Happy First Birthday!

Today is the one year birthday of my book being published and available for sale on Amazon! What a crazy year it has been! I remember a time in my life that I never believed this book would get done. It was something that had been on my heart and mind since I was thirteen years old, but I had never felt it was the right time to write it. I still, hopefully, have so much life to live! I wondered when would be the right time to start writing.

I remember being in church and praying about writing a book…again. "God, should I write a book about myself? Is that too vain? Should I share my story or would anyone even care? Would they judge me?" As I prayed I just felt a release in my heart and still thought saying, "It's time. Write it." It was a release of emotions as well. Fear was the main one. I didn't know what I was doing. All I wanted was for my book to help other CHD patients and their families.

I tried to start writing chapter by chapter. Then I tried writing just whatever came to my mind. Finding time to write was hard too. Many times I found myself welling up in tears having to relive tough moments of my own life and thinking about my family and all they had been through with me. I had spent most of my life NOT talking about my heart because I didn't want to seem "different" from anyone else. I struggled to know how, what, or even when to write.

As weeks turned into months, and months into years I found having a rough plan and then just going for it, was my style of writing. Writing from the heart seems to serve me well for the most part. It's my life, not a magical world I am making up. All I had to do was write the truth, and God could take care of the rest. I also found I am a morning writer. I have my best ideas in the mornings as I'm getting ready for the day. I also write best in quiet. If my husband was heading out for an evening or Saturday for a while I would plan to sit and write when I had the house to myself.

In the early mornings and quiet house, my book slowly came together over a matter of about two years. I then had to do the research on how to get it published, which I did by reading books and internet articles. I could either publish it myself or try to get an agent and have them help me. All of this cost money as well. I decided the best way for me was to just publish it myself. That has had positives and negatives, but for the most part, I have enjoyed the experience of working through Amazon's Createspace.

​I asked my husband's best friend Jason for help with the cover design since he has a graphic design background. He jumped at the opportunity and we discussed different ideas for how the book should look. I wanted a book that didn't have a picture of me on it. I gave him an early copy of the book to read to help him come up with ideas. When he got done with the book he wisely told me that a book so personal had to have my picture on it. My husband also agreed with him. I decided if I was going to have my picture on my book it would have to be taken professionally. I turned to a former high school friend who is now the very talented photographer, Elizabeth Carrie. I called her and told her about the book and what kind of photos I was looking for. She agreed to help and I had my first professional photo shoot since my wedding day. We decide to go for three looks, professional, casual, and one in a hospital gown. Once the photos were done I sent them on to my graphic design friend and he worked his magic from there. My book wouldn't look as great as it does without the assistance of Jason and Elizabeth! I can't ever thank them enough.

Once all that came together the book was uploaded to Createspace and I received my very first copy of my book one week later. It was a historic moment in my life and I had my husband video me opening the package. My reaction and subsequent happy dance were pretty entertaining. I checked over the book with an eagle eye. I changed a few things and then uploaded it again and published it. After that, I had to promote myself and my book wherever I could. I even threw a huge book launch party in November. We had a good turnout of people and it was great to feel so much support of my book.

I met some wonderful people while working on this book that created a non-profit called Help-a-heart. They financially and emotionally support families with kids who are born with congenital heart diseases like me. When I heard about them I knew I had to be involved. I go to as many events and support groups with them as I can. I have given and received so much love and support from Help-a-heart. It will be a cause close to my heart for the rest of my life. They were so supportive about my book and many of the parents purchased a copy from me.

I got to attend a symposium at the beginning of this year at the University of Iowa Hospitals. I got to sell my book and be a participant. I met great people and learned a lot from that experience.

I've gotten to speak a few more places and sell my book at a few events, but I have found out two things that made all the work worth it for me. First, I have gotten the chance to meet and connect with other people just like myself. They have had multiple heart issues and/or surgeries and we get to encourage each other through our own journeys with CHD. Second, I finally feel like I am not alone. Telling my story has open doors to friendship, self-confidence, and the ability to share what God has done in my life with people who may not believe in God. Taking the step of faith to write this book has given me a new perspective on all my life's trials. My trials have now become my testimony. My mess has now become my mission.

If you haven't read my book please get your copy today on Amazon. If you have read it I'd love to hear your review of it. You can either leave it on my Amazon page or my Facebook page. Thank you so much for reading it and I hope it blessed, encouraged, or inspired you in some way.

#boo #MissionMondays #Advocate #helpaheart #health

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