Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tag, you're it!



In response to an "author tag," I've jumped in to play! Here's a brief interview about my upcoming novel, Laughing with Lily.



What is the working title of your book?

Laughing with Lily

Where did the idea come from for the book?

My heart has long been burdened for women who’ve aborted their babies. I wanted to profile this issue through my central characters, plus revisit a setting where my husband and I shared our early marriage years.

What genre does your book fall under?

Women’s fiction

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmm . . .  good question. Possibly Evangeline Lilly for the lead. Co-lead, Christian Bale. Not so much for the roles they’ve played or what they stand for, but for their physical appearance.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

An infertile woman grieves over an abortion her husband knows nothing about. 
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

OakTara has contracted Laughing with Lily for release in 2013-14.

How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About one year

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Tough one . . . since Laughing with Lily takes many unexpected twists and turns, I would equate it to an Angela Hunt story, and given the issue, perhaps a Francine Rivers’ book.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As I mentioned earlier, my heart for women experiencing the grief and loss resulting from abortion prompted me to write Celeste’s story.

What else might pique the reader's interest?

If you enjoy a story that keeps you guessing, Laughing with Lily is for you!

A sneak peek . . .




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Below are three other authors I've tagged. Check out their blogs at the following locations!



Winners!


Judy and Debbie, come on down!

You are the winners of my two contests!

Judy receives a $10 Amazon gift card.
Debbie receives a copy of CHOSEN ONES.

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by to enter!

Stay tuned, more contests to come . . .

Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Club Contest!


Book Fun Magazine is giving away 140 books by more than 100 authors of which I am one. The Signature Library Contest details can be found in the magazine. One winner will get first choice of 30 books, the next person 20, 5 people will pick 10.... it will be awesome. Just register for the magazine and you are entered... 80 pages of great articles too!
While you are there if you would click on my book cover for CHOSEN ONES, you will help me to win a competition between the authors. Here is the link for the magazine: http://www.bookfunmagazine.com/i/90331


Thanks so much! Enjoy!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Managing Life After Divorce


MANAGING LIFE AFTER DIVORCE


When divorce comes, we lose not only a mate, but...hundreds of other dreams once shared. 
 -Sue Richards & Stanley Hagemeyer

  

         
 A toe-headed six-year-old sifts through an old chest in the attic. Amidst old letters, hats, yearbooks, and a band uniform, she unearths the treasure she's been searching for - a pair of ruffled sheer Pricilla curtains dating back to the 1940's. Her grandma had passed them down to her mother to adorn the windows of her newlywed apartment. Now they lie buried among other castoffs of a past era.

The tiny girl quickly pulls the long curtains out of the tangled mess, slams the lid, and runs down the steps where a neighbor boy is waiting to play.
        
"I found it!" she exclaims, excitement mounting in her voice. She wraps the curtain around her head and shoulders while the remainder cascades behind. Grabbing a bunch of garden flowers from her mother's vase on the hall table, she singles out a rose and stuffs it in her friend's shirt pocket.
         
"There," she says, giving her friend a pat on the chest and stepping back to admire her prince. "Now we're ready to get married."
        
"Wait a minute," the groom exclaims. "We need a preacher! We can't get married without a preacher."
         
The girl looks around. Spotting the dog sleeping on a mat by the front door, she says, "Corky can be our preacher!" Right, Cork? Yeah, sure you can!" She takes her friend by the arm and they begin a long slow walk down the hallway.
         
Corky, coached by his little friends, leads the couple in an exchange of vows and the marriage ceremony is complete.
         
The boy runs to the kitchen, grabs an apron, and thrusts it at the little girl. "Time for lunch, dear. Fix me a hamburger, fries, shake, and for dessert--chocolate cake!" the boy orders. "Oh, and by the way, this place is a mess! Maybe you could vacuum a little." He walks to an easy chair in the living room, plunks down, and props his feet on the table.
         
Miffed, the girl turns and heads for the kitchen, not to cook, but to get her purse. She grabs her hat, dons over-sized heels and clops to the front door. Peering over his comic book, the boy asks, "Where are you going? And where's my lunch?"
        
"I'm going to have my hair done. The food is in the fridge." With that, she slams the front door and trips down the sidewalk.

EXPECTATIONS GONE AMUCK
         
We each took our turn playing bride and groom as children. What began as a childish game full of hopes and dreams of the happily ever after led to an "I DO" at the marriage altar as adults. Before God and many witnesses, we committed our undying love and fidelity to one another. We believed our marriage would work. Then reality set in.
          
We enter marriage with all kinds of expectations, some spoken, most unspoken. Divorce or separation occurs when an expectation has been violated. Some expectations are God-given mandates as set forth in Scripture, such as keeping oneself free from adultery or not defrauding one another (1 Cor. 7:5). We have a God-given right to expect fidelity within marriage. Other expectations are personal preferences, such as how many children to have, how to budget the money, or which in-law to visit over the holidays. In a healthy relationship, couples learn to verbalize expectations, discuss desires, and compromise.

DEVELOPING A SUPPORT NETWORK

         
 In order to cope with the trauma of divorce, a support base must be in place. God designed each one of us with a need for relationship. You will turn to someone. If you do not, you will turn inward and begin to shrivel as a person. You may turn to your kids for emotional support, but this will only add more stress on them. They are already dealing with self-blame and are fragile emotionally.
        
In a majority of cases, extended family who is close geographically can provide an initial buffer and help you weather the storm. Two or three trusted friends can offer a listening ear. However, be careful that the friend is not merely agreeing with you about how terrible your ex-spouse is. Nothing productive can come out of such a conversation. Look for a friend who will not only listen, but will also point you in the right direction for additional help. Most often, a divorcee needs professional guidance to unravel all the tangled issues. A good support system then would incorporate trusted friends, family, a professional ear, and a support group, all working together to help you reestablish your life and set boundaries for yourself.

SETTING BOUNDARIES

        
 When the divorce is final, it is important to establish guidelines for a new relationship with your ex-spouse. This step is critical for mental and emotional stability. Since the marital union has been severed, you must not allow your ex to define and direct who you are and what you do. You must be in charge of your own feelings, attitudes, and behaviors. With the help of your counselor, you need to communicate your boundaries to your ex-spouse. One woman was having trouble with her ex repeatedly calling her on the phone and asking her to come to his apartment to discuss remaining financial matters from the marriage. When she would arrive at his place, he would pester her to have marital relations with him. Clearly, she needed to set appropriate boundaries over their relationship. I urged her to reserve communication with her ex for the phone and only about the financial matter.
         
 Setting boundaries does not mean you are selfish or angry. Boundaries are a healthy way of gaining control over our own lives and fulfilling what we were created for--love. Even though the marriage is over, you can learn to love your ex as God loves you. Part of godly love is refusing to take responsibility for your spouse, thus keeping him in an immature state. With healthy boundaries you accept that you cannot change your ex; only God can do that. But you can change yourself with God's help.
          
Setting appropriate boundaries may be difficult for you if you never learned to communicate effectively in your marriage. That is why it is so important to have professional guidance to walk you through the healing journey. Setting boundaries is also essential to guarding your children's hearts during this rough passage.

GUARDING THE HEARTS OF YOUR CHILDREN

         
 Children are usually the most wounded and most neglected victims of a divorce. They may have heard their parents arguing over them, so they assume they caused the split. Blame is so common in children that it can lead to serious depression and even suicide. Your kids will deal with this loss as they have other losses. If they talked openly about past losses, they probably will talk about this one too.
          
 If they don't confide in you or someone they trust, get outside help. Watch for changes in eating patterns, moods, behavior, friendships, and school performance. Some troubled kids will withdraw from society or exhibit rebellious behavior. Be alert and attentive to your children's emotional needs, even as you work through your own.
          
 Your kids love your ex even though you may not. Don't berate your ex in front of the kids. If at all possible, encourage the kids to stay in contact with the ex-spouse.
          
Taking the time and energy to walk through the loss divorce creates, developing a support network, setting boundaries, and guarding your children’s hearts can put you on the right track to managing life after divorce.
          


  



Friday, October 26, 2012

When Abuse Strikes: The Silent Grief


“Anger will hold you prisoner; forgiveness will set you free.”



        
I don't talk. I don't trust anybody. No one dare suspect.
        
Guilt. Shame. Confusion. Betrayal. Helplessness. Worthlessness. Frustration. Fear. Anger. These are the emotions hiding within me.       
        
Dare I feel? The pain is too intense. Perhaps if I bury these horrible feelings, they will go away. I remain frozen, numb, unfeeling, unmoved. I cannot relive the cruel past. I dare not anticipate the future. I am locked into this present agony, the same harsh reality day after day. Is there no place to run, to hide, to escape my life? I cry into my pillow every night, but no one hears. No one cares.  
        
I am the abused one. My loss is great. My grief runs deep.

Portrait of the Abuse Victim
        
Abuse represents something being taken away either physically, emotionally, or mentally resulting in a loss of safety, security, stability, control, and personal identity.
        
The abuse victim suffers isolation. He hesitates to tell anyone about the abuse for fear he will get into trouble. If the perpetrator is a family member or "friend", the victim may try to protect him. He may also try to protect other family members if the abuser has threatened to harm them if he tells.
      
Sexual abuse is especially damaging to a young child who is forced into the adult world before it is time. The child suffers a loss of innocence. While there is an increasing amount of male abuse, the majority of abuse victims are female. The abuse distorts her view of adults as trusting caregivers. If the abuser is her father, she is often confused about the role she plays within the family. In the morning, she is daddy's little girl and at night, his sex partner. She loves her dad and wants desperately to believe that he is good, all the while believing that she is terribly bad and did something to warrant the abuse. Her lost childhood impacts her deeply for it is a time when her view of the world and adults is being formed. She is vulnerable emotionally as well as physically. "Daddy is bigger than I am and supposed to be smarter." The abuse causes a black cloud to hover over her life on into adulthood. She learns not to trust anyone. She struggles to control everybody and every aspect of her life to somehow regain the control she lost as a youth.

Portrait of the Perpetrator
        
Most perpetrators are male and in more cases than not, someone the victim knows. Often the offender abuses in the same way he was abused as a child, and as a result, he too is filled with shame, hopelessness, and despair. He doesn't know how to relieve his emotional pain, so he repeats what he knows and has experienced. For example, a child who grows up receiving blood-producing beatings for no legitimate reason believes that the abuse is normal until he interacts with others outside his family and discovers that not everyone has had the same experience.
      
Seeking acceptance, power, and control, the abuser unleashes his unprincipled behavior on the most vulnerable, usually a child or female of any age. Many times, he feels a child will accept him more readily than an adult will. Because he has been the recipient of abusive behavior himself, his buried anger brews into hatred which is then acted out on those physically closest to him. This only leads to further guilt.

Lies the Victim Believe and the Truth She Needs to Embrace
           
* I deserved the abuse.
      
The truth is the sole responsibility lies in the lap of the offender. He is accountable for his own actions. Because she is created in the image of God, the abuse victim is a highly valued person and precious in the sight of her Maker (Psalm 139), and so is the offender.
        
* I did something to cause the abuse.
        
Often a girl will feel that she brought on the abuse because she exuded sex appeal or some other behavior warranting abuse. Often, her belief system is influenced by what the perpetrator has told her. For example, a father sexually abusing his daughter may tell her he is teaching her how to relate to men. The truth is the victim did not bring on the abuse. Although high testosterone levels may trigger sexual abuse, most often the abuse is a ploy for power and control. Again, the responsibility is solely in the hands of the perpetrator.
        
* I am bad.
        
Feelings of shame run so deep that they distort the victim's belief system about who she really is. In the case of sexual abuse, the victim may feel she is dirty or warped for feeling pleasure during sexual abuse. The truth is the body is programmed to respond to certain stimuli. False guilt may cause her to blame herself for what the perpetrator did. She did not ask for the abuse nor did she initiate it. The abuser did.
        
* I can never be free.
        
Satan delights to hold the abuse victim in the grip of false guilt, anger, anxiety, bitterness, rejection, and unforgiveness. The truth is God wants to release the chains of bondage and set the victim free! That is the very reason He sent His only begotten Son into the world to suffer at the hands of His abusers on the cross. He shed His own precious blood in order to secure our forgiveness for all time and eternity. Jesus bore our griefs on the cross and He carried our sorrows. He endured the agony for our well-being (Isaiah 53:4-6). We simply come to Him and lay our garbage at the foot of His cross and He takes care of the rest, as we build an altar out of our pain (Romans 12:1-2).
 
When we receive His free gift of forgiveness, we are delivered from the past. We can apply godly statements to our lives in the form of biblical self-talk. Search the Scriptures. The book of Ephesians is a wonderful place to begin uncovering the treasure of who you are in Christ. Our book, Marriage with an Attitude, contains a comprehensive listing of biblical "I am" statements with Scripture references. Below are a few.
 
* I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14).
        
* I am loved and valued by God (Jer. 31:3).
        
* I am completely forgiven by God and totally accepted by Him (Eph. 1:7).
        
* I am a brand new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).   
 
* I am set free (John 8:31-32).

Seeing Abuse as God Sees It
        
When an abused person finally reaches the place where she can expose her buried feelings, she may express anger toward God. She may wonder,  If God is so big and so great and in control of everything, why didn't He stop my abuse?
      
The truth is God did not cause the abuse. The perpetrator did.  Through an act of His divine love, God created each one of us with a free will. We each have the God-given ability to choose Him and His goodness or to choose evil and the resulting behavior. This biblical principle takes us all the way back to the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve made the choice to eat the forbidden fruit, incurring judgment on mankind. God doesn't keep evil from happening any more than He forces righteousness to happen.
      
God does, however, take the awful effects of abuse and turn them around for good to those who offer the twisted mess to Him. This is beautifully illustrated in Genesis 50:20 where Joseph responds to his jealous and abusive brothers after selling him into Egypt. He not only became a slave in a foreign land, but he was falsely accused of sexual misconduct, and unjustly thrown into prison. Joseph may have wondered, Where is God in all of this?
        
Joseph's response to his brothers is simply: "And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result to preserve many people alive." Acts 7:9 says that "God was with Joseph." God had delivered him out of prison and elevated him to a high position in the Egyptian government, using his skills to save the people from a devastating famine. Ultimately, he saved his own family--the very brothers who had abused him--from the same dreadful famine.
        
The most important step Joseph took in dealing with his abuse was to offer forgiveness to his brothers. He was only able to do this because he recognized God's hand in the whole situation. His brothers were astounded! They thought for sure he would retaliate and use the power of his position to imprison them or kill them. But not so. Joseph had received comfort from God and was able to extend that same comfort to his brothers. As Loren Fischer once said: "The difference between holding on to a hurt or releasing it with forgiveness-- is like the difference between laying your head down at night on a pillow filled with thorns or a pillow filled with rose petals."

Help, Where Do I Turn?

You are ready to admit the truth about your abuse. Now you need help. Perhaps you need to literally get out of the situation you are in and seek a safe refuge. Check the phone book or call information for the nearest abuse hotline, an abuse shelter, or call 911 if in immediate danger. Talk to a counselor about your abuse and related feelings. It will take time to establish trust, but by all means, keep talking. Vent your feelings verbally and in writing. Work with the authorities to prosecute the offender. This may be extremely difficult and painful for you, but a necessary step to guard against further hurt to other innocent victims.
        
For long term therapy in dealing with your abuse, seek out a Christian counselor or someone trained in abuse issues. If you live in the Roanoke, VA area, call Total Life Counseling, Inc. at 540.989.1383.

In my novel, CHOSEN ONES, missionaries Yvonne and Dan Pratt encounter a young Nepali girl taken captive by sex traffickers. They are instrumental in her healing journey. 



Now on sale at Christianbook for $12.49.