Beginnings are so much more fun than endings, don’t you think?
I’m a country girl at heart; a native Hoosier. (For those unfamiliar with America’s Midwest and basketball, that’s what we call someone from Indiana.) I was born in 1976 to a family of farmers. My dad showed Arabian horses and drove semi while my mom raised four kids and ran 140 acres of fields and livestock. The farm is in my blood, but not my memory. My parents divorced when I was seven. They sold the farm and we moved to town – that is, a map-dot in the middle of farms. The big city had two stop lights.
Since then I have lived in a ghetto of Philadelphia, a basement in Bosnia, the mountains of Switzerland, an apartment in New York and now a house in Jersey. I attended Philadelphia College of Bible (now Cairn University) where I earned a B.S. in Bible. There I studied intercultural missions and met a man far too good for me. Rick (yes, the same man) and I were married in 1999. My careers have included humanitarian work, church-planting, creative in-home sales and finance coordination. My current role as a mother of two is proving to be most challenging.
Challenging, definitely, but oh-so entertaining! Our two are just seventeen months apart. Both were surprise pregnancies and both are so miraculous. God has used these kids to teach me so much about Himself and about me.
I met God when I was fifteen. Okay, I had met God many times in the years before then, but not happily. According to my mom, I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was five. It was after VBS. She and I prayed together on my bunk bed.
But I saw a problem: this God allowed my life to be torn apart. A god who would allow abuse, divorce and the intertwined nastiness to interrupt my life was not one I wanted to serve. But I couldn’t escape Him.
My mom clung to her faith. She dragged us to church every time the doors were open. This only strengthened my rebellion. By age fourteen I was skipping school and sneaking around with boys far too old for me. It wasn’t long before I got caught. Mom grounded me for a year. Many parents say they’ll ground for that long, but few stick to it. My mom did. During that year my only permitted extra-curricular activity was church. This led to me meeting God again, happily this time.
I was doing “homework” for youth group when God brought me to Romans 8:38-39.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
It was like being struck in the face. If none of those things can separate me from God’s love, who am I to even try? God loves me – in spite of all I have done and all I have not done. He loves you, too – just as you are.
That day I dedicated my life to God. Wherever He wanted me, I would go. Whatever He wanted me to do, I would complete enthusiastically. This has taken many different forms. I once thought I could only fulfill my promise by working overseas as a lifetime missionary, but God has taught me that, as His child, I am already a missionary wherever I am. In the city, in the country, in America or elsewhere, I only need to follow Him. I am a living sacrifice … working in an office, scrapbooking with friends, making meals for shut-ins, raising my kids … writing. It is all for Him; for others to see Him in me.
I have always written. My mom recently gave me a book I wrote in fifth grade. Thankfully, I have improved since then. I never shared my writing publicly. It was something just for me. It was way to clarify my thoughts and feelings; a way to express what my middle-child syndrome wouldn’t allow me to verbalize.
God didn’t want it left there. After Rick and I married, I felt Him nudging me to write for others. There were two problems: I didn’t believe I had anything worth saying and I didn’t know where to start. I shared with Him what I thought were valid excuses. He let me talk, but didn’t let me get away with it. He kept nudging and whispering. Finally, after enduring six years of nagging, I gave in.
I found a writing challenge through a quick search online. It gave me one week to put together an article on “purpose.” I wrote something, deleted it and wrote something else. After praying one more time, I submitted my entry. It looked like obedience, but really it was me trying to prove God wrong. By trying and losing, I would finally stop those irritating nudges. Well, I won. A couple months later, I was contacted by an editor who wanted to publish my article. My piece, the first piece I ever shared publicly, was featured in FaithWriters Magazine, September 2006. And that was a whole new beginning.
Visit me at www.TanyaDennisBooks.com.