On August 12, 2008 my life was changed forever when my 18-year-old son, Ben, was diagnosed with leukemia. Initially, after his diagnosis, a Facebook group was set up by a friend as a simple means to keep people updated and praying. Numbers increased and daily I would hear comments from around the world like, “You don’t know me but…this is how your journey is affecting my life”. These comments began turning into, “Have you ever considered writing a book?”
A couple of my Facebook followers eventually went as far as to send me an ad through a Christian bookstore flyer for a free publishing contest put on by Word Alive Press. I promptly brushed it aside. That was completely out of the picture!
At the same time, God gave me a very real impression through His Word that I couldn’t brush aside quite so easily. “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD (Ps. 40:1-3).”
Although I felt that my story was nothing worth publishing, I had a growing sense that it was bigger than me. It was bigger than Ben’s illness or my family’s journey. I knew deep down that whether Ben lived or died His glory was what it was all about. It was simply up to me to discover a way to give it to Him.
Through a series of events, I was prompted to submit my condensed version of our journey into Just Between Us, a ministry women’s magazine that I’d been subscribing to for years. Within a half-an-hour I heard back from the editor, Shelly Esser, telling me that not only did she feel my story would make it into one of their issues and impact many lives but that it had already impacted her own. She began receiving my updates and soon thereafter told me, “When you decide to make this into a book let me know and I’ll do what I can to help you make it a reality”. It’s one thing to have people suggest that you write a book, but a completely other thing to have it endorsed by a professional editor. God had my attention.
I could no longer escape the insistent prompting of my heart. I recalled the ad from Word Alive Press that I had so quickly discarded. More to relieve myself of the pressure than out of interest I sent a quick email inquiry. The next day I received a phone call from Jen at Word Alive Press wanting to know all about my book. When I told her that it wasn’t really a book per se, but rather it was a Facebook blog, she was intrigued. From that day on, she regularly called me to ask about my son’s health and also to take inventory on my readiness of getting published.
However, as Ben’s health declined and especially when he passed away a few months later, I didn’t feel I was in any shape to be writing a book, let alone one about my unfortunate turn of events. Somehow it all seemed so twisted. What was God thinking?
Meanwhile, due to popular demand, my blog continued. People were now relating on a whole new level as I expressed my raw grief. And God’s pursuit was relentless.
Rather than attempting to write a book, I took into consideration what God had already inspired me to put into writing. I handed my multitudinous updates over to three trusted friends. Their job was to rate my updates from 1-5 (1 delete and 5 keepers). Graciously, but somewhat defeating my purpose, they ranked the majority of my updates 5/5.
Upon seeing my despair, my husband suggested that he provide the next edit. His tactic would be different than that of those who had gone before him. Rather than choosing updates that could be left out he would highlight the ones that he felt should remain. After a week’s worth of reading and a few boxes of Kleenex later, his mission was accomplished. I could hardly contain myself when I realized that it was my heart that he had highlighted! That was in November, 2010.
In early December, Jen, from Word Alive Press called to catch up. She believed I had a story worth telling and strongly encouraged me to work toward entering a manuscript into the 2011 contest if I felt that I was at a place where I could. I felt more strongly than ever that this was the way God wanted His glory story to be told.
On September 27, 2011, I received a phone call that, again, changed my life forever. This time it was not to give news of pending death, but rather, life! I had won the contest! God truly heard my cry. He picked me up out of the miry clay and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to my God. My prayer, to this day, is that through my book, many will see and fear and put their trust in Him as a result of my submission—not only a manuscript, but submission to His will for His glory story to be told.
Whether we’re aware of it or not, each one of us is writing a story one page at a time. Each chapter holds untold treasures. Sometimes God simply writes the manuscript on our hearts. Other times, He puts it into writing. No matter how He chooses to write it, if we’re open, God uses it to make His-tory for His glory.
If you would like to learn more about the Free Publishing Contest that helped Lisa get her story out, click here!
Lisa Elliott is a popular inspirational speaker and author of The Ben Ripple: Choosing to Live through Loss with Purpose. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 now in heaven) and serve the Lord together in London, Ontario, Canada.
Visit Lisa at Straight from the Heart
Contact Lisa at: firstname.lastname@example.org