Join The Complicated Heart Book Launch Team!
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The Complicated Heart is for every woman who has ever wondered if her little-girl heart could heal.

Click HERE to Join the Launch Team!

In the summer of 1994, when I was 14, I moved in with mom.

In the fall of 1994 I discovered my mom was an alcoholic.

In the fall of 1994 I stared at a pink daisy razor and wondered if I could slice the life out of myself with it. My mom dared me to do it.

In the spring of 1996, at 16, I found out I was pregnant.

In the spring of 2001 I learned how to set boundaries.

In the fall of 2002 I learned to mourn the loss of a mother, even though she was still alive.

In the fall of 2008 my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cirrhosis of the liver (alcohol induced).

In the spring of 2016 I gently rubbed my mom’s head as her breath wound down and she entered the arms of Jesus. I told her I would tell our story.

On June 30th, 2018 I turned in the first draft manuscript of that story, The Complicated Heart: Loving Even When It Hurts.

On September 17, 2019, The Complicated Heart will be released to the world. And on September 18th, 2019 God’s providence and grace will be on full display in my heart because my daughter will be turning 14, the age I was when this book-story starts. Amazing grace indeed.

I’d be honored to have your help in sharing this story, this book.

Want to know more about The Complicated Heart book? Head HERE.

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To join the book launch team, head HERE.

Join the Launch Team Q & A

What does it mean to join a launch team?

It just means that you want to help me get the word out about The Complicated Heart.

Can everyone who applies be on the launch team?

We have a limited number of spots, so if you’re interested, please make sure to fill out the simple application clicking HEREThe first 100 verified/eligible people to apply will get a paperback copy of the book.

The call for launch team applicants goes public tomorrow!

How can I spread the word about a book I haven’t read?

Everyone on the launch team will get a copy of The Complicated Heart. The first 100 verified/eligible people to sign-up will get an Advanced Reader Copy of the book (that’s a fancy way of saying, it’s a real paperback book, but it’s considered a media copy, not the polished copy that will be on bookshelves - but it’s still the story). Everyone else will receive a digital copy.

But that’s not all.

As a launch team member, you will also receive:

Exclusive access to the The Complicated Heart Facebook Group where you can make some new friends, interact with me, and also have opportunities to win some fun prizes!

You’ll also get to personally ask me questions about the bookthe stories in it, and anything you’re still curious about after reading it (I always wish I could do that with authors after reading their memoirs!).

What is required of me if I join?

As a launch team member, you agree to:

1. Review the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads (copy and pasting is fine) within a week after release day.

2. Spread the word on social media and in person with family and friends.

3. Be an engaged member of the team by participating in the Facebook Group.

4. Have fun!

Click HERE to Join the Launch Team!

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Thank you.

Sarah Mae

To pre-order your copy of The Complicated Heart: Loving Even When It Hurts, just click on the retailer of your choice below.

AMAZON

BARNES & NOBLE

BAM!

IndieBound

LIFEWAY

Sarah Mae
What Pre-Ordering a Book Means for You and the Author

This morning as I was making pancakes, my husband walked into the kitchen and I said something to him that made perfect sense to me, and he said, “Baby, you’ve been having a conversation in your head for like 20 minutes and I just walked into it…what are we talking about?”

It’s true, I do that. I’ll have something on my mind and as though mid-sentence in my brain I’ll say it out loud as though he knows what I’ve been thinking about. Do you do this?

I think that’s how I’m starting this post. I realized that I haven’t blogged here in 10 months. 10 months! How did that happen? Instagram happened. I guess I use my blogging energy there. So here, I haven’t told you that I wrote a Bible Study that came out in June, or that I released a podcast, or that my new book, The Complicated Heart, is done and releases September 17th.

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I haven’t told you that I might homeschool my youngest again, or that we got a dog, or that my new favorite gets-me-sick-every-time obsession is Rainbow Twizzlers. But this post isn’t about those things. This is a post where even though I haven’t blogged much about my new book, I want to tell you why it’s important for you and me that you know the importance of pre-ordering a book.

But first, another story: I was sitting at the pool a week or so ago and my friend was asking about my book, and the topic of pre-orders came up. I think she must have asked me why it mattered if someone pre-ordered, and I told her, and she was all, “I had no idea! I would pre-order more books if I knew that.”

If she knew. Because she didn’t.

And so I thought of you all. And I thought about how I should tell you why pre-orders are important, even though this feels a little like a conversation you’re walking into mid-sentence.

Okay so first…

THE COMPLICATED HEART IS AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!

You can’t see me, but I’m grinning ear-to-ear and dancing in my heart. I’m basically a real-life emoji, feeling all the feels (I am an enneagram 4, so….). At the end of this post, you can read more about the book (please do).

Why Pre-Orders Are So Important to You and the Author (and a quick word on book price)

Amazon Stock (as in, supply, not Wall Street stuff)

Have you ever gone to order a book and it says, “Out of Stock, ships in 20 days” or something like that? It’s because there wasn’t enough demand for the book before launch, and Amazon orders for launch-week and beyond based on that demand.

When we released Desperate, this happened, Amazon ran out of stock during launch week (a very important week for authors). What a bummer to hear from people who were trying to order it and couldn’t get it!

So, if you’re excited to read a book, and you’re a Prime user or a Barnes & Noble member (free shipping FTW), please consider pre-ordering the book so your fellow readers don’t have to wait a month after launch to get it.

BONUS FOR YOU: If you pre-order and Amazon runs out, no matter for you! You will get the book on launch week no matter what!

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Pre-orders give a great jumpstart on word-of-mouth marketing because it gets all of us thinking about the book and telling other people about it, which is a major gift for authors. There is nothing like word-of-mouth recommendations or conversation about a book to build interest. It’s also helpful because as soon as you get your book on launch day, you’ll likely (hopefully) begin talking about it right away. When I get a book in the mail I’ve been waiting for, I get giddy over it and want to share it. I bet you do, too.

If you’re excited about a book, pre-order it. And share it. It’s a joy for the reader and the author.

Publishing Lists

Pre-orders are counted as first-week sales, which just means that it gives a book its best shot at hitting one of the many bestseller lists. Why does this matter, hitting a list? Visibility. The more a book gets out there, the more people pay attention to it, the more hands it will get into, and the more impact it will have.

If you think a book is good and important and worthy of sharing, pre-order it.

Book Stores - We Love You!

When you pre-order a book, and others pre-order a book, and ALL OF YOU PRE-ORDER A BOOK, it gets people talking, and when people talk about a book (word-of-mouth) and people get excited and pre-order it (demand) and book numbers add up (publishing lists), book stores take notice too. If you’re like me, you love book stores. You love walking the aisles and touching the books and being surrounded by hard-won words.

You love talking to your favorite independent bookstore owner about their favorite books or what’s new that they recommend. You love the comfy-chairs (Barnes & Noble, bring them back) and the coffee and the camaraderie. Me too.

I know there’s a tension between me telling you to pre-order online and also to love on your local bookstore, but the reality is, when you pre-order, wherever you pre-order, it helps all of us. If the word gets out, people will go to their local bookstores to get it.

A Word on a Book’s Price

My book retails for $16.99. I know that seems expensive, at least if you’re like me and your budget doesn’t allow for all the books you currently have on your wish list. I get it. But a couple of things:

First, that price will go down, and when you pre-order, you are guaranteed the lowest price. You do not pay $16.99. You will likely pay around 10 bucks.

Second, when you pre-order, you do not pay right away, you are only charged when the book ships.

Third, a good book is worth $16.99, because a good book has the potential to initiate change, to impact people and generations for good for years to come. The effect of a good book is priceless. Unless you’re broke, in which case, refer to “First.” :)

Here’s why I’m asking you to pre-order The Complicated Heart

Yes for the reasons above, but also because I believe the story will inspire change in you, in someone you know, and in the generations coming up after you.

So, what’s The Complicated Heart about?

It’s the story of how I learned to love and forgive my alcoholic mother, but really it’s about the truth that dysfunction does not have to be your destiny or your identity. Victory is always on the table. (You can tweet that if you’d like.)

If you’re struggling with a complicated or confusing, manipulative, tangled-up relationship, here are some of the questions your heart might be asking:

  • How do I forgive when the wound is still open?

  • How do I forgive someone who carelessly brushes aside my pain, who has caused such destruction, and who doesn’t show remorse?

  • How do I know when to stay and when to go?

  • Will I ever not feel so dang crazy?

If you’ve struggled with a difficult relationship, if you’ve felt torn-up and crazy and confused because of it, if you just want to know how to move forward and be okay, my story is for you.

And if not for you, for someone you know.

To pre-order The Complicated Heart, just click on one of the retailers below.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | LIFEWAY | INDIE BOUND | BAM!

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Happy pre-ordering!

SM

Sarah Mae Comments
People can’t manipulate you if you don’t let them

Recently when my youngest daughter found herself in a manipulative situation with a friend, there was an opportunity to learn and grow.

I was sitting in my living one afternoon when I heard the friend say to her, “If you don’t do this, I’m going to tell your mom,” and “If you don’t ______, I’m going to leave.”
The little girl was trying to manipulate my daughter, so once she left, I pulled my daughter aside and asked her about her friend’s threats. She shared what they were about, and we talked about how they made her feel and how to deal with them. I said to her, “The next time your friend comes to play, and she threatens to leave or tell on you, I want you to say, ‘I’m sorry you feel that way, but if you have to go or tell, you can do that.’”

My daughter is only nine, so I figured it would be a while before she felt confident enough to use this strategy — my goodness, I still struggle to use it in situations like that.

A week later, her friend came over to play again, and after she went home, my daughter came to me and said, “Mom! I did what you said, and it worked! She told me she was going to leave if I didn’t ______, and I said I was sorry she felt that way but that she could go if she really wanted to. She left, but a few minutes later, she came back and didn’t make any more threats!”

I was stunned that my nine-year-old handled the situation with such grace and fortitude. What a gift to have learned such a lifelong lesson at such a young age!

People can’t manipulate you if you don’t let them.

Read the whole article over at (in)courage today: For Those Who Struggle With a Manipulative Relationship

Love, Sarah Mae

Related: The Complicated Heart on Instagram

Sarah Mae Comments
My Journey with Anxiety and Depression and Why I Choose to Take Medication

It’s been awhile since I’ve written here. In fact, it occurred to me today that I haven’t written a new post here since before updating my blog look.

Now seems like a good time to write since I keep getting emails from some of you who are experiencing anxiety and depression and the sometimes stigma that comes along with considering taking medication to help.

Specifically, I’ve been asked to share my journey with anxiety and the choice to try medication.

First, I want to tell you how I felt before going on medication: (excerpted from an (in)courage article I wrote in October 2017):

It feels like being stuck in a glass box. You can see out but you can’t get out.

It feels like you have to cook a feast for 50 people while also cleaning your house and schooling your kids, and you have less than a day to do it (but really you have nothing to do).

It feels like drowning and trying to swim is just too hard.

It feels like rage under your skin.

It feels like fog.

It feels like loneliness when you’re surrounded by people.

It feels like being in a slow-motion dream.

Everyone else seems so normal. Everyone seems to have energy. Everyone seems to be able to get dressed and do things and take pleasure in air and people and pumpkins.

I am tired. I am so tired and I am sad and I feel overwhelmed nearly all the time for no reason. My body crawls with anxiety, in the middle of the night, during the day.

I am jealous of people who seem to be able to function well and get things done and enjoy life.

I am tired. I have tried to claw out of this box, this thing that has me under it. But I can’t. I can’t fix this weary soul.

“God, help.”

I don’t know when it got so bad, and honestly, I thought what I was experiencing was depression. When I went to talk to my doctor and after he evaluated me, he said I was experiencing anxiety which usually leads to depression; they’re like sisters, he told me. At first I was confused by a diagnosis of anxiety because I’m such a chill person. I don’t tend to overly worry, and I really do trust God with everything, albeit imperfectly. But the more I thought about it, the more I could see it.

As one example, I would wake up in the middle of the night, several nights a week, with a feeling of steel moving up my shoulders and neck accompanied by overwhelming feelings of not doing enough for my kids. I felt guilty about anything that didn’t involve me being a good mom, a perfect mom, doing all the right things. My husband constantly assured me I was a good mother, but I couldn’t hear it, I just thought he didn’t understand.

I felt tired most of the time, but I’d had my blood checked, my thyroid checked, and a physical, and all was normal. I had only two or three good days in a whole month, meaning, I felt motivated and awake enough to get stuff done, whether that was housework or writing.

I for sure didn’t want to see anyone, even my good friends, unless it was a good day. I had convinced myself that I, the extrovert, had become an introvert. I even skipped a fourth of July fireworks celebration with my family opting instead to stay home and be alone.

There were traces of anxiety and depression at different times in my life, but the last few years I noticed it getting worse. I was convinced I just needed to eat healthier, take supplements, workout, and read my Bible more consistently.

My husband had begun making comments like, “You’ve lost your fun.” One dear friend who I vacationed with didn’t understand why I kept going back to my room to sleep instead of hanging out with everyone. It was like pulling teeth to convince me to have fun. It wasn’t fun. Nothing was fun. Just leave me alone.

I had cried out to God several times over the years about my depression, asking Him to help me. And He did. He surrounded me with love and tenderness and He used friends to encourage me and lift me up. I felt held even in the darkest times. I’ve been open to dealing with and healing root wounds and sin and repenting when need be. But even my happiest times, my gratefulness (I am so grateful for my life and my family), the darkness just lingered. Often it felt like a heavy blanket over me that I couldn’t get out from under.

I had concluded that this was just a burden, my “thorn”, that I would have to live with. I decided that I would bear it with praise in the pain. One day, when the sadness covered every inch of my soul, I play worship music and just cried and thanked God that He was with me in it. I wasn’t alone.

Deciding on Medication

I had never, ever considered taking medication for my depression.

The idea of putting something into my body that could potentially cause cancer or a heart attack or some other awful side-effect made me put the idea on the “no way” list. Plus, I thought the only people who needed medication were people who were really bad off, or suicidal or something. I was not suicidal.

In October 2017 my husband and I decided to put our children in school after homeschooling for ten years. That’s a whole other story. Once they were gone and I was home alone during the day, the depression got worse. I would cry on and off for hours, not understanding why. And then feelings of worthlessness would set in because I wasn’t working, feeling unable to write or do anything of purpose. My kids going to school was like a Band-Aid being ripped off; somehow, they kept the wound covered.

I didn’t want to tell my husband how I felt because he was a very “pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps” kind of guy, and I just felt stupid. I didn’t even give him an opportunity to be anything other than what I perceived him to be. I talked to friends instead.

My friends were so kind and supportive, and a couple of them mentioned to me that they had used medication for depression and it helped. I had no idea. Then I read a blog post where Liz Curis Higgs talked about her depression and how she was taking medication to help. She writes: "If your body needs more serotonin, then swallow your pride and swallow the pill your doctor prescribes for you. Don’t let the fear of “What will people think?” keep you from getting the help you need." 

All of a sudden, the idea of medication began lingering in my brain, and the fears of side-effects faded.

I told one friend, “I think I’m only considering medication because I’m writing a book and I need to be able to get it done. If I weren’t writing, I would just live like this.”

She replied so wisely, “But Sarah, maybe God is saying you don’t have to live like this.”

Maybe you don’t have to live like this. 

Maybe I could live in the light. Maybe I don’t have to suffer in the dark. Maybe, just maybe, something is a little whack with my brain chemistry, but I don’t have to live with it.

That’s the day I called up a doctor she recommended, a Christian man at a Christian medical practice, who was kind and sympathetic, and who told me there was nothing wrong with getting help. I left there with a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication.

I still hadn’t told my husband.

Instead of telling him, I treated him unkindly, being short with him and angry that I couldn’t tell him. Really, I was feeling shame and taking it out on him.

Being a good and kind man, one morning he asked me to go to breakfast with him because he wanted to talk. I told him I didn’t have time. “Please” he said.

I agreed, and over a restaurant breakfast, and with tears in my eyes and unfounded fear in my heart, I told him about my depression and anxiety and the meds I had just picked up.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” He asked.

“I was afraid you’d think I was stupid.”

“You never even gave me a chance.”

He was right. I didn’t give him a chance, yet here he was initiating a breakfast to set things right. He held my hand and said, “If you need to take medication, take medication.”

And now I do, without shame, and it has helped.

The Meds are Working

“THE MEDS ARE WORKING!” I typed in all caps in an Instagram post.

I sleep through the night and I want to do things again. I don’t feel as tired as I used to feel. I’d say my anxiety is all but gone, and the depression, while showing up subtly at times, is also nearly gone.

I am functioning much better than before, and I am so grateful that there was help for me. I would have lived with my anxiety and depression before, but now I know I don’t have to live with it, and I am praising God for medical advances and medication that helps wonky brains out.

Many of you know that I’ve been working on a book about the traumatic relationship I had with my mom. Well one of the things I did for the book was read through my mom’s journals and I even interviewed one of her ex-husbands. It became so evident that my mom suffered from depression and anxiety, and I think that somehow her brain chemicals went right on down the line to me. And they might continue on to my kids, in which I will know how to acknowledge it, talk with them about, and be open to all the help that’s available.

Our brains are subject to the fallenness of this world, and sometimes the redeeming is found in medical help, as we all know with all sorts of various medical issues and problems so many face. Medical intervention is a gift.

If you are depressed or experiencing overwhelming anxiety, I would encourage you to be open and honest with safe, kind people, and be willing to talk to a doctor. You may not need medication, and I’m not advocating that everyone with depression and anxiety get some. I’m saying, be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, have Him search your heart and see what’s going on and where He you might need healing or repentance, and if He leads you toward the option of medication, you have no need to fear. He is with you and ultimately, in control of every bit of your body and mind. You do not need to be afraid.

Well, wow, that turned into a much longer post than I planned. I hope this is helpful for those of you who struggle and for those of you who know people who struggle with depression and anxiety.

If you have questions, I’ll do my best to answer them, but know that ultimately, I’m going to point you to the guiding of the Spirit and to a wise, kind doctor.

With love,

Sarah Mae

Sarah Mae Comments
Give Yourself Time

My youngest daughter is so much like me.

There’s this fieriness to her, this loudness, this tenderness, this bent toward wanting to scream and then cry when someone wrongs her; she is so dear and so thoughtful and so… worried. She’s worried she won’t be able to control her temper, find peace in conflict, or just breathe long enough to not yell at her brother when he irritates her. She thinks she’ll never change.

“Oh sweet Caroline, you are so much like me,” I tell her as we drive, just the two of us.

“No, mom, not really.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because you know how to control your anger and I don’t. I’ll never be able to.”

And there it is, the lie that she’ll never change, the start of a downward thought process that can lead to despair if not corrected in truth.

“Care, how old are you?”

“Eight.”

“Well, I’m 37, so I’ve got some years on you, and through those years God has helped me to have self-control, and He will help you too, but give yourself time to grow and learn and surrender and wait as He helps you. You can have self-control. Here, I’ll share some of what I’ve learned…”

Read the rest over at (in)courage today!

SM

Sarah Mae