To Be A Published Author… And Offer Hope to ‘My (Mennonite) People’

Dutifully I placed all my workbooks on the table before me, then seated myself in front of the stack. Grade 6 was over, and I had a long summer before me. Long enough to write a story, I thought to myself.

Flipping through the pages, I tore out all the used, marked and badly worn pages, and set them aside for the burning pile, leaving behind lined paper for my writing project. I soon learned to cut out the pages, instead of tearing them, to avoid losing the pages at the back of the book.

Having completed this task, I transferred the workbooks into double grocery bags to be used as my book bag. Next, I collected a handful of pens. I would need blue or black for writing, and read for correcting. And I’d always want a few extra. Just in case.

Finally, I picked up my emerald-green Pathway Publishers book. I had saved up my own money to by it at John Martin’s book store. How I treasured that book! It was the one book I could call ‘mine’. Such a beautiful green. And perfectly spotless when I purchased it. With that book as my guide, I would learn to write a good story…

I had access to countless books, growing up, Whether the school library, the church library, old Reader’s Digest–not all of which were age appropriate, however interesting–and even the old Encyclopaedias. I mostly liked reading about birds, animals and the human body. It was the source of my more explicit, though not necessarily damaging, sex education.  Not that I fully understood what I read, and that was just as well.

Always books played a role in my life. Some good. Some bad. And always I dreamed of becoming a published author, starting back at age eleven or twelve, a little Mennonite girl on the farm.

“You have a way with words,” people told me then already. When salesmen came to the door, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, I was the one who most often spent time dealing with them, or debating and challenging. Now, an adult, I wonder what they must have thought to have this young 12-yr-old as the family ‘spokesperson’. (The Filter Queen salesmen called me that.) I would enjoy such a debate, if the tables were turned.

Mind you, I said all the ‘right things’ that I was taught and indoctrinated to say, not necessarily having challenged my own mind to explore. Still, the exercise was good for me in that it did present me with other views and taught me to think critically of my own beliefs, and the beliefs of others, rather than accepting every thought and opinion shared, as my own.

Words and book. Two things that influenced my world like nothing else. In earlier childhood books opened up a fantasy world before me, stirring the mind and imagination. But by my pre-teens and teens, most of what I read had powerful life lessons, evoking feelings, emotions and convictions that continue to influence and shape me, to this day.

And through those years the dream of becoming a published author have never died. Oh, they’ve gotten booted around in frustration, when the dream seemed impossible. I have, figuratively, cast the dream at God’s feet and given it a few extra kicks before turning my back on the crumpled heap. But always, somehow, the dream comes back to life, like that hardy perennial that exudes determination no matter the fierce weather it has endured.

So it was, in August 2011, at the John Maxwell Team conference, that I looked at my group of new friends and blurted out, somewhat randomly, “I have a great idea!”

In the minutes that followed I shared my dream of writing a book, but suggested the seven of us–Babak, Danny, Dennis, Elias, Eric,  Sheri and I–all write  our stories of overcoming  struggles and challenges and arriving at living our dreams. That seemed so much easier than writing a whole book. And we’d be a built in editing team for each other. It was brilliant, they said.

We never did write that book, though we worked on the concept a while. It wasn’t the dream everyone else was meant to live. But it awakened in me a new determination. And I said it publicly. This time I would do it, no matter what. And that was what it took. Knowing that people were expecting it to happen. That there were people I had never met, in other countries–people I would never meet–who, together with my friends at home, cheered me  on. A note here, a word there, a little reminder, “When will you publish your book?” A promise to my Amish friend, Rosemary Gascho, that one day I would drive to her farm and deliver a signed copy.

All of these thing propelled me forward. But, ultimately, it was God’s call that fueled my vision. The desire to tell others it isn’t over when it feels over. There is purpose in the pain and hell of life. There is redemption. There is hope. There is Jesus. And, for those who don’t believe in Him, my story will offer a glimpse into a religious culture and faith experience that even an atheist, I expect, will find inspiring. We don’t have to agree to be moved, challenged and inspired by one another. And that ‘touching of lives and hearts’ is my motive for sharing the story of the first eighteen years of my life.

It is also the reason I have dreamed, for years now, of publishing in my mother-tongue, Low German, and offering a book in story form, to ‘my people’. Only in recent years has it become a written language, and my dream is for my story to bring hope to my Low German, Russian and Mexican Mennonite friends and relatives.

And these dreams are beginning to come true, though not without challenge and hard work. Yesterday, May 27, 2014, I signed a publishing contract for my first book. The working title is “forgiveness for A Secret Sin“, but this may well change at the Publisher’s discretion, as well as the cover.

A Secret Sin--Working Title 2

For the translating part of my dream, I invite you to join me. The cost, because it is a virtually unwritten language, is prohibitive. The translating and editing of it will be very time-consuming and a work to which I cannot contribute much. (I speak quite fluently, but have nothing to offer in the way of actual translating.)

For several years I have been in touch with a team of people who are able to make this happen, and reach many of my ancestors. The copyright of the Low German book will belong to Generations Unleashed, and the funds generated will support the ministry, financially.

To give you opportunity to be part of this amazing ministry, and join me in changing many lives, and offering them hope, we have set up a crowdfunding event, through Indiegogo. To read about it, and support the cause, visit our fundraiser HERE.

Please tell your friends, and contribute in any way you are able–whether financially or by sharing the event–every effort helps make this dream possible. There are ‘Perks’ for specific donation amounts, but if you wish to make a donation for another amount, simply choose the ‘contribute now’ button.  (Sharing is made easy when you visit the site, with buttons just below the photo.) 

Words changed my life. Words gave me hope. Please join me in giving a word of hope to ‘my people’. Together we can make dreams a reality. Together we can change the world.

Thank you, and God bless!

© Trudy Metzger

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The Little Miracles That Changed Everything

A helpless little bundle, I cuddled her in my arms. The thrill that warmed my heart was incomparable to anything I had ever known.

Marrying the man of my dreams–or better than my dreams–nine months, one week and one day (and three hours, to be exact) before that moment when I held our daughter, was the most outstanding miracle in my life. Until that moment, when I held our little girl, the living, breathing manifestation of the love Tim & I shared. Alicia was uniquely herself, yet miraculously part of each of us, carrying our DNA.

It was a rainy October night, that Sunday night into Monday after giving birth. I stood a long while by the window, crying happy tears. That God would bless me so soon with a baby was overwhelming to me.

Only a bit more than a year earlier, while sitting in the Olan Mills photo studio, waiting to have our engagement pictures taken, I had asked Tim, “If I can never get pregnant, do you think we could adopt a few babies, just like those?” I pointed to the portrait of several little black babies, on the opposite wall.

A bit taken off guard, Tim paused, “Ummm… I guess.. maybe.” Smart man….

Tim wasn’t taken off guard because we had never talked about it before. It was the timing that took him off guard, and the way I worded the question. Early in our courtship I shared my story with him. It was a ‘take me or leave me, but you need to know what life was’ conversation. I couldn’t risk having him discover things down the road, after my heart was lost in love, or after marriage.

I had dated a guy for three years, who had treated me well. At least until I told him everything I knew about my past, particularly the childhood sexual abuse. I don’t know what that did to him, but it changed our relationship very abruptly. Suddenly the commitment to not kiss before engagement, and to avoid any intimate physical contact, seemed to mean nothing.

The night I told him those details, he broke that commitment, kissing me intimately, when I felt most vulnerable. I withdrew from him, confused and feeling used, and cowered in the front corner of his car. I don’t think he ever understood what happened to me in that moment. He was one of the first people to know about my childhood, and to make a move that even hinted of sexual intimacy, immediately after that revelation, as I was still coming to terms with the truth, took me to a very dark place.

Over the next few months our relationship deteriorated before I finally broke up with him. We simply could not work through these issues.

Not willing to go through that twice, I decided to tell Tim all early on, and if he couldn’t handle it, we would part ways and move on while I still had some grip on my heart.

Part of the ‘telling all’ included sharing that I had lived common-law as an unbeliever and, even though I had never used birth control, I had not gotten pregnant. On one visit to my doctor, I was told that I had a tipped uterus and would potentially have difficulty conceiving. I resigned myself to that, and shared this with Tim prior to our engagement, so he would know we may never have a family.

On our honeymoon in Mexico, Tim & I prayed that God would bless our home with children, and by the time we landed in Toronto a week later, I was throwing up, and within weeks discovered I was pregnant. (And, no, it didn’t happen before our honeymoon. We waited.)

Standing by the window that night in the hospital, happy tears trickling down my face, I was filled with awe that God had given us this little life to hold, to nurture, to love and release. It was overwhelming, and it was good. I wanted to be the perfect Mommy to this little one. I wanted her to grow up, strong and tender, in love with Jesus, a woman of faith. Did I have what she would need from me, to become that woman?

I wrote a poem for her, a poem filled with wonder and promises, a poem filled with love for my little girl, and thankfulness to God, who trusted her into our care. His little girl, in my arms.

And then we took her home, in her wee diapers, cuddly sleepers, and teeny-tiny fingers, to give her the best life we knew how. In those early days of fascination, a bond formed and a relationship started. I held her a lot. I talked to her, played with her, fed her and changed her, just to see another outfit on her.

Life had meaning it had never had before. I was crazy in love with my new life, my new world and the beautiful little girl, whose blue eyes gazed at me with the same contented wonder that I felt for her. It was almost as if heaven had stepped into our home, and God was watching me, through her eyes, loving me, through her sweetness.

Little did we know how this little girl, and the four children after her, would transform us. Little did we know that through them, God would prepare us for ministry, that in parenting them and teaching them about their bodies, He would equip us. And in protecting them by speaking truth over them, He would teach us to walk adults through their broken stories.

It started with one shocking moment, when our first daughter was only a bit past two. Seeing her in a position of potential risk impacted every day of motherhood, from that day forward, and shaped the way I trained my children.

© Trudy Metzger

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