The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. **Mark Twain

Saturday, February 9, 2008

When your writing is tested.....

My life has been a journey. Sometimes I can clearly see where God is leading. Sometimes I can't. There is a knowledge buried deep within my heart that my journey here is not routine. God has called me and I must follow his purpose.

His calling has led me down many wonderful roads. The best road yet is the knowledge that I am called to write. I am impatient at the time it seems to take for me to learn this business. However, there are times when I look back and I'm grateful for the small tender ways God is tweaking my thoughts. I am grateful for the years he has taken to gently change and redirect my writing.

This last year has been my hardest and deepest lesson. Perhaps it was my final. (I hope so?!?) If God has more trials in mind for me, I am sure that I will survive based solely on the lessons I learned this summer.

Last March I attended the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Even though I was scared, totally inexperienced with conference requirements, felt in awe of the talent pool and sure that my abilities were inadequate....I pushed on through. There were rewards. I made friends, contacts and had a favorable return on a critique. I was so excited to win the MP3's of the conference. I left with a hopeful heart determined to make 2007 a successful year.

I could make this a long post by giving you all the details, but let me just list the issues I faced when I returned home.
  • My son (a music minister) was having trouble at his church. "Please come out Mom and see what you think." I spent a week with him.
  • When I returned home, my mother had arrived and stayed for six weeks. It was obvious she has beginning dementia.
  • Three days after she left I went to the hospital with chest pains. Stayed overnight - I'm okay.
  • MRI for chest pains revealed a spot on my lung and two on my thyroid.
  • We experienced three deaths in the family.
  • My son decided to leave the church and move home...we helped him.
  • My daughter decided to leave her job and move to Florida. We helped her.
  • I am the Administrator for our church library and we were in the process of changing 8,500 items from the card system to a scanner system.
  • My husband Ron was told his retina might be pulling away from the eye.
  • Ron's job was causing enough stress that we worried about his heart.
  • I have TMJ and the bite split was causing problems that resulted in more migraines.
  • One doctor was adamant about more testing of the spots on my thyroid.
  • My husband and sons were leaving on their annual motorcycle trip when I received a letter urging that I see the doctor at once about possible cancer. We prayed and promised to trust God together.
  • That evening Ken called and said, "Stay calm Mom, everything is fine. Jamie is fine." I panicked as he continued, "There's been an accident."
  • Jamie had extensive surgery 4 days later. He had two pins in his hand and 9 screws and a plate in his leg.
  • I was sitting beside him the night after his surgery when the BP monitor went crazy. His BP went to 260. Nurses flew in from every direction. 45 minutes later it happened again. Tests revealed he had two blood clots pass through his heart. Everyone kept saying... "Most of the time people die with this."
  • Jamie has a huge photography business. For the next three months (because he couldn't walk) we all had to pitch in so he could save his business. Since everyone else had rigid schedules - I kept my house clean, his house clean, helped with his business and went to weddings with him - pushing his wheelchair and carrying equipment.
  • I finally had a biopsy done (had to postpone because of accident). It was more painful waiting but I finally found out, Thank God I'm cancer free.
  • Ken found a wonderful job in Illinois. We helped him move to Illinois, finished moving from his previous employment and kept his dog for a while.

That's not all, there's more....but it's enough for you to get the idea that this year will be used as a benchmark. From now on when something bad happens we will instantly feel better by saying, "Well, at least it's not as bad as the summer of '07 !"

Why am I telling you all this???? What could this possibly have to do with your writing soul???

YOU CAN DO IT ! I found out that if you "know" in your heart that God has called you to write, you can do it! Maybe it won't be in your time frame. Maybe you won't accomplish everything on your list. Maybe you will only complete chapter one instead of a three book series...but YOU CAN DO IT!

While all of that was going on I cried a lot. I also looked at the sky. I wondered how I could take the peaceful clouds and the beautiful colors and bring them down to my crazy life. How could I possibly "feel" the peace of heaven during the tremendous storms of life?

One moment at a time. One tiny second at a time. I learned to accept a little peace here and a little peace there. I learned to savor the smiles and the moments of quiet. I learned to do as Paul instructed...

"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Phil: 4:12

I found great strength in the writing contacts and friends I made at Mount Hermon. Holly Miller has always been a great source of strength and comfort as my dearest friend. As I said in my first blog, I would close my eyes and see the face of Vicki Crumpton as she insisted, "Just do it Debbie, Just do it." I remembered the encouraging words of Nick Harrison, Barbara Curtis and Jim Denney. I felt their encouragement and it made me want to go the extra mile and push - just a little longer. What a comfort it was to sit and read Marlene Bagnull's devotional book for writers, Write His Answer.

You can also find that strength. If you are called, you must continue to "fight" for your writing talents. As Holly Miller has told us..."You must MAKE time for your writing."

I am living proof that you can do that. During all the stress, worry and turmoil I found tid bits of time to accomplish the following.

  • Finished my website.
  • Wrote over 150 blogs.
  • Sent out articles.
  • Reworked my book.
  • Read 12 books.
  • Redesigned my business.
  • Started 10 new blogs including this one so I could help more people.

And how did that help my writing? Just like everyone at the conference insisted, if you spend at least 15 minutes a day writing, you will improve.

God is so good. Jamie is alive, Ron's eyes are perfect, my children are doing well in their new jobs and I am cancer free. What an added plus that I now have this wonderful blog to encourage others.

Not only will I continue to keep God #1 in my writing, I will pray for you that God will keep you centered in His perfect will.

I am not special. God isn't just working on me. I know that no matter what you are going through, God will bring forth your talents. YOU CAN DO IT!

God loves you and has called you to write,



judithannhillard said...

Debbie: I thought for certain, without even mentioning it, I had won hands down the most horrible health year known to mankind in 2007 until I read your new blog. I think I've been trumped. However, if you adopt me (in case I ever need to move again, this would be a benefit to my 11-year-old and myself BIGTIME, I can tell), we will win ALL POOR US contests. Shortly after my first Mt. Hermon, where I really did experience mountaintop experiences, one atop the next, I flew to Spokane, WA to visit my missionary sister with nine children, and actually fell at the indoor carousel and BROKE my left kneecap straight across. Having been a runner and track coach for many years prior to being RUN DOWN by MS, I knew that ice packs and elevation should be helping my situation, not worsening it. An hour and a half later, more swollen, more red than my chili pepper kitchen in Phoenix, and impossible to step upon, we learned it was broken and that until the swelling goes down in a few weeks, there is nothing to be done for it except to stay off of it. That is not a good diagnosis for a hyper type extrovert such as myself. But two weeks later, Olivia came with me in Phoenix and we watched the orthopedic surgeon drain 40 cc's of blood off of my kneecap. It put me in mind of The Princess Bride: which I would learn much more about in the month to come. At the end of school, Olivia and I had been saving a package trip to Orlando, then Ft. Lauderdale, then overnight on a cruise ship to Nassau, Bahamas then back to Ft. Lauderdale, then back to Orlando and home. Our last morning in Orlando, after I'd complained about the inordinated amount of ants in our restroom, they sprayed through the vent system killing the ants, but infesting the restroom with spiders. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Eight bit me, as I heroically pelted them with rolled towels and screams of "be gone, yon scoundrel" and "Don't come in here. There are spiders everywhere. No one did. I managed to get out, but not unscathed. I drove us to Ft. Lauderdale after reporting the incident to the front desk and by night two aboard ship, the day we'd been swimming in a lagoon with dolphins which was fabulous but not exactly sanitary with open and huge wounds on my limbs... I awoke about 1 AM with 103.8 degree temp and Olivia called the ship's dr who flipped out, for lack of a better medical term. He said he is used to sore throats and motion sickness, but not systemic infections in the heart. The only systemic antibiotic they had aboard ship was called Cipro and after they finally got an IV started and hooked me to Cipro and morphine for the agony I was in, we set out for a long night. The porter packed our modest cabin and Olivia was kept near me in a medical suite while the nurse and doctor kept me talking all night. I'm quite certain they were fearful I would die on their ship and bring their ratings right down in however these things are measured. Anyway, we were the first two people escorted off of that ship, into the open double doors of the ambulance and we took off, bells and lights and sirens to a huge hospital in Ft. Lauderdale where I spent the next 3 1/2 weeks. They were planning to keep me six; but when I heard that, I knew I would be shipped home in a body bag. When my fever climbed to 105.8 they made me make arrangements to get Olivia to Phx; which I'm still not sure how I did, except the minister who visited couldn't do it, no nurses or aids or doctors could do it, no nice older ladies with books and magazines would do it; I had to pay an ambulance $400 on a credit card to get my child to the airport to fly unaccompanied until my folks could collect her in Phx. When the minister returned and asked if he could pray for me, I said I thought it might be more time effective if I prayed for him and offered up something along the lines of: God, please grant this man, your servant either the courage to tell his colleagues that his talents might be better suited with the Christmas pageant or the summer barbeque, or that he might hit his knees hard and pray for the empathy to meld with the people brought into his circle of influence so that he might truly grant them peace, hope, a ride if they are broke and their rental car is in the wrong city, and the hospital won't tell their family what's going on... and I'm sure he and God could take it from there, those were just my suggestions. I blessed him and then told him to relieve his conscience by NOT visiting me again, but send me someone who had actually faced death and beat it, as that was my plan. As I was packing to leave and they were trying to stop me, telling me I'd never make it and could not leave, "watch me. This is my back and these are my legs walking out the door of this place, lovely as I'm sure it is to work -- it is not fun to be incarcerated here." I've heard from none of them, except for the bills which are excruciating, especially because I am disabled with MS and Medicare refuses to pay for anything that happens outside US boundaries, including our oceans. So, writing has been hard. Getting off the sofa has been hard. But the one thing that has kept me smiling and anticipating the next best miracle in my life is the chance to return to Mt. Hermon this year. From my visit there last year, and my first and second friends there, Lauren Beyenhof and Janet Traviss, we have begun a non-profit out of what started as one small cathartic book of my return to life and grace and sanity after one year's addiction to cocaine at the end of my PhD probram, and called it AddictionOvercome, Inc. (a 501 c3 non-profit) and have used it to build a board of directors, to help families and individuals in need of care, medical attention, or Christmas. We are thrilled to see what God has in mind for us as this MUST be in his plan, as none of us could have done this alone. Please visit our website and if you are so moved, please help us reach out and help those who are hurting and dying because of the prison of addiction in which they and their families live. We can really use your help.



Debbie Jansen said...

I think you have trumped me. But the real point is not that we both were hurt...the real joy is that we both survived and we are still writing. Good for you Judith. Good for you!