Thanks for taking an interest in what makes me me. Stories have paraded around in my mind ever since I can remember. There's a certain feel, a high--I admit--when words I don't ordinarily use in daily life pops up on a written page or when my characters teach me valuable life lessons. Although as a middle grade student I'd fancied myself as the next famous playwright, a la Neil Simon, I slanted toward mainstream/contemporary fiction. My stories may start off on a darker note, reflecting upon a difficult slice of life and struggles, but each story is written to encourage others that with God we can face both the joys and trials in this crazy mixed up world.

In the spring of 2011 I shouted with joy when I placed in the Semi-finals category in the ACFW Genesis Contest for my novel WALK WITH ME. In 2013 I received the honor of My Book Therapy's Frasier Bronze Medalist award for my novel NO GOING BACK. And in 2014 I was blessed with the news that my short story IN HIS OWN TIME won the People's Choice Award in the FamilyFiction Contest and has been published in a printed anthology THE STORY: 2014 ANTHOLOGY. Also, THE FOREVER CHRISTMAS GIFT is published in the CHRISTMAS TREASURES: A COLLECTION OF CHRISTMAS STORIES. I also am a contributing author to the international publication, Happy Sis Magazine.

I am blessed to be represented by agent Linda S. Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency.

Every day I weep with joyous tears of how blessed I am to be loved by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am no one without Him. Since I tend not to hold too much back, and want you to know where I'm coming from, below is my testimony:

In a way, I was lucky. For the most part, my mother hid in her bedroom away from me, and my brother. Now, with a little understanding of paranoid-schizophrenia I look at those gray childhood days and doubt that she was also unable to keep holed up from her own demons.

Those unwanted and uninvited visitors robbed the woman from my mother. Hijacked and held ransom—the bounty perhaps the destruction of a family—my mother’s peace and joy vanished. In its place came sadness and fear at unexpected times. Like her crying and mourning over how her parents, when she was a girl, never bought her roller-skates (please note: this is not a verified fact or the bashing of my grandparents, but rather a reflection of my mother’s inner turmoil). Or, the time when a phantom gang of teens was on the rampage and she fetched my brother and I from a neighbor’s so we could sneak back home—running for our lives—before we were caught and killed/maimed/tortured. Or, the stray dog that would surely pounce upon us and shred us to pieces with its huge fangs.

This all took place in the 1960s and 70s, a time before mental illness leapt out of the proverbial storage cabinet, and certainly before present-day improved medications. Yet, I remember my mother’s ventures in and out of psych wards. Her tiny reassurances to me that she didn’t like who or what she was, and how she had to surrender her dreams of becoming a dancer, or even a dietician. She hated her condition and would willingly volunteer for shock-therapy treatments—if only they’d help.

Nothing did help. Family tensions piled high. My brother and I began drifting apart. My father—perhaps to overcompensate for a wife who couldn’t work or to dodge his own troubles—worked. And worked. For many years he worked seven days a week and far more than eight-hour days.

Then, my mother ran away from home to the golden promises of sunny California. I was sixteen. And actually happy—relieved—to know that I’d no longer have to worry about waking up in the morning to discover that my parents’ arguing had resulted in a murder-suicide (at least, this is what I'd feared). 

Three weeks after her 46th birthday, my mother died from ovarian cancer. May she be resting in eternal peace, the peace she never enjoyed in her human life.

As a very young child I believed in God. Though my parents never demonstrated outright faith, I just knew there was a God and He loved me. In my high school years I began to follow a gentle tug toward the Christian faith. This leading wasn’t by a specific person or thing, but more like a force whispering in my ear, and heart. In my young twenties I accepted Christ as my Savior. 

I’m not writing these words to preach. Nor am I condemning those who believe in other faiths—nor those who do not believe in any God—are doomed. What I am saying is that I believe I managed not to fall prey to a troubling childhood and “crack up” because I held onto God’s hand as He held onto mine.

Oh, I still have my dark times when memories surface and the anguish courses through my blood as if it’s happening all over again. But, I’m managing. And I thank God for His help.

Perhaps, unlike what I said in the beginning, surviving a dysfunctional family has nothing to do with luck, but rather, a blessing. I am forever grateful.

--Elaine Stock 2/25/13
--this was originally written for and published on The Wounded Warrior 

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