Monday, April 20, 2009

Generation Ex is Five Years Old

My book, Generation Ex: Adult Children of Divorce and the Healing of Our Pain, released five years ago today. It's hard to believe that so much time has passed already, but when I think of all that has happened in that time, I'm amazed it's been that long!

I wrote Generation Ex as a single career woman, living in Grand Rapids, Michigan in a townhouse with my dog. At the time, I wondered if I'd ever marry and if I did, if I would ever achieve the marriage of my dreams.

I'm writing this blog post as a married, stay-at-home mom, living in Canton, Ohio in a house with my husband, my son, and my dog. The man I married amazes me every day and I have no doubt that I have the marriage of my dreams.

Five years ago, when my book released, I was just a few short months removed from sustaining the head injury that killed my ability to write (among many other things). Most of that year is lost in the fog of forgetfulness. I spent more time in rehab than I did promoting my book, and so it wasn't a huge surprise that GE went out of print a year later, and that I was unable to fulfill my contract for a follow-up with another publisher. Fortunately, one of the interviews I did do was with Family Life. And conversations there led to another contract, a reprint of the book without the updates and revisions I had hoped for, but was physically unable to do.

It's been a good arrangement, and I think Family Life will keep my book in print for a long time. My book was never intended to be an instant best-seller, and other than occasional spikes on the Amazon rankings, I doubt it ever will be. What it has been, however, is a quiet word-of-mouth, pass-it-around life changer. And really, how can I complain about that? I've been humbled to receive emails almost every week from readers who tell me that the book has helped them find healing and restoration in their relationships. I know of about ten books that have quoted Generation Ex. I know of pastors who refer to it when they teach on divorce and remarriage. I know of a couple of marriages that have been saved in part because of it. I know of sorority groups that have gone through the book together. I know of counselors who recommend the book to both parent and adult child. I'm humbled and proud to have written a book that is making a lasting difference in people's lives.

I still struggle with the loss of my ability to write. I still have the excel spreadsheet I had posted in my office in my townhome. I had one hundred book ideas, including eight series that I still believe would be marketable and successful today, and more so than GE because of their broader audience. Just reviewing the titles now stirrs my heart again with that old writing muse, and I'm encouraged by the occasional flashes of my "old head," but alas, my broken brain doesn't remember how to get started. There is a children's series on my list, and I hopethat maybe I can start there someday. I have a book I want to write for Daniel, about being a Dutch-American. Maybe I can start there. What I would give to be able to start again...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

How About the Heart

Okay, I admit it. I watch The Bachelor. In fact, I've even dragged my husband into it. For the past few weeks, we talked about how much we liked this season because the women (especially the ones at the end) were likable and gracious. And of course, whenever there's someone from my old stomping grounds of Grand Rapids, we like to cheer the hometown girl. 

Coincidentally, this season's finale lined up with the marriage series at our church. A certain phrase has come up in most places that got me thinking. 

Follow Your Heart

This is one of the worst pieces of romantic advice out there. At least, for any one who wants a lasting relationship. Following your heart, as convincingly portrayed by our Bachelor Jason, can often be used as a "get out of jail free" card to give up on a relationship when it becomes difficult, challenging, boring, fill-in-the-blank. The Bible warns us to guard your heart because it influences everything you do (Proverbs 4:23). Not to be preachy, but that's just good advice.

I'm a new parent, so my husband and I often have conversations about our parenting goals and style. One nugget of wisdom that guides my interactions with my son is this: "Whatever you choose to do, ask yourself if you want to keep doing it for the next five years?" The idea is this, my son is watching, and whatever I do, he will do, so I need to make sure that what I'm teaching him is what I want to teach him. 

It's the same with our hearts. If we follow our heart, we're going to be led astray. Instead, we need to lead  our heart. We are human beings, not animals. We have impulses, true, but we also have choice and conscience. 

Back to the parenting thing. How do I teach my son to be nice to others when he doesn't feel like it? Do I tell him to follow his heart? If I do, then his heart is going to tell him to do what he wants, even if it means hurting others. Instead, we teach our children to do the right thing, we applaud them when they do and we discipline them when they don't. That's how they learn to do right, and that's how we learn to lead our heart.