“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV) When I began writing 11 years ago after the death of my father, I had no idea how God might use my own thoughts and experiences to encourage others.
My first story in 1999, Dad's Story, started out as a way to deal with the grief of losing my dad and honoring his memory at the same time. What started out as a short bio about my life up until dad's death, ended up being a 12-page manuscript and journal spanning the years from before I was born in 1970 to the birth of my third child in 2004! At first, it was just something I shared with family and friends, but thanks to the Internet, the story spread and parts of it were printed in fall 2005 in a Christian women's magazine called Crowned With Silver.
In 2004, after the birth of my third child, I made the unfortunate mistake of trying to remove an ingrown hair from my right leg, my good leg, with an unsterilized needle. The consequences of my actions, was a near-death experience with a staph infection which put me in the ICU. It was quite a horrifying and embarrassing experience.
Before all of that happened, back in 2003, I opened an online business selling pregnancy and ovulation tests at reasonable rates. The business was small, but I felt like I was doing a good thing and bringing in a little extra income. About a month after the staff infection experience, I received a call from a woman that said she was Nancy Campbell, the editor of the Christian women's magazine, Above Rubies. I didn't believe her at first. Why would somebody that important, whom I really admired, be calling me?
Well, it really was Nancy Campbell. She had heard about my little business and wanted other women to know about it too. She doesn't advertise in her magazine, but she let's women share their stories in her magazine, and if a woman has a business, that information goes at the bottom of her story. Nancy wanted to know if I had a story to share. I laughed, ” Boy did I!”
A Second Chance To Watch The Roses Bloom was printed in Issue #61 of Above Rubies, Summer 2004. Nancy used a picture of me and my girls for the front cover. The magazine is global. My story and experience along with my business also went global. It was amazing. People were reading my story in Israel and Belize. I received letters from around the world and even had a call from an Amish woman in Pennsylvania. It was overwhelming and humbling all at the same time. I am just a homeschool mom in a small East Texas town, but I am aware God is using me and my life experiences to encourage and support others through their own life experiences.
Over the years, things like this continue to happen and I am absolutely amazed at what God does with all of it. I said in a recent devotional, that if given a choice, I probably wouldn't change much in my past. I acknowledge that in everything, both good and bad, God is teaching me and growing me into the person he wants me to be.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4).
I am not claiming to be mature. I am saying I'm maturing. As much as I would have rather not gone through some of my life experiences: cerebral palsy, death of a parent, two miscarriages, infertility, etc., I do know that by sharing my walk with others through my writings, others have said they've been blessed or encouraged by what they've read.
Would you believe me if I said these stories were inspired by God? Would you believe me if I told you I think God orchestrates everything so that in all of it He will get the Glory? Something to think about. For me, I've come to realize, no matter what comes my way, I know I'm in His hands.
Your Hands by JJ Heller