One beautiful, sunny African afternoon in 1997, my life changed forever. For two years, I had asked my gynaecologist for a mammogram. For two years, he had told me it wasn’t necessary. Finally another specialist sent me for a “routine mammogram and ultrasound” which turned out to not be as routine as I’d hoped.
Several years after my cancer treatment, I was riding on my exercise bicycle with a book on writing perched on the handlebars. The author asked a question that prompted me to think. It went something like this: “If you were only going to get one book published in your life, what would that be?” I stopped reading, and although I continued to pedal, I prayed. What one book would be the most important for me to write?
In 2009, I sensed the Lord calling me to write a book of meditations for those in the cancer valley. I gave it the working title of Rise and Soar, based on Isaiah 40:31, Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up on wings as eagles.
A couple of months later, I was approached to take on the post of Night Sister (RN in charge) in a large Frail Care center.
I agreed to take on the work only after being certain that I would be able to continue with my writing when my patients were asleep. I needed the money, I loved nursing, and I enjoyed night duty. But . . . Rise and Soar was my priority.
Fortunately, it looked as if I could have both.
Some months before, I had started to pray that
- somehow the Lord would make it possible for me to attend another Christian Writers’ Conference in the USA. I couldn’t see any other way of making contact with an overseas publisher. Thanks to the world-wide economic crisis, any type of travel was out of the question on our budget. There was certainly no way I could pay for world travel.
- I prayed the Lord would show me which conference I was to attend.
- I prayed He would supply the means, not only for the conference itself, but also to cover the cost of getting there.
- And I prayed He would provide in such a way there was no question the finances were for a conference.
In other words, I prayed for a series of miracles.
Now I added another prayer:
- that I would be able to get the necessary leave to attend the conference when God opened the many doors. I knew He was going to get me to a conference. I just didn’t know how. And I didn’t know how my new employers would react if it was too soon.
A few nights later, before I had even signed the contract for my new job, I received a totally unexpected email.
I was about to go to bed, when I checked my email one more time. There was an email from Cec Murphey in the States, offering to finance a trip to attend one of two conferences. The one was way too soon. The other was the Florida Christian Writers’ Conference in Leesburg, Florida.
Wow! This was indeed a miracle beyond anything I could have imagined. But the conference was in February. I would only have been working for five months. Surely I wouldn’t be able to get leave so soon? I phoned the Matron of the Frail Care unit. She didn’t hesitate. Certainly, I could have the leave. She even agreed that I could have a week off before and after, so that I would be able to get over my night-duty hours before the conference—and over the jet-lag after the conference.
Nearly four weeks leave—on full pay—after only five months of work. Surely this had to be of the Lord?
With a sense of awe, I accepted Cec’s offer, and I signed the contract with the Frail Care.
Both prayers were answered within a few days of each other! From that moment, I knew that the Florida conference was part of God’s plan for Rise and Soar.
- I expanded my prayers to include a request that the Lord would bring to the conference the representative of the publishing house He wanted to publish the book. Almost every day, I started to watch the conference website to see which publishers would be represented.
And I started night duty.
During my rigorous months of chemotherapy, one of my favourite haunts was the Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden not far from our home in Krugersdorp, South Africa. There we would sit and watch for the appearance of one or both of the Vereaux’s eagles that nested high on a cliff overlooking a rocky valley. Little did I know what those eagles would one day mean to me.
Before arriving at the Florida Christian Writers’ Conference, I had selected four possible editors to preview my proposal for Rise and Soar (now called Strength Renewed). I intended to see that one of the four got my manuscript before the start of the conference, and I would make appointments to see the other three during the conference.
Up until now, I’ve been giving you the background story as to how the Lord took the germ of an idea and grew it into a book that will soon be available across the globe. I say the Lord. I’m hoping that if you’ve read through this story, you will see, as I have, that this has been no casual procedure.