While We Slept – Our Memoir

While We Slept: Finding Hope and Healing After Homicide - A Memoir -

In 2005, my husband and I woke up to the murder of his mother, Mary Ann Larsen-Pusey, by his father, Clinton Pusey, while we slept down the hall. 

It was a long hall. Long enough that Mary Ann sometimes called us from her mother-in-law suite rather than walk down it. We shared this home for a few months while we were all in transition: Us, into newly married life and them into newly retired life. They were packing their belongings and moving to Clinton’s native Colombia. 

That morning was a shock to us all, Clinton included. He has no memory of that morning, except for a few random, seemingly unimportant tasks he accomplished. 

As a writer at heart, I process my world through writing about it. Years of private entries fill my journals. My husband sent emails and letters to inquiring friends and family. And after some time, with some feedback from new friends, “old” friends, and a couple of family members, we realized we had a story that wasn’t meant to be selfishly hidden away. 

You see, we desperately love Clinton. And we have had to work through the grief, anger, loss, confusion, disappointment, fear, shock, resentment, and pain of losing two parents at once: one to death and the other to the criminal system. A journalist once asked us how we were doing so well. He had seen many tragedies and families break up, fall into addiction, and even commit suicide in hard such as ours. This made us realize that perhaps our grief journey was different. Perhaps, even amidst great suffering, there was hope. 

And what if we could share this hope with others? And what if people could also find forgiveness, reconciliation, reunification, and joy after such heartache as we three have? Dare we hoard this gift to ourselves? 

Well, I tried. It’s a hard story to tell. It’s a scary story to tell. Not because of the details but because of the love we have for Clinton. A deep desire to see him free from harm. But as we researched, we found that a simple Google Search for either of their names led people to graphic news articles telling a superficial, surface-level version of our life story. A wife-killer ruled insane. 

But Jeremy’s dad is far, far more than this. 

What if we could add our voice to the digital conversation about who he is? It would mean detailing the truth of that morning, yes, but it would also mean detailing life leading up to that point and the marvel of life beyond. It would mean restoring dignity to a man worthy of the love and affection of his family simply because he is

Thus, we release our story of redemption into the world. Not that we can redeem, but that by God’s grace, He has wrapped all this pain into a story of glory, mercy, and compassion. Redemption. Beauty from ashes. Pain that has sharpened us into deeper, more connected people. 

So we invite you into our story. The painful, the hard, the grief… and the joy, the restoration, the recovery, and the sweet mercies that only God can unveil. ,

"Ok. So I finished the book. All I can say is WOW. Wow, not just because I had no idea any of this stuff happened in your life, but also wow because your writing is wonderful. You really made me love Jeremy's mother. All the scenes you show of her, her interaction with others, the bottle collecting, and all the quotes people provided. They all work together perfectly. Then the details about Jeremy's father. Well, since my husband's father suffered from dementia and I know how confused they can get, I could already relate to his issues. And by the end of the book, I forgave him too. I also like that I learned so much about you and Jeremy along the way. The more I get to know, the more I adore you. Kind hearts and lots of strength. Unfortunately the Kindle version doesn't show the newspaper articles so I missed out on those pages [they are in the print version]. But it didn't matter. This book is very well written and although I had to cry during Chapter 19, "My House, My Crime Scene," I didn't feel that the book was overly depressing. You accomplished what I think you set out to do: To document a very sad story but to also offer uplifting moments and hope. So, although it sounds weird to say this, since the story comes from your tragic experience, congrats on this book. For those who love true crime books, it will remind them behind a sensationalized story, there are real people who are hurting and trying to find their way through grief. For those who like inspirational or spiritual writing, it certainly covers that as well. And, maybe most of all, for all those who watched the news, those in your former neighborhood, anyone who knew your family, it sets the record straight and tells the truth. It was very brave of you to write this book and I admire your ability to open yourself up to the world (even if opening old wounds) in order to help others who might go through a similar experience."
"A Little Redemption in the Here and Now: We don't often hear about homicides, unless they're exceptional by virtue of the number of victims or perhaps the brutality of the crime. Even less frequently do we hear of how the survivors continue with their lives and search for some sort of resolution. Marcy Pusey gives us a glimpse into the life after homicide, with all the attendant pain, memory attacks, and doubts. It's hard to read about a man unraveling just enough to commit an atrocity and its effects on his immediate family, but to see how by staying open to God's healing and redemption rather than chasing the mirage of security, the tantalizing but unattainable certitude of "never again," Marcy and her family were able to find closure not in punishment and revenge, but love and redemption. It is inspirational to see a family transformed and a man regained, if not to complete health and restoration, at least to dignity and love. If you've experienced a homicide in your family, some of the descriptions of what happened, while not gratuitously graphic, might still make you uncomfortable. Even for those like me who have never had to deal with such an event, imagining the event is unsettling. But there's power and hope in that: if Marcy and her family could rise from the ashes, with God's help, the so can others. And perhaps, so can we, as a society: learning to forgive and re-embrace even the worst of sinners and thus re-framing the debate about homicides that seems to have run aground on the shoals of quick fixes. Despite the heavy topic, "While We Slept" is indeed a book of hope and redemption worth reading for anyone who has ever stopped and wondered why anyone would kill and what could be done about it."
"Wow! A Story of Forgiveness: While We Slept is proof that God is good and forgiveness is real. Marcy writes her family’s story in such a way that draws you in, with delicate strength and dignity. I had a hard time putting it down. Even though the topic is difficult to digest, it is one of the best books I have ever had the opportunity to read. She introduces her family, including her father-in-law, and his relationship with his son, Jeremy, and, all of his extended family with so much love, kindness and unity, even with the tragic events that led up to writing this book. There is so much family division in this world, and the sweet way that Marcy shares the Pusey’s story is evident that forgiveness and restoration is possible, even in the worst situation. I would recommend While We Slept because, while it is a documentary on the events in the Pusey family’s life, it is also written in the way of great storytellers and keep the reader involved and wanting more."
"This Should Be A Movie! I was skeptical when someone told me about this book. I love true crime and memoirs...but I was doubtful the forgiveness part of this story would seem believable. I was wrong! Great story and once you read it, you will totally see how real and honest they are about how they could forgive. It all makes sense. I think a studio should make the whole thing into a movie!"

Free Online Adoption Summit

I’m so excited to share this with you!

Adoption .com invited me to be one of their industry influencers in an upcoming Adoption Summit and it’s free. That’s right. You can join us from September 23 – 27th at over 50 presentations are offered on nearly every imaginable adoption topic. 

I’ve really enjoyed working with the folks over at adoption .com. We share a heartbeat for our community and I love what they’re doing. What an honor to partner with them in this endeavor. 

So, go get your free ticket HERE. This link will let them know I sent you and I’m excited to see how many of my fost-adopt friends show up! Also, there is an all-access option (paid) if you’d like access to the workshops for an entire year after the event, along with additional resources, a shirt, a necklace, and other goodies. It’s only $99, a good deal! Click “ticket options” on the top right of the Adoption Summit page to see the difference between the free and paid ticket.  

I hope to see you there!

God’s Peace in Place of Fear – Facing 2019 with Shalom

The thing I’ve learned about choosing a word to fly as a banner over my each year, is that this word then flings loose and stirs up opportunity. 

Opportunity to dig deep. Opportunity to quit and return to comfortable. Opportunity to grow.

It should not have come as a surprise to me that the very last few days of 2018 were some of my most painful this whole year. I felt the familiar claws of terror creeping into my soul. 

I’m not liked. I’m misunderstood. People I thought loved me, don’t. People I trusted aren’t trustworthy. And God might have me say “yes” anyway. 

“Yes” to showing up in the vulnerable, painful places. “Yes” to more forgiveness, reconciliation, redemption. “Yes” to humility. “Yes” to being misunderstood for the sake of God’s glory story, not mine. 

All “yes”es that make me want to crawl into my bed, deep into my covers, headphones filling my mind with truth, blocking out that anyone else exists. This is how I like to handle fear. 

But as each of the days of 2018 passed me by, “Fearless” was always flying above me. 

It flew strong when I said “yes” to coaching two days a week with Self Publishing School, knowing my capacity (emotional, physical, time) is limited. 

It flew broad when I said “yes” to pushing through new-old pain in our marriage and getting support–again.

It flew high when I said “yes” to embracing hard things about myself, about people I love, and pursuing healthy relationships through the heartache. 

It flew proud when I said “yes” to taking our Home Assignment year this year in the U.S., leaving behind a life and home and friends we love, for the other home we love. 

The flying flag stood as a reminder of my goal. In the words of Nelson Mandela: “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

I wanted a year of choosing hope over fear. And that was terrifying. Fearlessness didn’t remove the fear, only gave me a foothold for my next step, right smack into the face of it.

The opportunities didn’t let up through the very last countdown of 2018. And to be honest… they followed me right into 2019. 

Even now, I feel the familiar tingle of fear as I hear the whispers of a new “yes.” 

So why in the world are these yeses worth it? Why not crawl into my bed? 

I have experienced some of the most incredible, life-altering consequences to those yeses. 

love love love the team I serve with at Self Publishing School. I have grown as a coach, learned that I love it, and learned that I’m good at it. I love the mission, the integrity, the purpose, and the people. All of them. It’s been a full year and my heart is so full because I (and they) said “yes.”

Jeremy and I have a new depth in our relationship. We’ve been through some hard stuff. HARD. Losing his mom (and in some ways his dad) days before our 1st anniversary, raising children who’ve endured trauma, health crises, moving across the world, unprofessional work relationships, extended family dynamics, living in a world with people in progress, being people in progress. This last summer we had the chance to attend Breathe for missionary families who’ve experienced trauma and it was SO good. We had daily counseling which about killed us before saving us. But saying “yes” to digging deep and opening our eyes and saying “yes” again… has led us to a rich place today. I don’t regret the pain of that yes.

I also have a new self-awareness this year. I began this year feeling like the small person in every room I entered. Saying “yes” to His small voice has reminded me that my value and worth isn’t derived from difficult relationships (or even good ones), but only from God. “Yes” to persevering through hard relationships has deepened my security in Him. Who would have known? A deeper dependency on Him reveals who you really are… His loved child.

And saying “yes” to vulnerability has brought me rich and precious friendships. It’s terrifying to be honest about one’s shortcoming and fears and struggles. But as Brené Brown speaks about regularly, vulnerability is courageous and freeing. In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené says,

“My willingness to let someone I care about see me as imperfect led to a strengthening of our relationship that continues to today. That’s why I can call courage, compassion, and connection the gifts of imperfection. When we’re willing to be imperfect and real, these gifts just keep giving.”

So many other yeses, so many other gifts. The terror is worth facing when you know an incredible gift, larger than you could ask or imagine, waits on the other side. 

The gift of being fearless. 

I don’t plan to leave “fearless” on the doorstep of 2019. Just like every other word before it: New Song, Hope, Comfort, Rest, Abide, Light, it will continue to feed into and inform every day. It joins a list of powerful words and years, life lessons and growth, that will guide me. Believe me, 2019 isn’t looking like it needs less fearlessness. 

This year, I’m raising a new banner to join the others. 

And to be honest, I didn’t like the word. I resisted it. It feels plastic. Commercialized. Everyone wants it, but so few have it. Miss America wants it. Nations want it. Christmas sings it. Hippies flash it. 

Something in me said, “No thank you. It’s been overdone.” And then, as God does, the word came up at every turn. My own devotional, prayers prayed over me, the Sunday sermon, verses, random YouTube videos. 

And as I looked at the amount of hard we’ve had and have (even with so much good to be thankful for!) I realized: It is what I want. 

How often I remind myself that God gives a peace unlike the world gives. 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

-John 14:27

Or that His peace is the kind that is above and beyond our circumstances or rational thinking (Phil 4:7). That He will “keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in [Him]” (Isaiah 26:3).

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

-Isaiah 55:12

Tonight we attended a prayer night for friends dealing with hardship. One of the praying warriors said that the opposite of fear is peace. 

Ironic? I think not. God knew I’d need a year of pursuing fearlessness in order to grasp the peace that replaces fear. 

Now, I don’t mean “peace” as in “the absence of conflict.” While that’s lovely and all, and what most people mean when they say it, the true meaning is much bigger. And actually, you can have peace in the midst of conflict. So there’s that. 

Susan Perlman, on the Jews for Jesus website, says 

Peace, lasting peace, transcends the situations and flaws of our own personal lives because it doesn’t come from us. It comes from God. We are not in a position to attain peace ourselves. Yet, God promises all the qualities of shalom – wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, safety – to those who will look to Him.

Therefore, this year I seek to abide in the peace, the shalom, that only comes from God. The peace which brings with it a sense of safety, even in places of worldy fear. A peace that will usher out my insecurities, fears, doubts, and insecurities, and replace them with…, well, peace. 

As we and I head into 2019, I truly wish you God’s peace in everything. Let’s pursue it together.