Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Because Of My Mother


People often tell me I am brave – and if I am, it's because of my mother.  

People often tell me that I am kind – and if I am, it's because of my mother.  

People often tell me I am resilient – and if I am, it's because of my mother.  

People often tell me that I have great faith – and if I do, it's because of my mother. 

If I am brave in the face of the hardships life has given me as of late, it's because my mother has taught me how. Long before I became ill, I watched my mother suffer. I can't even remember a time when it wasn't so. And all through growing up, I watched her struggle with it, and win. I watched her bravery in facing early-onset Parkinson's and still raise five children. I watched her shake and tremble and be unable to feed herself, yet still she taught us our school, and guided us through life, and encouraged us in every pursuit. I am brave because I had the very best model of bravery. I am brave because my mother showed me how to be.  

If I am kind to others, it's because my mother showed me what kindness is. She, who suffered long before I ever did, takes time out of her hard life to talk to lawyers for my family, to help us kids understand and complete paperwork, medical bills, and college grants. Even though we are often tight on money, she finds money to buy things for the food pantry. Since I was small, I have always seen my mother's kindness. I needed no definition aside from her actions. When she offers gentle words to new mothers at camp, when she talks to the hurting people around me and offers them her help, when she makes phone calls for me when I can't do it myself... A thousand things she does every day has shown me what true kindness is. So if I am kind, it is because of my mother.  

If I have great faith in face of hardship, it's because my mother led the way. Life has always been hard for my family - the way that life is hard for everyone. But I never once saw my mother's faith waver. Never in my lifetime could I say that I saw her doubting. She taught me the greatest part of faith – the one thing I have always truly needed to make it through life. And that is: God is Enough. Even if everything is taken from us, even if we have nothing left, God is Enough. She taught me that keeping my eyes on Him would get me through anything life could throw me, because He is greater than all life's worst twists and turns. She did not have to say it. She didn't have to lay it out before me like a map. I saw it in every action. I heard it in every word. 

If I have great faith, it's because God has shown me His light, through her.  

Everything I am, I owe to her.  

People often say that I am a lot like my mother - and if that's true, then I can think of no better compliment.  

Happy birthday, Mama. I love you. Thank you for being the lighthouse through which Jesus shone so brightly. Thank you for teaching me all the best things I know. : )

Monday, November 6, 2017

Defying "Social Norms" in Reading and Writing


So we’ve all heard those “golden rules of writing” that seem so completely vague, yet are so over-bearing that it makes writing or finding “good literature” feel like work, right? And we’ve all had those people who made us feel like something we wrote/read and loved was unacceptable or “wrong” somehow, by pointing out some vague rule or concept that you had forgotten in a far back corner of your mind. You know the person – the one who took a book you read or wrote and loved dearly and somehow manages to rake up dozens of flaws in either the writing or the plot or the characters, based on those vague-yet-overpowering-rules.  

If you’ve been at this long – or even if you haven’t – you’ve probably had a few of those moments (or, you know, more than a few. Possibly your entire career as a writer/reader has been made up of them). Well, take heart, dear writers and readers. I’m going to touch base on a few of them and tell you why you don’t need to worry so much about those things. And I’m also I’m going to be breaking open some of our faulty thought processes as a culture regarding books and authors in general (because, yes, I’ve fallen into the trap that is those pesky misconceptions of “good writing” too). And I’m going to do it using my newest novel – Echoes – as an example. [You don’t need to have read Echoes to read this blog post, and it won’t have any spoilers for if you do plan to read it in the future.]

To begin, you need to understand more about what Echoes is. It’s a hard book to categorize, because of the strangeness of how it’s been written. The plot – while seemingly should fit in a YA action adventure or SciFi category – somehow is tucked into a contemporary novel. Odder yet, the writing style is a mishmash of poetical prose and scattered comparisons that seem like they might better fit in a book of poetry than an action-adventure-turned-contemporary. So how did I, the author, think to cram so many apparently-random elements into a single novel – and, even more importantly, why?

While the answer to those things is very simple – and will be explained later in this post – the main thing is that it’s a book that’s not only hard to categorize, but one that I’m expecting to get a lot of grief over (and have already started getting messages about, over the “strangeness” of it). It is weird – I’m totally willing to accept and admit that, to anyone who asks about it. It’s not your normal cup of tea, and it doesn’t fit in the normal boxes that books are “supposed(??)” to fit into, and I’ll be the first to admit it. It blows off dozens of the “suggested guidelines (which you’d better follow if you know what’s good for you, baby)”, and I’m unapologetically aware of that fact.

So why did I do it? The answer, as stated before, is simple: I wanted it to be realistic. And before everyone starts getting up in arms about that statement, I’ll explain why I came to the conclusion that I did about what ‘realistic’ is, by first explaining what realistic isn’t. To do so, we first need to delve into what some of the common misconceptions and mistakes are, as well as some of the misplaced “normalcy” of today’s writing atmosphere.

So let’s break it down into parts, shall we?

1.      People Don’t Make Sense: One of the hardest things about being an author (or a distraught reader who has just been told their favorite character is unrealistic for reasons XYZ) is that you have to break out of the expectations of what readers have been lead to believe is “realistic” or “normal” for characters. Basically – we expect characters to make sense, all of the time, regardless of the situation. But the thing is, people don’t make sense 24/7. We’re all a big ball of twisted up, act-out-of-character, have-weird-days, don’t-even-know-who-we-are’s that are constantly growing and expanding with every day that we live. And even more confusing, we as readers expect to know every motive of every character, even if the book is from a single POV. (But that’s maybe getting off-topic – a post for another day.)

2.      Mirroring-Their-Genre: If you’re much of a reader, you’ll probably have noticed the same thing I have, and this is that characters often reflect their genre (even if authors try to disguise it with other little details that distract the reader). That is to say, characters in Action Adventure novels are, more often than not, the “guns-blazing, sassy, uber-brave” stereotypes. Characters in romance books are either the “dreamy-eyed, obsessed with romance, searching for my soulmate” types or they’re the “I’ve given up on love, it’s over-rated, roll-my-eyes-at-everyone, I want none of this” types. Fantasy characters are the “I didn’t know this huge thing about myself so now I feel super lost, I’m freaking out and don’t know what to do, slowly-become-crazy-awesome-anyway” types. Whatever the genre is, you can bet on it that the characters will reflect that genre, and if they don’t, people will get mad over it or confused about it. They expect the characters to make sense with their genre. (Because genre apparently is more important than making realistic characters?) And while those types aren’t necessarily bad in and of themselves, the common misconception that characters in those genres have to be that way is. I know I’ve gotten grief over it, both as a writer and a reader.

3.      Just Make Sure Your Characters Speak, Regardless of Their Personality, Okay?: So as writers and readers, we’ve all heard it the old “balance your descriptions and dialogue, because if you don’t, that can throw readers off” thing, right? And as readers, most of us have gotten frustrated with a book that didn’t have enough dialogue or felt clunky because it had too much, am I right? So obviously good books balance the two, yes? Well, no. The current “popular opinion” is that books should balance the two, but it’s really just a side effect of what our current culture likes – that is to say, things that are easy. Books with a “good balance” of dialogue and monologue are the easy-peasy kind of reads that make reading a breeze. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those. As a dyslexic person and a reader in general, I can tell you that when I started reading, those were the only kinds of books I would read. Yep, I, too, fell into the trap of believing that easy, perfectly-balanced books were the only good books. But honestly, they aren’t somehow better than books with more of one or the other. Take the old classics, for instance. Shakespeare is heavy on dialogue. Austen is heavy on description and monologue. In fact, most of the classics veer much more to the left, so to speak, and are almost all monologue-heavy with little dialogue. And, I mean, if it was good enough to get them onto the ultra-famous list, why is it now considered “bad writing”?

So now that we’ve touched base on a few of the things that had made people question my choices as an author (and things that are currently mistaken social norms), I’ll come back and touch base on those more, as well as explain why I believe “realistic” is not at all what we, as readers, have been lead to believe. To do so, I’ll be using my own new release – Echoes – as an example.

1.      People Don’t Make Sense: I wanted to make this book (and Emma’s character) as realistic as I could. She’s a girl with a rather dark past and she struggles with a form of PTSD, as well as a kind of social anxiety and general social awkwardness. On top of that, she’s a huge introvert. That being said, her mind is a tangled maze filled with minefields and dead-ends. She’s got a lot of trauma and she has no background on which to base her internal thoughts, so she kind of…invented her own, so to speak. She compares and contrasts everything she hears and feels and touches, because that’s really the only way she knows how to think – and that means her internal thoughts are weird, confusing or “bulky” feeling. She’s weird and she doesn’t make a ton of sense – but that’s who she is, and I wasn’t going to compromise that just to make readers feel like she was “realistic”. (Because apparently being realistic is…unrealistic?)

2.      Mirroring-Their-Genre: Emma’s backstory is quite obviously Science Fiction, right? I mean, she’s basically a cyborg assassin – very sci-fi stuff going on there. Yet the story style itself is an odd mix of contemporary and poetic. The premise of the book feels like it should be YA, yet it is confusing, complexing and dark enough theme-wise to maybe fit more with an adult audience. “It’s like the author couldn’t make up her mind!” …right?

       No. I’m well aware of the boundaries put forth by genres and the generally-accepted social “norms” for books – and I laugh at them, to be honest. Genres make absolutely zero sense to me. It’s like taking something that is supposed to be completely creative and should reflect an author’s unique creativity and saying, “Hey, you can be totally creative, but you have to stay in this box.” So…basically, if you gave a little kid a coloring book, told them they could paint their own, completely-original artwork…and then scolded them for getting outside of the lines. Can anyone tell me how this makes any sense? Genres basically were created around books that were previously written by saying “hey, this novel is a similar style to this older novel, so let’s group them together!” And while that was all well and good when it was just grouping novels into similar groups, now that grouping is affecting the very characters in a story.  

    And I didn’t feel like limiting Emma’s impact on her own story, just to fit into that imaginary set of lines created by social normalcy. The style is written the way it is because it’s befitting the character the story is about. I don’t write stories in genres – I write stories about characters, and let the characters themselves dictate what’s possible and what isn’t. So her past is SciFi, and her present is poetical, and she herself is maybe a case-study of PTSD from inside of the mind of someone who has it. Is that bad? No. Is it going to confuse some people and maybe make them dislike the book? Sure. And that’s okay. People can like and dislike things to their heart’s content, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Does it mean I’m going to change how I write? No, it’s not. I got into writing because it was freeing – because it’s the craziest, most liberating, wackiest form of art. If I changed just to fit into what’s currently considered normal, then I wouldn’t be a writer anymore, and it would lose all pleasure for me.

3.      Just Make Sure Your Characters Speak, Regardless of Their Personality, Okay?: This kinda ties into the point above – I’m not going to make my characters act or be a certain way just because it’s considered normal or “right”. Emma is an introverted, socially-awkward, withdrawn human being. She’s the type of girl who would sit in the corner at a party and never say a word to anyone. And Echoes is about her, so the amount of dialogue is going to reflect that about her. I’m not going to force her into having conversations with every character in the novel, when that’s not who she is – not even to satisfy the curiosity of the readers as to the thoughts and motivations of those around her. And if that makes me a bad writer somehow, then so be it. At least I’m being true to my characters, which I think is more important anyway.

 

So the point? We need to stop giving up our unique creativity to please the masses. Readers, if you love a book – love it, regardless of what other people say is “right” or “wrong” about it. Writers, do what works for you, have your own unique voice, tell stories from your prospective, from your characters’ prospective, and throw caution to the wind. You don’t have to feel pressured to do what is considered “normal” and “proper” to be great. The world doesn’t need more stories that fit into a tidy little box, where the characters make “sense” (unrealistically), where the story is packaged into a pretty little genre, or where they’re unchallenged to think beyond what they’re used to thinking. And if people hate you for it, or want to tear apart a story you love, then that’s their loss. There will always be those who just don’t appreciate a story – those who have different tastes and thoughts and opinions – but wouldn’t you rather be disliked for something that is truly your own, or a story you truly related to, than disliked for a story you didn’t even pour your heart into, nor really truly adored?

And readers – let’s stop labeling stories as “badly written” just because they took creative license. That’s what writers are for, after all. If we didn’t push the boundaries and try new things, we wouldn’t be writers at all. If you don’t like a story, that’s totally fine. You’re very much due your own opinion, just as much as writers are allowed to have their own style, but we should be cautious what we label as “wrong” or “bad/poor writing”. A story that we might not have liked or understood may be the story that saves another’s life.

Thank you all for reading! I appreciate every one of you. <3 and if you’d like to give Echoes a try, despite its admittedly-odd style, you can purchase it on Amazon here: https://goo.gl/6F2ccr

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Problem With Courage - Or The Lack Thereof



I'd like to start this post with a note that, since I'm very shy and struggle with talking about boys at all without blushing red as a tomato, this is a rather tricky post for me. And considering its a post about bravery, it seems rather ironic that I'm more than a little apprehensive and nervous about sharing it. ;) That being said, I'm doing so anyway, because I feel that it needs to be said. (Excuse me while I go hide in the corner and blush for the rest of the evening.)
 
 
Why I (And Apparently Many Other Young Ladies) Have Never Had A Date

The short and simple answer: I’ve never been asked. Despite several young admirers over the years – some of which everyone under the sun were aware liked me – I’ve never so much as been told that I was liked. Sure, there were the stares and the shy smiles and the flirtatious comments here and there. There were heavy hints and almost-romantic letters wherein the sender never actually admitted any romantic intentions – walking a careful line where everyone knew it but it was never admitted – but never was there actually a move on the boy’s part. And I know what everyone is thinking. “Well, why not just make the first move?” The answer for that is simple, as well. I want to actually be liked enough – and be considered worth enough – for the boy to get over the fear and ask.

For one, biblically, men are supposed to be the leaders. They’re supposed to guide the family, be the ones that go before and show the way. So if a boy isn’t even brave enough to tell me to my face that he likes me, then how is he ever supposed to be a good, godly husband to lead me and my children in our marriage? And over the years, I’ve heard people respond to that opinion with, “Well, boys can’t help if they’re shy!” Which is true. But there’s a difference between shyness and cowardice. I’m shy. I’m extremely introverted. But I’m also the person that makes the opening comments in a conversation 99% of the time. I’m not asking the boy to start the conversation constantly or be the first to approach me continuously. I’ve encouraged boys before. I’ve written letters back, I’ve talked to them, I’ve even flirted – with absolutely no success of any kind.

In fact, my mother has gone so far as to ask boys home for Sunday dinner to encourage them (an event that totally embarrassed me, but hey, that’s what caring mothers are for ;) ).

Even more confusing – and frustrating – still, I am not the only one experiencing such things. I’m friends with at least a dozen girls with similar stories, and have heard even more such accounts from mothers. Stories of boys telling everyone else under the sun how much he likes a girl – in fact, even telling the girl’s parents – without the girl ever hearing word of it.

Boys, the most unattractive trait in any man – if indeed you can call them men with such a trait – is cowardice. I do not mind if you’re shy. I don’t mind if you need encouraged a bit. But if you can’t get over your fear long enough to admit to me that you like me and want to get to know me better, then any chance you had just went down the drain. God has given you the role of leaders. Your place in the family is to guide and to step up to the plate and do what is necessary to lead your family. I’m not going to “make the first move”, because to me, a boy making the first move is the first sign that he’s a godly man, ready for the responsibility of taking on a relationship. Swallow your fear, approach the girl, and talk to her truthfully.

If boys can’t become men and figure that out, I fear a lot of us women will end up old spinsters, which is – to me, at least – an unenjoyable thought. I’m 20 years old and have never been asked out or told by a boy that he’d like to get to know me better, and I’m not the only one in the Christian community, by a long shot.

Be brave, young men. Step out of boyhood and find your courage, because I’m not going to do it for you.

Besides my firm view on this biblically, I’m also disabled, making this an even more difficult point for me. Not only won’t I go out pursuing men, I’m physically unable to do so. So God will have to send someone who is willing to pursue me and not mind the physical limitations I face every day. It’s a bit disconcerting to think that, if the young men of our times weren’t even willing to assert themselves when I was physically able to participate actively in social situations, how unlikely is it that they’ll be willing to try twice as hard to do so now that I am not able to?

So I guess I’d like to end this with a request that we pray for the young men of our day and age. And those in positions to guide and lead these young men, please teach them what it is to be godly men who will pursue godly women as they ought to be pursued.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Danger Of Misplaced Hope


I’ve heard many times, from many people and articles, the phrase, “Keep hope alive. You’ll find a cure eventually/you’ll recover soon! Don’t get discouraged.” Most often, this phrase is used in relation to my illness (or illnesses in general). These words, however, are ones I’ve grown to dislike hearing, because of the implications they carry with them.

“Implications?” you ask. Yes, implications. These words imply that my only hope is to find a cure, and that if I’m not constantly keeping my focus on that goal, I’ve “given up”. It essentially is saying that my focus needs to constantly be on searching for a way to change my situation in life. And worse, it implies that putting my focus anywhere else is wrong or bad somehow. These are dangerous implications to make, in my opinion.

“Dangerous?” you ask. Yes, dangerous. Let me explain why.

For starters, finding a cure for physical problems – as nice as that may be – should never be our main focus in life. It shouldn’t be the thing that gives us hope when we wake up, or be our main pursuit as we go through the day. God should be. Our Lord and Savior should be the focus of all we do, and His Redeeming Grace should be the hope by which we live.

Psalm 146: 5-6a: Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God: Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is.

Psalm 39: 5, 7: Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. 7 And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.

Especially notice the phrase “verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity”. This life is fleeting. It fades away quickly and is gone. Even at our very best, it’s quickly declining into nothing. My focus and hope should be in the Lord and the eternal life he has promised me – where physical weakness and pain will mean absolutely nothing. There will come a day when all of the hardships of our life here will be gone forever, and that’s a Hope so much greater than a temporary cure here on earth.

Yes, it would be nice to find something to help, but until the time when He sees fit to bring that healing to me, my hope will remain in Him and his great mercy. He has placed me where I am for a reason. He has let my body be weak, allowed my physical state to be as it is, for a purpose.

People are always saying how great a miracle it is when people are healed from their illnesses. But I was already given the greatest miracle and gift God could have given me – when he healed me from my sin and transgressions against him. When he gave me eternal life, to walk with Him for all of time, in perfect health. He’s given me a gift greater than any cure ever can – and I will celebrate in that, and hope in that, and pursue the gifts that Greatest Gift has given me, first and foremost in my life.

And I hope, that if any of you are suffering things in your life as well, that you will do the same. That you will put your hope in the Lord and find the happiness that gift brings, rather than waiting for one that is so very pale in comparison. Don’t stake your happiness, your life, and your hope in something as fleeting as health and worldly things. Stake it in something everlasting.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Release Date Announcement!

Hey, guys! I’m super excited and thrilled to announce the release date of my second novel! 💕 It’s the sequel to my original and the second in my series “The Fire Rain Chronicles”. 🔥The day to mark on your calendars is MAY 10th!
 
I’ll be finishing up the last draft for this year’s Camp NaNoWriMo, polishing all of those plot holes my fantastic beta readers found for me and giving a shine to all the wording. Can’t wait to find out what everyone thinks after they read it! 📚
 
 
 
In celebration of the upcoming release, I'm going to be some giveaways and sneak peeks throughout the month of April, so stay tuned for more information! ^-^

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Author's 9 Jobs


“Writing a book is easy! Anyone can do it.”

As an author, you hear this from people all the time. People look at writing as one of the “easiest” professions there is because “after all, anyone can do it”. Sure, anyone can sit down and type out 80,000 words on a word doc. It doesn’t take any special training or specialized tools or knowledge… right?

Well, not exactly.

Writing may be one of the easiest careers to get into, but it’s not the easiest to make it in. Not only is there a lot more to writing than most people know (I’ll get to that in a bit), but there’s also another key factor – the criticism. Being an author is one of the most high pressure jobs you can get. Why? Because everyone believes they’re an expert. After all, anyone can sit down and read your work and then compare it to hundreds of others, analyzing your every decision, your every grammar mistake or spelling error or plot hole. And they will, trust me. They’ll write a review, good or bad, and put it out where the entire world can see. It won’t matter if they have any kind of credentials, if they actually know what they’re talking about, or if anyone should listen to them. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and they’ll be sure everyone hears about it – even if that’s all it is.

So what does it take to write a book that will make it in the hard world of reader criticism? A lot of things. An author is basically a psychologist, an English teacher, a sociologist, an engineer, a government major, a scientist, a religion specialist, poet, and a logician, etc. etc. etc. Why? Let me break it down for you.

Psychologist: An author has to know people. You have to get inside their heads and find what drives them. Every decision that your characters make, you will be responsible for. In-depth characters are one of the key components to making a book work – and therefore a key component to making readers like and buy your work. They have to function as human beings – be relatable, understandable, and lovable. They have to think like people think, act like people would act. Every part of their personality, thoughts, actions, hopes and dreams all will be analyzed and studied and, ultimately, will decide whether or not you’ve created real people or flunked out. Poor character creations are one of the first things that will turn readers off for your work.

English Teacher: As an author, you basically have to know more than an English teacher would about grammar, punctuation, spelling and turn of phrase. You’d better believe that your work has to be perfection or it’ll get mentioned again and again in reviews.

Sociologist: As an author, you will have to have down the origin, development, organization, and functioning of your human society. You will need to be able to answer any question that arises about the entirety of your world from the view of your own humanity. And it all has to be consistent, or people will find those inconsistencies and publish them for everyone else to see.

Engineer: How do your flying cars fly? How did your character get over the wall with just a piece of rope and two pulleys? How did your pre-technology civilization build a castle suspended over the ocean? Any and every engineering problem your characters face, you’d better know the answer to – or at least be able to pull off a believable bluff. People want to know things are believable: that they could actually happen. If there isn’t a reasonable explanation, they’ll cry foul.

Government Major: You may not actually have to go to law school, but your government has to be as believable as your engineering. You’ll need to know how it functions because that will affect your entire society. The rule of law is essential in character development and for both you and your characters to know where they stand. Who is above who? How does that affect your characters’ day to day lives? How does it affect your plot? Does it help it, hinder it, or is it the cause of it? You’ll need to create a system of law that makes sense, is uniform, and functions – or vice versa, one that is failing and has logical reasons as to why.

Scientist: For all the reasons you have to be an engineer, you have to be a scientist. You have to be ready with a scientific explanation of everything in your newly created world. A plant has a healing property? Why? What causes it? How does it work? The sun revolves around your planet instead of the other way around? Why? How does it affect your planet? Does it change weather? Plants? Any environmental aspect of your world needs to make sense with all the other environmental aspects. Any scientific breakthrough will have to be backed up. And if you don’t have good explanations, then you either have to bluff believably (which isn’t a walk in the park) or you’ll likely be criticized for it.

Religion Specialist: What religion does your country/world have? Does it have many? How does it affect your characters? Do they believe in it/them or not? How does it/they relate to your scientific standpoints? How does it/they affect the culture/social standing? If you mention a religion once or twice and never have it affect anything, it’ll be considered a poorly developed world or a plot hole.

Poet: People expect a certain poetic – or at least interesting – level to the descriptions in books. If they’re bland or boring, people won’t read your book. It’s just that simple. No one wants to wade through pages upon pages of boring descriptions. Authors have to weave words in a way that draws people in and holds them captive for hours at a time.

Logician: Everything your characters, world, government, science and religious groups do must make at least some logical sense. You have to be able to justify it all logically – if only logically in the minds of the people doing it.

 

And all of that is only for starters. There’s all the small details that make a story flow, as well. The humor, the subtle hint of emotions without stating them, the color every author has to add to their own unique world that can’t always be defined.

You may be thinking “well, you could just not have any of those things if they’re so hard”. And you could, I guess. Not have a religious group and therefore bypass that difficulty. Or you could skim over scientific explanations of things and simply say no one knows. You could give vague backgrounds on characters that could, possibly, explain all their actions without having to go into detail. But if you do, it will come across as sloppy and not well thought out, and you’ll be just as disliked on those grounds as well.

There is some leeway with things. You don’t always have to give the scientific explanation, or include some religion, or give a full account of every characters’ background. But you do have to include at least some elements of them all. Well-developed plot, world, and characters is critical to creating a good book. The amount of work you put into it is almost always how much return you’ll get back. People appreciate good books because good books are hard to write. It’s not every day that you stumble upon a book that draws you in and captures your attention to a depth that a truly well-done book does.

Which brings us back to the beginning. “Writing a book is easy! Anyone can do it.” Yes, anyone can write a book. You could sit down and type out 80,000 words on a doc and publish it on kindle and see what happens. Lots of people do it all over the world, every day. That slogan is why there are so many books out there. Anyone can write a book the easy way.

But not everyone can write a good book.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

"Maybes" and "Ifs" - Life Can Be Good


I have been struggling a lot over the last year to try to understand how I feel about doctors. MDs, NDs, medical and natural, small clinics and large hospitals. And that struggle, I’ll admit, has been a difficult one for me. Every time I step through their doors – big doors and little doors alike – I am faced with a myriad of emotions that make little sense to me.

The one I feel the most is apprehension and fear, which has left me confused and frustrated since all of this began. I went through stages of guilt where my mind tried to convince me I was somehow, subconsciously, weirdly, not wanting to be healed. I faced periods where I thought maybe it was induced by my poor experiences: the physical pain that followed or was inflicted during those visits or the mental distress at being called insane or attention-seeking.

But I don’t think it’s any of those things. Not when I’m thinking logically and not letting emotions like guilt and fear run away with my mind.

Because I don’t mind trying every possible solution.

I don’t mind going to doctors or having my blood drawn.

I don’t mind having the scans, or taking the pills, or any of that.

And I would love to be normal again. I would love to do all of those things that everyone always talks about me doing if I was healed. Going to college to become a wedding planner (something that I’ve thought would be amazing since I helped my mom with a wedding reception when I was a lot younger), traveling the country, etc. None of those things bring on apprehension or fear. Those are things I would love to do, to be, to have. Who wouldn’t? I think only the insane.

Yet I am not well enough to do those things now, and I think that’s what bothers me. Because what I do mind…

…is hearing it talked about with excitement, and the pills not working.

Is listening to everyone hope for it with all their hearts, and the blood work to come back with nothing.

What I mind, is watching disappointment cloud their eyes and their faces with every possible-fix that doesn’t work out.

I hate the disappointment. I hate the way it makes my mom look like she’s gonna cry. I hate the way it brings frustration and sadness and pain. I hate hearing people say “maybe by then you’ll be better so you can…”

Because “then” always comes and I’m still the same.

I don’t always want to be waiting for a “then”, and I don’t want to make everyone who loves me wait for a “then” too. I don’t want my life to be on hold, waiting for a cure, hoping for the next medical breakthrough. I don’t want to plan my life based on “maybes” and “ifs” that may come while I am still…the way I am.

And I don’t want to spend my whole life feeling broken, like something that can’t be complete as it is. I don’t want everyone else to spend their whole lives feeling that way either. I don’t want to be pitied like I’m getting a second-rate life. Because I won’t be getting a second-rate life if I make this life my own.

I don’t want to give up trying to get better. I want to keep trying the things my mom finds that may help me. But I don’t want to keep holding onto those things as the only options to a good life. I don’t want to base my life on maybe-fixes.

I want to base my life on the one truth I really understand, and that’s this:

 

Psalm 139: 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

z17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

 

God made me the way I am, fashioned me with His own hands. He knew I would grow weak. He knew I would face these things. And in His time, and His way, if it is His will, He will heal me of it too. And in the meanwhile, I want to trust that He has a purpose for it. I want to remember that all things work together for good to those that love Him.

I want to go to Texas and try everything they tell us. I’m so, so grateful for the opportunity to go and everyone who is helping us to get there. It’s an opportunity that’s amazing for me, and for my family, and words can’t convey how precious I find everyone who is sending us. Knowing so many people love me is…just beyond what I can express. God has truly given me the most amazing friends and family – both in blood relation and through Christ.

But I want to do all of it knowing that if it doesn’t work, I’m still going to have a great life. Not because I have amazing health, but because I know I have a Savior who is with me, a family who loves me, and friends who uphold me.

I want to go into it knowing that if it doesn’t make all those dreams everyone has for me possible, I can still make new ones. Maybe ones that are limited by my health, but still ones that are wonderful. Like writing a hundred books and publishing them all. If I’m unable to become a wedding planner, then I can become a great author. If I am unable to go to college, I will research so many books that I eventually educate myself on a thousand topics more than any college can teach me. If I can’t travel the world, then I will write my own and share it with others who can’t either.

And when I am done, I will be able to say that I have filled the world with clean, good literature – something our world is desperately in need of, and something I can do.

Because life isn’t about what you can or can’t have; what we are or what we aren’t. Life is about serving our Lord and Savior with what He has given us, and praising Him for it.

And I think, if I look at life this way, and He heals me, it will be a beautiful surprise. If we find a cure, or a doctor does something that helps, or we figure out something that changes my health for the better – no, for the marvelous – then it will be something incredible to celebrate. I’d rather it be that, than always look for it and hope for it and only find bitter disappointment. And… I’d like to ask everyone else to do the same. Everyone is always asking what they can do to help me, and I guess this is what I want, and have wanted for a while now.

Help me stop looking at life as “maybes” and “ifs”. Help me to start living without them. Help me promote my books as I publish them, so I can bring in my own money. Help me make plans for the future. Help me learn to be happy with the life God has given me, if He chooses to leave me in it. Help me learn to cope if the pain is always more than I know how to bare.

I don’t want to live my whole life holding out for “maybes” and never do anything else. Help me to make a good life even if there is no miracle.

I love you all so very dearly. More than I ever know how to say. You’re the reason my life is already wonderful. You all really are my sunshine, my only sunshine.

 

~Mandy~