A New Song for 2017

Abide. Rest. Comfort. Hope.

Another year gone, another word- but so much more -joins the list.

It was truly a year of practiced hope.

We’ve been raising a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder for about nine years… from foster care to adoption. It has been incredibly difficult and at times, I’ve felt helpless and hopeless.

My family has experienced trauma on a few fronts, all of which affected my marriage, bringing my husband and I to a year of counseling (which greatly helped). We also see individual counselors / mentors to help us navigate the emotional waters of raising a child of trauma (who re-injures in a home with other children.)

We live cross-culturally in a place we love, but in a place, all the same, that differs in language, culture, expectation, money, and norms. We weave in and out of Alemanish Germany, Alsatian France, and Northern Switzerland and a Christian conglomerate of individuals working together from every different denomination, from different countries, and from different cultures with a common purpose and many different ways of getting there. It would be enough to live within one of these cultures, but we daily navigate them all.

And to do that, we have to raise our own salary… which adds another layer of stress (I mean, opportunity to trust and hope and believe).

This is just a sampling.

Needless to say, the words abide, rest, comfort, and hope have been crucial to my last four years. Their deep meaning has carried me and comforted me and challenged me in ways I could never have expected. And as I said last year, each word continues on long beyond December 31st. They weave together into a more beautiful hug.

This year, for awhile, I thought my new word was going to be expectation. It’s close to hope… and I’m fine with a thread of hope continuing to weave through my life story. However, as I was recently on a walk and pouring out my heart to God, I heard myself asking Him for a new song.

Okay, that’s not a word. But I’m going with it.

My last few years have been heartache nestled among great beauty. I have so much to be thankful for, in spite of those things which have challenged me to the core. And, looking back at the me who arrived in Germany nearly five years ago… I’m a different person. Hopefully a better person. Certainly a person, though, that has been to the ends of herself multiple times. Who is clear that she is weak and only He is strong. Who lives in the constant reality of her inability to affect change in the circumstances around her and the incredible ability of God to be the Change-Maker. A person with deeper compassion for godly, loving parents who are struggling, suffering marriages, individuals with depression, the lonely, the lost, and the broken.

And I’m ready for a new song.

There are sweet glimpses of healing and growth and joy in my family’s future. This is where I thought expectation would be my anthem… but instead, I know the Singer and Dancer of my soul delights in this coming season with a new song.

A song of deliverance.

A song of joy.

A song of peace in storms.

A song of love.

For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

 

It’s My Book’s Birthday!

img_0189 It’s my book’s birthday!

A year ago, “Reclaiming Hope: Overcoming the Challenges of Parenting Foster and Adopted Children” hit the shelves. What dream-come-true that moment was!

I had spent much of a lifetime preparing for that book. Then I lived much of it for about ten years. I never planned on penning that story… but when the time came, this is the book that came out.

The story of the many ways we haven’t figured out how to do this adopting/fostering thing in a mess-free, pain-free, beautiful way… but we keep pursuing hope anyway.

I’ll be honest… while I knew that I wanted each chapter to end with hope, there were many chapters where I just plain didn’t have any. I had to dig deep. Go back to our original “why” for entering this parent-child relationship that has both exhilarated us and, at times, devastated us.

rhHundreds of people have purchased the book, either in print or kindle format. Okay, that’s not a NY Times Best Selling number, but it’s that many hundreds of people who’ve found and recovered and been encouraged by the message of hope in the book.

I’ve also been asked to speak on a number of occasions related to the topics of the book. In fact, on November 19 at 11:30 PST, I will be part of a radio talk show. You can listen in on the Independent Talk 1100 KFNX Radio station, the God and Country Show. I’ll be sharing the air with my editor and his wife (the talk show hosts), an author who recently published a fictional book on these themes, and a woman who works with Foster children in Arizona. What a gift!

God has opened many wonderful doors of opportunity, and in return, has filled my own cup with such encouragement.

Finally, since the publishing of “Reclaiming Hope,” I’ve begun five other projects. My debut picture book is due the end of THIS month (November seems to be a GREAT publishing month for me). A second picture book will be on the tail of the first. In the next week or two, my first journal, “Castle Quest Adventure Journal” will be available. Meanwhile, I’m finishing another non fiction novel while revising a young adult novel. Whew!!! The Lord has filled my heart and time with excitement for these projects.

I suppose I should mention that I’ve also been hired by a handful of people to edit and help publish their own books. Yes, more on that to come! I’m just finishing up a fantastic book by a local missionary, and about to begin editing a work that I know will be a loud voice in an industry that needs some strong voices.

If you want in on helping me choose titles, book covers, and other insider tips for my upcoming books, make sure to sign up for my newsletter and follow me on Facebook.

Happy Birthday, Reclaiming Hope!!!

From Betrayal to Healing- Keep Walking

I have the great pleasure of featuring a guest blogger today! Lynn Cherry and I are both featured authors with published chapters in “Becoming Women of Worth: Stories of Hope and Faith,” so I already know that I love her writing. Her story is powerful. And I’m so grateful that, rather than living in defeat (which, if you read her story, was a completely valid option), she has chosen to be a voice of hope, redemption, and truth. And you know I love hope! Without further ado, welcome Lynn Marie Cherry!

cherry-aI laid in bed staring at the ceiling fan, watching the spinning of the blades punctuated by the rhythm of the shadow they cast above them. Our bedroom felt enormous, vacuous space engulfing a small and shrinking me.

The fan was spinning. My head was spinning. The entire room began to rotate around me. It was hard to breathe. 

My husband and I had been to our first couples’ therapy session that day.  At the conclusion, we were each handed a survey. There was a graduate student observing our class and collecting data for his thesis. My marriage, my life had become a statistic. The form was optional, but encouraged for the sake of science.  It seemed a noble thing to do, like donating your organs.

I only remember one question on the form. In the bottom right-hand corner were the instructions, “Circle One” with two words to choose from  “Betrayed or Betrayer.”

I knew I wasn’t the Betrayer but that other word startled me. It had never occurred to me in all the years I spent coping with my husband’s use of pornography. He didn’t have an affair. He hadn’t cheated on me. He just had this porn problem, this ongoing issue that whittled away at me until I felt like a completely insignificant version of myself.

I had been betrayed.

I had been betrayed.

I had been betrayed.

With that word ringing in my ears, the Holy Spirit sorted through the file folders in my mind and pulled out a familiar phrase, “on the night he was betrayed.”  Those words spoke solidarity.

Jesus had lived this moment. He had suffered this pain. I wasn’t alone in this feeling or this experience. Jesus was right there with me.

This shared suffering sent me running to the Savior I had loved but hadn’t ever before so desperately needed. I read my Bible not because I should, but because I need a promise to carry me through each day. The Word delivered promise after promise that helped me take step after step that brought me through to the other side.

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned Isaiah 43:2 NIV

Betrayal cuts deep but God heals deeper. 

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There is an other side.

There is a way through.

Put one foot in front of the other and Keep Walking.

Lynn, thank you so much for sharing this piece of your journey. This is a topic close to my heart for many reasons (one of which you can read about if our next “Becoming Women of Worth” book on sexual addictions makes it to the printer!)

Check out her newly published book, “Keep Walking: 40 Days to Hope and Freedom after Betrayal.” I know you won’t be disappointed.

cherrysbook