Life Indeed

Honestly, I’ve been heartbroken since the election, and when I try to blog, anything I say feels a little trivial in comparison to what this country is facing. But I trust in a God who personifies love and grace, truth and justice. That is not lip service. That is not a platitude. I really do trust him, or at least I am trying.

And so, while I will continue to fight for the underdog, today I’m not going to write about the election. I need to hammer out a few posts while letting the outcry for justice stir in my heart before I figure out how to put it onto my blog. I’m not sure if that makes sense to anyone but me. Just know that it is never far from my thoughts, even if I do not write about it for a little while.

Instead, an update on my life (for you sweet readers who care enough to wonder!):

Salt Novel

I turned in my draft about two weeks ago. It feels so good to have it out of my hands for a little while. I know it’s not there yet, but it is improving the way drafts do: slowly, and then all at once.

(Okay, couldn’t resist the TFIOS jab there.)

Of course, it’s not like I can just “turn it off” after spending 10.5 months in that world. I am still thinking of my characters, and I’m especially working on brainstorming titles. Titles are HARD, y’all. Makes me feel for the poets and songwriters who have to title each piece and not just the collection.

What are some of your all-time favorite book, poem, or song titles?

Reading

Right now, I’m about halfway through Illusion by Martina Boone. It’s the third book of the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy. I’ve also started or am starting a few books of poetry: Yes Thorn by Amy Munson, who teaches at my university; Ultra-Cabin by Kimberly Lambright, a friend from undergrad; and The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins, always a delight. I’ve purchased a small truckload of YA novels, but I still need to get myself back into reading mode after being in full-on writing mode.

How about you? What’s the best book you’ve read lately?

Winter

I’m never ready for it. Snowed in Minnesota this weekend, and it’s snowing now. My book event for tonight (up north) was cancelled (my choice), and I’m fighting those winter blues, where all I want is to be in bed.

Do you like winter? Tell me why. I need to hear positive thoughts about it.

Anniversary

On this day in 2013, I had my first conversation with my editor at Harper and first announced my book deal on my social media. And then promptly had my first panic/anxiety attack that wasn’t OCD-related. So I think back on this day with mixed feelings. But OH how I have grown in the last three years. So much growth, so much healing. It’s maybe ironic that this morning I reached out to my therapist, not even because I’m in a bad place. I just felt prompted to contact her last night while I was praying. We’re gonna meet up next month and chat. I’m delighted.

Hope you are all well! I’m hoping to post a lot more frequently in the coming weeks. I miss hearing from you. Drop me a comment please. It helps to know you’re still there.

holidays are hard for some of us

Last year, I posted that Christmas isn’t fun for everyone, and today I am thinking again how that is true.  And not only Christmas, but other holidays too.

Thanksgiving is just behind us, and to be honest, I am glad.  Mine was fine, very lowkey– I spent it with my sister and brother, eating pizza and banana cream pie, watching the Dallas game and hushing my voice when the Cowboys fell behind the Redskins and my brother raged at the TV screen.  It was fun, very chill, lazy, and we all met up at Mom and Dad’s house, even though the parents were in Missouri to see Grandma and the rest of Mom’s family.

But it’s these winter holidays that do me in.  While everyone else is giddy with anticipation, I am anxious mostly for them to be OVER.  Somehow there is an expectancy surrounding the actual holiday, something that stresses me out and makes me just want to return to normalcy.

I think, for me, it’s a combination of the cold weather (it snowed all afternoon in Minnesota on Thanksgiving), the claustrophobia of bundling up in jackets and scarves, real or imagined seasonal depression, and memories of high school, when the holidays were the hardest.

1997.  Thanksgiving.  It was the first real breakdown of my life.  I can remember it like it was yesterday and not fifteen years ago.  Was God real?  How could anyone ever really know?  And if I didn’t know, then wasn’t I hellbound?  (Such a paradox, I know– if there was no God or heaven, then there would also be no hell.)  I was in 10th grade, and OCD was swallowing me whole, and it would still be another seven years before it would even have a name.

I was in Missouri with the rest of the family, breaking away from the games and conversation and cooking upstairs to retreat to Grandma’s basement, lock myself in the bathroom, and sob.  The ground had been taken from underneath my feet, and all I could do was weep– all while hiding it from the rest of the family, all those happy Christians upstairs, secure in their beliefs.

I can picture myself now, doubled over on the bathroom floor, lost and sad and scared and not understanding that God Himself could supercede my disbelief and make Himself known to me.  It was a dark year that followed.  I was scared of everything, especially of dying without knowing that God was real.  I held my breath when I’d pass a car on the highway, knowing I was inches from my death– and maybe eternal death.

OCD, you thief.  I hate you with such intensity.

For years after that, I could not return to Missouri without being triggered into a complete relapse which would take weeks to recover from.  Once I went to college, I refused to return.  I wonder what my mom’s side of the family thought– if they wondered if I was stuck-up or selfish for not making that 11-hour drive to see them.  It was only once a year, for goodness sakes.  They didn’t know any of the background, didn’t know the way that just crossing that state border into Missouri had become the instant switch for me to question my faith.

Christmas stumbled along after Thanksgiving, and it was just as hard.  And so, these holidays over the years cemented themselves into difficult seasons that I would have to survive.  And even though November and December are nothing like they were even ten years ago, those memories are strong.

I know there are a lot of people out there who will have such a hard time this season, those of you who have Christmas hang over you like a stormcloud, who will breath a sigh of relief when you return to “life as usual” on the day after New Years.  I’m so sorry, and I totally understand.  I hope that this year will be different for you– that God will supernaturally supercede your painful memories and depression and general feelings of wrongness, and that He will give you joy in your hearts instead of these.

As Christmas approaches, my prayer for you is this: Jesus Christ, You are the Word that became flesh, a holy incarnation that blows my mind every time I stop to consider it.  Please overwhelm us with the sacred mystery of it all in ways that memories, depression, OCD, anxiety, and other mental illnesses can’t defeat.  Jesus, be the mighty redeemer that You have been and continue to be and REDEEM this holiday season for those of us who need a rescue.  Hold us in real ways that we can feel.  Amen.