Finding Joy in the Story You’re Living

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

WINNING WITH THE WORD

“Winning with the Word” is a weekly blog that will help you to be a winner in life by applying God’s principles for living the abundant life as found in the Bible, God’s manual for life.

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Four months ago, we were all writing the plots of our lives, oblivious to what lay just around the corner. Then–out of nowhere–the world was hit with a major pandemic that caused our plots to twist–and, in some cases, twist drastically. Now we find ourselves in totally unexpected situations, trying to make sense of it all and–even more challenging–trying to write new plots for our lives.

But maybe that’s where we’ve been missing it. In trying to write our own life plots in the first place. For you see, God has a plot for each of our lives, and His plot is usually quite different from ours. The big question is, “Am I willing to let God write the story of my life, or will I insist on writing it myself?”

If you’re like me, you may have resisted God’s plot–or story–for your life. In my case, I didn’t even know God had a plot for my life. So, at the age of fifteen, I started writing my own plot. I planned every point along the way, exactly as I wanted it to happen.

But midway through my writing of my plot, God intervened. Basically, He told me I was writing the wrong story. It wasn’t His story. He had a different story He wanted to write for my life. Would I let Him do so?

I would have been a fool to refuse.

What about you? Are you refusing to allow God to write the story of your life? If so, consider these advantages of allowing God to plot your life:

  1. God always has your best interests at heart. So the story He has planned for your life is the best story possible for your life–the story that will serve to make you the most like Jesus. 
  2. God created you. Therefore, He knows in what “genre” to write the story of your life. He knows whether or not you will become more like Jesus through humor or sorrow–or a combination of both. He knows whether or not you need a slow-paced story, with lots of calm moments to sort things out, or a fast-paced one that forces you to confront things you don’t want to confront.
  3. God loves you.  Ultimately, this is God’s reason for wanting to write your story. He knows that if you go it alone, you’ll botch up your story. He wants to make sure you don’t mess it up. 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the Lord in my 50 years of walking with Him, it’s that the story He writes for our lives is always better than the story we try to write ourselves.

Are you willing to let God write the story of your life? In order to do so, you may have to let go of the story you thought your life would be and learn to find joy in the story you’re living. 

Why not do that now? Give Jesus your pen and then stand back as the Master Storyteller writes the magnificent story He has already plotted for your life. I guarantee it will be a bestseller!

If you have not yet accepted Jesus Christ, the Master Storyteller, I urge you to do so now. Please pray this simple prayer with me:

Lord Jesus, I’ve been trying to write the story of my own life, but I’ve failed miserably. Forgive me! You are the only one who can write my life story. And it’s the best story for me. So I hand over my pen to You, and I give You free reign to write the story of my life. In Your Name, I receive You as my Savior and Lord. Amen.

If you prayed this simple prayer, please write to me at drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com. I would like to send you a little booklet that will help you get started in your walk with Christ. I also encourage you to get yourself a Bible and read it every single day. The Bible is God’s love letter to you, His manual for your life. In the Bible, God reveals Who He is, and He instructs you how to live.

Finally, ask the Lord to lead you to the church of His choice for you where you can learn about Him and have fellowship and encouragement with other Christ-Followers.

For those of you who may not know, I write fiction about many of the issues I deal with in this blog and podcast. My latest novel, In Black and White, recently won First Place in Historical Fiction in the 2020 Christian Indie Book Awards Contest. It is the page-turning, compelling love story between a white woman and a black man as they face the wrath of family and society in order to preserve their love. This book was written for such a time as this, in which we are facing very serious issues of racism and hatred in our society. To discover the only real answer to racism, get your copy of IN BLACK AND WHITE now at Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, or other vendors of your choice.  If you are reading this blog post, you can also purchase IN BLACK AND WHITE at the link below or on my website at maryanndiorio.com. Just click the bookstore tab at the top of the page.

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Thank you so much for listening. This is Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, novelist and life coach, reminding you that God loves you just as you are and just where you are, and that He will help you to keep on Winning with the Word.

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LIVING IN A VIOLENT WORLD

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

Check out my 2019 Book Catalogue

WINNING WITH THE WORD
by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

“Winning with the Word” is a weekly blog that will help you to be a winner in life by applying God’s principles
for living the abundant life as found in the Bible, God’s manual for life.

AN INVITATION TO YOU: To follow this blog, click here.  

If this blog has blessed you, please encourage your family and friends to subscribe as well. Thank you!

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by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

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School has already been in session for over a month now, but perhaps some of you parents and grandparents have been sending your children and grandchildren off to school this year with more than the usual amount of anxiety. With all the violence in our world today, particularly as it relates to children, a new phobia has developed in our culture–a phobia that the young loved ones we send off to school in the morning may not come home in the afternoon.

Are you a victim of this phobia? Do you spend the entire day worried about the safety of your children? Perhaps some of you who are reading this post or listening to the podcast are, yourselves, students who arrive at school every morning wondering if you’ll leave there alive that afternoon. Certainly, this is no way to live, and, certainly, God does not want you to live this way.

But what can be done? Do we need tougher laws? Do we need more security in our schools? Do we need to screen students more carefully? While all of these measures may provide a small amount of improvement, they do not get to the root cause of the problem.

You see, no amount of external changes in policy will effect a lasting safety for our children, nor for ourselves. The reason is that the problem lies not in the external circumstances, but in the internal arena of the human heart. It is in the human heart that the battle against violence is waged.

In Proverbs chapter 23, verse 7, the Bible says that “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” This means that a person will respond to life based on what is in his heart.

Well, if we continually fill our hearts with evil, such as images of violence, hatred, and lust, then we will respond to life with violence, hatred, and lust. If, on the other hand, we fill our hearts with good images–such as kindness, peace, and love–then we will respond to life with kindness, peace, and love. To expect to change society without first changing the heart is futile, because in order to change the fruit, we first have to change the root. The root of a person is his heart.

So, how does all of this relate to the safety of our children in our schools? It relates very significantly because we now know that our major efforts in protecting our children must be directed not toward more social programs, but toward changing the human heart. 

Well, you may be thinking, that’s all well and good, but how can we change the human heart? The answer to that excellent question is, “We can’t! Only God can.” But there are some very important things we can do to get God to change the human heart. Let me share some of these things with you. They are found in 2 Chronicles chapter 7, verse 14. There God says, “If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

This Scripture passage gives us a formula for addressing the problems we face as a society and, more specifically, for ensuring our safety, both in our schools and in our country. Let’s look at this passage closely:

  1. “If My people who are called by My Name ….” God is speaking to those of us who belong to Him, those of us who have been born again and are part of the Kingdom of God. He is saying that we are the ones who are responsible for getting our country back on track, for we alone are the ones who know how to do so. We alone have the power and the authority through Jesus Christ to do so. And how do we do so? The rest of the passage tells us.
  2. “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves ….” (Italics mine). We are to humble ourselves before the Lord. What does this mean? It means that we are to acknowledge our helplessness without God. We are to admit our need for Him, our total dependence on Him. We are to give up all pride and self-sufficiency and realize that without God, we are nothing and we can do nothing. We are to confess our sins and the sins of our nation and repent of them.
  3. And seek My face  ….” We are to seek God’s face. This means that we are to look for Him first of all in His Word, in our time spent alone with Him in prayer, in our fellow believers throughout the world, and in creation. We are to make God number one in our lives. We are to desire Him above all else, to crave Him as a vital necessity.
  4. “And turn from their wicked ways ….” We are to turn from our wicked ways. It’s very interesting to do a study of the word “wicked.” Most of us know what wicker furniture is. It is furniture in which the wood is twisted to form interesting shapes in the finished product. Well, the word “wicked” means “twisted.” A person is wicked when he twists the truth to suit his own circumstances.

For instance, God’s Word commands us to tithe, to give the first ten percent of our income to the Lord’s work. But someone may say, “I don’t need to tithe because God understands that I don’t have enough money.” That person is twisting the truth of God’s Word and is, therefore, acting wickedly. He is following a wicked way.

These three steps–humbling ourselves, seeking God’s face, and turning from our wicked ways–are the conditions which, when fulfilled, will cause God to move on our behalf. Let’s see what God will do when we’ve humbled ourselves, sought His face, and turned from our wicked ways.

Verse 14 of the second chapter of Chronicles says that God will do three things:

___He will hear from Heaven. Have you ever prayed to God and felt as though your prayers were falling on deaf ears? Well, maybe they were! If so, ask yourself if you have fulfilled the conditions that gain God’s attention. Have you humbled yourself before him? Have you sought His face? Have you turned from your wicked ways? Now, these conditions apply to those who have already been born again because God makes it clear at the beginning of this verse that He is talking to His people.

A person who is not born again can cry out to God for forgiveness and God will always hear him. But God expects more from His children. He expects us to know better than to be proud, to neglect Him, and to act wickedly. He expects us to obey Him.

___The second thing God will do when we obey Him is He will forgive our sin. God is infinitely merciful, always ready and willing to forgive us. But we have to show Him that we sincerely desire His forgiveness and that we sincerely intend to turn from our sin and follow His way.

___Finally, the third thing God will do when we turn back to Him is He will heal our land. This is critical to the safety of our children, for when our land is healed, violence will give place to peace and danger will give place to safety. 

But how can all of this be accomplished? It will be accomplished through the changing of the human heart, one person at a time. It is up to those of us who are followers of Christ to allow ourselves to be used by God as He does the changing. It is up to us to tell others about the love of Christ and what He has done and desires to do for every human being.

The Word says in Romans 10: 14-15: “How then shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed, and how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” How can people know about Christ unless they hear about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless you and I tell them about Him?

I thank God for the young woman named Margo who first told me about Jesus Christ. I shudder to think of what would have happened to me had she not had the courage to tell me of Christ’s love and saving grace. Because of Margo, not only will I spend eternity in heaven with Jesus Christ, but countless other people will as well because I told them about Jesus Christ.

So, if you want your children to be safe in school, pray for their safety. But also, tell others about Jesus Christ. Tell parents and teenagers, grandparents and single moms. Tell the person standing behind you in the checkout line, the person sitting beside you in the waiting room at the dentist’s office, the plumber who comes to repair your leaky faucet. When you do, God will do His part about changing hearts. And when enough hearts are changed, our country will once again become safe for our children and for us.

Perhaps some of you listening have never heard about the power of Jesus Christ to change your life. Perhaps you never heard the term “born again,” but you want to know more. You’re tired of living in fear, defeat, and depression. You’re hungry for change but don’t know where to turn. Well, let me introduce you to the most awesome friend you will ever know: Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. His title says it all. He came to save everyone. But in order to receive the salvation He earned on the Cross, you have to believe that He died for you personally, and then you have to accept His sacrifice for you.

I know in my spirit that there are many of you listening today who have tried every path to freedom but each one has led you to a dead end. You’ve reached the end of your rope. Some of you are even ready to end it all. But before you do, give yourself one more chance. Invite Jesus into your life today. You’ll discover that He is the One you’ve been looking for all along.

Just pray this simple prayer with me:

Lord Jesus, I come to You just as I am. I admit that I am a sinner in need of Your mercy and grace. I believe that You are the Son of God, that You died for me, and that You rose again on the third day. I invite You now to come into my life. I receive You as my personal Savior and as the Lord of my life. Make of me all that You created me to be. Amen.

If you sincerely prayed this prayer, you are now a born-again Christ-Follower. I invite you to write to me at drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com. I would like to send you a little booklet that will help get you started in your Christian walk.  Also I invite you to visit me at my website at maryanndiorio.com

Now, it’s YOUR turn: What about you? Do you fear for your children’s safety? Please share your comments in the Comments Box below. Thank you!

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“Can endurance and faith sustain the love between a white woman and a black man as they are threatened by rejection, violence, and racial injustice? Can love alone reconcile their starkly different worlds, lighting the way to a bright future together? Find out in MaryAnn Diorio’s forthcoming novel, IN BLACK AND WHITE, soon to be released. Stay tuned!”

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“How to Handle Offense”

Is the Apocalypse Near?” 

“Convergence: Clear Sign of the End Times”

“The Rise of Wicca, Witches, and Warlocks” 

Please check our archives in the right sidebar for older posts on a variety of topics. You may also search for a particular topic in the search box at the top right. 

For additional encouragement, check out my podcasts at the following links:

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Winning with the Word Podcast Series

Write Your Heart Out! – Podcasts for Writers

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Copyright 20111-2019 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be published or printed in any form whatsoever without the written permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. You may contact her at info@maryanndiorio.com to request permission.

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FINDING PEACE IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, Your Virtual Life Coach

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4: 23
  

Years ago, I was on a cruise ship that encountered a major storm in the North Atlantic. Huge waves rocked the ship and rose nearly to the top deck, leaving us passengers wondering if we would make it safely back to shore.

Perhaps never in my life up to that point had I felt so helpless. The ship’s crew kept reassuring us that the captain had everything under control, but from the looks of things, I wondered.

Well, by God’s grace, we did make it safely back to shore, but not without my learning a very valuable lesson.

As my life went on, I, like you, encountered other kinds of storms that threatened both to shake my equilibrium and to make me feel helpless–storms like broken relationships, financial problems, illness. But during each of those storms, I remembered another storm that took place while Jesus was on earth.

He and His disciples were in a boat making their way across the Sea of Galilee. Tired from ministering to the crowds, Jesus had fallen asleep.

Suddenly, a great storm arose that threatened to sink the boat. In a panic, the disciples awakened Jesus, crying out, “Master! Master! We’re going to drown!” (Luke 8:24). At the sound of their cry, Jesus got up, rebuked the storm, and it stopped. At His command, the raging wind ceased, and the churning sea grew calm.

Take heart! Jesus Christ is in the midst of your storm!

Then Jesus turned to His disciples and asked, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were filled with amazement and said, “Who is this man whom even the winds and the waves obey?”

Today, over 2000 years later, Jesus is still calming storms. Not only natural storms like the one I experienced while sailing the Atlantic Ocean, but emotional storms, relationship storms, financial storms, health storms, and spiritual storms. There is no storm too great or too severe for Jesus to calm. There is no storm violent enough to resist His power. At His command, every storm must cease.

What storm are you facing today? Is it the storm of divorce, bankruptcy, a wayward child? Is it the storm of illness, drug addiction, alcoholism? Is it the storm of depression, worry, or fear? Whatever it is, don’t panic. Jesus is in the midst of your storm!

Just as He was in that boat with the disciples during the storm they faced, so is He with you in the storm you are facing. Just as He saved them from disaster, so will He save you. All you have to do is cry out to Him. When you do, He will hear your cry and deliver you from the storm.

Like the disciples, you will watch in amazement as Jesus brings His peace into the midst of your personal storm. Like the disciples, you will marvel and rejoice at His power and might and, especially, at His great love for you.

If you’re facing a storm today, cry out to Jesus. Expect Him to hear you and to calm your storm. Then write to me and tell me of the wondrous thing He has done for you. ##

Now, it’s YOUR turn: How do you handle the storms in your life? Please comment in the box below.

TWEETABLE: “Finding Peace in the Midst of the Storm” by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

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The Daystar Devotional by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA

Are you looking for daily encouragement in your walk with Christ? The Daystar Devotional will provide just what you’re looking for. Daily readings will give you fresh insight into Scripture verses that will inspire you, encourage you, and strengthen you as you face the challenges of life. A powerful tool for growing in your relationship with Christ.

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God Speaks to Me
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If you found this post helpful, please forward it to a friend. Thank you! Check our archives in the right sidebar for older posts on a variety of topics. You may also search for a particular topic in the search box at the top right. Some of our most popular posts

Eight Signs of Spiritual Growth
Sex and Soul Ties
How to Recognize a Controlling Spirit

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NOTE: If you are struggling to know your purpose in life, I can help you! As a highly experienced Certified Life Coach, I will help you set priorities in line with your God-given purpose. For more information or to set up a phone appointment, please send me an email at drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com. You’ll be taking a major step toward fulfilling your destiny!

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Matters of the Heart is a weekly blog that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart, the issues we all face but sometimes don’t want to talk about. The heart is the programming center of our lives. What is programmed into our heart will affect every area of our lives. Learn how to discover what is in your heart and how to program your heart for success.

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How to Stop Being Too Busy to Live

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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“Busy” has become today’s buzzword.

Have you noticed that when you ask people how they are, the first words that usually come out of their mouths are, “I’m so busy.”  Not only is “busy” a buzzword, it’s also become a badge of honor. The busier one is, the more important one is.

Closeup portrait young, happy, smiling, man showing a time out gesture with hands, isolated white background. Positive emotion facial expression feelings, body language

But the busyness lie has a way of finding us out. Sooner or later, our busyness will catch up with us and expose the truth that we are too busy mostly about nothing.

This happened to me when my children were small. I was complaining to the Lord one day that I did not have enough time to do everything I had to do. Expecting a little sympathy from the Lord, I was taken back when He said to me, lovingly but firmly, “MaryAnn, you always have enough time to do what I have called you to do.”

Whoa!

“O-O-O-kay,  Lord,” I replied. “Either I’m totally disorganized, or I’m doing some things You have not called me to do.”  In my case, it was the latter, as I am an organized person by nature.

As I asked the Lord what I was doing that He had not called me to do, I was surprised when He pointed out several church ministries in which I was involved at the time. Good things.

But not good for me.

Besides, other church members were called to those ministries, and I was robbing them of their ministries.

A bad thing!

So, I gave up those ministries and began earnestly to seek God as to what He had called me to do. As I let go of what I wanted, God gave me what I needed. A writing ministry to glorify Him, to get to know Him more intimately, and to teach me His ways in the process.

One of the biggest bonuses I received from stopping the aimless busyness was that I finally started to live. No longer was I barely keeping my head above water and merely surviving. I startd to enjoy my life. I started to smell the roses and to seize the precious moments of life as they presented themselves in quiet, subtle ways. 

In short, I began experiencing the abundant life Jesus died to give me (John 10: 10).

How? By making my time with Jesus the most important priority in my life. By sitting continually at His feet. By refusing to take a step without first seeking Holy Spirit’s direction.

In Luke 10: 41-42, Jesus is having a conversation with Martha. Martha, you may recall, was the sister in the Mary-Martha duo who was constantly busy. Her busyness kept her in a continual state of anxiety, worry, and stress. Sound familiar?

In talking to Martha one day while she was busy, busy, busy, Jesus said this: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10: 41-42

The good part Marthat’s sister Mary chose was to make spending time with Jesus more important than anything else. More important than preparing the meal. (Jesus fed five thousand without cooking, remember?)  More important than cleaning the house. (When Jesus is present, the dust can wait.)

More important than anything else we think we must do.

How so? Because when we spend time with Jesus first, He loves on us and we love on Him. Out of that love (BEING) flows His guidance (DOING). When we’ve spent time first with Jesus, we don’t waste time doing things He doesn’t want us to do. He shows us what is most important in His plan for our lives on that particular day–and every day. He spares us from needless worry trying to figure things out on our own, trying to figure out what needs to get done first and how to get it done.

Most of all, when we seek Jesus first, we remain in His Presence all day long, basking in His love as we listen for His voice and obey His instructions. Talk about living in peace and joy!

If you, like me, have struggled with busyness, yield your struggle to Him now. Then live moment by moment in His sweet Presence. Soon, when someone asks you the reason for your peace and joy in the midst of a busy-crazed world, you can say, like me, “I’m joyful and at peace because I live in a different dimension of time–Eternal Time!”

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN: Do you struggle with busyness? How do you deal with it?

TWEETABLE: “How to Stop Being Too Busy to Live” by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio (CLICK TO TWEET)
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Daystar Devotional-hardbackcoverstanding_885x1298The Daystar Devotional is a compilation of weekly devotionals I wrote for almost six years. At popular reader request, I have compiled these devotionals into a single volume for your convenience. I trust this book will encourage you in your walk with Jesus.

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5 Reasons Not to Be Afraid

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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Fear is in the air. But so is peace, if you know where to look for it.

Peace is found in only one place: In Jesus Christ. He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).  Not only does Jesus give peace; Jesus Christ IS Peace.

Maligne Lake in Jasper natioanal park, Alberta, Canada

Jesus gives us many reasons not to be afraid. Here are five of them:

1) “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).  No matter what we face in life, we never face it alone. Jesus is always with us, whether we feel His Presence or not.  We have His Word on this, and His Word is enough.

2) “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).  No matter what enemy we may face, God faces the enemy with us. No matter what the outcome may look like, the truth is that we will win in the end. 

3) “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). The spirit of fear comes from Satan. God has given us the spirit of power, the spirit of love, and the spirit of a sound mind. This is the truth about who we are in Christ.

4) “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love”
(1 John 4:18).  The more we love, the less we fear.  The antidote to fear is love.  Love drives out fear.  Those who do not love live in great fear.

5) “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4). When things look the bleakest and the most fear-inducing, God is still there with us. This is His promise to us, and He will keep His Word.

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