Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Why I Write the Yucky Stuff


Last week, I shared a blog post, When Holidays and Birthdays are Difficult, that had some folks questioning why I write about such things. Some people prefer happy, cheerful, surface-level posts. Some seem to think I want the drama that posts like this may cause, which could not be further from the truth. To help readers understand why I write the yucky stuff, I thought I’d offer a little explanation.


I write about seasons of pain because there are many others who are in – or who have experienced – similar seasons, and some of those people are seeking hope. They are seeking someone who understands. Someone who will not judge, will not condemn. Those people need to know they are not alone. They may also need Jesus, so perhaps God will give me the privilege of helping point them toward HIM.


In her recent book, Colorful Connections: 12 Questions About Race that Open Healthy Conversations, author Lori Roeleveld wrote this powerful statement:

“Shame is a silencer.”

Let that sink in. When I read Lori’s words, they lit up like a neon sign on a dark, stormy night. I stopped and read that sentence again and again, finally understanding so many years of my own silence. How many times had I been silent when I should have spoken out?

I’ve been silent through a dysfunctional childhood. Silent through divorce, even after I was told divorced women belonged in the basement. I remained silent when I was told women should not speak in church. I’ve been silent since my younger son raised one hand in worship during a song in church, and the pastor pulled me aside afterward to tell me my son was not welcomed there. I’ve been silent ever since. Silent through pain and heartache that some mothers face every day with mentally ill children. Silent through extreme hardship. Silent in the valleys and even silent on the mountaintops, because after so many valleys, we know the mountaintops are only momentary.

I’ve been silent for too long, haven’t I? During my silence, I have learned one important truth: it’s always easier to write on someone else’s behalf than it is my own. God instructs us through His word to speak up, too, so how can we remain silent when we see wrong?


Learn to do good;

Seek justice,

Rebuke the oppressor,

Obtain justice for the orphan,

Plead for the widow’s case.

(Isaiah 1:17 NASB)


As we grow and mature, we learn (hopefully) how to bridle our pens, controlling when and where to write, not just lashing out in our pain or anger. We strive to write life-giving words, rather than words that do harm, because we know how this Story ends.


If words I write can offer comfort or hope or inspiration to one person – one weary, struggling soul – or point them to Jesus when they’re so thirsty for His Living Water – then any momentary discomfort, worry, embarrassment, or concern I may have about sharing my journey is worth it all.



Friday, October 21, 2022

When Holidays and Birthdays are Difficult

As the holiday season approaches, we decorate, we plan, we remember. We have expectations that these special times will be filled with love, laughter, joy and excitement. But unfortunately, holidays are often bittersweet or painful for some, because we’ve lost loved ones, or because money is tight, or because distance separates us from those we cherish, or a terminal illness hovers, or a plethora of other reasons.


This week, my mind has been on one of those other reasons, so I am summoning the courage to write for anyone else who finds themselves in similar circumstances. If you are one whose holidays and birthdays are sometimes difficult, please know you are not alone.


Last week, in a group setting, one of my friends brought up the topic of what she called “the unmentionables” and that phrase fits the relationship I have with my younger son.


Yesterday was his birthday, and while I longed to post happy birthday wishes to him on social media so everyone could celebrate him with me, I didn’t.


Why?


Because he’s in jail. Again.


He could be considered an unmentionable child, because when he does become the topic of conversation, I always feel the need to explain or clarify or even … hold my head in shame, embarrassment, failure.


I have two children – two sons. I love them both with every fiber of my being.


Referring to my younger son, some have asked how I can love someone who causes so much pain and destruction.


My sons are polar opposites in most ways and most of their lives have been a battle, either with each other, or between all three of us.


Older son and I have both wrestled with all the thoughts that plague us, wondering how we “went wrong” in our roles as mom or brother, what we could/should/would have done differently. I’ve accepted 100% of the blame for too many years – blame from myself, from extended family, from friends, from younger son himself, who, as of yet, accepts no responsibility for his own wrongdoings.


One day recently, I finally accepted the fact that I am NOT 100% to blame. None of us are. Some of us played a role in making my son who he is today, but ultimately, his mental illness, his drug and alcohol abuse, and his own choices made as an adult play a role, too.


Holidays are difficult for us as a family. Too many have resulted in extreme episodes that left many of us frustrated, hurt, angry; he’s been homeless or in jail on many others. Holidays and birthdays are trigger points for him, so whenever one rolls around, we’ve come to expect meltdowns, anger, destruction.


How do you wish a sincere “happy birthday” to anyone when they’re sitting in a jail cell, angry at you, angry at the world? You don’t. You can’t. But the Lord gave me a Bible verse night before last to send my son with a note that said, “you are not forgotten today, or any day.” He responded with a thank you and an I love you, so I was able to say I love you, too, without it blowing up in my face. For the day.


Was it the best birthday? No. Was it the worst? Far from it, so we’ll call it good. Today, that’s enough.


Last night as I was going through the mail, I found a “happy anniversary” card from Prison Fellowship. We’ve supported their ministry for years, so the card was thanking us for “supporting restoration.” The timing was not lost on me – to receive the card on my son’s birthday, to open it after our text exchange. The note on the back of the card said, “Remember those in prison.” Some of us can’t forget.


Jesus said,

“I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was alone and away from home, and you invited me into your house. I was without clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’


“Then the good people will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you alone and away from home and invite you into our house? When did we see you without clothes and give you something to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and care for you?’

“Then the King will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did for me.’” (Matthew 25:35-40 NCV)

This holiday season, remember the homeless, remember those in poverty, remember those in prison.

* I learned about Prison Fellowship years ago after reading founder Chuck Colson's memoir, Born Again.



One of their programs is the Angel Tree. Prison Fellowship Angel Tree™ equips churches to strengthen relationships between incarcerated parents and their children and support the families of prisoners year-round.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Our Newest Release: Pickle in My Pocket

My husband Tim and I are excited to announce the release of our new children's book, Pickle in My Pocket. The book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Book Depository, and most major booksellers by request. 



When Tim and I first met, I learned that he loved to tell stories. Many of his stories were from his childhood and time spent with his first cousins. Pickle in My Pocket is a fictionalized version of his "fave-rite" story.





About the Book:


Come join Poppa Tim as he shares one of his favorite stories, Pickle in My Pocket.


"Ewww!"


He heard that!


This hilarious children's picture book features Poppa Tim as the narrator of a story from his childhood, with a life lesson about patience.


Pickle in My Pocket includes a short list of conversations starters for parents to communicate with their children.


We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed creating this book. 

I talked Tim into a video to help us market the book too! Check out his dance moves!





Monday, October 3, 2022

Hope in the Midst of Pain

This weekend, a loved one’s niece and nephew (both teens) lost their father to a massive heart attack. 


During the month of September, other fathers and mothers (many fathers and mothers) were incarcerated, separating them from their children for indefinite periods of time, changing those families’ lives forever, too.

During the past week, people received terminal medical diagnoses, dealt with crushing financial hardships and struggled to pay – or couldn’t pay – for the bare necessities of life, senior adults have been forced to leave their homes because they could no longer afford mortgage or rent, and thousands have lost everything to a hurricane named Ian.


So much pain. So much loss. So much heartache. So much uncertainty. All in such a short period of time.


Yet the harder life gets, the more my faith strengthens and the more my hope grows. The harder life gets, the more I want to give people the same Hope that I cling to hourly.


My Hope is Jesus Christ, and that Hope is recorded in the Holy Bible. When life gets hard, and harder still, I pour through my Bible looking for God’s words to comfort me, sustain me, encourage me, inspire me, challenge me, hold me, guide me. I cling to His promises and long for His eternity.


  • My hope is from Him. (Psalm 62:5)


  • Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)


  • Jesus said, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)


  • The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)


  • Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)


  • For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)


  • Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)


  • Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27-28)


  • He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4)


  • He is our Hope today, in the midst of our trials, and He is our Hope for tomorrow, when there will no longer be any more pain and suffering. That day when we can spend forever with Him.


I long for that day, don’t you?







Friday, September 2, 2022

One of My Stories in New Release | I Chose You: Imperfectly Perfect Rescue Dogs and their Humans

I'm excited and honored to have one of my stories included in this new anthology.

I Chose You, Imperfectly Perfectly Rescue Dogs and Their Humans is a must-read collection of honest, humorous, and heartwarming stories about rescue dogs who found their forever homes. I Chose You reminds us to be grateful for second chances and that the right dog, at the right time, changes everything for the better.


“I’m so thrilled to discover this beautiful collection of stories featuring these imperfectly perfect rescue pups. I Chose You has won my heart!”

— Janice Thompson, author of Paws for Reflection: 50 Devotions for Dog Moms


“Great read! Nothing in life is perfect except unconditional love. I Chose You captures that choice!”

— Adrian Palmer Board of Directors Medical Advisor Australian Shepherds Furever Rescue


“The best prescription I can write for trauma survivors, veterans with PTSD, and others with mental health issues, is the healing power of dogs. I Chose You is the perfect gift for yourself or a dog lover and a wonderful reminder of the unbreakable bond between canines and their people.”

—Angela Miller, Licensed Professional Therapist


Available on Amazon.


 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Confession: I Lost My Focus

Have you ever lost focus? Ever chased a rabbit trail, only to come back to your starting point so you can start again?


That was my summer this year. I chased art. 


Now, as September approaches, I find myself back where I started, re-energized and refocused, ready to dig in once more. 


I have revamped this website with more focus on books and writing. I'm still creating and selling art (and greeting cards are coming soon!) 


My focus is once again on writing, screenwriting, and publishing. Summer vacation - or after-midlife crisis - is over. Two of my own books, and an anthology with one of my stories included will release this fall. Screenplays are in motion, too, after quarter-finaling in a contest this summer.


So how did I refocus? First, I prayed and told God I needed help, because I was floundering. I told Him I thought I needed a coach. Two weeks after that prayer, author Lori Roeleveld announced some group workshops she was offering online, and I knew He'd answered my prayers. I signed up, and the first week just kicked me in gear. Tomorrow is our second session, and I can already say that this workshop has been life-changing. If you're looking for a coach, I highly recommend Lori Roeleveld's Take Heart! Coaching - she offers many writing, speaking, and life coach options on her coaching page.


I'm back to blogging once a week or so. Hope you'll join in the conversation. 


Have you ever lost focus? Did you get it back? Or move onto something else?


 

Hitting a Milestone

As 2022 ended, I had plans. Nothing extravagant, but perhaps a couple of adventures and a fall conference to prepare for and attend. But I q...