Statistics aren’t convincing enough? You know a Survivor. #SAAM2015 Book Giveaway

 

 Did you know:

  • 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. 
  • Fifteen percent of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12. 
  • Seven percent of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused. 
  • Three percent of boys grades 5-8 and 5% of boys in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused. 
  • In 1995, local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse.
    Of these, 75% were girls. 
  • Nearly 30% of child victims were between the age of 4 and 7.
    93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.
    34.2% of attackers were family members.
    58.7% were acquaintances.
    Only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victims.

Victims of sexual assault are:

  • 3 times more likely to suffer from depression. 
  • 6 time more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. 
  • 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol. 
  • 26 times more likely to abuse drugs. 
  • 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide. 

And if these statistics aren’t reason enough for you to become aware of (at the least) or become involved in the fight against sexual assault and abuse, maybe knowing that I was a child victim would help.

I’m here to tell you there’s hope.

I’m here to tell you there’s healing.

Statistics become survivors.

With your help.

April is Sexual Assault And Abuse Awareness Month. Visit RAINN or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center for more information. 

The issue is as old as humanity. My first novel, How Sweet the Sound, is a modern day retelling of the story of Tamar in the book of 2 Samuel in the Bible, a woman raped by her brother and left to live in desolation. In my book, however, the Tamar figure (named Comfort) learns to find hope and healing. 

 Share this story with someone you know today who needs hope, or even if you need to find hope, yourself. 

 In support of Sexual Assault and Abuse Awareness Month, I’m giving away a SIGNED COPY of How Sweet the Sound. Enter your name and a comment below for your chance to win. I’ll announce winners via Twitter and my Facebook Author Page Friday.

References available at https://rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims

Changing the story of the elderly among us: Aging Family We Love

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*****

My Grandpa Joe and me at my wedding in 1995.

My Grandpa Joe and me at my wedding in 1995.

In February, 2012, my Grandpa Joe, a month shy of 95, suffered a fall which ultimately led to his death approximately ten days later. During his hospitalization, his short-term memory was poor, but his long-term memory was strong. Sitting with him and simply listening to his stories without trying to correct him or argue when he got little facts and names wrong over the course of those 10 days proved to be a precious healing and grace-covered time. 

As a nurse, I frequently care for elderly patients who are fading. The challenges surrounding end-of-life care and elderly loved ones is daunting for everyone involved, and I detail much of that struggle in my recent article at More to Life Magazine: Final Chapters. Many of these patients have dementia or Alzheimer’s, which compounds the exhaustion and distress of caregivers and friends. According to the Alzheimer’s Association more than 10 million Americans face the task of caring for a family member with dementia. This means that chances are, this sort of situation touches you or someone you love. 

But the elderly among us are more than their diagnoses.

Indeed, many have stories left to tell.

In Final Chapters, I write: 

We can re-write these stories for ourselves and our loved ones. First, we need to raise awareness of the magnitude of the plight of our aging brothers and sisters and the loved ones close to emotional and physical collapse trying to care for them. Then, we need to listen to their stories, for it is through story—yours, mine, and theirs—that we live.”

While we often cannot change the progression of age and age-related crises, one of the most significant realizations besides capturing the stories within our loved ones is that we don’t have to go through these times alone. In fact, many organizations exist to help learn ways to cope, such as the Alzheimer’s Association  and A Place for Mom.

Community matters in end-of-life and elderly care.

We need to start sharing our stories.

We need to start sharing their stories.

Will you join in the conversation?

There’s a new space I started on Facebook for people to come, post photos of their loved ones, tell their own stories and gather for encouragement, called Aging Family We Love.

In addition, we’re making space for people like you to post pictures and stories on social media sites like twitter and Pinterest by using the hashtag #AgingFamilyWeLove.

*****

Do you have a story to tell about an aging loved one?

Write a post on your own blog and link to it in the comments below.

And/or, help start the conversation by clicking one of the links below to tweet:

Tweet: Do you care for an aging family or friend? Share your story. #AgingFamilyWeLove http://ctt.ec/fbRfJ+

or

Tweet: I’m helping change the way my loved one’s story ends, and you can too. #AgingFamilyWeLove http://ctt.ec/V6GyI+

or

Tweet: My loved one has a story beyond #Alzheimers that needs to be told. #AgingFamilyWeLove http://ctt.ec/w55R2+

or

Tweet: My loved one’s story doesn’t end with #dementia. Share your story. #AgingFamilyWeLove http://ctt.ec/1448s+

*****

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Here’s a picture of my Grandpa Joe, my Grandma Mary Jane, and my dad from the 1940’s. Grandpa Joe was the inspiration behind my new novel, Then Sings My Soul.

What will your loved one inspire you or someone else to do?

On lapidary and artists: The story behind the theme of Then Sings My Soul

I think one of God’s favorite things to do is to make and shape people. Of course I can’t speak for Him, but the works of God’s hands are mentioned not infrequently throughout the Bible, how God sculpts the land and the heart, and how He creates artists, too.

Moses talks about an artisan named Bezalel who may have been one of the earliest lapidarists.  Exodus 31:5 (NLT) reads, “[Bezalel] is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft!”

And in Isaiah 64:8 (NLT) we read, “And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.”

Jakob, the main protagonist in Then Sings My Soul, is a lapidarist–one who works with and fashions stones and gems. Jakob’s father (Josef) was a lapidarist, too.

This is a piece of raw aquamarine, the sort of stone Josef  would have worked with and passed on to Jakob in the story.

I used the trade and theme of lapidary in this novel because my grandfather was a lapidarist, too. In fact, he actually made the stone on the cover of the novel, and you can read more about that providential story in the afterwords in the back of the novel.

As a special treat for you today, here are the actual diagrams and notes my grandfather used to make this stone:

When you read Then Sings My Soul, I think you’ll discover why the theme of lapidary lends itself so well to Jakob and his daughter, Nel. They both start out pretty rough, living in ways not everyone would approve of. But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t see the beauty He knows they can become.

The same story can be yours, friend. If you feel dirty and rough, unnoticed, worthless…God sees the new and clean, the priceless and sparkling person He is making you to be.

The work a lapidarist does on a stone is harsh at times. There are cuts and chisels, chunks hacked off and angles shorn. But in the eye of the Lapidarist, all these steps are necessary.

More than that, as He works, the Lapidarist holds you in His hand and never lets go.

What about you? 

Do you have places in your life that need polished? 

Do you wonder where God is in the midst of your journey?

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