Love Me Back To Life –Blog Tour
The above link is a preview of Missy and Susan’s book.
The “real story” behind any book can be found in the acknowledgments. Without the input of some very special people, this project would never have been completed.
To the women connected with the Child Sexual Abuse institute of Ohio (CSAiO) and the hundreds whose lives they have touched by their courage to face the truth: “instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs” (Isaiah 61:7). May this book tell of the double honor you will receive at the Lord’s hand.
The topic of sexual abuse is an intense and complicated one. If we had given any deeper thought to how difficult it would be to address all aspects of it, this book in all likelihood would never have been written.
We are indebted to Victoria Kepler Didato, not only for her expertise, but also for her heart and her sensitivity to victims and offenders alike. Vicky, you shine as an example of God’s unconditional love. Any mistakes or inconsistencies in our representation of the therapeutic process are ours alone.
We are also grateful to the many women (and men) who have shared their journeys of healing with us and whose lives have been transformed by God’s restorative love. Lest we do a great disservice to these remarkable individuals, or to other survivors who have suffered, we would like to make it clear that healing is a lifelong process.
Love Me Back to Life is fictional. It is in no way intended to be a statement of how recovery should or will happen. The devastating effects of sexual abuse impact every area of its victims’ lives— physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Mallory’s story is not meant to suggest that a quick fix is realistic, nor to diminish the difficult and painful task most survivors face in dealing with their pasts. We do not wish to imply that forgiveness is instantaneous, nor do we intend to say that all who have been abused need therapy. Forgiveness is a process, and faith an individual journey.
If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, it is our prayer and hearts’ desire to extend hope to you and to all who read this book. May each of you meet Jehovah Rapha, “the Lord who heals.”
How Love Me Back To Life began:
About the authors Missy Horsfall (right) and Susan Stevens (left)
1. Tell me a little bit about yourselves
a. Susan holds a B.A. in Psychology and a Masters of Divinity from Ashland Theological Seminary. She pastors the Gambier and Mt Vernon United Methodist Churches, and lives with her cat, Oscar, and her computer fish, Italics. If she had any free time you would find her horseback riding, swimming, painting, or photographing land and seascapes. Her first love is the mountains, the second the ocean.
b. Missy, along with being a co-author of Love Me Back To Life and contributing author to the devotional books Shared Blessings and Shared Hope, is a board member, speaker, executive producer and radio host for Circle of Friends Ministries. She and her husband live in Ohio and have three married children and three grandchildren. She has been a pastor’s wife for over twenty-five years. She grew up an army brat, traveling extensively, but her heart remains on the shores of the Great Lakes. She loves the wind, the waves, and the pallet of the sky at sunset. If she had the time and money you would find her sailing, show jumping, traveling, or basking on an exotic South Pacific island.
2. What drew the two of you together? Missy’s backyard. (Or was it the pool, the horses, or her over-exuberant kids?)
Friends for years, the two of them started out by encouraging each other’s writing dreams, then one night across the table from each other at Applebee’s restaurant they began to toss around the idea of writing a book together. We can’t tell you what the original plot was, but the seed was sown.
The idea for Love Me Back To Life came from their shared counseling experiences, Susan with her church as a pastor, Missy in her role as a pastor’s wife. Both have seen the devastating results of child sexual abuse in the lives of those they have counseled, as well as having experienced it in their own lives.
3. How long did it take you to write this book?
It took us forever to write this book! We started in 1995, or was ’96, with regular 3 a.m. marathons, then relaxed into writing off and on whenever we got a creative urge. We seriously began pursuing publication in 1998, and it was originally published by Waterbrook Press in 2002 under the title Double Honor. We are thrilled that Barbour Publishing has republished it and contracted for the sequel, Legacy of Fools.
4. What is it like working with a co-author?
We think what makes our writing mesh is that we both have had the heart and the vision for this story from the very beginning. We both believe that this is God’s story, and whatever talents or skill we have put into this book come from Him alone.
Creatively, we are very different. Susan sees the whole picture; Missy wants the details. Missy has taught Susan how to organize and edit, and Susan has taught Missy how to write with a passion, and not be afraid to work on the ending before we get the beginning!
As far as the actual writing, we wrote some chapters separately, some were started by one, and finished by the other, and some were written together at the computer, word by agonizing word. We have been known to complete each other’s sentences, name a character the same name at the same time, and swap seats in the hot seat without missing a key on the keyboard!
5. What do you hope this book accomplishes for those who read it?
We desire for this book to be a powerful tale of God’s love, and His power to heal and restore. We want our readers to know that God can take the worst of circumstances and use them in the most astounding ways to change our lives.
This book is, as one person has put it, a marriage of theology and psychology. Storytelling is a powerful way to offer God’s Word to those who might not pick up a reference or textbook.
Above all, we would like our readers to know there is hope, there is healing. It is found in God.
Because of the educational material contained in this book, reading it “could do more for someone than probably six months of therapy,” says Victoria Kepler Didato, M.A., L.P.C., L.S.W., director and founder of Child Sexual Abuse Institute of Ohio, with twenty-five years of clinical experience treating families of incest and child sexual abuse.
6. How prevalent is sexual abuse in our society?
The statistics for child sexual abuse are overwhelming. Didato says that one in three girls and one in seven boys will experience some form of sexual abuse by an adult before they reach eighteen years old. One in ten families experience some form of incest.
7. Tell me a little about Mallory, the central character in your novel.
Mallory Carlisle has her hands full dealing with financial troubles she’s desperate to hide, an absentee husband, two active daughters, and a family whose demands for loyalty border on the obsessive. Yet the most devastating secret of all—the one her family is desperate to keep buried—is the one that lurks in Mallory’s subconscious.
But secrets can’t remain hidden forever. One day at a family gathering, long-suppressed memories overwhelm Mallory—forcing her, at last, to confront overwhelming pain from her childhood. But after guilt and suspicion drive a wedge between her and her husband, Mallory must find another source of comfort and healing.
Reawakened to the pain she experienced as a child and driven to save her crumbling marriage, Mallory finds herself at the crossroads of her greatest challenge. Now, to achieve victory, she must find a path that leads out of the past, toward honor, joy, and truth—and the only One who can set her free.
8. To whom will this book appeal?
Love Me Back To Life will appeal to women readers of all ages: primarily those from their twenties to their forties. This book will be especially meaningful to readers of contemporary Christian fiction that is driven by critical women’s issues, such as those authored by Jamie Langston Turner, Bette Nordberg, Lisa Samson, and Linda Hall. The story will have added depth for those who are recovering from sexually abusive relationships, and those who love them. This book will also be helpful for pastors, counselors, and lay leaders who work with recovering women, as well as women who know someone who has been sexually abused.
9. When will the book, Love Me Back To Life be released?
The release date was February 1, 2011. Barbour Publishing will be releasing the sequel, Legacy of Fools in January 2012.
Read an excerpt of the book now
One of the best books I’ve read, definitely top 5
February 9, 2011
Location: millersburg, OH
This book was just so beautifully written. It captured my heart as I made the journey with the main character. Full of emotion, this story steps out and reaches the pains and struggles that some of us face today and begins the healing process all through a fictional story. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a good read that is guaranteed to leave you awe by the end. I’m ready for the sequel!
March 1, 2011
Location: Scotland, UK
Mallory Carlisle's life is already a mess when she starts to have the nightmares. She and her husband are drifting further apart as he works longer hours and makes more business trips, she's racking up credit card debts and her extended family is just as dysfunctional as ever. But when Mallory starts having disturbing dreams that cause her to act weirdly around her loved ones, she begins to wonder whether they're linked to something that she actually experienced. When a news story causes her to have a panic attack at a Bible study meeting, her friends urge her to see a therapist to understand what's really going on in her life. Slowly, Mallory comes to terms with the childhood memories that she'd suppressed, and begins to put her trust in God for healing and release from the hurt she's been carrying. Only through God can she put her life, her marriage and her family back on track.
This was a truly devastating story. I had to put it down at times and read something else as Mallory's story simply broke my heart. While I don't have any first-hand experience in dealing with childhood abuse, I felt that the authors really captured Mallory's hurt and pain. The road to recovery was difficult, but I admired her bravery and enjoyed watching her pull her life back together and come to terms with the changes she needed to make.
I would have to say that I never really warmed to Mallory's husband, Jake. They were suffering from marital difficulties at the start of the book, and having never seen them happy together, it was difficult to like him. Although I could sympathize with the confusion he felt at Mallory pushing him away as she fell deeper into her emotional turmoil, I sometimes felt like he didn't make enough effort. Jake did, thankfully, redeem himself and realize that he had contributed to the family problems, but I wish I'd had more of a chance to read about "changed" Jake to truly witness his transformation of character.
I was impressed with the authors' choice to tackle such a difficult subject. While some may consider Christian Fiction to be full of romance, happy endings and fluffy bunnies, the market can feature some pretty taboo topics. Missy and Susan definitely deserve credit for being brave enough to bring to light the fact that childhood abuse can affect even the most pious of Christians, and for showing how both therapy and God's love can help victims to overcome their hurts. However, I do wish that the authors had stuck with the original issues - abuse, marital problems and credit card debt. They also threw in several other problems, either as events in the novel or in mentions to past experiences, including a childhood death, a miscarriage, a sudden illness, and the death of a grandparent. There was actually one point where I found myself thinking, "Really? Could these characters have any more to deal with?" I'm sure that the authors could write wonderful novels on these other subjects, but in this case they felt hastily thrown together. As a result of featuring so many issues in one novel, some of them were never truly concluded and they sometimes overshadowed the wider issue of Mallory's abuse.
I would like to caution that this is very definitely a Christian novel. While some inspirational books merely feature a few Bible verses and references to praying and attending church, this isn't one of them. Mallory frequently seeks God's guidance, meets up with her pastor's wife and fellow Church members to discuss her difficulties and is counseled by a Christian therapist. I lost count of the number of Bible verses that she mentioned in the diary entries at the end of each chapter. This was a new experience for me as I hadn't previously read a book so focused on a character's spiritual journey, or read about Christian counseling. I felt that this was a realistic novel about a woman reaching out to God for help in her time of need, but it probably isn't one to pass on to non-Christian friends.
Boldly tackling topics that are often hidden away in Christian circles, Love Me Back to Life is a heart-breaking tale of God's healing power and love. While I sometimes felt overwhelmed by the many difficulties that Mallory found herself pitted against, I definitely think that Missy Horsfall and Susan Stevens deserve credit for writing such an honest and realistic account of one woman's struggle to overcome childhood abuse.
Many thanks to Barbour and NetGalley for giving me the chance to read and review this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Healing for those who are hurting, March 6, 2011
This review is from: Love Me Back to Life (Circle of Friends (Barbour)) (Paperback)
Love Me Back to Life
Written by: Missy Horsfall and Susan Stevens
Published by: Barbour
This is the story of a woman who was abused as a child and how that is still affecting her life as a married mother of two.
I was able to read this book for free on my computer through a new to me site that I found called Net Gallery.
Who the book is for: Any woman.
What I liked: This is a moving story. This story kept my attention from the first page through the last one.
I appreciated the fact that this book was about a family, a mother, rather than just being another romance novel or something.
What I didn't like:
There is nothing that I didn't like about this book.
My conclusion: This is a good book, and a good eye opener about the effects of childhood abuse even into adulthood.
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.
5.0 out of 5 stars Journey of Healing, February 22, 2011
This review is from: Love Me Back to Life (Circle of Friends (Barbour)) (Paperback)
Love Me Back to Life is a beautifully written novel which touches upon many of the sensitive and critical issues that can and often do arise as a result of childhood sexual abuse.
The ability that sexual abuse has to touch and impact mental and emotional wellness, family, parenting and marriage is evident through the experiences of the main character Mallory. In this novel the reader is afforded the opportunity to walk beside a victim of abuse from the beginning of her healing journey, experiencing with her the pain and hope of facing truth and making hard choices time and time again for the purpose of obtaining the healing and wholeness that the Lord has for her.
This book would be beneficial to anyone who is recovering from sexual abuse themselves, or who knows someone who is. A valuable asset to those who love someone who is walking through the healing journey and desire a better understanding of what they are going through and how to love them and support them as they become the over-comers that the Lord created them to be.
A story of truth, hope, and encouragement that will touch the hearts of anyone who is familiar with the subject matter bringing every reader back to the ultimate truth that no matter how deep the hurt, the Lord has the ability to love you back to life.