Illness and the Writer: Peter Leavell 1/2

I’m so pleased to host fellow author, Peter Leavell, and his real life story of a unique medical diagnosis. First hand accounts help writers learn what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. Peter is the winner of Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel Contest! Peter will be blogging today and Friday.

Peter has graciously agreed to give away one copy of his book to a commenter drawn at random. To enter, simply leave a comment that includes your e-mail address on either of Peter’s posts. Drawing will take place Saturday, October 27th at midnight. Winner announced here at Redwood’s on Sunday, October 28th.

Welcome, Peter!

Late last year, I lay on my deathbed.

I’d just finished my manuscript for Gideon’s Call and sent it off to Operation First Novel, a contest put on by the Christian Writers Guild that offers the winner a publishing contract and a check for $20,000.  But the contest was the last thing on my mind as my energy waned.

In less than a week, I’d gone from running fifteen miles every other day to barely able to rise from bed to use the bathroom. Devastating for a 35-year-old man with a wife and two youngsters.

I felt like a character in a book. ‘What can we do to make his life a nightmare?’ I ask myself when writing. Was God doing the same with me?

My wife took me to emergency care, where our family doctor practices. He couldn’t do much without blood tests, so seven vials later I was home, waiting to find out if I had cancer or diabetes. Both run in my family.

A firm belief has always been a part of me—everything happens for a reason. But I didn’t know why my health was falling apart. I’d always been active. My record is writing 10,000 words in a single day. It only took three years for me to get my history degree. I took care of my wife, who gets headaches at times, shuttled my son to soccer and daughter to ballet, held a full time job, and remained active in my church. I was valuable to God. He needed me.

But I didn’t need Him. I gave Him His due. Of course I did, He gave me the talent. But in the end, it was Peter Leavell I relied on, not Jesus.

Because of my drained energy, I was no good to my wife, my children, and my God. I’d failed them all. Watching my children worry about their father tortured me. But what could I do? My wife took them to their classes and sports. And writing was no longer an option, my brain turning to mush—a fog so deep I can’t remember many details. Panic attacks struck for many causes, mostly more than one voice or conversation at the same time. My muscles atrophied within a week and a half. And an odd sensation of heat swept over me, as if lava was boiling up from inside me.

I was useless.

As I searched the scriptures to find my lesson, I was guessing it would be about humility. I admitted I was a bit proud. But a verse came across my mind and stuck there. Hebrews 13:5. NIV. Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

And I realized at that moment, even though I offered Christ nothing, His arms were wrapped around me. He loved me even if all I could do for Him is love Him back. So I did. I loved him with my feeble heart. And I knew that even though I’d never thought I needed Him, His arms had been wrapped around me my entire life. It took this sickness to understand it.
Part II will be on Friday.

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. For entertainment, he reads historical books, where he finds ideas for new novels. Whenever he has a chance, he takes his wife and two homeschooled children on crazy but fun research trips. Learn more about Peter’s books, research, and family adventures www.peterleavell.comand on his Facebook page:

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