Monday, August 21, 2006

Amazed Again - And Trembling

As letters and e-mails continue to come in, I am amazed at how many young people are finding help and solace in the Dragons in our Midst books. Sometimes I just want to shout with joy! This is exactly what I got into writing for.

Recently, however, the responsibility of the author's chair has caused me to tremble. In the past week I have heard from three young readers whose parents are splitting up and a pre-teen who is suffering from abuse of the most despicable kind.

It was easy to write and hope my words encourage, challenge, and heal, but when reader feedback bleeds with cries for help, I can no longer sit back with my wireless keyboard, stare at my large, flat-panel monitor, and create my fantasy worlds.

The sting of hot, salty tears jerks me out of dragon daydreams and demands that I put on a warrior's armor. Trusting souls plead for rescue, and I cannot sit back and pretend that words alone will mend these dying hearts.

I will stand and draw my sword, though I know not where to charge.

God help me.

5 comments:

Dragon Girl said...

I want you to know, that you're not alone in this battle. I'll pray along side of you. I know there are many problems out there, and that prayer is one of the best things to do. No matter what, God will see us through, even if he has to send a few of his trusty dragons down to do it ^_-

I hope that everything comes out right and that no matter what, He will see us all through in the end. Let's continue to fight the good fight and to show others how much we care.

^.=.^

-Amanda Gretzinger

Clefspeare said...

Thank you, Amanda. I'm glad to know you're in my corner. With God's help, we can do anything!

desert friend said...

No matter what God will always see you though and I am glad we have you out there fighting for us. Even if it gets hurtful God will make a way to go through each storm I know he has for me.

Anonymous said...

Two comments:

1) I was a very depressed & emotionally abused kid, and I once wrote a letter to a kid's magazine about it. The thing that really bothered me was that I got no answer at all, which caused me to feel even more hopeless than before. There are so many more resources out there for kids today than there were back then--we didn't have school counselors then, for example. So I would encourage you, as much as possible, to at least reply to these kids. Just knowing they were _heard_ might help. You can compose a general letter for this purpose & let them know you are praying, suggest they talk to a school counselor, or a teacher they trust, or a pastor (maybe one at a friend's church if they don't trust their pastor not to go to their parents). If you know a counselor he or she may be able to suggest other resources that are either available in most places or are national hot-line type numbers.

2) I also worked for 12 years for Highlights for Children magazine. They _do_ answer all letters from children (~2500 per week during the time I was there). Most of the letters they get can be answered with a form-type letter: "We got your piece of art..." They had about 40-50 different form letters to cover various situations, and they had multiple sets of those form letters, and they switched the set of letters they used every month, so if a kid wrote often, she or he wouldn't get the same reply every time. About 10% of the letters didn't fit into the "form" catagory, and they were handed out to various editors & sometimes other staff members to be answered. These were the "I want a dog, and my parents won't let me," or "I take piano lessons and I hate practicing and my parents won't let me quit" letters.

They had one woman whose sole job was to open and screen kids' letters. She was the one that sorted them into the form catagories (high school kids came in during the late afternoon & early evening to generate the answers to these), and pull out the letters that needed individual answers (those went to the managing editor who assigned them to various staff members to answer).

But any letters describing abuse, talking about suicide, etc., were pulled out by her and returned to the office with in 24 hours & were handed to an editor who specialized in dealing with letters about serious problems. If a letter described "abuse of the worst kind," John (the editor who dealt with those letters) would try to use the return address to identify the proper authorities to whom to report the abuse. And in the case of stuff like physical or sexual abuse (stuff that's clearly illegal) he'd call the police in their locality or child protective services for their county. The internet at the time was mostly for computer geeks and the world wide web didn't exist back then, and our computers weren't connected to anything but the mainframe and the typesetting department. With the tools on the web today it's far easier to track down which county a child lives in and to get police, school, and social service numbers to call.

So you might want to consider making a report to the authorities about the "abuse of the worst kind."

I could just tell you I'll pray with you, and I'm sure you'd appreciate that. But I happen to know, in practical terms, concrete things you can do in these situations, and I can't see any value in withholding that information. I just stumbled on your post after someone on the Lady_Firebird Yahoo Group posted a link to your blog for your post about Kathy Tyers. I'm not a blogger, and I rarely even post to the Yahoo Groups I belong to, but this cried out for a practical comment. Whether or not you use any of this is up to you, and what type of response you feel God wants you to make to these letters from troubled kids. Which is to say I hope I haven't offended you, and this is only meant to suggest options.

Best,
DJ
djfrmchinchilla@yahoo.com

Clefspeare said...

DJ,

Rest assured that I am actively looking intot he abuse situations. I would never let that go without some kind of action. I really meant it when I wrote that I was ready to draw my sword.

Also, I answer every e-mail and letter with a personal reply. If a reader takes the time to write to me, I always take the time to write back, composing a fresh new reply. I don't have stock replies at all.

I'm glad you took the time to give me that advice. Your love and care are refreshing and encouraging. I hope my comment here clarifies my response to kids who are crying for help.