A CIDP Poem: She laughs.

Poetry

Dear Friend,

My dad has a rare chronic illness called CIDP.

What is CIDP?


It’s a chronic auto-immune disease: the body’s immune system attacks the nerves which deteriorates the muscles.

There is no cure.


To maintain his muscles, my dad has been receiving a treatment called IVIG, a transfusion of antibodies to suppress his immunity. To have this treatment, he has been going to the hospital once every month for more than a decade. On top of that, he takes medications including steroids to boost his muscles. If you know about Guillain-Barre syndrome, CIDP is the chronic version of it. You can read more about CIDP here.

Actually, my main character from Book B has this disease too. She suffers from not only CIDP, but also depression and grief. Last year, God led me to set the project aside as it was not the right time to work on its third draft. And guess what? That time may be coming soon.

As you may noticed in my Projects page, I’ve used the image of a sea turtle for Book B. A sea turtle actually represents people with CIDP. The disease slows down their limbs which liken one as a sea turtle swimming and pressing on.


So, getting to the purpose of the title of this post. Recently, I saw a writing prompt from this website and crafted this poem, using my main character with CIDP:


She laughs.

She laughs with her lips and pain in her limbs.
She laughs with her throat and pain in her gums.
She laughs with her chest and pain in her face.
She laughs with sorrow and pain in her heart.

She lost health.
She lost passion.
She lost friends.
She lost herself.

Why does she laugh?

She laughs because in her pain, she found healing.
She laughs because in her grief, she found joy.
She laughs because in darkness, she found hope.
She laughs because in her emptiness,
she found Christ overflowing.



Copyright © Clarissa Choo, 2021.



Very Sincerely Yours,
Clarissa Choo-Choo Train



~

Clarissa Choo is a vessel used for Christ’s glory. Although she has lived in four countries, Heaven is her only Home. She desires to sow His seeds and to serve third culture kids, teens, and writers. Besides writing, she loves to wash dishes, chop ingredients into smithereens, and record hymns on her piano. Peek into her Christian TCK Email Ministry or read more posts.

Diamonds 2021 Guest Post: How God Helped Me Balance Caregiving and My Author Career

Guest Posts, Special Events

Dear Friend,

We have a special post written by Angela R. Watts, a speaker at Diamonds 2021 and the bestselling author of The Infidel Books. She shares how God was with her in her writing journey while being a caregiver of her chronically ill mother.



How God Helped Me Balance Caregiving
and My Author Career


I’ve written stories since I was six years old, and after my mother became chronically ill, my passion for writing didn’t stop when I was a young teen. It didn’t slow down. It burned brighter.

Most authors I know grew up with their parents reading books aloud for them. I was the kiddo showing my mom the books, getting her permission that they were safe, and reading them by myself as a kid. Mom homeschooled us kiddos, encouraging me in my creative writing. I wrote short stories, drabbles, poetry, and fanfiction, and at twelve, I completed my first novella. I was fourteen (or fifteen, I’ve forgotten) when I completed my first novel. I was sixteen when I self-published my first book.

During these years, I juggled caregiving for my mom, school (straight A student, by the way, for those thinking I slacked. Except math. That was probably a fail. Or a B), housework, babysitting my nieces, farm life, karate, and more. Though I struggled, I focused on fiction as a means to cope and find comfort and hope. However, my dream of being a published author was not one I allowed to reach the surface until I was about fifteen. This is when I discovered the world of self-publishing and realized I could publish my novel.


It was tough, I won’t lie.



My author career has been trial after trial, some large, some small, but they all add up to one wild ride. God has been with me, every step of the way. When all I could do for months was handle life and helping my mom, He assured me that more was to come. When I finished a novel only to have it rejected by friends, God kept whispering, “Keep going, I’m not done yet.” I struggled with balancing my life and my writing, and on top of this. So, how have I learned to handle it all?


First, I’m constantly focusing on my reasons why.



Am I writing and working to serve God or serve myself? When I help my mom get meals, housekeep, shop, etc, am I doing so out of love, or am I having a stressful day and allowing my attitude to be abrasive? Am I reminding my family how much I love them, or am I so focused on work that everything else is drowned out? I’m the sort of person who gets on a mission and doesn’t stop till the mission is finished–but as a caregiver, that trait was bashed with a stick many times.

My mom, however, is a graceful woman and she constantly reminds me that I need to balance it all. So, my first step to balance my life is to refocus on my whys. If they’re off track or turning selfish or muddled, I snap my sights back on God’s will and find comfort in this above all else.


Second, I’m a pretty hard-working individual,
and don’t mind long hours.



I work for myself as an author and editor, so scheduling my workload is very important! I set myself deadlines for my work and I stick to them as closely as possible. Then I have my clients, and I schedule my editing jobs similarly! I enjoy having a list of things to do each day and it helps me track my time better.


Third, I listen to my mother!



She constantly reminds me to eat, drink water, exercise, play with my pup when I’m stressed, and rest when I need it. I overwork myself because I find immense joy in my work and accomplishments, but that doesn’t mean burn out is okay. The past year or so, I’ve strived to balance my work and rest, as well. Despite my expectations, it didn’t slow me down. I was able to rest and take care of myself and still write a few novels, publish a novel, pitch and sign a contract for a novel, publish a short story, and take on brand new epic clients!

I’m constantly learning something new in my life and career. I like finding better ways to do things. I love working with clients. I love seeing my readers scream over my novels.


However, I wouldn’t be where I am without God’s goodness.



God pushed me through every bad day, every tough week, every stressful month. He showed me the beauty in pain. He constantly reminds me to look back at how far I have come. Middle-school me would have never dreamed of putting myself out there and pitching to a publisher, but in 2020, I signed with my dream press.

I refuse to allow my circumstances to weigh me down. I refuse to allow my trials to do anything but make me focus on God more than myself. I refuse to view my life as nothing but a struggle. I spent years surviving, years begging God to spare my mom, with fiction being my only escape. I’ve grown a lot since then. My mom is with me, I’m focusing on living, and I’m a bestselling author.

None of this would be possible if I had not heeded God’s will for my life and took it all step by step. If you have a dream or a goal, and life is keeping you down, hold on. God is not done yet. Give yourself grace, give yourself small baby steps, and keep fighting on.

If you’d like to read more posts like this, or you want to check out my novels or editorial services, you can find me online or on my website, angelarwatts.com!

God bless,

Angela R. Watts



~

Image by Angela R. Watts

 Angela is the bestselling author of The Infidel Books. She writes bold fiction that glorifies Christ and has published over seven books. She lives at Step By Step Sanctuary, Tennessee, though with Gypsy and Norwegian in her blood, she loves traveling. She’s been writing stories since she was little, but when she’s not writing, she’s probably raising animals, painting, or working with her amazing clients.



P.S. What is Diamonds 2021? Diamonds is a conference for chronically ill Christians. If you miss my previous post, click here to find out more.

Diamonds 2021 for Chronically Ill Christians

Special Events

What is Diamonds 2021?

Diamonds is an annual online conference for chronically ill Christians. Millions of chronically ill people battle impossible trials every single day. But so many of them feel so alone. The speakers of Diamonds 2021 want them to know they aren’t — not by a long shot. The theme for Diamonds 2021 is Purpose in Affliction — all about our identity and worth in God, and how our illness can strengthen our relationship with Him.


When is Diamonds 2021?

Diamonds 2021 occurs the second to last weekend in January — from Friday the 22nd through Sunday the 24th. You can join live for free, and if you miss anything you will still be able to view the recorded version by purchasing the all-access pass.


Who is speaking at Diamonds 2021?

This year, we have twenty speakers from around the world, and each of these amazing people has a special message of hope and compassion to share with you out of their own experiences with long-term illness.


What does Diamonds 2021 cost?

Because we know that many chronically ill warriors face burdensome medical bills, and because our goal is to uplift instead of adding just one more thing, Diamonds 2021 is 100% free while it’s live. 

After that, you can purchase the all-access pass to gain lifetime access to the conference content along with some exclusive bonuses. 


Where is Diamonds 2021?

Diamonds 2021 is completely online. We know that traveling with an illness is difficult, so we want to bring this right to you — even if you’re in a hospital bed or are housebound. You can register for Diamonds 2020 for free here.

Stay tuned this week for a special guest post by a Diamonds speaker and best-selling author Angela R. Watts!


Very Sincerely Yours,
Clarissa Choo-Choo Train

P.S. Why am I supporting this conference when I don’t have chronic illness? Actually, my dad has a rare chronic illness called CIDP, an auto-immune disease. The body’s immune system attacks the nerves which deteriorates the muscles.

To maintain his muscles, my dad is receiving treatment IVIG, a transfusion of antibodies to suppress his immunity, every month on top of medications including steroids to boost his muscles. If you know about Guillain-Barre syndrome, CIDP is the chronic version of it. You can read more about CIDP here.



~

Clarissa Choo is a vessel used for Christ’s glory. Although she has lived in four countries, Heaven is her only Home. She desires to sow His seeds and to serve third culture kids, teens, and writers. Besides writing, she loves to wash dishes, chop ingredients into smithereens, and record hymns on her piano. Peek into her Christian TCK Email Ministry or read more posts.

Guest Post: Five Scripture Passages to Start the New Year

Guest Posts

Dear Friend,

I am excited to publish this post written by Sarah Susanna Rhomberg, one of my close writer friends. May it bless and encourage you as it did to me.



Five Scripture Passages to Start the New Year


For some people, the past year may have seemed long and dreary. Some may be looking forward to something new, something fresh. Some may be sad that it has come to an end. Others might fear starting another year all over again.

Every year, I am torn. Yes, I love the anticipation of the new, but equally, I am one to hold onto the past, to hold onto the old.

Here are five passages for the start of the year, for both you and myself. No matter if you can’t wait for the new year or if you’re starting it with fear, let these be reminders to you.


1) Isaiah 40:30-31


“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (KJV)


For many, this past year was not an easy one. Many feel like they are tired and weary. They feel like they are stumbling and falling. But here’s the truth to hold onto: Those who put their hope in the God of the Bible will not grow tired or weary. They will not stumble and fall.

This passage in Isaiah is a great reminder to us to put our hope into the LORD, instead of trusting in the works of man.


2) Lamentations 3:22-23


“It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (KJV)


No matter the circumstances, God stays the same. His character stays the same. His love and His compassion do not waver. These are promises we have. In addition, this passage gives us another promise:

God’s mercies are new every morning. Try whispering that the moment you wake up. “New morning. New mercy.” What a good reminder for the new year!


3) Psalm 1:1-2


“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (KJV)


I bet that one of the most common new year resolutions among Christians is to read the Bible more. But maybe that’s the wrong way to think. Maybe our goal should not be to read the Bible more, instead to shape our lives around the Bible. To, as the Psalmist says, meditate on it around the clock. Day and night.

Time to rewrite new year goals?


4) Galatians 1:10


“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (KJV)


If you stand up for your faith, you will always have people dislike you. Maybe even hate you. Does that mean we should not stand for what we believe? The answer to that is a question from Galatians. Are you seeking the approval of man or of God?

May this be a reminder to us to live the new year boldly, fearing God… not man. 


5) Revelation 22:20


“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (KJV)


The great debate about when exactly Jesus will be coming back has been going on for about 2000 years. In reality, the exact time of his return is irrelevant – it shouldn’t matter to believers. The more relevant question is, “Are you ready?”

This year, let us live ready. Let us be prepared for Jesus’ return anytime. Let us live knowing we could be standing before our Maker soon. Because that’s what He promised. He will return soon.

~

Image by Sarah Susanna Rhomberg

Sarah Susanna Rhomberg is a teen, who lives in Europe and is fluent in both English and German. When not writing, you will often find her reading or working on the organization of a camp for children – always with a mug of herbal tea at hand. Sarah wants to live her life for Christ and writes to glorify Him. Connect with her through her email list here.



P.S. Sarah’s email list is about the Christian articles she wrote. I read many of them and found them truth-filled and edifying.

Updated: Challenging the Aspect of Consistent Blogging

Writer's Articles

Dear Friend,

Several weeks ago, I stared at my blog wondering what to write. I had mentioned that I would publish twice a month or alternate weeks. Why? I asked myself. To be consistent, of course. Why do I need to be consistent? At that moment, I challenged the aspect of blogging consistently and discussed it with a blogger friend, Lisa.

I asked her, why do bloggers post consistently? Of course, we both knew the obvious answer was to gain followers. But was this my intention? Nope.

Of course, I wanted to reach as many people as possible. I however didn’t want to vomit content for the sake of consistency because I wanted to write properly for Christ. To clarify my meaning, there’s nothing wrong in posting consistency. The important aspect lies in the purpose.

What’s my intention to blog?


I recalled the moment I created this blog. Actually, I created it on Blogger during high school. It had the similar “Train” concept. I wrote book reviews and rambled about my life. However, I had no vision or long-term goals for it, and it wasn’t His timing for me to blog. I closed it.

Once I started writing seriously, His time for me to blog came. Thus, I created it again using WordPress instead. I wrote about the Conductor’s (Christ) guidance in my writing journey, and what I had learned from Him.

My intention was to share my lessons with other writers. To tell them that this writing journey can be lonely and difficult, but the Conductor is with them every word of the way.


Gradually, this blog changed to include the TCK email ministry, and my writing style changed. Despite those, my purpose remained the same: to write what the Conductor taught me during my personal journey with Him, so that He would use it to reach people.

To reach these readers included having followers or subscribers; thus, I incorporated a form of consistency. I initially posted once every week. (Keep in mind that the number of readers is not my primary goal.) However, my writing projects increased and I struggled to maintain quality content while risking myself to a burnout.

So, I asked Lisa on which she values more:

Consistency or Quality


We both agreed that to us, quality is more important than consistency. I thought of an example of a particular blogger who doesn’t post often, yet I’m still subscribed to her because her articles are high-quality to me. Specifically, they are truth-filled, and they draw me closer to my Lord.

At the same time, yes, it’s possible to publish quality posts while being consistent. But this might not work for everyone, well, it didn’t work for me at least. I could even challenge the aspect of every writer or author needing a blog. Blogging itself is not suitable for everyone; however, let’s not chug off the track, Clarissa.

After discussing with my friend, I prayed about it. Then I decided to post as and when God leads me to it instead of sticking to fixed dates. (To clarify again, I’m not saying that He did not guide me to post each week. I did not have much work back then.) At the same time, I won’t post inconsistently in a way that I publish content once every three to four months.

Rather, I set a general target of one to two posts a month. So far, I’m less overwhelmed than before, and perhaps, just perhaps, I’m improving in quality. But we shall see as I continue. Ultimately, the most important thing is that God is building it, and not I (Psalm 127:1). And that focusing on the number of readers does not take His place in my life because

being close to Him and loving Him is my goal.


How about you, my friend: is blogging consistently working out for you? Are you blogging to increase the numbers of followers or because you love your Lord? And is He building your house?



Very Sincerely Yours,
Clarissa Choo-Choo Train

P.S. You can peek into Lisa’s blog here.

P.P.S. Sarah who wrote the article on productivity also has a Part 2 of it! I highly recommend you to read it because it’s a very important lesson for all of us: Part 2: Has Productivity Become Your Idol? And if you miss Part 1, here it is: Productivity from a Biblical Perspective.

P.P.P.S. Also, should I write an article challenging the aspect of every writer/author needing a blog? Just kidding!



~

Clarissa Choo is a vessel used for Christ’s glory. Although she has lived in four countries, Heaven is her only Home. She desires to sow His seeds and to serve third culture kids, teens, and writers. Besides writing, she loves to wash dishes, chop ingredients into smithereens, and record hymns on her piano. Peek into her Christian TCK Email Ministry or read more posts.