Tag Archives: Life

Rise Above It

 

Altitude

Just wanted to pass along this thought from Cara Alwill Leyba:

Don’t get angry or enraged or insulted.  Rise above the [nonsense].  Flick your light back on and shine it brighter than ever, and fall so deeply in love with your own life that anyone who tried to wrong you becomes a laughable, ridiculous, distant memory.

Wishing all of you hope, encouragement, love, and peace!

Overcoming Panic Attacks

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Don’t tell God how big your storm is; tell the storm how big your God is!

As of October 4 my book, Overcoming Panic Attics: Emerging from Darkness into His Marvelous Light, is available on Amazon.

This was probably one of the hardest books I will ever write, not because of length or complicated subject matter but because, in writing it, I revisited one of the most miserable, isolated and devastating periods of my life.  For fifteen years—nearly half of my twenties and all of my thirties—I suffered crippling panic attacks so severe they bordered on agoraphobia.  None of the conventional treatments helped.  Drugs rendered me foggy and nonfunctional.  Therapy left me confused and depressed.  Well-meaning family and friends urged me to focus on other things, or to just make up my mind not to let panic get the upper hand.  They offered sound advice, but my malady bound me so tightly it completely dominated my life.  I could see nothing else—and no way out.

I am not an authority on panic disorders.  I hold no degrees nor have I studied the subject in any depth.  This book details my personal struggles, the depression and escalating despair that nearly drove me to suicide, and then God’s miraculous intervention.  He literally pulled me out of the darkness and into His marvelous light, setting my feet back on the path of life.  I can personally attest that Jesus Christ is alive, He is King of kings and Lord of lords, and He grants every born-again Christian authority, in His name, over the demonic spirits that assail us.  Looking back, I firmly believe God intentionally pulled every crutch out from under me in order to bring me to Himself.  And I am grateful!  With fifteen of the best years of my life a ruin, I never believed the rest of it could amount to anything.  With God, however, nothing is impossible!  Joel 2:25 says, in part, “I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar. . .”   I believe God did restore those fifteen years.  Since Jesus drove out that spirit of fear I have enjoyed more happiness and fulfillment than I ever thought possible.  That is why I wrote this book: to share what I learned and to lead others to Jesus, who is greater than anything that can ever come against us.  He is available to all!

The Kindle version is available for free for this entire week, and there is also a paperback version.

© Everthedreamer, 2019 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.

Vanquishing Panic Attacks

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Once you emerge from an unpleasant chapter in life, it is best to go your way and never look back–right?  After overcoming the demons, discovering an abundance you never dreamed you could have, and leaving the ghosts of those wasted, unhappy years so far behind you no longer see them anymore, why revisit them?  What good could that possibly do?  Sometimes, a lot of good.

I had endured 16 years of crippling and debilitating panic attacks that claimed almost half of my twenties and all of my thirties, attacks so severe they bordered on agoraphobia.  I would have gladly sequestered myself, except I had no one willing to support me.  I functioned, if you could call it that, in the shadows, restricting grocery runs to all-night stores in the wee hours when the stores stood largely empty, and only attending functions if I could find a seat near the door so I could beat a hasty retreat in the face of an oncoming attack.  I never dated.  I had no social life.  In fact, I had no life at all–just a pseudo-existence filled with loneliness and misery.  And no one understood.

Miraculously, I functioned well enough to hold a job as a computer programmer, tucked away in a protective cocoon hidden in the bowels of the corporate office.  I brought my own lunch and ate at my desk, arriving early and staying late to avoid as much traffic as possible.  I tried counseling, pills–nothing worked.  The counselors left me feeling worse, while the pills made me foggy and less functional than ever.

One night I was forced to leave early.  A road rage incident in rush hour traffic propelled me straight home and into my bedroom bent on committing suicide.  In that dark room, backed into a corner, I came to terms with how I’d been living.  God asked some pointed questions, not audibly, but through thoughts put into my mind.  I confessed my sin and gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ.  In the days that followed God began to move and the miracles began.  The chains fell away and for the first time in years I could breathe.  In June of 1992 the panic attacks were forever vanquished and my life restored.

3 Yellow Leaves Over Pond

After publishing BELLA I intended to start formatting a children’s book but for some reason felt compelled to revisit this chapter and to write the story of my journey out of darkness into light, out of bondage into perfect freedom with my sanity intact.  The story ends joyfully.  How can I NOT tell it?  And if it helps draw others to freedom and new life, it will have all been worth it.  Looking back, I don’t even consider it an ordeal anymore, but simply another leg of my life’s journey.

Today I start organizing my thoughts and notes for this amazing story.  As the book comes together, I will share on this blog.  Often what helps a suffering person most is access to someone who not only sympathizes, but can empathize with what they are enduring.  Hopefully, I can be that person.

© Everthedreamer, 2019 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.


 

What are you made of?

Cloud over Eden

No one likes adversity. I know I don’t. When storm clouds gather over my peaceful world I tend to pray for God’s divine winds to drive them away.  Yet nothing makes one appreciate the good in life nor reveals the true character more than fate tossing a monkey wrench into one’s well-ordered routine. Such a monkey wrench smacked me square in the teeth and gave me a profound respect that remains to this day for anyone suffering disability. Early in 2010 I noticed a nagging pain in my neck and right shoulder—not an uncommon thing for someone who spends most days staring at a computer screen. I sought the usual remedies: massage, therapeutic massage, chiropractic—even acupuncture. The pain only worsened. Over-the-counter remedies offered no relief. I began losing motion in my right arm and the pain from laying on it or positioning it wrong kept me awake. Any relief gained from whatever treatment I tried vanished by the time I got home. After a few months I had raw, burning pain that never stopped and I could no longer reach around behind me or lift my arm above my head. I went to a surgeon.

Severe degeneration in my neck had pinched a nerve. In December 2010 I underwent a cervical fusion to fuse my C3 through C7 vertebrae. The surgery went well, but the following morning I could not move my right arm. I had been told that this condition, called C5 palsy, sometimes occurred but usually passed with time. After days and then weeks passed with no improvement I became depressed. I told myself this nerve had been under tremendous pressure for months and simply needed time to heal. You really find out what you are made of during something like this and, sadly, I proved myself a pathetic wimp. What if that arm never came back? What I should have considered, however, was that my mind was still sharp; my dominant arm had taken a nap but the other still functioned; I could still walk; and, to a lot of people’s dismay, I could still talk. I was not disabled by any means! More important, I was blessed with a wonderfully supportive family who rallied around me. I especially appreciated my mother’s care, encouragement, and prayers. I had the care of an excellent doctor. Each day I did the exercises he gave me and tried to move my arm. Finally, one evening in late February I lifted my hand and forearm! I could bend the elbow! I couldn’t lift the elbow but that didn’t matter. My stricken limb was waking up. Five days later I raised the entire arm and after three months of physical therapy regained the full use of it.

I wish I could offer my experience as an inspiration, but I can’t. I was inconvenienced for a time but by God’s grace recovered. Had my arm remained nonfunctional I would have adjusted eventually. But would I have glorified God the way I did when He restored me? Would I have glorified Him at all? The truly inspiring people are those who, although permanently debilitated, not only adjust but surmount their obstacles and then reach out to others. I did some research and discovered the following: a survivor of a land mine who now helps craft artificial limbs; a man left a quadriplegic by muscular dystrophy who helps people with disabilities give back by organizing events where disabled volunteers put together care packages for needy children; a climber who, rendered a paraplegic after a fall, designed a machine that enabled, not only himself, but other paraplegics to continue their passion. I personally knew a man who, wracked by muscular dystrophy, spent his last years in a nursing home. George could turn his head and had almost imperceptible movement in the little finger of his left hand; otherwise, he was totally paralyzed. Yet who did the staff go to when they needed cheering up? George! He entertained everyone with jokes and stories but more important, testified of God’s love and goodness. These people faced inconceivable adversity but looked beyond themselves and extended hope, compassion, and purpose to others. They have bettered the world.

Have I the fortitude—and do I care enough—to do the same?

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© Everthedreamer, 2019 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given

Author Spotlight: Rebecca Carey Lyles

 

This week I would like to introduce Christian author Rebecca Carey Lyles, author of the heartwarming Kate Nielson series. Rebecca grew up in beautiful Wyoming and currently resides in Idaho with her husband, Steve.  She writes in a warm, flowing style that puts her readers into the heart of vividly stunning locations alongside engaging characters facing what most would deem insurmountable obstacles. Elements of Christian love, faith, hope and trust expertly woven into riveting action produce stories that will keep readers turning the pages.

Her Kate Nielson series proves that fact as the books follow the life of a young woman from the confines of the Pennsylvania State Penitentiary to a fresh start at Wyoming’s Whispering Pines Guest Ranch. The stories feature romance and marriage to the owner’s son, even as she takes a defiant stand when evil remnants of her past catch up with her.

In addition to her fiction series, Rebecca also writes nonfiction and serves as an editor and mentor for aspiring authors. She and her husband host a lively and entertaining podcast, “Let Me Tell You a Story,” which can be accessed through a variety of podcast providers as well as her website:

http://www.beckylyles.com/podcast

She has several other projects in the works which, along with her complete bio, you can read about at:

http://www.beckylyles.com

Rebecca kindly agreed to an interview, which follows below.

SK: Tell us a little about yourself (background, hobbies, special interests).

RCL: I love the West! I grew up in Wyoming, met and married my husband in Colorado, and then moved back to Wyoming, where we raised our three children. Shortly after the last child left home, we moved to the Southwest (Arizona) and now reside in the beautiful Northwest (Idaho).

In addition to gorgeous vistas, the West offers friendly people, wide-open spaces and wonderful opportunities to explore the outdoors—hiking, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, camping, kayaking… The list goes on. I’ve enjoyed all the aforementioned activities, but the last couple years, I’ve mostly snowshoed in the winter and hiked in the summer with friends and family. My year-round exercise includes walking and yoga/Pilates classes. I also like to read (no surprise!), cook healthy stuff and hang out with other authors. Funny how we can talk books and plots and characters for hours on end.

SK: What made you feel you wanted to be a writer? 

RBC: As you know, writing seems to be in the blood or the genetic makeup of certain individuals. I’ve always enjoyed putting pencil or pen to paper, even when writing those dreaded high school essays. I wish I’d listened when my English/Lit teacher encouraged me to major in journalism…

But I was determined to attend a small Denver Bible college that offered only a handful of degrees, none of them related to journalism. Yet, that school was a great experience. It grounded me in Biblical truth and connected me with wonderful lifelong friends, including a certain cute guy named Steve, who eventually became my husband.

After graduation, I worked a variety of jobs, most of which were secretarial in nature. And then, almost as soon as our first child was born, I decided the literary path was more to my liking and something I could work at during naptime.

SK: How did you choose the genre you write in?

RCL: Looking back, I think I felt compelled to write faith-based fiction because I’d read so many less-than-stellar Christian novels. That was years ago, so I’ll be quick to say the market now offers a host of high-quality fiction books for all levels of readers.

SK: Where do you get your ideas? 

RCL: When I started writing my first novel and the first book in the Kate Neilson Series, “Winds of Wyoming,” my heroine was a young woman who wanted to move west—because the West is best (smile). As you can see, that was a rather weak premise. Took me fifteen years and multiple writing classes and seminars, how-to books and magazines, contests (with judge feedback) and critique groups to deepen the story.

And then came the night I was driving home from a Bible study at an Arizona women’s prison. Looking out across the flat dark desert, I had a revelation—the protagonist needed to be an ex-inmate. I’d met so many sweet women in prison who were flawed, just like I am. And, just like me, they longed for a do-over. My heroine, ex-inmate Kate Neilson, would move from Pennsylvania to Wyoming to “reboot” her life, not realizing her past would follow close behind.

In that first book, I wanted to honor prisoners’ humanity through a romantic suspense story. In the following books, “Winds of Freedom” and “Winds of Change,” I used the same characters to show that human trafficking is a tragic problem in America as well as overseas. My current series, which I hope to finish by late spring/early summer, delves into religious cults and their deceptive, manipulative, totalitarian practices. Despite the tough topics, every series has a happy ending (smile).

All that to say…I tend to tackle current issues. However, the idea for the first story in the “Passageways” anthology came to me in the middle of a Kohl’s Department Store. Kinda crazy, but it was a fun story to write.

SK: Do you work with an outline, or just write? 

RCL: Over the years, I’ve used several methods, one being Randy Ingermanson’s famous Snowflake Method. And over the years, I’ve learned I’m not an outliner, I’m not a plotter, I’m not a pantser (who writes by the seat of his or her pants). I’m a discoverer. For the cult series, I’ve read books, watched documentaries, interviewed ex-members and immersed myself in that world, disgusting as it is. I have pages and pages of notes and a general idea of where I’m going with the plot. But I’m always open to discovering the next scene, which oftentimes veers from my intended path—or the direction I assumed the story would go.

Some people say they write the ending or at least know the ending to a book before they write the beginning and the middle. I think I can safely say I have never known the ending of any of my novels until I was almost there. I always aim for that “happily ever after,” but I don’t usual know how it will materialize. In a sense, I’m discovering the story right alongside the reader.

SK: Did any particular author or book influence you, either growing up or as an adult? 

RCL: I loved “Heidi” because it’s a wonderful tale about a girl who’s sent to live with her grandfather in the beautiful Swiss mountains. Then there was “Christy,” a young woman who moved to the Smokey Mountains to teach. Notice a theme here? A book about a girl reporter’s adventures also intrigued me and helped spark the writing gene. Sad to say, I don’t remember the title.

In my twenties, “The Grapes of Wrath” captivated me during a Colorado blizzard (nothing better than having a good book to read when you have a legitimate excuse to stay home). Filled with beautiful writing, complex characters, heartrending challenges and a believable storyline, that book taught me about an important time in history I knew very little about. In addition, I learned the power of story is in the details.

One more—my last job in Wyoming involved working for a man named Chuck Box. At that time, his writing career was just beginning to take off. Written under the name C.J. Box, his many novels about a Wyoming game warden are now international bestsellers. Chuck is known for his amazing descriptions of the West. I recently heard him being interviewed on a podcast. He said description is not about the vistas but about the details. When I want to enhance my own portrayals of the West, I open a C.J. Box novel for inspiration.

SK: Your book titles (Winds of Wyoming, Winds of Freedom, Winds of Change) evoke images of living free in an unspoiled and wide-open territory; but winds also bring storms and uncertainty. What inspired these titles? 

RCL: I’m impressed with your insight into the titles, Sandra! What inspired the series titles? All that you wrote above. Some parts of Wyoming are known for wind, and I experienced plenty of it growing up. At times, the wind was helpful. When I walked the four or five blocks to school, the wind would blow me there, almost lifting me off my feet. But it was an ever-moving barricade on the return trip. I’d struggle all the way home, leaning into the wind. Before backpacks came along, an armful of textbooks served as ballast to keep me and my classmates from being blown to Nebraska.

Back to the book titles—winds are rarely constant. They come and go, blast and change course, cleanse the air or stir up dust devils, irritate or sooth, heat or cool, knock down or lift up. Metaphorically speaking, a fiction author’s job is to hit their characters with gusts that blow them off-course and then show their struggle to regain equilibrium.

For interested readers, the series has a prequel titled “Winds of Hope.” All four books are available at a reduced rate in a “Kate Neilson Series” boxset that’s available everywhere digital books are sold.

SK: How do you market your work? What avenues work best? 

RCL: Wow, I wish I had a good answer. For a time, Facebooks ads were the moneymakers. And then it was Amazon ads. Now, BookBub is the place to inspire readers to click the “buy now” button. The end result is that the best way to sell books is to write more books. Some people can whip out four or five books a year and develop a huge backlist (mine is growing at a much slower rate, but it’s growing). Series are good because readers who like the first book in a series are likely to purchase the others. Social media enables authors to connect with readers, some of whom will share our book news on their sites.

SK: What has been the toughest criticism given you as an author? What has been the highest compliment? 

RCL: Toughest criticism? Hmm. In the series I’m working on now, a beta reader who proofed book one said the second book needs more description and emotion because the protagonist comes across as plastic. Yikes! Back to the drawing board…

My highest compliment is when readers say, “I stayed up all night reading your book!” or “I didn’t get a thing done today because I couldn’t put your book down.” Warms an author’s heart, for sure.

SK: Will you have a new book coming out soon? 

RCL: I’ve written two-and-a-half novels of a three-book series set in Montana called “Prisoners of Hope” about a young woman trapped in a religious cult. The titles are “Shattered Dreams,” “Tangled Truths” and Tattered Veil.” My goal is to show how easily we can become ensnared by controlling groups and how hard it is to escape a cultic world. As I wrote above, I hope to publish all three books in late spring/early summer.

SK: What advice would you offer aspiring authors? 

RCL: Read, read, read to get a feel for tension, motivation/response sequence, structure and flow. Write, write, write to get a feel for pulling thoughts out of your head and arranging them in logical order on paper (or computer screen).

SK: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans? 

RCL: Thank you, Sandra, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog. Great questions! And, a big thank-you to those who encourage me to keep writing. If you enjoy or profit from an author’s books or articles, consider telling him or her. Writers don’t need ego boosts. We need to know our hard work is valuable, that it inspires, informs, entertains or educates our readers.

If you enjoy listening to stories, check out the podcast Steve and I host. We call it “Let Me Tell You a Story” and feature a wide variety of authors and stories (real and imagined) plus fascinating interviews. http://beckylyles.com/podcast.html

Website: http://www.beckylyles.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaCareyLyles/

Twitter: @BeckyLyles

Amazon Author Page: https://tinyurl.com/y6kldx32

© Everthedreamer, 2019 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.

Life Changes and New Promotions

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I’ve seen a LOT of changes these past few months, some good and others I thought I could never endure.  But looking back I see light and shadow, elation and despair, pain and jubilation all interwoven into the breathtaking tapestry composing my life.  Now, looking forward I choose to embrace life and dwell on the positive, washing bitter negativity into the past on rivers of forgiveness.  I cannot describe the liberation, the freedom, the excitement this new leg of life’s journey has brought me!

I’ve rediscovered my old love, the written word, as both reader and writer and will post reviews of books as I go along.  I am also offering a special end-of-summer $.99-sale on all of my Kindle books.  If you love fantasy and ghost stories, please visit my author page.

In the meantime, I’m working on the tale of how the ghost in my latest book, THE WINDWILDER HAUNTING, entered that unfortunate state.

3Debook-BellaWindwilderHaunting

© Everthedreamer, 2018 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.

 

Bloom Where You Are Planted

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It’s tough to bloom sometimes.  Even in an ideal setting life has a way of throwing us a curve.  I’ve had an especially hard time lately, but today came across a post that served as both an inspiration and a reminder that everyone has their rough stretches.  I’d like to thank bayart.org for this excellent post, entitled Bloom Where You Are Planted.  Click here to read.