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Month: February 2018

Autism: Parent Victims

I know parenting an autistic child is hard – because I am that parent. I’ve been so exhausted that I’ve actually stumbled and fallen down the stairs, breaking my tailbone and causing me years of pain that took even more sleep from me. I’ve lost my kid in busy malls and churches and playgrounds because he used to wander away with innocence, chasing whatever light caught his eye. I’ve been frustrated to the point that I’ve had to deadbolt all of the exterior doors to the house so no one could escape, and go into my room and shut the door and just fall on my knees, unable to speak words, sobbing silently for God to help me get through another day. I’ve cleaned up after the daily bowel movement accident that my 8-year-old had, again, wondering if I was going to have to be doing that when he was 18.  I’ve sat through the meeting where a school administrator kicked our son out of their kindergarten program because the teacher just didn’t want him anymore. We’ve pulled our family out of a church we loved because our son couldn’t deal with the noise in the children’s church or the worship service. And, God help me, I know more about Stampy Longnose than I would ever want to know.

But, I’ve never been a victim of my son’s brain development.

I watched a video on Facebook yesterday that a friend, a fellow autism mom, tagged me on. It was a video that The Today Show shared that (last night) had about 3 million views, but this morning, already has 11 million views.

This video was about a mom with a non-verbal autistic son who’d had a meltdown at a meet this specific character event (I think it was “Meet Elmo”). So, she was sitting in her car outside of work venting about her son’s future, and how hard it is to be an autism mom, and how she used to wish he’d be a doctor or a lawyer and now she’s just wishing he’ll have happiness as an adult, etc. She admitted that she wasn’t a “religious person” but the night before she’d “actually” broken down and asked God why, but “knew it wouldn’t change anything”. At the end, the tears started to fall when she started talking about how so many work colleagues were at the event and witnessed the meltdown and how she had to go in there now and face them.

I’m convinced that if something ever happened to my husband and I needed to do something to support my family, I could make a killer living as an online private investigator. I am one of those people who just start digging when I find someone interesting. It made my daughter crazy when she was in high school, because I always knew so much about her friends, her boyfriend, her activities outside of our home life, etc.

I have thousands of friends on Facebook, and I’ll regularly just start looking through social media posts, follow links, dig through personal blogs, and just do this internal information gathering over people I don’t even really know. But, then I *do* know them (wink). It’s one of the ways I work through a temporary writer’s block – or maybe it’s just one of the ways I waste time when I’m avoiding writing. Either way.

It’s my way of “people watching” – a TOTAL favorite pastime of mine when I’m in public.

Okay, so back to this mom and her tearful morning sitting outside of work.

I started digging through her blog, and I found a letter of apology she’d written to her husband for all of the ways that being an autism mom had changed her from the young and carefree woman he’d married. It was this terrible dump of all of the resentment she harbors for having a son with autism.

We carry noise-canceling headphones when we’re going to be in a high-sensory environment

Because, that’s what it is – it’s resentment. It’s resentment that she can really see the difference in her son when he’s around her friends’ children. It’s resentment that so often her husband had to take their younger son to an event because the autistic older son couldn’t go, or she’d have to go and leave the husband, and how it caused a “division” in their family. It’s resentment that he didn’t sleep, thereby exhausting her to the point of tears. It’s resentment that he doesn’t speak and can’t communicate clearly to her or him or anyone around him. It’s resentment that there will never truly be an empty nest in their home because their son is special needs.

On an on this letter went. And for me, it totally colored this morning dump that The Today Show took to over 11 million people. And it’s terrible. It’s terrible that she took her son to an event where he would have a meltdown. And she knew he would, because the letter of apology she wrote to her husband made it clear that he breaks down when he’s in situations like that, yet the pictures flashing through the video are her and her kids smiling through event after event after event.

I’ll tell you something – as an autism mom, I just don’t go. And I don’t care. I don’t feel like our son Jeb has lost out on anything in life because we haven’t been able to go to fairs or carnivals or Meet Elmo, or Lego Palooza, or Engineering Days or whatever, in order to protect his autistic brother Scott from bright, loud, overstimulating environments. Jeb’s favorite singer, Toby Mac, came to Louisville a few months ago. Gregg and I talked it over, decided who would take Jeb and who would spend the day with Scott, because the last thing on this planet that Scott needs is to attend a Toby Mac concert.

Why continue to take him to places where he’s going to melt down? She wondered if at 18 if he would still be violently melting down while standing in line to meet Elmo. WHY, why, why, would she take him again? He has autism. Clearly, that event took him beyond his limits. What if he’d been born without legs? Would she have said, “Will he still be crawling up stairs when he’s 18?” Yes, yes he will be. So quit handing him a set of stairs and forcing him out of his wheelchair!

One of my favorite Ted Talks ever was that of a 12-year-old autistic kid who had been non-verbal for a good portion of his childhood. When he was 4, his parents noticed his fascination with glasses of water. Rather than try to conform him to their world, their world became a sea of glasses of water, filled to different levels. It fascinated him, engaged him, and soon, he was talking. They’d found a way to bridge that gap between their two worlds in a way that most parents (including me) wouldn’t have thought to do. SO insightful. SO well done.

Hearing protection while doing chores

They didn’t create a video of them crying because they had to go to work and face the people who witnessed their son’s meltdown, their son’s crawling up the stairs.

I wonder if the difference is a lack of faith in God on her part. It could be. I know something that strengthens Gregg and I as parents is our absolute trust in God, His plans, His work, and our communication with Him. It could be that we’re not trying to conform to this world (Romans 12:2), so missing out on “Meet Elmo” isn’t going to make or break us as a family. Or, separating children so one child can do something the other simply cannot do isn’t going to destroy us and require me to write a public letter of apology to my husband.

Maybe I have a maturity that comes from being an older mom that gives me more patience and more grace when it comes to who I am as a woman and who my husband is as a man, knowing that there’s nothing about me that’s the same as the “carefree young woman” he married — and if we had totally normal, neuro-typical, perfect angels of children we wouldn’t be the same now as we were then.

Maybe I know that if my son works at Subway (his dream job right now at the age of 11) until he retires, he will be happy and content and successful in our eyes, and that’s okay. That’s good. As long as he loves Jesus and works hard, that’s what matters to us.

I don’t know. But I know this: our son is incredible. He’s quirky and kind and genuine. He asks impolite questions and gets offended over smoking and cussing. He knows exactly how he wants to live his life and tolerates (barely) the things that stand between him and his happy place (in his house, headphones on, YouTube playing on the tablet in his lap, cat next to him).

And we love him and adore him and cherish him and are so thankful to be his parents, to be blessed by God Almighty who has chosen us to shepherd this miracle human being.

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I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
You would bless me if you added me to your Subscribe via any Reader feed reader or subscribed Subscribe via Email via email.
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Birthday Bash Scavenger Hunt Announcement!

Hello friends!

Friday, March 2nd, is my birthday!

Yes!

And to celebrate, I’m having a scavenger hunt through my free ebooks — Sapphire Ice, A Melody for James, and Temperance’s Trial. I have two questions from each book, and the winner (who answers all 6 questions correctly) will win his or her choice of an entire series of my books in paperback form!

Everyone is welcome to play – international readers included!

Here’s the catch: you must be subscribed to my newsletter by March 2nd at 9:59AM in your time zone to be able to enter this scavenger hunt. The information on how to play is only going to be available in the newsletter that is going out at 10:00AM through every time zone.

Here is the link to subscribe.

A bonus for subscribing is that you get my novel, On The Ropes for free! So, if you don’t already get it, now’s your chance!

 

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I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
You would bless me if you added me to your Subscribe via any Reader feed reader or subscribed Subscribe via Email via email.
You can also become a fan on Become a Facebook Fan Facebook or follow me on Follow me on Twitter Twitter. I would love to see more of you!


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Monday Morning Chat 2/26/18 – Hallee Talks About a Biblical Diet

Hello! Welcome to Monday morning coffee and chat!

I really appreciate all of the questions that I get from my readers. Today I’m answering the questions:

Can you explain your diet?

Do you really spend 3 hours a day in the kitchen?

I hope you learn more about me through my response:

 

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I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
You would bless me if you added me to your Subscribe via any Reader feed reader or subscribed Subscribe via Email via email.
You can also become a fan on Become a Facebook Fan Facebook or follow me on Follow me on Twitter Twitter. I would love to see more of you!


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Monday Morning Chat 2/19/18 – The Seelbach’s Rathskellar!

Hello! Welcome to Monday morning coffee and chat!

I really appreciate all of the questions that I get from my readers. Today I’m showing you the Rathskellar – the basement of the Historic Seelbach Hotel in downtown Louisville!

I hope you learn more about me as a writer through my response:

 

halleeLOGOspinefinal


I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
You would bless me if you added me to your Subscribe via any Reader feed reader or subscribed Subscribe via Email via email.
You can also become a fan on Become a Facebook Fan Facebook or follow me on Follow me on Twitter Twitter. I would love to see more of you!


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Monday Morning Chat 2/12/18 – Writing the Virtues and Valor Series – and a GIVEAWAY!!

Hello! Welcome to Monday morning coffee and chat!

I really appreciate all of the questions that I get from my readers. Today I’m talking about the challenges I faced while writing the Virtues and Valor Series.

I hope you learn more about me as a writer through my response:

And, as promised in the video, you can enter to win this travel mug and the entire VIRTUES AND VALOR SERIES in ebook form! You have four ways to enter — and you can do them all!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Interview with Author Christine Dillon and a Giveaway!

Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I’m excited to have author Christine Dillon as my guest! She is a missionary in the Taiwan- and is Australian. I have a sister-in-law and nephew who are Australian, and had the absolute joy and pleasure of speaking at the Omega Christian Writers Conference in Sydney last year. Australia and the people there have a very special place in my heart. Please enjoy Christine’s interview as much as I did – it is full of wisdom and grace.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I’m Australian but have spent the majority of my life in Asia. First, as a child because my parents were missionaries in Taiwan. In those days, that meant boarding school in Malaysia and the Philippines. I wouldn’t exchange my background for anything.

I returned to Australia for my final two years of high school so I could get into Australian university. I studied physiotherapy, hence my heroine being a physiotherapist and also setting the book in 1995 when I was still familiar with the hospital scene.

I loved my work and it taught me how to talk to strangers and connect with people. I had many opportunities to be ‘salt and light’. But from the age of 7, I’d wanted to be a missionary. All my choices in life were made in light of that goal. After working 4 years I had the privilege of attending Sydney Missionary & Bible College and then joined OMF and came to Taiwan in 1999. I am a church planter which essentially means introducing people and their families to Jesus. We do it by telling Bible stories. I’m also involved in training others in evangelism, discipleship and storytelling. This gives me the opportunity to travel, which I love.

I started writing non-fiction in 2002 although I wasn’t published until 2009.

What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? The non-fiction was mostly laziness. It became easier to write a book than to keep training people one on one and answering their questions.

I’m an extremely reluctant novelist and had never considered such a thing. About 10 years ago, while I was having a ministry related prayer day two ideas for novels dropped into my head. I was horrified but I reasoned that if the idea truly was from God then it was His job not only to push me to do it but to give me the ability.

Over the next five years, the sense of urgency to write grew. In 2012, I was staying with a friend in the Philippines and read a Biblical novel. Again, crystal clear the idea came, “That’s how you write a novel. You’re a Bible storyteller, go and write a biblical novel as practice.” So I sat down and did the research for a novel on Samuel. I loved the biblical research and the thinking/planning but the actual writing was hard work.

I wrote two Biblical novels as practice before I dared to go ahead and plan what I regarded as the ‘real thing’. It’s taken over four years of hard work. At each stage, something or someone has come along to show me the next stage and how to improve things.

Tell us about your current release: Grace in Strange Disguise is book one of a contemporary Christian fiction series which now looks like being five books. It is based in Sydney, Australia.

Physiotherapist Esther Macdonald is living the Australian dream, and it doesn’t surprise her. After all, her father has always said, “Follow Jesus and be blessed.” But at twenty-eight, her world shatters. Everyone assures her God will come through for her, but what happens when He doesn’t? Has she offended God? Is her faith too small? So many conflicting explanations. Will finding the truth cost her the people closest to her heart?

Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? Enid Blyton for magic and adventure especially the ‘adventure’ series (‘Castle, Island, Circus …). LM Montgomery – Anne and Emily books and especially Blue Castle in my teens. Silver Brumby – Elaine Mitchell (Australian series about wild horses)

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? Over the last two years I’ve been devouring Christian fiction. Much of it concerns me because it subtly buys into the idea that God is there to make our lives smooth. I want to see stories in which non-aristocrats feature (for historicals). Stories about single people and widows which don’t end with “and they married and lived happily ever after.”

I only give 5 star reviews now to books I consider ‘impact eternity’ and there are far too few of them. Books that make me weep and inspire me to follow Jesus whatever the cost. Books where people live a Christlike life whether or not it is easy.

How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? In the end I think God pushed me to self-publish. I had lots of misunderstandings about it – confusing it with vanity publishing. This is quite a common misunderstanding. I’d already had two non-fiction books published by two traditional publishers. That was what I was familiar with. However, most doors to traditional publishers are closed. Instead, you have to find an agent. I made my own list of agents and in the end only had six I was interested in. But I applied too early in the process and so was refused (fair enough as my writing wasn’t nearly as good as I’d thought it was).

With those doors slammed, I began to investigate self-publishing. The more I found out, the more I thought, “I think this is for me.” I’d learned a lot about the publishing industry by then and there were many podcasts online.

It was a huge amount to learn and I’m fairly poor at marketing, technology and business but I’m much better at trawling through information and I learn fairly fast. I’m not relying on sales to eat, so that gives me some freedom.

Three months in, I’m delighted I self-published. It’s much harder at the beginning but I think it will get easier.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

  1. Pray a lot first and make sure the idea is really from God. The process is too hard unless you are have the Lord with you.
  2. Check your motives for writing – if they are self-centred that it is only going to lead to pain. Our motivation must be for God’s glory as there will be many temptations along the way.
  3. Take your time – make sure the timing for publication is God’s timing. I had to delay 15 months after my original deadline. If I had published earlier the book would have been a disaster. I had to learn to write and that took a lot more time than I’d expected.
  4. Pray at every step of the way that God will give you a team. I am so grateful for finding excellent editors at the beginning and for my cover designer. But there are also many others who God has found for me – some excellent proofreaders, some advocates who mention my book to their friends.
  5. Find a community. For me that has been through Facebook groups for Australian authors and Christian Indie Authors. Plus, I’ve found a group of 3 other Australian authors and we encourage each other and share resources.

How did you make the initial step into writing your first novel. What were some of your major roadblocks and how did you overcome them? Once God had pushed me to do so, to me it was a matter of obedience. I planned using something called the ‘Snowflake’ method and I started writing.

Major obstacles:

My attitude – I prayed about it and submitted believing that joy would come from obedience. It’s taken 3 years but this last year I’ve started to enjoy this new direction.

Inability to write fiction – again I prayed every step of the way. If this was God’s idea then he had the responsibility to give me the ability to write and link me with the right resources. I found some Facebook writer’s groups and they recommended many good books…to improve my writing.

Being weak in business, marketing – It just has to be learned and there are many free podcasts and resources there to help you. I am grateful that my journey before this first novel was a long one. It needed to be because there was so much to learn.

Being weak on the technology like designing websites, learning to use MailerLite ….again I’ve prayed and asked people for help. God has provided every step of the way.

Pride – an author has to be humble to do a good job because our work must be submitted to critique and some of it is harsh. We have to have our eyes focused on what Jesus thinks and not allow people’s opinions to make us go up and down emotionally. Writing for anyone other than Jesus will be painful.

The length of time it takes to learn. I delayed publication a few times and am glad I did. Marketing-wise it makes sense to have 2-3 books ready to publish relatively close together.

Who do you envision your typical reader to be? Most likely a woman (or mature teen) between 15-80 who loves a story which tackles serious issues. Someone who wants to grow in Christ. I have been encouraged how many middle-aged and older men have also been enthusiastic about the book.

Find Christine online:

Website, Facebook, Pinterest

Find Christine’s book online:

Enter to win an ebook of Christine’s latest release:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
You would bless me if you added me to your Subscribe via any Reader feed reader or subscribed Subscribe via Email via email.
You can also become a fan on Become a Facebook Fan Facebook or follow me on Follow me on Twitter Twitter. I would love to see more of you!


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