Monday, July 8, 2013

Author Interview 2 with a Giveaway!

Natalie Flake Pic - TearstoJoyWelcome back to week 2 of our author interview series. And…like last week, this one includes a giveaway! Stay tuned for more details at the end of the post.

Please welcome my sweet friend and fellow sojourner on the path of surviving the loss of a spouse to suicide…Natalie Flake Ford! Natalie lost her first love and husband, Michael, to suicide just over seven years ago. As Natalie shares, “Michael was my first love and there was a time when I thought I couldn’t live without him. He was a remarkable husband and a stellar dad! Unfortunately, bipolar disorder stole him from us. It is my hope and prayer that by sharing our story, others with mental illness will find the hope needed to pursue the help they need in order to live a fulfilling life. People often ask me if I had known then what I know now, would I have still married Michael. Absolutely! We have some amazing memories and a beautiful daughter, and I wouldn’t do anything to change this. Do I have regrets? You betcha! I share more about this in my book, Tears to Joy.”

Natalie is an author, a teacher, and a speaker who helps others to find hope in God’s sovereignty and in God’s Word. After Michael’s death, Natalie decided to continue her education by pursuing a PhD in Professional Counseling so that she can undergird her personal experience with the necessary tools to help others faced with difficult circumstances.

Throughout the years, Natalie’s message has inspired many to

·      Dig into God’s Word for messages of hope during times of suffering
·      Rest in the sovereignty of God (God sees and hears you, and He has a plan)
·      Trust God even when life doesn’t make sense
·      Take off the mask and risk vulnerability with someone trustworthy
Natalie has travelled all over the world telling people about Jesus, and sharing how God has turned her weeping to laughing and her mourning to dancing. Natalie leads a SOS (Survivor of Suicide) Support Group, where she seeks to use her past hurts to help others who have lost someone to suicide. And now…more about Tears to Joy!


ME: What inspired you to write Tears to Joy?

NATALIE: When I was a little girl, I always told people that I was going to write a book one day.  When they would ask me what I was going to write about I’d shrug my shoulders and say, “I don’t know, but I’m gonna write a book.” Fast forward many moons later…the week after Michael died, I opened a devotional book that he had given to me and inside the front cover, he had penned these words:  “I pray that one day our story will be written for the glory of God and inspiration of others.” In that moment, I knew I had to write our story.

ME: How would you summarize your book in two to three sentences?

NATALIE: Combining lessons learned from her studies and her personal experience with her husband’s bipolar suicide, the author examines mental illness and suicide from a Christian perspective, giving suggestions to friends and family for offering support. Tears to Joy is a compassionate and practical guide to finding help and hope in the turmoil associated with bipolar disorder and with suicide.

ME: Who would you say is the “target reader audience” for your book?

NATALIE: Adults whose lives have been touched by either mental illness or suicide.

ME: What was the most difficult part of writing the book?

NATALIE: There were so many heart wrenching memories that I would have preferred to stuff away, but writing this book forced me to go to those dark places. Reliving the day of his death was pretty gruesome, but probably the most difficult was writing about the day when he humiliated me at Walmart. Michael was such an incredible man, and this day was a stark reminder of how his illness had permeated his personality and caused him to behave in ways contrary to his character.

ME: What was your favorite part of writing this book or share something you learned in the process?

NATALIE: Writing this book was very therapeutic for me. In many ways, I feel like I put my heart and soul on a platter for the world to digest. I learned a lot about myself, about God’s goodness and grace and about the vast numbers of people who are hurting because of how either mental illness or suicide has touched their lives.

ME: What one thing, above all else, do you hope your readers take away from reading Tears to Joy?

NATALIE: Hope. As long as God is on the throne, we have hope.

ME: A little unrelated, tell us something fun or surprising about yourself that this blog community might not already know?

NATALIE: This year marks the seventh anniversary of Michael’s death. In the Old Testament, the seventh year was often known as the Year of Jubilee. Many indentured servants were granted their freedom in the seventh year. Many Israelites were forgiven of their debts in the Year of Jubilee, and landowners gave their land rest from farming in the seventh year. The seventh year was a time of rest, release, and celebration.

I began praying at the end of 2012, asking God to make 2013 a year of jubilee in my own life. I wanted to slow down and enjoy life in 2013 (which means letting go of my crazy schedule), and I wanted to release the past and live in the present. I am thrilled to share that I got married in April to my best friend – a true gift from God – creating a milestone of joy in my own life.

You can hear more of my story and get regular updates by visiting Natalie is also available for speaking opportunities. If you’d like to explore that possibility further with her, feel free to contact her directly through her website HERE.

In Tears to Joy, I also had the privilege to sharing a letter I wrote to my own late husband after his suicide. That exercise was one of the most difficult, and yet therapeutic, of my grief journey.

You can also enter to win a copy of Natalie’s book! In order to be entered to win a copy of Tears to Joy, you have up to two possible entries:

1. Comment on this post answering this question…have you ever been directly affected by suicide? Feel free to share your experience within the comment.

2. For a second entry, share about this giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter by linking to this post and be sure to tag me in it! Then, come back here and leave a second comment saying you’ve done so. 🙂

The giveaway runs through 9:00 pm Tuesday (7/9) night. So, today and tomorrow ONLY! I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday morning!

To order Natalie’s book directly, simply click HERE! It’s an invaluable resource for those that have been affected by bipolar disorder and/or suicide!Natalie Flake Flyer - TerastoJoy

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  1. Erin Waters says:

    I have been directly affected by suicide two times. The first time was Chris…I believe what affected me most was watching the turmoil you were in and not knowing what I could do to help. I know my prayers and the prayers of many others kept you going during those immediate days, weeks and months to follow.

    The most recent suicide was that of my best friend this past April. This was a very difficult, dark time for me personally. She discussed it with me quite often over the previous weeks leading up to her death. She had severe mental illness and was involuntarily committed twice during the 3 weeks prior. We talked every single day and I still miss hearing that country twang she had.

    On top of it all, I fear for another who has severe mental illness and does not realize how much they need help. Sometimes I feel so helpless and ask for God’s guiding hand dealing with this situation.

  2. Erin Waters says:

    I shared and you already know the tagging deal. 😉

  3. Susan Glardon says:

    I have been affected by suicide two of my siblings committed suicide. My baby brother in 1993 he was 16. He did not leave a note. My only sister died on Aug. 22, 2011 she was 39 yrs. old she did leave a note. I have one sibling left. I also know what its like to have a family member with bipolar disorder. Suicide, mental illness all of it is hard to deal with. Prayer, therapy and friends and family have helped me through it all.

  4. Sarah C. says:

    Dear T.,

    I knew it was not a matter of “if” but of “when;” however, you still turned my world upside-down when you successfully committed suicide a year and a half ago.  You were always so very, very sad.  I’ve never known anyone as profoundly sad as you.  You tried almost everything to attempt to manage severe depression, bipolar disorder, and body and self-esteem issues.  Nothing worked very well, and nothing worked well enough.  Your pain was so great.  

    When you said you had consented to trying ECT (electroshock therapy) I knew you were in a bad way because you’d vowed never to have ECT.  It scared you.  Your beloved dog had died, your mom was hospitalized permanently with Alzheimer’s, and i found out later that you had to sleep in your car for a week in January in Canada because your brother shut off the electricity, hence the heat, to your house because he wanted you to leave so he could sell it.  I knew he was mean.  I didn’t know he was that mean.

    You felt alone and hopeless, and there was so little I felt that I could do for you.  You didn’t know this but I was praying to God for His guidance specifically  in whether I could manage to get up to Canada to be with you for the ECT.  You died before I had a chance to discuss it with you.

    I miss you.  You were always giving to others even though you rarely had enough for yourself.  You had a sense of humor all your own.  You loved animals.  You sent me cards of support even while you hurt; they were always written in your sweet handwriting with colorful pens.  I wish you could see the new metallic ink pens I bought recently.  You would’ve loved them.

    You tried so hard and hung in there valiantly for so long.  I know you’re at peace in heaven now and I’ll see you again someday, but I selfishly miss you and wish I could hear your voice again.  Someday.  

    Love always,

  5. Sarah C. says:

    I shared this on my Twitter account (@SECovert), but I don’t know how to tag you.


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