My New Memoir: RUINED

"You are more than what happened to you."

RUINED_SC_FinalA night of trauma ruined my life. At least that was the lie I believed.

I invite you to come along with me on a journey from ruin to recovery — through fear and fury and faith. I’m passionate about spreading a message: We are all more than what happens to us.

The publisher, Tyndale, says this about my memoir: Told with candor and unflinching honesty, RUINED is an extraordinary emotional and spiritual journey that begins with an unspeakable act of violence but ends with tremendous healing and profound spiritual insights about faith, forgiveness, and the will of God.

Who do you know who needs to read this book — you? your sister? a friend?

I’ve done some radio and podcast interviews, and you’ll find those audio links below, as well as links to articles I’ve written on the topic of recovering from sexual violence and some early reviews of the book. My speaking engagements are listed in the sidebar — I want to be easy to find because I want you to introduce yourself to me! I love meeting my readers.

I’m on Facebook, TwitterGoodreads. I am trying to master Instagram. I am a Pinterest failure.

If you’re in a book club or small group, I hope you’ll suggest my memoir as a group read. There’s a free online discussion guide to get the conversation started, and I’ll be happy to Skype or FaceTime into your meeting if my schedule permits.

You can order RUINED from Amazon or another retailer, visit a local bookstore, or request it from your local library. Just get your hands on a copy, and let me know what you think!

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“The Arc Podcast, from Tyndale”
by Joy Fabry & Adam Sabados

Sorry, listening to the audio on this website requires Flash support in your browser. You can try playing the MP3 file directly by clicking here.

The Arc
August 26, 2016

I so enjoyed the chance to sit down with Joy and Adam. What strikes me about the interview is how I speak as a mother, a writer, and a pastor.


Rising from the Ruins: review by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

I especially cherish this review from Bearings, the magazine of Collegeville Institute. I wrote so many of the the most difficult pages of this memoir while at weeklong workshops during the summers of 2012 and 2013. I’m grateful to be part of that writing community.

“Live Interview: Today’s Issues at American Family Radio”
by American Family Radio, Tim Wildmon, Ed Vitagliano

Today's Issues
August 1, 2016

The first 9 minutes are the co-hosts talking about Trump and his media attack on Khizr and Ghazala Khan (the parents of a slain soldier, after their speech at the DNC) so feel free to jump in about 10 minutes into the show! My time on the air is quite brief — 3 questions.

The interviewer begins: “This is not a book for the faint of heart.”

We discuss rape kits a bit, then the “spiritual struggle” that followed the trauma. “When you’re good and this kind of trauma descends on you . . . you begin to question, was this God’s will for me?”

The last question is about healing — and the role of the church. This is where I mention Venn diagrams, and also make a faith statement about the person of Jesus Christ.

“Live Interview: God Can Handle Our Anger”
by Susie Larson

Live the Promise

Susie Larson is a wonderful host, covering a lot of ground with a heart full of empathy and insight.

We begin with a favorite scripture: Mark 5:34 “Daughter your faith has made you well, go in peace and be healed of your disease” — and how that scripture helped me heal after sexual assault. Then I describe the night of the crime and its impact on me. Susie asks me about the role of women in my faith tradition, and how the attack mirrored the way men had power over women. Also, how did my family react to my entrance into ministry? We then delve into some of the faith questions raised by the attack, and how my friends and follow victims interacted in the aftermath. What exactly happened when the assailants were apprehended and we went to court? And going forward, how did I manage to face down my fears? Susie calls me a “gritty girl”! I explain how I went forward an inch at a time.

Listen to the whole interview here:


Or grab this 4-minute highlight about the role of anger in recovery:

Counting Dad’s Days

Week 1 & Week 2

Dad’s medications were already organized by the time I arrived at the house, dispensed into two identical trays which had been labeled with a Sharpie: Week 1 and Week 2.

I noticed the organizers on the dining room table, and for a moment wondered which of my sisters had filled the plastic compartments — my older sister Mary Lynn, who’s a nurse — or my youngest sister, Susan, who’s a hospice chaplain? I didn’t ask because it didn’t matter. And there was so much else to know.

How to help Dad in and out of his hospital bed, for starters. Mom had asked us to move Dad into his chair, now that he’d woken up from a nap. The hospice people had shown Susan how to move Dad safely. We used a wide webbed belt that clipped around Dad’s chest and had large cloth loops attached. The loops would give us something to grab onto. So Dad sat up and Susan clipped the belt around him. Then we got positioned, one of us on either side of our father.

“Slide your whole forearm under his armpit, like this, and use your other hand to grab the loop, like this, and 1-2-3-UP!”

Hold. Pivot. Re-position. And gently release him into the chair. Get him comfortable with pillows.

“Do we leave the belt on?” I asked. “Or should I slip it off?”

“Leave it,” said Dad. “For next time.”

“Does it remind you of that passage in the gospel of John?” I asked Dad. “About getting old and having a belt put on you?”

Dad didn’t respond at first, and I thought I’d been obtuse.


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