Thursday, January 31, 2013

Getting Out of Bed in the Durham Herald-Sun: Comfort in Heartache


A devotional of ‘comfort in heartache’

Alice Wisler hopes to help others deal with loss with ‘Getting Out of Bed in the Morning’


BY DAWN BAUMGARTNER VAUGHAN; dvaughan@heraldsun.com; 919-419-6563


DURHAM —

In the wake of the death of her 4-year-old son Daniel in 1997, Alice Wisler formed a grief organization to help other parents. Also an author of several fiction books, Wisler’s latest is a devotional. “Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache” (Leafwood Publishers, softcover, $13.99) is a collection of 40 devotionals for those dealing with various kinds of losses in their lives.

The idea for the devotional was formed as Wisler, who lives in Durham, went on walks, and each devotional includes ideas for contemplation while on a walk. It also includes a prayer, Bible verses and Wisler’s own personal stories of life and loss.

Daniel, who died after eight months of cancer treatments, would have been 21 now. The anniversary of his death is Feb. 2. What Wisler’s book shows, and what she experiences, is that “there is a God that sustains us through misery.”

What’s helped her be sustained is being around other believers who encourage and support her, Wisler said. A member of Blacknall Presbyterian Church, which she joined in 2002, Wisler has found that other members are willing to learn about Daniel and acknowledge his death.

“Bereaved parents want acknowledgement,” she said. They’re still grieving their child and still missing their child, always. Parents don’t want a pity party, Wisler said, just the acknowledgement that attending something like a celebratory event is hard.

Through donations, 106 copies of “Getting Out of Bed in the Morning” were sent this week to Newtown United Methodist Church in Connecticut, the community where 20 children and six adults were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. Victims included church members.

Writing has been a form of solace, great peace and hope after her son’s death, Wisler said. She hopes people will find encouragement from her book, with a message to point to God. It helps to see what God has to say about bereavement, grief and fear, she said, and “how we can live in spite of the suffering.”

Below is an excerpt from “Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache” by Alice J. Wisler:

(Pages 44-47, devotion Seven)
“Rescue Me!”

. . . my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you. — Psalm 88:9

Observing a temper tantrum in a child is no easy feat. We watch a child asking for a cookie, and then when denied she continues to beg, and then the begging leads to wailing. Nine times out of ten, kicking and screaming follow. Sometimes the only way to stop the escalating behavior is to pick the child up and hold her until she, at last, is exhausted and settles in her parent’s arms.

As adults, often we’re still like a child. We vacillate between wanting to pull away, storm out, go our own way, and wanting to be rescued from ourselves. Somebody hold me, help me take my eyes off of me and my dilemma and focus on something else.

At times, like a child, we get to a place where we are totally out of sorts, unable to even see or think clearly anymore. Life seems to have swallowed us whole. We are in dire need of help. Open your eyes and look to the One who is standing beside you, His arms outstretched. He wants to pick you up and hold you until your tears and frustration cease.

When a mother came back home from a Mary Kay party with more makeup on than she usually wore, her four-year-old daughter stood at a distance for a moment before running into her arms. Then smiling into her face, the child said, “I know it’s you, Mommy! I know you’re in there.” While you might put on a new fa├žade in the form of a different hairstyle or article of clothing, you can’t fool those who are closest to you. They still recognize you. How much more acquainted with you is God! He knows you better than you know yourself. He loves you more than anyone ever can or will.


Reflections to Ponder
Close your eyes and spread out your hands. Lift them up over your head. Stretch them out in front of you, palms up. Imagine God reaching out for you. Spend a few moments in silence. Listen for God’s stirrings in your heart. Close and then open your hands as though you are giving your concerns over to God. Read aloud Psalm 88:9: “. . . my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you.” In response to this verse, read also Psalm 18:19: “He [the Lord] brought me into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”

If you feel overwhelmed by what you feel your life is lacking or what you think is not right, jot down your concerns. Sometimes releasing your pent-up discontent helps because you are getting it out of your mind and letting the paper hold the weight of it. What troubles you? Can you put your fears on paper? Do you believe that the Lord will counsel you as you seek Him (Ps. 16:7)?

Prayer:
Save me for I am drowning.
Save me for I worry.
Save me for I fear.
Save me for I am consumed with despair.
Save me, O God.
You have rescued me
from drowning, from worry,
from fear, and from despair.
Thank you, O God.

When You Walk:
Find a park to walk to and a place to sit. On a note pad, list what you know about God to be true. How will you implement these truths in your daily life?

[Excerpt courtesy of author and Leafwood Publishers]


WHAT: Author reading, “Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache” by Alice J. Wisler. There will also be soup and cornbread.
WHEN: 10 a.m. to noon, Feb. 9
WHERE: Blacknall Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall
1902 Perry St., Durham

Printed in the Durham Herald-Sun in the Faith and More section / January 31, 2013
Copyright 2013

To read reviews and order Getting Out Of Bed in the Morning, click here.

Friday, January 25, 2013

God of Mystery



Twenty-six

God of Mystery

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. ~Isaiah 55:8

I grew up on Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie mysteries. Mysteries entice us to try to figure out who committed the crime before the detective knows. While that’s fun, seldom do we want our lives to be mysteries. We want answers. Now.

When my son died, I wanted to know why. I will always wonder why he didn’t get to live. I doubted the effectiveness of prayer for a long time after his last breath, because not only had he prayed for his healing, but so had I, his father, his grandparents, and countless people around the globe. There are other things I also don’t understand about why things in life happen the way they do.

God doesn’t have to tell us why he allows what He does. He’s God. He never promised that he would explain all things to us. He wants us to trust that He holds the answers, just as He holds our lives. I wish that God would fill me in; but then, when I stand under the multitude of stars, I realize just how small I am. Of course, He doesn’t have to share his ideas with me. Who am I? Even so, I often bellow out at Him, expecting Him to tell me what he’s doing. Then, I’ll conclude, that even on a good day, my tiny mind probably couldn’t handle His thoughts anyway.

You might be like I was. When Daniel died, I had to go over all the details leading up to his passing. Metaphorically, I was like a stomper of grapes; over and over my feet crushed them out of their skins into liquid. I left no grape unsmashed. I wondered why things ended the way they did with Daniel’s life and wrestled with many issues. Did I get the answers as to why Daniel died? I banged on Heaven’s door, so to speak, begging for God to show me why my four-year-old had to die. Did I get the answers as to why Daniel died? Eventually, I placed my questions in a box, sealed it, and stored the box in the attic of my mind. It was unnecessary for me to continue asking. Yet, since I am a wrestler by nature, I needed to ask in order for me to heal. Now there is no need to open the box and take out the mysteries and look them over. Time has passed and I have moved beyond those struggles.




I ask God to wipe my frustration away and to let me know I can keep going in spite of having no answers. I can keep looking up even though I know that He does not always heal. He does not always spare the lives of loved ones. On some days that scares me. Why wouldn’t a perfect God want an infant with a heart condition to be healed and live?

If we view ourselves as children—loved and cared for—does that make it easier to trust Him as the One who desires our trust, who longs for us to come to Him and exercise our little faith even in the midst of despair?

What a relief it is to stop trying to figure God out and to, instead, deepen our trust in Him so much so that we can truly believe with a childlike faith.



Reflections to Ponder
Some are not interested in walking with God. From youth on, they have an idea of God that is, at best, filled with partial truths. Their concept of God might be that of a stoic controller who rains on everyone’s parades or a jolly Santa-type, dishing out gifts. Many haven’t bothered to get to know the true and living God, the father of Jesus Christ, a man who was ridiculed, a friend to the lonely, a healer of broken hearts.

Have some of the things you’ve been told about life as a Christ-follower been found to be mistruths?

The God of the Bible is a God of mystery. Can you accept not knowing the whys and hows of your life? Can you trust a God you might not always understand? Do you have a “mystery file,” a page in your journal where you store those things that have happened that you have no answer for?

Prayer
Lord, I wrestle. I don’t understand. Help me as I grapple with the things I don’t comprehend. May I lean on You so much that my trust and love for You grows.



When You Walk
As you walk, lift up your face to the sun. Note the sway of the tree limbs. Feel your heart beating. Take a deep breath. Be aware of the many ways God has orchestrated nature and all living things, including you. Could you create a tree, a flower, an insect? No, that is not your place. Let the God of mysterious creations fill your veins with the assurance that He is God.


~ From Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache by Alice J. Wisler
Read reviews and order a copy today.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Suggest a caption for this tree: follow this blog, win a book!


As many of you know, I walk each day. I like to bring my camera on my walks and capture bits of nature. On a recent walk, I found this tree.

I decided to post the tree here and ask you all to put a caption with it. If you are a follower of this Broken Psalms blog, then you can play along! Place your caption in the comment section below and that will be your entry for a chance to win an autographed copy of Getting Out of Bed in the Morning. My "select committee" and I will choose the best name from the suggestions and that person will win a copy of my new devotional. The contest ends February 3.




Actively waiting to be inspired

"I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time---waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God---it changes me." ~ C. S. Lewis


"Help me!" I cried out to God the other day. My prayer was similar to the one I'd uttered the day before that. And that.

Motivation to do even the things you enjoy (work-wise) can falter when you don't feel like your efforts are making any difference. I wondered if I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. If so, why wasn't I getting results?

If I had high responses to my online courses or writing workshops, if my agent would write to say he'd sold another manuscript of mine, then I would have something to cheer about. Those accolades would make me feel I was headed in the correct direction; I was doing something right.

But the ground was bare. The fig tree was not blossoming. The air was cold with drizzle.

I wanted God to point out to me what I needed to do to make things happen. I wished God would steer me on a path of success.

I'd been waiting to get my mojo back for weeks.

"Where are you in this, God? Help!"

My computer only blinked at me.


I'd like to think there was a great roar of thunder from the sky and that the heavens opened, but none of that happened. All that came to me was in the form of a little fizzle from a sparkler: Plug away. Do what you do. Keep at it. Do you think others have always had it easy?

I pushed myself. I sent out announcements about my new writing courses and upcoming book events even though I didn't feel like it. I updated my three blogs and chose new templates for two of them.

Pretty soon I had an idea for a magazine article. I started to write. A student signed up for my next online writing course. I had another idea and wrote a blog post. The comments from my followers showed me that I was not a has-been, I still had something meaningful to say.

Then I realized. It was one of those "a-ha" moments.

Sometimes the answer to prayer comes in form of the doing. One foot in front of the other. While I want God to pick me off the floor, He is telling me that I have two functional legs and to get up, get moving! Head in a direction---the best one that you know of at this time----and use your talents. God has never left; trust Him.

I thought it worked the other way around. God would supply the encouragement by sending me people for my workshops, ideas and steps to take, then I would be motivated by the success. Instead, it was getting up, doing something even though I had no delight in me. The delight and the success followed later.

What do you do when you feel weak? How to you keep your head up when your world appears bleak? How do you actively wait on God?

"Hear my prayer, O Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy,
In the day of trouble I will call to you,
for you will answer me." Psalm 86: 6-7

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Broken Psalms, the NEW newsletter

Broken Psalms is not only a blog, but also a newsletter. And it's free! To sign up for the first issue, send an email message to brokenpsalms@alicewisler.com today!

The newsletter will have poetry, articles, tips on writing through grief, quotes and selections from the biblical psalms.

Join us!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Value in Waiting?

Waiting. We do it often.

A new year and I am discouraged, God. Why am I always waiting?

I get tired of waiting.

I have begged, asked, said, "please". When do I hear from you?

I have waited and wanted so much for my writing and workshops, for my husband, and for my children. I am weary.

Last night as my husband and I were returning home from an event, we passed a country church (yes, we took the long way home). The marque held the words: "Waiting on God is never a waste of time."




My throat clamped; my eyes filled.

Oh, dear God. These words are for me. I have been impatient. I have lacked in trusting that You know what is best for me.

Today I opened Getting Out of Bed in the Morning to read my own words I penned months ago: "What if we trusted God in our waiting and used the time to let God's strength pour over us? What if we saw value in waiting?"

Value in waiting.

Could God be working on my heart so that when He does answer, I will be ready for what He has for me?

Can I believe in the One who knows me best?

Can I desire to know Him better, regardless of how weary I am in my frailty?

In the bleakness of winter, can I hope for the greenery and flourish of spring?

May my prayer be from Isaiah 40:31: "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Amen.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Getting Out of Bed in the Morning officially releases from publisher today!




It's been here, but now it's officially here. My new devotional, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache, is ready to be ordered!




From now for the next 23 days I will be posting quotes from the book on my Facebook author page. Join me there and we can connect.

I'll also be signing people up for my free newsletter, Broken Psalms. To get the newsletter, simply send me an email message to info@alicewisler.com with "Broken Psalms" in the subject line.

And if you have joined this blog, be sure to email to tell me so that I can send you a coupon for a free copy of my e-book, The Mom Spa Journal. This journal can be downloaded or read online. Coupled with a notebook or your own journal, it can serve as a way to dive deeper in both your thoughts and scripture.

May 2013 be the year in which you discover the value of writing from heartache.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Mom Spa Journal: free for a limited time

The Mom Spa Journal, my e-book, is free to all who do the following by January 12th.

1) Join this blog
2) Email me at info@alicewisler.com to say you joined

That's it! So simple.




When you complete those steps, a coupon code will be sent to you so that you can go to where my e-book is sold and type in the code when ordering the book. The coupon will get you the book for free.

Everybody likes free, right?

The Mom Spa Journal is for moms of all ages---a place to find respite through writing and scripture.

Enjoy a time of reflection and creativity by using The Mom Spa Journal.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Writing The Psalms

When my son died, the psalms of The Bible became new friends. Although I had found beauty in many of them prior to his death, the raw ones held profound meaning for me after Daniel breathed his last.

While he was in a comatose state for nearly two weeks, I often left his bedside to find seclusion from the visitors. My respite was the adjoining bathroom. I sat on the edge of the tub and repeated the verses of Psalm 23. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . . " I prayed that Daniel would not die (what mother wouldn't?) and that he would be healed. I knew he had been pronounced "brain dead" due to the staph infection that had played havoc with his body, but I was not willing to let him go.

Daniel died on February 2. 1997.

Since Daniel's death, I have needed the comfort and the lament of the psalms in a fresh way.

The poignant verses have helped me know that it is okay to question God, to doubt, to cry out, and to lament. Big time.




"My eyes are dim with grief . . . " (Psalm 88:9 NIV)

"My tears have been my food day and night." (Psalm 42:3 NIV)

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18 NIV)

The psalms have helped me in my own writing. I even created an online writing workshop to help others incorporate the psalms into their writing.

I feel that digging into the Psalms provides an excellent way to be stirred by language, emotion, imagery, and God's faithfulness and wonder. By using the templates of the Psalms from The Bible, we can create our own custom-tailored psalm of praise and psalm of woe. We can discover how composing a psalm can energize our writing, and our life.

Broken Psalms: a presentation for you!

I wanted to invite you to an event sponsored by the Women's Ministry of Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church, for both women and men. On January 26, I'll be sharing from my new devotional, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache (Leafwood Publishers). We'll meet in the fellowship hall from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM.

In addition to sharing about God's sustaining mercy and grace during our trials, I'll offer a few writing prompts (including one of my favorites that involves creating a psalm) as well as tips on how to help those in grief and loss. I call this presentation Broken Psalms, the name of this blog.




I hope you'll join us! Bring a friend or two. Books will be available for purchase. Refreshments will be served.

To read more about my devotional, click here:

January 26, 2013
9:30-11:30 AM (childcare will be provided)
Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church
1902 Perry Street
Durham, NC 27705