Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Welcome Loraine Kemp

I'm so thankful that Loraine Kemp volunteered to share her story for my Book Launch. I'm taken aback by her testimony of God's mercy and steady guidance despite her diagnosis with cancer and the despair and anger that come from losing her brother to cancer. After you read her article, go to her artist Facebook page and be blessed by her beautiful illustrations. - Tina

Don’t Look Down!
by Loraine Kemp

            Plumes of black and gray smoke choked the hills surrounding our town. The firestorm of 2003 incinerated much of our forests and over 250 homes that lay in its path. Afterward, I suffered from severe chronic asthma. I was infuriated with God. Why had this happened?

            But God was hatching a wonderful plan for me, even though at the time it seemed like a disaster.

Finally, after seven long years when my health returned, I was able to slowly wean myself off the inhalers. However, that’s when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was devastated.

            I had no fight left, which was why my husband declined an invitation to attend a men’s golf weekend. I insisted that he go, but he insisted back that if he went, I had to go too. I surprised both of us when I reluctantly agreed.

            So there I was, a preoccupied and depressed bartender and caddie for five guys on a gorgeous golf course. At the signature golf hole, a canyon with a tiny green on the other side, I sat watching and wishing I could play. After many balls had careened into the gulley, the guys took pity on me and allowed me to hit.

            My legs shook as I stared down at my ball, thinking of the deep gorge ahead. What was I doing? Did I really need more stress? But God’s soft voice broke through my agitation.

            “Loraine, as in your cancer diagnosis, you can think of all the things that could go wrong, or you could look for me. Don’t look down! I’m waiting for you across the gorge.”

            An enormous shift in my faith had just happened¾calmness flooded my being. With a loud ‘crack’ I hit the ball. Much to the guys’ chagrin, my ball sailed over the gorge and landed mere feet from the flag.

            From that moment on, I knew God was in charge. Through all my cancer treatments, I was completely calm.

            A few years later, my brother was diagnosed with a much more serious cancer. Our family was crushed to learn he only had about a month to live. During that time I told him my golf experience and reminded him during every visit, don’t look down! He embraced his faith so much that at a family gathering, the day before he died, he shared our faith story and told everyone he was at peace. There wasn’t a dry eye.

            I was so touched and inspired, I wrote a short story. It was called, of course, ‘Don’t Look Down’ and was entered into a conference contest, Write Canada! 2013. I was shocked and humbled when it won.  http://www.thewordguild.com/2013-fresh-ink-winning-entries/

            My God experience was not meant for me only. That was obvious. Thousands have since read the story. Of course, God wasn’t finished there.

The journey from anger and despair to my present wonder in God’s loyalty was the seed for my novel Orion’s Sword. It too was entered into a conference contest, American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2013 in Indianapolis. My novel is aimed at mid-grade readers, but there was no children’s category. So I entered into the YA category, only desiring the judges’ comments. However, I was amazed to make it to the semi-finals, then to the finals. While at the conference, I was stunned when my name was called out as the winner in front of 650 people at the awards Gala! I was the breathless winner of the Genesis 2013 contest! 

            Out of the ashes of the fire and the turmoil of breast cancer, I’ve emerged, scarred and battered, but stronger in my faith than ever. The gifts I’ve gained, God expects me to use “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” Ephesians 4: 12.

            Are you also going through turmoil? Hold on. God never wastes a hurt!

#2013 Genesis winner