Thursday, January 8, 2009

When Life Gives You Lemons... Write a Book

Well, things are coming together at the house. The water damage has been fully "mitigated". They did not have to remove nearly as much drywall or insulation as they had originally predicted, and no sub-floor had to be removed. They're just squeezing the last bit of moisture out with dehumidifiers and industrial-strength fans in the basement, now. All of the basement flooring is a loss, which we'd expected. And all-in-all, only about 1/4 of the square footage of the hardwood in the main floor had to be torn up.

I'm blessed to have a friend from church, Bryan, whose family is in the contracting business, specializing in basement refinishing and remodeling. I've used them before, to do my basement in the townhouse we lived in when we first moved to the area 4 years ago. (Nantom Construction is their company's name, by the way. Let me know if you need their number. Absolutely the BEST in the area-- good, trustworthy people who do great, efficient work.) (Kozor-- do I get a discount for that shameless plug?) Anyway, Bryan agreed to take on my job, and is going completely above and beyond-- he has some great ideas for upgrades (ie, an additional bathroom in the basement), and cost-cutting in other areas (ie, the kind of flooring in the laundry room), so overall, with minimal additional investment, my house is going to be WAY better off when he's done than before it was flooded. ALSO!! The GREAT news is that what the adjuster told me would take months will only take weeks. (Yes, Bryan is THAT GOOD.) :)

Also, I'm starting to realize it is going to be a bit of a blessing to have all of the storage area cleared of things-- even as invaluable as some of the things were. Less clutter. It seriously is like a fresh start-- a new house, less stuff... Not like I had a choice in the matter, but I do see the "upside"... as I tend to. Leslie is rolling her eyes right now at this confession, if they have access to blogspot.com in heaven. Anyway... deep breath... it will be alright.

So, yes, I'm all about making lemonade with the lemons that life deals me. After all, the more I live, the more I learn that, indeed, "...all things work together for good for those who trust the Lord, and are called according to His purpose." But additionally, as you, my loyal friends and readers, have learned very intimately about me... I also like to WRITE about the "lemon-to-lemonade" process, and my experiences therein. I've learned there is something extraordinarily therapeutic about seeing my thoughts in writing... and then sharing them... and then actually reading the heart-felt and thoughtful responses that result. The whole thing is so humbling... so encouraging... It's like the truth that I'm learning becomes even more important-- the beauty I'm witnessing, more glorious-- the more the original report echoes off the walls and finds its way back to me. All that to say, thank you so much for sharing these "new chapters" with me. I am so grateful to God for each set of eyes-- every heart and mind-- that takes and indeed absorbs the stuff that spills out of me onto this keyboard.

Ironically enough, I'm going to ask you all for prayer for something specific on this topic of "writing" or "blogging" or whatever it is we call this phenomenon. It's ironic, because that's how this whole thing started... as a desperate call for prayer. I'd always written-- journaled, wrote song lyrics/ poetry, memoirs, etc... But I'd never shared it publicly. When Leslie was first found to have a cancerous tumor behind her polyp, 15 months ago, that all changed. I simply sent out a mass email to friends and family, asking them for prayer... giving details as to the medical intricacies and the logistics of her diagnosis and pending treatment plan. As people learned of Leslie's condition and the numbers of people wanting to be "in the know" grew, I simply sent out one more email, asking people to check in on my private message board on my MySpace page, as they so desired. From there, our friend Ginny, wanting to do something-- anything-- for Leslie, asked if she could beging to copy and paste my postings in a more public venue, in order to perhaps drum up some more "prayer warriors". And the blog known as Leslie's Journey was born. And here we are. I'm not sure when the tone of our entries morphed from that of offering more cut-and-dried prayer requests to one of a more therapeutic, reflective, journalistic nature. (But is there really much of a difference between the two, when you get down to it?) But I came to view my postings no longer as an obligation to keep family and friends informed, but rather, it was becoming a personal NEED... an escape... therapy. And it was so humbling to see what God began to do with it. When things went from bad to worse... and then in turn from worse to utterly horrible... I asked Leslie what she thought of her growing "audience", and the public nature of her suffering. I offered to "pull the plug" on the blog... essentially, that she may "die in peace", (although of course, we didn't ever say it like that). Her response will always remain monumental in my life. Here's a paraphrase of what she told me, as she struggled for breath (even with the help of her oxygen line) that bittersweet morning:

"I've come to realize that this is my ministry. My calling. I don't like it. It's not what I wanted for a life-purpose. But I've always asked God, 'what do you want of me?'. And I realize that this is His answer. I don't know what He's got up His sleeve. We hope it's a miraculous healing. But whatever it is, I've got no choice but to give Him glory in it. It is my ministry. Look at all the people watching! And look at all He's taught US through this! We all have so much to learn from each other. God WILL reveal Himself through this. Whatever happens."

Praise God, amen! What a woman! Yes, YOU, our readers and friends, were indeed used by God Himself to give Leslie a vision and purpose in her suffering. YOU were the answer to so many of her questions, "WHY?" And indeed, YOU are the ones to whom God is still ministering through her. You are her legacy. I will never be able to show my full appreciation for this.

So... What is the prayer request I mentioned, in this instance, you ask? Good question, is my reply, and here's the deal...

I've developed a relationship with a publisher. While he will not be taking on our story to publish himself, he will basically be acting as my "agent". So weird to say... "I have an agent." I am just putting the finishing touches on a book proposal, which for now is entitled, Leslie's Journey. It is subtitled: God’s Story of Love, Life, Suffering, and Redemption in an Average American Family. And friends, I need prayer. I have no idea what to expect. It just seems as though a door has swung open before me, and I'm compelled to walk through it, to see what awaits me inside... (or is it "outside"?) My primary goal is to amplify and honor Leslie's ministry that I spoke of in a previous paragraph. But I'd be lying if I said I don't get excited, personally, about what God could have in store, lying on the other side of this door way. I need prayer for discernment. For protection. For humility. That I might just continue to follow Him into what could be the pending adventure, and not grasp at idols along the way. That the right opportunities might come along... and that the primary, secondary, and tertiary purpose, mode, and result of these opportunities might be that God is glorified-- that He reveals Himself, en masse, in the same way He has up to now, in this "ministry"... and then some.

I just wanted to share this all with you... ask you for prayer... for your wisdom and feedback. Jason (the publisher/agent dude) thought it'd be a good idea to kind of "unveil" the idea here, in this venue. Many of you have asked or made suggestions about this very thing, and indeed, I heard those words... and I thank you for your encouragement.

Well anyway... thanks for your consideration, compassion, and prayers. Back to work... and rebuilding a home.

p.s. Ginny- If you're still checking in on the "Leslie's Journey" site... do you mind giving a little "news brief" there? Thanks! :)

36 comments:

JudyBright said...

After reading a few posts I knew they were well written and descriptive, something that could be put in book form. I know you were doing this to keep people informed, then as a bit of therapy for yourself, but you really are a gifted writer.

As long a you keep your head clear, I really think your story can be used to the glory of God, and to help others who have gone through something like this.

Kim said...

I can guarantee you will have at least two sales - me and my mom. ;) Good luck on this new journey.

Tyson Aschliman said...

Thank you so much! Then, in that case, please join me in praying that God keeps my head clear in this! :)

Abby said...

Love this post Tyson- and I love the words Les said. Amazing.

Last night I thought of you guys as I read "The Tale of Three Trees" to my kids. My mom gave us each a copy for Christmas, and let me tell you- amazing. I could picture Les reading it to TJ just as I was with my kiddos. We talked about how we pray for certain things, and many times God answers those prayers, just in a different way that you ever imagined. God's ways are higher than ours (thank goodness!), that's for sure. Your journey is an amazing, encouraging, and inspiring one.

And it'd be an unforgettable book- you can add us to the sales list!

Kristi said...

Good for you Ty! I enjoy reading your well written posts, they truly portray a man/family of God and clearly show God's grace and love. What a wonderful tribute to Leslie this book will be! Good luck.

Wow! said...

Tyson; As you know every Sunday I log on and check the analytics on the Leslie's Journey blog.
200 - 500 new people log on to read the journey weekly. WEEKLY! God is so AMAZING!!! The journey continues to spread around the world from Asia to Europe over the ocean to the USA.
76 Countries!
So wonderful about the book what a wonderful story of love it will be.
ginny

Chelle said...

What a wonderful idea! Go ahead and put me down for a book...very early pre-release ordering I know, but based on what I read here on your blog? I'm all over it. Praying for you and for what will be contained in the pages of that book. And, what a beautiful gift that will be for your son.

Lisa said...

Yes. yes. yes...You will have our prayers. I have said it over and over that Tyson has to write a book and I would be first in line to buy many copies. You have a gift that so many more need to see. I check this blog everyday, its like a part of my life now and ss I read this I got chills and tears at the same time..does that mean something? I sure hope it does. I am so excited for you and cant wait to see what happens...but prayers you get!!! Go agent dude go!!!

-Lisa Ragan

Sarah said...

I'm so excited for you! I will be praying for the road ahead.

JoDee said...

Leslie's strong statement about her journey being her ministry is an extraordinarily selfless statement.

It would honor God and honor her life to write a book about this remarkable woman, her family and friends, and the God who sustained them all. Write on, Tyson--for His Glory.

Anonymous said...

Tyson - I really really love this idea...and it would only continue Leslie's and your ministry - with the possibility to effect more lives, if that is what God has for you. Dan and I will be praying for you with this.

Erin G.

Anonymous said...

Your words, insights and explanations of spiritual things is amazing to me. I am in the "baby stage" of my spiritual journey and you have been answering soooooo many of my questions (no pressure). I would love for you to write a book. I am praying that God will give you discernment and that you will continue to let God lead your writing. Blessings to your family and next time you go somewhere for an extended period of time, have a friend check your house every once in a while! :)
C.V.

Sarah Schieber said...

How exciting! Blessings upon your continued journey of ministry!

Anonymous said...

I'll share my "lemonade from lemons" story...as I can so relate to you. I came home from work with my two kids one cold, snowy winter day in IL and began homework and getting dinner ready. I thought I heard the washing machine, but knew no one had been home all day. After being home about a half hour, I ran downstairs to get something, only to step in a puddle that had seeped across my entire basement floor. (We had just moved in a few months before and the finished basement had much of our storage items as well.) I called my husband, but he was helping his brother out of ditch with the wonderful snow. I ran to my new neighbor's house and he came over to help. We eventually found out where to shut off the water at and he began to suck up all the water with his wet vac. It turned out one of our pipes had frozen to the outside water spicket and we did not know there was a shut off valve inside.

We began the steps of working through our insurance and a restoration crew came out, cleaned up, and, like the stage you're in now, began to run ALL kinds of industrial strength fans in the basement. The fans had been running a day and a half when we noticed things began to short circuit throughout the house. My husband ended up shutting off some of the fans. While we were getting ready to run an errand with the kids, he thought he smelled smoke. I was already in the car in the garage with the kids in the back seat when my husband decided to check the attic above the garage. After going up the pull down steps, he immediately ran down and shut off a bunch of fuses in the box in the garage. Through his screaming that there was a fire, he quickly ran up the stairs again with a bucket of water. I was completely freaking out in the car and was panicking between calling 911, going to help my husband, and yelling at him to get out of the garage. All of a sudden from my paralyzed state in the driver's seat of the car, I see my husband's legs come crashing through the attic floor as he stepped on a piece of plywood to throw water on the fire. Okay, now talk about freaking out! He caught himself by his ribs and arms on some boards so he didn't fall through the floor and managed to put out the fire on a beam just before it spread to the attic floor. Phew!

It seemed totally hopeless at the time with a flooded basement, a smoky burnt up garage ceiling and attic, and messed up wiring, but God was up to our good! As you are doing, we ended up redoing our basement much more to our liking and were able to update all of our electricial wiring too with money left!

So, hopefully your wiring is able to support all of those fans and before long you will be loving your basement again!

Anonymous said...

Tyson,

I'd buy it and I appreciate your concern about how it would be taken. As you've said, as long as as its focus remains glorifying God's hand in your family's journey, both the highs and the lows, I don't see how you can go wrong.

Anne said...

I will pray for you Tyson. I agree with your prayer requests - "for protection, humility...to continue to follow Him." There's certainly nothing wrong with being excited - but our adversary loves to use our emotions against us. I will pray that you can keep looking at God - keeping your focus on Him and His glory and goodness. I'm glad for the doors that have opened so far. I think there is great potential.
Anne

rhemashope said...

Praise the Lord! May God continue to be glorified in you and Leslie's ministry!

Becky said...

You most certainly have my prayers! You have a God-given skill to convey your journey through the written word, and this opportunity might enable Leslie's ministry to spread even further throughout the world. Wishing you peace and wisdom as you discern your path!

Jody said...

I'm thrilled to hear this! Although I don't know you or Leslie personally, I've followed your blog when I found out about it via Taylor (I'm on faculty there). I've since forwarded it to quite a number of friends simply to share your insight. God is using you as well as Leslie in the midst of this, and I'm thrilled to hear a book is a possibility!

Jen said...

Tyson~

First let me start off by saying how sorry I am that you have to go through the grief of losing your spouce as well.

I found your blog througg my new friend Sarah Schieber's blog. I was put in contact with Sarah shorlty after I lost my 31 year old husband to a sudden heart attack. A few days after his funeral I also miscarried our first child.

I have been reading your blog for a while now, but felt like tonight I needed to comment.

When I started my blog it was a way to keep intouch with family and friends. However, since the death of Shawn my blog has turned in another direction. Now when I write it is like therapy for me. I have met so many great and wonderful people through my blog, people that have helped me in the darkest time of my life. You hit the nail on the head when you said reading the responses from people are so humbling. I agree. The kindness I've received from total strangers has been amazing to me.

My husband always told me I had a way with words and that I should write children's books. I never thought much about it. I only wanted to be a wife and mom. Well since all that has happened in my life the last 4 1/2 months many people who read my blog are telling me to write a book as well. Friends and family are saying this to me too.

When I ask people why people tell me that no person should go through what I have in the last several months. However each person has told me that I'm still trying to stay positive and that with my "positive" attitude I would be able to help others. With my story I want to tell people not to take advantage of their spouce because you never know what the next day will bring. I never thought the morning of August 18, would be the last time I would kiss my husband. Through my loss I would like to help the marriage of others. Shawn and I had such a great marriage.

I agree with you as well. This isn't what I wanted in my life. Where I'm at now is not where I thought my life would be, I don't like it, and I don't understand why, but I'm trying every day to be strong and make the best out of the most horrible situation.

With the help of Sarah I'm just really starting my relationship with God. I don't know what he wants me to do and I don't know where my life will go. What I'm learning however, is that with God in my life I can make it and in the process I hope to help people.

Thank you for sharing your blog with us.

If you are interested you are more than welcome to check out my blog:
www.taleoftwocoins.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

So happy to hear things are coming together so nicely with your house! God is so good!! And...yes!!!! We will be buying your book the first day it is available. I've been reading your blogs and praying for your family since May '08. You have a gift for words and sharing your life. What an awesome tribute to Leslie! Praying for you and your ministry!!
Kelly

Jean H. said...

God is good...so, so good! I've been following your blog for awhile now and you truly amaze me with your words! I will anxiously await the arrival of your book.

Carrie S said...

Tyson!

This is awesome; what a way to hear God's call and glorify him. I will specifically pray about this for you. I have always told you that you have a wonderful gift and only God could give you that. I am just glad you are using it the way he seems to be calling you to use it. I want that book when it's published.

Hugs and Prayers to you and TJ!

Anonymous said...

Ok - you don't know me - I'm a friend of a friend of a friend (so on and so forth). I stumbled across your blog as so many others have, a few months ago. God spoke through you in such a way that after I read one of your entries, I felt compelled to read ALL of your entries - right then.

Since then, I think and pray often for you and your son and of course, keep up on the blog reading. I will be praying for God's guidance and glory through the book proposal. I think it would be absolutely amazing. I can't wait to see what God has in store!

Anonymous said...

I can't put into words (as so eloquently as you do), the profound effect your blog has had on my life and my relationship with God. I plead you to pursue this endeavor, as I would love to continue to follow Leslie's ministry (in whatever context available). I can see you traveling the globe, sharing your story of love and loss with the world. May God continue to bless you and your son!

Bekah said...

That's awesome Tyson. We will be praying for you as you write this and continue Leslie's ministry.

Anonymous said...

Well Tyson, I'm glad to see you finally came into the idea that I said to my sister, who also follows your blog, quite sometime ago. Bravo, a book!!! You are, and have been an inspiration to any of us struggling with life's daily issues. Thank You for sharing your journey with us, so that we may all continue to grow in faith!! From some Archbold fans of yours..So sorry to hear about the homecoming suprise!!!

Bliss Family said...

I don't think I have to tell you what I think of this idea. I think you can feel the cyber "i knew it" and "am so excited". But I will pray brother. You will not accomplish this task without resistance, but to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine...To Him be the glory! So incredibly with you...

Jenni

ann said...

That you are aware of the need for prayer support, and that you are aware of the thieves lurking along the road to steal the joy....all speak of good things to come from this new pitcher of lemonade. It is your humility and transparency that makes your work compelling. Prayer, indeed.

Auntie Gayle said...

AMEN! from Auntie and our family in Carmel! Prayers for time management, too, as you add this "project" to your load. May our loving Father arrange some "margin" for you to work on this book. Hugs to you and TJ!
Auntie Gayle

Kelly O'Dell Stanley said...

I don't know you, but I think this is the right thing for you to do. I, too, write, not as eloquently as you do, but I know first-hand that writing can be a form of prayer, a means for divine revelation, a way of praising and asking and receiving, a two-way communication even though many may not see it that way. Continue to use your words in the ways that you do and I know God will bless, whether it's with the finished product of a book or if it's simply blessings and restoration given through the process. I've read many blogs written by people who have experienced devastating losses in their family, and all are heartbreaking. But your writing, your words, your faith, your love, your HOPE are all things that are beautiful and rare and unusual and, I think, what keep all of us coming back to read more. May God bless this new leg of your journey!

Annie (from Mpls, MN) said...

Tyson, My family and I met you in Florida (on New Smyrna beach) over Christmas. We had met your family (mom, dad, sister, bro-in-law, nephews) in Dec 2006 and then re-acquainted with them this Dec., most likely not by "chance". This is Annie writing, my husband (Juan) and my two boys (Samuel and Benjamin). Your sister, Nicci, suggested I check out your blog...Fortunately I was able to locate it via "googling" you and Leslie. You and your son have been in my thoughts often. My prayer for you is that you will wait upon the Lord until you have discerned His desired will and that you will not move ahead unless His presence is with you. I share this with you in humility as this is the way, I believe, I have often neglected and therefore have engaged in building far too many things on the foundation of sand.

Julia Abbott Condict said...

Fantastic news, Tyson. I will be praying that God will direct your path and reveal His plan to you. Wow, soon you will be a famous author and I will be able to say I went on a pick-a-date with you. ;-)

Jaymie said...

Tyson - I knew Leslie at Triple L Youth Center and found out about the blog from other co-workers who told me about her death. I have been following your journey over the last few months and from the beginning I thought you had a wonderful way with words and a story to tell that could touch a lot of people. I know it touches me every time I check in for the latest news on you and TJ. Blessings on you in this opportunity. God has thrown the doors wide open and you will be held up in prayer as you walk through them in faith! ~ Jaymie

Toni Deckers said...

I have thought for several months, that this would be a good idea.

Cindy said...

Wow, such a book could help--in the Lord-- so many people. Yes, I'm praying, but first reaction is it seems "so right" -- but that in itself is another reason to pray!