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Jo 23This week, I managed to do something I have never done before in the eight years I have been signing my own books. In one brief moment of inattention while talking with a customer, I wrote my maiden name instead of the one I have had for almost forty-six years now! For a moment, I could not believe it. Feeling very embarrassed, I owned up to my silly mistake, hastily reached for a second copy and tried again. And this time, I managed to write my name correctly!

How did I do such a thing? What could have caused my mind to flip back through all those years? One would think forty-six years would be long enough for a change of surname to sink into anyone’s brain. Perhaps my momentary lapse had been due to tiredness, I decided. After all, I had just finished speaking at a women’s breakfast. On top of that, there were those four one-hour long creative writing workshops I had given one after the other the previous day to high school students from four different year levels. Many moons ago, I used to be a high school teacher, but had barely set foot in a classroom since. So these workshops had not only required much effort on my part but had also sent my mind reeling back to past years.

As I later told my husband what I had done, however, I began to see a profound personal lesson emerging from it all. Throughout all those years since I had changed my name from Wardrop to Berthelsen in 1969, God had never left me. God had been with me even through that turbulent teaching period of my life, strengthening me and enabling me to keep going. The previous day, as I had stood in front of those students, I had felt almost a different person from the one I had been all those years earlier. Back then, I was so insecure, struggling to survive in a sea of noisy students. Now I felt so much more confident and at home in myself. Now I was delighted to be able to share my heart for God and my passion for writing with the students in front of me.

These days, it seems I am quite able to forget my own name in certain circumstances. That book with my maiden name in it now resides on a shelf here in my study as a permanent reminded of this fact. But I know one thing for sure. God will never, ever forget my name. And God will continue to watch over me with great love and faithfulness until that day when we meet face to face. The words God spoke to the Israelites so many years ago are also true for me today—and for you:

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands … Isaiah 49:15

How blessed we are to belong to the God who knows all things, including our past, our present and our future, and who will never ever forget our name!

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