"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

2/17/09

A Decade With Christ (giveaway included!)

Ten years ago today, I truly understood for the first time that I was a sinner and that Jesus Christ had paid the price for my sin. I asked for forgiveness, and promised that I would invite him to be my Lord and Savior.

That, my friends, is the very, very condensed version of my conversion testimony. If you'd like to read a somewhat less condensed (but still not full!) version, you can read my Faithwriters challenge entry In Old Testament Black and White - just click on the title and you'll be there.

It's amazing to think how different I was on February 16, 1999 than that next day. I went from a heathen to a believer. From condemned to forgiven. From a child of Satan to a child of God.

And, though my life has changed, and I have grown enormously between this February 17 and the one a decade ago, none of the changes have been as dramatic as the instantaneous ones that occurred when I got saved. And that will still be the case until the day I leave this earth.

However, I still think it is important to rehearse God's work in me over the past ten years. So, here I go. This, of course, is not an exhaustive list, but just a few of the ways that God has worked in my life.
  • My husband, Marc, and I had been trying to have a child, off and on, for four years when we got saved. Two years and ten days after I got saved, we had our first child, the wonderful Andrew, who turns 8 on the 27th of this month.
  • Three months after I came to Christ, my husband became a believer.
  • One month after my husband and I started trying for our second child, I was pregnant with my beautiful daughter Annika, who turned 5 on Thanksgiving day.
  • My marriage to my husband has grown enormously and powerfully, in ways it never would have had not Christ led us in that growth.
  • God provided us an absolutely incredible church family (that means YOU, Ann!) that supported us as none possibly could while our family dealt with Marc's brain tumor and assorted complications.
  • God provided discovery of Marc's brain tumor in His perfect timing. Three months later, and Marc likely would have been unemployed and maybe even without health insurance and disability insurance. A few years earlier, and we wouldn't have been believers.
  • God plopped me in the middle of the incredibly supportive group of Christian writers at Faithwriters just when I needed it.
  • God used some of those very Faithwriters' brothers and sisters in Christ to help me discover one of my spiritual gifts (thanks, George, especially!), and provided an outlet for me to exercise my gift of encouragement.
  • When we found it necessary to change churches, God again led us to a wonderful place with incredibly supportive and Godly people.
  • God, through Faithwriters and my ministry of encouragement there, placed in my path some amazingly incredible, dear friends from across the country who love me, admonish me, pray with me, laugh (a LOT) with me and cry with me.
  • God led me to an online writing ministry, as well as a bit of an editing ministry that helps a bit financially.
  • God has been progressively making me more and more like Him. Just thinking about my views of sin, suffering, God, peace, joy, and every other aspect of life and death ten years ago, it is hard to believe I was the same person then.
Obviously, this list is anything but complete. The past ten years have been a journey: sometimes tough, sometimes easy, but always safe--as I was safe in the hands of my Father.

So, today I celebrate ten years in the arms of my Father. And of course, the years that follow promise to be even better. Thank you, dear readers, for being part of that journey of mine.

Oh - I mentioned a giveaway in my title, didn't I? Well, a much longer (but still not complete, of course) version of my conversion story was published not too long ago in a wonderful anthology called Women of Passions: Ordinary People Serving and Extraordinary God. Put out by Heart of God International, it is full of personal testimonies of God's work in many women's lives, including mine (and some other bloggy friends you may know: including LauraLee Shaw of LauraLee's Lifesong, Julie Arduini of Surrendered Scribe, Jan Ross of The Plumb Line, Mid Stutsman of Mid's Point, and Yvonne Blake of My Back Door).


This wonderful book, which came in third place in the devotional category for the Christian Choice Book Awards, can be YOURS.... All you have to do is post a comment on this blog post. Only one entry per person, and you have until...hmmm...how about....Saturday morning at 7ET. At that time, I'll either put all the names in a hat and have one of my kids pick one out, or use the randomizer tool, and the winner will get a copy of this book (autographed by me if you want!). Just a fun way to celebrate my re-birthday!

Thanks for stopping by and reading, and for your support of my ministry of "blogginess." I look forward to many more years of sharing my God with you.

31 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, I want that book! :o) Please put my name in for the drawing! And I want to know how you went about getting your testimony published. I want to use my gift for gab and writing for God's glory. I just don't know how to get started.

    Bless you! (I hope I win, I hope I win -- hee hee.)

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  2. BTW ... me and my greedy self -- I loved reading what God did in your life!

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  3. Happy Re-Birthday, JO!!

    ((((hugs)))
    Vonnie

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  4. Happy rebirth-day, JoDear!! I loved reading through your list! (what a great idea!)
    Huggles!

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  5. A wonderful, happy day for you, Jo! And we're the ones who are blessed because of this special day! Isn't it beutiful the way God weaves our lives in an out of each others? Thanks for being always inspiring...always loving...always supportive, dear JO! Happy, happy 10th!!!

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  6. Happy Re-birthday, Dear Joanne!!! You are such a blessing...and I'm just getting to know you. Going now to read your testimony at FW.
    Love ya,
    Teresa

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  7. Happy Birthday in Christ, dear Jo! DON't enter me in the giveaway, lol, I've already got the book (wink), just wanted to come by and say congrats, and I'm so thankful to be a part of your life.

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  8. "This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it!" Happy birthday, sweet Joanne!

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  9. 10 years - Happy Anniversary! How wonderful it is to look back and see what the Lord has done! Thank you for sharing this with us. Blessings, my friend!

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  10. I am very excited for your birthday. It is great to read about what God has done in your life since you have been His.

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  11. Awww... Joanne... Love ya so much. SO glad to be your sister in Christ!!

    I don't have ANY of the FW books yet and would love to win one ;-)

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  12. Joanne,
    It was an encouragement reading a condensed version of your 'story' today..thank you...and I would love to be entered in your giveaway...Blessings,
    Sita

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  13. Joanne your testimony is awesome and it is great that you are sharing it to encourage others in their walk! I love your blog and I have bookmarked it so i can visit often. :)

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  14. I am so thrilled to celebrate your salvation, sister! It means we get to share eternity-- face to face! Maybe even with coffee for me. ; )

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  15. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JO!

    I hope you celebrate in a very special way. Of course rejoicing with your bloggy friends is a pretty special way to celebrate, but I amsure you can be creative and think of another way. Let me help you....ummmm...EAT CHOCOLATE!

    Love ya!
    Mari

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  16. Love it! Happy ReBirthday to You (have some cake). Getting to know you via FW has been a treat - God is soooooooo good eh?

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  17. Joanne:
    I think it profound that God interrupted any of our lives with the truth of his grace and the fact that you have an anniversary date, with a very clear before and after picture, all the more special.

    My walk of grace has been a lifelong journey. And while I cannot pinpoint the moment of my "initial" knowing and believing in Him, I have many pivotal moments of believing further believing Him and trusting Him as my Lord and Savior.

    He is the most precious joy of my heart. I know you feel the same. I hear it in your words and through your pen.

    Love you, new friend. I'm so glad that God interrupted your life. Now we can "do heaven" with one another!

    peace~elaine

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  18. I am not sure how I came to your blog, but I do have you in my reader. Thank you for sharing your story and your talents with us. Happy Birthday.

    pscole3467 at gmail dot com

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  19. Happy Re-Birthday Jo! Love you muchly!! Sunny

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  20. Happy Re-Birthday Joanne. What a joyful post to read tonight. Somehow I clicked on some links to lead me here--think it may have been the Spirit? ;-D So glad I got to celebrate with you, my online friend.
    --Karen

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  21. Wow! What a great way to celebrate your rebirth! The testimony you shared here is so uplififting and encouraging!

    Thanks for offering the book as a giveaway! I'm sure whomever wins it will treasure it!

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  22. Well, I finally got around to popping in here. Happy 2nd bday, JJ. LOL. ^_^ So awesome to read of all those wonderful things. *hugs*

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  23. I am so happy to know of all that God is doing in your life. I thank Him for your salvation and pray you continue to serve Him faithfully with all of your heart.

    Your enthusiasm for Christ encourages me time and time again.

    Blessings,
    vickie

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  24. Was blessed as I read your story of His faithfulness and your following.
    Hugs

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  25. I would love to enter your contest! I had my earthly birthday Feb 16th and also wrote about my "re-birthday" on my blog http://carolslettersfromtheheart.blogspot.com/ I was 65 yrs young on Monday, but I'm counting "spiritual birthdays" now - 39 in Jesus!!!
    I loved reading your testimony! Please enter me in the contest.

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  26. That is such an awesome testimony! Praise God for your 10 years wih Him and for all He's done in your life. Keep growing in Him because it does only get better.

    Blessings,
    Isunji

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  27. I've had so much fun getting to know you through FW, Joanne, and this post proves to me why...you are such an inspiration! God bless you, my friend!

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  28. Happy Rebirthday to you! Isn't it amazing what God can do when you become his child? I loved reading your testimony and how God has worked in your life. Thank you for sharing this with us!

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  29. I love how you are sharing your BIRTHday! I celebrate mine too...HAPPY BIRTHday!!! Praise God for His mercies and grace!

    (I came over from surrendered scribe's site.)

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