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Month: August 2016

Sneak Peek III

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Everybody loves sequels, so here’s another sneak peek of my book. I hope you enjoy Sneak Peek III. . . .

Shaelyn retreated to her office in an effort to find reprieve from the division floor’s noise. She sat at her desk, placed her purse in a drawer, grabbed the NYPD reports from her briefcase, and set the attaché at her feet. Almost immediately, a soft rap requested her attention.

“Yes?”

Rachel opened the door and mouthed, “Casey needs you now!”

As Shaelyn stood up, Rachel signaled her to be quiet. She turned her head to the side and realized that not a sound emitted from outside her office door. She followed Rachel into the stunned squad room, and Casey motioned her to sit in a chair next to his desk.

“I said I want to talk to the doctor,” an altered voice said over Casey’s desk phone, which was on speaker. “I see you’ve brought in the big guns, detective. What’s the matter? You can’t figure this one out on your own?”

“No,” Casey said in the low, steady tone he always assumed when someone challenged him. “I can handle you. My boss brought the doctor in. He doesn’t think I’m smart enough to catch you. I think otherwise. What do you think?”

With exasperation on his face, he motioned to two men who fussed over computer equipment. They shrugged, wide-eyed, and shook their heads. They couldn’t trace the call even though Casey was keeping the caller on the line.

“I think you haven’t caught me yet, detective, that’s what I think. Nor do I think you will. Even with your new ‘forensic psychiatrist. . . .’”

 

Copyright © 2013 by Sharon Platz All Rights Reserved

Gratitid (gratitude in Haitian Creole) by Amber Lenhert

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For the final blog post in the Haiti series, I’m publishing an essay that was written by Amber after her trip. Here is the note I wrote to her once I’d read it:

“Hi Amber,

“I literally whispered out loud ‘Wow!’ when I was done reading your essay. It is beyond profound and beautiful. I would like to publish this on my blog . . . as the last installment of the Haiti series, if you are agreeable to that . . . I think it’s the perfect ending to the series . . .

“. . . Amber, you are incredibly talented. I promise you I am not just saying that. You have a way with words that I wish I had! Please keep writing, even if it’s just for fun, and know I’m cheering for you!”

So, without further adieu, I present:

Gratitid (gratitude in Haitian Creole) by Amber Lenhert

Dear Friend,

I want to share with you my gratitude for teaching me to take in every moment because time flies, for giving me the gift of hope, and for showing me how to love others.I met you the day I had to leave my mission trip to Haiti; you were my most treasured orphan (living in the mission’s orphanage) that I came to know. I learned from you to appreciate moments with people because my time with you was so short and I took advantage of it; I don’t want to go through that again, it was too joyless. Time waits for nobody, so I need to take in moments with these people I love because I don’t know what the future has in store for me. It’s not within my reach to guarantee tomorrow. I knew of the saying ‘time flies so live in the moment’ but I had never really let it sink into my heart and applied it to my life. I finally started applying it to my life when it hit me that I didn’t have more time with you. You and I grew from strangers to friends instantly, but it wasn’t until I realized I had to leave that night that this parable made its way into my heart. Coming to that realization I so passionately wanted to guarantee myself more time to be with you. Time waits for nobody, and I now have that as a reminder to live in each moment.

You gave me the virtue of hope when you showed your vulnerability to me and let me into your life so quickly. I had started to feel woeful since I hadn’t found that place where I belonged yet then I would look around and see how everybody else found their niche. I was at a place where I was feeling like a letdown because I was on this impactful mission trip and it hadn’t left a mark on my life yet, but on the last day you showed up. You showed up and reminded me that I can’t forget hope in a situation so quickly; what looked like a failure turned out to be the most notable fulfillment of my life. I was looking at the negativity in the situation, when all I needed to do was wait one more day to see your face light up when I walked over to you.

I found you four days into my trip, you were sitting there looking like the universe was against you; I could see the absence of self-worth in your eyes. You wore your heart on your sleeve because nobody looked your way but for some reason I did. I looked your way and although at the time I didn’t realize it, I wanted you to have an abundance of self-worth. I was drawn to you, I was drawn to your pain and I needed to show you how much you are loved because through my eyes it didn’t seem like anybody had before. Thank you for showing me that everybody has a story and everybody, no matter who they are, needs to be loved in some way. Because of your story, I look for ways love others where they are being crushed under the hands of life. Every person I see has a story I don’t know about so I need to love than rather give them a heavier burden.

I am not only thankful that you’re in my life but I am blessed beyond reason. You have grown my heart in a way nobody else has been able to do. To me you aren’t just an orphan from Haiti, you are a dear friend. I cannot thank you for all that you’ve taught me! Goodbye my friend, I pray I see you soon; I miss you terribly.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Amber Lenhert All Rights Reserved
Reprinted with author’s permission.

Missions Trip to Haiti Part 4:
A Little Sarcasm, A Lot of Love

“I’m determined to go back . . .” – Aimee

“I want to apply to be an intern there when I’m older . . .” – Amber

“I will continue to support what God wants to do through them . . .” – Kelly

Aimee and Amber's Posse / Photo by: Caitlin Smith
Aimee and Amber’s Posse / Photo by: Caitlin Smith

I’ve been accused of living my life through the eyes of Walt Disney (RIP, Gene), and I had this vision that the girls stepped off the bus and children came running to them in droves with open arms. I was surprised to learn that Aimee and Amber didn’t feel as if they were making a difference in these children’s lives until their last day there.

Yo, Blond!

Aimee and Amber have two brothers, so it’s no surprise that out of the 110 children at the orphanage, they bonded with a few teenage boys (it didn’t hurt that the boys developed crushes on them). Nobody paid attention to these boys, and the boys wouldn’t make the first approach. What they didn’t count on was that Aimee and Amber were quite capable of breaking through their shells.

Amber bonded with a boy I’m going to call Oscar. She thought he was much younger than he was because he was so small. During a moment in church while they were singing hymns, she took his hands into hers and clapped them along to the beat of the music. This was only one way she broke the ice with him, who ended up being her age.

Aimee also adored Oscar, but another teen, who I’ll call Dennis, really fell for her. He stared at her, and she admits it made her uncomfortable. He called the girls “blond.” I didn’t understand why; they’re brunettes. When I asked about this, the girls told me blond means “white” in Creole. What Dennis didn’t know was that the girls could dish out the teasing just as well as he could.

“I Don’t Speak Creole, and You Know That’s Not My Name!”

That’s what the girls said to the boys when they called them “Blond,” and sarcasm and joking built a quick relationship, which is what it needed to do considering they only had one day left on the island. For all, goofing off was the easy part; for the boys, the being genuine and learning to trust part was what was hard.

Aimee and Amber believe that everyone bonded because the boys knew the girls were genuine, and as such, they let their guard down, something they never did. In fact, they let their guard down so much, that they cried that night because they thought they’d never see the girls again.

The girls cried, too. They didn’t want to leave their new friends, and promised them they’d come back, but the young men didn’t believe them, which is a sad testimony to the difficulty and loneliness they must feel in their lives.

“You’ve Got Mail”

The beauty of modern technology, however, is that Aimee and Amber can email the boys at the mission, and they do. They have been able to keep in touch with these new friends who touched their lives in ways no one, not even them, could imagine.

When I set out to write this series, I wanted to focus on how this missions trip changed Aimee and Amber’s lives more than the orphans they ministered to, but I realized halfway through, I cannot do this justice. I wasn’t there.

So, for the last installment of this series, I am honored to turn the keyboard over to Amber, who wrote about her experience. I’ll post it next.

 

Copyright © 2016 by Sharon Platz All Rights Reserved

Missions Trip to Haiti Part 3:
Queue the Indiana Jones Theme

“We couldn’t drink water on the bus ride to the Mission . . .” – Aimee

“Yeah, it was an eight-hour ride and we only had one bathroom stop . . .” – Amber

“I’m sorry, what? Did you say only one?” – Sharon

Wait . . . This is Haiti?!

Okay, I’ll just say it right now: I will never be able to go on this missionary trip. Only one bathroom stop in eight hours just won’t work with my coffee-addicted, forty-[cough]-year-old bladder. In fact, I believe I said, “Oh, [I’ll just go ahead and censor myself here] no!” when they told me about the bus ride from the airport to the mission, and not having enough bathroom breaks wasn’t the worst part.

And Aimee Thought the Flight Would Be Bad . . .

I’ve never been to Haiti, so I don’t know its geography, and I was surprised to learn that the bus ride to the mission was treacherous. I pictured crystal-blue waters married with white-sand beaches and flat lands throughout the entire island, and I’ll admit I just Googled it to see if that were true. The beach part is, but according to Aimee and Amber, the flat lands part isn’t so much.

Alongside having to “hold it,” the girls told Kelly and me that they rode on narrow mountain roads that were something akin to the routes up Mount Everest (okay, I added the Everest part). They said they couldn’t even look out the windows, because they were certain they were going to plummet to their death down a steep cliff. I don’t think anyone warned them of this during the safety meetings.

Do We Really Want to Do This?

I’m not afraid of heights. In fact, I added the Everest part above because I’m going to climb her one day, but alas, I digress. As I listened to them relay the long and harrowing bus ride (and heard the Indiana Jones theme in my head), I realized that these two faced their fears head on just to make this trip. You can’t tell me a bus ride like this doesn’t exacerbate a fear of heights and constant worrying (Please read the second post in this series to see what I’m talking about).

Was it worth it to the girls in the end? Keep reading to find out. I will say this, however: These young women are braver than Indiana Jones. While most teens were frolicking in the muddied waters that marry the littered California coastline, Aimee and Amber traveled for two days, and it wasn’t first class . . . and there weren’t enough bathroom breaks! Yeah, these two rock!

 

Copyright © 2016 by Sharon Platz All Rights Reserved

Be Gentle on Yourself

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Years ago I saw a therapist once a week to get to the root of my depression. I decided to forego the psychiatrist and medication and see a psychologist instead. I didn’t want the cushion of the meds; I wanted to get to the bottom of my issues.

Every week as she walked me out of her office after our session, she’d say to me, “Be gentle on yourself.” At the time, I thought that was contrived. I’d just spent an hour ripping myself open and pouring my guts out all over the floor, and I resented the sentiment.

Hindsight is 20/20, however, and I now say the same thing to others. One reason why is because I better understand exactly what she meant. She didn’t just mean be gentle on myself as in, “Don’t go and jump in front of a bus,” she also meant realize that what you’re going through is difficult.

If there is any time a person should give her or himself a break, it’s in the midst of a mental illness battle. It’s difficult to articulate what goes through one’s mind as one struggles to try to figure out what’s going on inside one’s mind. There is so much confusion when you’re fighting your own brain.

My therapist’s sentiment went beyond a concern for my physical well-being. I was mentally tired, too, and she helped me to see that through those four simple words. She gave me permission to allow myself to feel how I felt, and that is so important to somebody who suffers from mental illness.

I’ve said it, and I’ve heard it: “I’m so stupid,” “I’m too weak,” “I need to get over it,” “I’m overreacting . . .” I won’t go on, because I can’t. This type of verbiage, whether being spoken to oneself or spoken to another is so harmful. It can derail a depressed person immediately.

In my humble opinion, few things are worse than minimizing and/or criticizing yourself or someone else for the emotional and physical reaction that is a part of depression and other mental illnesses. No one should ever be made to feel horrible because they feel horrible.

This is why I now say to others who are struggling the very words that I had come to resent so long ago. Nothing is inane when you’re in the midst of your own battle, and I believe that you should understand and accept all of these emotions so you can then learn how to manage them.

Yes, you feel horrible, helpless, and even stupid sometimes. But you know what? There are reasons why you feel that way, so don’t beat yourself up. Don’t feel bad about feeling bad. Realize that what you’re going through is difficult, and enlist the help you need to get you out of this dark tunnel.

In other words: Be gentle on yourself.

 

Please note: This blog post is written from my personal experience and expresses my opinions only. I am not a medical professional, nor am I qualified to dispense medical advice. If you believe you are suffering from depression, please contact your health care professional or the emergency mental health care hotline in your area immediately.

 

Copyright © 2016 by Sharon Platz All Rights Reserved