Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Guest Blog with Becky Melby & Cathy Wienke

Going Green—God's Way

We're constantly bombarded with reminders to "Recycle, reuse, reduce." We sort bottles, cans, and newspapers. Google “Recycle” and you’ll find curtains made from milk jugs and plastic bag purses. But did it ever occur to you that God is the original Recycler? Think about it: He turned David's remorse into healing songs, and the betrayal of Jacob's
sons into their deliverance. Our God wastes nothing—not our rejection, our loneliness, not even our sin.

In Parting Secrets, the second book in our contemporary Illinois series, Jeanie Cholewinski has spent three decades hiding secrets that could ruin her relationships with her mother and daughter and destroy the reputation she's built in Galena. When two men surface from her past—one, a person whose garish tattoo haunts her nightmares, the other the father of her daughter—all of her cover-ups threaten to unravel. What she doesn’t realize at the beginning of her story is how God can use her unique history for His glory. The verse we used for this book is from the book of Esther: “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance. . .will arise from another place.... And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

As we were talking about the idea of “Devine Recycling,” Cathy looked up the definition of recycling. It begins, “1. To pass again through a series of changes or treatments...” Wow! Doesn’t that describe what the Lord does to us? So we asked ourselves how God had reused things from our pasts for His purposes. Here are our answers:

My mom died when I was ten days old. My dad remarried when I was three, unknowingly bringing me into a fourteen-year volatile, physically and verbally abusive relationship with a stepmother. Her ugly words had long-term negative effects. Things like, “I’ll put you in foster care.” “I wish you were dead.” “Can't you do anything right?” and “How stupid are you?” Are just a few of the haunting words that float in my memories. My mother worked at a facility for mentally challenged adults and would often threaten to put me there. Today, years after coming to know my Savior, I volunteer at a local prison for girls ages twelve through eighteen. I have the privilege of sharing God's Word—His hope, strength, protection and grace. As I pass through the metal detector and walk the long prison corridors, I smile at God’s hand on me. You see, the girls’ prison now occupies the same complex where my mother once worked. The place she once used as a threatening tool against me is now the place where I have the joy of sharing His great love. Isn’t God grand?

My husband and I are the proud parents of four grown sons. Our boys are spaced three, four, and five years apart—not by our choosing. I suffered miscarriages between each healthy birth. Many of you know firsthand the devastation of that loss. At the time, I couldn’t imagine anything good coming out of a pregnancy that ends in empty arms. But years later I was offered the opportunity to direct a crisis pregnancy center. God’s sovereign “recycling” used my past experiences to give me compassion for women considering abortion. Even though my empty arms didn’t come from my “choice,” I knew intimately the heartache that awaited them if they decided to terminate a pregnancy. My past grief gave me many open doors for sharing God’s mercy and his gift of second chances.

We have co-authored nine Heartsongs, and in each one, our past experiences have allowed us to create depth and genuine emotion. In Garment of Praise, Hailey deals with the guilt of an abortion. Sydney, our heroine in Walk with Me, carries literal scars from her past. We both got to pour our fears into Angel—afraid of heights and storms, but also scared of not living her dreams—in Dream Chasers. But the book that reached the deepest into both of our hearts and lives was Stillwater Promise. By God’s grace, we have both been given second chances in our marriages and witnessed God’s amazing grace as He took our failings and our sins and blessed us with stronger, more beautiful marriages than we could have dreamed of. Sara’s “recycled love” story in Stillwater Promise is a direct result of God using our past mistakes for His Greater Good.

So now we’d like to ask you: Has God led you through the valley and into greener pastures that you can now share with others? What events or experiences from your past has God recycled for Greater Good—whether in life...or in fiction?


  1. In the past 30 years that I've walked with God, He has recycled many things in my life, taking me from the valley into greener pastures. Several of the most profound and life changing were a rough patch in my marriage, a prodigal child, a difficult work situation. Even valleys that I've dug my own way into, He has been faithful to lead me out. But I don't want to make light of them. I'm in a pretty dark place right now overwhelmed by life and discouragement. I'm the caretaker for my elderly mother and it's becoming increasingly more difficult and demanding, yet I know the green pasture will come. But waiting in the dark is tough. Hanging onto faith, hard, even though I know that He is right here with me. I have found great comfort in Ps 107 especially verses 19-22. Cathy and Becky, thanks for the tough question and making me think this morning. Recalling His faithfulness is always a good thing.

  2. It still amazes me how God uses devastating situations for His good! Six years ago at this time, we were in the midst of a crisis situation: our middle daughter had an eating disorder (anorexia) and could have died. We had to hospitalize her (in a special hospital an hour away from our home) for an entire month--which was the hardest thing I've ever done. BUT, while she was there, she was able to witness to others about her faith in Jesus, and thank the Lord she has completely recovered and has done amazingly well since that time! The Lord has also allowed me to help other moms who are going through this with their daughters. I learned SO MUCH about that illness, and have been able to counsel other parents and give them hope. ~ Cathy and Becky, thank you for sharing this post, and I look forward to reading your books! Blessings, Patti Jo

  3. This past year our family passed through a valley when we lost a dear member. God walked with us every step of the way, comforting us, and drawing us closer together. We've seen beautiful growth in our children as a result of our bereavement.

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