The urge hits me every so often, and this week it was stronger than ever.
More than anything, I wanted to run to the store and pick up a beautiful journal to record all that my heart felt this past week. Several times I picked up one of my favorite pens and looked at it wishing more than anything that I could pour my heart out onto paper through that pen.
I know this seems like a rather silly desire. But when you have lost the ability to be able to do a “normal” thing there are moments when your heart intensely feels the pain of the loss and you cry out to God longing to have just ‘one day’ of being “normal” again.
Up until a few years ago, I kept quiet about a debilitating disorder I have lived with for twenty years now. Only family and my closest friends knew about the quiet struggle I face every day living life unable to do one of life’s most common tasks.
I finally found the freedom to share this part of my story openly here and here and here on my blog.
Because I went into detail about the disorder in the above blogs, I won’t recount the details here.
Here’s the Reader’s Digest version. When I was a Senior in high school, I started having difficulty writing. After two years of struggling and consulting doctors, I was diagnosed with having a focal dystonia medically termed mogigraphia or Schriver’s Palsy.
More commonly this disorder is termed Writer’s Cramp.
Yes. There is a true writer’s cramp.
And it isn’t simply a tired feeling you get when you have handwritten dozens of wedding thank you cards or a three page essay for school.
It is a real, rare condition that robs the diagnosed of the ability to write with a pen.
As I recounted in the above blogs, for someone who loved to write cards to friends, has dozens of handwritten journals from childhood and college stored away in boxes, and who was a biology major struggling to take notes in class and complete Chemistry homework in less than 5 hours….the struggle has more than once led to a quiet battle with depression.
Over the past 20 years, there were times when the struggle with the inability to write and the pain associated with the disorder has caused me to press into God more than ever.
At other times, I would find myself going months on end without spending quality time in prayer because of the frustration.
Spending alone time with God used to be easy for me.
My family and college roommates would testify that I rarely missed a morning when my alarm would go off before anyone else I was living with and plop myself in a chair with my Bible, Bible study book, and journal to spend 30 minutes or more in prayer and Bible study.
I have boxes of beautifully handwritten prayer journals and Bible study books that have every blank neatly filled in with my thoughts.
As my condition progressed, I found myself spending much of my ‘quiet time’ frustrated that I couldn’t record my prayers in my journals or complete the ‘blanks’ in my Beth Moore study or neatly draw the symbols Kay Arthur urges you to draw.
Over time, I stopped writing. No more writing cards, writing prayers, taking sermon notes, or recording memories I didn’t want to forget.
Though I am extremely fortunate to live in a digital age, typing on a computer is just not the same to me.
I would give up everything digital I own to be able to neatly handwrite a card to a friend without pain. . .
My deepest desire is to be able to crack open a beautiful journal and pick up my favorite pen to record my dreams and prayers for my kids in a journal for them.
One of the dreams I have had hidden in my heart has been to someday write a book. The dream includes handwriting the book using pen and paper….old school style.
Short of a miracle, this dream is far-fetched for me.
But, I saw a glimpse of that dream coming true this past week.
This week a box containing a book I authored arrived on my doorstep.
—The book is really more of a booklet.
—My dad’s publishing company published it.
—It is a book(let) for kids….which makes me laugh out loud. Literally.
For someone who didn’t really like kids much until I had kids of my own (gasp from those who don’t know me well and have only met me in the past decade when I have either been a children’s pastor’s wife or been on staff myself doing ministry with kids), the fact that I have written a book for kids is almost comical if you knew me in the first 25 years of my life.
When I cracked open the book, emotion trembled through my body.
That’s when the urge to run out to Hobby Lobby and buy a beautiful journal rushed through my veins.
Who am I?
Who am I to write such a book?
I was a teenager who saw babysitting kids as torture.
I was a college young woman who could not understand why in the world my college friends were actually CHOOSING a career that would trap them in a classroom with snotty nosed kids all day long.
I was a young children’s pastor’s wife who would find myself sitting in awe of my husband’s natural ability to relate to kids. I often would sit silently as his co-teacher to 4th and 5th graders because I had no idea how to relate to them.
I was a mother of two preschool children who had to avoid reading mommy blogs and going to playdates because I would get overwhelmed at my lack of natural mommy instincts that every other mother in the world seemed to have.
But there it was glaring at me “Deepening Your Spiritual Roots….FOR KIDS” and at the bottom underneath my dad’s name was my name….
Holly Higle Buxton
I wish I could time warp back to show the book to high school Holly, or college Holly, or mother of two kids under the age of two Holly.
I guarantee they would never believe it was real. . . that it had to be a joke.
Maybe a book on how to shoot a free throw.
Or possibly a book on theology.
Or a biography of a family member.
Or maybe a how-to-book on how to navigate the world of church when you are an introverted woman who doesn’t fit in with other women who love shopping, high heels, and decorating their bathrooms.
But a book for kids. Not in a million years.
Isn’t that just like God?
He did it with Moses. With the disciples. With the woman at the well.
He used the inept. The under-qualified.
As I flipped through my first published book, I got teary eyed. Though I can’t record my emotions with a pen in a beautiful journal…..this computer will have to do.
As I penned the book (technically typed…I just like the sound of penned), my prayer was that through this booklet thousands of children and parents all over the world would learn to dig their roots deep into the things of God.
This morning as I am typing this, I am fighting off the feelings of pain in my hand and shoulder. This is one of the effects that writer’s cramp has….gripping a pen awkwardly to write the things you have to write (checks, forms for school, occasional thank you notes) causes joint damage.
Typing too much aggravates the wrist, fingers, shoulder and back.
It is a vicious cycle of pain and frustration that often gets the best of me and keeps me from writing a note to friend or typing a journal entry on the computer.
As I hold my book in my hand, I can’t help but think of one of my favorite verses in the Bible.
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
How many times the great accuser (the devil) tried to get me to throw in the towel! His voice in my head would tell me it couldn’t be done.
“Holly, you can’t grip a pen to write a single sentence or sit at a computer typing for more than an hour without being in pain.”
“Holly, are you kidding yourself? What qualifies you to write a book for kids? What will people think when they hear that you used to jokingly tell people that you really don’t like kids?”
I don’t write this to brag on myself. I am writing this to encourage those out there who have ever battle the voice of the accuser.
I have and will continue to overcome the evil one by the blood of my sweet Jesus and by telling the story of how God took a girl who didn’t like kids and who struggles to write a single sentence and used her to write a book that will no doubt will be read by thousands and thousands of kids and parents over the coming years.
To Him and Him alone be the glory. Amen!
By the way, if you have left your children in my care over the past few years…I promise I love them….really I do…most of them I have actually grown to like! Kids have grown on me.
Huge shout out to my high school classmate Corey who brought the book to life through his illustrations. And to my sweet friend Sarah who was able to capture a lovely headshot of my pregnancy swollen face. Sarah oozes creativity and you can follow her on her blog Twenty One Fifty Nine.
I should have been feeling pure excitement to open the box that contained my first batch of books. However, I was a bit scared. In my younger years, I may just have pulled a prank or two on the ladies at my Dad’s publishing company that I knew would be packing this box. My gut instinct was right. I am just thankful there was not a dead animal or spider in it.