Thursday, February 26, 2015

Do it for Terrie

I never would have started writing professionally if it weren't for Terrie Lynn Bittner. She is my mentor, my hero, and my friend.

I met Terrie when she moved to NJ some ten years ago. She and I served in church together in Primary, the children's organization. We quickly bonded as we got to know each other. She had a terrific way with little children. She made the gospel fun and easy to understand.

One week she handed me a stack of bookmarks. She had the five-year-olds draw on them with crayons. Each one was titled with the child's name followed by the words "loves me". Christian loves me. Tori loves me. Jackson loves me. Nathaniel loves me. I hadn't told her how my heart had ached for a child to love me--I had been going through fertility treatments that proved unsuccessful. But now, my scriptures are filled with the aroma of crayon and the heart-felt message from a class of youngsters that love me.

Another time after church, Terrie handed me a page of sheet music, mounted on construction paper. The notes were circles and stems drawn on the staff in magic-marker, various shapes, sizes, and colors. I was the Primary chorister at the time. She told me her five-year-olds loved music-time so much, they wanted to write me a song. She provided the paper and the markers, and they did the writing. She said, "I'm not sure how it sounds, but they were excited to write it!" It sounded adorable, as you can imagine--not because of any musical expertise, but because of the love behind the effort.

That's who Terrie is. She teaches with love, and she teaches how to love. I'm sure her class performed acts of kindness to many others, not just me. This is what Terrie does, naturally. She oozed gospel goodness. Anyone within a stone's throw was touched by it.

Terrie is a professional writer, the author of two homeschooling books, and works as an online manager for professional websites. I opened up to her about my desire to become a writer, and she encouraged me to do so. I told her about my fantasy novel when it was in its infancy stage. It was Terrie who encouraged me to pursue it. Whenever I felt discouraged I would get a call or an email from her, asking how I was doing. Whatever I struggled with, she had the answer. She found me several LDS-based writer's groups. She offered me the position at LDS Blogs to be a weekly contributor. She recommended workshops, writing manuals and online tips, she found me an editor, publishers, and opened up my world of writing in ways no one else ever could.

I owe so much to Terrie. I would not be writing this blog, or any blog, if it weren't for Terrie.

Right now Terrie is fighting for her life. She's battling a brain tumor. The situation is serious. The next few days are critical for her. I pray that if you read this, if you know Terrie, please say an extra prayer for her. If anyone deserves a miracle, she does.