God’s recycling program


“I’m sorry, but there’s no room for you in the program here,” my advisor looked up from a stack of papers centered on the desk in front of her. “If you’re convinced you want to pursue this teaching certification, there are other colleges you might consider if you’re willing to transfer out of state.”

I bit the inside of my cheek, willing myself not to burst into tears. This deadbolted door was not not the way things were supposed to happen. The deaf education program at Illinois State University had an enrollment cap, and I’d tried for three semesters to move into one of the rare open spots in the program. I couldn’t immediately afford to transfer to an out-of-state school.

I returned to my home town and entered the work force in search of a Plan B. Or C. I was certain that working with deaf children was God’s Plan A for me. Through a long, challenging process of relinquishment, I learned to unclench my fists from Plans A-C (and D-Z, too), offering my gifts, skills, experiences and desires to Him to use as He saw fit. Or not use at all.

I recently spent a bit of time reflecting on what He’s placed in those emptied, worshiping hands as I moved through life. (You know where this is going, don’t you?)

He has recycled those gifts, skills and desires, asking me to use them in ways I never could have dreamed. Sign language, for example, trained me to quickly access my brain’s thesaurus function because a single sign can represent a number of spoken vocabulary words. This training has been invaluable to me in my vocation as a writer.

God’s redemptive recycling program doesn’t waste a single moment of our life’s experiences. Joseph expressed this truth perfectly after he revealed his identity to his betraying brothers after years of separation: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20).

What about you? How has God recycled your past gifts, skills, experiences and/or desires? Please send an e-mail to mishvl@yahoo.com telling me how He’s using something from your past in your life right now. I’d love to hear a bit of your story!

As a way to honor you and the One who makes all things new, everyone who e-mails me even a single sentence on the topic will be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift certificate from Christian Book Distributors. Keep it for yourself – or gift it to a friend who is experiencing a deadbolted door of his or her own.



Writing and speaking news

I’m once again offering e-mail tutorial services to home schooling families. If you or someone you know is looking for personalized, step-by-step writing instruction for a child in grades 5-12, please point them toward my website: homepagewriting.com.

I’ll be leading a couple of workshops at the Wisconsin Christian Writers Conference on Saturday, October 17. This affordable event promises to be a great day filled with practical tools for aspiring authors. Visit the website for registration information.

If your group is looking for a Word-rooted, Spirit-led speaker, I’d welcome the opportunity to help connect our stories to His with messages and prayer ministry based on the parables. I’m also happy to work with you to develop a message or a retreat tailored for your group. Contact me at mishvl@yahoo.com.

I had an opportunity to be a part of two very different book projects both releasing this fall. One is a devotional for women entitled Quiet Reflections Of Hope (Baker/Revell). This simple, thoughful volume would make a lovely gift for a busy woman in need of a brief, focused bit of time with the Lord each morning. The second project is still under wraps for another few weeks. I can tell you that it is a creative and worshipful volume. I’ll send details as soon as the publisher gives the group of contributors the OK to reveal the project. (I can’t wait!)

And if you’re in search of a fresh, Biblically-faith exploration of more than 24 of the stories Jesus told, visit www.theparablelife.com to order my books Parablelife: Living the stories Jesus told in real time and Uprooted: Living a parable life from the inside out.

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