…And I’m Still Writing!

Have you ever heard of people who were, say, an artist who lost her sight? Or a singer who lost his voice? Or an athlete who lost the use of his legs?

Sometimes, that talent or skill God gave you is tested or challenged by the difficulties here on earth. Sometimes that test isn’t something that can be overcome as much as changed in form.

That football player can find purpose in coaching young kids who don’t have a father figure in their home. That singer can find her music in a piano. That artist can find expression in the artistry that is dance. And sometimes that disability can be overcome to allow the artist to continue. That is what God has allowed me to do with my writing.

When I was a child, I loved writing. I wrote all the time, but I never let anyone read what I wrote for fear it wasn’t good enough. Truth be told, it wasn’t but I was only about nine when I started. With more encouragement, I might have begun to share my writing to reach more people much earlier in life. But, I did keep writing and I got better and more public with it each year.

I have often had to prolong my writing due to fatigue from various chronic illnesses, but it didn’t stop me from writing. It only delayed the finished products a bit, but I kept writing.

Later on when brain fog from insomnia made it hard to put two sentences together, I began writing one liners I call JoJoisms. One of my Facebook memories reminded me that:

JoJoism #493 “Being a writer with brain fog is easier when you write one liners. You only need to focus for a sentence or two!” JoJoisms: Revealing Life’s Truths…as I think of ‘em!

When I started writing my communication materials for Art of Eloquence, I had no idea how to get my books traditionally published so I decided to publish them on my own website! And then when I wasn’t able to print them myself, I found a local printer who only worked with large companies and talked them into taking me on at their same rates even though I was not printing nearly the amount they were used to dealing with. And I was still writing!

Self publishing meant I had to create my own website even though I was the quintessential NON Techie! It took me a while and many, MANY hours of a frustrating learning curve, but I taught myself how to create websites and update them as I needed. And I was still writing!

In my writing for Art of Eloquence, I was asked to speak at several online and offline events. I’ve been shouted down for my beliefs and what I write. I was even told by a public school administrator that she would buy my materials for the entire school district if I’d only, “take the God parts out.” I refused and was forced to work harder and longer to sell my materials mostly to Christian homeschoolers, but I was still writing!

After I broke my hand in a car accident, I had to retrain myself to type because my middle finger now crosses over my ring finger as I make a fist. Unfortunately, writing requires muscle memory and I had to retrain myself to put my middle finger a bit further right when I type. It took me about a year, but I’m still writing!

As I got older my fingers began aching as I typed. I learned I had arthritis and neuropathy compounded by fibro, but I powered through and took breaks when I needed to. And I was still writing!

The last several years has seen an increase in censorship of Christian conservatives as social media began shutting us down. I had a whole year when my Facebook fan pages were all effectively shut down, but I kept on writing on my personal wall and on my blogs. After I regained control of my pages, I am now sharing those posts on my respective fan pages again anyway!

Four years ago, I was granted a miracle in that I was a cancer survivor before even my surgeons knew I could have cancer. It was a rare and aggressive kind, but God allowed me to survive and I’m still writing!

A couple years ago, my hands began shaking more than just when I was hungry. I was diagnosed with Essential Tremors which makes typing, writing, and reading what I typed or wrote even harder. And I’m still writing!

When God gives you a passion for something, a talent for something, and then life throws you a curve ball, sometimes you pivot and find another way to satisfy your desire for that type of expression. And sometimes He gives you the perseverance and determination to find new ways to keep going.

That’s what the Lord did for me…And I’m still writing!

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And I’m Still Writing…

Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” 

So, long before we were born, God knew what our lives would look like and He gave us what we needed to do the good works that we were created for. The challenge for us, then, is to seek His guidance in how we do that because life can change drastically for us. While that’s not news to the Lord, it may require some tweaking on our part.

Some Background:
I was perusing Facebook the other day when I came across a long time friend’s post (Cindy Rushton) talking about being an overcomer. She posted, “You are designed and destined to be an overcomer!” My first instinct was to be sarcastic so I said, “Well, I certainly have been given enough to overcome!

As the discussion went on, I relayed how I had to make some adjustments over the years in order to keep writing. The limitations of chronic illness had a profound effect on my ability to write from the thinking process to the physical act of writing. However, I have found workarounds and even changed what I wrote about over the years-lending my voice to different passions I’ve had…and I’m still writing!

I’ve written a lot about my life on this blog and all the adjustments and limitations I have had throughout my years, but I had really never thought much about the ways in which I had to make changes in order to continue writing until one of her last comments to me, “That was powerful!

As I looked at her words typed there to encourage me as she so often does, it suddenly hit me that my writing testimony really IS powerful. Right then and there, I felt the Lord leading me to write a part of my testimony that I had never considered much up until this point.

I was born a writer and I started writing even before I knew the Lord at the age of nine. I wrote poems and songs in my youth. In my teens, I began writing humorous one-liners about life I called JoJoisms. I’ve got well over 700 of them now. When I began homeschooling, I wrote books about communication skills and articles for homeschool magazines. And my most recent writing passion is here writing in support of those (like me) with chronic illness.

Now, when God gives you a passion for something, He doesn’t usually give you a clear path to success. You may have noticed that people who have gone on to incredible things have usually had a lot of struggles along the way. The Lord allows struggles: heartache, difficulties, and trails because many times that is exactly what it takes to get them done.

Have you ever heard of an accomplished pianist, a professional basketball player, a famous band, an accomplished actor, or a prolific writer who went from zero to hero in a straight line? Everyone has struggles to overcome on the way to where God leads them. It’s not the absence of trials that brings success; it’s what you do with them. It’s how you handle them, how you overcome them that defines you.

When God put a calling (writing) on my life, He factored in my limitations, my frailty, my stupidity, my fatigue, my pain, and my stubbornness! And my stubbornness is one of the reasons I didn’t give up my calling, my dream, my purpose, and my ministry! The other is Almighty God. Because…I AM an overcomer. …And I’m still writing!

Pain and Fatigue:
One of the first things that began to impact my writing was pain. Arthritis, neuropathy, and Fibromyalgia made my fingers and wrists ache. In addition, God only made me 5′ tall so, when sitting at a normal-sized desk, I was unable to reach the keyboard properly.

My first adjustment was to sit on my legs as I typed. Unfortunately, after doing this for many years, it took quite a toll on my lower back as well. Not too long ago, we solved that problem by switching me over to a laptop computer that I was able to use on the couch.

As the fatigue from Fibro began to increase, I was forced to let go of some of my other online activities in order to have the energy to continue writing. I had begun a copywriting service only to abandon it shortly after it launched as I didn’t have the energy to pursue that stream of income. However, that was for the best as I felt the Lord leading me to write in my own voice. …And I’m still writing!

Broken hand:
About six years ago, I broke my hand in three places after a roll-over car accident. My left hand was in a splint for months and when it emerged, I found that my middle finger had decided to hug my ring finger when I made a fist. Not thinking that this was a big issue, I decided not to have another surgery to fix it as I thought it only was an issue of aesthetics.

Not too long after physical therapy, I realized that I would have to relearn how to type! It took me several months to get decent enough to go back to my blogging and about a year for it to become natural. I still can’t snap my fingers with that hand, but fortunately, that’s not a skill that is required to write! …And I’m still writing!

Essential Tremors:
A little over a year ago, I was diagnosed with Essential Tremors. That’s what doctors call it when they can’t find a cause for your shaking. I had always had what I called jitters, but I had been told it was a sugar issue. It’s true that it was worse when I was hungry, but in the last few years, those jitters had followed fatigue and stress as well as JUST BECAUSE.

Further, they had spread from my left hand to my right hand, both legs, and my head when it was particularly bad as well as internal tremors that feel like I’ve just been asked “Your money or your life!” As you might have guessed, it’s even more difficult to type when your fingers have a mind of their own.

Part of the challenge for me now is that I like to write my notes for an article or book in a notebook, but it’s a bit hard to read my writing–even for ME! Lastly, it takes me 10x as long to type (or mistype) or write than it used to. I’ve been known to backspace and retype something six times and still have it come out wonky.

Final Thoughts:
The Lord’s call on our lives is still the same, even after the heartbreak of trials and the limitations of this life. It might not look like we expected it to, but it can be even better if we stay the course and cling to Him.

So, it’s been a bit of a journey to overcome these obstacles, but with God’s help, I’m adjusting. …And I’m still writing! What are you still doing with God’s help?

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Chronic Illness New Year’s Resolutions – Part 2

There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.” -Proverbs 19:21

While it can be difficult to make plans while struggling with chronic illness, I shared last week that these goals, or resolutions if you like, don’t need to be grandiose. Last time, I talked about health goals. This week, I’d like to share some ideas for business goals or resolutions if you prefer.

Part 2: Business
So many with chronic illness no longer have a job let alone a career. After all, pain and zero energy is a tough way to make a living. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t earn money. While it’s difficult to get to a job every day, it’s becoming more common for companies to allow employees to work from home. It’s also possible to make money by doing creative things at home due to a little discovery called the world wide web.

If you’ve had to leave a job you either loved or hated, you can make a resolution to find another way of earning a living or contributing to your household finances with any marketable skills and talents you may have. The first thing you’ll need to do is to take inventory of your skills, talents, and interests. What do you like to do? Is it something that you could sell on eBay, Amazon, or on your own website?

The first resolution you can make in 2020 is to discover what talent you have that you might be able to earn from. Next, make a date by which you’ll be done with your soul searching and information gathering. Then, take baby steps to bring that about.

Do you crochet? Sew? Craft? Paint? I’m a writer. I love to put words to story and I love it when what I write can move people. I can write any time I have the energy. I can do it online in my blog or put a book together which is one of my resolutions for 2020.

I know a woman who wrote instrumental songs that expressed how she felt about the Lord. She planned to put them all on a recording and offer the album for sale. I knew a few writers who make a decent living and some editors who do as well.

There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.” -Proverbs 19:21

What’s a talent that God gave you? How can you use it to make an extra income or a living? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’ll be back next week to talk about the third area of our lives that we can plan for.

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What CAN you do? – Part 4

So we’ve talked this month about how to think less about what we can’t do and more about what we can. We’ve discussed ways to focus more of our energy on things we are already doing for others close to us. And we’ve gone through ways we can do little things to increase joy in those we come in contact with on a regular basis.

This week, I want to share a bit about what we can do for strangers. I hear you out there. You’re thinking, what can I do for strangers when I can’t even get out to go visiting or even grocery shopping? Well, it’s 2019 and there are lots of things we can do!

Remember a few weeks back when I gave you a list of ways and places you can find to do things for those you are closest to? Well, let’s look at that list again because most of it can help us bring joy and uplift those we don’t know:

Numbers one and two were job and kids. Well, those are probably where you come in contact with folks you know. Here is the rest of the list and how you can impact those you don’t.

3. Church?
Is there a ministry you might join at your church? Possibly something your unique set of talents and interests or experiences are suited for?

4. Online ministry?
Is there a ministry you’d like to start or get involved in that is online? Like me, you may have time though not be able to get out on a regular basis.

5. Online business?
Is there a business you might start online? An online business can not only give you something positive to strive for but bring in some kind of income.

6. Art?
Is there an inner artist inside you? You might start using those talents for others or use it as a business.

7. Writing?
Do you have an inner author you’d like to let out? Is there a novel in you? A children’s book? A testimony you’d like to share?

8. Blogging?
Would you like to blog about a topic near and dear to your heart?

And here are some others:
9. Social Media connections?
Some folks are on social media to connect with friends and family who don’t live close by. Others are on to share about a cause. Some of them are those who want to promote a particular ministry. If you have a desire to support others, you can do that online and make connections with people on Facebook groups, Twitter, or just from your own Facebook profile page.

10. Asking to pray with someone going through a hard time?
Have you ever run into people who you can just tell are having a hard time? Maybe at the grocery store or at your son’s baseball games? You can make a point to pray with them, help them, or just listen to them.

11. Reaching out to those in need via text, social media, email?
I had a friend who moved away a while back. Not only couldn’t I travel to be with her, but she was busy and didn’t have time to talk on the phone. I made it a daily practice to send her a short inspirational text.

You may not be able to help someone financially, physically, or by being with them in person, but you can reach out through electronic means to be a light in their world.

If you have enjoyed or been blessed by this series, please consider sharing it on your social media or with friends in an email. You’ll be fulfilling one of the ways we’ve just discussed!

God Bless!

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What CAN you do? – Part 3

This month, I’ve been sharing my four-step process for getting past the thoughts all chronic illness sufferers think: here’s all I CAN’T do. First, I shared about how to find ways to think less about what we can’t do and more about what we CAN do. Last week, I shared how you can ask yourself about what you’re doing now that you can put more of your energy toward. This week, I’m going to share how you can find ways to do for your immediate family and friends.

Just as everyone has a unique set of talents given them by God, each also has a unique set of limitations given to them by chronic illness. Despite whatever limitations you may have, there are things you CAN do for your family and friends that you may not have thought about before. Now, some of these things you may not think are important, but I guarantee you they are to your family and friends! Here’s what you CAN do for family and friends:

1.Being an example:
I’ve read that it isn’t what happens to us that matters, it’s how we react. I’ve written about this principle in many of my Art of Eloquence communication materials because it isn’t the fact that you mess up a speech. It’s how you handle that mistake that people react to. People forgive even a colossal mistake you make toward them if you handle it by apologizing and seeking to make it right. This principle is even more powerful when you deal with trials by trying to find the good inside them.

You can be an example in your job, to your kids, at church, in your ministry, in your business, through your artwork and writing or blogging, to your social media connections, and with those, you come in contact with.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been told how I inspire others by my outlook on life despite having lived through so many medical, financial, and other trials.

2.Pointing out the joys
I have made it one of my life’s missions to point out the fun, humor, and joy in the things I see or experience. Being uplifting isn’t only or always just showing the beauty of God’s world, but can be just giving the world that is full of tragedy and trials just a glimmer of beauty, or a little giggle.

It’s a gift God has given me to see the humor in things. So, I create memes and post them on social media with the lighter side of the trials I go through and the funny side of almost anything that I see.

If you don’t have the inclination for humor, why not post pictures of the beauty that is in this world? You can share them from anywhere you are and bring a little joy into this fallen world that is filled with darkness and tragedy.

I can’t tell you how much a little giggle can mean to someone who has had a tough day…or someone who has had a death in the family. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s true. I ran a very large Facebook fan page. All I did was post purple memes and pictures every day. That’s all.! I have received private messages from fans telling me how my little purple memes helped them through their husband’s death. Their husband’s DEATH! My little purple pictures in the midst of their grief meant that much to them. Facebook recently took away my admin status about a month ago. I haven’t been able to post since. However, that page has grown by over 200 fans and I continue to get messages from fans who miss my posts!

3.Sharing your artistic talents: writing, artwork
If the Lord has given you a talent for writing or painting or drawing or calligraphy, this can bring so much joy to others! Post your work on social media. Start a group or fan page for it! Invite others over to see your craft work. Put it on YouTube.

I had a friend here in Indiana. I met her a short time before she moved away, but she had an incredible talent for music. She wrote piano instrumental music for the glory of God and it was gorgeous! She shared it once as worship before church service and she invited me over to hear her play several of her works. I was going through a tough time then, but for a few hours, I was inspired!

You have been blessed with some talent. Explore it. Share it. Both you and those you share it with will be blessed!

Next week, I’ll be back with the final post in this series.

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