After years of verbal abuse, I finally realized I had lapsed into helplessness and hopelessness. A friend once said to me, “Susan, you need hope.” I loved and served and prayed to Jesus and believed He was fully capable of rescuing me from my prison of pain.
During this time, I lead our church’s women’s ministry, and spent time encouraging other women and teaching them.
But I was stuck. I began to realize I was thinking and acting like a victim. A powerless victim. The more I read and understood about verbal abuse (which includes financial abuse and neglect and more), the more I began to seek the help I needed to grow and thrive even in the midst of my difficulty. Oh, I still cried, but I grew in my confidence and my ability to find the good in the midst of the pain.
I still struggled for hope that I would ever one day be released. The wonderful news is by the time I was, I was ready for the new life God had in store for me. The fears from the past had melted away. The belief that I was inadequate and unable to stand on my own, was gone. When God opened that door, freeing me, I was ready to walk into my new life without fear. He provided for me every step along the way and looking back I can only say it was by His grace that I made it, because on paper, I should never have been able to.
By God’s grace, I became a hero, a protagonist in my own story, not a pathetic byline. Now ultimately Jesus is the real hero. It was He who saved me at 15 years of age and has walked me through all of this. What a wonder that He could give me hope – in HIM and blessings beyond what I could have ever wished for.
In what ways do you perhaps feel a victim in your life? Look to Jesus for your hope. Change doesn’t take place overnight but He can move you and use you for HIS glory in the midst of your pain and in the future use that experience to bless others. Hold on, dear friend.
The path to publishing isn’t always a smooth ride. Today Root Beer & Roadblocks finally released in ebook form. A new publisher has meant a learning curve for author and editors alike. (The print version should be available in another week).
This is not the first time I’ve had a book delayed and to be honest- the delay (or roadblock!) was at my request. I wanted extra eyes on the manuscript but that takes time. I’m grateful my publisher didn’t rush to get the book out on deadline only to find it filled with some mistakes.
Funny thing is – even with me going over this with a fine-tooth comb many times, as well as my editor, copyeditor, three proofreaders, and my publisher, none of us found the same things wrong. We all saw things differently. So there is a chance that you could pick up this book and find something wrong as well that all of us missed in spite of the multiple times it’s been evaluated.
But that’s the point, isn’t it? We’re human. Flawed. Even with software programs that can help find errors the human factor can still influence things. My hope is that if you choose to read Johnny’s story, you’ll get so caught up in the journey he takes that anything that crosses your path, will be immediately forgotten as you read on. I wanted to give you a sneak peek into the first pages of the book.
Johnny jogged to his car and grabbed his Bible. Fatigue weighed him down as he locked the sedan, the book tucked under his arm. Heading back toward the church, a movement caught his attention. A little boy from his Sunday school classroom escaped his mother’s grasp and bolted his way, blind to a car backing out of its spot.
“David, stop!” Johnny bolted and managed to get behind the moving vehicle to shove the child out of the way. The rear bumper struck his own leg and knocked him to the ground.
The car’s wheels stopped just short of running him over. Thank you, Lord, for big tank cars with huge trunks. The child cried, and a woman picked up the boy. “It’s OK, David, you’ve only scraped your palms. This nice man saved you. How many times must I tell you not to run in parking lots? You are too small for cars to see you.” She hugged the little boy tight.
Johnny dragged his legs out from under the car and struggled to his feet, bracing himself against the trunk to catch his breath. The elderly woman, who had been behind the wheel, toddled around to him. “Are you OK? I’m sorry. I didn’t see him. You moved so fast.”
Johnny nodded. “No one would have seen him. It was an accident.” He patted her on the shoulder before he limped across the parking lot. Pain seared through his hip and leg with every step he took. Reaching the curb, he sank down to the cement, thankful it was clear of snow.
His cousin Niko ran out of the church and knelt by his side. “Johnny, what happened?”
“He rescued my son from getting run over by a car that was backing out. He took the hit.” A woman wearing a stocking cap and winter coat came up behind Niko with the weepy boy in her arms rubbing his eyes.
Johnny shrugged. “What she said.”
“You OK? Do we need to call an ambulance?‛ Niko’s gaze bore into him. The greaterunspoken question loomed.
Teeth gritted in pain, Johnny returned his cousin’s stare. “I want to sit through worship. You’re on stage in a few minutes. Help me inside. I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow. It can wait until then.” He motioned for Niko to help him rise, and he did. The older woman came up to him and handed him a piece of paper.
“Here is my name, phone, and insurance information. Do you want to call the police and file a report? I wouldn’t blame you if you did.” Her arthritic, wrinkled hands were clenched tightly together as if in petition for mercy.
“I doubt that’s necessary. Thank you, May.” He took the paper and shoved it in his shirt pocket. David’s mom passed him his Bible, which he’d dropped. The leather was brushed clean.
“Are you sure you’re OK? I’m a nurse. I could take a look.” Her face instantly turned three shades of red as she realized her inspection would involve him taking off his jeans.
Johnny smiled and leaned forward. “In my younger days, that would have been an offer too good to pass up, but I visit my doctor tomorrow. It’ll wait.”
Here’s a video – instrumental of Burlap to Cashmere’s song “Dialing God.” The guy on the right is the real-life Johnny that I based this character on. Enjoy!
Prism Book Group has released another book in their “Love is…” series of romancesbased on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Hoping for Joy by Penelope Marzec is about love always hoping.
Hannah isn’t your typical blushing bride-to-be. She’s beginning to wonder whether her fiance will ever marry her. He’s preoccupied with helping his father care for his niece, Joy and keeping Joy’s mother, his sister, out of jail as she repeatedly gets in trouble with her addictions.
While Hannah understands the challenges he’s facing, she’s feeling a tad neglected and as if she’s not important to him. He’s not even a believer.
Logan is overwhelmed with responsibilities and really doesn’t think of his fiancee all that much until she’s attacked and almost killed by his sister during a robbery. But how can he balance the needs of Hannah with those of a little girl, a lost sister and a father who’s health is failing. How can he salvage his relationship with Hannah in the midst of all that?
Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.
This is a story of lost hopes and dreams giving birth to new ones and as a dog, I adore children so little Joy was my favorite part. That and she has the same name as someone in my house! A romantic suspense that will warm your heart. I give it five bones, because I’m a dog and I don’t do stars.
Meet Renata Blake. Her story is featured in the novel Pesto and Potholesreleasing March 27, 2015.
Renata, how do you feel about your story being told?
Initially I wasn’t too happy about it. I’ve had plenty of bad press in the past and the last thing I need is my family getting wind of this book. They already hate me enough . . . and they don’t come out looking too good in the retelling. But it is real. This is my life. All the ugliness and the beauty.
What do you hope will be the outcome of your story being shared in this way?
That those who are hurting would find hope. As the book cover says, “The road to healing is filled with potholes.” Also that if someone isn’t involved in a good church, that they would seek one out. The relationships I made at Orchard Hill Church were a significant part of my healing process.
Tell us about Antonio.
*giggles* Tony is sweet and handsome, but more than that, he always respected me. That was so new for me to experience. I heard about that book and movie that came out, Fifty Shades of Grey. That’s not love. Trust me, no woman wants a man who is going to control and abuse her. But Tony, he’s one of the good guys and he loves Jesus which I think made a huge difference.
Do you like Italian food?
I’ve always loved Italian food . . . but I have a far deeper appreciation for it now. *she winks*.
Do you still battle ninjas?
(sly grin). I haven’t had the occasion to lately, but suspect I’m still capable.
What’s up next for you?
I’m excited that my roommate Stephanie gets a chance to tell her amazing story next. I don’t know if I could have made it this far without her love and support and I’m glad I got to return the favor when life became difficult for her. I don’t want to give any spoilers away.
One last question. What’s your favorite song right now?
Oh, wow. I love so many but the one that resonates most with my soul is Broken Hallelujah by the Afters. If I were a songwriter, I could have written that song. Hallelujah means to “God be praised,” and I’m grateful that even when I was weak and broken He could still hear and accept my shattered heart. I look back now in such gratitude for all He’s done. May all the praise and glory be to Him.
Thank you, Renata, or taking the time out of your crazy schedule.
Thank you for sharing about Susan’s book. I’m so grateful she had the courage to tell my story. Maybe others will find healing and hope in Jesus because of it.
This was originally published in September of 2010
I’ve struggled with depression most of my life. With medication I have more ‘good’ days than bad, although circumstances and hormones and my thyroid issues can mess with all of that. The past few days I’ve been feeling the shadow of that cloud looming and am troubled by it. I usually try NOT to write publically when I’m like this. Not sure why. I don’t need any guests to my pity party and I don’t always like to explain the challenging circumstances that I have lived in and continue to experience on a daily basis. It almost makes it worse to talk about it. It is the way it is. I’ve had to make tough choices and sometimes the consequences are painful.
This week I have a book to read that will scrape wounds raw. When I don’t have to look at my challenges and can rise above them (or pretend they don’t exist!), I do better. But I cannot always stay there forever. I’m finding it hard to lean into the pain I know will come, because I can’t leave it there when I set the book down. However, the issues are bigger than me – they extend to the women (and men) of our church and beyond. So I need to step up even if it hurts. Sometimes life just hurts when you have to face into things that don’t change even though your heart wishes they would. I need to grieve my losses again while seeking to live in hope. I serve a God I can trust with the future.
All of this is before I even crack the book open. However, I had to do something similar two weeks ago and haven’t fully recovered from the emotional wrenching it did inside. So in a way, I’m trying to be realistic.
I wish I could use food to numb or stuff down some of that pain. But those choices have negative consequences and I’ve made so much progress in that area this year. Now is not the time to backslide. Sometimes I just have to feel it. But I don’t wanna! my heart cries out. Well, I don’t like doing dishes and laundry and still – some things must be done.
I’m reminded that it is times like this when I am able to draw closer to Jesus. Knowing He treasures the tears that I sometimes am unable to cry. Knowing that my deepest pains – He has experienced. I’m grateful I have a God who sees, loves and holds me. King David resonates with me so much. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psa 43:5 ESV)
How about you? Is there a painful reality that is rearing its ugly head and needs to be dealt with head-on? How are you coping? How can I be praying for you? Heed also the wisdom from my eight year old son: storms have a purpose in cleaning the air – purifying it. I think that applies to the emotional ones too.