"Everybody has one conversational show-stopper; mine is the number of sisters I have. Six. Six sisters. That’s right, seven girls —and no boys. My father comes from a family of eleven boys and two girls, and one of my uncles has six boys and one girl, so there may be a genetic component going on here. When I thought about having children, I assumed I would have either all boys or all girls. It came as quite a surprise when I landed with one of each! Even now that seems strange to me.
My novel Thieving Forest revolves around five sisters (I thought seven was too many for the reader to keep track of) who live in the wilds of northwest Ohio in 1806. The novel required a lot of research (what was the landscape like then; what is the Wyandot word for peace; were buffalo still around?) but any scene in which the sisters were interacting with each other was easy to write. Sisterhood, in my opinion, hasn’t really changed much in 200 years.
Sometimes authors talk about the healing process of writing, and I have to say that, for me, writing Thieving Forest was very healing. When I began writing the novel, three of my sisters were estranged from the rest of the family. Part of the impetus for writing Thieving Forest was to help me come to terms with this—although at the time, I didn’t think of it that way. I did not want to be estranged from them; their quarrel was with my parents, not me, but they decided to split from all of us. There were times when I wished that I had enough courage to knock harder at their closed doors. So I created a nineteenth century heroine, Susanna Quiner, who was more courageous than I was.
Susanna alone is spared when a band of Potawatomi Indians kidnaps her sisters. With no immediate help nearby, she decides to go after them herself. Over the course of five months she finds them one by one, but the result is not what she expected. They have changed; they have new lives. Part of Susanna’s transformation is coming to terms with this.
By the end of writing Thieving Forest I felt, like Susanna, that I could accept my sisters’ choices as well as my own. And even more surprising: when I was finally ready to publish Thieving Forest, I’d begun once more to have a relationship with my formerly estranged sisters. We all found the courage to reach out to each other again. And that has been a real blessing.
William Blake famously wrote: “Damn braces. Bless relaxes.” Being relaxed with another person— being able to laugh at and laugh with someone else—is to me the essence of sisterhood, whether you’re related to that person or not. It’s a real gift, and if it disappears it’s worth crossing the wilderness to get back."
Blog Tour Dates
Monday, October 13 @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview with Martha Conway and a chance to win Thieving Forest! http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/
Tuesday, October 14 @ Writer with Dogs
Martha Conway shares a little about how important a dog can be to writing research today at Writer with Dogs.
Wednesday, October 15 @ All Things Audry
What is a Quest Novel? Stop by for author Martha Conway’s thoughts on this exciting genre. http://allthingsaudry.blogspot.com
Thursday, October 16 @ Book Talk
Looking for something new to read? How about a historical novel set in the rough and wild frontier of Ohio in the early 1800s--Thieving Forest by Martha Conway. http://www.barbarabarthbookblog.blogspot.com/
Friday, October 17 @ Deal Sharing Aunt
Big families…what is that they share, what makes them unique? Learn more about family from Martha Conway and enter to win her novel Thieving Forest. http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/
Sunday, October 19 @ Writer Unboxed
Martha Conway will be sharing why she thinks we should embracing heroines, instead of heroes, especially in historical novels. Stop by and tell us your favorite heroine. http://writerunboxed.com
Tuesday, October 21 @ Katherine Hajer
When you’re caught up in the magical world of a book do you ever wonder what DIDN’T make it into the final draft? Martha Conway, author of Thieving Forest, tells about the painful decisions that have to be made.
Wednesday, October 22 @ Caroline Clemmons
What do you know about Native American families? Martha Conway, author of Thieving Forest, shares a few things you never would have guessed. http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com
Thursday, October 23 @ Renee’s Pages
Need some tips on researching historical fiction?Ask Martha Conway, author of Thieving Forest, set in the Ohio frontier during the early 1800s. http://www.reneespages.blogspot.com/
Friday, October 24 @ A Writer’s Devotion
Learn more about author Martha Conway in today’s interview. http://www.awritersdevotion.blogspot.com/
Monday, October 27 @ Katherine Hajer
The Headless Horseman isn’t the only scary thing in the forest this Halloween. Read a review of Thieving Forest and find out what else lurks there. http://www.katherine-hajer.com/
Wednesday, October 29 @ Words by Webb
Get a quick peek at author Martha Conway with a 5Ws interview. http://jodiwebb.com/
Monday, November 3 @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
Stop by to learn more about author Martha Conway and her latest historical novel Thieving Forest.
Thursday, November 6 @ Escaping Reality Within Pages
Win a copy of Thieving Forest, the story of seventeen year old Susanna trying to save her sisters in frontier America, and learn from author Martha Conway what was truth and what was fiction. http://escapingrealitywithinpages.blogspot.com/
Monday, November 10 @ Vickie S. Miller
Stop by for a visit from Martha Conway, author of 12 Bliss Street and Thieving Forest. http://www.vickiesmiller.com/
Tuesday, November 11 @ The Lit Ladies
Stop by for an interview with author Martha Conway and a chance to win her latest novelThieving Forest.
What intrigues or interest you the most about this book?
What song makes you smile and your feet move?
This is one reason to read her heart breaking post in August, I prayed first for her and then to ask God what I could do to bless her. I wanted to do something that could remind her a daily basis how important she is to me and the families of the missing, while also showing her how much God loves her, and her sister, Rose.
The idea to create a painting started to form. A few trips to the library and hours reading painting books and watching watercolor tutorials on youtube.com helped to take the idea God gave me and develop it into the painting you see here. Another few days were spent selecting a few Bible verses to include on the painting. The angel represents her sister looking down on her, and she is on the beach with her arms lifted to God. It is only with God's strength, love, grace, and mercy that families of the missing survive the not-knowing, investigations, media, and waiting.
I've included a video and links for more information about Laurie's sister's case. Rose disappeared from Cape Coral, Florida in 1985. Will you take a moment to check her missing person flyer or watch the video? You never know, you might have information to help bring Rose home.
Thank you Laurie for all you do - these are the verses I included on the painting to encourage Laurie each day. I hope you find comfort in them too.
Do not be anxious about anything,
Will you share a little encouragement with Laurie today too?
Mary was right, I did keep the white boards BUT only because I came up with an idea of how to use them daily. This is how the "Daily White Board Message" started. Initially, only Ed and Mags saw them. Each morning I change the verse or quote, based of my devotional or Bible reading that day. One day I snapped a quick picture and put it online. I felt as if the message wasn't for me or anyone in my house, but for someone else. I didn't know who that was so I shared it on Facebook.
The response to the white board message amazed me and brought a smile to my face. Who knew an old white board could bring such joy, revelation, and conversation. I picked up the easel holder at a lawn sale for a quarter. For less than a dollar and a couple minutes of time, my family, and those on Facebook receive a message of encouragement, inspiration, or humor throughout the week.
In case you're not on Facebook, let me share a few from the past year with you. My hope is to start "Tweeting" them. If you'd like a little boost of encouragement, please follow me at @LisaBuske - I'm going to try to post on the Where's Heidi? Facebook page too.
Sometimes it's the little things that make a big difference, this white board message is evidence of this. I'm thankful God used this to encourage others to start doing the same thing in their homes. Do you have an old white board or chalk board lying around? It's good for the environment (no wasted paper) and good for the heart.
How do you share or find encouragement?
Did I mention it was "pajama day" at school? In case you don't know what this means, it means children and staff are encouraged to wear their jammies to school. These spirit type of days are right up my alley - so much fun!
What was, or is, your favorite themed day at school? Why?
One wrist, three bracelets, and each with their own special importance. I'll start from the bottom and work my way up. This summer, a friend, Karen Beaudin, sent VOVC bracelets for the family. VOVC stands for "Victims of Violent Crimes", the bracelet was designed by Karen herself to help raise awareness and funding for the victims of violent crimes. It's beautiful and since putting it on this August, I haven't take it off. Thank you Karen for thinking of Heidi's family as her case made the "Top New's Story" once again. I pray Karen's heart to help the victims and their families, and to raise awareness of cold cases...solve the unsolved, find the missing, and provide encouragement to those in need.
The middle one, a gift from a student last year and her family. The note that came with it, simple and from the heart. Each year I pray to nurture, educate, and make a positive difference in the life of the students I work and interact with throughout the school year. While I don't wear a "I'm a Christian" t-shirt or button when I go to school, I do try to model the kind of person we are called to be. Nothing fancy or special - just loving, compassionate, caring, generous, selfless, thoughtful, nurturing, risk taking, positive, and friendly people. I fought back to tears the day in June when I put this bracelet on because it's a generous gift and two, it's a symbol of something I believe and a reminder of the importance of what I do each day, to teach is more than schooling...it's influencing lives.
The final bracelet, the one closest to my hand reads "Sister". This is a Christmas gift from my parents, kind of. Mom and Dad enjoy making something with their own two hands, from the heart, and personal for us each year. A tradition started when Heidi and I were little. In addition to the personal gift, they usually include a gift card so I can get myself something that I wouldn't typically spoil" myself with. It wasn't until this summer that I used my gift card because I didn't want to waste the gift, just to shop.
Then, finally, it happened. When I least expected it, I saw something to use my gift card on. This beautiful "Sister" bracelet, until I looked at the price.It was MORE than the gift card, too much more. I was bummed and said, "Well, it's not meant to be." As Mags continued school shopping and browsing, I kept walking back to the jewelry section to look at the bracelet again. Mags finally said, "Mom, just get it. You deserve it. I'll pay the difference for a birthday gift." I shook my head and said "Thanks, but I can't let you do that."
This is where God stepped in. The store's representative politely interrupted, "Sorry, I didn't mean to listen in but I wanted to let you know, that bracelet is on sale. It's 60% off." I don't know if I started crying because I was on emotional overload this summer or because God cares about the smallest of things, like a bracelet with one simple yet special word written on it, and my desire to have it. It wasn't a need, just a want. One way to look down each day and remember...not that I ever forget her. Not only did my gift card cover the bracelet, it let me gift one for Mary that I saw her spying. It violates the "only on Lisa" rule my parents insist on with my gift cards but the way I look at it, I saved money and was able to bless my sweet and generous daughter.
I share this with you because so many of you encourage and inspire me each day. When I speak, I usually have a piece of jewelry on that is special to me. Sometimes it's a purple heart necklace to represent courage given to me after I shared my story for the first time. Or maybe a hand made one to match my outfit or theme, made by a friend who prays for me as I prepare and while making the jewelry. When I put the necklace on, it's like wrapping God's answered prayers around me. It might be a hand crafted heart with my sister's picture on it, or a simple heart.
But whatever the piece, it holds a special meaning. Your comments on the blog, Facebook, via email, or private messages are similar special momentos. Time is a precious commodity in today's society. To know you've not only take time to read the blog or posts but also to share a written response...special! Thank you. You might think, "It's just a quick response." yet to us, they are priceless gifts.
Do you have a piece of jewelry that provides encouragement or serves as a reminder of someone close to you? Will you share?
Earlier this week I shared a three part series with you. It started as one post to offer a little insight to how the sound of helicopters trigger memories of the day my only sister, Heidi M Allen, disappeared but as I wrote, I realized there was more to explain
Rather than post a coffee table reader, I divided the blog up. It became a three part series of reflection, insight, encouragement, and hope. In case you missed one or the whole thing, I'm posting all three on today's blog for your convenience. I know many of you "catch up", as you've told me, over the weekend.
To save you time going back to each individual day, simply click on the photo or title and it will take you to back instantly. Thanks for following, sharing, and reading. Have a great weekend!
Thank you for remembering Heidi
"Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis
This psychology memoir is about the things that break us and how we heal. It offers a raw view a 33-year-old wife and mother swallowed by psychosis. The episode includes meeting Jesus Christ, dancing with Ellen DeGeneres, and narrowly escaping eternity in the underworld. Casually called a nervous breakdown, psychosis is an entrapment outside of self where hallucinations and delusions anchor. Family, doctors, and fellow patients witness a nonverbal, confused, distraught shell of a woman. In the security of a psychiatric care center, the week-long psychosis broke and spit out a bipolar patient in the cushioned place of middle class medicine. Outpatient recovery consumed the better part of year with psychiatric treatment and spiritual contemplation. Left scarred and damaged, health returns allowing her to tentatively embrace a grace and peace earned through acceptance of bipolar disorder." From Amazon.com
Do you know what “psychosis” is? I wasn’t sure but the first thing I thought of was, “craziness” or “losing one’s mind” but I wasn’t sure. I learned early in Tara’s book, psychosis is the new terminology for “mental breakdown”. Similar to the education field, names change but the definitions remain the same. In school I studied English, Reading, and Writing, but today this is called the ELA block. Tomatoe, tomato – no matter how you pronounce it or call it – they both mean the same. Tara’s intimate, honest, and intense memoir taught me about psychosis and illuminated things we might be missing in our educational duties.
I enjoy doing book reviews for a few reasons. First and foremost, it allows me to receive a complimentary copy of a book on my “to-read” list, whether in PDF, Kindle, or print version. Sometimes, it offers the opportunity to connect with other authors personally. And finally, it allows me to do two things I enjoy greatly – to read and write. Bloggers are reading the same book yet we get to share it with our readers, highlighting different aspects that speak to us and/or we think you, our readers, would enjoy learning more about. So with this said, here’s my review and an aspect the author may not have intended but that spoke to me.
In the first dozen pages, Tara captured my attention to create a desire to finish the book and learn from her experience. Tara writes, “The matter that forced a break was intangible. My mind, adapting in its own large, grey blob of substance, separated ever so slightly over time until it formed a chasm between sanity and insanity.” Mind you, she doesn’t focus on or actually delve into the actual breakdown within these pages yet she shares a part of her life that spoke to my educator’s heart. It was in the pages that followed this statement that brought tears to my eyes.
Read a snip-it about Tara’s recollections of school:
“In Kindergarten, I felt slighted by getting the wrong teacher…One day I hit and kicked a classmate…by first grade, I was enrolled in special education classes…by third grade, I was pulled from classes to meet with a guidance counselor. These meetings were my first structured intervention to my ‘behavior’ problems…my reports were filled with negative remarks both in conduct and coursework. My parents were told I rushed through my work, I was sloppy, and didn’t care. I didn’t think that was true…I thought I was trying but couldn’t master the precision required to form the bellies of the letters B, P, and lower case g. The fluid connection of the letter from one to the other was another area of struggle;
I was identified as an excessive talker who disrespected authority. I was easily distracted, messy, and didn’t use class time well; worst of all, they said, I wasn’t living up to my potential…
I found my identity in becoming the troublemaker my authorities said I was.
By sixth grade, I was considered old enough to know better and was punished with detentions…”
A single mother, living at home with her parents, and hopeless but then she meets Mike, he is her night in shining armor. Her rock. Her protector. After married, they had two children together and the five were family. While Tara worked at the paper and managed raising three boys and caring for her husband, she slowly slipped into manic behaviors. “People who knew me could see the disease more clearly than I could see it in myself. Throughout life, I pushed evidence of insanity beneath the surface, hiding it from view and recognition. I cherished my companion, Denial. A colleague at the newspaper once summed it up nicely: ‘That Tara, she’s a great bunch of gals,’ Neil had said.”
Eventually her body couldn’t deny the reality and Tara experienced such manic psychosis, her husband was forced to admit her to a psychiatric ward. Tara fought the admittance at first but then, “I surrendered to what I now know was psychosis and let it take its course. But really, I had no choice but to abandon life and pray that I would be okay. There was little sign of earth any longer. I was detached from my body, harshly, to a foreign place vaguely logical based on distortions of Christian teachings. I was ensnared alone in a world that didn’t exist outside my mind. These events were so absurd, my husband was inadequately prepared to catch me as he and my children witnessed a woman – who looked very much like the wife and mother they loved – acting like possessed. I later learned my eyes were unfocused, dancing wildly.”
Satan used Tara’s faith and fears against her, “It is all part of my plan,” Jesus assured me. “You are not alone,” I was told. “In fact, all the Taras are facing this choice tonight, and each of them has a number in my plan.” The statement made by a coworker about her multiple personalities sunk into her subconscious and left a foothold for the devil to sneak in and infiltrate with lies. This is my understanding from reading, other readers (and Tara) may view this differently yet this is what I interpreted.
After returning home from the psychiatric ward, Tara writes, “The doctors couldn’t tell him how long I’d be gone. They had no way of knowing when the medication would start to work and restore sanity, and they had no way of knowing if I could recover. Like treating a fever, it could spike and worsen or subside and vanish. I was lucky. My psychosis lasted just five days. However, I would later learn the mania, which had spiraled to psychosis, continued to seep into the days and weeks and months following my release from the hospital. I would discover that mania was not always the heightened sense of joy or series of compulsive shopping sprees that you usually hear about from the media. In my case, mania was destructive and frightening…I had accepted the idea that I would always be plagued with melancholy and that I could find some relief with medication…None of that explained my most recent, so-called psychosis and new diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I was an invalid, whose self had been destroyed by insanity. Sanity, I believed, was a state within my control. I was irritated that I needed medical treatment to be able to handle life cheerfully. I didn’t see the events that had occurred as necessarily medical, but rather weakness…”
Read how Tara describes going to the variety of mental health doctors, “Going to see Dr. Burbach was like going to a doctor and pulling down my pants. But rather than donning a gown and physically revealing myself to him, I sat on a corner of his couch and answered his questions. He poked and probed at the innermost thoughts tucked in my brain. Still fragile, I continued to get headaches. I felt a physical expansion and contraction of my spilled brain matter…And I, like many, was conditioned to believe mental health was a pseudo-science. No one wants to admit they have a mental health condition. Especially one as feared as bipolar. The stigma surrounding it was and is too great, despite the fact that it affects 2.7 million Americans.”
At a conference, Tara fixes herself a plate at the buffet and after going through the buffet line, grabbing her plate of food and utensils – upon entering the dining room realizes the food hadn’t been served yet – embarrassed, one woman, Amanda invited her to sit near her and encouraged her not worry about it; Amanda was part of the local writer’s group in her area – this connected Tara to the “writer’s” support group she needed; “Days, from then on, included at least an hour of writing. Bit by bit, or bird by bird, I wrote. I believed the final product would become a memoir. I thought it could have value, because mental health memoirs were too often told from the perspective of a family member or celebrity, leaving the story of the afflicted up to a reader’s imagination. I thought I had something to add to the conversation of mental illness, and I wanted there to be a dialogue.” This reminded me of my heart to write Where’s Heidi? One Sister’s Journey, to help others grieving the loss of a sibling. Motivated to write to help others and share a firsthand experience others might experience yet will know someone dealing with the issue.
As Tara works through recover, “Recovery hadn’t been a straight line, but I surrendered to the process and it seemed to be working. In order to beat the beast, one must acknowledge the beast exists. In that moment, I gave up the weak belief that I wasn’t a person living with bipolar. I knew I was, and I was ready to really apply the therapy that accompanied those constant doses of medication…The peek-a-boo tricks of mental illness kept taunting me, tempting me back to the fantasy land. At the same time, the medications, medical psychologists and psychiatrists, and my family kept tugging me further into a place of sound mind. For every grain of sanity I collected, insanity would come back knocking at the door, inviting to take me under again.”
I’ll let Tara summarize for me:
“I thought I almost died during the psychotic break. I wasn’t really dying, but I held the belief that I was for some time. The only thing that kept me going was the idea that God needed me here on earth for some reason. I dabbled with the idea that maybe I was supposed to write this book, to help people understand what mental illness was like…I was a writer. I wrote to hold a fleeting piece of truth; I wrote with honesty. I wrote in exchange for an income. On good days, of which there were more lately, I believed writing was my vocation. Mike (Tara’s husband) supported this, both as the breadwinner and as the gentle encourager…When I decided to genuinely call my illness bipolar and accept the lifelong treatment set forth by my doctors, I achieved balance and sustainable productivity in my life…”
At the end of the visit, Dr. Burbach made a list of things that helped my prognosis:
*Absence of drugs and alcohol abuse
*Absence of legal problems
“The psychosis and the path from there to wellness were just a place I once visited. It was a place I left behind as I returned to the person I always was, only different. I was stronger, less vulnerable, and more confident. Taken out of the context of a life sentence, I placed the breakdown in a chapter of life that has ended. It is not a cross that I bear that weighs me down. The breakdown was a turning point that set me free.”
I apologize for the length of this blog but then I don’t. My recommendation, if you have a friend or relative that suffers with psychosis…read this book. If you suffer with psychosis personally, read the book because you are not alone. One of Tara’s greatest strengths that shines in this memoir, she advocates for her own illness and shares with others to help remove the taboo from mental diseases.
Do you remember in the beginning I wrote about the effect it had on me as an educator? Reread the first paragraph again, after seeing Tara’s transformation. One of the reasons Tara overcame the psychosis and is living a successful life was her ability to follow the plan set forth. This included a supportive family, job skills, and spirituality. As an educator I could see faces of past students that might have similar notes in their files but to no fault of their own, lack one or all of the necessary aspects to overcome a mental illness.
There are two ways to look at this, you can say, “It’s out of our hands, nothing we can do.” OR change the way we (school staff) think to be purposeful, thoughtful, encouraging, and forward thinkers instead of road blocks for the children in our schools. We can’t change home but we can be the one to say, “You are going places!” “You will be a great ___ when you grow up. Never give up.” And teachers can change their written comments to reflect potential rather than faults just in case one of these statements is the life changing moment for a student. I can’t help to think, if Tara looked back and remembered even one teacher writing or saying, “Tara has a lot of energy and has great ideas. I look forward to how she will channel them into the next great American novel.” Just a thought.
Way to go Tara, I’m glad I read the book.
About Author Tara Meissner:
Tara Meissner is a former journalist and a lifelong creative writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree and works part-time at her local library. Tara lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Mike, and their three sons. She writes longhand in composition notebooks. Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis is her first book.
Twitter hashtag: #SFracMeissner
Blog Tour Dates
Monday, September 28 (today!) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and book giveaway! http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/
Tuesday, September 30 @ The Lit Ladies
Join Tara Meissner as she guest blogs about "What Makes Someone a Writer" as she visits the lovely Lit Ladies today! Tara has also provided a giveaway copy of Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis for one lucky winner today!
Wednesday, October 1 @ Choices
Join Tara Meissner as she talks about "BiPolar and the Creativity Link Myth" and shares information about her memoir Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. http://madeline40.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, October 1 @ Lisa Haselton
Join Lisa Haselton as she interviews the courageous writer Tara Meissner about Tara's memoir Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. Tara has graciously provided an ebook copy for one lucky giveaway winner. This is a blog stop you won't want to miss! http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/
Thursday, October 2 @ All Things Audry
Tara Meissner visits with Audry Fryer of All Things Audry and Tara gives her thoughts on the recent death of Robin Williams. Tara has also offered an ebook copy of her Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis for one lucky winner of the giveaway! Good luck! http://allthingsaudry.blogspot.com/
Friday, October 3 @ Sherrey Meyer
"Being a Mom with BiPolar" is today's subject as author and memoir writer Tara Meissner visits with Sherrey Meyer. Tara has also graciously offered a copy of her recently released Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosisto one lucky winner of today's giveaway. Good luck and enjoy! http://sherreymeyer.com/author/sherreya/
Monday, October 6 @ Franciscan Mom
Join Tara Meissner as she stops by Franciscan mom with a guest post titled "Accepting Bipolar and Finding Grace" and offers a giveaway of her honest and touching memoir Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. http://franciscanmom.com/
Tuesday, October 7 @ Create Write Now
Join Tara Meissner at Mary McCarthy's Create Write Now as Tara discusses "I Knew I Was a Writer When..." and learn more about Tara's memoir Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. http://www.createwritenow.com/
Wednesday, October 8 @ Jerry Waxler
Read what fellow author and memoir writer Jerry Waxler has to say after reading Tara Meisner's recently releasedStress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. http://www.jerrywaxler.com/
Thursday, October 9 @ Lauren Scharhag
Join Tara Meissner as a guest author on Lauren Scharhag's blog talking about "The Stigma of BiPolar" and get in on the giveaway for Tara's memoir Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. http://laurenscharhag.blogspot.com/
Friday, October 10 @ Romance Junkies
Join Tara Meissner as she stops at Romance Junkies for an insightful interview about herself and her Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. http://www.romancejunkies.com/rjblog/
Tuesday, October 14 @ Bring on Lemons
Tara Meissner stops by to chat with WOW!'s own Crystal Otto as she shares her thoughts on "Bipolar and Living Well" and offers readers an opportunity to win a copy of her memoir through a giveaway. Don't miss your chance to hear from Tara and take home a copy of Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, October 15 @ CMash Reads
Join author Tara Meisner as she discusses "Creating Time to Create" with a visit to CMash Reads. Read Tara's thoughts and find out more about her recently released memoir Stress Fracture: a Memoir of Psychosis. http://cmashlovestoread.com/
Keep up with blog stops and giveaways in real time by following us on Twitter @WOWBlogTour.
Will you welcome Tara to the blog today?
How do you see Stress Fracture helping others?
Technology is so much fun
On April 3, 1994, Heidi M Allen, disappeared from the D & W Convenience Store on the corner of State Routes 104 104b in the small town of New Haven, New York. It's been 7,501 days since our family knew where Heidi is and the same amount of time we haven't given up hope.
Hope, waiting, and love are the constant and unchanging while we pray for Heidi's return. One thing is very different today than twenty years, six months, and thirteen days ago...technology.
How many of you remember the first cellular phone? It was in a big bag, not small enough to fit in your back pocket or pencil case. The first computers, if you were lucky enough to have one, were bigger than the average desk and most likely, NOT connected to the Internet.
Don't get me wrong, your encouragement, outreach, and love is one of the things that helps us get through the toughest of days yet in the midst of it all, it can be a challenge to keep it together emotionally when so many extend such love and kindness. I shared this with a friend and she said, "It's okay to cry Lisa when someone asks how you are doing. It isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of being human." Man, I am VERY human.
As I thought about being human and the difference, this is when I realized, some of the "news" reports with play by plays each hour weren't different than coverage twenty years ago. Reporters were at the Command Center around the clock, just like Heidi's family, friends, and community.
The reporters would leave in enough time to make it back to Syracuse for the news hour, journalists would stay until the last possible moment and then return to the office to write their story for that evening's print, and some spent the extra expense to broadcast from location but the majority were only running their stories in the morning, at Noon, or in the evening. Newspapers had their stories for the morning and evening editions. There wasn't instant access to the news, everyone waited.
With today's technological advances, both print and on-air media were able to broadcast, post, and report at any given moment throughout the day. This makes it easier for those of us waiting for news yet at times, lacks compassion because while families and others involved are waiting, sometimes we had to hear about it while getting groceries, rather than from the investigating teams.
Like the instance with the missing girl earlier this month, I was grateful but in July and August as our family was directly linked to the lead news story, it was a challenge. At one point, a new story was posting almost on the hour, and so many of us "follow" our favorite television news station or newspaper, the "Update" or "Breaking News" sound would beep.
One day as I stood in the check out line, it sounded like a band playing as everyone's phones started to bing, beep, and sound because of the different ring tones set and the different agencies offering an update. I looked at my husband and said, "Do you think?" and before he could answer, people were talking about Heidi's case. I attempted to scan the last of our groceries at the self-check-out but started to shake so bad, Ed had to finish. Mags started bagging and I just tried to unlock my phone to call my parents. In 1994, with the exception of a little check-out line gossip, I could slip in and out and pick up the necessary items but in today's instant access news...it's like rolling the dice.
Twenty years ago we didn't know what everyone was thinking or the sideline commentaries. I honestly never thought about it until this summer. I'm sure the same type of conversations occurred twenty plus years ago, our family just didn't have to "happen" across them while on Facebook or when someone shares a news article online.
I think one of the benefits of having to wait for print news, it limits one's ability to comment before thinking or sharing things that are meant only to be expressed in the presence of your closest friends and family. Not everything is meant for social media, this applies to all areas of life, not just news reporting.
I'm an Internet, Social Media, and communicate online person myself with an equal amounts of dings, beeps, and notifications going off on my phone throughout the day. The difference between our family and most of yours, we've experienced both sides of the beep. When I hear the notification ding, I ask, "Is it about Heidi? or is it something else?"
Life and the news aren't all about Heidi M Allen, or her kidnapping. The top news stories are just that, the top story of the day. For a couple months, Heidi's case was in the top and today, someone or something else holds that spot. I'm thankful for the reprieve of the spotlight and pray for the next bout of attention.
How has new technology changed the way you communicate?
Do you still "talk" or "text"?
I still focus on this first and foremost but at times, to not know where Heidi is and wrestle with why some missing children and adults are found while others aren't, can be emotionally draining and lead to physical debilitation. This is one reason I spend time reading my Bible, in prayer, and surrounded by an encouraging bunch of people.
It's easy to slip in to the "Why me?" downward spiral and this isn't the path I want or the one God chose for me, my family, Heidi's friends, or this community. I'm thankful for each person praying, hoping, and advocating for Heidi's return. I'm thankful for the families who know where their missing loved is now and pray for them on the next part of their journey, the journey of living without their loved one or living a "new" life with the forever-changed recovered loved one.
Faith isn't the ability to believe long and far into the misty future.
This was an important and necessary realization for me but another one revealed itself to me in the midst. Do you remember how I talked about searching the news and Facebook for an update in yesterday's blog?
I underplayed my searching the news stations and Internet for updates. I was nearly obsessed. I'd pray, Lord, please hold this precious little girl in the shadow of your wings, with one breath and then check all four television stations for an update. No news, no updates.
Thank you Lord, give the searchers Your eyes to see and her parents, family, and neighbors strength as they wait. Lord, may this little one, your child, feel your presence in a real way until she is found. Amen
Some of the same desires drawing me to the news and social media are the same that created stress this past summer. Whereas this summer, we just wanted the media to stop calling, driving by, and seeking us out because we were waiting, just like all of you. I'm thankful the majority of the media was understanding to this yet as I reflect on my "need to know" in regards to this missing girl, I have a new understanding to the media's role in a situation like this.
I won't lie, the stress, increased emotions, and drama of this past summer continue to weigh on our entire families' hearts, as we continue to wait with a heightened level of not knowing and the unknown. Our goal is the same today as it was on April 3, 1994...to find Heidi.
While the media continues to do their job and report the news, I pray to remember how I felt waiting earlier this month. I wasn't waiting, searching, and praying because I didn't care but just the opposite...I was driven by compassion, love, mercy, and hope for another family's missing loved one. With this being said, thank you for your desire to know what is going on as it relates to my sister's case. Heidi M Allen, missing for over twenty years yet never forgotten...you are all evidence of this. Thank you!
Tomorrow's Blog: Another Revelation - "Times Have Changed"
Have you ever realized what it felt like
to walk a mile in someone else's shoes?
Did you change the way you think or ignore the revelation?
"Rejoice always, pray continually,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
As I prayed, I watched Facebook for an update. Within moments I found myself watching the news in hopes of an update. Nothing. Finally someone posted the roads were closed between the two intersections where the child was missing but most didn't know why the roads were closed. I knew because a friend shared so I could pray. A few more precious moments go by, the missing toddler is now scrolling the screen but without a name or picture. The helicopters can still be heard in the distance.
My heart rate increases as the waiting continues. I pray and pray yet nothing. Within a few hours, my friend shares the child has been found safe and thanks me and many others for joining them in prayer.
No details were shared with the public other than the missing child was found. I lifted prayers of thanks to God and then cried. The adrenaline induced time of prayer drained me of both energy and hope.
Are you asking how I could lose hope when the little one was found safe? While her recovery brought relief, praise, and excitement...her recovery brought "Why not Heidi? Why not Suzie or Rose or Audrey or..." and the list went on.
A friend, and sister to one of America's missing, asked me a question a few weeks ago, she wanted to know if I ever felt jealous for the families whose loved one was recovered.
But, on this evening, the flood gates of jealousy opened up. Thank goodness Ed and Mags were at work because I had myself a nice, healthy, and over-needed cry. I cried out to God both audibly and with my thoughts. I expressed thanks for this sweet toddler being reunited and revisited the hurt that Heidi, in spite of the hundreds, if not thousands praying, remained missing...more than twenty years later. I owe my friend an apology, without knowing it, I am jealous when another missing person's family learns of their loved one's whereabouts.
Yet, I'm thankful to say, the joy and thanksgiving for their not knowing to end, far outweighs my moments of jealousy. With my eyes focused on God, the One who knows where Heidi is...I continue to pray for her be found. I pray all our missing are found and no more disappear. I hope you forgive my moment of weakness and selfishness.
I will continue to pray and advocate for our missing - adult and children both. I will lift praise and thanksgiving for each one found, whether recovered or discovered because each is an answer to prayer. I will never give up hope for my sister, Heidi M Allen, to be found!
Have you experienced mixed emotions in life? When? Why?
You see, in 1994, my parents with the help of my aunts and uncles stood in front of the cameras, fielded the phone calls, and shared comments with the press. One of the misunderstandings I shared in Where's Heidi? One Sister's Journey was in regards to our family's response to the media.
I viewed my parent's concern and protection as isolation. It wasn't until my Mom read the first draft of Where's Heidi? that this miscommunication was cleared up. This summer when Heidi's case was brought to the forefront with a vicious, determined, and spearheaded motion of events, the open wounds were salted.
We weren't the only ones affected by the near daily news coverage and "breaking news" during the majority of the summer. I "lost" my only sister. My parents "lost" their youngest daughter. Our entire family, community, and friends "lost" Heidi. Over twenty years ago, I didn't know how to handle the stress, so thankfully my parents did protect me.
As they protected me, I ran from God because I blamed Him for Heidi's kidnapping. This is of course false yet it was easier (or so I thought) to run away then lean on God. How foolish of me.
This past July, instead of running away...I put all my weight, worries, stress, and anxiety in God's hands and leaned on Him. God reminded me of this.
In 1994, I couldn't of handled standing in front of all the cameras to share words of thanksgiving and encouragement from our family with all of you. In 1994, I blamed God but this year I thanked Him as I felt His arms wrap around me, my parents, my entire family, our community, and our friends. God was there for us in the midst.
I'm stronger because of this tragedy and each lesson learned along the way. This summer when my parents weren't strong enough to talk with reporters and make statements, I was able to do this for them...for Heidi...for all of you who continue to encourage and pray for Heidi and our family.
One important thing that helps me, my family, Heidi's friends, and our community continue to move forward and focus on prayer and hope is this...Heidi is still missing!!
Regardless of what "break" you might read about in the case or story you see on the news, Heidi's family, friends, and community still close their eyes at night asking...Where's Heidi? and if tomorrow will be the day the answer is revealed.
We will NEVER give up Hope for Heidi M Allen to be found. Thank you for joining us in prayer, for your encouragement, and keeping the focus on the missing girl...Heidi Allen.
Thank you for remembering Heidi and joining us in prayer for her return.
Have you suffered a tragic loss in your life?
If so, looking back, how are you stronger or different
today than you were the day life changed forever?
I then carefully lifted the bag and basket at the same time and flipped. In my mind, I saw then nearly filling the basket and then If pull the bag out. Have you already predicted this plan didn't quite go as planned?
The majority of apples followed the rules and stayed within the perimeter of their safety zone yet a handful decided to jump from the basket and tolled from the counter to the floor and then bounced...and bounced...and rolled until the only thing left shaking...was my head.
We are like these apples, well maybe it's just me but I don't think I'm alone in this. I know some people have "tougher skin" than others yet I know some "tuffys" and guess what, I think they are more sensitive than the ones we identify with as needing TLC when handling conflict, situations, and life. What do you think?
"For you created my inmost being;
God didn't create us to feel like the apples falling from my basket. You and I are "wonderfully made", "precious" and "delights in those who fear Him." This is amazing if you really think about it and let it sink in. Regardless of one's beliefs or faith, God loves each and every one of us.
This is what makes us unique and the person we are. It's up to us to decide what to do with our bruises, do we put make up on over them, wear a mask so those around us don't know?
Do we share with only those close to us?
Do we attempt to live life on our own with no support from family and friends?
Do we blame God and run in the other direction?
(I chose this option for a little over a decade after the kidnapping of my sister)
Do we call out to God for help, for strength, and His grace and mercy to survive?
Just like the apples, we can NEVER remove the bruises and brokenness BUT we can become something more beautiful and useful when we nurse our wounds, seek His wisdom, invite God into our life, and recognize the bruises are merely a new aspect of who we are and we have a choice.
"Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality."
We can either lay on the floor or under the apple tree rotting away and becoming part of the life cycle OR we can brush off the dirt, address the bruised spots, and make some delicious apple crisp, apple pie, or applesauce to share with others.
Rather than be ashamed, admit we have a bruise and then share how God sweetened the apple of His eye, YOU, to be a new creation once again. Your story just became more personal. Your bruises are similar to someone else's and he/she might need to know, God can heal them too.
Will you share your apple crisp and make a
positive difference in the life of someone else?
"Number one, I absolutely love
Last night my daughter said, "Mom, I'm thinking tomorrow will be National Cookie Day on Channel 9 again. Don't you."
I was heading into sleep mode so missed the subtle hint so I responded with, "Maybe not National Cookie Day but possibly a different type of cookie. Then I looked into her eyes and the mischievious smile on her face and smiled.
I modified my answer, "I guess it depends on what time I get out of bed, if it is or not." We both laughed and finished our bedtime routines, forgetting her request.
As my alarm went off this morning, I decided to wake Mags with the house filled with the aroma of fresh baked cookies. When Mags dragged through the kitchen she stopped and said, "Hey, you really made cookies."
I laughed because I thought this was the point of her comment the night before. We both left the house with a plate of warm cookies to share. I tasted tested a couple with my coffee to be sure they were safe.
What does my daughter's desire for freshly baked cookies in the morning and "Missing and Never Forgotten" have to do with each other? Great question, I'm glad you asked.
As children, one of Heidi and my favorite things to enjoy were my mother's homemade chocolate chip cookies. If Mom knew we were having a big test, had a dragon to slay while at school that day, or noticed we just needed a little pick-me-up...we came home to the aroma of freshly baked cookies, still warm from the oven.
Mom never complained or mentioned she worked all day and baked cookies before even starting supper, she just did it. With warm cookies and a cold milk, Mom listened to us unwind from the day's events and offered words-of-wisdom.
BUT you know what she did best? She listened without opinion or judgement. She made us her first priority, regardless of how tired she was or the lists needing her attention.
It doesn't have anything to do with the cookies really, it has to do with the time and my focus. I'm thankful for my mother's keen sense of when Heidi or I needed her attention and words-of wisdom and ears-of-listening. I pray Mags will reflect one day and say the same about me and our relationship. Around the kitchen table is more than enjoying Mom's delicious chocolate chip cookies (I use the same recipe today), it was mother-daughter time. It was two sisters, one Mom, and time wonderfully spent. Thank you Mom!
What memory of time spent with your parent around the kitchen table do you remember and cherish? Will you share below?
When do you feel the most alone?
Did you know God is rejoicing over YOU with singing?
How cool is that...
Do you look for a rainbow? I know when it starts to rain, the first thing I spy for is the rainbow that comes once the precipitation concludes moistening the ground. I don't always see one, but_ this is why rainbows are so special, God doesn't always paint one across the sky.
At the end of the summer I went to a "Back-to-School" picnic. This same picnic, one year ago, created anxiety and nervousness because I was meeting a new building of educators and staff. I knew a few yet the change combined with missing my "family" at my first school weighed on me. Once there, I laughed and got to know my new family and reconnect with others.
Last year I adjusted to working in a new building, learned how things worked in comparison to my previous building assignment, and devoted time to building relationships. While I didn't know everyone at the end of the year and still struggle to locate everyone by name and room number, it was a good year. Prior to arriving at the annual back-to-school picnic, I set a goal for the new school year. In addition to continued learning and becoming a better teacher, I want to build on relationships established last year, and connect with some new people too (on a more personal level).
As much as I looked forward to seeing my new school family, I was apprehensive about the relationships. One thing I learned in 1994, tragedy brings out the awkward and uncomfortable with some of your closest friends. I didn't want anyone to be uneasy around me yet I prayed no one wanted to spend a lot of time talking about the news coverage. At my old school, they understood and a lot was left unspoken, needing no explanation.
God is so amazing, He read my mind. The only thing anyone shared at the picnic were words of encouragement and extensions of love and friendship, "I'm not going to say much, unless you want to talk, just want you to know we're thinking of you and your family...praying for you all...etc." I stepped away from the group a few times to collect myself as tears welled in my eyes at how loving and amazing my new school family is, an unexpected blessing.
The photographs of the rainbows in this blog were taken during this year's picnic. We had a slight rain and then a beautiful rainbow. It wasn't until someone looked at their picture that I heard, "There are two! Lisa, did you see the second rainbow?" I hadn't. Everyone started taking more pictures trying to capture the second ribbon of hope and blessing arching over us. We knew it was a sign for the year ahead. Thus far, there are nothing but rainbows at school. Some days have a little more rain than others but when the day is over, we focus on the positives and rainbows shining around us...on the children's faces.
Are you a rainbow searcher?
Is there a reason you like to find the rainbows?
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