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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You will also find additional resources on living the abundant life in Jesus Christ on my website at maryanndiorio.com.

If you have been blessed by these messages, I encourage you to share them with others. I also invite you to subscribe to my blog at maryanndiorio.com. Also, you may consider becoming a Winning with the Word patron on Patreon. As a patron you will enjoy special benefits only for my patrons. Just go to Patreon.com and search for Winning with the Word to join. I would like to thank all of my patrons who are making this podcast possible. It is now reaching numerous countries throughout the world with the message of the Gospel. I could not do this without you.

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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__7 Signs That the Tribulation Is at Hand

__The Dangers of Generation Separation

__Are You Thinking Straight?

__How to Deal with the “New Normal”

__What to Do When Your Child Goes Astray

___Are You a Perfectionist?

__Is the World Coming to an End?

__The Coming Global Cataclysm

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“Winning with the Word” is a weekly blog that helps you to deal with the daily problems of life by using the Bible as your guide to solving them. The Word of God will make you a success in life!

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Copyright 2000-2020 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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The Story of the Two Sons

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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confusion  , direction , arrowOnce upon a time there was an alcoholic who had two sons. One son looked at his father and thought, When I grow up, I’m going to be just like my father. The other son looked at his father and thought, When I grow up, I will not be at all like my father.  Surely enough, the first son grew up to be an alcoholic just like his father, and surely enough, the second son grew up and never touched an alcoholic drink his entire life.

What was the difference between the two sons? The difference was in what they believed. The son who became an alcoholic believed he had no control over his life.  The son who remained sober believed he did have control over his life.  The alcoholic son believed he was a victim of circumstances. The sober son believed he was a victor over circumstances. The son who became an alcoholic believed he was doomed by his past. The second son who remained sober believed that his past had no power over him unless he gave it power.

In short, the son who became an alcoholic allowed his past to break him. The son who remained sober allowed his past to make him.

What about you? Are you allowing your past to make you or break you?

The choice is entirely up to you.

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Copyright 2015 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 maryann@maryanndiorio.com to request permission.

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Dr. Diorio is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Biblical Counselor, and a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She is also an award-winning, widely published author of fiction for children and adults. You may reach her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com  or via one of her social media venues below:

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(Craft) How Important Is Setting to Your Story?

Setting is to story what a foundation is to a house. I love what author Nina Munteanu wrote about setting: “Setting grounds your writing in the reality of place and depicts the theme of your story through powerful metaphor.”  Just as the foundation grounds a house “in the reality of place,” so does setting ground your story in its own “reality of place.”

Setting is intimately connected with every aspect of your story: with characterization, with plot, and even with theme.  For example, my forthcoming novel, A Sicilian Conspiracy, is set in 19th-century Sicily during a time when the society was patriarchal and riddled with codes of honor detrimental to women. In my story, setting plays a key role not only in my protagonist’s character arc, but also in the outcome of the plot.

What exactly is setting? According to Munteanu, “Setting includes time, place and circumstance. These three form a kind of critical mass that creates the particular setting best suited to your story. If you change any of these it will affect the quality of the others.” In A Sicilian Conspiracy, the time period is Sicily in 1892. The place is a tiny village near the southwestern coast of Sicily. The circumstance centers on a young woman raped and pregnant by her parish priest.  If I were to change any one of these three elements–time, place, or circumstance–the change would affect the entire story.

As you plan your story, think carefully about its setting, especially if you are writing science fiction or fantasy in which you must create a previously non-existent story world.  Then consider the impact of your setting on your characters, your plot, and your theme. Considering your setting with its ramifications will help you to create a more richly layered story, one that your readers will not forget.

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Source cited: “Importance of Setting in a Novel” by Nina Munteanu. http://www.scribophile.com/blog/importance-of-setting-in-a-novel/

 

Using Metaphor in Your Story

The word “metaphor” comes from two Greek words – meta (over, across) and pherein (to carry or bear) — and literally means “to carry over” or “to transfer”. Dr. Daniel McInerny describes metaphor as the desire to illuminate the perception of one thing by juxtaposing it to some other.” (1)

When we use metaphor, we convey the meaning of one thing by using the meaning of another thing. For example, Shakespeare wrote in Sonnet 18, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” In this sentence, the great Bard of Avon compares his beloved to a summer day–a day of beauty and warmth.

Aristotle considered metaphor the greatest of all literary devices, perhaps because the use of metaphor requires the ability to discover similarity in things that are intrinsically different. At the same time, the use of metaphor requires the ability to discover those differences that reduce a thing to its essence.

Metaphor is a very effective literary device in fiction writing. Metaphor serves to create images that juxtapose differences and use one thing to illuminate another. In illuminating differences, metaphor serves to reveal the essence of the two things being compared. In a story, this type of comparison illuminates the essential nature of a character.  When, for instance, I write “The beggar sat on the sidewalk, a king holding court:”, I am juxtaposing two people highly unlikely to be found together: a beggar and a king.  Yet, the very act of comparing two totally different things creates a metaphor that brings out the essence of my beggar character.

Metaphor is a wonderful tool in the fiction writer’s arsenal. Use it well and it will add a new dimension of life to your stories.  

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Sources cited:
(1) McInerny, Daniel. “How to Use Metaphor to Enrich Your Stories.” http://www.writers-village.org/writing-award-blog/how-to-use-metaphor-to-enrich-your-stories

Story and the Brain

Wired for StoryI’ve been reading a fascinating book called Wired for Story by Lisa Cron. The book discusses the way the brain responds to story. While Ms. Cron approaches her work from an evolutionary standpoint, her research can easily be approached from a Biblical worldview.

Bottomline, God wired us for story. The whole of human history is a story–His Story–as we believers recognize. Moreover, God created the human heart to respond to story. Hence, the powerful parables of Jesus.

Given these truths, how can we write our stories in such a way that they align with the way God created our brains to function?  Here are a few key points that Ms. Cron calls “cognitive secrets” to keep in mind as we write our stories:

  • The brain thinks in stories. Therefore, when we write, we must hook our reader from the very first word because the reader wants to know what will happen next.
  • The brain is goal-oriented. Therefore, the protagonist we create must have a clear goal.
  • The brain thinks in specifics. Therefore, we must use details, not abstracts, in creating our story.
  • The brain resists change. Yet, story is about change. And change produces conflict.
  • The brain continually makes cause-and-effect relationships. Therefore, our stories must follow a logical pattern of cause and effect. 

As you write your next story, keep these points in mind. Your story will be more powerful and effective because it will be aligned with the way God made the human brain to work.
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Source Cited: Wired for Story by Lisa Cron. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2012). Print. 262 pages.