Thursday, October 27, 2022

End of the Rainbow

This is the story of how the Word of God literally saved my life and I found the end of a rainbow.  It is a story of deliverance from suicidal thoughts.  I have felt God leading me to share this testimony for quite a while, but with everything that has happened over the past couple of years, I haven’t been able to write it all down until now.  I also had to first tell my family about this struggle before sharing it publicly and this was very difficult for me, especially telling my husband.  My hope is that this testimony will help someone else find their own way out of the darkness.

Although depression has been something I have struggled with pretty much my entire life, it was not until after the loss of our daughter Alison (stillborn at 21 weeks), that I began to think of suicide.  The emotional pain was so intense I did not think I could bear it.  Friends and family were supportive while I was grieving, but I couldn’t tell them just how bad things really were.  It seemed like a darkness entered my mind that I was too weak to resist.  The dark thoughts were most prevalent when I was alone in the car during my commute to and from work.  Many times I would arrive home with my face and eyes swollen from crying.  Carpooling with a friend helped push the darkness off for a while and, somehow, I managed to get through the next couple of years, but it was still lurking in my mind.

Then, we made the decision to become foster/adoptive parents.  I sailed through the training and approval process without revealing my mental health struggle because, by this time, I was pretty good at hiding it.  Our home study wasn’t even complete when we got our first placement call about a newborn with a two-year-old brother.  I was scared to death, but we said yes and, suddenly, I was thrust emotionally and mentally from the frying pan into the fire.

Over the next several months, the darkness flooded back into my mind with a vengeance.  I began to think of suicide nearly every day and this went on for over a year.  With the pressures of foster parenting, working full-time, pastoring, and going to school part-time, I had become an extremely stressed, very difficult person to be around.  I was convinced my family would actually be better off without me.  That’s the thing about the darkness:  it feeds on your insecurities and lies to you.  At this point, the only thing that stopped me was the thought that if I did this, all the friends and coworkers I had witnessed to over the years would think there was nothing to my faith in God.  I just couldn’t bear that.

Since I was back to commuting alone, I usually listened to audio books or something like that to help pass the time.  My mom loaned me several cd’s with sermons on them and it was one of those sermons that finally set me on the road to deliverance.  It was a sermon by Dr Gerald Jeffers entitled, “Daddy’s Coming.”  At the end of his sermon, people were praying in the altar, but the recording kept going so I kept listening.  All of a sudden, he started speaking specifically to people with suicidal thoughts and, even across space and time, I knew he was talking to me.  Right then and there, driving my car with tears streaming down my face, I repented for entertaining those thoughts.  I turned my back on the darkness and stopped thinking about suicide every day, but I hadn’t completely renounced and released it.

For a few years, I shoved the darkness behind a closed door in the back of my mind.  Every once in a while though, when life felt unbearable, I would open that door and consider it again.  But then I would say to myself, “I am not a quitter!”  No matter how miserable I felt, I would persevere if only out of spite.  Yes, I’m stubborn that way.

During this time, my job in Human Resources was becoming increasingly stressful and I internalized much of this stress.  A fact which most likely contributed to some of my health problems and the development of an autoimmune condition.  However, God had an oasis prepared for me.  In June of 2017, I took off work to attend the KY District Family Camp Meeting, the last one held at the campground in Summersville, KY.  I felt such a peace being back at the place where I had received the Holy Ghost and spent so many happy times in the presence of God.  Bro Philip Harrelson was the day speaker that week.  He taught on the book of Jude and about contending for the faith, getting back to the basics.  He talked about the importance of God’s Word in our daily lives. On the last day, he taught on praying the Word and made a statement that caused me to see my sensitivity and tendency toward depression as something God could use and not simply a weakness.  All this connected with me and impacted me in a very powerful way.  However, it would still be a few months before I put it in to practice.

The turning point came in October of that year.  Some upsetting events had happened at work and I felt like my character was being called into question which is a big deal for someone in Human Resources.  That night, after everyone else was asleep, I lay on the couch in my living room crying my heart out.  Bro Harrelson’s lesson about praying the Word came back to me and I decided to finally put it into action.  I opened my Bible to Psalm 143 and began to pray the words.  I cried them out to God in desperation more than once.  When I was done, I felt a peace come over me.  Right then and there I determined to start reading the Word every day.

At Rick’s suggestion, I had previously downloaded the You Version Bible app onto my iPad, but I had yet to use it.  I started it up and found a reading plan called, “A Chapter A Day: Reading The Bible In 3 Years.”  I felt like I could handle a chapter a day, no matter how busy I was.  Anyone can do that!  Of course, I could have just opened up my actual Bible, but some of the features in the app really motivated me to stick with my plan.  I began reading the Word daily, usually first thing in the morning, and the chapter-a-day pace meant that I was reading slow enough for it to really sink in.

Over the next few months, my mental health began to gradually improve.  Certain things at work didn’t seem to bother me as much.  I was more patient.  My outlook was more positive and I rarely considered the dark thoughts still tucked away in the back of my mind.  In early 2018, I was prescribed a new medication to treat my autoimmune condition and one of the potential side effects was suicidal thoughts.  I was not honest with my doctor when he asked about my mental health history.  I was deeply ashamed of having these thoughts and could not bring myself to admit them to anyone.  Thinking that someone should be aware of the potential danger, I made a feeble attempt to tell my sisters, but lost my courage at the last moment.  It was just too shameful and I didn’t think I could handle my family’s potential shock.

June 2018 brought Family Camp around and, once again, I took off work to attend.  Bro Jerry Jones preached a sermon entitled, “You Can Get Out.”  He talked about people standing on the walls of the Old Testament cities of refuge, watching others go free and not being able to accept freedom for themselves.  When he gave the altar call at the end, I decided I wanted to be free, to no longer carry this darkness in my mind.  I went forward, knelt at the altar, and laid the darkness down, vowing never to let it in again.  I am convinced, though, that I could not have made this decision without the daily cleansing the Word had been bringing to my mind.  No matter how compelling the sermon, I would not have been ready to be free.

Fast forward to late August.  I’m driving to work and it’s raining, but not too hard.  I make the steep turn on I-75 before the Clays Ferry bridge.  And there it is:  the most beautiful, brilliant rainbow I have ever seen.  It curves from the trees on one side of the Kentucky River to the northbound lane in which I am driving.  It fills me with joy.  I know it is a message to me from God, a promise that I will no longer pass through the shadow of death every time I cross that bridge.  With grateful tears streaming down my face, I drive through the end of the rainbow and for just a moment, the brilliant colors fill my car.  Thank God I am free!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Year of Darkness and Light

Today I stopped by my favorite coffee shop for a final treat before beginning the Whole 30, a diet which I am forlornly referring to as "30 days without cheese" (and a long list of other things).  Instead of one drink of the week, they had two:  Dark Side and Light Side lattes.  Although this is no doubt in celebration of the long-anticipated release of a certain movie, I thought it was the perfect summation of what 2015 has been for me.

So many tragic events have happened around the world and closer to home.  I have had tough parenting moments and difficult situations at work.  Yet, I've also seen instances of love, kindness, generosity, and courage.  These points of light shine through the darkness and give me hope.  Most notably, this is the first year I have not worried about whether our children would be ours forever.  The adoption was final in December 2014 and it is as if they were "born from my own body."  We thank God every night for keeping our family together.

In the midst of our relief, parenting continues to be the hardest job I have ever done.  At this point, I have forgiven my parents for any "mistakes" they made and recognize them for the superheroes they truly are (Wonder Woman and Thor).  I try to remind myself to savor the special moments like when a sweet little voice says, "Mommy, I love you so much."  It's difficult to see now, but I believe one day I will look back and see the constellation of my life, a mixture of darkness and light.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Courage & Commitment: Running is Never Easy

2013 was a year of achievement for me.  February saw the publication of my debut chapbook, Fertility Rites, by Finishing Line Press.  Needless to say this was a dream come true.  In October, I ran in my first half marathon (more on that later).  And in December, my eleven-year journey toward a bachelor's degree finally came to an end and I proudly walked across the stage with the words summa cum laude ringing in my ears.

But 2013 was also a year of adversity and probably one of the most difficult years of my life.  It was our first full year as foster parents, an experience that has tested me in ways I never expected.  Of course, it has brought joy to my life as well, but I'm not going to sugarcoat it.  (If you have read much of my work, you will know I'm honest).  There were many days I did not think I would survive the strain of parenting, working full-time, and going to school part-time.  Those were the days that required much in the way of courage and commitment.

Despite all this hecticity, I was full of new-year optimism when I set the lofty goal of running a half marathon.  Among the six of us (my husband, sisters, and brothers-in-law), I was the only one who had not run a half so the pressure was on.  By April, I was registered for the Iron Horse Half Marathon in Midway, KY and we all planned on running it together.

The thing about running a half (13.1 miles) is that even the most experienced runner has to train for it.  Luckily, I had an encouraging running coach--my younger sister Angie, who had completed at least two half marathons at that point.  Not so luckily, my stressful schedule made training difficult.  During one of our training runs, Angie said to me, "No one gives you a mile. You take it."  I believe she was quoting someone else, but what she said was very true for me both in running and in the rest of my life.  It inspired me to write the following poem:

I took that mile
in no one's shoes but my own.
Eked it out of the unyielding road.
Arms pumping, legs burning,
lungs yanking
oxygen from the air.
I took that mile
and will take another 
and yet another
until the distance
is run.

I wish I could say this inspiration was enough to get me across the finish line.  Although I started strong, I missed some key training runs in July and August.  Getting back on track meant that I would have to increase mileage quickly instead of gradually.  Several weeks before the race and during an eight-mile training run, the discomfort and numbness in my feet became excruciating pain by mile six (side note:  this was not due to my shoes which I had been properly fitted for by the experts at John's Run Walk Shop).  Still, I refused to stop and hobbled on to the eight-mile mark.  I finished with tears in my eyes because I knew it was not likely I would improve enough to maintain the 14-minute-mile pace required for the Iron Horse.

The thought of not being able to reach my goal was devastating to me.  I was so determined and had worked so hard.  Luckily, I read a book that helped me come to terms with this:  What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami.  This was an inspiration to me both as a runner and as a writer.  Murakami's advice and the pace requirement are probably the two things that kept me from pushing myself too far and doing irreparable damage to my feet.

October 13th dawned crisp and clear.  I crossed the starting line with 1499 other runners, praying for a miracle, but at peace with my physical limitations.  I would do my best.  It was an absolutely glorious and frabjous day.  The sun rose over the rolling hills of Midway as we ran past drystone rock walls and fields of galloping horses.  I powered up the hills while many of my fellow runners walked.  But by the halfway point, I was well behind the pace runner and the pain in my feet was excruciating once again.   It was time to stop.  I hobbled back into town to watch the others cross the finish line.

I know, I know this is not the ending you were hoping for, but here are the facts:  I ran 6.55 miles in 1.5 hours without walking a single hill, two years ago I could barely run for 30 seconds, and my longest run to date is 8 miles.  No, I did not reach my goal, but I am still proud of what I have accomplished.  Maybe someday I will finish what I started.  Some dreams are worth pursuing no matter how much time it takes.  It took eleven years to finish my degree, but I finally did it.  Running, just like life, is never easy and you can't expect quick results.  To achieve anything meaningful takes courage and commitment.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Dynamics of Motherhood

After 15 months, I can say with authority that parenthood is not for the faint of heart. I can't count the number of times I have asked the question, "What have I done?" But thankfully, I inherited a mixture of courage and tenacity that keeps me going through the tough times. I now know that those people who talk of parenthood like it is some idyllic paradise are either editing, lying, or so sleep-deprived that their memory is on the blink. Parenthood is hard. It is no joke. It changes everything about your life. But there are moments that make all the tough times totally worth it. When I walk through the door and two kids fling their arms around my legs shouting, "Mommy's home! Mommy's home!" Or when a little girl snuggles in my arms. (Just a couple of examples). So needless to say, I have had good reason to neglect my blog. But hopefully, I am mastering the art of multi-tasking and can get back to posting regularly.

To summarize the last several months: presales for Fertility Rites were sufficient for a print run of 250. The chapbook came out in mid February and at the end of March, I had a release party at Purdy's Coffee Co in Richmond. I've not done much promotion since then, but on September 5th, I will be the featured reader at the open mic at Babylon Cafe on Main Street in Richmond. I will also be selling copies of my book at Skunk Fest in North Ridgeville, OH on September 7th. I'm hoping to line up other promotional events as well. I have not forgotten my commitment to devote blog posts to my good friends and fellow poets, Julie Hensley and Eric Sutherland. I owe both of them big time!

But for now, I will end with a poem about this new phase of my life, entitled, "Dynamics of Motherhood."

One shoulder an arm,
one elbow a hand.
My chest is an arm,
my chin a hand.

Equal parts rubber and iron,
each part of me
flexes, stretches, morphs,
and is renamed
to increase utility.

Me? Me? Who is she?

One minute a weightlifter
the next a downy bed,
a new dimension of capabilities
evolving into super-humanity.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lisa Karon Richardson and the Smith Corona

Lisa Karon Richardson and I met in college and have been friends ever since.  She is now a published author and mainly writes historical fiction.  Her most recent publication is one of four novellas in a collection entitled Colonial Courtships.  Her novel, The Magistrate's Folly, is being published by Harlequin and will release in early 2013.  Another novella and first book in a series are planned for release next fall.  Lisa has earned a reputation for meticulous research and I know from personal experience that this reputation is well-deserved.

During our freshman year of college, student access to computers was limited to a few decrepit machines in the library which made typing papers a challenge.  With the ink barely dry on my office assistant certification from vocational school, I proudly (and naively) offered to type both Lisa and Rick's research papers for Missions class.  Of course, I procrastinated until the night before they were due, but thankfully, I was able to borrow a smith corona word processor from an upperclassman.  I'm pretty sure I typed Rick's paper first because, after all, he was (and still is) the love of my life.  That left Lisa's paper for the wee small hours of the morning.

Despite my superior typing skills, it was slow going.  Lisa had chosen to do her paper on India and her research was very thorough.  In fact, it was so thorough and the paper so lengthy that it was like typing Strong's Exhaustive India.  Okay, I admit I'm exaggerating, but at 3:00 am that is how it felt.  The situation was made worse by the fact that, in order to not disturb my sleeping roommate, I had to muffle the smith corona with a pillow each time I printed out a page.  Somehow, I made it through my first all-nighter and our papers were submitted on time.  Needless to say, I didn't offer to type any more of Lisa's papers.

All joking aside, I am glad Lisa has put her research skills to good use and I look forward to reading her novella in Colonial Courtships which I recently purchased from Amazon.  Who knows?  I may pull another all-nighter to finish reading it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sign of the Bluet

Thanks to my good friend and fellow writer, Lisa Karon Richardson, I am a guest blogger today on and have a post there promoting Fertility Rites.  Today's Versions of Chai post is intended to be additional content to the Inkwell one, so if you haven't already read it, I suggest going to Inkwell Inspirations first.

To explain why I considered the bluet a sign from God that I was going to survive my loss, I need to give some background on this tiny wildflower.  Bluets, or Houstonia caerulea, prefer somewhat rocky soil and tend to grow at the edge of wooded areas.  They are plentiful in the part of southeastern Kentucky where I grew up.  Something about these flowers always intrigued me.  As a kid, I thought they were forget-me-nots.  I later discovered this was not the case, but could not find out what they were called.  I used to carry one around with me, pressed in a notebook, so I could ask plant enthusiasts to identify it.  The original draft of the following poem was actually written before my sister finally identified the flower as a bluet.  In the poem, I describe the bluet as a representation of myself, which is why I knew the bluet I saw that day was a message meant especially for me.


Four petals
of misty light blue
fading to white
before a sunny yellow center
balanced on a stem
as slender as thread
a blue star in a sky of green
quivering in the breeze
a dainty ballerina
trembling on satin points.

That's me
that blue flower
growing wild beneath the world's knees
curling its toes up in the hills
hugging them close.
That's me
that tiny bit of wilderness
visible only to those
willing to give a second glance.

Bluet  Houstonia caerulea

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Rick McGee: writer, illustrator, skunk promoter....

Advance sales have officially started for my poetry chapbook and the front cover image has been loaded on the site!  Here is a direct link to where you can preorder a copy that will ship in February:  The number of preorders directly affects how large the total print run will be.  My goal is to have 105 preorders so the total print run can be 500.  Please spread the word!
As I mentioned in my last post, I would like to honor some of the people who have supported me with this project.  First and foremost is my husband, Rick McGee.  For the two of us, it was a case of love at first word and 17 years later, the words are still flowing.  But enough about that....  Rick is a renaissance man who has many talents in addition to writing.  A few of these artistic talents are showcased in a comic book about an orphaned skunk named Ramone Cologne.  I've posted a picture of the front cover of the first issue:  A Skunk's Tale.  So far, two issues have been published and a third is currently in progress.  To find out more or order copies of the books, visit

There are so many good things I could say about Rick that it is hard to narrow them down, but one of them is the discipline he shows in his work.  I have watched him spend countless hours drawing, painting, and writing.  He doesn't just talk about all the creative things he wants to do.  He does them!  And often he does so while I am sitting on the couch being lazy.  Somehow his dedication hasn't rubbed off on me yet, but occasionally, it motivates me into action.

Thank you Rick for supporting me and being my inspiration!