Watch Out for the U-Turn!

One beautiful, sunny African afternoon in 1997, my life changed forever with the words, "You have cancer." As if that wasn't bad enough, the radiologist followed with the words, "And I don't think they'll be able to get it all out."

How can I describe the experience?

It was like when you are tearing along the road, enjoying the scenery and eager to arrive at your destination, and all of a sudden the road turns back on itself. You jam on brakes and grip the steering wheel in an effort to keep the car under control as you attempt to navigate the U-turn you hadn't seen coming.

It was just like that.

I jammed on brakes, gripped my steering wheel, and sped into battle against what turned out to be an aggressive form of cancer. With the use of a skilled surgeon, an unconventional and courageous oncologist, a supportive family, and a team of praying friends, God pulled me through that dreadful year of treatment. Not only did I survive the U-turn, I found myself traveling, as you do with a U-turn, in a different direction. I went from being an RN to being a published author.

Near the beginning of treatment, I picked up an old notebook and started to journal. Not logically or neatly. No edits. No proper sentences. I just jotted down the good times (few) and the bad times (many). I didn't know why, but I knew that God promises in His Word He will  work all things for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28). I couldn't see how He could do this, and I also knew that where He would probably remember the important facts, I probably would not. So I took notes. 

It took me a while to see it. But I began to realise how many invaluable lessons God was teaching me during my "cancer year," and eventually I started to make notes of them as well.

One verse that followed me throughout the whole cancer experience is found in Isaiah 40:31: "They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles."  I started to put my meditations together under the working title, Rise and Soar over the Cancer Valley, based on the picture of the eagle soaring on his strong wings.

I knew my only option for publication was to get the book to an American publisher--but how?

Then unexpectedly I received the incredible gift of a trip to the Florida Christian Writers' Conference in 2010. (If you think that's great, add on the fact that I live in South Africa!) There was one editor I knew wouldn't be interested in my book, but she was. You'll need to read the full story if you want to know more! She wasn't only interested. She took it to Revell Books, a division of the well-known Baker Publishing group, and they bought my book.   

Fast track to 2012. On October 1, Strength Renewed, Meditations for Your Journey through Breast Cancer was launched. It is now available in the U.S. and on-line and will be released here in Southern Africa on November 10. 

It all goes to show that anything--absolutely anything-- can be of value to a writer--provided we remember the facts. Oh yes, and God can use all things for good!

So when life's highway suddenly throws unexpected twists and turns at you, hang onto that steering wheel. And don't forget to journal as you navigate the U-turn ahead!

OVER TO YOU: What U-Turn have you had to navigate in your life? Are you still going in the new direction?

Further Reading:
The Right Editor!
Florida Christian Writers Conference

SHIRLEY CORDER lives a short walk from the seaside in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, with her husband Rob. She is author of Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer. Shirley is also contributing author to ten other books and has published hundreds of devotions and articles internationally. 

Visit Shirley on her website to inspire and encourage writers, or on Rise and Soar, her website for encouraging those on the cancer journey. Follow her on Twitter or "like" her Author's page on Facebook. 


Kathleen Moulton said...

Shirley, first of all, I absolutely love your profile picture!

I am currently navigating a u-turn and learning how to transition from a homeschooling, full time homemaker for 30 years to a writer/author. Let's just say it's a bumpy ride at times!

It was God who opened this new door for me and even though I haven't reached a destination yet, I know I will. I am still going in my new direction. I have not given up!

Thank-you for a beautifully written and encouraging article. Hope is there for all of us no matter what we're going through!


Shirley Corder said...

Thanks Kathy - and all the best for your new direction!

Karen Cioffi said...

Shirley, What an inspirational post. Life usually does offer you a new road when the one you're on suddenly becomes closed.

Life is full of the unexpected. I too had a dramatic U-Turn when I had to give up my accounting career because of multiple sclerosis. But, had that not happened, I would never have become a freelance writer and author.

I've been fortunate enough to have two careers in my life that I absolutely love.

Karen Cioffi said...

Oh, forgot to say CONGRATULATIONS on Renewed Strength being released in the U.S.

It sounds amazing - Best Wishes for its success!

Shirley Corder said...

Thank you Karen. So sorry about the MS. That's a hard turn in the road. But yes, the Lord really does turn things around for good if we love and trust Him.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Congratulations SHirley and thanks for the reminder that U-turns often lead us where we need to go.

Shirley Corder said...

Thanks Mary Jo!And yes, it's often where we don't WANT to go, but where we NEED to be!

Ruth Ann Dell said...

Thanks for the reminder to journal through the U-turns! My life this year has been a gradual sweeping turn rather than a U-turn, and the lesson I'm still learning is to get on with the writing and not procrastinate.

Congratulations on the launch of "Renewed Strength" and thank you for sharing how God has worked in your life.

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