Trusting the Writing Process (Year 4)

Four years. Forty eight months. 208 weeks. 1,460 days. Any which way you describe it; I’ve been mindful and reflective of passing another writing milestone. And I’ve learned a lot about the writer’s life along the way.

4th annivMy 4-Year Blogging Experience

Earlier this month I passed my 4-year blogging anniversary. That’s over 250 posts across three blogs (here, Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau, and Journeys to Mother Love), church devotionals, and guest posts on other author blogs. When I published my first blog post, What’s in a Name, I had no idea where my writing would take me. It just felt like the right time to flex my writing muscle.

In 4 years’ time I’ve written from a Christian perspective about emotional and spiritual healing, recovery, and finding our identity. I’ve dug into my own mother wounds and shared the unexpected beauty that surrounded the passing of my mother and my father. I’ve shared the ups and downs of relationships and the challenges of living with ADHD. I took readers with me on my personal pilgrimage to Spain, my mission to Europe, and shown them the joy of partnering with my musical protégé and friend, Pedro González Arbona on his journey into film composing.

A lot of my original posts were only shared with a handful of friends who I felt safe enough to share my writing with. I recently re-read some of those posts and was surprised at their transparency and inspiration: It Takes Courage, When Life Imitates Art, Leaving a Legacy. The formatting isn’t as polished as my current work, but the content is still relevant and poignant.

A few years ago, I submitted my site for a critique by a literary agent who was focused on marketing. That led to the highest hits on my site in one day. Normally I’d think that was a good thing. But her critique of my site drew the interest of other bloggers to see what not to do. That served as an embarrassing reminder of how brutal the publishing industry can be.

Thanks to the interview with Dan Davies last month, that changed! The post, A Behind the Scenes Look at Tempting Fate with Actor Dan Davies, now holds the single day record, and with it a very pleasant reminder of an entertaining interview.

Blogging

So 4 years of blogging has ended on a positive note! I’ll continue as the Holy Spirit leads me, and maybe tackle a revamp of my blog layout in the coming year.

The Ups and Downs of Traditional Publishing

It was also four years ago that I joined the Northwest Christian Writer’s Association. Membership has its benefits, and one of those is receiving notifications of story submissions. Days after attending my first meeting, I received the notification that set my writing in motion:

“Cladach Publishing is seeking authors with an encouraging personal-experience story of healing in mother/child relationships.”

That story submission, my first manuscript, led to publishing “Walking my Mother Home” in Journeys to Mother Love. It seemed like I was on the fast-track to publishing. I did all the right things: attending conferences, marketing, speaking, blogging, and posting on social media like Facebook. It was a lot of work.

Journeys To Mother LoveWhat got lost along the way was my dream to have my memoir published. Except for an intense month of writing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November 2012, work on my memoir, Emerging from the Cocoon, stopped.

An author friend told me back when all of this started that ‘overnight’ success in the publishing world can have its setbacks. She was right.

The publishing seemed to come relatively easy for me then.  Step by step the opportunities opened one after the other, with the Lord aligning all of the people and places at the right time.

Then He directed my writing endeavors towards Spain. While there are a lot of posts here related to my Spanish connection, there is still a great body of work buried deep in my journal.

Sometimes it haunts me, beckoning to be published, at least from a travel perspective.  (Like today, the anniversary of my departure for Europe on the Celebrate Recovery mission.)  But after returning from that mission (my second pilgrimage of sorts), my writing has remained an inward work in progress.

It left me wondering, “where’s the fruit?”

Trusting the Writing Process

The last year has been the hardest part of my writing journey thus far.

At the beginning of this year, I decided to take a sabbatical from serving in CR leadership. It was a difficult decision, but I knew I needed a break.  I had poured myself into the mission, writing all about it, and also launching the website and blog for that ministry. I needed a season to rest and abide in the Lord (John 15:4). Surprisingly that took me into the next layer of the therapeutic process related to my ADHD. The internal work has been intense and too raw to write about publicly.

What has happened along the way though is that I have started to accept that all of the writing I am doing is the normal path of a writer. It is especially so for someone like me who wants to bring meaning to their work and make it truly authentic.

Maya Angelou quote

I’ve often heard that writing is a process. My path to publishing happened so quickly I skipped over that part. Now I have to experience the process and trust the path that other writers have walked before me.

I’ve learned the importance and significance of solitude. I’ve learned that reflection is a part of the craft.

Writers live a life of discovery and look at the inner experience of it. As such, we often need to distance ourselves from our experiences to be able to get the right perspective on it. That takes time, patience, and perseverance.

So I’ve come to accept that this season of my writing journey has been about doing the deeper inner work and trusting the process. I know it will be harder for me because of my ADHD. I’m not giving up.

For now, I’m continuing to take notice of what is going on around me and in me through the lens of ADHD. It’s a blessing, or so I’ve been told.

I know I’m worth it.

And so are you. I encourage you, my friends and readers, to take the time to invest in yourself and reflect on your experiences. You don’t have to be a writer. Any writing you do about it will lead to healing and emotional health though.

Thanks for supporting my writing and journeying along with me.  May this blog be a place of encouragement and inspiration on your journey.  May He turn your healing into hope too.

thank-you

A Mother’s Day Gift for my Sons & my Readers

The last time I saw my mother alive was five years ago over Mother’s Day weekend.  As I wrote in “Walking My Mother Home,” my story in Journeys to Mother Love, these trips back home were instrumental to my healing.

My First Manuscript

That story is very sacred to me.  The writing was covered in prayer by my closest friends.  It was written through tears of joy.

“Walking My Mother Home” was my first manuscript submitted to a publisher.  I was nervous about sharing it with the world.  Only a select few ever read the submitted manuscript.  And it wasn’t until Cathy Lawton, the publisher at Cladach Publishing, notified me that they accepted my story that I even read it again myself.

Toasting the acceptance of my manuscript with a friend, January 2012.

Toasting the acceptance of my manuscript with a friend, January 2012.

In 2012, while the book was still being edited, I decided to give the manuscript and an accompanying letter as a gift to my sons for Mother’s Day.  I had a heartfelt conversation with them after my mother’s passing the year before, and tried to explain the significance of what happened to me.  Now with the imminent publishing of the story for the whole world to see, it was time to give them some more personal insight into my healing and my journey to mother love.

A Gift to my Sons

Dear Boys,

As Mother’s Day approached this week, I’ve been reminded many times that the last time I saw my mother alive was on Mother’s Day 2010.  A lot has happened in our lives in the two years since then…

Since you are males, you will probably never understand the bond between a mother and daughter.  But you will marry one day and will have to understand and be caring with your own wife and the relationship that she has with her mother.  I hope and pray that I can have a loving relationship with my daughters-in-law too.

As you know, I didn’t have a close relationship with my mother, not so much by choice, but by natural consequence because of her mental illness.  As my mother neared the end of her life though, God made it very clear to me that I needed closure and restoration with our relationship.  The attached manuscript is that story.

What I hope and pray you will see in this story is the same thing I want others to see—how following God’s will for our lives, through the good and the bad, leads to amazing blessings.  I want you to embrace opportunities when God wants to use you.  It won’t be easy.  But that is where the biggest blessings come into play—when we are stretched beyond our comfort zone and have to rely on Him.  He shows up when we lean on Him.  We just have to trust Him.

So as I start on my writing journey, I wanted you to know that is exactly what I am doing.  I am trusting that God is behind this and that He will use it.

I love you both dearly.  I hope and pray that when you look back at your lives that you will remember that legacy that I want to leave for you.  I want you to trust God and follow Him all the days of your life.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

With all my love,
Mom

With my sons on the Seattle waterfront, Mother's Day 2012.

With my sons on the Seattle waterfront, Mother’s Day 2012.

Paying the Gift Forward

If you already own a copy of Journeys to Mother Love, I’m sure you will agree that mothers of all ages can relate to these stories.  If don’t own the book, you can purchase an autographed copy here.

May your Mother’s Day be filled with blessings and hope from the Creator of motherly love, our Heavenly Father.

Mothers-Day-Flowers

Announcement: E-Book for “Walking My Mother Home” Available

I have a big announcement to make that I’ve been keeping a secret for a while–until just the right time! In preparing for my mission to Spain, I was also working in the background on a special writing project.  I announced it at the church in Rivas last week and am now officially announcing it here on my site.

A Writing Dream Fulfilled

It is the completion of the Spanish translation of my story “Walking my Mother Home,” from the compilation Journeys to Mother Love, published by Cladach Publishing in 2012.  There is a long story as to how this all came to be.  As usual it includes surrendering the outcome to the Lord and waiting on His timing.  It is the fulfillment of a writing dream come true for me.

When my manuscript was accepted by my publisher in January 2012, I knew in my heart that the Lord wanted me to share this story beyond an American audience. It only seemed natural that Spanish audiences would resonate with the story as much as Americans have.  So I negotiated the inclusion of the foreign translation rights as part of my contract.

Unforeseen Obstacles to Translating the Story

Later that same year, Pedro, the Spanish exchange student who is a part of this story, agreed to translate it for me. He completed his translation of the story, written out by hand while on holiday in Mallorca.  While he translated the story, he also shared it in Spanish with his family.  They, of course, already knew the story as retold by Pedro and Rosa, but this was my turn to share it with them from my perspective.

optima_TRANSLATION-SPANISHIt was truly a gift to hear Pedro recount to me how interested his grandfather was in the story, hanging on every word. (The story recounts the intersection of his wife’s passing with my mother’s death.)  Unfortunately, that version of the translation was forever lost when Pedro’s computer crashed.  Soon after, Pedro’s music career took off; and I knew he’d never be able to translate the story.

I didn’t have any budget for a professional translator. I wasn’t seeking the Spanish version to sell it online or make any money from the E-book.  My desire was to give the E-book to the church in Rivas and other people in Spain as a gift.  In light of that, I was hoping to get the story translated by someone as a way to support the mission to Spain.

I let go of the how’s and when’s of a Spanish translation ever being done. I kept praying.  I kept asking for help.  God was continuing to stretch me and to build my trust in Him.

free-internet-marketing-ebooksA New Spanish Connection

Then it happened. It happened in such an unexpected way, and it will be used in ways that I never dreamed possible.

Oscar, my Spanish contact at Saddleback Resources, where the Celebrate Recovery materials (Celebremos la Recuperación) are sold and the Spanish version was translated, donated his time to the cause for the mission. Much to my surprise the Spanish version of “Walking My Mother Home” will also be used as a resource for Spanish testimony requests.  I was blown away by Oscar’s generous gift to translate this story, to know that it would be used beyond the mission, and also that it would be ready in time for the mission to Spain (where I am still on location).

This all happened the few weeks prior to my departure on the mission. I added the customary additional pieces to the story, like a Preface, so it would be a more complete book.  Those pieces are part of the Spanish version of the E-book.  (Those pieces are published on the post, English Additions to “Walking My Mother Home” Available.)

Encaminando a Mi Madre a Casa

So it is with great delight and gratitude that I am officially announcing and publishing the Spanish E-book of “Walking My Mother Home.” The Spanish title is Encaminando a Mi Madre a Casa.  It is free for online reading or you can download the PDF.  The link is on my new Spanish page, here.

Walking My Mother Home Spanish version released October 2014.

Walking My Mother Home Spanish version released October 2014.

If you know any people who speak Spanish, please direct them to my new free Spanish E-book, Encaminando a mi Madre a Casa.

Please note: The English version of “Walking My Mother Home” is only available in the compilation, Journeys to Mother Love. Paperback or e-book versions are available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Cladach Publishing.  Autographed copies are available through my site by clicking here.

Reflections on a Writing Journey

This week marked the 2-year anniversary of the release of my story, “Walking My Mother Home,” in Journeys to Mother Love.  It passed without any promotional fanfare.  Except for one or two friends, I didn’t even mention it in passing. However, as I age, these sorts of milestones seem to carry an emotional marker that internally surfaces and causes me to pause and take note of their significance.  So naturally, as a writer, I am writing about it…

Toasting to the release of Journeys to Mother Love, August 2012.

Toasting to the release of Journeys to Mother Love, August 2012.

So You Want to Write

I could tell you lots about what I learned in these past two years about publishing, yet I’ve only scratched the surface myself in my knowledge. I know the dos and don’ts and the ins and outs of blogging, social media, etc.  However, I don’t read much about it anymore. (Michael Hyatt and Chip MacGregor are two of my favorite publishing bloggers.) Instead I have turned my attention to helping and encouraging others in their writing and blogging quests.

Each published author has a very unique story to tell of how they got their first book published—all fraught with rejection and perseverance, and generally being at the right place at the right time. I’ve written about my journey into publishing on my site in the past. (Check out the “My Writing Journey” category on the right sidebar.)  Today I’m sharing with my readers how this journey has affected me and why I continue to pursue my writing and publishing dreams.

In sitting down to write this post, a quote by Louise DeSalvo came to mind, from her book Writing as a Way of Healing:  “ …if you want to write you must follow your desire to write…if you want to become a writer, eventually you’ll learn through writing—and only through writing…if you want to write and don’t because you don’t feel worthy enough or able enough, not writing will eventually begin to erase who you are.”  I wrote about this quote back when I started writing in a post called, Why I Write.

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Why I Write

Back then, I did struggle to feel worthy or able enough to write. I can vividly remember my first Christian writer’s meeting I attended with a good friend who was further into her publishing journey (and is now published). It was a bit intimidating to attend that meeting (3 years ago next month), meet authors, and share the intense call I felt to write. The other pre-published and published authors were very encouraging and helpful.  So I just dug right in, starting my blog (also 3 years ago next month), buying writing books, subscribing to writing blogs, and becoming a member of the writer’s association, NCWA.

Now writing is an integral part of my life.  I CANNOT NOT WRITE.  I consider it my ministry for others (my 12th Step—giving back), but it is also a way I embark on my own self-care.  Along the way, my writing has helped to ground me in my faith and to claim my identity as a Child of God.  My writing has given me a voice that was long ago minimized and criticized, and it has prevented the ‘erasing’ of who I am.

If you’ve followed me along my blogging journey you may note that there are times when my writing may not seem very inspirational, directly point people to Jesus, or have a purpose other than to document what is on my mind or going on in my life.  Regardless, I am a Christian writer—and sometimes it looks like I am a writer who just happens to be a Christian.

stand-and-share-your-story1

After three years, I see most of my life through the lens of a writer; and I love it.  It has given me opportunities to regularly write for other venues like my publisher’s site, JourneysToMotherLove.com, and the ministry site where I serve, CelebrateRecoveryOnThePlateau.org.  This summer I added guest blogging to the mix for ChristianMommyBlogger.com and UnomaNwankwor.com. (Unoma is the Christian fiction author I met at Pedro’s movie premiere.)  I serve as the editor/blog servant for Reclaim Ministries.  And finally, my writing also gives me a front row seat to Pedro’s pursuit of his music dreams in the film industry.

So I am continuing to write.  I haven’t given up on my dreams of publishing the full-length book, Emerging From the Cocoon (tentative title).  At the moment I’m too busy living the sequel (title unknown) and watching as God heals me or others on my path.  Most assuredly, the sequel will include my Spanish connection.

Journeys to Mother Love Turns 2

And what about my story, Chapter 8 – Walking My Mother Home, in Journeys to Mother Love?  In a nutshell, it remains the foundation of my message, my healing, and why I write.  It was my first born baby and my love child.

This second year hasn’t been about marketing and selling it so much as it has been about sharing the story in the right context.  And sometimes it was about giving it away to people who made an impact in my life over the years.  My story continues to be a vehicle for me to show others the love of our heavenly Father and how when we embrace healing and forgiveness, Jesus turns it into Hope.

Having said that, I’m happy to announce that I will be giving it away in bigger ways very soon.  But the details of that announcement will have to wait until another time.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a gallery of authors and recovery contacts who recently acquired my book while in LA. My hope is always that my story inspires them as their writing and teaching has inspired me.

Thanks to everyone who has purchased my book, written a review, sent me a personal note, subscribed to my blog, liked my Facebook page, or supported my writing through prayer and other means.  It has meant the world to me.

God has turned my healing to hope…just like He will yours.

A Tribute to Mom, Part 2 – Her Final Gift

This week marks the 3-year anniversary of my mother’s passing. Last year I shared her eulogy on my blog. It continues to be the post with the most hits (interest). I am sharing it again to commemorate the sacrifice my mother’s life became for me. May it inspire you to turn your healing into hope.

Making Me Bold

When I started writing for a public audience, I knew that many of my initial writings and journal would potentially become published.  They were the basis for much of what I wrote in my story “Walking My Mother Home”, published in “Journeys to Mother Love”.  One year after the acceptance of that story by Cladach Publishing, and to mark the anniversary of my mother’s passing,

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How This Journey Started

I’ve been asked many times how my story, “Walking My Mother Home”, came to be published in Journeys to Mother Love. I’ve written about that under the category “My Writing Journey”. In this post from journeystomotherlove.com, the blog for the book, my publisher tells the story of how the book was birthed. Thank you Catherine Lawton and Cladach Publishing for following that gentle nudge from the Lord. I’ve been blessed over and over again to be part of such an inspiring book.

Journeys To Mother Love

Hard to believe, but more than a year has passed since the book Journeys to Mother Love was published and the authors started sharing this blog as well. How did these nine women, who live in all corners of this great country, come together in this way? Well, here’s the story.

As publisher and editor of Cladach Publishing, a small Christian press, I was invited to the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park, Colorado, to give 15-minute interviews to authors. At the May, 2011 conference I spoke with three or four women in one day who had heart-wrenching personal stories that they hoped to have published as books. The authors were so passionate and full of the fresh touch of the Lord, and their stories so real and relevant for many women, that I couldn’t get away from thinking about them. By the third or fourth interview the thought…

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Journeys to Mother Love, One Year Later

When my story, “Walking My Mother Home”, in Journeys to Mother Love was released on August 24, 2012 (one year ago) by Cladach Publishing, I had everything in place to position myself and the book for success.  I had attended writing and marketing seminars, webinars, and conferences, and launched a website and Facebook page.  I was ready to dive into the social media marketing blitz.  I held an open house and book signing as well.  It all fed into my hopes and expectations for financial success.  After all, I had a trip to Spain in my future, and no personal source of income to pay for it.  I was counting on the book sales.

Opening my first box of books, August 2012.

Opening my first box of books, August 2012.

Within days of receipt of my first box of books, I was at church in my sacred space with one copy.  I silently read my story and dedicated it to the Lord.  I asked for his blessings on the book, that my story would touch people’s lives, inspire them on their faith journey, and that none of this ‘fame’ would go to my head—the same as I have done for Pedro since his music went online.

I was grateful.  I was excited.  I was ready for anything.

The Highs and Lows

I have had a lot of amazing highs over the past year, partnering with two other friends who recently published spiritual books, networking at writer’s meetings, and so on.   At times, it was a bit surreal to me.  Yes, there is a bit of notoriety that comes with the territory and interest when people find out I am a writer.  Although I never tire of telling someone the story, if it seems appropriate, or I feel led by the Holy Spirit, I also try to keep it all in perspective.

A friendly book swap between authors, Emiko Hori and me, June 2013.

A friendly book swap between authors, Emiko Hori and me, June 2013.

I’ve had some low points in my first year as a published author as well.   The lows totally caught me off guard and triggered deep feelings inside of me—like feelings of rejection I thought I had already worked through.

Most authors and artists, if they were truly honest, have struggled with that at some point in time.  It is the push and pull of promoting, wanting financial success, and letting go of who buys your book and how many sell.

Paying It Forward

Once I learned to let go of that (and am still learning), I started to have more one on one encounters with people who were interested in the story.  I can remember each and every one.

I try to write a personal note to each person who receives the book and pray for the recipient.  Except for the online sales, I have photos of many people who received the book personally through me.  I photograph many of my inscriptions as well.  They are very personal to me and often feel inspired by the Holy Spirit.

This is but one way I try to pay the blessing forward.  The other is when I give the book away as a gift.  For instance, it resides in the library of Monmouth College, my alma mater—where I graduated with a B.A. in Business Administration, not English.  It is also in the hands of many of the staff at New Life Ministries, out of gratitude for their role in my healing.  I love that I can give something back in this small way.

Paying the blessing forward with Becky Brown of New Life Ministries, February 2013.

Paying the blessing forward with Becky Brown of New Life Ministries, February 2013.

A Year of Gratitude

As I finish this inaugural year as an author, I can look behind me and see God’s hand on each book that was released from my inventory.  I can see how He was chiseling away my inner parts that don’t reflect His image.  In return He has given me the gift of my story and the courage to share it.

Not including e-book sales or those through the publisher or the other authors, I know my story in Journeys to Mother Love resides in the hearts of people throughout the United States in Washington, California, Illinois, Missouri, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin, and abroad in England, France, Mexico, and of course, Spain.  I am thankful for that and any future opportunities that the Lord makes available to share His story.

A friend reading "Journeys to Mother Love" while traveling in England, October 2012.

A friend reading “Journeys to Mother Love” while traveling in England, October 2012.

If you’ve gotten this far in the post, I hope you’ll indulge me the opportunity to thank all who have purchased my book, either directly from me or through Amazon.  I don’t have any knowledge of who the Amazon purchasers are (or receive any proceeds from that). I’d love to know if you bought it online though.  You can comment below or privately contact me through the contact form on my site.

Thank you for every purchase through me or my site, as it allows me to freely give it away to those who I sense really need this story.  Lastly, I appreciate the notes I receive, posts on Facebook, etc.  Please feel free to pass on any comments about the book or my story on my site review page, or support my writing by subscribing to my blog or liking my Facebook page.

Muchas, muchas gracias!

Reclaiming Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day forever changed for me in May 2010. That was the last time I saw my mother alive.  It was also her last Mother’s Day.  Previous to that day I think the last time we were together on Mother’s Day was my senior year in high school—a span of 35 years.

Happy Mother's DaySeparated by Mental Illness

Over those many years Mother’s Day wasn’t something I looked forward to.  It was a day of obligatory cards or calls. She was remarried (again) and happy it seemed—that is until her husband died.  After that she drifted in and out of mental hospitals and eventually became a ward of the state.

I had tremendous guilt about my relationship with her.  I wanted a mother, but didn’t want her to be my mother.  Due to her mental illness and emotional instability she wasn’t able to teach me how to be a mother myself.  I had to figure it out on my own.  I didn’t hold that against her.  After all, I was pretty self-sufficient in those days.  I just accepted that she was mentally ill.  I chose to distance myself from her physically and emotionally and told myself it was for my own sanity.

Coming Together Again

My final Mother's Day gift to my mom

My final Mother’s Day gift to my mom

When mom had her stroke in 2009, God nudged me back by her side for two visits. The Lord was working on my heart on those trips.  As she lingered on hospice, living day to day with the aid of a feeding tube, God was making it clear His work wasn’t done between us yet.  That led me to that last visit on Mother’s Day 2010.

Between that trip—the last time I saw her alive—and the day she passed away nine months later, Pedro and Rosa, my Spanish family, entered our lives.  And the rest, as they say, is history—forever documented in Journeys to Mother Love.

Mother’s Day Reclaimed

Those first few Mother’s Days after she passed away were hard for me.  I deliberately spent them entrenched with my immediate family, to distract me from those painful reminders.  Now, I celebrate Mother’s Day with Rosa, as my kindred spirit of mother love—although it is one week earlier in Spain.

Mother's Day Gift of LifeAs strange as it may sound, I feel like every day is Mother’s Day to me now.  My mom’s death in February 2011 brought about a rebirth in me that forever changed the way I view my life and Mother’s Day.

It was as if her death brought me life, not because of any burden I was carrying of guilt or shame, as some might do.  It was because I got in touch with pieces of myself that were previously buried deep within me—parts of my identity that weren’t ok to express.   God revealed to me in her passing that I am beautifully and wonderfully made in ways like my mother that I couldn’t bear to embrace before.

So every day really is Mother’s Day to me, because of my gratitude to my mom, and to the Lord for giving me back my life.  I have reclaimed the real purpose of Mother’s Day in my life.  It is the incredible gift that mother’s give to everyone—the gift of life.

Regardless of the status of your relationship with your mother, my wish for you is a Mother’s Day that is filled with pleasant memories and gratitude to the one who gave you life.

Journeys To Mother LoveMore “Journeys to Mother Love” & Free Ebook

If this is the first time you’ve stumbled upon my blog, I encourage you to also check out journeystomotherlove.com, the blog hosted by Cladach Publishing, the publisher of Journeys to Mother Love.  This blog, dedicated to encouraging each other in mother/child relationship healing, is authored by the nine contributors to “Journeys to Mother Love”, and invites others to share their stories.

Now through Monday, May 13, 2013, get your free Kindle ebook of Journeys to Mother Love at Amazon.com.  Since this is free, after you’ve read the book, would you do me and my publisher a huge favor by writing a review? And don’t forget to subscribe, follow, like, pin, press this or share in your favorite social media!

May these stories inspire you on your journey to mother love.  Happy Mother’s Day!

A Tribute to Mom, Part 2 – Her Final Gift

When I started writing for a public audience, I knew that many of my initial writings and journal would potentially become published.  They were the basis for much of what I wrote in my story “Walking My Mother Home”, published in Journeys to Mother Love.  One year after the acceptance of that story by Cladach Publishing, and to mark the anniversary of my mother’s passing, I have decided to publically share her eulogy (unedited) as I gave it two years ago today.

It is longer than my normal blog posts, but I hope you’ll indulge me this sentimental opportunity to more publically honor my mother for the sacrifice her life became so that I would be free from the legacy of mental illness.  It was her final gift to me and for that I am incredibly grateful.

Giving the eulogy Mom's Memorial Service, February 2011.

Giving the eulogy Mom’s Memorial Service, February 2011.

And These Were the Words I Spoke

When I think about how my mom impacted my life and the legacy she left me, a variety of things come to mind, some more significant than others.  They have all made me the woman I am today.

I’ll start by sharing a little bit about my favorite times with my mother.  I have many pleasant childhood memories of us living in the Pacific Northwest.  I fell in love with that part of the country as a child and returned to it a few years after I got married.  It has been my home ever since.

When I was young, my family had a trailer and we spent most of our summer weekends at a beautiful state park in Western Washington where I learned how to swim.  After we moved to Portland, we would take the trailer to the Oregon coast.  This is where I hope to scatter her remains.

I have many pleasant memories of her taking us to the beach or to the pool while my father and brother John were out on the boat.  My favorite meal on those trips was always the fresh fried Rainbow Trout.  As an adult I have visited these beautiful places with my children.  Unfortunately, we don’t fish or camp, but I want them to sense the beauty of these majestic places.  Thank you, Mom, for those joyful memories.

My mom gave me my sense of style—always looking for a trinket to accessorize an outfit or to decorate my home.  When her wardrobe turned to hospital type gowns I bought her some scarves to accessorize them so she could have something feminine and special to show off her beauty and individual style.  And today one of those scarves is adorning the flowers.

She also gave me my love of photographs.  I have about 95 pictures lining both sides of the hallway in my home—each school picture of my kids and various family or vacation photos.  I love to take pictures and don’t go very far without my camera.  In fact, my favorite gift to give or receive is a photograph.  I think this ties in well with the sensitive side that I got from my mother.  I used to think I was too sensitive, but now I know that God uniquely wired me this way and it is a gift—something I share with my mother.

Final Remains

Keepsake with final remains.

The most significant impact my mom had on me was instilling in me the love of Jesus.  She was a practicing Catholic and took us to mass and catechism classes every Sunday.  As a young child, I don’t think I enjoyed attending the mass very much.  It seemed long and boring.  I didn’t understand it.  I do have fond memories though of the church changing to a ‘folk mass’ format during those years and really liking that.

When my parent’s marriage started to deteriorate, I also fondly remember the priest, Father Bertram, from the parish taking special interest in us kids.  He would take us out roller skating or to the carnival.  He made us feel very loved.

I left the Catholic Church as a teen and had many years when my faith was pretty non-existent.  Throughout those years, my mom would send me letters with her prayers for me and my family.  All of those prayers were answered when I found my way back to the Lord about 12 years ago.

Today I am forever grateful to her for planting those seeds of faith in me and not giving up on me.  I have a passion for Christ and His ability to transform us if we surrender to His will.  Thank you, Mom.  It is because of your faithfulness that I will join you someday in eternity.

Lastly, I want to share with you my gratitude to God for how he so perfectly ordained the last 18 months of my mother’s life.  My mother had a major stroke that left her partially paralyzed and barely able to speak.  It was a miracle that she survived that stroke.  I believe it was the intercessory prayer of my Aunt Mary, my mother’s sister, that kept her alive so I could see her again.

Since that time we made some very difficult decisions including the decision to put her on a feeding tube.  There were many times that I questioned that decision.  Thankfully though that decision was what opened up the opportunity for me and my brothers, John and Glen, to all see my mom.  We had that family reunion in December 2009.  I have been blessed with the opportunity to see my mom three times since that stroke.  Each time I was able to serve her and love on her in a way that I had never been able to in the past.  These trips were incredibly difficult for me, yet extremely rewarding and joyful at the same time.

Then six months ago, my family opened our home to an exchange student from Madrid.  Our families became fast friends and like family too.  Shortly after Pedro returned to Spain, he found out that his grandmother was dying.  His mother and I have been supporting each other and praying for each other and our mothers ever since.  Even though we don’t speak the same language we do serve the same God.

Pedro’s grandmother passed away 3 weeks ago.  Since Pedro and his family are Catholic, I scheduled a mass to be said for his grandmother.  I also had a mass said for my mother about two weeks ago.  Then a few days ago at the nursing home, someone shared with me, someone who knew her well, how my mother’s countenance changed to a more peaceful state about two weeks ago.  I firmly believe that God answered those prayers.

Cemetary burial of cremated remains. Mom’s final gift to me – freedom of the legacy of mental illness.

At that time, I was also praying that God would make it very clear to me when to return to see my mother—regardless of the outcome.  The time I spent ministering to Pedro’s family throughout their mourning process was really God’s perfect preparation for my mother’s passing.  It wasn’t just what I needed; it was what my mother needed to go in peace.

I’ve been spending time in Catholic mass the last few weeks, lighting candles and shedding tears.  While my heart’s desire may have been to be with her one last time while she was alive, and specifically when she passed, it wasn’t meant to be.  I could chose to be angry at God for that, but instead, I am grateful for the wonderful visits I had with my mom and grateful that I was able to just hop on the plane regardless and honor my mom this one last time.  I praise God for this opportunity, for the strength that He has given me to get through these days and that my mother is now in heaven with Carmen, Pedro’s grandmother.  They are both at peace.

Living Out My New Identity

Giving that eulogy in front of a room full of people I barely knew or didn’t know at all was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.  But like answering the call and writing my manuscript, I knew I had to do it.  It was an act of obedience.

It was a painful process to return home and integrate these new identity revelations into my life.  I accepted the uniqueness that God gifted me with and started seeing the world through the new lens of healing and with hope for the future.  Gone was the fear that I was mentally ill.  Today I am still grounded in my identity and uniqueness and don’t shy away from expressing my sensitivity or my faith.  This blog is one of the fundamental ways in which I maintain that voice.

While I’ve gotten used to being vulnerable in recovery circles and on my blog, it feels pretty risky to share my mother’s eulogy online.  So, if you got this far in the post, I hope you’ll take a moment to ‘like’ this post or share any comments below.  And if your relationship with your mother needs repairing, just remember that it is never too late for reconciliation and forgiveness.  Just pray and partner with God.  He will give you the strength and courage to do it.  (Philippians 4:13).

A Tribute to Mom, Part 1 – Answering the Call to Write

Today marks the second anniversary of my mother’s passing and with it come the bittersweet memories of the events that led to her death.  My healing took a huge step forward the days immediately following her passing.  The identity revelations and significance of that healing were painstakingly shared in my mother’s eulogy.  (See Part 2 of this series to read more.)

While flying home later that day, the Lord nudged me to start writing about all of these miraculous things.  And so my manuscript, “Walking My Mother Home”, published in Journeys to Mother Love, was born that day in my journal on the flight home from St. Louis.

My Mom, circa 1955

My Mom, circa 1955

Fast forward one year later to January 2012.  When my grief was still fresh, I wrote and submitted my manuscript to Cladach Publishing.  As a new writer, I had many doubts about my ability to write that piece. Yet I knew when I submitted the manuscript that this story had to be told.  I released the outcome of that submission, as I had the timing of my mother’s death the year before.

Confirmation of the Call 

The day I received notice from Cladach Publishing that my story was accepted was like a kiss from heaven above and confirmation of the call to write.  The timing was perfect, January 30th—sandwiched between the anniversaries of both Rosa’s and my mother’s passings.  It was a gift from God to be able to honor our mothers in this poignant way with the publishing of our story.

I never dreamed any of these things were possible.  In fact, as I prepared for my mother’s passing, one of the main things I somewhat selfishly desired was for my life to get back to normal.  Earlier this week while in a period of self-care and reflection, it all seemed to hit me, and I let the tears flow.  The death of my mother brought nothing close to normalcy in my life.  I was radically transformed from the inside out.  My family and I have both had to adapt to these changes.  Quite honestly, as glamorous as it may seem at times, it hasn’t been easy.

A New Normal

I have accepted that the writing, the speaking, the sharing of my story and my Spanish connection are part of my new normal.  It was a gift that I was open to receiving when I released my mother’s life to the Lord two years ago.  So I blindly answered the call to write in honor of my mother and in obedience to Him.

My Mom, a silver haired beauty.

My Mom, a silver haired beauty.

I never take for granted that the Lord put all these steps in motion on my journey.  He placed the desire to write on my heart many, many years ago.  When the timing was right, He gave me a story that would touch the lives of others in similar situations.  I have received many comments and feedback on how this story (and the book in general) has touched people’s lives.  When the times are rough, that is what I remember most.  It reminds me that God is using my pain for His glory.

Whether our stories are publically shared in print or privately amongst friends, our stories of faith are a gift from God.  Be ready to share your story of healing, never forget, and watch God redeem it.  You never know how He will use it or when.

  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

    I am thankful to God for Making Me Bold in the process. Now I use my writing and speaking voice to help others on their journey to turn healing into hope.

  • Returning to Spain

    Arrival on Spanish SoilApril 29th, 2018
    Vamos a España!
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