Tag Archive | community

Stuffing is Fine for Turkeys, Not Humans

I haven’t posted anything for some time because, well, to be honest, life has been crazy. I’ve made some changes in my life and God has given me amazing peace as He has led me on this path. I’m blessed beyond what I could adequately express.

But here’s the rub. I have Major Depressive Disorder. Most people wouldn’t guess that because I can be bubbly, energetic in communication and smile often. (An INFJ conundrum or chameleon?)

It was a lesson I learned as a child. I cried a lot in school and was made fun of for that. “Crybaby,” they would call me in my parochial school. I cried at home. No one really cared. I was just hyper-sensitive. Around fifth grade, I finally learned how to bury my hurt anger and not cry. When I was older  I told my parents I wanted to see someone, that I thought I was depressed and needed help. I was told I was just seeking attention.

Wow. I buried those feelings deeper. Eventually, I learned to pour those emotions into fiction.

 

I’ve been on a good path recently: eating better, taking around four long walks outdoors every week (sunshine and exercise), and sleeping well. But then last week it popped up again. I opened myself up to people I thought I could trust and told them how something scared me and made me anxious to the point of even having a nightmare about it. My feelings were discounted and minimized. I went home and cried. I won’t go into the issues, but it was as if confessing my fears, they had to bury their own with platitudes. I didn’t feel cared for, loved, or a valued part of the community on that team.

It’s been bothering me for days. I’ve taken walks. Taken naps. Worked. Emailed a friend. Today I had to serve at church with this team and you know what? I shed my tears over Scripture and my journal in the morning before stuffing it all down as I left the house. It was a task-oriented job so not the time for emotional discussions anyway. I tried to encourage and thank others but my heart and my hurt stayed locked away. Why would I share it again when no one cared enough about it the first time? It all bubbled back to the surface the minute I was alone in my car. The sky poured rain that mirrored the tears flowing down my face.

Stuffing is great for turkeys…not so good for humans.

I came home, ate lunch and took a nap. I try not to let my depression leak on to my kids. I take medication so I can be functional and dependable. My middle son wrote on a paper at school a few years ago stating that his mom is always happy. I had to sit him down and say, “No, I’m not. I cry. I just don’t do it in front of you because they are my adult problems and struggles, not burdens for you to carry.” When they were much younger, I used to let it spill out in frustration and when my young son drew a picture of an angry mom, I knew I had to once again get help and back on medication. At the time I also had a serious auto-immune disease complicating things and making the depression an even bigger struggle.

Let me brag on my kids for a minute. Now that they are older, when I have those days where I’m feeling on the edge…like I could snap…I warn them. “Kids, I’m really cranky today. Not sure why, but please, just be nice to me okay?” And they do. They don’t step on my last nerve to watch me explode. My youngest will give me a hug and tell me she loves me.

Yes. I have God. He is always faithful and provides for my needs and sometimes my wants. He has shown Himself to me in so many unexpected ways. I can be as grateful as possible for all of that and for the support of people around me–but gratitude doesn’t cure depression. It isn’t fixable with platitudes, a good meal, or even sometimes a hug and a shoulder to cry on (although that can be helpful and appreciated).

So if you see me in person or call me on the phone and ask how I am, I’ll likely tell you I’m fine. No offense, I’ve just learned that not everyone cares about how I’m REALLY doing. Depression and chronic illness, whether physical or emotional, is something that society as a whole, and even the Christian community, do not excel at ministering to. We get all concerned about suicides and suicide prevention – but the reality is – the problems are there long before the individual ever contemplates such drastic action.

I’m not writing this to get attention… but to ask you to open your eyes to people around you… we can get so self-absorbed (I’m an expert navel-gazer too), that we don’t often take the time to look beneath the surface to see what’s really going on in someone’s life. I want to raise awareness. I’m sure in time I’ll be doing better. Depression ebbs and flows for me and after a few more journal entries,  tears, walks and maybe even a visit to my therapist, I might wake up some morning feeling better. It will take time but it is a lonely journey. So for those of you who struggle as well, my heart and prayers go out to you. You are loved and valuable and your feelings DO matter. Hang in there. I pray someone will come along and be Jesus with skin on for you in your darkest hours so that you can make it through. That’s my prayer for myself too.

Maybe this video will show just how hard it is to always see on the surface when someone is depressed.

Sandwich with a Side of Romance (Book Review)

sandwichI picked up Krista Phillip’s book, Sandwich with a Side of Romance free on Kindle and was so glad to stumble across such a witty and talented author.

Twenty year old Maddie Buckner has had a hard life but she’s starting over in a new town, Sandwich, in hopes of qualifying for custody of her eleven year old brother, Kyle, who is in foster care.

Nothing seems to go Maddie’s way, and it’s all the fault of the devastatingly handsome restauranteur, Reuben’s fault. It all started with him falling asleep while she was cutting his hair and things spiral down from there while the romance and temptation heats up. Throw in a jealous fiancee and you have the makings of drama and misadventure.

Maddie though has a new relationship with Jesus and doesn’t need a man in her life, much less anyone else. God seems bent on shower her just how much she does need the love and grace that others offer, along with their physical help in meeting her needs. Moving to Sandwich not only provides her with a job and an opportunity to start over, but new friends and a chance for the family she never had.

I don’t want to give any spoilers away but there were moments in this story that had me grinning and giggling and others that had me in tears at the heartache Maddie endured and felt she deserved. She learns a valuable lesson that God wipes away our sins and that we desperately do need the grace and love of other people in our lives because no one can make it on their own.

I loved the complexity of these characters and the humor as well. Krista has a unique voice in her writing and one I found to be engaging and hard to set aside. I look forward to reading more from her.  Kudos to Abingdon Press for putting a normal shaped woman on their cover, not some impossibly shaped size zero.

We Do Not Write Alone

I’ve been writing for four years now and it hit me today that God has taught me some cool things on my path to publication.

Photo by Tom Otte Imaging

Photo by Tom Otte Imaging

  1. There is a beautiful group of people out there who love the Lord and are seeking to serve them with their writing. They come in all shapes and sizes and genres. From a worldly perspective they are my competition for the attention and money of the public who would buy my work. But in reality – they are my brothers and sisters in Christ. They have become so dear to me and some I have yet to meet – and hug – face to face.
  2. We all have our own unique voice and if God has gifted us and brought our pen to paper or our fingers to keyboard, our only true audience is Him. I’m not to be anyone else but me as I write.  Other authors are the same. In that sense I do not have to be jealous of them because they are writing as God created them too, with their own unique “voice,” just as I am writing with mine.
  3. Writing is an act of worship to me. Yes, it is hard work and I am constantly learning, but ultimately I want my words to bring honor and glory to Jesus. I write Christian romance. I ultimately want me readers to understand that the greatest romance is between us and Christ.
  4. Writing is a community endeavor. How would I grow without submitting myself and my work to the eyes and wisdom of those who have come before me? I may put my words to paper in solitude but they are honed in community.
  5. Pride is the lure of authors but also hard to hold on to. Let me explain. I can write a book and feel like it’s my best work ever – until I get my line edits and or read it myself a few months later and realize how much it will take to make it better. Whether writing flash-fiction or a novel – the editing process strips away any sense that this is a phenomenal piece of work. I’ve learned to be grateful for the truth-speakers who have helped me grow as a author. I’m not saying that the comments don’t sting at times, after all those words that form a story were given to me by God to put down. It is hard to recognize at times that the failure them to sparkle perfectly lies in my humanness.
  6. Writing cannot be for money. I’m not saying I don’t want to make any. The hours are brutal the work long and hard. I love doing it. But I doubt any amount of money I could earn would truly compensate for the heart and soul and butt in chair time that I put into it. It has to be done because it is what I have been called to do and I cannot imagine doing anything else with as much joy.
  7. I could not be the writer I am without the support and encouragement of special people in my life. Someone said “Don’t forget us little people when you make it big.” Well – that “little person” has been my cheerleader and I hope I never forget the way individuals like him have cheered me on.  See, some people scoff. “Oh, you are a writer. How nice for you.” Or “Enjoy your hobby, you won’t make any money at that.” or this one. “So you publish your novel and you’ll be rich?” That one makes me laugh. Sure I will, after I put you in there. There are many ways to kill off people in my stories but as Arnold Schwarzenegger put it in his character in True Lies, “They were bad, very, very bad.” As another quote on the internet says “If people didn’t want to be put in your books, they should have been nicer to you!”

I feel sorry for authors who do not reach out and engage in the communities of authors that are out there, especially if they are Christians because it is such a delightful group to be a part of! At the conferences, in writing groups and on-line. It’s more than establishing a platform to sell a book – it’s about having people love you when the writing is hard. It’s about people who celebrate with you for even what may seem like the smallest of victories, because they “get you.” They understand. It’s about encouraging each other to follow the calling of God and do it with excellence. It’s about the bigger body of Christ seeking to reach the world and inspire others to faith and wholehearted devotion to our King.

For His Glory Alone – I write.