Saturday, September 3, 2016


One of my 10 year old campers at Camp David of the Ozarks, a Christian camp where I’ve served as a Camp Granny for the past eight summers, told me as I settled down to read a story to him and his cabin mates earlier this summer: “The best stories always start with Once upon a time….”  Indeed, and of course, they end with…and they all lived happily ever after.  Now for the true-to-life version, where the dragon was killed, even if inadvertently, by the hero (or heroine) of the story, what does Happily-Ever-After really look like?

                Well, I can tell you for the past few weeks, the Depression-free Life continues, even though it is certainly uncharted territory for me.  I have thoroughly terrified my husband and even my daughters, at times, I’m sure. I find myself so incredibly energized that I’m barely able to lay down at 11 pm and I’m wide awake by 5:30 or 6 in the morning. Of course, anyone who knows me finds that pretty unbelievable since I’ve never been a morning person and when left to my own devices, often sleep until 9 or 10 am! But then Depression breeds exhaustion and both sleep deprivation and sleep addiction, depending on the moment and the season. One of the easiest ‘signs’ for the loved one to pick up on, when questioning whether someone is depressed is, have their sleep habits changed? Do they sleep more than usual or are they up knocking around at 3 am? Well, in my case, I sleep a lot less and am always busy, which isn’t all bad, since I am currently president of two different local organizations, trying to complete a seventh novel while the first six are selling well, and have just had them well-publicized in a state-wide publication. And then there is the business of keeping up with four adult children and their families, which includes seven grandsons!

                As for uncharted territory, it also means that my energy level rivals that of my personality of 30 years ago. I recognize that and yet am often powerless to control it other than to see it for what it is. It leaves my husband, shaking his head at times, muttering “you have changed so much recently…” and all I can say is, “I know. Hang in there with me! I can feel it but I really do think it is getting better.”

                I have apologized to all my friends, in advance, so to speak, warning them,  as we prepare for our annual Garage Sale fundraiser for the New Life House, one of the organizations I chair at the moment (Christian transitional housing for women coming out of the jail or prison) or the Grand Opening of the local Democratic Headquarters with the arrival of Chris Koster, current Mo. Attorney General and Democratic candidate for Missouri Governor (and yes, I’m also the current chair of the Laclede County Democrats). “I know I seem more jazzed than usual, so if I bark out orders or say something you find offensive (as in who-died-and-made-you-the-new-queen?), please don’t hesitate to take hold of me and say…Laura, you need to calm down! You are like a runaway train and you are making us crazy!

                I’ve seen that look on some of my friends’ faces a time or two that says all that without a word being spoken so I know my new personality can be a bit overwhelming at times. Yes, Happy-Ever-After at this point, involves re-evaluation and contemplation, as to where do we go from here? But even with all that, it is so much better than the depression and the constant fight against The Devil himself (Who else do you think controls the Depression Dragon?)

                So Happily-Ever-After continues as a wild and wonderful roller coaster ride and although some of the turns can be scary, it starts every day with an insatiable desire to first read my Bible  (and you know that’s a great way to ignite your day!) and then have a healthy breakfast. I’m still on the diet about 80%, doing just as advised in the book, SLOWLY adding foods back in and then observing their effects. (Do you have a headache a little later? Does your belly ache or worse? Do you feel lethargic or upset, nervous, etc?) Of course, the first thing I reclaimed was MY COFFEE, but not with any chemical or artificial sweeteners. I am using ONLY honey or 100% maple sugar in my coffee or occasionally in my tea. (You may not know many women who carry a small jar of honey in their purse, but now you know of at least one. And that is a jar with a very secure lid!) I also returned to chocolate in moderation, of course, but GOOD quality chocolate, which included a trip to Rosewood Farms outside of Hartville. If you’ve never been there or stopped, check it out on the ‘net or STOP in. It is Chocolate Nirvana, made on site by one large family. I’ve been blessed to do two different stories on them for southwest Missouri publications and am one of the few to see their production kitchen and exactly how they make their incredibly delicious products.
                I also had a huge Mexican lunch with a friend one day at downtown Lebanon’s one and only, Juanita’s—rice, beans, tortillas. It was delicious but an hour and a half later, driving to Buffalo, it was a real struggle to stay awake. (Okay, note to self, eat such a meal when you know you are going home for a siesta afterward.) Lots of lessons to be learned but the most important is….God is good all the time and all the time God is good. I do wonder why I had to wait so long to make this discovery but then I remember, God didn’t have Moses leading those rowdy Israelites out of Egypt until he was 80 years old. God has his own timetable and it has absolutely nothing to do with our add-water-and-stir-and-slap-it-in-the-microwave-for-30-seconds society. He operates on his own schedule and while often we don’t understand, if we go with it, instead of our pre-conceived notions, I’m here to tell you, the results are incredible!

Laura L. Valenti, author
The Heart of the Spring,
The Heart of the Spring Lives On,
The Heart of the Spring Comes Home, and
The Heart of the Spring Everlasting
Between the Star and the Cross: The Choice and
Between the Star and the Cross: The Election
Ozark Meth: A Journey of Destruction and Deliverance with co-author Dick Dixon

We know that Jesus had 33 years Between the Star at his birth and the Cross at his death. We each have a time between our star and our cross. We just don't know how long that might be. The real question is 'what will you do with yours?'  Blessings, LV

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