by Shirley Bahlmann
How did you come up with the title for your book? It’s so fitting.
Elizabeth Cheever, my co-author, initially came up with Refiner’s Fire part. I liked it but it seemed to be incomplete. One morning I puttering around the house taking of things and the whole came into my mind. It really does fit the process we go through. The forging process burns away all the imperfections and dross leaving beautiful, shiny, valuable gold. That is what mortality is all about, burning away our weaknesses and imperfections and rejoicing in the perfection which remains.
What inspired you to collect stories of hardship people have had in their lives?
Both Elizabeth and I have undergone a number of trials in our lives, as has everyone. There were times when I literally felt as if I would drown in the fear. But always, if I could find a quiet hospital corner and prayer, the tremendous comfort and peace which would envelop me was amazing. I am a firm believer that we are given our obstacles, trials and tragedies so that we not only learn from them, but also share those experiences with others that they might be uplifted and strengthened in their own journeys.
Was it difficult to get people to share stories so up close and personal to them?
Not really. Elizabeth and I sent emails out to everyone we knew, and asked them to forward them across the world, asking for stories that fit a particular criteria. In other words, the people who had worked their way through the darkness to come to the light on the other side. The purpose of the book was to help others to understand they are not alone.
How do you think that people who shared their stories benefited from telling them?
You know, that’s an interesting question and one I hadn’t thought of. For myself, I know there is a general catharsis when my trial becomes the written word. Somehow, some way, it is my hope that my trial and the lessons learned have given others the strength and courage to go on. That alone gives me a measure of peace and strength. So I guess it my hope that this very same phenomena for each of the other people who shared their stories.
How has compiling these stories effected you?
In all honesty, I was blown away. For instance, although Hazel would disagree, Hazel’s story of the horse rearing up and falling backwards on her, crushing her pelvis, made me stop and say: “Okay, my life just isn’t that hard. Holy cow!” Oddly enough, Hazel, upon reading the other stories said the exact same thing. So for me, they have given me strength, courage and knowledge. Each of these people shared how they overcame their trials and within the pages of this book are suggestions, woven in and out of the stories, to overcoming your own trials. The first thing, and most important, is to lift that load off your shoulders and turn it over to the Savior. Not an easy thing to do. When that advice was given to me in a priesthood blessing I puzzled for several days trying to figure out how to do that. Then it came into my mind to picture my troubles and woes as a huge, heavy overcoat literally drowning me. I then allowed the Savior, as any good gentleman would do, to lift that coat from my shoulders, along with all my troubles and worries, at place it on His own. Rather simplistic, but it worked.
What kind of feedback have you gotten from people who’ve read your book? Has it changed anyone’s view of the Savior?
I’ve received a number of emails, and certain a number of reviews have mentioned this as well, how the people who shared their stories in this book has literally changed their lives. For some it helped me to see what was holding them back and they shook that burden off and started moving forward. For others in the midst of great trials it gave them hope to know they were not alone in their suffering. And for yet others, it inspired them to greater heights. All of these emails and comments have lightened my heart tremendously. For the greatest mission I have is to testify of the Savior’s love, strength, courage and loyalty to each of the children of God. It is my hope that this book portrayed that adequately.
Do you plan a sequel?
Yes, it is called “No Pressure, No Diamonds.” Anyone who is interested in contributing a story should read “Forged in the Refiner’s Fire” and then email me their story at email@example.com. Elizabeth and I will go over all the stories and choose the ones that best fit the message of “No Pressure, No Diamonds.”
“Forged in the Refiner’s Fire”, along with my others, can be purchased at www.candacesalima.com/inPrint.htm.
Have you ever had days...weeks...years... when you think nothing is going right? Do you ever look up at the Heavens, clench your fists, and cry, "Why me?"
"Forged in the Refiner's Fire" is a collection of essays by people who've been, there, done that, and later found the gem hidden in the midst of their trial. You have to dig a ditch to get water to the crops, you have to suffer growing pains to become an adult, you have to sweat to strengthen your muscles.
So when those trials come, pick up this book and find friends who know what you're going through. Take the lessons already learned, and thank God for your trials.