I was a shy, overly sensitive girl who grew up in a family of logical, science-loving, strong Christians. My mom’s background was in microbiology. My dad was a dentist. My brother, always the investigator, became a neurosurgeon at the birthplace of neurosurgery. Along the way, he’d also received a Ph.D. in nuclear physics, and married a surgeon. My husband is an engineer. I’m woefully outnumbered.
But I am neither scientist nor logical. I prefer pen and paper and books. Words and beauty. Nature and solitude. When, as a girl, I disappeared every Saturday, my family didn’t know that I was writing stories, wrapping them in plastic and duct tape, and sinking them with heavy rocks in the creek that ran through my family’s land.
I’d been given more than my share of empathetic awareness of the world and the pain I saw in others sometimes became unbearable. Writing was a release valve—a way to dial down my sensitivity to a manageable level. I’ve got room inside to breathe again if I write. All the unresolved conflicts of the past and the hopes for the future collide and become something new, something better. Writing is good medicine.
Around the time I was realizing that I could make a go of a writing career, I found myself facing an untenable situation with a terminally ill dear friend and some other challenging issues. Anxiety and depression became uninvited guests in my life, and it seemed that with every turn, I would fall on my face. I think I forgot how to breathe. My heart had broken into pieces.
These were dark days, but the beauty of this time was that every time I fell, God was there. He picked me up and put me back together. He was so close that, at times, I could feel his breath on my face. I felt his hand wrapped around mine. His words would wash over me and my saving verse became:
“Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today…the Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Exodus 14:13-14
I would pray this verse. I would say it to my children. I would whisper it in the night. And after a while, it worked its way into my soul. It became part of me, part of my personality, part of my strength. It gave me the courage to find my purpose.
This time in my life taught me so much. I learned lessons like these:
- My weaknesses make His strength more beautiful.
- My job is to find the meaning in every moment he allows me to experience.
- Life is too short to waste words.
- No one ever seems to say what they mean.
- Dishonesty and subterfuge are so much safer, so much easier. Habitual, really, in our culture.
- I wanted to live with my whole heart. I wanted to find authenticity and live honestly. I wanted to say what I meant.
I realized that in his own time, God had prepared me to be the author that he’d envisioned, a brave and honest one. To write the books that he wanted written. My first novel, Glass Girl, was born. I kept it raw and difficult to read at times but the emails I receive from readers all over the country say that it is exactly that level of honesty they’ve searched for. They are dying for somebody to tell it straight, but show a path out of the weeds of life.
Because we all know the rains will come. Sometimes the rains are gentle, almost welcome relief from all our sunshine. The sad times that make our happy ones happier. But sometimes the rains are gully-washers and we have to look for our salvation from the angry waters. I want it to be my Lord that plucks me from the floods of life, not man or anything made by man.
Glass Girl takes an honest look at a family surprised by grief after the loss of a son. They find themselves in one of life’s gully washers. Meg, an exquisitely tender girl, does begin this journey without faith, but take heart, she makes it. She finds the truths being revealed to her through her reality—a mother who succumbs to debilitating depression and a father who copes any way he can. Meg reaches out a hand and God takes it. She meets Henry, a boy with a hard-earned maturity and a deep-water faith, and he loves her.
This isn’t a spoiler, really, because it’s the gentle unfolding of Meg’s soul that happens in the middle of the story that keeps you turning pages. The sequel, Perfect Glass, continues the story by showing how Henry gave up nearly everything for a group of kids that needed him and how Meg learned that sometimes God just wants us to be everything for one person who is desperate for love.
My books contain pieces of all that I have learned from struggling with anxiety. My characters find that God uses our fears. He takes our deepest longings and the songs from our souls and he turns them into invitations. He creates common ground and understanding. He uses our imperfection to teach and model. He did it with me. He took a scared little girl, a timid woman, and he breathed courage into me. It is as if I stand on him now, rising and falling with his vast breath.
C. S. Lewis put it so beautifully when he said:
“Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken, it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”