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Archive for May, 2013

Today let’s welcome Sharlene Mac Laren, author of fifteen faith-based novels, and recipient of numerous writing awards. She writes page-turner stories, woven with important truths.

Sharlene Mac Laren

Three of her books deal with grief: Through Every Storm (marriage difficulties after the loss of a child), Tender Vow (a woman left with two small children after the death of her husband), and Livvie’s Song, (a woman’s struggles over falling in love again after the death of her spouse).

).Through Every StormTender VowLivvie's Song

Sharlene is as open as her books. She lives life out loud and doesn’t apologize.

1. Shar, so many women in grief struggle with their feelings and wonder if what they are gong through is normal. You seem to accept yourself just as you are. How did this come about?

“First, thanks so much for inviting me to share on your blog, GriefWalk. I consider it a privilege. While I haven’t lost a spouse, I have known grief on varying levels, losing precious parents and in-laws, struggling and sometimes even failing at relationships. Grief is grief no matter how one views it, and it has to be dealt with even when we’d rather avoid it. It’s easy to think that we are all alone in our feelings, and yet so many suffer in their own ways, and in their own little shells. I think for me, I had to come to a place in my life where I completely gave over my deep sadness and utter sense of helplessness into the hands of the Great Physician, Jesus. Through the years He has proven Himself faithful, loving, good, kind, and ever present. I have come to trust Him as my loyal father and Someone who will never leave or fail me. I think once a person is able to come to this knowledge and put him or herself in a position of total faith in a loving God, the healing can begin.”

2. In all of your books, you follow a central theme. What is it, and why is it important?

“I would say that all my books are borne out of some sort of sorrow or sadness, some sort of catastrophe that sets the tone, and then throughout the story a thread of hope. The main character must follow this thread, which is ultimately God, and find his/her path to freedom and wholeness through trusting Christ. Throughout each story I portray the love of Jesus, though not in a preachy or overdone way. I incorporate a lot of humor, which also helps lighten things and add layers to the story. It is always my hope that hearts will be inspired to seek more of God after reading my books.”

3. What do you portray about grief in these three books?

“For one thing, we are never alone in our grief. The one suffering always wants to believe no one else has ever known such pain as what he/she is having to endure, but it’s simply not true. God himself suffered terrible grief, loss, and a sense of utter betrayal when He languished on the cross. Our greatest hope in the midst of deep pain and grief is realizing the hope we have through trusting Him to help and heal us. One key thing I have found on many occasions is that setting my focus on others puts a whole new perspective on grief. Involving one’s self in a group of like-minded people will help the grief stricken individual discover there are others out there who are hurting as well, others who need a gentle word or a comforting touch. Reaching out to others and putting other’s pain ahead of our own often allows God to accomplish great things through us.”

4. Your stories focus on hope. What do you see as our hope in grief:

“My hope in grief is found in the very pages of God’s Word. “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him” (Psalm 62:5). Another great verse comes from Psalm 121:2: “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Think of it. The very creator of all things wants to reach down and touch our hearts, bringing healing and wholeness. All that is ours to do is reach out in faith and accept that divine touch. Does healing come immediately? No, there are many aspects of grief that take much time to work through and even come to terms with, but I have learned it is so much easier going through these rough patches with a God who goes before me. Isaiah 42:16 says, “I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.” Another version says it this way:”I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them.” I don’t know about you, but I find that a beautiful picture – God going ahead of me in my grief and preparing the way so I don’t falter. He gives us strength for each day, courage for each new struggle, and hope for a bright future. He alone is our help.”

5. You’ve had your own experiences with loss. Is there anything you’ve learned going through this, that you’d like to share with my readers who are dealing with their own depths of grief?

“The very first work that came to mind when I read that question was the word SURRENDER. Difficult times often make me want to revert inward and then stay there. They make me want to wallow in sorrow and a sense of hopelessness. But what does this accomplish really? Not much, and it certainly doesn’t contribute to our healing or give us any sense of purpose. Surrendering to Christ and HIS purposes is another story altogether. In Him we find we can go on, we can find a brand new reason for living, we can discover new avenues we never knew existed, and there truly is life after loss. But surrender often points to sacrifice on our part. Surrender means letting go of our pain and giving it to Jesus. In your darkest night, simply say, “Jesus, I can’t do this on my own. I need YOU to help me carry this sorrow. Therefore, I give it into Your capable hands. You have walked this road ahead of me. Please take my pain and do with it as You would. Live your life through me and make me an example of Your love. Through You may I show the world that there is hope and life. Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” That’s enough for me! I hope it’s enough for you, dear friend.”

6. Your enthusiasm for writing matches your enthusiasm for living. What are you working on now? Do you have any plans for any additional grief writing?

“Currently, I’m working on a series set in Paris, Tennessee in the late 1800’s. I love writing historical novels, so much so in fact that this in my 4th 3-book series. It’s set to begin releasing later this year and into 2014. I mentioned earlier that all my books are borne out of some sort of grief, tragedy, loss, or underlying circumstance that requires healing, forgiveness, and/or redemption. I love to write about how God can make all things beautiful when we surrender to His plans for us. Romans 8:28 just happens to be my all-time favorite verse: “For we know that all things work together for good to them who love the Lord, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” In other words, surrender your ways to Him, then watch Him turn the ugly things of our lives into glorious and beautiful. He wants to do it! And I for one want Him to!”

Thank you so much, Sharlene.

Readers: What helped you the most in this interview? Did you learn anything new about grief?

To find out more about Sharlene and her books, click on any of the following:

http://www.sharlenemaclaren.com.

http://www.facebook.com/sharmaclaren

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My mother-in-law died six years ago. She had been like a second mother to me.

I remember the day we met. Neither of us knew what to expect.
We were wary until an over-sized jump suit (of all things),
showed us how silly we both were; and the ice was broken.
After that, we were friends through high times and low times,
and many in-between times.

Times like college graduation (oh how proud we both were of your son).
holiday dinners and
the births of your grand children…

Then there were the talks we had, secrets shared over lunches while shopping,
two a.m. Sundaes and the way-too-late TV shows we had to watch.

Oh, and I remember things you overlooked, like the hole in the garage door,
made by my not always well-behaved children.
And the “plan ahead” things I overlooked: like snacks for the kids on a long trip.

Gifts sent on special days,
And days made special by your gifts.
Your weekly letters with the familiar reminder to “Keep the faith”…

But, the most precious memory of all is when you said,
“I love you like my own daughter.” And you cried.
So did I, with bittersweet tears.
Bitter because we were parting once again. And sweet, for suddenly I knew
I’d always been surrounded by His Love through you.

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Here’s a great article by Chelsea Hanson, filled with compassion and self care for those of us in grief:
http://withsympathygifts.com/blog/griefsupport/grief-relief-101-how-to-cope-when-grievin…

What is your favorite self-care technique?

About the author, Chelsea Hanson:
Grief Expert, Life Strategist and Author Chelsea Hanson has over 15 years of experience in comforting people at times of loss and guiding them through the transformative process of grief to live life again with renewed passion and a new appreciation of today. Chelsea is the author of the Hello from Heaven series of books. Ms. Hanson also founded With Sympathy Gifts and Keepsakes, which provids memorial keepsakes to honor and remember the beautiful lives of those who have gone before us. Over 600 funeral homes across the U.S. and Canada use her grief support programs and on-line memorial gift store.

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