By: Samantha Evans, Fairfax UMC
A key part of discipleship and a vitally important way to grow in our relationship with God is by sharing our faith stories with others. Periodically, we'll share a video or written testimony from a Minnesota United Methodist willing to share how they see God at work in their life. Below is one from Samantha Evans. Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone and share your faith story? Email us or call 612-230-6132.
Scripture reiterates that God knows us intimately. So, I’m not sure why, exactly, it surprises me when God displays knowledge of that intimacy.
Three events occurred when I was 8 years old that defined my life’s direction.
One is that my parents divorced. Due to a significant trauma two years prior to the divorce, I relied on my family more than most. That bond set me up for a higher fall when they split.
One Sunday morning, following our worship service, I climbed and hung and swung on the railings of the stairwell leading to our musty church basement waiting years for my dad’s conversation with the pastor to end. Though I never heard specifics, I knew the two men spoke of my parents’ rotten marriage. My parents shouted a lot in those days. I remember their faces contorted with anger as they stormed from one end of the house to the other, spewing venom and hatred. My bedroom door lay at the exact center of the house.
Gosh, hurry up. This is so booooring!
I braced myself between the two railings and swung my legs out in front of me. If family is supposed to last forever and it’s not going to, then what does?
"Sam, I’m here and I’m real."
My heart recognized the voice of its Creator. I didn’t use any words. I didn’t ask the pastor to pray for me. But that day, my heart flipped as I laid it down in surrender. Event number two.
It’s simple to see the correlation between those two events. The third is more subtle—a latent talent that God understood as God formed me within my mother’s womb. I recognized it in high school, and absolutely took it for granted. But the gift, the talent, manifested itself during that same time—my ability to speak truth with transparency, humor, and love through writing.
God needed to be subtle because if God told me at 8, or even in high school, I would have reminded him about my physical limitations, much like Moses (Ex. 3:10-11), because the trauma I experienced as a child was a corrective surgery for cerebral palsy. My right side is not as strong or deft as my left. I start my SUV with my left hand. I button clothing with one hand. And even as I type this to you, I type with only one hand. One of my youth kids called it “spider typing.”
God, you’re mistaken. There is someone better suited for this task than me. How can I be a writer if I can’t even type with both hands?
I knew enough of my writing talent to have considered minoring in it in college, but the thought passed quickly. During a rough spot two years into my marriage, I started writing a romance novel for fun—not comprehending that “writing a novel” is not something most people consider “fun.” I even started hand-writing it in a notebook and then eventually transferred it to a computer. I desired to write quality fiction that I would not be embarrassed for my children to read.
When I finished the manuscript, I decided to write a military fiction novel to honor a childhood friend who died in Iraq. These manuscripts provided practice—though God didn’t tell me that.
In the midst of writing the military fiction novel, my husband and I miscarried. One day soon after, as I journaled out my feelings, I scrawled the words, “you see, I…” I lifted my pen and stared at the words.
No. No, no, no.
That is the moment I felt God calling, asking, nudging, commanding, nagging me to write a book for women who miscarried.
Fine. I’ll do it. I pumped out “Love Letters to Miscarried Moms” in two months. Continuing work on my military fiction novel will be the reward for finishing this stupid book.
That stupid book transformed into a ministry that has reached thousands of women.
In 2015, a friend told me about NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writer’s Month. A contest takes place each November. The goal: to write 50,000 words toward a novel in November (1,667 words per day, if you’re calculating). The prize is a T-shirt that the winner has to purchase himself or herself. I reached the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words two years in a row.
I shared my enthusiasm with friends and, at this point, finally, comprehended that writing novels is not something that most people do for “fun.” My hints lie in the questions that people asked me, or, more to the point, my answers:
“Sam, how’s your book coming?”
“Uh…how many have you written so far?”
Then last year, a writer I knew read my blog “The Day I Almost Drowned,” which takes place on our very own Lake Koronis, and said, “We should write an adventure-themed devotional together. All you have to do is keep blogging.” Um, okay.
I feel closest to God when I am writing. When I write, I tread a path paved with blessings. Maybe it’s because I listen more carefully when I type. Maybe it’s because I am fulfilling God’s purpose for me. Maybe it’s because I finally gifted God my weaknesses and allowed God to step in and use my measly five loaves and two fish.
Whatever the reason, thanks be to God, my savior, that we have found our rhythm.
“Sam, how many books have you written so far?”
“Six.” I’m grinning as I “spider-type” this.
“Adventure Devos: The first devotional written exclusively for men with a heart for risk and danger” hit Amazon last month. (The women’s version will come out late this fall.)Thank you, Jesus!
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church