First Coast Christian Writers -Jacksonville
Good evening – My name is Estelle Shrum and I have been invited to speak about my book, He Is The Word. I also have some information that may help you publish your book.
Recently I read an article about J. Oswald Sanders, he was a Godly man and a former director of Overseas Missionary Fellowship, he once wrote about a position he desired, and as he contemplated lobbying for the position, a verse of Scripture came to his mind, “Seekest thou great things for you? Seek them not!”
Sanders later said, “The words came just as though it was God speaking. There were crowds all around me, and no one else heard the voice, but I heard it all right!” He went on to say, “I believe that was a real turning point in my service to the Lord.”
I too, heard the voice of God when I was at a women’s retreat in January of 2000. A friend that I attended the retreat with showed me a Scripture. We were discussing giving our all to God, and that I needed to be in a Bible study. I told her that I loved God with my whole heart but I didn’t want to be part of a Bible study because I didn’t feel comfortable in group settings, and that I couldn’t change my basic personality. She opened the Bible to Rev. 3:15-16 “I know your deeds, that your are neither hot nor cold! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”After reading the Scripture I heard a voice that encompassed my whole being say, “Do not be afraid.” I felt a warmth and peace spread throughout me and I was awed. I just stared at the Bible. I felt like I was suspended in time.
Once I experienced a small earth earthquake. I was at home in Indianaand felt my house move. I felt like it was being pushed off its foundation, and I couldn’t relate to what was happening. It was surreal. I imagine that is how J. Oswald Sanders felt when he heard the voice of God, because that is how I felt. My friend did not hear the voice, and as J. Oswald Sanders said, “But I heard it all right.”
It was a dilemma for me to serve God. I didn’t understand what it meant to give Him my All. I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t feel wise enough, confident enough, committed, nor did I trust Him enough. But He had a plan.
So much has happened in my life that even I am amazed. I would like to share certain events that brought me to have a personal relationship with the Lord and touching briefly on what brought me to write this book of poetry.
MY PARENTS had no parenting skills – My mother was a paranoid schizophrenic alcoholic, and my father was an abusive alcoholic, who also gambled. They came from a long history of alcoholics. They were in and out of foster care and orphanages. My mother was sexually abused from the time she was eight years old until she was 12. My father didn’t meet his father until he was 18 and my mother never knew who her father was. She met her mother when she was twelve years old when she was brought fromCanada toNew York City to live with her Grandmother.
I never understood my father. I could tell you he was a gambler and an alcoholic, but I never got a handle of whom he was, or why he did the things he did. His was happiest in the bar with his buddies. He was a mean drunk and a wife and child abuser. My mother had more black eyes and stitches than I care to remember. When he was sober he was a quiet man and mostly hid behind the newspaper. There were times he would tell us that he was very proud and loved my sister and me and somehow that made up for all the bad times. I imagine his childhood and WW II molded him into who he became. He died when he was 57 from pancreatic cancer that spread to his brain. He lived “Eight weeks” after the diagnosis. That was the title of the first book I wrote but never tried to get published.
MY MOTHER literally had nine lives until she used them up at age 79. She had mental problems that were very difficult for anyone to deal with.
1. When I was six years old she was raped and sodomized by three men and left for dead.
2, 3, She drowned in a pool and was literally brought back to life. From the near drowning experience she developed pneumonia and was in the hospital for two weeks. Her lungs were already compromised from having TB and she was not expected to live.
4 She was in a serious car accident that put her through the windshield.
5. When she was 62 she had a stroke and was paralyzed on her left side. After her stroke all she ever talked about was wanting to die.
6, 7, she attempted suicide twice by overdosing, and was on a respirator each time and again not expected to live.
8. She tripped and fell one time and developed an aneurysm in her temple. She had to have emergency for that. The doctors feared her lungs would not be able to withstand the anesthesia, because she also had COPD from smoking four packs of cigarettes a day. Again, we did not expect her to live through surgery.
9. Then there was a time a teenager speeding on a bicycle ran her down and since she was unable to use her left arm to break the fall she landed on her face. It took many stitches to put her face together.
She was in and out of mental institutions for paranoid schizophrenia four times, and saw psychiatrists most of her life.
I never thought I would miss my mom, but I do, but I don’t miss the tears and the constant worrying about her.
As a young child I suffered from panic attacks. Our home was unpredictable and my parent’s fights were violent. I didn’t understand what was happening to me and I would never tell anyone. I just thought I was going to die and would silently pray for it to be quick. As a teenager I was hospitalized twice for depression and attempted suicide by cutting my wrists. As an adult I overdosed twice on tranquilizers, the first time I had my stomach pumped the second time I was in ICU.
MY SISTER was the caretaker of our family. She got pregnant at 17, got married and moved out. I was devastated because I was only 14 and had to endure my parent’s fights alone.
The four happiest years of my life was when I was dating my husband. That was the only time in my life that I didn’t suffer from depression, or have an empty feeling in my soul. My husband and I were married only 18 days before he left for Viet Nam. When he returned we were very different people. The first year was a very rough. We were children of the 60’s and we partied and literally broke every commandment God gave Moses. I am proud to say that on Jan. 11th we celebrated our 40th anniversary. When my daughter asked me how I would sum up our marriage I told her “As a Forty-Year Miracle.”
MY DAUGHTER had a charmed childhood until she was 16 years old. She was a cheerleader, on the honor role and was very popular. After my mother’s first suicide attempt she started to see that life was not all fun and games. Her life started to spiral out of control when she broke up with her first love. She found out he was smoking marijuana, and realized all the lies he had told her. He broke her heart. Within the same year her closest cousin committed suicide.
Not too long after that her friend James, who was the quarter back of their high school football team, drowned at the beach on “Senior Skip School Day.”
Her first semester in college she hooked up with a high school boyfriend and was certain this was the fellow she was going to marry, but he was killed driving across the railroad tracks trying to beat the train because he was late for work.
A year later after trying to put her life back together, and still very much depressed, she met a new boyfriend. But after three months their lives and our family’s became a literal nightmare.
My daughter and her new boyfriend were coaches at a gym here in Jax. She eloped with him after knowing him only for three weeks. Three months after they were married he had an accident at the gym when he was doing a running full back and broke his neck. In a moment he became a quadriplegic. She was 21 and he was 23. That was the second book I wrote, “Eight Months”, but I never tried to publish that one either. Some things are left better never having to remember.
When I became aware that God was holding me up from the time I was a child, through the nightmare of my son-in-laws accident I prayed that He would use me to glorify His name and give me a gift that would help me serve Him, and that’s when I began to write poetry. I knew the poems were a gift because I never had to think about them. A lot of times I would get up in the middle of the night and write a poem. The words just came to me without thinking about them. Later I would look up the Scriptures to make sure that’s what the Bible had to say and include them in my poetry.
All my poems are based on Scripture because this is my ministry. I use my website, my blog, my book, and even face book to spread God’s Word. All the money I receive goes to the American Bible Society. If you buy a book today all the money will go to buy Bibles. Ten dollars buys 10 copies of God’s Word forChina.
My book was published within six months of writing it. It was a fluke because I first received a rejection. A month later I received a letter saying they changed their mind, and were going to give my book the chance it deserves. Getting a book published without going the way of self-publishing is almost unheard of in today’s market, especially when it is poetry and even more difficult being Christian poetry. So I have to believe it’s a God thing.
I have some printed material if you would like some information on publishing a book. Thank you for your time and attention. If you have any questions I will try and answer them for you.