I learned early on the best way to connect with people is to relate life situations through scenarios or personal accounts. One doesn’t have to look very far to see this inherit in the world’s greatest storyteller, Jesus. He shared parables to convey the most complex inquiries of heaven and eternal salvation. His messages captured the heart and soul of his followers as he spoke truth and love. But it wasn’t just his parables that inspired, his Word too.
“And the word became flesh” John 1:14
His life’s, messages as well as books of the bible shared the greatest story ever told, foreseeing his coming, his redemption and one day his return.
Ultimately, through Jesus’ example, we know that words are powerful.
My aspirations to be a writer were never in my career plans, but as we know, God always has his own plan
For the last two decades, I’ve spent most of my adult career pursuing teaching. With a BA in Social Science, Minor in History, Masters in Secondary Education and a national faculty member for the College Board, you might say I’ve put in the time to refine my craft. I have taught everything from 7th grade Ancient Civilizations to high school AP History courses. I learned pretty early I was not designed to be an elementary school teacher. My hat goes off to anyone who can teach Preschool to 3rd grade! Still, teaching has always been a big part of my life, you could say it’s been my own little stage for storytelling the past.
In a way you can say many of my aspirations, without realizing it have been to model Christ. He was a teacher, a story teller, and a friend. I could never come even close to being as perfect as our King, but his life is a blueprint for all of us to follow.
So who knows where this journey will take me.
“With God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26
The Grieving Daughters' Club
Just like a rollercoaster, I have lots of twists and turns to my story, so I’ll try to stick to the highlights, otherwise I’ll be writing another novel! Who knows? It could happen! But seriously, I’ll try my best to keep it simple.
Raised as a cradle Catholic I did all the things most do (Catholic school, went to mass on Sundays) but one thing I realized was I knew very little about the bible. I mean let’s face it, most Catholics like me know our prayers, sacraments, feast days and the “main” stories (Adam, Noah, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and his twelve guys from the New Testament), but we aren’t we very versed in the Word. I’ve always admired people who could spit out a scripture and commit it to memory but I never knew how or where to start. As with anything, if you want something done you’ve got to do it yourself and since our parish had no women’s ministry, some friends and I took it upon ourselves to start a group (another story in itself). After a little bit of this and that, we were doing lots of amazing activities. But the one area I loved the most was bible studies. My first attempt was a bit nerve-wracking and I had no idea what I was doing! But leading by faith we started a few small groups and I was introduced to amazing women, (Casie, Missy, Lupe, Felecia, Alicia and Sonny) and a lot of wine on Friday nights. The rest worked itself out.
Now all stories have plots and subplots, rising and falling action, but when it’s your life, you don’t categorize it as a scene from a book. Around the time of our women ministry inception, my family discovered some devastating news. My mom Debbie was diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma, a terminal brain cancer. To say that I was devastated was an understatement, and it was the beginning of a dark time of my life that would continue even after her death.
My mom was my best friend. My everything. The bond we shared was not something I could describe. But if you’re a mother and/or a daughter and you have a closeness, I’m sure you get it.
On April 4, 2018, my mom returned home to heaven. I was blessed to have her two extra years from her diagnosis. But this started the next chapter in my life, and honestly I couldn’t tell you about those first couple months. They were a blur, (apparently this a real thing called Grief Fog). I tried desperately to return back to my life before her death and sickness. Pushing myself to continue as a high school teacher, staying involved with church and my kids’ lives, but the reality was I couldn’t function as I did before and I wouldn’t. I was no longer in that world where she had once existed. And yet one thing I still felt compelled to carry on was my bible study. Casie one of our members sent me daily scripture passages (and she still continues to this day). I found solace in God’s word and praying for his guidance on this new life with my grief. I also found solace in the Rosary and praying to our Blessed Mother. I’d love to tell you grief last for a month, and you move on with your life, but it doesn’t quite work that way. I needed some outlet and I couldn’t’ run from it or escape it. I started journaling my grief, since I felt I was a bother to the world in my new life of mourning as they had moved on with theirs. This journaling motivated me to continue seeking solace in God, and again, God takes us to unexpected places. Surprisingly it lead me to a Catholic women’s conference, in Turlock, California. It was here that I saw a friend from years past Courtney Vallejo as one of the speakers; a writer for Catholicmom.com.
I had always thought of speakers and writers as these untouchable figures. Courtney was a mom, a homeschooler and a busy lady. I was impressed she could do these “untouchable” things. Some crazy fire came over me at that conference (I’m pretty sure it was the Holy Spirit) and I began to think that maybe I could write too? I didn’t even know what I would say, but I felt a calling to do this. So I reached out to her and 6 months later (again I’ll try to stick to the highlights) found myself writing for Catholicmom.com and other catholic websites.
As I learned about other authors from the Catholic world of writing and some of the great projects they did, I felt called to do bigger projects too. But what? I didn’t have any writing experience, or a theology background and while I was learning about the bible I didn’t have enough knowledge to feel qualified to preach about it. But I knew I loved my bible group and I knew I was in the middle of grief. So I did what I knew and I started writing about both. This is how The Grieving Daughters Club (GDC) came to fruition. In writing this story, (partially true, and partially fiction) I discovered an opportunity to heal as I relived aspects of my life with my mom and found support among the women within the group (Faith, Friends, & Fiction). Their stories are also integrated in here although names and events have been changed to provide privacy. There’s also other people, bits and pieces (not connected to the group) that helped me develop this story, but the premise is where it started.
So that’s how GDC came to be! In closing I hope you find this book helpful. If it makes you cry or makes you laugh then you’re already part of the Club, but most importantly I hope you find in this story refuge in God. He brings people into our lives not by coincidence but by purpose and help in our own journeys. If you’ve read this far then there’s definitely a reason you’re here and I pray you find your purpose. God uses our sufferings and our struggles to makes beautiful paths for us and take us where we least expected. I could not have gotten to this place without Him, and I hope you will join me on the journey!
Love and Blessings!