Greetings from Marti Pieper in warming-back-up Mount Dora, Florida! Central Florida had lows in the low 30s last week; in fact, we had the longest cold spell in eight years. However, in Yvonne Ortega’s Virginia home, temperatures in the thirties would be an improvement. I’m glad to welcome my sweet friend Yvonne back to the CAN blog today and to learn more about her current projects. Let’s get started!
Welcome, Yvonne! What inspired you to write Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Grief?
I had suffered a traumatic divorce, breast cancer with aggressive chemotherapy and thirty-three rounds of radiation, and four car accidents in seven years. In one of those accidents, the other driver totaled my new car. As if that were not enough grief, eight years ago, within seven months, I lost two aunts, my mother, and my only child. The emotional roller coaster of grief took me on a ride I didn’t want. Well-meaning people felt they had to say something but did so without thinking. I refer to them in the book as “Wound Salters.” On the other hand, others provided comfort and helped me through the grief process. I call them “The Comforting Angels.” I’ve watched the bereaved question God, their faith, and their reason to live. I did so myself. Through this book, the readers receive assurance that grief is a normal process, and they will get through it.
That’s a message so many people need. What do you hope readers will get from this book?
I hope those in mourning will take away comfort, peace, promise, and purpose in their “new normal,” their life without the loved one they lost or without the job, home, or health they once had.
I hope friends, coworkers, and caregivers will understand the grief process more than before and provide the compassion, encouragement, and support the grieving need.
What surprised you the most during the research or writing of your book?
Since we all come with an expiration date, I was surprised during the research that some people felt uncomfortable talking about grief. It seemed they didn’t know how to handle their pain and tried to avoid it. However, others were more than willing to talk about grief, shared their stories with me, and signed a permission form for me to use them. I included their stories in the book.
During the writing of my book, I cleaned out my desk and my computer table. I didn’t expect to find pictures of my mother and my son tucked in drawers. I thought I had placed all of them in the right albums. I also found cards they had sent me. During the writing of my book, my dad was diagnosed with dementia, and my lifelong friend, with pancreatic cancer. I didn’t expect either diagnosis and experienced grief from both cases.
I’m hurting for you just reading this, Yvonne. What was the hardest section to write?
The hardest section to would be Chapters 4 and 5. Chapter 4 is entitled “Torrent of Tears.” In that chapter, I relived my feelings and shed tears as I did the first day after my son’s passing. I wrote about how I walked into his bedroom and looked at his pictures, karate trophies, and medals from swim meets. Chapter 5 is entitled “River of Regret.” In that chapter, I wrote about how things would have been different if the last time I saw my son alive, I would have known it would be the final one.
Because I know you personally, I know this next question will be very important to you: How do you share Christ in your writing?
Christ is the foundation of my writing. He is my Strength, my High Tower, my Fortress, my Refuge, and my Peace. He is Jehovah Rapha, the Lord Who Heals. I quote Scripture throughout the book. Each chapter starts with a quotation from a Christian author or from the Bible. At the end of each chapter, the reader is offered various interactive activities. One of them is entitled “Readings and Prayer.” The readings are from the Bible. Another activity is “Music,” which lists a link to contemporary Christian music and one to traditional music. For example, in Chapter 5, the link to contemporary music is “Heal Me, O Lord.” The one for the traditional music is “In Times Like These.” At the end of the book, Appendix B has “Additional Readings,” and Appendix C has “Additional Music.”
And how has being a writer impacted your relationship with Christ?
Without a doubt, I know who brought me through the traumatic divorce, breast cancer, the four car accidents, and the multiple family losses in 2009. I have realized the power of meditating on and memorizing Scripture. I read the Bible through every year from Genesis through Revelation. I play praise and worship music daily. When I’m writing and feel exhausted or stuck, I request prayer from my prayer groups and prayer partners. I also get on my knees before the Lord. Because the Lord Jesus Christ is at the right hand of God interceding for me, I can do what I do. Being a writer makes me draw closer to the Lord because I cannot give what I do not have
Tell us about your most touching moment with a reader.
One reader read my book shortly after the loss of her husband. She emailed me immediately after she finished the book. She wrote that it gave her hope because I have survived the brokenness of grief and pain. She felt she could make it too, whereas before reading Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Grief, she felt her life was over.
What a blessing, Yvonne. Now, do you have an unfulfilled dream?
Yes, I do. I actually have two unfulfilled dreams. My first one is to reach gazillions for Jesus in my lifetime. I want gazillions of people to know the hope and healing possible from the Lord Jesus Christ. I remind all my praying friends of that goal and ask them to pray that I fulfill that dream sooner than later. I tell them I don’t want to live as long as Methuselah to fulfill it. He died at age 969. God help me!
My second unfulfilled dream is to present a Moving from Broken to Beautiful® Women’s Conference in all 50 states and then take the conference overseas.
With all the speaking you do, I imagine you are well on your way! What talents do you have aside from storytelling?
I am a professional speaker, a speaking coach, and a writing coach. I do both individual and group coaching in person in Virginia and online. I was the church pianist for years and played for Sunday school, church services, weddings, etc. I love to teach the Bible and have done so through Precept Ministries, Bible Study Fellowship, and Sunday school.
I know you are multi-talented—and you didn’t even mention that you’re bilingual! Please tell us about your favorite library memory.
When I was a child, my mother took my brother and me to the library every single week. I looked forward to checking out as many books as I could. When I got older, I could walk to the library on my own any day of the week, and I did. Because of that wonderful memory, I took my son to the library every week, and he entered the summer reading program each summer.
I love that—and I love libraries, too! Thanks so much for sharing with us, Yvonne. I know our readers will love learning more about your Moving from Broken to Beautiful ministry and books. Thanks again!
To learn more about Yvonne Ortega and her work, check out Yvonne’s website and her blog (on the home page of her website about halfway down).
For His glory,