The Final Stretch AND a Preview of What’s Next

Good morning!!!!

I’m not typically an early morning blogger or early morning anything for that matter BUT I’m caffeinated and wanted to drop a few lines before I head in to play CPA today.

I’m in the final stretch of tax season! Can I get a wooohoo? 😀 And I’ve FINALLY got a full night’s sleep since the magical evening that was this past Thursday. <3 It was truly one of the best nights of my life. 🙂

Speaking of Thursday, for those of you who couldn’t be there to experience me in my rambling, sparkly, talking with my hands glory I wanted to share with you an excerpt from my book about grieving. For those of you wondering where the sequel to Soul Survivor is and what on earth I’ve been doing since 2013 this new book, How I Learned to Shine Again: My Story of Loss, Grief, Healing, and Restoration will provide all the deets. This book chronicles my life since losing my husband unexpectedly back in October 2013. It is something I had to write before I could return to the world of fiction. Also, don’t expect this to be my last nonfiction book either. Keep an eye out for what’s to come with my nonfiction works as we roll through 2016.

Anyhow, this gal has one last full week of tax season then it will be back to the keyboard to wrap up a few writing projects, thoroughly clean my disgusting house (seriously the golden retriever tumbleweeds are getting out of control), and get back to a balanced life. I’m SUPER excited!!!!! In the meantime, I’d like to share with you one of the more uplifting pieces of my journey since losing Chris. A piece entitled, I’m Praying for You.

           I’m praying for you. I never fully grasped the gravity of those words, nor the action that came behind them before losing Chris. Those words are much more powerful (at least for me) than any “I’m sorry for your loss” could ever have been.

People express condolences in their own ways—cards, hugs, casseroles, cakes, I’m sorry’s, and cliché phrases like “time heals all wounds” and “God needed another angel” or they’d try to speak for Chris saying, “He wouldn’t want you to be alone” or “Don’t worry, you’ll get married again.” Well-meaning cliché phrases invoked the most anger and hurt in me. I was still grappling with my loss and they were encouraging me to actively seek out love again? Really?! I know their hearts were in the right places, but those words felt more disrespectful to my husband and our relationship than they were healing. I know the helplessness that comes with not knowing what to do or say. I’ve even experienced it watching those I love suffer their own losses, but sometimes a simple “I’m here for you” or an “I love you” is more than enough, especially when backed with action.

But the power of “I’m praying for you,” when I remember all those people who’ve said that to me, brings me to tears. A few circumstances weigh heavier on my heart than others, because their selfless, sincere acts backed up their sentiments.

            There were and still are people across this country praying for me. People from the book world who knew me only from my readership or social media interactions banded together to send cards, plants (that as of this publication are still living), kind words, and prayers. For a girl growing up in West Virginia, the fact that people across the country who barely knew me were taking time to pray for me blew my mind and still does. These people had never even met me in person and yet they were quick to show their love and support any way they could.

One of the most deeply appreciated acts of condolence came from a very unexpected source. There was a client at the accounting firm I worked for who knew my story. I never worked directly with him but he told me about him and his wife making a trip to Portugal to visit Fatima and he wanted to read my book SoulSurvivor on the flight over. I’d published that book a few months before Chris’s death. I graciously gave him a copy, although I wondered if this avid, no-nonsense businessman would really find entertainment in my paranormal romance novel. He called after his return from Portugal to tell me he loved the book (goes to show, you should never judge a reader by their “cover”) and something else. He explained the significance of Fatima to his Catholic faith and then told me while there they lit a candle for me and said a prayer. It took everything I had not to burst into tears on the phone that day. Why would someone who barely knew me take the time to do something so meaningful?

He later emailed me pictures of him with my book in Portugal as well as his wife lighting the candle for me. I’m not Catholic, but the more I write this book I’m starting to wonder if I should be. It seems to be a re-emerging theme. Regardless, it touched my heart deeply. He ended the call saying, “When something good and miraculous happens, remember our prayer for you, for you to move forward and have a life again.” As I type this sitting in a Starbucks, eyes filled with tears, and an unburdened, happy soul, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. It’s remarkable how those actions continue to touch my heart. There’s something deeply healing in those acts—they reminded me that people were watching me, people were cheering me on, and when I wanted to stay in bed when I wanted to give up—all those condolences and acts of faith pushed me onward.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the good in this world through all the darkness and evil. But as I’ve felt tragedy and devastation, I’ve felt comfort, love, and goodness. Light trumps the dark every time. Love is greater. And I know this because I’ve lived it. The Bible says what the devil intends for harm God will use for our good. I stand in awe at how He continues to bring me up from the depths of my despair. My life has become a testament of this—of the power of God’s healing and his love and the power that resides in His peace. A true testament to the power of I’m praying for you. One of the greatest gifts I received during my hardest of days.

Have a fabulous weekend! #LoveHugsAndSunshine

If You’re Hurting… #DontGiveUp #YoureNeverAlone

I’ve felt the shock waves of loss recently with so many people around me being touched by its sharp blade. It breaks my heart. While I don’t know what their unique loss is like (and every loss is unique) I’ve known loss and the darkness it inflicts upon us.

If you’re hurting today this message is for you. Remember in your dark times, you are never alone. Never ever forget that. You’ll feel lonely. You’ll feel abandoned. You’ll feel all sorts of awful things but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE believe me when I say you’re never alone. People will do their best to comfort you with words and sentiments and while well placed they will fall short of healing your pain. But that’s okay.  We shouldn’t expect them to. Besides if I had a magic wand that would heal your hurts I’d be waving it away but we all know it doesn’t work like that.

Take a breath and know that while this hurts now and it doesn’t make sense it won’t hurt like this forever. Our minds like to cling to the negative on a good day so on a bad one it can easily be overrun with acidic, pessimistic thoughts. Fight to ignore them.

It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to get angry. It’s okay to want to hide from the world. Give yourself time to feel and time to heal. But it’s NOT okay to be self-destructive. Take care of yourself. When you feel like you’re drowning reach for help—a friend, a family member, a counselor, a pastor, someone. Don’t be ashamed that you feel defeated—it’s normal. But never give up. It’s going to hurt whether you give up or whether you turn your heart towards hope. Choose the latter.  Don’t give up on healing. Don’t give up on hope.

In these moments, you might wonder where God is or why He let this happen to you or why it had to happen at all. I’m not saying you’ll get an answer and let’s be honest if you did, would it really change the pain? Would it vindicate the part of your life that’s now gone? Most likely, no it won’t.

In these hard times, don’t run from God. Pray. Pray hard. If you’ve never experienced the power of prayer this will sound completely nuts to you but to those of you who have, you fully understand my words. He hasn’t turned his back on you so don’t turn from Him. If you ask for help, He’ll show up. He did in my life and continues to do so. He will do the same for you. Again this isn’t a magical wand type of thing but when you start to feel it you’ll understand the miracle that it truly is. Inexplicable waves of comfort, peace, and strength will fill your heart. Just ask for help.

Don’t give up. I promise the sun will shine again but in the meantime know this is not the end. Love lives on—always and forever. It may change forms but real love never dies. And I’m praying for you—just like so many amazing people have prayed for me.

And I love you. Sending love, hugs, and sunshine. Always and Forever.

#LoveHugsAndSunshine #AlwaysAndForever #Loss #Grief #NeverGiveUp #LoveNeverDies