At a young age, I remember my paternal grandfather (the late Rev. Tommy Miller Sr.) telling me that God gives everyone gifts and our goal in life is to not squander those gifts, but to share them with the world. My grandfather (also known as Papaw) lived these words. Whether through his ministry or service as a foster parent or in the simplest of gestures like a smile or a acknowledging nod of the head.
So it's no wonder that I would sit and contemplate what he would have to say about the things that are going on in my life now, especially the opportunities that have arisen since I became published. See, Papaw has been gone for just over 17 years now, and just a few months ago, his beloved wife (grandma Ruth aka Mamaw) joined him. I know how delighted she was to see me accomplishing a goal and living a dream. I will never forget her smile at seeing my face on the back of a "real" book.
Some would think I'm being silly to get teary-eyed over a simple invite to speak at a literary luncheon, but I don't think it's silly. For as loud and eccentric as I can be, deep down I am just a humble small-town girl (no seriously, stop the hysterical laughing Mom!!). I honestly blush at compliments, I get shy over praise. I am not one to really 'toot my own horn'.
A perfect example of this is last week. I have a dear friend, Stacy, who is hopping the pond and moving to the UK with her husband and daughters. I met the girls and another dear friend, Pammie, for a farewell lunch. Pammie is my little cheerleader. It is not uncommon to receive a random text from her with a message along the lines of "write, write, write". She is my motivator to keep living the dream.
At this lunch I gave her a copy of my 2nd book. Most people would tuck the book in their purse and go from there, but not my dear Pammie ... oh no, she walked right up to the hostess desk (and the lobby of people waiting for tables) and proudly announced they were in the midst of a published writer, saying 'How many people say they can write but never do? THIS girl did it, 3 times in one year and she's WONDERFUL!!"
I politely smiled,ducked my head, and beelined it for our table in the corner. Needless to say, it took Pammie several minutes to get to us as she was surely promoting me the entire way. Even when she did come to the table, she asked for my business cards and then went BACK and handed them out to people! And she had our waitress, and me, in tears at the heartfelt words she said about me following my dreams and overcoming so much to succeed. Even now I am in tears thinking of it. And I feel bad that the farewell lunch wasn't about who it was supposed to be about!
I don't write just for praise, I write because that is what I was born to do. I write because I hope to give the reader just a little glimmer of hope in the happily ever after, in whatever form they see it. I write because I believe God brings us to and through events to help make us stronger and to use the experience help others. I write to not squander my gift.
So now that I am good and sniffling, the biggest awing, humbling event that has happened to me since my first book got published (367 days ago to be exact) is that I was asked to come speak to a group of women about writing and domestic violence.
A few weeks ago I was taking part in a craft show and I was approached by several women who are part of a literary group. This group invites 3 Michigan based authors a year to come and speak at their annual luncheon. As I was talking to a few of the women, one of whom decides who will be their authors, I was telling them about PLAYING WITH FIRE and how it touches on domestic violence. The woman asked if I knew about domestic violence and the answer is YES. Not only have I experienced it as both a child and an adult, but I have also helped others through it as an advocate at a domestic violence shelter.
The sad truth is, in 2002 (when I worked in the shelter), the national statistic was that 1 in 4 women are victims of REPORTED domestic abuse ... that bares repeating ... ***1 in 4 women are victims of REPORTED domestic abuse That means that the number is even higher since a lot of abuse goes unreported. As of my last check, that statistic hasn't changed much.
Everyone knows that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but did you also know it is Domestic Violence Awareness month? Last year when my first book came out I donated a portion of the sales at an event to a Breast Cancer Walk. This year, the ENTIRE MONTH OF OCTOBER, a portion of ALL my sales will be going to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Like my grandfather said, I want to use my gift to help others. Not only will I be continuing to do that through my writing, but also through the various charities I can support through that writing. And that "literary group' - I was invited on the spot to be their "Mission Author" ... and turns out they are part of ZONTA International ... a group of women dedicated to the empowerment and advancement of women. Now THAT, is a humbling thought, that a group like that would ask 'small-town Amy' to speak to them and share my passion of writing with a cause I am passionate about.
So my question to you is ... what is your gift? And are you squandering your talent or are you sharing it?
*** If you, or someone you know, are currently in an abusive relationship, you are not alone. Statistics show one in four women have been a victim of reported domestic violence.
But there is help, to find out more call 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline or visit http://www.thehotline.org/ for more information on how you, or your loved one, can seek safety.