TO BE WELL

If you had asked me last week, “Catie, are you well?” I would have told you no. 

The weeks leading up to last week were not kind to me. Between a series of rejections, failings, and flare-up of my auto-immune disease, I emotionally collapsed. I did not feel well mentally, emotionally, and physically. I wanted to cave. I wanted to quit. I wanted to be sad. Not a great place to be. I was letting my outward journey determine my inward journey. I was letting disappointments dictate the wellness of my soul. Negative thoughts can be quite alluring in the valleys of life. But what does negative thinking achieve? Nothing. Does it make me feel better? No. But did I feel justified in my negative thoughts–yes. That’s the catch. That is what makes them alluring. I feel I have a right to think negatively and be sad and throw myself a this-isn’t-fair party. So I did. I dwelt in that space for a few weeks. It made me more depressed.

Then, God spoke to my heart and said, “Enough. It’s time to move on.” He, of course, was right. It was time to move on. I cleaned up my office space. I put my storyboard away. I filed all current books-in-progress. I have to stop striving to make things happen that just aren’t happening.

I can’t control my health. I can’t control my publishing career. I can’t control the unknown. But, I can rest in Jesus. I can let go. I have to let go. 

In my last novel, Marvel and Mayhem, my main character, Mattie, wrestles with anger toward the song and belief, “It is Well With My Soul.” She feels that the song was a lie. Life hasn’t been good to her. Each character in Marvel and Mayhem is confronted with hardships on some level and must respond to it–either with resentment or surrender to God. My youngest character in the novel, Effie Emery, understands surrender. She knows that no matter how bad things may get, with the Lord holding our hand through it, we can still say, it is well with my soul.

As you can guess, I’m more like Mattie. Surrender doesn’t come natural to me. But God hasn’t given up on me. I see more clearly now that God called me to write Marvel and Mayhem because He knew I needed to process this journey with Mattie. We are connected, her and I. God has been leading to me a place of relinquishing control and placing my trust in Him.

The lyrics of the old hymn say, “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

I’m still working through this. It doesn’t come natural to me. BUT, I know one thing for sure, I am reaching out and God is reaching back. This is WELL. With Him holding my hand, I can be WELL.

 

If you are interested in my novel, here’s a quick link for more information:

https://amzn.to/2Wv17Oa

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

my journey through miscarriage

No one ever expects to walk the road of loss. In our minds and hearts, we hope for better things, happier things, but sometimes life sets us on a detour.

My detour came in 2011 when my husband and I lost our first child, and then it happened again in 2012, when we lost a second baby. Heartbreak doesn’t begin to fully encompass the pain. It doesn’t describe the complete let down, ripped open, barrenness of dream, time, and life. I have wept and still weep many tears. It’s hard to describe the great depths of emptiness and grief. It’s a messy thing, this grieving. It rolls in and out. It is never once and done. Sometimes, it will catch you off-guard when something triggers a memory. Suddenly, I’m standing in an aisle at Meijer wanting to weep.

One thing I have learned about grief—it’s oftentimes lonely. I rested in a space of unyielding pain, feeling lost. The world continued to go on around me but I was cemented in place.

Every year, I encounter more and more friends that have grieved the loss of a child. It’s like a secret club that you only discover once you yourself have suffered loss. It’s a sad thing that most women don’t talk about, and yet, it’s so very common. So many women have suffered the death of a child. Many of us are in the club.

That’s why I decided to share my full story in a book form. Standing Lost is a collection of my journal entries, my pleas to God, and my grasping for ways to somehow go on. This small book is a way of saying- “You’re not alone. I’ve been there too.”


The book is currently available as an eBook on amazon
CLICK HERE: https://amzn.to/2HjjTPm

The paperback copy will be available on May 24th

 

A Must Read Book: A Place to Land

A Place to Land is a globe-spanning memoir that wrestles with the question, ”Where is my home?” Kate Motaung watched ”home” slip away again and again–through her parents’ divorce, a foreclosure, two international moves, ten rental homes in ten years, and her mother’s terminal battle with cancer. Add in the challenge of a cross-cultural marriage, and Kate was constantly adapting to a new environment. Through her experiences, you’ll realize–as she did–that no matter where we go or what we do, this world is not our home.

This book  is exceptionally well-written. It has moved me to tears. Kate’s story is powerful. I felt as though I was experiencing her life’s journey alongside of her. Her keen attention to detail and vivid description made each scene come to life. I felt her fears, her joys, her sorrows. Kate is a brave storyteller, speaking about the hard times and good times in her journey. Her vulnerable honesty ministered to my heart. Please, read this book. It’s beautiful.

 

3 Truths That Can Calm Your Anxiety

This is a post from my friend and fellow author, Christie Thomas. It spoke to my heart this morning and I hope it will help you too. Enjoy.

///

Snowflakes swirled around us as we said goodnight. He brushed accumulated snow off his car, then drove away, leaving deep tracks in the road. No one else wanted to drive tonight, but he had to get home. And home was 2 1/2 hours down a dark and slippery highway. It was a weekend like any…

via 3 truths to remember when the storm rages — Christie Thomas

Celebrating Milestones and Miracles

Miracles still happen. I know it. I’ve seen it. My nephew is walking proof.

As a baby, Levi was diagnosed with a rare disorder MECP2 Duplication Syndrome, which causes  intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, speech abnormalities, seizures, low muscle tone, etc. The doctors didn’t know what milestones Levi would be able to accomplish.  Would he ever sit without support, crawl, play with toys, ever eat on his own, ever speak, ever walk?

At first, his little arms and legs were flimsy like wet noddles. Without a miracle, he wasn’t going to meet these developmental milestones. But…Oh Yes…BUT… we knew and believed in a wonderful, awesome God who could strengthen Levi’s muscles. AND HE DID. As Levi’s parents worked with Levi, as physical therapists worked with Levi, as occupational therapists worked with Levi, as his teachers, and day care workers worked with him, God moved through their helpful hands. Levi’s body grew stronger and stronger. And now…He sits. He crawls. He lifts a fork. He plays with his toys. He flips the pages of books. He communicates with his hands and noises. He walks, all by himself!

The Main Man, Levi.

To celebrate these accomplishments, Levi’s parents held a big party on Saturday. The amount of friends and family who flooded their lawn and barn moved me. The joy we all shared as we watched Levi stroll around was contagious.

Levi’s Therapists and Friends Along With Levi’s Mother and My Sister, Carmen (Second From the Right).
Levi and His Teacher
Bounce Houses and Outdoor Activities
Guests Inside the Barn
Face Painting
Levi and friend, Scott, from school
Friend, Emma, Showed her Support
My sister, Carmen, and Levi’s friend, Sirius
Levi’s Buddy, Cohen, and His Parents Came to Show Their Support.
Way to go, Levi. Keeping beating those odds.

Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

 Thank you to Everyone for Their Prayers and Support.

 

My Children’s Book For My Nephew: Superhero Levi

I wrote and illustrated a book for my nephew, Levi for his birthday. I entitled it, “Superhero Levi.” This book is in honor of Levi and all the other children who defy the odds regardless of their disabilities. (I illustrated all the pictures on watercolor paper and then my mother, Cindy, helped me paint them.)

Here is my book (I had it printed in hardcover). I hope you enjoy it.

cover

 

 

 

Hi, I’m Levi.
I might look like a regular boy,
But I’m actually a superhero.
How do I know?
Because people cheer for me wherever I go.
staples-scan-01-07-2017_17-28-09-868-1

 

I can climb mountains that mom calls the stairs.
It’s hard work getting way up there.
But when I reach the top, everyone claps.
I feel quite proud of that.
I smile at them and know…
They like watching this superhero.

staples-scan-01-07-2017_17-25-44-399-1

Day and night, I have a super appetite.
Bananas, chicken, pasta, or cookies
I’ll eat them up, thank you and please.
But green beans are no delight.
Because even heroes have a kryptonite.

green-beans

 

It’s hard work being a superhero.
People always want to take my photo.
At school and at home, I smile most polite.
Mom shares my poses on Facebook.
And I usually get a hundred Likes.

epson003-1

 

I’ve learned a lot about my powers through exploring.
I can turn a bowl into a hat. Only a superhero could do that.

staples-scan-01-07-2017_17-25-08-616-1

 

When I press a button on the big box in the kitchen,
I can make water pour out.
Dad and Mom show up real quick,
And they let out an impressed shout!

 

staples-scan-01-07-2017_17-26-18-522-1

 

I can swim in big pools,
And push my wheels around the whole school.

staples-scan-01-07-2017_17-26-56-583-1

 

A big yellow bus,
chauffeurs me from my house.
The girls like to hold my hand.
What can I say?
They can’t resist a superman!

epson003-1

 

No bars can hold me in.
My strength can even break the crib.
They try to fix it, but are unsuccessful.
Nothing can restrain my super muscle.

staples-scan-01-07-2017_17-28-39-609-1
I think my cousins might have powers too.
There are so many things that they can do.
Like run, flip, and jump, just to name a few.
We have lots of fun together…
Dancing, singing, and playing whatever.

 

epson004-1

I’ve heard it said that I have a syndrome.
Maybe this is why I’m so special?
Maybe this is why I’m so strong?
I’m not actually sure what this word means.
But I know if I work hard, I can do anything.
I won’t ever give up.
I’m built super tough.
No matter what life may throw,
I can take it.
Because I’m a superhero!

cover

The Benefits of Discomfort

It’s uncanny how going stag to a conference can revert me into an insecure high school student.

img_0033

I fretted over whom I would talk to, whom I would sit with, and whom I would have lunch with. My mind hustled to remedy a plan. The morning of the conference, I prepared to text a friend when I felt a soft nudge in my spirit telling me, no. “No, Catie you don’t need a safety net. Go and meet new people. Be open and see what happens.”

Though it made me anxious, I listened to that subtle voice inside. Entering the building for the Breathe Writer’s Conference, I determined to make it memorable. At times, I felt uncomfortable and shy, but I pushed past those feelings, introduced myself, and met many great and inspiring people. If not for the discomfort of being alone, I wouldn’t have been forced to make friends.

If I had arranged to hang out with people I already knew in attendance, I wouldn’t have met such a wide array of amazing, vibrant, and creative individuals. I wouldn’t have met Pearl, a writer of inspiring blogs called “LookUpSometimes.” I wouldn’t have met Alyssa whose posts bring awareness to mission work in South Africa. I wouldn’t have met the adorable illustrator, Cathryn. I wouldn’t have met writers: George, Donald, Christina, Marianna, Kelli or sci-fi Sam.

I walked away not only enriched by the conference sessions, but by the extraordinary people I met while I was there. The initial discomfort produced the benefits of lasting memories, encouragement, and inspiration.

This principle applies to more than just conferences. We need to be okay with getting uncomfortable. We need to push ourselves out of our normal social spheres, beyond our same cultures, past our same skin colors, even outside of our beliefs and meet people different than ourselves.  Because when we do, amazing things can happen, and I believe we become better versions of ourselves.

14720563_1457801500914115_7547701500316983475_n
Pearl and I at Breathe

From the Ashes I Will Rise

I’ve been listening to the song “Resurrecting” by Elevation Worship on a daily. The lyrics are incredible. I even got pulled over the other day while listening to it because I was so engrossed in the song that I lost track of my speed! Luckily, the police gave me a warning.

I painted this picture as a representation of the lyrics, “By your spirit I will rise. From the ashes of defeat. The resurrected King, is resurrecting me.”

IMG_2598

Monday Morning Joke: Bill Cosby’s THE FIRST PARENT

images

After creating Heaven and Earth, God created Adam and Eve. And the first thing He said to them was: “Don’t.”

“Don’t what?” Adam replied.

“Don’t eat the forbidden fruit.”

“Forbidden fruit? Really? Where is it?”

“It’s over there,” said God, wondering why He hadn’t stopped after making the elephants.

A few minutes later God saw the kids having an apple break and He was angry.

“Didn’t I tell you not to eat that fruit?” the First Parent asked.

“Uh huh,” Adam replied.

“Then why did you?”

“I dunno,” Adam answered.

God’s punishment was that Adam and Eve should have children of their own.

Thus the pattern was set and it has never changed. But there is reassurance in this story.

If you have persistently and lovingly tried to give them wisdom and they haven’t taken it, don’t be hard on yourself.

If God had trouble handling children, what makes you think it would be a piece of cake for you?

 

REFERENCE: http://www.ahajokes.com (Bill Cosby, The First Parent)

I Had Given Up on Prayer

IMG_7679

My scull can be thick. But thank God, He’s a master carver. And He has pared past my unbelief, doubt, and fear.

And He has shown me this…prayer isn’t futile. It isn’t merely dead words as I thought. Perhaps you think I must have been quite calloused and distant to ever think prayer ineffective, and to which I say, you’re right. I was. I was angry. I was jaded. I was hardened by the misfortunes dealt by the cards of life.

I entered church ministry as a newly twenty-year-old with rose-colored glasses and left fives years later with blackened shades. I felt abandoned by God doing the very thing I thought he’d called me to.

In the wake of this, baby number one was born a success, but my body was not. It took seven months of physical therapy to correct my pelvic floor and keep my hips in place. But finally I was strong enough to continue my dream of more children.The lenses of my glasses became darker when the ultrasound for baby number two didn’t show a heartbeat. I couldn’t understand how a child I’d dedicated and prayed for the moment the pregnancy test read positive was now gone. I felt abandoned again.

The abandonment accumulated as my sister lost her first child and then I miscarried again, losing baby three. I couldn’t believe I had lost another child. Especially since I had specifically asked God this time to please, let this child make it. To please let this child be healthy. My prayer wasn’t answered (so I thought). My glasses weren’t just black anymore; they were impenetrable. I was blind to hope. I felt worse then abandoned; I didn’t care if He was there for me anymore. I didn’t want to talk to God. Of course, as a good ‘Christian’ mother to my daughter, I continued the evening prayer, for her benefit. How trite.

When the test read positive for baby four, I was scared. As a high-risk pregnant woman, I wasn’t sure what would happen. I wasn’t sure if my body was even capable of holding life. And mostly, I wasn’t sure if I dared ask God for his help. But there came a day, eight weeks into the pregnancy, where I began to bleed. At two AM, I woke my husband, crying. The contractions had started. My body was trying to miscarry, again. My husband turned on all the lights. I lay down, scared. Miserable. He knelt beside me and put his hands on my abdomen and prayed. A fervent prayer. He claimed life and rebuked miscarriage. He prayed on and on. Until the contractions stopped. The bleeding stopped. And today, I have a son. His name is Gabriel, which means, “Strong man of God.”

In those early, terrible morning hours, I learned something.

Prayer does work.

It works! It isn’t futile. God does hear. And even more so, He showed me that he heard each prayer and answered all of them. They simply weren’t answered like I had expected. I asked for healthy, full-term babies. And they are. Shiloh and Selah are healthy and were born full-term in heaven. Their natural bodies couldn’t sustain life in our world, but they are thriving in heaven. They’ve gone ahead of me, but we’ll have eternity to spend together someday.

My glasses have been washed clean, as forgiveness has entered my heart. I blamed God. I was angry with Him. I thought he had abandoned me. But I now know the truth.

He never left and when I was at my worst, he was still present. Rooting for me and waiting for the blindness to clear.

Thank you, God. I now see.