January 2014 through December 2014 - Page 35

by Barbara Ragsdale E mily Dickinson wrote, “A wounded deer leaps the highest.” Perhaps this is the story of Diane K Chamberlain, who lived through numerous treatments to correct congenital knee disorders. In her memoir Baby Steps: A Personal Journey with God through a lifetime of Pain and Heartache she depicts the challenges that she faced constantly while enduring knee surgeries that were not a cure for joints that dislocated. Diane’s perspective on all of the pain and suffering is not one of regret even though she didn’t experience some of the things that others her age did. “My education for writing came from the painful surgeries, heartache from sexual abuse as a child and the loss of many things in my life, including the loss of children. Many in this world grow up and go to school or college, but that’s not what God had in store for me.” Raised in a small town in Michigan, Diane recalls not realizing until much later that God had “branded” her at birth for His own purposes. “As each painful moment came, and as each loving desire left, God was taking all the brokenness in my life and He was piecing it together.” Through a ministry of caring for others, helping those in despair, Diane has learned that “no matter what we lose or experience in life, He will always be there to pick up the broken pieces.” This year marks twelve years of serving those in need, and Diane says, “God continues to open new doors for me to walk through.” She is working fulltime in Jesus Care Children Ministry and using her writing to share her life experiences with others. Very early on Diane recognized a unique gift to understand another’s pain. During her first surgery while she was quite young, her roommate was an older woman who had broken her foot. The other patient was consumed with her own pain. Listening and talking, Diane and she became great friends, each of them learning from the other, but the younger one ministering to the older one. In the many surgeries throughout her life Diane says she realized that God would place her in contact with other patients who needed support and comfort. Exposing life experiences can make an author feel vulnerable, but not Diane. Her candor “just came naturally from a heart that longed to help others. I hoped others could avoid the wrong turns that I took in life.” Choosing the events to write about in her memoir and many devotional books was not a conscious decision, she says, but rather a humble reverence to let God use each experience as He saw fit. “Each painful moment became stepping stones to a renewed heart.” It is through that renewed heart that she tries to put herself in another’s shoes and speak to their despair. Her advice to writers who want to use their own experiences in writing is to speak from the heart, to return to the conscious level of walking through loneliness and despair so that it speaks to a reader, allowing reader and writer to walk together through both suffering and joy. In books that include Hope for a New Day Devotional, Time Alone with God and Devotions to Strengthen the Hurting Soul, Diane speaks to readers who need to escape from the darkness in their life to embrace the light of God’s love. “His words have a way of soothing the mind from the cares and worries that attempt to take over thoughts that turn into distress. “I have come to see that God never abandons His own, but rather He exchanges the painful moments for the true plan He has for each of our lives.” In Diane’s own life, “my life experiences brought me to a level where I could hear His voice within my spirit as He began to use each painful moment from the past to reach out to others in need through my writings.” n Southern Writers 35