I wrote The Riven Tree because I received a vision that healed a deep wound in my heart and changed my life, and I wanted to share it with others whose lives have been harmed by trauma.
This is the full story.
In 2004 while attending a silent retreat in Burlingame, California, God gave me a vision of two trees. One tree stood tall and beautiful. The other tree’s growth was twisted and awkward. Through this vision, God tenderly showed me how He saw my growth from childhood.
I grew up in a home ruled by domestic violence, and decisions I made about staying safe as a child created dysfunction in my adult life. I knew I was different than others and believed there was something wrong with me. As a result, I worked to do more, and to be more, in an attempt be seen as a person of value.
Prior to receiving the vision, I’d sought healing through Christian counseling, attending a co-dependency group, researching trauma and recovery, and praying for healing.
Receiving the vision of the two trees changed my life. Instantly, I went from seeing myself as a misfit and awkward, to seeing myself as God saw me. The vision also gave me new understanding, as, for the first time, I was able to internalize how the violence in my childhood shaped my growth.
Two months after receiving the vision, in a chapel service at the Christian high school where I taught, I told about the vision and its effect on my life. The next day, a fellow teacher and friend said to me, “God didn’t give you that vision just for you. You need to write a children’s book.” I smiled in disbelief at the thought. Yet, my friend’s words echoed in my mind when I met people who might benefit from such a book. Three months later, her words echoed in my heart when another friend’s son gave the eulogy at his father’s memorial service: “Whatever God is calling you to do, do it now. Don’t wait!”
I wondered, was this a call from God, or just a whim on my part? I prayed, “God, if you want me to write this book, I’m willing – I just need to know it’s your will.”
One day while praying for direction, I sensed God urging me to reread an old prayer journal. Finding the journal, I read the words I’d written seven years before: “I want God to give me a definite call like He did to the apostle Paul. I want it to be unmistakable and certain.” In that moment, God’s Spirit spoke to my heart, “I have given you a definite call like I did for the apostle Paul. I want you to write this book.”
Life has done much to distract me over the years, but God’s call faithfully drew me back to my writing desk. Writing and publishing the book took much longer than I could have imagined, but I never doubted God had called me to the task.
There is one other reason I wrote this book. After receiving the vision, I looked back at the trauma in my childhood and the decisions that created such a mess of my life. I saw how those decisions harmed my role-modeling as a mother, and as a result, how my children now bore the consequences of my brokenness. I believe the message of the vision has the power to bring healing to others whose lives have been affected by trauma. If that happens, their lives will be changed as well as the lives of future generations. I have come to believe what my friend said – God didn’t give me the vision just for me, I needed to write a book.
One day, my husband saw me searching the thesaurus for a word. He asked, “Why did you choose writing when it’s so hard for you?” Without hesitation, I replied, “I didn’t choose writing, it chose me.”
Beautiful, well written, with a deep conviction to help generations of people struggling to put together the pieces of their broken lives because of the intense scars of childhood abuse. Coming from an abusive home I can totally relate to the pain that Robby went thru in trying to heal her life after a very traumatic childhood. When we truly get the message that we are all special and beautiful in Gods sight and the scars from our childhood can be a gift if we choose to heal, to love ourselves and to truly forgive those who hurt us.
Thank you for your thoughtful and kind comment!
Roberta, So glad you listened to God! This message needs to be out there! I didn’t experience violence when I was growing up but did in my marriage so I could really relate. I love the analogy! And I love that God takes the worst parts of our lives and uses it for good. Your book is a shining example!
Thank you for your kind reply! For so many victims of trauma, the effects are universal. I believe God understands our brokenness, that He loves us while we are in the midst of the mess, and that His desire is to bring healing and wholeness into lives. Thank you again!
My heart aches as I see so many of my University students scarred by trauma, believing that they are “less than” and “not enough”. The Riven Tree is a beautiful picture of God’s perspective on who they really are, a gentle way to acknowledge trauma and seek healing.
Thank you Dawn! And, thank you for the work you so skillfully do as a teacher in seeking to bring healing to your students. God bless you!
Beautifully written, Robby! The blog helps me see more clearly how God spoke to you and has worked through you– it is exciting and inspirational! I am grateful to have known you through so much of this process, and to claim you as my friend now. I am so glad that you listened to God– this book has touched many people already!
Thank you for your kind words, and for your love and support! I like knowing what motivates an author to write a book, and so I’m glad this blog post gave you insight into why I wrote The Riven Tree. I’m glad we’re friends!
Beautiful, Robby!! Only God can give you this vision, only He can use a twisted tree, and only He can use you to speak for and to those who need healing from abuse!
Love and hugs and prayers for God’s continued work through you!
(aka Amre Cortadino)
Erma (Amre), You are right – only God can and does all these things, and we are the grateful recipients of all His grace. Thank you for your prayers, support, and love!