Sometimes, in life, we need to reflect back on the wonderful, marvelous things that God has done for us. I know that I don’t often thank Him for everything He has done often enough. Other times, sharing the things He has done for us can help encourage others.
This last week, I felt a major shift. I knew God called me to change my blog and write Christian-based articles. It was a sacrifice I had to make and something God called me to do. It was way harder than I thought and if I’m being honest, way harder than it should have been.
I didn’t realize that saying goodbye to the nerdy articles I wanted to write was going to be so hard, but that just showed me how I wanted what I wanted, not what God wanted for me.
In response, today, I’m going to remind myself of the wonderful things He has done for me and I hope that this article can encourage and inspire you and lift you up.
This is a long one but I hope it touches you!
1. Overcoming Abandonment
Some of you may or may not know that my parents divorced when I was around seven or eight. My dad left and decided never to come back and it wasn’t until he remarried that he came back into our lives again. Back in 2007, we had a major fight and it was so bad that it was suggested until we went to see a therapist and Dad came with us, that we shouldn’t see him again. He never came to see the therapist and never called. So he disappeared from our lives again. Years later, I got married and he gradually started calling maybe once a year, if I was lucky. We tried to restart our relationship again, but like before, it didn’t work. Being abandoned caused me to please people in high school. I acted how my friends wanted and wasn’t ever really my true self or never felt comfortable being myself to try to keep them. I thought that they would abandon me like my dad did. It took me a long time to even discover who I really was as a person and when I did, I found out that it was more important that I learn who I am in Christ. Now that I know the answer, I feel so grateful that God took me through all of this. It made me stronger and honestly, it taught me to love people more deeply. God will never abandon me and He gave me people in my life that will not abandon me. I can be myself and embrace who He created me to be. For anyone out there afraid to be who God called them to be, don’t be afraid. Embrace who you are. Let God help you become the man or woman God created you to be. He formed you in your mothers’ wombs. You are beautiful and fearfully and wonderfully made. Never forget that.
2. The Husband I Needed
I remember always wondering about the man I was going to marry. In middle school, I was obsessed with celebrities like singers and actors. I always wondered at school, is one of these guys gonna be my husband someday? Would I even ever get married? Would a marriage of mine work out? My dad left. Why would my husband stay? Being abandoned created all kinds of fears inside me and those fears developed into trust issues. My husband Michael had to work through all of those issues and more. He taught me to trust him and as we fell deeper and deeper in love, I realized that I could trust him. I loved deeper than I ever thought was even possible. Michael is my soulmate and there was a time in my life when I didn’t understand what that meant. We fight like any couple, but he’s the kind of man who will not stop until the fight is resolved, until we hug and kiss and make up again before the night is done. He loves God and puts Him first and foremost and he’s so patient and kind and gentle with me. He loves me in a way that only God can and God has given me a true gift through Michael.
3. A Talent and Passion For Writing
I don’t want this to sound arrogant because it isn’t. I’m just like any other writer where after we write something, we get insecure and thinks our work sucks. Writing can always be improved, even the most famous author out there has room to improve their skills. Ever since I was ten years old, though, I’ve been able to write stories that really mean something. Stories that had an impact on me and some of my friends back in the day. As I grew older, my writing skills increased the more I learned and developed it. But I also became aware that I was able to write stories a little advanced for the age I wrote, at least at first. When I started writing fantasy, that was really when I needed to work hard to learn more about it. But writing comes so naturally to me. Yes, there are times when I sit and stare at a blank page, but I know now that if I’m not inspired, it’s because God doesn’t want me to be.
This may sound so strange, but I know for a fact God inspires me to write. Sometimes, I sit down and just start writing. One time I wrote a 200 page fantasy novel in a 24 hour period. Another time I wrote a 50,000 book in a few days (almost 15,000 words per day for that one). When God wants me to write, He inspires me, and I always try to listen to that inspiration instead of procrastinating. Writing connects me to God but more than that, I love doing it.
I used to read all the time, but the more I started writing especially as I started writing books I wanted to read, the less I read. By writing, I can experience the story in the same way as I could while reading it. I love making characters and creating worlds and putting them in plotlines and getting them into trouble and yes, sometimes I love being a bit evil to my characters and getting feels is sometimes the best part.
I have a deep rooted passion for writing and without God, none of it would exist. Not the books He and I have written together, not the characters I love and adore, not the worlds and races I’ve created, or the plotlines God, Michael, and I have weaved together. None of it would exist without God and for that, I am eternally grateful.
4. An Amazing Family
Yes, I know, this should have been higher on the list. Technically, I’m not necessarily trying to go in order of what’s most important to me. I’d have a lot of ties, I know that. I was born into a Christian family which is something not everyone is gifted with. My great-grandparents on my grandma and grandpa’s side of the family were all Christians who loved God and followed the Bible. They taught their kids, who taught theirs, and my mother taught my sister and I. My uncle is a pastor, so for many years we went to his church. His wife and daughter both sing and play the piano, so I grew up in church, participating and getting involved. We sang and played hymns as I learned guitar. Sometimes, I used sign language to sign some songs. We get together for singings where we play our music together; my aunt on the piano, sometimes my sister on her violin, my uncle on his banjo he’s been learning, my mom sometimes on her guitar, and me on mine and we all sing and praise God. As soon as I could talk, Mom had me reciting Bible verses. We went through this Alfabet Bible Verse book that went through the entire Alfabet and had a verse that started with each letter. I memorized them all. I learned about God and His Creation and Jesus and His Sacrifice and Resurrection and the good news of the Gospel and grew up knowing the truth. My family, especially my mom and sister, has always supported me as a writer. When other people were telling me it wouldn’t make enough money or be a good career path, my mom and sister told me to go for it. They encouraged me and lifted me up. When I became published, my entire family was so ecstatic about it. Each member bought several copies of Hunter and my immediate family attended my Launch Party which was almost as exciting as my wedding, honestly. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my family and I thank God for them every day.
5. Our House
This might not be a big deal to some people, but because of my parents’ divorce, my mom, sister, and I lived in apartments most of my life. There was one point where we lived in a trailer but that was the closest I had ever came to living in an actual house other than from when I was an infant to about three or four years old. So after my husband I got married, we started looking for a house. We wanted something in the country because after the strict apartment complex rules, I wanted to be away from town, but we also needed something close to his work. At the same time, we wanted my mom and sister to live with us due to my mom’s bad back and my sister still being in school at the time, so we needed at least three bedrooms and hoped our master bedroom was a bit separated for better privacy. Due to the rules we had through Century 21, we couldn’t get a mobile home type thing because the houses we could get had to have a fixed foundation and we only had a 50,000 dollar budget which is super super small for a house we needed. We found a few, but none that were perfect or in our budget. It came to the point where we had to make a lot of compromises and focus on priorities such as being close to Michael’s work. Things kept going wrong and doors kept shutting and the version of me who had lived in apartments her whole life believed she would never get to own a house of her own.
Then, one day, we found a house. It was in between Eldon (where my husband worked) and a bigger city, Osage Beach, so it was still technically in the country in the middle of nowhere but within a ten minute drive to his work. It was a four bedroom house with a massive living room, leaving the master bedroom on the opposite end of the house from the other three rooms. It was a mobile home with a fixed foundation for 50,000 dollars! I thought it was too good to be true and when we went to view it, I thought it was another one of those homes we could view and I would admire, but never own. “We’ll never get it,” I thought to myself that day. Weeks later, the road agreement trouble and other things didn’t pan out and I knew we wouldn’t get it. Then, somehow, it all worked out and this became our home.
Every time I walk this house, pray over it, stare at its walls, I sometimes can still see it empty and see it just like the day we viewed it. I remember my thoughts that day, that we would never get it. I reflect back and remember all the closed doors that upset me even though those had been compromises. This house was everything we needed. It was my dream home. God closed all of those doors because He had the perfect house waiting here for us.
6. Car Accident
You must be wondering how a car accident could be wondrous but I’m not talking about the car accident itself. Back in 2005 or 2006 (I can’t remember which year), Mom had just dropped my sister off with my grandma to babysit, while Mom went to work and I went to school. I was sitting in the front seat and I remember that I had on my mom’s Chief’s sweater to keep warm because it was cool. I don’t remember the drive, but this is what happened.
A driver pulled into our lane and our car hit theirs in a head on collision. Mom woke up shortly after it, but I was unconscious and my face was covered in blood and I wouldn’t wake. The airbag had come out and it had burned the right side of my face horribly. Mom stumbled out of the car and tried to get my door open but couldn’t, and my dead weight was too much for her to handle (she didn’t know this until years later, but she had broken her kneecap that day and lived with it for a long time). Cars stopped behind us, but no one would help. One man told my mother to shut up and stop yelling.
Out of nowhere, this man showed up and he yanked my door open and pulled me out. He laid me on the grass nearby and sometime later, the ambulance came and took Mom and I to the hospital. We asked around, but no one really knew who the man was or where he had come from, or where he had gone.
This is an absolutely true story. My personal thought is that he was angel God sent to save us, but even if he was just a human doing a good deed, God used him to save my life and help us. I know it was God, no matter who the man really was and I will always be grateful.
7. The Nerdy Way I Am
This might be another one of those things where you’re wondering how this is a wondrous thing God has done for me? As I mentioned before, I didn’t always embrace who I was. I was a major nerd, always have been, so yes, there were a lot of times there was no hiding that. But I didn’t fully embrace it. The truth is, I love stories, whether they’re mine or others. I love movies and TV Shows, I love characters and plotlines. I’m a huge fangirl. I love Star Wars and all sorts of shows. I love watching the characters go through stuff and getting so many feels. I love shipping a man and a woman in a relationship and getting feels when one breaks up with the other or leaves because the guy thinks he’s too evil for her. I’m a sucker for forbidden romances (as long as they’re clean) and for men with horrible, tragic pasts. I love getting feels and fangirling and looking for news on the latest upcoming movies. I love debating about whether the prequels or originals of Star Wars are better and talking about how much we all dislike the Star Wars sequels. There have been times I felt this side of me was wrong or too… out there. Then I realized one thing. God created me. If He didn’t want me to be this passionate about something, then He wouldn’t have given me that passion. I also realized that without my fangirl side, I would not have a writer’s side. My ideas come from the shows I watch. God uses them to give me ideas and help me add Christian themes and a lesson into the story to encourage and inspire others. I fangirl over my own writing and my own characters because I was a nerd first. I am so amazed and thankful that God allowed me to be this way. Try to learn to embrace who God created you to be—the things that you love about yourself as well as the things you don’t like. Because guess what? God made it all and He uses our flaws for His good and His purpose.
8. My Books Being Published
This is one I can never mention enough. Writing started off as a hobby for me, just something I would do when my friends and I would come up with silly story ideas and I’d write the book. As I grew older, it became a career but I didn’t think I could make it. These days, it’s easy to become self-published but it’s harder to get your work out there and make it big. I wanted to become a published author, traditionally published and create an epic franchise as beloved as Star Wars or Lord of the Rings someday. I wanted people to read my books and let those books lead them to God and change their lives and help them through difficult times. When Hunter was self-published, I got so discouraged and didn’t think my dream of becoming a traditionally published would ever happen. I faced rejection after rejection until I gave up hope. But I never stopped submitting. Then one day, Ambassador International accepted Shifter and Hunter both. They were published and I learned so much more about marketing myself and how to get the word out there. I’m still struggling and it’s an uphill climb but one that God is right behind me pushing me forward with every step we take. Hunter and Shifter are published through Ambassador International. I got to have my first Book Launch, Book Signing, Launch Party. I got to be interviewed on a magazine and for the radio. I self-published another book, called Dark Magi and I hope to do better at self-publishing now. I have a publishing plan for next year and am working to grow my fangroup on Facebook and my newsletter. I’ve come so far and God has helped see my dreams come true and I will never forget that and I will always, always be grateful for it.
9. My Grandmother
This is still a bit difficult for me to talk about. Earlier this year, back in April, my grandmother passed away. Years and years ago, she had had cancer but she miraculously survived it and lived. Shortly after I was born, or maybe a bit before that, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She also had Diabetes and Epilepsy. Parkinson’s is a nerve disease in the brain where the nerves don’t always connect or work correctly. This made it difficult for her to walk and move as normal. It made life extremely hard for her. She couldn’t drive or write anymore and walking was so hard at times. Few people with Parkinson’s lived passed a few years with it. Yet, she’s had it almost my entire life and I’m 25 years old. God sustained her for so, so many beautiful years and gave my family and I so much time to spend with her. Those years we had together with her mean the world to me and I will always be grateful for that time God gave us. Linda Rayl, my grandmother or Meme as I called her, was a beautiful woman of God who left behind a legacy that her children and grandchildren hope to carry on to the next generations and the years to come.
10. Jesus Christ
He should be on everyone’s list whether you believe God has done wondrous things in your life or whether you don’t think He has at all. God came to earth as Jesus Christ and was brutally tortured. They beat him, whipped him, and plucked his beard out. He died a vicious and agonizing death on the cross. He hung there with nails in his hands and feet, struggling for breath. Every breath brought with it splinters and pain. He died and then three days later, He rose again and guess what?
He did it all for you! Yes, you. When he was on that cross, he bore all your pain. All your sin. All your guilt. All your shame. Every bad thing you have ever done. Every cuss word. Every drink of alcohol. Every drug. Every time you spent in bed with someone before marriage. Every angry thought. Every lustful thought. Every lie. Every time you stole. Each and every sin was all on his shoulders. And he did that for every single person that has ever lived since that time on the cross 2,000 years ago. There are billions of people alive right now, in this very moment. Go back 2,000 years. God died for all of them too. Every person who has hurt you; God died for them. He took all of God’s wrath toward sin, because God is holy and righteous and pure, and sin is not. Jesus took God’s wrath upon himself and took our punishment for us. We deserved it. Not him. Jesus was innocent and lived a sinless life. We deserved it. Not him. But He gave His life because He loves us so much and He loves you. He created you, He designed you in your mother’s womb. He knows everything about you, from your every thought to every hair on your head. Jesus loves you perfectly and gives you this gift of eternal life. But it’s a gift, so you have to accept it. If you believe in Jesus, repent of your sins, and trust in Him, turn to Him, Jesus will forgive your sins and come into your heart and your life. If you ask Him.
Are you thankful for His wondrous gift of salvation? Will you accept Him?