It’s difficult for me to know what to blog about the next two years (2005 & 2006). It was a time of personal grief and loss, and I experienced months and months of deep mourning. The Bible tells us that God collects our tears in a bottle:
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8, NLT)
That being the case, I know God’s bottle with my name on it has to be quite large if it could hold all the tears I shed as I walked (and crawled) through my grief. This was a wretched time for me as a writer as well. Everything seemed to be in turmoil. Trying to write and be creative was hard and sometimes impossible. Although I did write, it was at a much slower pace. I completed three novellas (Diamond Place, A Cloud Mountain Christmas, and A Carol for Christmas) and one novel (Return to Me) during this two year period.
When I entered this time of loss and grief, I completely lost the ability to read fiction. Strange, isn’t it? A novelist who couldn’t read fiction. It wasn’t that I didn’t try. I did, but nothing held my interest. I couldn’t focus on a story. Couldn’t care about any characters. But I read some meaningful non-fiction books that were enormous blessings to me, stories of women who walked through dark times of their own and came out on the other side. Three of my favorites: When I Lay My Isaac Down by Carol Kent (the book I found most helpful for my broken heart); Broken on the Back Row by Sandi Patty; In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart by Ruth Graham.
I remember the first novel I was able to read all the way through in less than four to six months, one that grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go: Try Dying by James Scott Bell. (This didn’t happen until late 2007 or early 2008.) I remember that I would even stay on the exercise cycle an extra ten minutes just so I could keep reading Try Dying. Because it gave me back the pleasure of reading fiction, that book will always mean a lot to me and hold a special place in my heart.
One other book I would mention to anyone who is grieving or who knows someone who is grieving. A copy was given to me in the summer of 2006 by a beloved friend. (Thank you, JS.) It’s a book used in grief counseling and was written for children, but adults benefit from it too. Since receiving my copy in the summer of 2006, I’ve bought copies to send to people I care about when they’ve experienced their own time of loss and grief. The title is Tear Soup. I highly recommend it to everyone.
In the fall of 2006, I drove to Portland with a friend to attend the Women of Faith event. Attending was all the more meaningful to me because two of the authors whose books had helped me through the darkness—Carol Kent and Sandi Patty—were featured speakers. I cannot point to anything in particular that was said or that happened while I was there, but when I came home, the cloud had lifted. The deep mourning was over, and I began to mend, to find my way in the “new normal” of my life.
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
(2 Co 12:9, NASB)
His grace is sufficient. Amen.