Tonight it is my privilege to welcome Nancy Mehl to my blog. Nancy is a fellow Heartsong Presents: Mysteries! author.
Anyone who has experienced loss can identify with Nancy’s story. Thanks for sharing, Nancy.
In this blog, I have been processing the loss of my daughter to suicide. The experience of loss is universal. What significant loss have you experienced? How has it impacted your writing?
As you say, all of us have experienced loss. Whether loss generates from the death of a loved one or the death of a dream, loss can leave us feeling that something is missing from our lives. I think I began to experience loss as a child. Unfortunately, I didn’t grow up in a perfect home with a loving mother and father. Somewhere along the way, I learned to stuff my feelings inside. I was very good at it. Other things happened to me after I was married that caused me great pain. Again, I stuffed. No one would have thought that there was anything at all wrong in my life. In fact, people used to remark about how happy I was. And I was. I woke up with a smile and laughed throughout the day. Then I began to experience some strange reactions to things in my life. I could sense that something was wrong, but I wasn’t sure what it was. One day at work, something that had happened to me fifteen years earlier rushed into my mind as if it had just happened. It was one of the strangest experiences of my life. I immediately had to seek help and was almost hospitalized. A Christian therapist explained to me that I had filled my emotional closet full of painful experiences instead of dealing with them. And my closet had finally burst open. I spent a year in therapy and on medication. Neither of these things helped much, by the way.
What central truth did you learn through your loss?
God supernaturally led me to a Bible teacher who taught me that “feelings buried alive never die.” For a year, every day, it was as if she could see through the television and into my life. I’d never experienced anything like it before. Slowly but surely, I began to find my way out of the hole I was in. And then I learned the next lesson God had for me. Paul speaks about it in Philippians 3: 13. “But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” I’ve learned that dealing with loss is a two step process. First of all, deal honestly with the situation. Grief is natural. God gave us the ability to grieve. Then allow healing to come – but it must be God given, anointed healing. Man’s healing is temporal. The Bible tells us that it is the “anointing that breaks the yoke.” Jesus said He came to set the captives free. Only God can provide real release. Then – we must forget what lies behind and press on if we want to fulfill the call of God on our lives. Looking backward only causes us to stumble. Keeping our eyes fixed on the prize is the only way to go forward. Of course, this doesn’t mean we ever forget people we love. But we can look forward to the day we are with them again – and that vision doesn’t exist in the past. It is only ahead of us.
Do you write to escape your circumstances or to process your feelings? Or both? Please share examples.
I certainly use situations in my life in my writing. I believe all writers do that. Bothersome situations tend to move into the background when you’re lost in a world you’re making up. It’s funny how you can feel better after a good writing session. And we can work out some of our frustrations through our writing. For example, I’m a snow nut. One of the reasons I created the town of Winter Break, Kansas was to make as much snow as I wanted! I got tired of being disappointed in Kansas winters.
As far as trying to escape problems through our writing – when we’re done writing, the problem will still be there. Jesus said that we were to have abundant life – and hiding from our hurt isn’t abundance. As I said before, we have to turn our situations over to the Only One who can heal us. Using our writing as anything more than a temporary distraction from our lives might eventually set up an unhealthy pattern. But while we’re healing – it’s a wonderful way to project our feelings into our stories. We need to remember that other people are hurting too. I always pray over my books that God will put a “word in due season” in them for someone else who needs a touch from Him. Your situation just might help someone else.
What books or characters resonated with you in your time of loss?
Of course, the Bible. There is no other book in the world that is actually alive and can change you on the inside. When you’ve suffered loss, it’s time to immerse yourself in God’s Word. When you have God’s Word, you have God.
Joyce Meyer wrote a wonderful book that I would encourage anyone who is dealing with loss to read. It’s titled “Beauty for Ashes.” I’ve seen some wonderful results in people’s lives from that little book. Very powerful. Very anointed.
You have recently published. Please tell me a little about your book.
“In the Dead of Winter” is the first book in my Ivy Towers mystery series. I introduce Ivy Towers, who is a student in Wichita, Kansas. She travels to Winter Break, a small town in the western part of the state, after her great-aunt Bitty dies unexpectedly. Ivy used to spend summers and holidays with Bitty, but since she’s been in college, she hasn’t been to Winter Break. When she arrives, she begins to suspect that Bitty’s death wasn’t an accident. She starts to poke around town, looking for clues to what really happened. Amos Tucker, a local deputy sheriff, and Ivy’s old boyfriend, joins in her search for the truth. Ivy is determined to do what needs to be done and get back to her life, even though Bitty left her old, rare bookstore to her only niece. Ivy will not only track a killer, but she will have to look into her own heart to find out what God’s will is for her life.
“In the Dead of Winter” became available to the public on July 1st. Book two in this series, “Bye, Bye Bertie,” has just been sent out to the Heartsong Mystery book club. There are two more books in the series, and in December, Barbour will release an omnibus edition that will include the first three novels. It is titled “Cozy in Kansas.”