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Chapter 1: Where do I start?

Marilyn Riggien

Yes my daughter, I know you have many shortcomings, but how you see yourself is merely a shadow; what I see in you is that which I have planted in you, and though you are not perfect, My perfect will shall spring forth through you.

This book is the result of a long and challenging journey and in May 2020, I felt the urge to write down my experiences as a memorial to G_d's faithfulness. I had been keeping a journal since 2004, so I had plenty of material to work with, but I did not know how to organize my thoughts, how to structure my story, or how to express what was in my heart. I procrastinated for months, until one day, on October 20th, 2021, I received a breakthrough.


That morning, I went for my usual walk and prayed to G_d for help. I asked Him to give me a starting point, a spark of inspiration that would ignite my writing. He answered me in a wonderful way. He reminded me of a beautiful phrase that He had spoken to me in 2008, a phrase that I had forgotten but that He had preserved in my journal. It was this:


"Yes my daughter, I know you have many shortcomings, but how you see yourself is merely a shadow; what I see in you is that which I have planted in you, and though you are not perfect, My perfect will shall spring forth through you."


This phrase touched me deeply and gave me peace. It also gave me direction. I decided to start my story from there, from the moment when G_d spoke those words to me. But before I do that, let me introduce myself and explain why I am writing this book.


My name is Marilyn, and this is not really my story. It is G_d's story. He is the main character and the author of my life. I am just a guest on His set, a vessel in His hands. There is nothing special about me, nothing that would make me stand out from the crowd. In fact, if it were up to me, I would have chosen someone else for this part. He planted something in me that He wanted to bring forth.


My goal in writing this book is not to glorify myself or to draw attention to myself. It is to glorify G_d and to testify of His miracles and goodness in my life. Of course, I cannot do that without sharing some personal details and experiences, but I want the focus to be on Him. I want to show how much He loves us and how much He wants to communicate with us and have a relationship with us. And even as I say that I feel ashamed of how little I have done to reciprocate His love and to nurture our relationship. G_d has done it all. He has pursued me, protected me, provided for me, guided me, corrected me, comforted me, healed me, and blessed me beyond measure. Thank You, my heavenly Father, for this amazing journey!


I was born in 1971, into a loving Christian family. My parents were devoted followers of Jesus Christ, and they gave me the greatest gift that any parent could give their child: the knowledge and understanding of who G_d is and what He has done for us. Because they knew Him personally, they taught me how to know Him too and how to form our own relationship with Him. (Thank you, Mommy and Daddy, for everything that you have done for me, for your love and support, and for the seed of Light that you gave me! I love you infinitely!)


One of my earliest memories of G_d's presence and power in my life dates back to when I was in primary school. I don't recall exactly how old I was, but I think I was in fourth or fifth grade. My parents surprised my sister and me with a wonderful gift: a Casio electronic watch for each of us. This was a very advanced and special gadget at the time, and it was my first watch ever. I was thrilled and proud to wear it.


One day, after school, I decided to go and explore a construction site that was two houses away from ours. It looked like a fun place to play, with all the bricks and rubble scattered around. But I was also careful not to damage or lose my watch, so I took it off and put it on top of a stack of bricks where I thought it would be safe.


I had a great time playing there until the sun started to set and then I ran back home, forgetting all about my watch. It was only in the middle of the night that I woke up and realized what I had done. I felt a surge of panic and guilt for being so irresponsible with such a precious gift. But then I remembered what my parents had taught me about prayer. They had told me that G_d listens to us when we talk to Him and that He cares about everything that matters to us. So, I prayed and asked Him for help.


I said something like this: "Dear G_d, please protect my watch and make sure that it is still there in the morning. Please don't let anyone take it or break it. Please help me find it when I go back there. Thank you, G_d. Amen."


The next morning, as soon as I could, I got up and ran to the construction site, without telling my parents anything about it. I hoped and prayed that my watch would still be there. And it was! It was exactly where I had left it, untouched and unharmed. I grabbed it and thanked G_d for keeping my watch safe for me through the night!


This experience made a deep impression on me and sparked a little faith in G_d. It showed me that He is real and that He answers prayers.



Fast forward a few years, I got married in 1998, our first child, Michaela, was born in 1999, and our second child, Bradley, in 2002. It was a very challenging time for our marriage, especially the first 6 years, but G_d brought us through it. By His grace, we are still together and committed to each other after almost 23 years now!


In 2004, G_d began to speak to me in a special way through trees. He used various signs and symbols related to trees to communicate with me and to teach me something about myself and His plan for me. He made me understand that I was like a tree that He had planted in the West (Krugersdorp, South Africa), and that He wanted me to grow and be strong like an oak tree.


One morning, I was feeling insecure and inadequate again. I was talking to G_d and telling Him that I was not good enough and that I could not do what He expected me to do. I felt that I was too weak in my faith.


That same morning, as I started working, I received an email from a venue called "Thaba Ya Batswana". They informed all their clients that they were planting trees on their site and that every client had an opportunity to buy a tree and have their company name plaque on the tree for the rest of its life.


I opened my diary on that day's page (and how I wish I had kept that diary) - each page had an inspirational quote written at the bottom - and I read:


“Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” ~ Abraham Lincoln


But as I was reading, I heard something different in my heart. It was G_d's voice, saying:

‘Yes my daughter, I know you have many shortcomings, but how you see yourself is merely a shadow; what I see in you is that which I have planted in you, and though you are not perfect, My perfect will shall spring forth through you.’


I was amazed and humbled by this message. It gave me hope and confidence. It assured me that G_d had a purpose for me and that He would accomplish it through me, despite my flaws and failures. He would be the one working in me and through me.


Needless to say, I bought a tree!

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