Yesterday, I posted my review of My Emily. Today, Matt Patterson has generously written my small blog a guest post. Matt is a great Christian author and friend, and I’m excited to have him here today.
More than 20 years ago, I sat down at my old, beat up desk in a noisy newsroom and began to crank out my weekly newspaper column for a small daily in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
I covered the crime beat for The Daily Mining Gazette and tried my very best to distance those stories from my column.
I tried to present my readers with a different side to the guy whose by-line was normally associated with misdemeanors or felonies. The column was my opportunity to show readers I was human and that I actually had a sense of humor. And as a relative new father, my young daughters were normally my source of story ideas.
This particular column, however; was going to be difficult and special simultaneously. It was our first daughter’s birthday. I wanted to relay in this column how much she had taught and touched me in what seemed to be a very short time here on earth. This column was about my two-year-old daughter Emily, who was born with Down syndrome. Just two years prior to the column, she had passed away after a brave battle with leukemia.
This column – as short as it could be – walked readers through her birth, diagnosis, treatment and eventual death. It told of our shock and dismay at hearing words like Down syndrome and leukemia.
It was short.
It was sad.
It was touching.
It was my attempt at a tribute.
For me, it was a release.
Two decades later, our family’s tragedy evolved into blessing and our grief into mission.
This newspaper column turned into a book – My Emily – and this book is my small effort to help families who have special needs children, little ones battling cancer or those heartbroken parents who have lost a child. Writing that very first column, the book and even this post continues to be a source of comfort for me. It’s an opportunity to perhaps help or touch someone.
Many of us have similar stories to tell. For some of us, it’s hard and for others, it’s not.
I look back and view the newspaper column as my release. The effort with My Emily became a very passionate desire to share a story and to help others with a testimony of a hurting family, an amazing little girl and a faithful God.
In Ecclesiastes it reads, “Two are better than one … If one falls down, his friend can help him up.” My Emily is my attempt to reach down and help others up.
Ask yourself, “What’s my purpose with this work?” Is it to help you gain clarity or a release from a particularly difficult experience or time in your life? Will it be a work that will subsequently evolve into something beyond the pages or e-book file? Do you have thoughts of taking your work past that last page and perhaps into a ministry?
Another author passed along a small simple practice to me that helped me with my writing and possibly could help you with yours.
Pray over your work.
I’ve learned the hard way that when I don’t pray I’m distracted, unorganized and unproductive. The Bible tells us to, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Please take those few moments to close your eyes and ask for God’s help as you begin to share your heart and your testimony. Your writing will improve, as will your relationship with God.
Matt Patterson is the author of My Emily and an award-winning writer, editor and communications professional. His two-plus decades of experience include public and media relations, as well as print and broadcast journalism. He volunteers his time to helping organizations and charities dedicated to assisting families with children who have special needs or those battling pediatric cancers. He resides in Arizona.
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