Thursday, January 31, 2013

Getting Out of Bed in the Morning in the Durham Herald-Sun

A devotional of ‘comfort in heartache’

Alice Wisler hopes to help others deal with loss with ‘Getting Out of Bed in the Morning’



In the wake of the death of her 4-year-old son Daniel in 1997, Alice Wisler formed a grief organization to help other parents. Also an author of several fiction books, Wisler’s latest is a devotional. “Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache” (Leafwood Publishers, softcover, $13.99) is a collection of 40 devotionals for those dealing with various kinds of losses in their lives.

The idea for the devotional was formed as Wisler, who lives in Durham, went on walks, and each devotional includes ideas for contemplation while on a walk. It also includes a prayer, Bible verses and Wisler’s own personal stories of life and loss.

Daniel, who died after eight months of cancer treatments, would have been 21 now. The anniversary of his death is Feb. 2. What Wisler’s book shows, and what she experiences, is that “there is a God that sustains us through misery.”

What’s helped her be sustained is being around other believers who encourage and support her, Wisler said. A member of Blacknall Presbyterian Church, which she joined in 2002, Wisler has found that other members are willing to learn about Daniel and acknowledge his death.

“Bereaved parents want acknowledgement,” she said. They’re still grieving their child and still missing their child, always. Parents don’t want a pity party, Wisler said, just the acknowledgement that attending something like a celebratory event is hard.

Through donations, 106 copies of “Getting Out of Bed in the Morning” were sent this week to Newtown United Methodist Church in Connecticut, the community where 20 children and six adults were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. Victims included church members.

Writing has been a form of solace, great peace and hope after her son’s death, Wisler said. She hopes people will find encouragement from her book, with a message to point to God. It helps to see what God has to say about bereavement, grief and fear, she said, and “how we can live in spite of the suffering.”

Below is an excerpt from “Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache” by Alice J. Wisler:

(Pages 44-47, devotion Seven)
“Rescue Me!”

. . . my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you. — Psalm 88:9

Observing a temper tantrum in a child is no easy feat. We watch a child asking for a cookie, and then when denied she continues to beg, and then the begging leads to wailing. Nine times out of ten, kicking and screaming follow. Sometimes the only way to stop the escalating behavior is to pick the child up and hold her until she, at last, is exhausted and settles in her parent’s arms.

As adults, often we’re still like a child. We vacillate between wanting to pull away, storm out, go our own way, and wanting to be rescued from ourselves. Somebody hold me, help me take my eyes off of me and my dilemma and focus on something else.

At times, like a child, we get to a place where we are totally out of sorts, unable to even see or think clearly anymore. Life seems to have swallowed us whole. We are in dire need of help. Open your eyes and look to the One who is standing beside you, His arms outstretched. He wants to pick you up and hold you until your tears and frustration cease.

When a mother came back home from a Mary Kay party with more makeup on than she usually wore, her four-year-old daughter stood at a distance for a moment before running into her arms. Then smiling into her face, the child said, “I know it’s you, Mommy! I know you’re in there.” While you might put on a new fa├žade in the form of a different hairstyle or article of clothing, you can’t fool those who are closest to you. They still recognize you. How much more acquainted with you is God! He knows you better than you know yourself. He loves you more than anyone ever can or will.

Reflections to Ponder
Close your eyes and spread out your hands. Lift them up over your head. Stretch them out in front of you, palms up. Imagine God reaching out for you. Spend a few moments in silence. Listen for God’s stirrings in your heart. Close and then open your hands as though you are giving your concerns over to God. Read aloud Psalm 88:9: “. . . my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you.” In response to this verse, read also Psalm 18:19: “He [the Lord] brought me into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”

If you feel overwhelmed by what you feel your life is lacking or what you think is not right, jot down your concerns. Sometimes releasing your pent-up discontent helps because you are getting it out of your mind and letting the paper hold the weight of it. What troubles you? Can you put your fears on paper? Do you believe that the Lord will counsel you as you seek Him (Ps. 16:7)?

Save me for I am drowning.
Save me for I worry.
Save me for I fear.
Save me for I am consumed with despair.
Save me, O God.
You have rescued me
from drowning, from worry,
from fear, and from despair.
Thank you, O God.

When You Walk:
Find a park to walk to and a place to sit. On a note pad, list what you know about God to be true. How will you implement these truths in your daily life?

[Excerpt courtesy of author and Leafwood Publishers]

WHAT: Author reading, “Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache” by Alice J. Wisler. There will also be soup and cornbread.
WHEN: 10 a.m. to noon, Feb. 9
WHERE: Blacknall Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall
1902 Perry St., Durham

Printed in the Durham Herald-Sun in the Faith and More section / January 31, 2013
Copyright 2013

To read reviews and order Getting Out Of Bed in the Morning, click here.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A package of love and comfort headed for Sandy Hook, CT

In tragedy, words seem lacking . . . but love reaches across each barrier . . .

The books have been signed and are ready to send! Since December, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on the 14th, the Sandy Hook Comfort Project has received donations to send books to Sandy Hook, CT ---a token of our love and concern.
106 copies of Getting Out of Bed in the Morning will be mailed to a church in Sandy Hook for the families who lost loved ones and for others in the community (churches, first responders, medical staff, friends, co-workers).

What an outpouring of love! I had a mixture of emotions as I signed all 26 books for each family who had a child--young or older--die. Writing the names of dead children is never easy to do. Afterwards, I signed the rest of the books with "In love and memory". Each book will be accompanied with a letter which contains all the signatures of those who donated. You can read the letter here and see the names of the donors. A Songs From Heaven postcard will also be included.

I don't want anyone to be left out, so if you would still like to donate, please click this link. When you get there, scroll down to the bottom of that post to find out how to donate via Paypal or snail mail. You can donate any amount you would like. Upon donating, your name will be added to the letter.

I plan to mail the boxes of books out on Monday, January 28th.

January 26, 2013

Sixteen years ago on February 2, my world crashed. After eight months of treatment, my four-year-old son Daniel lost his battle to cancer. The pain I felt was indescribable. I never wanted anyone to ever have to experience a sorrow like that. How would I live on? How could I cope?

You know the sorrow from the devastating loss of your precious child. You know what it is like to live with a broken heart.

This book of grief and loss, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache, is a gift to you from many of us. When Daniel died, it helped me to read books by other bereaved parents so that I knew I was not alone in my anguish.

I hope this book will serve as a token of our care and as a reminder of how we continue to lift you and the community of Sandy Hook up in our prayers.

With love and remembrance always,

Alice Wisler, Durham, NC
Rebecca Boucher, Spencer, MA
Lisa Schorp, Crest Hill, IL
Dorothy Jones, Natchitoches, LA
Trish Jenkins, Queensland, Australia
Kishia Carrington, Durham, NC
Kit Tosell, Sisters, OR
Karen and Pete Versoi, Durham, NC
Donna Jackson, Charlotte, NC
Margaret DeYoung, Zeeland, MI
Lynn Shoemate, Dallas, TX
D D Scott, Dallas, TX
Melva and Randy Strait, Durham, NC
Norma Pascuales, Gadsden, AL
D’Ann Mateer, Rockwall, TX
Lee Ann and Michael Brumble, Burlington, NC
Katharine Parrish, Cary NC
Jane Avery, Durham, NC
Joyel Hidber, Alberta, Canada
Robert Kingshott, Zeeland, MI
Ann Knowles, Wilmington, NC
Ben and Gayle Lichius, Beaver Falls, PA
Maija Schaefer, Novato, CA
Robin Nixon, Greenville, NC
Melissa Robinson, Garner, NC
Laura Gibowski, Durham, NC
Karen Alford, Cleveland, TN
Elizabeth Boenig, College Station, TX
Karen and Philip Parrillo, Chicago, IL
Kim McHugh, Glenmont, NY
Marie Pinkham, Fort Myers, FL
Carol Stratton, Mooresville, NC
Sandra Bates, Chapel Hill, NC
Cheryl Veasey, Durham, NC
Teresa Cross, Durham, NC
Mary Worthen-Gilliam, Durham, NC
Joylene McFarland, Durham, NC
Donna James , Durham, NC
Sharon Frye, Durham, NC
Suzanne and Doug Coonley, Durham, NC
Sandy Smith, Clayton, NC
Barb and Mike Eyster, Durham, NC
Tricia Hocker, Durham, NC
Donna Emory, Durham, NC
Troy McNear, Goose Creek, SC
Jane and Vincent Stubbs, Durham, NC
Leafwood Publishers, Abilene, TX
Joyce Juhl, San Antonio, TX
Dave and Jane Latta, Durham, NC

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gifts With A Heart---The Continuation of the Sandy Hook Comfort Project

I love events that come from the brainstormings of others. The staff at Gifts With A Heart have something special planned for Friday, January 25 from 6 to 9 PM. There will music by Converting Hearts, door prizes, refreshments and an opportunity to shop at this unique store. The evening is part of the Sandy Hook Comfort Project, a project that started in December 2012, shortly after the tragic shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT. Some of Alice's friends suggested her new devotional, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning, be sent to the families who lost beloved children to death on 12/14/12. The Project has morphed into a large and wide-spread outpouring so that now books will be sent not just to the families, but to others in the Sandy Hook community who were affected by the horrible shooting (first responders, teachers, clergy, hospital staff, etc.).

GETTING OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING and Alice's son Daniel (8/25/92--2/2/97)

On January 25 you will have an opportunity to purchase a copy or two of Getting Out of Bed in the Morning for the Sandy Hook Comfort Project. Books will be shipped to the United Methodist Church in Sandy Hook for distribution by the end of this month. Each book will be autographed by Alice and sent with a letter, listing the names and cities of all the donors. The families who lost loved ones will have copies of their books personalized with the name of their child.

Join us for this meaningful time!

Gifts With A Heart
2889 Jones Franklin Road
Swift Creek Shopping Center
Raleigh, NC 27606

To read more about The Sandy Hook Comfort Project, head over to Alice's Patchwork Quilt Blog.

You can also read reviews for Getting Out of Bed in the Morning.

Hop over to see the merchandise at
Gifts With A Heart.

[This post was first posted at Alice's Writing the Heartache Blog.]

Monday, January 14, 2013

Time Heals? I Am Still Caught Off-guard

Here it comes . . .

After all these years, I didn't expect it to hit me. Hasn't time wiped away the surge of grief?

To another mother (one who gets grief because her son died, too) I wrote:

"The roller coaster ride is about to begin . . . Actually, it already has and for whatever reason, has caught me off-guard. Why do we think we can escape the memories of such sorrowful days? Why do we think that time takes care of restoring our eyes so that they will no longer shed tears? And oh, when other moms speak of trite scrapes and bruises their children have had, why do we still gasp at what we have endured?"

On a recent morning, seated among other moms, the conversation turned to kids and their childhood illnesses. I tried to listen, but when the comments were made of how bad one mom had had it, all I could think was: But your child was rescued. Your child lived.

Memories of Daniel's last days that led up to his death bombarded me as I tried to add to the topic without talking about his demise. I spoke of a time my husband and I got hepatitis A shortly after Daniel was born. How hard it had been to nurse him and hold him then. How weary it was to care for him and his older sister Rachel when my internal organs ached and I was the color of mustard left out in the sun.

But as I shared this bit of history, my heart was not fooled. My heart knew that story in comparison to Daniel's cancer-related death was a mere walk in the park.

Years ago I would have acknowleged my pain, making sure people knew of my son's death and the agony it brought. This day I didn't feel the need to. After all, these mothers knew of my loss. Surely, one of them would suddenly remember that I had watched my son breathe his last breath. Or even if they didn't mention it, that was okay.

I would be normal today. After nearly sixteen years since my child's death, couldn't I push the thoughts of rushing to the ER, of watching his bloated body aside? Couldn't I have a normal story to tell?

It didn't help that the day was drizzly. I drove home from the gathering with an acute awareness of the scar on my heart. I felt lonely, distant from those who knew not of the continual sorrow bereaved mothers face.

Yet, I was not lonely for long. Those who have also buried children gone too soon, were waiting to greet me in this wonderful world of cyberspace. Their virtual hugs and words of understanding gave me the consolation I needed.

And as I write in my new book, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning, "Bottled up grief can make our hearts heavy; sharing it with a friend, even the friend of a journal, can alleviate some of our confusion, frustration, or loneliness."

I am not a freak. I am not crazy. And I am not alone.

I am a mother who misses her Daniel.

Yes, even after all these long, long years.

And to me, that's what is perfectly normal.

~ Alice J. Wisler

To order a copy of Getting Out of Bed in the Morning, visit Amazon.