree. A small bird sat inside the cage. The king opened the door to the cage and the small creature walked from its perch and alighted on his finger. He lifted the bird out of the cage, kissed it, and whispered, “You are a daughter of the king.” I realized at that moment, he was saying those words to me. I felt his tender kiss on my forehead.
I gazed into the sky as the bird flew into the heavens. Before I could say anything, the king was gone.

In Luke 4:18, Jesus said, "The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for He has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free.”

You’ve been a prisoner long enough. Jesus, the King wants to set you free. He has opened the door to your heart, just as He opened the door to the bird cage for Shale and set her free. Don’t delay. Invite Jesus into your heart, ask Him to forgive you of all your sins, receive the Holy Spirit, and begin the first day of the rest of your life. You have a story to tell that only you can share. Someone needs to hear it, not the least of which is me. I want to know what Jesus has done in your life. Please share it in the comments below.

I will give away a free copy of my book Seventh Dimension – the Door, to anyone whose story is compelling, just for sharing.

To read the first chapter, purchase, or watch the book trailer, go to: 



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Good Literature Combats Crippling Bullying - Guest Post by Melissa Main





Jasmine McClain, a 10-year-old student, couldn’t bear the bullying from her fellow students at Chadbourne Elementary anymore. She hung herself in her bedroom. Unfortunately, her mom did not find her in time to save her. Bryan Oliver, a 16-year old student at Taft Union High School, escaped his torment by using a different method. He brought a shotgun to school and wounded one of the bullies and targeted another before being taken down by a teacher.

The effects of bullying plague our society. Death, violence, and depression destroy the fabric of our society and bullying destroys the self-esteem of individuals. How can people, especially teenagers, learn about the dangers of bullying? How can we prevent bullying in our society? How do we help bullied teens so that they do not commit suicide or murder?

One way to change a society and address the issue of bullying is through literature. Literature changes the way people see problems and helps them to become more sensitive to social issues. A famous example of a book changing society’s views on an issue is Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. It changed attitudes towards slavery and fueled the abolitionist movement.

In today’s climate of bullying, our society needs books for teens and adults that help them become more sensitive towards this vital social issue. Seventh Dimension - The Door, by Lorilyn Roberts, is a book that takes readers into the mind and thoughts of a bullied teen. They see her torment and her anguish. They experience her loneliness, and they see how she struggles to cope with the taunts of her classmates.

Seventh Dimension is a coming-of-age story about a bright, but sensitive, fourteen-year-old girl named Shale who feels misunderstood and isolated from the other students at her school and in her neighborhood. Judd, a boy at her school, ruthlessly picks on her and attempts to get her in trouble with the school authorities. At home, she feels out-of-place because her mom has remarried and her dad does not have regular contact with her.

Feeling alone and confused, she wanders into the woods and finds a seventh dimension. This fascinating land parallels her life at home but takes place in the first century during the days of Jesus Christ, a key character in the story. This beautiful, yet violent land forces Shale to face her inner fears and choose a new direction for her life, including making choices about her relationship with a handsome young man.

Facing dramatic action and spiritual warfare, Shale completes her time in the seventh dimension and becomes a stronger woman. She learns how to face bullying and how to find inner peace during difficult times.


To learn more about Lorilyn’s book Seventh Dimension – The Door and read the first chapter, visit her website at:             http://lorilynroberts.com/seventhdimensionthedoor.html



To learn more about Melissa Main, you may visit Melissa Main's website at: http://mainwriters.com



  





Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mission Possible, Even on Valentine's Day, a Spiritual Covering, by Deborah L. McCarragher


by Deborah L. McCarragher


Valentine’s Day is a day for celebrating all kinds of love –and especially for husbands and wives. Mission Possible is a wonderful read for any Christian woman who loves her husband, especially for a wife who is determined to pray her husband into the kingdom.

Prayer makes all the difference in our relationship with God. I prayed my mother into the kingdom—at least I felt like it gave me the assurance of her salvation. It took many years, but today she is a walking example of much steadfastness in prayer.

While I didn’t pray my ex-husband into the kingdom, I take comfort in the fact that I did pray anyway—and even hid a prayer letter in a book that my ex took with him following our divorce. The outcome is always in God’s hands. As long as my ex-husband is living, there is hope he will be saved. May all married women find comfort in this delightful Valentine’s read that will help them to keep on keeping on—don’t give up.  Eternity is forever.

  


Review by Lorilyn Roberts
The Value of the Praying Wife for the Unsaved Husband


Mission Possible is a well-written book that should encourage and instruct any wife who yearns for a Godly husband--who loves him enough to pray for his eternal salvation even when she doesn't see any fruit in the present. Ms. McCarragher's insights into how to be a Godly wife and "helpmeet" are supported with Scriptural references that give profound wisdom to help anyone struggling in this area.

Even though I am not married, I found much Godly wisdom as a single woman to apply in my walk with God, knowing these kernels of truth have application not just in marriage but in all relationships--including children and friends. We never know how God is working to bring about a miracle in all the lives we touch. This book is a must-read for anyone who is committed to prayer, steadfastness, and faith for a Godly marriage and home.

Valentine’s Day is all about showing love to your spouse, parents, children, and those you care about the most.  As a Christian woman there is only one way to love your husband… with the love of Christ.  This Valentine’s Day give your Heavenly Father a gift that will keep on giving – namely – the decision to love your husband as God intended while you are living in a spiritually mismatched marriage.

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Introduction to Mission Possible

Women, are you in an unequally-yoked marriage?  Are you tired of attending church alone? Do you yearn for a relationship with your husband that’s spiritually satisfying?  You can influence your home for Christ even within a spiritually mismatched marriage.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to stand in the gap for your mate’s soul. This small book is a powerful tool for any woman who is married to a man who does not share her passion for Jesus. It will encourage and challenge the reader to embrace God’s promises for their spouse and future together.

Mission Possible was awarded the Readers Favorite 2010 Gold Seal Best Christian Non-Fiction book.

In Mission Possible you will:

-- Discover how to believe with radical faith for your spouse’s salvation.
-- Learn the secret to “staying the course” while you wait for your promise.
-- Find out why many women don’t like to share their “secret sorrow”.
-- Overcome your own fears and doubts about your husband’s future with God.
-- Join other women in the knowledge that God has a perfect plan of unity for you and your spouse.

“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy…For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband whether you will save your wife?”   (I Corinthians 7:14,16  NKJ)



Deborah McCarragher began her journey of creative writing soon after coming to know Jesus as her personal Savior in 1989. She enjoys using her spiritual gifts of encouragement and teaching.  Deborah served on the board of a local intercessory prayer ministry, and has been active in her home church and various women’s bible studies for years.  Her primary goal is to share her personal testimony with others while bringing hope and practical help through her book.

Deborah has been a small business owner for over 25 years and formed Alabaster Box Publishing several years ago as a vehicle for producing and promoting her Christian writing projects.  She is a devotional contributor to the E-zines "Ruby for Women” and “Living Better at 50+” as well as for the print magazine "An Encouraging Word".  She and her husband have one married son serving in the U.S. military. They reside in northeast Florida.


PLEASE BE SURE AND LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW 
Deborah is giving away two print copies and two Kindle copies for Valentine's. Winners will be picked on Sunday so they  will receive their copy of Mission Possible  in time for Valentine's Day.


Links to Purchase:

Deborah’s Website


Smashwords

Deborah’s Blog:

Book Trailer Link:

Social Media Links:



Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Card of Gratitude, by Lorilyn Roberts







Can we give thanks in all things? There is a time I would have said no. I used to ask with the wrong attitude, why didn’t God take care of this? Why did He allow that to happen? I felt smug in my self-righteousness. After all, I was a victim in many situations—receiving injustice when I didn’t deserve it. If God really loved me, He would fix this or solve that, unless He abandoned me, too. A thankless heart grieves the Holy Spirit, hurting not only our relationship with God, but also others. We feel it in our emotions—bitterness, anger, and depression.

Gratitude is a strange gift. The more we are thankful, the more we remember things for which we are thankful. One of my most memorable moments of gratitude came when I was in the eighth grade. I lost my notes for a major term paper. I didn’t know the cards were missing until my final class and the bell rang to be dismissed. I panicked. I ran down the hall into one class after another, checking my desk for the missing notes. Each time when they weren’t there, more tears filled my eyes. The dozens of hours of work I had put into those cards flashed before me and redoing all that work sickened me. In the last desk I checked, I found my stack of notecards.

I wrapped my arms around them and smiled, thanking God for helping me to find them. Tears flowed—not tears of sadness but tears of joy. I was a straight “A” student and the thought of those cards being lost forever was enough to send me into a tailspin of deep depression.

Recently I got to thinking about those cards. Much has happened since that day almost forty years ago. Now that I am a little older and a little grayer, I have accumulated many notes—for a different kind of term paper. We are living notes for God’s Book of Remembrance. Some of those notes I didn’t want to write and would gladly have thrown them away. They were about topics I never would have chosen, but God had different plans.

My notecards have included lessons in disappointment, heartache, failure, worry, depression, fear, and insecurity. Why couldn’t God have given me easier topics—like how to live like a millionaire? I would have donated lots of money. I could handle that one. As the years have passed—and they go by faster the older I get—missing from some of those cards written long ago was one important word—gratitude. Did I really want to thank God for the husband who abandoned me and married his pregnant girlfriend? Did I really want to thank God for my barrenness? Did I really want to thank God for the twenty years I spent in a profession I hated?

God has taken me down many paths I didn’t like. During most of those years, I did not have a heart of gratitude. I needed to learn, before God could use me completely, I needed to surrender to Him completely. Anything we hold back in our lives and put before God is an idol. God can’t use us as He would like to if we don’t surrender all to Him in obedience. Otherwise, we will not be able glorify Him fully but we will be too busy seeking our own selfish ambitions. We may not even realize it or do it intentionally.

Look at Hollywood, scan the self-help books, listen to the news, read the top stories on the internet—what blessings can the world give us with its self-centered, “I”-focused mentality? If I had continued to be like the world, which I was drawn to, I never could have glorified God, and you wouldn’t receive a blessing for God’s work in me.

I am thankful God didn’t give me all that I wanted when I was young. I would still be an insecure, fearful, performance-driven individual, seeking my self-worth from the world. How could God use me with that kind of mindset? The hard things God put in my life did a great work once I surrendered to Him. He humbled me and showed me His omnipotent power and infinite wisdom.

I cringe when I think of what kind of a mother I would have been to my kids if God had given me children when I was married—a co-dependent, insecure wife seeking all her self-worth from her husband. Talk about dysfunctional in today’s psychological terms—I was clueless what it meant to be a Christian wife or a Christian mother.

Today I thank God for the divorce that brought me to my knees. I honestly think I loved my husband more than I loved God. I just didn’t know it. I recommitted my life to Jesus Christ. God became my husband and my provider.

Growing up in a single-family without a father was hard. Being fatherless opened the door for my stepfather to adopt me when I was ten. His adoption of me paved the way for a deeper understanding of what it means to be adopted by my heavenly Father.

My barrenness became a blessing—I adopted two beautiful daughters from Asia, and the only one who loves them more than I do is God Himself.

I could never see the value of my job as a court reporter. How would God ever use all of those words I wrote involving lawsuits that had no lasting or eternal value? Why didn’t God allow me to pursue my dreams of becoming an author? Did He not put those dreams in my heart? Only when I prayed to God to make me more thankful for the job I hated did God give me something more fulfilling. Those court-reporting skills gave me the foundation for a later career in broadcast captioning, allowing me to work from home while raising my two adopted daughters. Now that I have time to write, I can pursue the passion to write God gave me—but in His timing, not mine.

When I was young, I looked at the destination, not the process, but it is in the process we grow and become like God. If the process had no meaning, God could have snapped His fingers and made us perfect right away. Wouldn’t that have been much more efficient and saved a lot of time? But God didn’t want to do it that way.

Why? It’s in the process that we glorify God. What is more beautiful than to see a man or a woman who has overcome great adversity give praise to Jesus Christ? We’ve all seen it—and we stand amazed. How easy it is to forget God’s passion. He sacrificed His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, so why would God withhold anything good from us? There is a mystery in it, but at the center is God. The joy is in the journey itself and all the opportunities He gives us along the way to glorify Him.

If our attitude towards the hard things glorifies God, we will be fulfilled. As Paul says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” In the end, we are most content when we’re filled with God because our true joy can only be found in Him—not in this world. Everything else not of God will fade away and soon be forgotten.

It is in the struggle and my inability to do anything without God that I see His power at work. I am as a helpless worm, but God comes alongside and lifts me up when I fall. More than once, He has sent friends to me when I needed encouragement. Scripture instructs me each day, and prayer draws me into sweet communion.

When I enter heaven’s gates, God will wipe away my tears. Until then, I will write, hoping to use those cards of suffering to point people to the One who is the Source of all Hope and the Giver of all Joy. The cross is my symbol of remembrance. If I had not given my “all” to God, I never would have seen redemption in the hard things. Perspective is everything. God never wastes anything.

As it says in  Philippians 4:8, “…Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Only through God’s grace could I find hope when I had no hope. Thankfully, God never gave up on me even though I tried to give up on myself. He changed my perspective, showed me His unconditional love, and helped me to be thankful for even those things I hated. God lessened my pain and brought Godly friends into my life. In Jesus I found freedom to love and forgive. With a grateful heart, I found God at work in all those things I once despised, and for that, I am thankful.