Sharlene MacLaren

Sharlene MacLaren is a Christian wife and mother. She has two daughters, each married to wonderful Christian men. She also has two wonderful grandsons named Dylan and Gavin, and a beautiful granddaughter, Alexis. Sharlene is a retired elementary school teacher, having taught both second and fourth grades for a total of 31 years. She is now enjoying a fulfilling "second" career as an author of Christian romance. She has seven published books with more in the works. Want to learn more? Go to:

My Surrendered Heart

Over the years many have asked, “What’s it like to be a writer?” In fact, I get the gamut of comments and questions—everything from “How does anybody write a one-inch-thick book when I can barely write a one-paragraph e-mail?” to “How long does it take to write a book?” to “Have you always been a writer?” to “How in the i>world do you come up with all those ideas?”

Great questions! Each one gets a different answer, of course, but my overall response is that God Himself planted in my mind and soul an earnest desire to write, and I truly experienced a calling on my life—God-given, God-driven—probably in much the same way a minister or missionary or any church worker might experience. And because of that calling, He is the one who ultimately equips me with the tools I need to complete the task.

Have I always written? Interestingly, no. I am sixty years old, but I didn’t complete my first full manuscript till the “well-seasoned” age of fifty-two. Why? Well, in short, many things in life impassion me—my spiritual walk with Christ, my darling husband, daughters, grandchildren, music, reading, traveling, and, until retiring from thirty-one years of teaching in 2003, my career! I did not know I had room for one more passion, but God did! And in the year 2000, He planted a seed.

It started with a dream that I’d written a book. I, of course, shoved it aside as silly. Imagine me writing a book. Yes, I’d always been a creative writer in school; I usually earned As on my essays and term papers, and I had dabbled in scribbling off foolish high school romances back in eleventh and twelfth grades. But then college came, then marriage, and children, a career in education, my involvement in church activities, a vocal music ministry. And the list continues. Plainly put, writing was the very last thing on my mind.

So, why ever would I dream I’d written a book? But then it recurred at least three or four more times, the same dream. I had written a book. I recalled having earlier asked God to show me what He would have me do with the second half of my life once I finally retired from teaching, and pleaded that He would lead me into an area in which I could make a difference in the lives of others. I wanted my life to count, to touch hearts for eternity. Was it possible He wanted me to attempt writing an entire novel? And if I did write a book, what in the world would it be about? Again, I prayed. And this time my prayer was, “Lord, I am willing to travel the path You set out for me. Take me out of the equation and simply work in and through my spirit. I surrender all.”

And that was the key! My surrendered heart.

One sunny summer day in the year 2000, I sat down at my computer and began to write, and let me tell you, the ideas literally poured from my brain, down through my arms, and onto that keyboard! Like an unstoppable river of joy, my brand-spankin’-new passion came springing out of me! I could almost equate it to that same joy of birthing my first child!

Did I immediately find a publisher? Absolutely not. Timing is everything, namely, God’s timing. I had much to learn in this new realm I found myself—writing seminars and conferences to attend, books to read on the craft itself, not to mention mountains of information to gather about the writing and publishing industry. And then it still took years before I reached a point of readiness and my books found a home in the wonderful place known as Whitaker House.

I think if I have learned anything on this journey, it is this: God is simply not done with us until He says so. Have you heard the phrase “God has a wonderful plan for your life”? Well, so sorry, but it’s not true. Why? Because God has many wonderful plans for your life. Retiring from your chosen profession does not mean sitting out the rest of your life on a comfy couch. What God wants from each of us is a willing, fully surrendered heart, no matter our age or stage in life. If you put yourself out there and say, “God, I would love for You to take my life and use it in a way that can be effective for Your kingdom—and will bring You honor and glory,” He won’t take that lightly. No, He is right on that prayer!

Whether you are an office assistant, a day-care provider, a banker, a contractor, a stay-at-home mom, a single parent, a factory worker, or a mail carrier—whatever your pursuit in life—God has plans that go beyond your imaginings. He is always looking for “harvest workers.” I challenge you to pray the prayer of surrender—and then watch what He does to fulfill His purpose in your life. And one more thing: if you are entering into retirement, keep this thought at the forefront of your mind: God is not done with you! Scary thought? No way!

A surrendered life equals one exciting adventure!

Maggie Rose