20 April 2014

When Overcoming Means Surrender by Lori Benton

Author Lori Benton

When I think of overcoming, most often I imagine reaching a mountaintop, completing a task…
Meeting a challenge.
Enduring a trial.
Putting a weakness or bad habit behind me.
But what about those times when, despite our effort, prayer, and faith, the challenge isn’t met, the trial doesn’t end, the loss is irreversible, the mountain proves too steep to climb?
Letting go. Waiting. Surrender.
Far from defeat, surrender can be overcoming in another guise, when we surrender our will and plans and timetable to God, when we come to the end of our striving, and with open hearts say, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
There was a season of surrender in my life. It came in the years following my treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1999. I’d been a writer for eight years at that point and had every intention of continuing on that path as soon as the chemotherapy and radiation were finished, and I got the all-clear from my oncologist. The all-clear came, but no matter how hard I tried post-chemo, I couldn’t write the way I used to. It felt like half my brain had been left behind in that chemo room where I’d spent so much time the previous six months.
I was experiencing what’s called chemo fog. After a year or two of fighting it, trying to find my way out of it—through discipline, prayer, better nutrition, exercise, anything I could think of to help my brain recover—I was forced to admit this mountain is too steep for me, this loss may be irreversible. I surrendered my dream of writing novels to God.
Okay, Lord. You haven’t taken away my desire to write, but You haven’t returned the ability. I don’t know what to do, so I’m going to trust that if You want me to write again, You’ll heal my brain—at some point. I’m going to trust You to give me the peace I need in order to do nothing but rest, and wait, until You tell me otherwise.
For me, that was overcoming. Overcoming my impatience, my plans, my will, my sense of timing. My finding my self-worth and identity in writing.
It wasn’t until 2004 I felt the Lord nudging me to try writing again. Turns out He still had a plan for me regarding writing. He just had some maturing He wanted to do in me first.
Whether its reaching the top of that mountain, or finding peace when the strength to climb is taken away, God is using every circumstance in our lives to grow us up, to ready us for the endless fellowship we’ll enjoy with Him in eternity, and to bless each other now, to encourage each other with the comfort we’ve been given.
During this Easter season, take a moment to picture our hero, our Savior, Jesus, on His knees sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, beseeching His Father, “Let this cup (this cup brimming with physical suffering, separation from God, the burden of our sins, yours and mine) pass from me. Nevertheless… not my will, but Yours be done.”
Our greatest example of overcoming through surrender.

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn is Lori Benton's second novel released by Waterbrook Multnomah!
Book blurb:
Frontier dangers cannot hold a candle to the risks one woman takes by falling in love

In an act of brave defiance, Tamsen Littlejohn escapes the life her harsh stepfather has forced upon her. Forsaking security and an arranged marriage, she enlists frontiersman Jesse Bird to guide her to the Watauga settlement in western North Carolina. But shedding her old life doesn’t come without cost. As the two cross a vast mountain wilderness, Tamsen faces hardships that test the limits of her faith and endurance.

Convinced that Tamsen has been kidnapped, wealthy suitor Ambrose Kincaid follows after her, in company with her equally determined stepfather. With trouble in pursuit, Tamsen and Jesse find themselves thrust into the conflict of a divided community of Overmountain settlers. The State of Franklin has been declared, but many remain loyal to North Carolina. With one life left behind and chaos on the horizon, Tamsen struggles to adapt to a life for which she was never prepared. But could this challenging frontier life be what her soul has longed for, what God has been leading her toward? As pursuit draws ever nearer, will her faith see her through the greatest danger of all—loving a man who has risked everything for her?

CFP:  Thanks so much for this beautiful testimony, Lori! And congratulations to Lori on her DOUBLE Christy Award finalist status, announced this past week!  Lori's novel "Burning Sky" is a Christy finalist for debut and for historical novel.  

GIVEAWAY: This week we will be giving away two copies of Lori's new release "The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn" and a $10 Starbucks gift card!  We'll have two to three reviews of Laurie's lovely novel!!!  Answer this question:  Has God left you with anything you've had to surrender completely over to Him?  How has it affected your relationship with Him?  

46 comments:

  1. My dads health... I'm a nurse and want to "fix" and "heal".... And yes its been a lesson in learning to trust God... I have fallen in love with Kutless song "Even If" :)

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    1. I haven't heard that song, Lisa. I'll have to look for it. Yes, it's hard not to step in and meddle with what God's doing, or become fretful when we can't, when present suffering is involved. We can't see the big picture of what God is accomplishing in us for our eternal good through the trials we face, so we must grow in our trust.

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  2. Welcome to OWG, Lori! Thanks so much for sharing with us this week! Happy Easter!

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  3. what have I not had to surrender? my writing is coming to the forefront, yet remains yielded to Papa, my career in Interior Design, which hasn't happened yet, and by not happening has made way for my writing. my deepest longing for a husband [divorced 30 years this year!! :-( ] but my family, my babies who are now grown. the dysfunction is unbearable, and yet..... just this past week, was a breakthrough, a glimmer of the promise that's to come. my kids are my everything, second only of course, to my relationship with Christ.
    [ps - it won't let me post with my Wordpress ID, robinsnest212 - gotta comment anonymously!!]
    thank you Lori, for your incomparable testimony, and yet, so common to all of us in some form or another. I'll be following you, looking for more of your work!

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    1. Praise God for that breakthrough! He is faithful, and I'll say a prayer for that work to continue. Thanks for commenting!

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  4. UGH, I definitely have need of patience! I wrote a nice little paragraph to you, LORI, and it flew into cyberspace. :( It was so much more profound than this one will be, I'm sure. lol

    Thank you so much for being with us this week on OWG, and for your lovely testimony! I think knowing that it's God's will for you to do something and not being able to do it yet, is one of the hardest things to surrender. I know it had to have been painful for you at the time, but it surely was worth the wait -- your books are amazing! And, yes, I will copy this comment in case blogger decides to be ugly to me again. LOL

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    1. Oh, that Blogger. Happens to me all the time, so why don't I remember to copy my comments before I his Publish? :) Thanks for hosting me here this week!

      Something I learned through that time, and that my pastor has taught, is to never assume that because God told me to do start doing something a year ago, or five years ago, or five days ago, that I never need to check in with Him again to be sure it's STILL His will for me. Daily conversation. What a privilege.

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing your very thoughtful and encouraging words LORI. I've been through many, many instances where I've had to let go, wait, and surrender. Some to do with health, some to do with finances, and some to do with relationships. Through them all, I've cried, prayed, been impatient, and then at some stage surrendered! But also through them all, I've seen His amazing hand in things, miracles, and answered prayers. And most importantly, lessons learnt! :)
    I haven't had the pleasure of reading your new book yet, but after reading and loving Burning Sky, you can betcha I fully intend to purchase it to read! ;) God bless you!!

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    1. Thank you Noela! It is a wonderful thing to see His hand move in our lives when we've surrendered and are simply waiting on Him. Oh, that it didn't take all that struggle first to be still and trust Him. :) But we're learning!

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  6. Beautiful testimony. I am reading Tamsen now and it is such a beautifully written book! SO thankful God returned that ability to you, Lori. Thank you for the reminder that sometimes, we aren't called to fight to get through things. Sometimes we just have to be still (harder for me!). Encouraging post today.

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    1. It is often harder to sit still and wait than to fight, but in my case I'd tried in vain, and there was nothing more I could do. But while I waited I took up scrapbooking, did a little painting again, found other creative outlets. And I was listening to dozens of audio books while I did those things, so I was filling that creative well, and I'm sure that helped me to be ready when the day to pour out again came.

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  7. Lori, you put it so well. Overcoming through surrendering, not a concept that comes natural is it? Yet with God, it is the only way to discover His direction for our lives. It wasn't until I surrendered my dreams for my life, that God replaced it with the desire of my heart. Then came the time when I had to surrender not only that lovely desire, but my physical life as well. He gave me back my health and in doing so, healed my broken heart and damaged spirit. God is good all the time, especially when we surrender our all to Him.

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    1. "God is good all the time" I love this. That's why we can trust Him, no matter if we aren't seeing our hopes and dreams coming true.

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  8. My husband and I are unable to conceive, so we've had to surrender that procreative power to God and trust that He would bring the children meant to be in our family to us. It's been such a blessing to witness the miracles that brought each of our daughters into our family through adoption.

    Thank you for the giveaway!!! I'm looking forward to reading your new book!

    colorvibrant at gmail dot com

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    1. That's beautiful, Heidi. So happy for your family that God has knit together. I am also unable to have children (another chemo side effect), but I He's filling my heart and life with book babies instead. :)

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  9. That's an incredible testimony about God's timing for your writing! It is so hard to surrender when we think we can just push through our circumstances. I had to surrender my college plans to the Lord. It was a hard experience as a teenager and the first time I really had to sit back and watch God work out the details (and send some scholarship money!) for the journey he had put on my heart but I had no way of accomplishing on my own. Now I teach for that same college! kosterbind (at) gmail (dot) com

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    1. Wonderful testimony of God's provision, timing, and plan for you, Kelly. Thanks for sharing! I love looking back and seeing his hand in my life and the lives of others, but even if we don't get to see it in this life, we most certainly will in heaven when we will say "Just and true are Your ways, O Lord." Can't wait to see with those heavenly eyes.

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  10. When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I was SO scared I was going to have a miscarriage or that something was going to go wrong. My husband and I had thought we wouldn't be able to have children, and now that we were having one, I had a lot of fear--like it was too good to be true. It was a struggle, but I had to give that worry over to God or I knew I'd make myself crazy. I ended up having the easiest pregnancy and delivery ever, my son was born healthy and strong, and he's now almost two. I don't know how people do it when they don't believe in a God they can rely on!

    Thanks for the chance to win! jennismith1983(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Jennifer, I am so glad to have the Lord as comforter, counselor, friend, father. Blessings to you and your family!

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  11. Hi Lori it's so good for you to be with us this week on OWG. Thank you for sharing with us about your encounter with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. How shocking it is when you receive that diagnosis, 1999 was also the year my husband was diagnosed with cancer, Praise God he has been cancer free for 15 years!

    I'm so glad GOD also brought healing to you and that in His time he allowed you to write again, I have truly enjoyed reading your books. Burning Sun was absolutely perfect and I was greatly moved by it but when I started reading The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn I was BLOWN-AWAY!! Oh WOW what a book!! I know my review of it won't even come close to doing it justice!! :-)

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    1. Teresa, Yay for your husband being cancer free all these years as well. Each year is such a gift now, isn't it? While at the same time I have a yearning for heaven that I believe was worked into me during those months of 1999. So no matter what, staying here a while longer to write more books, or moving on to whatever I'll be doing for eternity, it's all good. And I'm so pleased you've enjoyed Tamsen and Jesse's story so much.

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  12. In one year "God left me" with a husband who broke his neck, recuperation from gall bladder surgery, and a Mom suffering with Alzheimer's. As you see God did not leave me but walked beside me the whole way. My relationship with Him was made stronger through all of this..

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    1. Praising Him for another testimony of His faithfulness! Blessing to you.

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  13. Has God left you with anything you've had to surrender completely over to Him? How has it affected your relationship with Him?
    Yes. Doing so has improved my relationship with God. I'm learning to trust Him instead oft trying to be in charge of my decisions. I'm still struggling with this but He will see me through. Ü
    cindialtman(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Cindi, I'm convinced it's a lifelong process, this surrendering thing. Blessings to you as you journey with Him.

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  14. Yes letting my Grandma go after she pasted away march.
    oh.hello.hiya@gmail.com

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    1. Danie, Yes, that's a tough one, losing loved ones. My Dad passed away last Christmas as I was finishing up the edits for The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn. It was unexpected, and he lived 3000 miles away so I wasn't able to say good-bye. But I know where he is and that I'll see him again. And I'm so glad he got to read Burning Sky, as he was always such an encouragement to me, and believed in me as a writer. Blessings to you as you remember your Grandmother, may God comfort your heart.

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  15. I guess the biggest area of surrender for me is being in my early thirties and not married with no prospects on the horizon. I also adore children and would love to have several. There's only a small window of time left for that now. Both of these areas are ones that I have had to pray about and accept over and over again. I know in my head that God knows this is best for me right now at least. I just to trust Him and love Him more.

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    1. Here's my e-mail address. nina4sm/at/gmail/dot/com

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    2. Sylvia, praying for you as you wait on His timing and perfect plan, and I love your heart that is trusting in Him to do what is best. May He fill your heart with His very own desires for you, so that what He desires is what you long for too. I remember that season when I desired to write but couldn't so well. Hugs!

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    3. Praying for you Sylvia. And congrats on being one of the winners this week on OWG blog. I married near thirty and had our second child over forty so you still have time!

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  16. My son, my first born, was born with a profound hearing loss. When I was pregnant with my second child I was so anxious. I eventually learned to let go of that anxiety & just trust. I came to realise that there was nothing I could do to change the outcome. I knew that no matter what, it would be okay. My daughter's hearing is unaffected.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. Mary, that's a mature place to reach in our walk with Christ, knowing that no matter what, it will be okay, because He is with us, and He is good, and He is working all things together for our good. That isn't always comfortable in the moment, but then He comes along and comforts us with the peace that passes understanding in the midst of whatever we are going through. I experienced that more than once during those years of physical struggle. Thanks for sharing about your own struggles and triumphs.

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  17. Thank you for your wonderful testimony, Lori!! You are such an inspiration, and an example of what God can accomplish in us when we surrender the reins to Him!! I am thrilled for you and your double Christy award finalist status, and so glad that you were able to surrender your dream of writing novels to God - so that we could be blessed by your wonderful writing talent restored by Him through that surrender!!

    After many years of living life "my way" and seeing my marriage to an alcoholic husband crumble, it was only through surrendering myself to God's plan for my life - I was able to find happiness. Since then, I have experienced an even greater spiritual relationship with Him than when I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior - at the age of 12, and can't imagine, now, not consulting Him for all of life's decisions!!

    bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Bonnie, I hope you'll enjoy the copy of The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn that's on the way to you (won in another drawing).

      Like you, I didn't grasp what it mean to walk with the Lord daily when I first accepted Him as Savior, at around age 10. But I remember when I did finally "get" it (age 17). It was like a light had been switched on in my soul. :-)

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  18. Life at my house has been pretty stressful, with my mom wanting complete control over everything despite that almost all of us are adults now. I have really been struggling with setting aside how I want to do things for how she wants things done. It's been hard and there's usually a bout of tears during each day but God has been merciful in providing a steady stream of encouragement from friends who know the situation!
    Thanks for this giveaway! I have been hearing so many good things about this book!
    gatorade635(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Abbi, praying for you today that God continues to speak to you about how to "be" in your present situation in a way that is honoring to your mom and glorifying to Him. Hugs!

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  19. Hello Lori(by the way this is my daughter's name also} So glad you are visiting with my OWG girls. Aren't they great? I am so thankful to GOD that HE let you heal where you could write again. I know you love to write and we love your stories. I remember about 3 years ago when my oldest brother was seriously sick and in a coma for several months. I prayed for GOD to heal him. The doctors told his family that if he came out of it he might not be the LT we all knew. Would most likely have to learn to walk and talk all over again. I finally decided GOD might not give us the miracle we wanted this time, so just had to give it to GOD as if HE willed. Well, later, my brother came out of it one day when I was visiting him (the only time I was able to visit during the coma time). I was talking to him and he opened his eyes and looked at me. After that and his throat got well from the tube, he was his old self. Could talk and walk just fine, and all memory back. Praise. Was so neat that it happened when I was there. Such a blessing. He is still well and will soon be 89. GOD has given so many Miracles to our family through the years, but there were times it wasn't HIS will I guess to heal someone. So many accidents where a family member looked as tho they wouldn't make it and HE chose to give them back to us. This is includes the Family I was born into and several generations. We have many praying when someone needs it. I could use a whole page to list all of these times. Thanks sweet OWG girls for asking Lori to be your guest. Hoping to win her book. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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    1. What a legacy of prayer in your family, Maxie. That's wonderful! Thanks for sharing your family's stories, and about your brother's healing. Hugs!

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  20. Has God left you with anything you've had to surrender completely over to Him? How has it affected your relationship with Him?
    The thing that first comes to mind is when my parents were split up and my family was a huge mess on all sides. No one was talking and I so badly wanted to control everything. I had to let God take control and heal. It helped me trust Him more.
    bookwormgal2011 at yahoo dot com

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    1. Michelle, so thankful we can run to Him when we are hurt by the choices of others, and find our healing in His grace and love. Sometimes we just have to let others go and trust them to God. I've had to do this too. Blessings to you!

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  21. Crazy Crazy allergies arent as bad as your cancer episode but they have made matters hard and turning them over to my Lord has given me such freedom even though they werent taken away God bless u Im proud of you being able to turn your cancer over to our Lord
    Chris
    granvilleATfrontiernetDOTnet

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  22. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer last year and even though it was caught early I had all these fears. God has used this experience to help me to see how not every area of my life is surrendered to him. He is helping me to overcome with his words, amazing family and friends and music that points me back to him.
    Sonnetta_jones@hotmail.com

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  23. Thank you for sharing with us! Those struggles are hard - trusting and remembering that God has everything in His hands. I had to go thru that struggle and trust reminders while having kids. I had my own plans and God, through his perfect way, showed me He had much better plans for me.
    lattebooks at hotmail dot com

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  24. Lori, thank you for a lovely and inspiring post. I can't imagine how difficult your whole experience was. I'm so happy that God called you back to writing. What came to my mind in answer to your question was when my eldest daughter's fiance was killed in a car accident. She had moved 100 miles away to take her first job after college. She had no friends or family there. Helping her get through the next two years was heart-wrenching for me. With her so far away, I mostly just had to give it all to God to help her through. It was a difficult time for our family.
    may_dayzee(at)yahoo(dot)com

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