Nearly a dozen years ago, while at a local Omaha Christian book store, my life changed. I saw books for junior high kids and they all were funny and not filled with what I considered reality. So, immediately, I thought I could write a short book that would show how the Lord could break through to families that were struggling with hard situations. And, I was thinking of it, because I knew that a variety of families, even connected to churches, were filled with the struggles. So that portion of writing and sharing truly entered my life.
In a fairly short stretch of time, I wrote what I considered the total book, about 50 pages. It was filled with fictional and non-fictional portions. I was both of the main characters. Annie, named after my middle name, Joanne, was about 12 years old. Cary, named after my Carolyn, who was about 55 years old. Annie was filled with anger and abuse. Cary, Annie’s new neighbor, was a Christian who had been a missionary and serving the Lord, but had been heavily abused when she was a child, and she had a heart for Annie, wanting to help and draw her and touch her family.
The goal is that anyone who has been raised with abuse, taught to fight can be touched by the Lord, amazingly. The fighting truly happened to me as I was turning 5. My dad, when I had been hit by a bully a few days earlier, taught me how to fight and, when the bully showed up again… he was about 7 and I truly had just turned 5… I struck him in his stomach and his chin, and he ran away. The sorrowfulness is that our Enemy planted in my head that I was on my own, couldn’t ever expect anyone to help me or protect me.
I was raised very abusively and often have indicated that I am highly blessed that the Lord broke into my life and drew me to Him.
In the book, family members connected to Annie and to Cary are all being drawn to the Lord and life is changing over and over again.
Unexpectedly, even though the first portion connected to Annie ended up in joy, three more parts were dropped in. They have a fair amount of surprises, so I can’t give too many of the details around and about. However, they truly are filled with the Lord’s way of breaking into hearts and turning people around. Not everyone turns to the Lord, but most do.
Much of it truly is “me” or my family and friends.
My goal with sharing the book is to help people understand how the seed of God can be planted into the hearts of those who are in hard and angry situations. I was rarely a sweet person, since I had been abused when I was 5 and forward. Way back then, in the ‘50s, it was unusual that a girl at school would be ready to fight. Oh, well. But, on the side, people planted the seed of God in me, and I knew my life could change, or SHOULD change. Amazingly, He broke in officially on April 15, 1966, when I was 20. I’ve often told people that if it had not occurred, I would have been dead a long time ago from alcohol, violence, or suicide. Instead, I’ve been used to help others, be a missionary, be an encourager to even those who are tied to the gangs. I truly want people to understand how to plant a seed of God, simply by encouraging and reaching out to be a blessing. God will use that, even if they don’t suddenly respond; it doesn’t mean that they won’t have seed growing. The seed will truly change their lives. And, in the book, these are clearly shown.
As an author, I’ve been highly blessed by people who have edited it, read it significantly, filled with encouragement. I’ve shared it in my neighborhood with people who do not know the Lord and some who have been involved with family fighting. I’ve already heard that this is breaking into their lives. That is the focus of it, and I’m very grateful how the Lord is using it. I’ll be speaking at places in the next few months, from what I’ve already been informed about. That is a real treat. I’ll be sure to wear a purple shiny ball cap, because that’s both me and “Cary”.
Joanne is giving away a free, signed copy of The Annie Project to one reader. All you have to do? Leave a comment.
Joanne Norton wants to be available to the Lord, anytime, anyplace. She has written and directed plays, written and performed monologues, and blogs at Caryjo-RoadRunner. Her interests extend around the world: she is part of a ministry that praises and prays with others at local murder sites, has prayer walked in Morocco, helps Bhutanese immigrants in her community and lived in Uganda as a missionary. Joanne has a big heart and is in love with her husband Dave, her children and grandchildren and all the friends God has brought into her life.