Sunday, January 15, 2017

Blessed & Cursed

If anyone ever tells you that doing God's will is easy, they are lying! Following what God says is often not only difficult but also inconvenient. That's not to say God is difficult or inconvenient, He's not. On the contrary, I have found Him to be quite easy and readily available. More so than any person I have ever met. And it is those characteristics that drive me to lean into the difficult and often inconvenient tasks He tosses at me.

I'm blessed in many ways, but I want to talk about one in particular. God has gifted me with a knowing that I have honed through the years. No, I'm not psychic and I'm not always great at discernment but what I am good at is hearing Him when He speaks to me. Hearing really isn't the right word though. It's not audible...it's more an impression that is placed in my mind. An instinct. I consider it a huge blessing because to me, what it means is God and I are in close contact. I can not think of a better being to be connected to so to have such closeness leaves me in awe daily. When it hits me, it's usually a connection to something or someone that requires careful attention to perceive. Sometimes I ignore it, yep. I do. But the thing about God is that if it is His will He will bring it back to me multiple times, as many times as necessary until I can not deny His movement in the matter. It has happened time and time again so you'd think I'd have learned to just be obedient right away. Ha! Maybe someday.

Unfortunately, with the blessing of His contact comes what feels like a curse at times. A feeling of craziness. An awkward walk that requires blind faith and trust that is challenging to follow in this world of science, fact, and 'do it yourself' mentality. Many times the actions He requests defy reason, or at least earthy reason. Many times, they require oddness and a general lack of concern over what other people think. This is the curse of it, especially to a person like me who struggles with confusing self-esteem with what other's think of me.

I liken it to Noah, the man who built an ark for God. Everyone thought he was crazy and I bet he felt crazy more than once as he followed God's instructions. I bet his heart was hurt by the passers by and scoffers, many of them who believed in the same Lord. I bet he had anger over being chosen, "Why me? Why me?"

I took a little hiatus from writing to take care of some very important personal matters that needed to be addressed and worked on. When the time was right, I took a seat at the computer to continue my career, ready to take on whatever project God had for me.

Blank.

Having writer's block is nothing new. I've learned to just walk away and give it time so I did just that. Again, when the time seemed right, I sat back down in front of the screen.

Blank.

Sigh. This went on for several months. I began to focus on my other job, I'm a transcriptionist, so at least I was being productive and making some money. Election day came and I awoke with an ominous feeling. I had a level of anxiety that was abnormal for me which to me was odd. This passed election was by means fun, but it wasn't anything to have THAT level of anxiety over. I found myself close to tears many times that day but just blew it off the best I could.

Soon after, a barrage of very similar incidents began to rain down on me. It was uncanny how many people came to me in a matter of only two weeks wanting to discuss the same subject: depression and suicide. It's a subject I know a lot about having struggled with suicidal ideation most of my life. I'm open about my relationship with depression and I believe that is why nearly a dozen people reached out to me asking for information on how to see it clearly, how to help a loved one, and two people I love dearly were in the midst of helping a loved one come back from an actual suicide attempt. I knew, this was no coincidence. This was a God-incidence.

I sat wonder if perhaps God was calling me to cease my writing career for the purpose of focusing on the lifting up of those who suffer with the debilitating mental problem of real depression. It made my heart sink to think He might be asking me to stop doing something I love (writing) to go and do something so people-centric. It's NOT what I wanted and I stomped my feet like a five year old a few times as I attempted to submit myself to His will.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, God put something in front of me that gave me great anxiety and sadness, much like I felt on Election day. It weighed on me for three days and I knew it was important but didn't know why. But then Thanksgiving hit and I became distracted.

A few days later, God put this VERY SAME thing in front of me in a DIFFERENT location and the same anxiety hit me. I knew instantly, God was calling me to listen. He was calling me to take action yet I had NO CLUE what action to take but I nodded my head and said, "Tell me what to do."

I spent the next two days crying as though someone had drowned my dearly beloved puppy right before my eyes. I was seriously mourning the loss of something I never had. Actually, I was mourning the loss of a "could-have", possibly "should-have" had. I knew I needed to to do something to easy the pain I felt and while I wish I could tell you the specifics and not be so ambiguous, I can't, so bear with me. What I can tell you is, I felt a little crazy and that crazy feeling made me scared to tell anyone what was happening within me.

I wrote my feelings in a letter with a plan to send it out into the universe and I knew exactly where I needed to go to release it. On the way there, I called two different friends I trust with my life and told them of my craziness. Both had compassion and understanding of what I was doing and were supportive, despite what I expressed as "sounding nuts." I knew exactly what to do to put this whole thing to rest and stick an "I'm done" flag in it.

Things did not go as planned though. What I desperately wanted to do was not safely possible so I sat in my car wondering what plan B was going to be. In the silence, God guided me someplace different and I followed obediently. Once there, His impression was clear...

LOOK!

"I am. I don't see anything."

LOOK CLOSER!

I widened my view of the world taking in every detail, as well as the big picture all at once. My heart skipped a beat when my eyes fastened to the very thing I was led by God to see. In disbelief at what I was seeing, I knew this little crazy trip of mine was not going to be a finale. No, it was only the beginning and I was about to have to become Noah.

Tenaciousness nearing obsession overcame me as I began to dive deeper into a mystery. God impressed, I listened and moved. Crazy, nuts, filled with compassion and God's agape love (crazy, nuts, and agape all fit together perfectly) I went where he lead, said what He asked, and watched a mystery begin to make perfect sense to me.

One morning, I was making breakfast and fell into the sweetest daydream, a wishful-thinking best-case-scenario ending to all of these events and I beamed inside at the simple thought of this possibility. But my smile was stolen by reality quickly as I spoke audibly,

"Who am I kidding? That's NOT going to happen!"

Quickly God impressed upon me something amazing and I spoke aloud again,

"But I could write a book about that!"

My smile returned instantly as I realized, God wasn't done with my writing career at all. In fact, what He wanted from me was a combination of the two things I thought I was going to have to choose between. Well, how about that. God sure is smart! In addition, just two days ago I was asked to be part of a start up Christian ministry that will provide support for depression. I feel very honored and I accepted.

That is how the idea for my current work in progress arrived. Depression, suicide, mystery, and the perfect daydream filled with enough hope to give any reader a chance to embrace compassion, understanding, and love. The story will be about two characters who struggle with depression, each handling it in a different way. Their lives will intersect and through their interactions, the reader can receive many messages. The depressed will learn that they are not alone in their struggle, that there is a way out, coping skills, and hopefully they will see pure hope despite their condition. The people who don't understand depression will become educated about what it really is and realize that it isn't as simple as changing your attitude or chosing to "let it go". In addition, they will learn hoe to see it, how to really notice it, and how to respond. Finally, the world at large will hopefully get a very important message about compassion and the importance of it in our everyday lives.

There is more to the mystery and my Noah-like actions that followed which have led to some good ole' hurt by passers by and scoffers (many of them who believed in the same Lord), as well as anger over being chosen, "Why me, Lord?". I have been attacked over this, I've been called horrible names, and I've been frightened but make no mistake, I will follow as long as He leads. I now fully understand exactly why I felt such dread on Election Day and believe me, it had nothing to do with the actual election. I now understand why God gave me so many emotions over a situation that had absolutely nothing to do with me, and I now understand that the persecution I face is just beginning. But here's the thing about God, He doesn't lead us then leave us when the going gets tough. No, He brought me this far and my obedience to the craziness has led to my current circumstances. I know without doubt He is holding me in the palm of His hand and He's got this! 100% got this. Whether it ends well or not, whether it causes tears or smiles (most likely both), whether it makes me look insane or simply like a person who cares- He's got it under control and I trust Him. I trust Him 100%, good, bad and ugly. He WILL and trust me, already has, made GOOD from a very sad and bad situation.

So, I here i am moving forward with my task feeling both blessed and cursed and I can honestly say, I wouldn't change a thing. Have an amazing day!

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Clarification

Apparently my most recent blog post got some people stirred up. Some people have become very concerned about me to the point that they have interfered in my life. The ironic thing is their interference has caused me lots of pain instead of being helpful. This is exactly why depression and suicidal ideation is important to discuss. If no one ever talks about it then no one can ever truly understand it. I am frustrated that my honesty of this struggle has created turmoil not only in my life but in some other people’s lives.

The book I am currently working on is about this very issue. It is a story about two people who struggle with depression and how they work through it. It will not be a depressing downer of a book. It will be very uplifting and provide hope to not only the people who struggle with depression but to the people who don’t understand depression.

It is my hope that understanding can come from my honesty regarding the subject. If you read my blog post and immediately jumped to the conclusion that I am mentally unstable or unhealthy, let me tell you clearly my mental state has never been better. The mere fact that I am willing to discuss it says that I am healthy. It is the people who do not discuss it that need to be reached and cared for. That was supposed to be the message behind my blog post but apparently the message got missed by some people.

 I have nothing further to say on this post except I will do this book and it will change lives. I hope everyone has a wonderful day and can focus more on their own issues than trying to fix everyone else’s. Blessings to all of you.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Have a Good Day ... Tomorrow




NOTE: This story is absolutely true and happened to me late summer 2016. I wrote this months ago for a different blog but the owner of that blog took a break so it never got published. It's time to share it.

I'm a person who suffers with depression. When I say depression, I don't mean slight blues or occasional sadness. What I mean is full-on, can't do anything about it, senseless, deep emptiness that leads to thoughts of suicide. Everything in my life could be going just fine then—BAM—I become depressed and am suddenly teetering on the edge of a very deep, dark abyss. I'm on medication for this but still have problems occasionally. I've dealt with it my whole life and learned the warning signs and symptoms, as well as how to see logic in the midst of something that is extremely illogical. In short, I am somehow able to see the truth in those times, even when darkness is doing its best to hide that truth.

Let’s talk about the truth: the truth is the depression will pass. The truth is not everything is horrible in those moments, even if it feels that way. The truth is it’s a chemical thing I have no control over and I am not alone in it. Millions of people know exactly how I feel and for us, it’s all very normal. But the truth is also an oxymoron. The truth is during the time that I feel that way, everything in me screams the opposite: that the feelings will last forever, everything sucks, and that something is terribly abnormal and wrong with me to feel so low and desperate for no apparent reason. In understanding the truth, I know how important not making one single decision while I'm in that space is. And the truth of that is that the choice to not make a decision can and will make me feel like I'm trapped in a tiny cage with no way out, which compounds the depression all the more. I made a meme of my mantra in those moments and I look at it often:


Experience has shown me, if I can just make it till morning, I know I'll be okay.

The world has become very self-centered. As such, it is not uncommon to be out in public and have someone yell obscenities at me for making a mistake or for no reason at all. For example, I got every curse word in the world yelled at me in a church parking lot once because I apparently ‘stole’ someone’s parking space. It didn’t matter that I offered to move and apologized. It also didn’t matter that it was a public parking lot and no one owned any of the spaces. Another time, I got blessed out in my own driveway by a woman walking her dog by my house (on the wrong side of the road, mind you). I was pulling my car out of the garage to park it in my driveway so I could wash it. She was walking by and thought I was going to pull out into the road so she yelled, afraid that I might hit her. Of course, it was her choice to continue walking forward instead of pausing, even though a car was backing out. Yet, she saw it as MY fault that she was scared, and that gave her the right to yell obscenities at me on my own property, even though I did not one thing wrong. Another example is when someone who was in a hurry got in line behind me at the grocery store and told me I was holding him up. There were lots of other lines he could have chosen. I only had nineteen items and was in a regular line, not an express line, yet the fact that the world aligned itself in a way that he was in a rush and I happened to make it to the line before him was somehow my fault. These may seem like small things, but I will get to the reason they aren’t in a moment.

The last few days have been rough. A bout of depression hit me out of nowhere and I could tell it was going to be a bad one. I knew my medications were working, yet this depression struck me for no reason I could fathom. I don’t really want to admit the strength of it because I don’t want the people who love me to worry about my mental state, yet I will be honest and say it was the type of depression that made me wonder if I was in fact going to allow myself to make it to the next day. I made sure not to make any decisions. I made sure I spoke to people I trusted. And I did my best to wait it out, hoping it would be gone in due time, even though it felt unchangeable. I reminded myself many times not to make any permanent fixes to a temporary problem.

I needed to go to the store, but I was afraid to be in public because I knew I was in a mental place where a stranger's unkind remark could have easily taken me over the edge of being able to hold myself together to make it to tomorrow. Thoughts of suicide were teasing me and tears were hard to contain. On my way to the store, I said a prayer asking God to protect me from any unkind words a stranger might toss at me, because I knew they might be a game changer.

I went in, picked up my few items, and headed to the check-out line. No one spoke to me and I was glad. I kept my head down and tried to be invisible so I could make it out of the store without any confrontation.

Finally, it was my turn and the cashier looked at me with a smile. She said, “Hi, how are you today?”

I’m sure the look on my face told her all she needed to know, so I was honest with my answer. I said, “Meh, I’m okay.”

She didn’t say anything else to me, just did her job, told me how much I owed, and I paid as she bagged my items. As she handed me my receipt, she said something odd. It was 7:30 p.m., so there were still several hours left in the day, and the conditioned response at that point would have been for her to say, “Have a good evening.” Instead, she spoke as if she could see the do-I-want-to-live-or-die war that was raging in my head. She looked me in the eyes and said, “I hope you have a really great day… tomorrow. And I mean that.”

Tomorrow. What an odd thing to say. It struck me hard as I left. Tomorrow. I walked away wondering if I would have a tomorrow.

I stopped outside to text my husband and another woman who worked there came over next to me. She was talking on her cell phone and was obviously on break. Once she was off the phone, she asked me the same question. “How are you today?”

I looked at her blankly and replied with the same answer. “Meh, I’m okay.”

One of her co-workers came out and they chatted for a moment while I sent my text.

Once the two of us were alone again, she started talking to me about the weather. I didn’t say much, other than to agree that the breeze was nice. I was ready to leave so I said, “Have a nice night,” as I began to walk away.

Her words stopped me in my tracks. “Can you do me a favor, please—”

I turned and looked at her.

“Be good to yourself tonight.”

Again, I was floored. What an odd thing for a random stranger to say yet—perfect.

I nodded my head then headed to my car as tears filled my eyes. I hope you have a good day tomorrow as in, ‘Hang on lady, you can do this!’ and Be good to yourself tonight as in ‘Don’t use a permanent solution for a temporary problem’. To me, they were the words of God spoken through the lives of two random strangers and, in that moment, those simple phrases changed everything. The words made me sure—tomorrow was going to be a certainty.

I truly am embarrassed to admit that my emotions dipped so low that hurting myself was a thought in my head, but that’s what depression does to a person. It’s not something that can be controlled; it’s not something that we can just choose to “buck-up” from. It’s real and it’s painful. Luckily, I have learned to live with it in a way that I don’t have to be its slave anymore. While I can’t control my emotional response to it, I can choose to work hard enough on the inside to control my physical response to it—at least to an extent.

On the other side of embarrassment is the gratefulness I feel for having a God who knows what I can and can’t handle. In addition, He takes me at my word when I admit my inability to function in the face of something unkind. Those words the store employees shared with me, well, God not only protected me from the unkind, He gave me a reason to believe in the good. A reason to have hope for tomorrow.

I would like for you to think about your last really bad mood. I mean, really bad mood. Now, imagine me, in the state I just explained to you. Got it? Okay, now imagine we cross paths at the post office and I accidentally step on your foot. I immediately apologize as your bad mood combines with my internal fight for life. How would you respond?

“Watch where you’re going, idiot!”
I already feel worthless and ready to end it all, but I’m fighting for a reason to stay. This statement could possibly be the last thing I ever allow myself to hear. That I’m an idiot because I made an error and my life has no meaning. It’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back and I finally decide—I can’t do life anymore.

“It’s okay, accidents happen. Are you okay?”
This response lets me know that you recognize that I understand I have made a mistake and I’m sorry. It shows me that mistakes are forgivable. It validates me as a person who is worthy of forgiveness and it takes things a step further and shows me that if a stranger can care even a little, then maybe things will be okay. That statement helps me see good in tomorrow despite the lack of hope I feel.

Do you see what I’m saying here? Your words have an amazing amount of power. All of them. Power to make or break. Power to salvage or destroy. Power of hope or demise. Had I experienced the unloaded bad mood of a guy who thought I stole his parking spot instead of the simple reminder that tomorrow was full of hope, I may not be sitting here right now typing. Did you realize you had that kind of power? Do you understand that the woman you crossed paths with yesterday and darted a dirty look to because she cut in line may have just buried her only son that morning? Are you aware that the annoying man sitting in front you on the bus who is bouncing his leg madly might have just found out he has terminal cancer? Did you know that most people who commit suicide have a smile on their face not long before they do it? Well if you didn’t, now you do, and you have no excuse to be nasty.

What are you going to do with the power you hold? While it is impossible to always be nice no matter what, make no mistake about this, it’s a choice to spew darkness on a person when the truth of the matter is, it’s just as easy to be silent. Silence is sometimes best—for everyone.

I want to quickly address something about suicide. While it is super important to be compassionate and supportive to people who are showing signs of depression, the truth of the matter is that if they are showing outwards signs of their ‘fight for life’, they are in fact fighting for it. It's the truly depressed who hide it so well that no one knows how they are feeling that we need to care for more greatly. Why? Because the whole reason they aren't showing their fight for life is because they AREN'T fighting anymore. They are done with the trouble of life and their plans to end their pain will come to fruition because no one can stop them when there aren't any signs. How do you know if someone has lost their fight if they are hiding it so well? You can't. So what do you do? How about this; treat everyone with compassion. Use your power for good because your compassion in the right moment just might make them change their mind and decide the extremely difficult task of fighting for life is worth it. Yes, it's a responsibility, and we all carry it as humans.

In closing, I would like to say two things to every single one of you, meant from the bottom of my heart…

I hope you have a great day… tomorrow.
As for tonight, do me a favor and be really good to yourself.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Affair Math

I've been doing a lot of research lately on affairs as I am writing about the aftermath of an affair. It has been very interesting to say the least. Part of what has been interesting is the assumption I have found in certain people that all people who have affairs are innately evil and for some reason should have to pay for their sin for the rest of their lives. Hmm, I thought Jesus died for everyone and every sin... oh yes, He did. And thankfully, He even died for the sin of judgment.

I have found there to be two very clear types of people who have affairs. There may be more but these are the two that have clearly formed in my mind:

1 : A lying jerk/jerkette who is only out to get something extra on the side. He or she have very little shame or guilt and don't care who they hurt to get what they want. They tell extravagant lies and know how to sneak around very well.

-and-

2 : A regular ole guy or gal who 'falls' into circumstances that lead to the mistake of a bad decision. These people usually look themselves in the mirror at some point and say, "What am I doing? This is not who I am!"


Check out my assessment of affair math:

The most common affair is 1 + 2 = 0

This affair ends with a lot of anger on 2's side who will normally tell the story as though they are a complete victim and were bamboozled into the relationship, however, 2 is likely not to repeat an affair. And lets face it, they are no victim, if they willingly went into an affair, they should readily accept the outcome. A 1 usually repeats affair behavior multiple times leaving a trail of 2s in the wake all pointing at the 1 like they are a monster. I can't tell you how many of these people I have spoken to in my research.

Sometimes the affair is 1 + 1 = 0

These affairs usually remain very secret and don't have nasty feeling attached to them once they are over. They normally do not develop into real relationships because the people involved aren't interested in a relationship. They are what they are and both 1s get it (literally).

And then there is 2 + 2 = ?

This type of affair usually begins for one reason... one or both of the people have mistakenly married a person they should not have married a.k.a. not a person God had originally planned for them to be with. Why? Well, they got married without considering God's answer to "Is this the person I should marry?" either because they didn't ask it, they didn't have a relationship with God at that time, or maybe they asked it, got the answer and just misunderstood OR did what they wanted to do thinking they knew better than God. Basically, this marriage was a mistake, one they have to live with forever and ever. These types of marriages CAN last and work fine (if both people WANT it to), however, when a 2 who has mistakenly married the wrong match, accidentally meets the right match ... temptation is a beast. The 2 + 2 affair is a mistake on top of a marriage mistake. A 2 + 2 affair didn't have to be an affair, but our sin nature wins many times creating bad decisions. Had all the people involved just communicated better, the original marriage could possibly survive or break apart as amicably as possible without an affair.

Next...

The Old Testament law states the only acceptable reason for divorce is infidelity.
The New Testament tells us that the old is to be replaced with the new command: Love. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be with us and He will guide us in all matters, if we allow Him.

We are all flawed and we make mistakes everyday, some are little and some are lasting. Marrying the wrong person, a person God knows is not suited to us is a mistake and I believe it is not a mistake we should feel forced to live with everyday of our lives is it truly was an error. I think we have a responsibility to do everything we can to make a marriage work, which means communicate openly about needs and wants, give and take as necessary, pray for God's healing if there is trouble, and more than anything - ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in every step. If you do what is pleasing to the Lord in all the ways you can and the Spirit guides you to divorce... then who am I to argue? Who am I to judge you decision? No one. I'm not privy to your conversations with God.

No, the Lord will never lead you to an affair and tell you it's okay... NO WAY... but when a person has made a mistake in choosing their spouse, He will guide us on how to proceed. If you listen, if you're obedient, and faithful to His will... you can't go wrong... even if His will is to divorce. Yes, I just said sometimes God will lead you to divorce but He will never do it flippantly. I believe that. Anyone who says  God would NEVER approve of divorce is completely forgetting about the New Testament and it's purpose and is solely basing their belief on the Old Law.

I am in NO WAY saying an affair is okay or right. It's not. At all. What I am saying is the reality of the world is that it happens, even to good and decent people who make mistakes. Jesus wants us to love the sinner and hate the sin. I believe people who marry the wrong person and just can't make it work deserve happiness too. A mistake marriage followed by a mistake affair can be salvaged - but it takes work, very specific work and instead of ignoring, judging it, and wishing failure upon it... I want to do my part to talk about what can be done to keep people from making the same mistakes over and over again. There is no need for a second divorce - or a third or fourth... why not live and learn?

Yes, I know I'm going to get a lot of grief on this topic, but I'm writing this book anyway.

Prunings: Hard Cuts (Book IV in the Fruit of the Vine Series)

It will hopefully be available in October 2016 and it is all about making a divorcee's second marriage (a relationship that began in an affair) redeemable and pleasing to the Lord. Yep! I believe even affair havers are redeemable.

If you are a 2 and you would be willing to share some of your experience with me, I would love to hear from you. Head over to my Facebook page and send me a private message. I promise anything we discuss will remain completely private. I am looking to talk to people who have been in the 2 + 2 = ? situation.  Thank you very much!  www.facebook.com/wendy.oleston

FAIR WARNING... since this is a touchy subject, be careful what you say to me about it. You might find your comments on my OTHER blog... Hate Mail From Christians.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Random Girl

Want to know some random stuff about me? Well... if so, here ya go! I used this info for some contests I did and thought I would just put it out here on my blog too. I'm just a girl with a lot of baggage... but God loves me anyway! Enjoy getting to know me!

*****

I was born and raised in Martinsville, VA. I moved to Delaware in my teens and lived there until I moved to Germany to follow love (stupid, stupid girl). I returned to Delaware several years later where I later met my husband. We moved to Texas with a job transfer in 2003. In 2010, we moved to Wisconsin to be closer to my husband’s family.

*****

I was a HORRIBLE student! HORRIBLE, especially in English. I always thought I was stupid because no matter how hard I studied, I could only manage C’s and D’s. It wasn’t until my early 30’s when I was diagnosed with severe ADHD that I realized… I’m not stupid… I just have the attention span of a mentally challenged flea. In addition, I have an auditory processing disorder I was unaware of. Basically, when I hear words, my brain takes a very long time to process them. Sometimes as long as an hour or two. Imagine trying to listen in class LOL! Even on medication, I still struggle with these issues. It is not rare for me to stare blankly at my husband as he speaks then twenty minutes later shout excitedly from another room…. “Oh...I know what you said now!”

*****


When I was 10 years old, I was hit by a car head-on while riding my bike. I sustained major facial injuries including my face being ripped apart requiring over 100 stitches and my jaw being broken in five places. To top it off, I landed in a patch of poison ivy. Yeah, that was a bad day. In the years following the accident, I had many plastic surgeries to correct the damage to my face. As a child I misunderstood my parent’s motivations for all the plastic surgeries thinking they were embarrassed of the way I looked when in reality, my entire family sacrificed a lot to make those surgeries happen (all but the first were considered optional). They went forward with surgery after surgery so I could have as normal of a life as possible. For this reason, I encourage you to have open discussions with your children about things like this. Something that seems logical to you may not be seen the same way through the eyes of a child. Today I am so thankful for that sacrifice! The scars are barely noticeable to most everyone but me :)

*****

When I was a teen, I don’t know why but I had a feeling I was not going to live long enough to graduate from high school. The day of my graduation was a big deal to me because of that. Later in life I decided I was never going to get married, have children, or live anywhere cold again. After dating several men with alcohol and drug problems, I swore I would never be like them. Ironically, I am a recovering alcoholic who currently lives in Wisconsin with my husband and kids. After having a horrible pregnancy with my son, I swore I would NEVER have another child… ever. So when I found out I was pregnant at 40 with my next child, I gave God a dirty look and said, “Fine… but if I HAVE to do this, You will give me another boy!” A few weeks later we found out it was a girl. *sigh* (you can laugh… it’s funny). It seems whenever I put a “never” in place, God needs to show me who is REALLY in charge. A year ago, I was watching House Hunters International and they were doing a show in India. I looked at my husband and said, “I will NEVER live in India!” Quickly I rephrased, “I mean, I really don’t ever want to live in India… please.” Yeah… ‘never’ is a bad word in my world!

*****

I am a very proud recovering alcoholic! I was a functioning alcoholic beginning around the age of 23 and had no idea I had an issue. I thought everyone drank the way I did; early in the morning, all night, never getting enough, never having a hang-over, and always in fear of the bottom of the bottle. I hit rock bottom and got sober in 2007 and will be celebrating my 9th year of sobriety on February 27th this year. My book “As Is” is a fictionalized account of my life as an alcoholic and how I found recovery. I am always willing to discuss this part of my life and process to healing so if you have any questions - please… I’m an open book.

*****

I struggle with a few mental  disorders - chronic depression, bipolar disorder, and an undefined chemical imbalance which was caused by a medical mistake (I used to have a lot of anger over this doctor’s error in treating me but I have since worked through it, thankfully). I take medication that helps me have a relatively normal life but even on meds I have “episodes” that can not be stopped. I am open about these things for the purpose of educating others to show mental illness is not something you have to be afraid of. If you ever have any questions about mental illness, I’m more than happy to chat!

*****

I have been in six car accidents, 3 were totally my fault and 3 were someone else’s fault. My adhd medication helps me be a more attentive driver but I have to make the choice to pay attention, and sometimes I forget. My cell phone is very distracting to me when I drive so I have begun to turn the ringer off and put it at the bottom of my purse when I am at the wheel.



*****

I once lived in a house built in 1802. It was haunted but not in a scary way. The ghost was a little boy who enjoyed my toy collection and would move things around. I also started collecting Pez dispensers at the age of 21. I have over 800 now. Another thing I collect is Lego houses. My daughter recently got into my Lego collection and took them all apart, mixing up all the pieces of each set. It took me DAYS to fix. I am a child at heart, I believe because my childhood was a bit non-typical as a result of the accident. I wasn’t able to be “playful” back then… so I am now.

*****

My first real job was in high school. I was a cashier at a CVS in the local mall. During college, I had a summer job as a valet at the local horse race. I was a nanny for an American military family while I lived in Germany (that was a total blessing). When I returned to the United States, I got a job as a legal document analyst for Ernst & Young which led to a job as a payroll accountant at a local CPA firm. I worked my way up the corporate ladder becoming a payroll tax accountant, then payroll tax manager at 7 Eleven Corp. When I got pregnant with my son, I decided to be a stay-home mom which I thought was going to be easy… LOL… it was actually the hardest job I’ve ever done. When my son started school, I began working for myself as a digital designer which I still do on the side a little bit. My official jump into being a full-time indie author was in January 2014. I became a full-time author with a publisher (Maven Christian) in October 2015. 30 Below is our first official release together as a team!

*****

I had decided to stop looking for a man after dating someone I really liked a lot and having him confess he was still in love with his ex. But God had a different idea… Ryan was put before my eyes in March 2001, only a two months after my break up and to be honest, I wasn’t all that interested at first. I was gun-shy and Ryan was the total opposite of every guy I had ever really cared about… blonde, blue-eyed, and quiet - I wasn’t sure how I felt about him. It occurred to me that all my other relationships hadn’t worked out… so why not try the opposite? We began dating and fell in love rather quickly. He was the first guy to stand up to me when I got a little nuts (pre-diagnosis) and I found that sexy. He was also the only guy I ever dated who had extraordinary patience… and he liked my annoying dog. He has always treated me with kindness and respect, even when I don’t deserve it. We got engaged in Oct 2002 and were married fairly quickly in May 2003. Our son, Brett, was born in 2005… then our surprise daughter was born in 2012. Yeah… we’re gonna be like 80 when she graduates from college - haha.

*****

I am blessed to have several really good friends who I know are the real deal. Some of them are even just Facebook friends I have never met in person like Sara Preston and Lisa Angel Miller. A few of them are people I have met here on FB but have also met in person like Virginia Johnson and Nicole Stromath. I have a few from my adolescence that have known me through all my life changes and still love me anyway, like Jennifer Carlson and Stephanie Lorenzana. I have a couple here in the town I currently reside in who I have come to rely on often, like Britta Brossard and Stacie Houge. All of these women are AMAZING - true friends who I know I can count on even at 3 in the morning (and hopefully they feel that is mutual). To say I’m blessed in the friend department is an understatement because, let me tell you, it took me years to figure out what makes a real friendship really work. Time. Yep, that’s what it takes. Time, patience, and awareness. People show me who they are naturally through their actions (and I show them the same in return)… all I have to do is pay attention. My BESTEST friend in the world (not counting my husband) is actually a guy... his name is Garry and we have been through many things together. I love him to pieces… but he is an ass. Maybe that’s why we get along so well. I might be one too. :)

*****

I am ‘officially’ a Lutheran. Born into a Lutheran family but as a child, I never understood what that meant. Lutheran was just a word to me that didn’t mean much. I attended a Baptist church in college and was interested in LDS at one point due to their clean lifestyle. As an adult, I began attending a Methodist church which I enjoyed greatly, so much that I joined a very intense Bible study where we read the entire Bible in six months. It was then I began to realize… I’m not Lutheran or Baptist or LDS or Methodist… I’m a Christian. While I do currently attend a Lutheran church, I am often extremely frustrated by denomination politics. As a Christian, I am called to love everyone… no matter who they are, no matter what they believe, and no matter how flawed they are. Communion is for all believers, and can even be the catalyst to bring a non-believer into the fold so I believe withholding it from people for denominational reasons is a huge mistake. Baptism… infant vs adult? Who knows? Jesus was an adult when He was baptized, yet He baptized children… I dunno!  I say talk it out with God and go with what He says to you personally, not what a particular church says. I could care less about the minutiae. I was once called a “whore” by someone who claimed to be religious and was upset with me about writing an affair in a book. Really? God is against adultery but it’s okay for you to call me a whore? Whatever.

*****

My first book DESCO came from a dream - it was an awful book and I took it out of circulation! All the rest of my books have been created from a mix of my life experiences, knowledge of the Bible, and my imagination… although God seems to just give me words and rarely do I know where they are coming from. It has to be Him.

AS IS is based on my experience as an alcoholic.

I based my main character in 30 BELOW on myself as a person with mental illness & wrote the book because I don’t think sex is discussed enough properly. I have struggled with sexual dysfunction most of my life and I wanted to show my readers why it’s important to do things in a certain order… to protect your heart.

My book ABOVE 60 was written in response to God deciding I needed a second child when I didn’t want one. Nope… didn’t want one at all! But He knew the plan. I’m just along for the ride. In addition, I wanted to give the reader an example of a truly magical intimate marriage and how beautiful sex can be.

My book 360 DEGREES was written because marriage is hard! I know first hand that sometimes you have to CHOOSE to love instead of quit. Pushing past the bad leads to the better.

My short story LITTLE BLACK DRESS which is included in the book BIRDS OF PASSAGE is based on my own personal experience of losing my virginity and the impact that decision had on my life.

SEEDS… is loosely based on the parable of the Seeds and the Sower from the Bible, I was also in a serious relationship with a porn and sex addict. I feel sexual sin in society needs to be discussed and stop being ignored. It’s only getting worse.

CONCEPTIONS… my next new release, was written to share my personal experiences with unplanned pregnancy and the effects of the decisions made. It is my hope that women who are faced with this, as well as women who have already gone through it can find hope and healing through my book.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Flawed

Something has been weighing on my mind for awhile now, something I finally got some clarity about this morning and thought I would share for two reasons...

One: I think it applies to all of us and it might be helpful to someone who might be struggling with the same thing

Two: It will be a great post to share the link to in the future, should I need to explain this to someone

As you know, I'm a fiction writer for God. My books are about the real stuff of life: sex, cursing, addiction, pregnancy, mental illness. In my writing, I allow my characters to experience the real stuff and then I allow them to work through it in a real way as a hope to those out there who might be struggling with a similar issue. While my message is Christian, I feel the experiences of my books are fitting for anyone, not just a Christian. I see them as morally-infused. It just so happens that my morals are based in God.

I started a YouTube series where I am reading my book 30 Below for free and then I give some commentary at the end of each episode. In doing this, I am explaining my reasons for making my characters do the things they do. My husband has been previewing them as I finish and after about the third one he came to me and said this...

"When you write, do you really think through all of those lessons and things as you go or does it just happen naturally? I had no idea everything in there had a purpose. It would be really easy to miss so much of that because your work is so entertaining."

I beamed with pride at so many words in those sentences. The answer to his question is BOTH. I do think through a lot of it and make my characters do what they do for reasons, but also I feel like God just gives it to me and if I'm obedient... it all just fits together perfectly. I was glad to know he picked up on that and that he thinks my books are entertaining. I'm so blessed to have him... he is a wonderful man, one I take for grated far too often. (Sorry honey, I'm trying to do better.)

As I continued recording my videos and doing my commentary, I have begun to feel like... I'm not worthy to give these messages. That perhaps I am going to do more harm than good to God's mission and it gave me pause. Why? Well, I'm a very flawed person. Very. Yet, I'm sitting here writing about people who turn to God and resolve their issues with His help. I began to feel the weight of the world on my shoulders and wonder if I should continue. I mean, what if someone were to find out just how flawed I am? Would my work then be discredited? Would God's movement in my life be seen as not enough? Over-all would it all be just plain hypocritical and do more harm than good? I got scared and started to feel like I needed to be more perfect just so I don't disappoint the Lord.

Perfection. Yes, if I could do a perfect job at living this life... then my words won't come back to haunt me. But unfortunately, perfection is not within my grasp. Yes, it is my job, especially as a person who is actively pursuing this career to further God's loving reach to be the best I can be... but honestly, I'm just really dang flawed. There is so much to work on to be better that I get overwhelmed when I think about it. And that's when I feel like quitting.

But here's what God had for me this morning as I listened in silence:

Aside from Jesus, God has always used very flawed people to share His love with the world. Always. Why, you ask? Well, who better to reach the flawed than a person who is also flawed. It's relate-able, it's authentic, it gains trust, it's credible and it's the only way He can reach others through a person here on earth since all of us are very flawed.

Let's say you are a person who struggles with gossiping. If a person who claims to have never gossiped came to you and said, "You should really work on your gossiping, other people have noticed it and you should stop." How likely are you to listen to their statement and work on it? Since they claim to have never gossiped, they have no advice for you on how to stop... and if they gave you some, how credible would that advice be? Most likely you would walk away grumbling about hypocrisy.

I myself have struggled with gossip for many years. I have an attraction to drama and gossip stirs it up but what I have learned is that gossip says a lot more about me, than it does about anyone else. It says I am not trust-able. It says I don't respect other people's privacy. It says I am judgmental. It says I am not a good friend or confidant. In the end, it creates distance with people who I actually want to be close with and, it makes me feel disappointed in myself at the end of the day. One thing is for certain, if you are hearing gossip from a person... that person is most likely going to gossip about you too when you're not around. Who wants a friend like that?

Since realizing all of that, I have worked hard at trying not to gossip. I pray asking God to help me be a good friend who respects other people's stories and experiences - they are theirs to tell, not mine. I try to think before I speak and make sure what I'm about to say is appropriate. I do my best not to listen to gossip, as it leads to me wanting to gossip. I fight my urge for drama, reminding myself that being centered is much better for me. I still fail at times though. *sigh*

That's me - I'm flawed. I admit it. I'm a hypocrite. But I share the ugly parts of myself with the hope of helping someone with my experience.  I've broken nearly every commandment (probably all of them in some way). That's what I write about... my experience and what I've learned so I need to stop being scared that someone will attack me for not being perfect. I need to just do my best and trust God.

The apostle Paul is my favorite... I especially like what he says here...

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."
Romans 7:15

Paul knew exactly how I feel now. I know better, yet I still fail. I make willful decisions to act incorrectly. I make accidental mistakes that lead to sin. I forget about God and behave like me... often. Yet, God has called me to be used by Him to reach others and I will be obedient to that call. Anyone who has a problem with that can take it up with God. You will never hear me say I'm perfect... you will only hear me say, "The only reason I know this... is because I'm guilty."

Have an amazing day! And try your best to do the next best right thing. I'm trying!




Friday, January 22, 2016

The Crack

I'm a writer of Christian fiction... but not your average CF. No, my stories include sex, language, and real life situations that are relevant to today's world. The reason it is Christian is because I allow my characters to work through these issues in a Christian (or what I consider simply moral) manner as an example to society. I do this without shoving God at anyone. I feel I base the responses of my characters on basic morals... which in my life just so happen to be Christian.

I was picked up by a publisher called Maven Christian at the end of 2015. Since then we have been working hard at setting the groundwork for re-releasing all of my books and getting some new ones out there. I feel so blessed to be backed by people who are on the same page with me... they get what I'm doing and they support it full-force. Sex and all! It's amazing!

I've been pouring hours into a project lately that has been a lot of fun. I am doing something that to my knowledge has not been done before. My book 30 Below is going to be re-released soon and it will be perma-free for Kindle users. My project is that I am reading my book in a YouTube series - for free. This means that anyone with a computer can listen to my book - for free. Instead of it being an audio-book that is purchased, it is a streaming feed - for free - and you get the bonus of seeing my beautiful face and hearing my calm soothing voice (*cough* *cough*). I'm super excited about releasing these but they will have to wait for the official re-release of the book.

I've been loading the episodes on YouTube as private (so no one can see them yet) as I get them finished. I am up to episode 10 which is about 35% of the book. With the commentary I add at the end of each episode, the listening time is about 5 hours. When you add in the editing and grunt work of creating the video I'd say I have put an additional 90 minutes into it. Everything was going fine until the other day when I got a notice from YouTube stating they removed one of my episodes for inappropriate content. I was FLOORED. I went back and reviewed the episode to try and determine what was inappropriate about it. Yes, the book contains sex, it is ABOUT sex... love and sex and why God wants us to wait for marriage... but that particular section didn't have any sex in it. It had implied sex and the worst words were "wet" and "gratifying". I appealed the removal with the promise that all my videos would be marked as age-restricted and to my pleasure, they re-instated the video. Phew.

Today I put two new episodes up on YouTube and soon after, I received another notice from YouTube saying they removed another episode for inappropriate content. I marked is as age-restricted when I loaded it - so that wasn't it. So I went back and reviewed the episode. There was no sex or even implied sex, nothing that would be considered racy or wrong in any way. There weren't even any curse words. I don't get it! The things that are on television every night are far worse than my story. I seriously... am at a loss.

This was my second take-down so I received 1 strike against my account. If I get more, they can remove my channel from YouTube then all the work I have done is for nothing. I am trying to put some hope back into society - to help reinstate some morals that have been missing in our entertainment for far too long. It's like societies good sense and moral decency has gotten cracked so badly that we don't even distinguish right from wrong anymore. I wonder, does YouTube have something against morals? Do they enjoy making the crack bigger? Maybe they only want to put things out that are sure to make the crack bigger?

Here's the thing that KILLS me... as a writer of my type of Christian fiction I fall INTO this wonderful crack. On one side of the crevice are the hard core Christians who hate what I am doing and call my work "of the devil" and "soft porn" because they are offended by it. On the other side of the crack are the people who see the word "Christian" and make an assumption that it will be judgy, boring, unrealistic, and/or opinionated to the point they will no doubt be offended by it. And there I am looking up at the light from the bottom of the abyss... being passed over, ignored, and, yes, I get my share of hate mail - mostly from Christians (which I find hilarious). All the while, the moral integrity of our world is breaking down, crumbling beneath our feet and people don't even notice it.

Sometimes I just want to go hide under a rock down at the bottom of that pit and say "Forget it!"  I feel like I am fighting a losing battle and some days I am just tired of the fight. But, God gave me this mission, the talent, and the right people to partner with me so I have no choice but to do my best to see it through. I've been at this for over a year and a half now, I've done a lot of hard work, I've written 6 books and there are more on the way... but I don't have a lot to show for it... yet.  I know God will make things happen in the right timing and I just have to be patient.

So, go ahead hard-core Christians... send me your hate mail. I will continue to post it on my blog entitled "Hate Mail From Christians" as you too deserve to be heard. And go ahead YouTube - keep removing my content and giving me strikes... hell, remove my whole channel... I'll find another way to make it happen - why? Because it's God's will and nothing can stop that - even well meaning Christians and website "Community Guidelines". The world has always been cracked... from the moment of the bite of the apple and I'm not delusional enough to think I have enough caulk or grout to fix it... but what I can do is try to bridge the gap a little... and I suppose that's why I feel like I'm in the crack... because I am. To tell the truth, as hard as it is, there is no place I'd rather be.



Wag

I was on my way to pick up my daughter from school just a little bit ago. I was driving a little above the speed limit - 32 in a 30. I came up on a car driving 20. We were both in the left lane, and I needed to make a left turn several miles down the road. I decided to pass the car on his right instead of staying at his pace - I had plenty of time so I wasn't worried. When I got up next to him, he looked over at me and pointed then sped up. I went a little faster to try and get ahead to slide over in front of him but he sped up too making it impossible. My turn was coming so I decided to slow down and get back in behind him. The minute I was behind him, he slowed to 20 again. Ugh. We arrived at the traffic light where I needed to turn left, he was the only car in front of me and as soon as we were both stopped, he looked in his rear view mirror making eye contact with me and began to wag his finger. I looked away, in a attempt to ignore. When I faced forward again, his finger began another wag. He did this 4 times until finally the light turned green and he went on his merry way. I made my left turn and all was well in the world, right? I wish things like this didn't get under my skin. It is times like this I truly wonder what has happened to basic human decency. It is times like this I understand why some people do very bad things in the heat of the moment.

I am proud of myself for not doing what I wanted to do... give him the finger. I am proud of myself for not yelling obscenities at him or jumping out of my car to go punch him in the face. He doesn't know me... I was obeying the law but apparently not to his approval. He took it upon himself to stop me from doing something HE didn't want me to do even though it was fully within my rights. My rights... as a driver, as a person, and as an American citizen. HE had to stop me, and he did. But he took it a step further and found it necessary to scold me... scold me for something that wasn't wrong. Scold me - a 43 year old woman he knows nothing about. I could have been in labor and on my way to the hospital, I could have had a child screaming in the back seat... I could have been suffering with a bout of diarrhea... who knows. I also could have been a completely insane maniac with a gun in my glove box.

In the end, I feel angry, still. But I also feel sad for him. Whatever he has going on in his life, he obviously needs to gain a sense of control over someone to feel good about himself. I'm glad I didn't react the way I wanted to, I'm glad I paused and was able to respond with nothing instead. But what I wish more than anything, is that experiences like this wouldn't affect me the way they do. This will no doubt stick to me for a majority of the day - making my anxiety and bipolar tendencies rise to an uncomfortable level - maybe even to the point of needing a sedative. I wish I could just let it roll off my back, but I was not built that way. I'm glad I have tools to keep me from behaving poorly though. Super thankful for that.

I wonder if he would have done it if he had known what it would do to me emotionally and physically today? Maybe... I hope the little glint of happy he got from it was worth it.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Balls

I recently went through an experience I wanted to share... not necessarily the details, but the overall lesson learned that showed me a pattern in my life.

When I look back at my life, I recall many experiences where I have been involved with a person in friendship or in a romantic relationship where it was a really good thing. We were tight! We were respectful and good to each other. I trusted them and I hope they trusted me too (probably trust that wasn't earned quite yet).

The relationship went on for years and seemed to be good - but at some point, it turned south. Sometimes I know it was my fault as I am a difficult person. Undiagnosed bipolar does that to a person, makes them difficult and sometimes hard to love for long periods of time. But in some cases, it wasn't me. It was the other person or perhaps the relationship wasn't as good as I thought it was all along. I recall being in abusive relationships with men - how could I call that good? And what about co-dependant friendships? Is that good?

Once the relationship started to head south, and I recognized it... I recall the way I was treated by these people changing. It was no longer perceived by me as fun and respectful, it became my perception that it was hurtful and unkind. I recall sitting thinking, "How did this happen? What did I do? Am I just seeing this wrong? I know I don't deserve this but I also feel like I KNOW this person is a good person. Maybe they are just having a bad patch? Maybe if I adjust myself we can get back to good..."  So adjust I did.

It seemed no amount of adjustment was enough. It seemed the person just simply wasn't interested in being involved with me anymore yet they were not willing to say it. The fact they weren't able to say it left me wondering if I was perceiving their behavior incorrectly and it made me stick around. After all, if they didn't want to be my friend/boyfriend anymore, they would just tell me... right?

WRONG!

Most of the people I am thinking about with this have been very confident people so I had an assumption they were strong and had "balls". I think they themselves saw themselves and strong and having "balls". I have always seen myself as weak, and to be honest, I am. In my weakness, I stuck around waiting it out to see if it could change and be good again. In their confidence I assumed they would tell me if something was wrong.

Well, let me tell you something... in every single one of these relationships - the confident-strong person never said a word to me about wanting to separate. Instead, they behaved in a way to make me go away on my own. Why would a person do this? Perhaps it's because the confidence and "balls" they had were just a mere illusion. Perhaps they just couldn't handle being the "bad guy" as that would make them feel badly inside. The coward's way out was much easier... "I can act like an ass then when Wendy gets run off - it's her fault and not mine."

Well, let me tell you something... all of you people out that who think you have balls... yet lack the real thing when it's time to grab them... making someone else the bad guy is the most cowardly thing you can do. Cowards... all of you. I may be weak... but at least I have the balls to walk away. I have the balls to take responsibility for my actions, my in-actions, my over-reactions, and my pain. I have the balls to do the hard thing... to end what a coward is unable to end.

If you're going to be confident enough to feel good about treating someone badly, then don't make yourself a victim to run them off. If you're going to have balls... use them when it counts! You can do that with kindness, ya know? You don't have to be a jerk unless you want to be. To me, there is nothing more jerky than making someone else responsible for your own crap.

Me... weak? Yes, in ways I am. But I'm proud to be the kind of person who has balls enough to say goodbye.




Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sexy Books for Married Christians

Hi everyone! I have been hard at work writing, in case you hadn't noticed! I have had a lot of feedback regarding my book "30 Below"- and such great reviews! However, the second book in the series "Above 60" hasn't had as much action so I just wanted to dropa reminder out there about "30 Below" IS part of a series so if you love it, there are two more you can read that continue the story of Lucas and Faith. They are NOT split in two parts and in my opinion, they are both better than "30 Below".

Here's the whole series:

"30 Below"

"Above 60"

"360 Degrees" 

CHeck them all out! And don't forget to leave me a review!!! Reviews are very important to everything I am doing so help me out by taking the time!  THANKS!!!

Also, any of you avid readers out there... consider joining "The Books Machine". Its a great way to be up to date on what's on sale, free and new for your reading needs. Check them out!