My daughter Jessica was born in September, so by her first Christmas she was old enough for me to carry around and look at Christmas lights. Her small blue eyes widened at the amazing colors and brightness. Now she is 22 and lives in California. I am teaching English in China. This is my 5th Christmas away from home. I went out last night to a colorful, cobblestoned street by the river in my Chinese city near Shanghai and was amazed at how the lights lit up like a fairly-land. I thought, “Jessica could see this.” Continue reading
Jessica as an angel and Jonathan as a gold-crowned king in a California play 2004
Help me write my way home to see my children in California. I haven’t seen Jessica (21) and Jonathan (18) in the 3 years I’ve been teaching English overseas. After I got divorced from their father (who got everything, including them), I couldn’t find a teaching job in America, so I went to Russia in October, 2010. After 6 frozen months, I flew to Turkey where I lived and taught for 2.5 years. I met my Turkish husband there. After nearly getting arrested for writing about the Turkish freedom protests and posting a photo, I went (with my Turkish husband) to teach English in China just 2 months ago.
In all these ups and downs, I’ve been able to support myself. But I haven’t bought a much-needed new computer (my old Apple laptop is 9 years old and very slow). I haven’t taken a real vacation. And I haven’t been able to afford a trip back to Los Angeles to see my children.
From Sunday, November 3 to Sunday, November 10, all 5 of my books are only $.99 (less than a dollar) for Kindle format. You can pick from my true cancer survival story, travel adventures, science fiction, and fantasy. Or you could splurge and pay $9.99 for a paperback. My books encourage people to survive anything, and they make great Christmas presents. Light can shine in the darkest places.
Please buy one of my books for a friend, think of me, and share my story.
Thank you. See my books here.
Jessica, me, and Jonathan in California in 2010 before I left to teach overseas
Lonna Lisa Williams sits inside the cave behind Duden Waterfall in Antalya, Turkey, 2012
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I thought I’d share my own cancer story:
I was nursing my baby when I found a lump in my breast. I told my doctor that I felt achy and tired all the time, and he said it was because I just had a baby and chased after a toddler all day. He thought my breast lump was a clogged milk duct and gave me a mammogram. Nothing strange showed up in the mammogram. But the lump didn’t go away, and I felt like I had the flu all of the time, with low-grade fevers and night sweats.
“Something is wrong,” I told my doctor when I returned, my two children with me. I knew that I was in charge of my body’s health, and I had done research on breast lumps and ways to test them.
“Give me a needle biopsy,” I requested. Jonathan started crying in my arms, and Jessica was running around the examining room.
“Just come back in 6 months,” the impatient doctor responded. “You are young, and it’s probably nothing.”
“No, do it now,” I demanded.
That action saved my life. Two days later my doctor told me I had cancer. Thus began my battle with a rare tumor that sometimes appears in women’s breasts: non-hodgkins lymphoma.
I had to stop nursing abruptly and have surgery. Luckily, I only had a lumpectomy (a lump removed from my breast). I faced four months of chemotherapy, shots, and blood work. I endured strange medical tests like CAT-scans and bone marrow biopsies. My hair fell out. I looked pale, not even eyebrows on my face to soften my vivid blue eyes. My family, friends, and church helped me by watching my children, bringing meals, and babysitting me after my chemotherapy treatments left me nauseated and weak.
I wanted to live for my children and believed that God could help me. I laughed when two boys tossed my blonde wig to each other or people stared when I forgot my wig. I joined a breast cancer support group and wrote two books about my ordeal.
Since those books were published, I have fought other battles like divorce, dependence on prescription medication, and a near-fatal car accident. I had to go overseas to teach English, leaving my children with my ex-husband. After Russia, I lived in Turkey , married a Turkish man, and took a new teaching post in China. Now I’m trying to write my way back to California to see my children.
Last June, Jonathan graduated from high school. Jessica turned 21. I discovered that cancer was only one battle in my life, 17 years ago, and I’m grateful that the battles–and triumphs–continue.
Read about my story in my book Crossing the Chemo Room.
Lonna and her Turkish husband Omer at Duden Waterfall in Turkey
Lonna with her children Jessica and Jonathan in California, 2010
I taught a group of 9 Turkish children, ages 9-11, for a month this summer. We learned to speak basic English: numbers, colors, animals, places, and questions with answers. For our last day, I printed out a book for them with spaces where they could draw pictures, color, and write things they learned.
“I take photos with my camera. I write stories. I mix the words and photos together to make books, and you can do this, too,” I encouraged them. They looked at me with their sweet, feisty eyes, and I realized,
We are all a masterpiece, like a book of words and pictures.
Hi, I’d like to share with you the story of my author friend Tania Elizabeth from Australia. She is supporting children through Starlight Children’s Foundation. Here is her bio and a bit about her book.
Tania was born in a little mining town called Dysart in Central Queensland. It was to be however that much of her childhood was then spent living in Cairns by the Great Barrier Reef in Northern Queensland. What a magnificent childhood she had in her possession. Many of her weekends were spent in the countryside and the Rainforests of the Atherton Tablelands where Tania would loose herself in her imagination along with her siblings and cousins in abundance. Tania’s father, Lionel began to enlighten her on how to meditate and understand the sagacity of energy. Continue reading
Time is like a river that flows past us, like children who quickly grow up and leave as a current journeys toward the sea. Enjoy Chapter Twelve of my book, Fire and Ice:
Despite the obvious risks and warnings, I would let Jessica drive our little Saturn car to Forest Falls, so she could practice for her driver’s license, and we could walk together there. We would roll the windows down and let the air sweep up our hair and laughter. We whisked by desert plains that rose slowly toward the mountains. Cactus, sand, and golden hills gave way to sharp green cliffs and oak trees, and then a gorge filled with marbled granite that had swept down on torrents from the summit. To our right, the river (I will call it Selah’s River), cut into the mountain’s lower walls. Willow trees clustered around the cold, clear pools between the rocks, and people sometimes parked beside the road and climbed down to wade or swim there. Continue reading
My children, Jessica and Jonathan, are my most precious something that is “mine.” We shared our happiest days together exploring New Zealand. In this photo, they sit at the back of a tour boat in Milford Sound. See more photos . . . Continue reading
Here is a close-up of the same white egret which stood in the waters of Milford Sound, New Zealand. My daughter Jessica, who paused at the water’s edge and watched the scene with me, loves birds. She lives in California now, while I teach English in Turkey. She just turned 20 and studies languages such as Arabic and Spanish. I miss her and am writing my way back for a visit! Turkey is half a world away from California, about as far away as New Zealand . . .
Here’s a poem I wrote about a girl, dying of cancer, who also loved birds:
“The Beating Wings”
who died of leukemia
at age 12)
She sat, a scarecrow in a slit-back gown:
Trans lucent skin, her fingers stretched like nails.
She reached to me beside the silver rails.
And when she turned, her head bobbed up and down;
The blood shone on her teeth, like web spun ’round.
The thread, that pain, it wrapped her eyes–once pale–
And pupils swallowed blue in one dark veil.
I watched–she seemed to speak–there was no sound.
Kristen, I remember when we saw the birds
In cases, stuffed, their eyes unblinking glass;
An egret, its wings like crystal, seemed to rise.
You spoke its name, I leaned to catch the word;
It was yourself you called–Oh, you flew past–
I saw the beating wings behind your eyes.
From my true cancer survival book, Crossing the Chemo Room.
How does an abused wife leave her husband? It is difficult, especially if she has children. Sometimes she does a rehearsal for the real event. I did this before I fled from California to New Zealand with my two children. Read and wonder. Has something like this happened to you or someone you know? (from my new book, “Fire and Ice”)
“Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to Heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.”
One thing the doctors gave me through cancer and nerve damage from the chemotherapy–was medicine. They were eager to write prescriptions for pain, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Fifteen years of domestic abuse pushed me further into these drugs. When they became less effective and the doctors would not prescribe stronger ones, I would use the family credit cards and buy more on the Internet–without a prescription. They came easily enough from places like Canada and India, in dubious packaging with strange names. I hid this contraband in the linen closet of our lovely mountain home and waited all the long, stress-filled days for the chance to swallow them secretly at night (as if no one knew).
It was a family custom for Edd and me to put Jessica and Jonathan, our beautiful children whom I homeschooled, to bed each evening. We would sit on the children’s twin beds in their shared bedroom, in the glow of the green moon nightlight. By Jonathan’s bed, Hebrew letters–penned with his own hand–were caught in black ink behind glass, framed upon the wall.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, body, and soul,” they read.
Beside them, the painting of an angel blazed in white against the dark background of a boy’s bedroom. The heavenly being, with arching wings, stood tall above the sleeping boy who was covered to his chin with blankets. The angel held a torch in one hand and a sword in the other. Its silver blade reflected fire above the small, smooth face of the sleeping child.
The inscription below the painting read in English cursive letters:
“I will both lie down in peace and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
How can I feel safe with Edd? I wondered, staring at the man who tormented us. Continue reading