Taking Care of Your Soul

Edie Melson: Taking Care of Your Soul

Dr. Craig von BuseckBy Dr. Craig von Buseck13 Minutes

Craig von Buseck: Why did you create a book series on soul care?

Edie Melson: My dad battled Alzheimer’s for 10 years and the last six months to a year was just horrific, like any Alzheimer’s end is. My mother didn’t turn any of his care over until she was forced to. So my sister and I were not only trying to do respite care for Daddy, we were trying to take care of Mother. We were trying to take care of our families. I had book deadlines. I had a book due two days after my Dad passed away. It was insane. I literally felt like I had poured everything out and still there was so much. And so I just started crying and I said, you got to fill me up because I don’t have time for a deep Bible study. I can barely keep my eyes open at night to read a passage. I’m just being brutally honest. I was too busy.

CVB: Life gets that way sometimes and we have no control over it.

Edie: Yeah. Sometimes we’re called into the chaos and we still have to rely on him. And so God basically whispered in my soul, “five minutes.” He said, “You’ve got lots of five minutes, though not all at once.” So I began carrying a journal and a sketchbook and I would pull them out and write out a passage of Scripture or a thought that God loves me. It didn’t have to be Scripture – it was just some connection to God. And maybe I would draw a little flower or doodle something or make a line across something. I found that as I did that sort of mindless doodling, I was focusing on God. So I was meditating on His word through creativity.

Basically, God brought me through creativity.

CVB: Wow.

Edie: It was really the idea that when you’re in a crisis, or in a very stressful situation, you have less time and less energy, but you need God more. And so that’s what these books answer.

CVB: So the first one is for the weary – Soul Care When You’re Weary: Embracing God, Exploring Creativity.

Edie: Yes.

CVB: Why did you choose the weary first?

Edie: Because I was weary first.

CVB: So it was out of your experience.

Edie: It really was out of my experience. Yeah. I come from a family of creatives. My mother is an internationally-known water colorist and a mixed media artist. She just had a painting accepted in Wales at an international, experimental art show at the age of 84.

CVB: That’s awesome.

Edie: My dad’s first career was as a classically trained musician. He was in the Dallas symphony for years. He was a professor at SMU.

CVB: What did he play?

Edie: All woodwinds. And his second career was as a landscape photographer. He was trained by Ansell Adams.

CVB: Oh my goodness. Wow. Okay, there is some artistic background there.

Edie: So I had this creative side, but I had always kind of run from anything except the writing. And God used that and sort of poured into my soul by expanding that. I am not an artist. I am a creative. I do photography and stuff, but I’m not like my mother – she’s an artist. I’m not that kind of an artist.

CVB: So you’re not a fine artist in that kind of sense.

Edie: Yes.

CVB: Because I’m not sure that I would buy that you’re creative, but not an artist. I think you’re an artist. You’re just not a fine artist. Because my father was a world-class portrait painter and I can’t do stick figures. But I can write and speak. So I’m a different kind of artist.

Edie: Yes. It’s like, my mother would tell me, “You paint with words.” So I have that confirmation. But what God did by having me do some of the artistic things – the doodling, the working with colors and stuff like that – was that He taught me that it didn’t have to be perfect to bring me joy.

CVB: That’s good!

Edie: I was able to translate that to the rest of my life. I don’t have to do these things perfectly to let God work through me, or to bring me joy.

CVB: Because perfection is not reality.

Edie: No, absolutely not. But a lot of the exercises in the book are things like going outside, sitting down, and looking around. What miniature thing do you see? Do you see God’s colors in this? Do you see His paintbrush doing this? Or look up at the sky? If you’re in a hospital waiting room, the walls close in on you. But you can walk out into the courtyard and look up and see God’s creation and take a deep breath. And so that’s what this book does – it reminds you to do these small things.

CVB: Yeah, that’s cool. Like I said, my Dad was an artist. He was a portrait painter. We always went to art shows. He was a graphic designer. He was a toy designer for Marx toys. So your experience is very much my experience as well. So you went on to do a second book, right?

Edie: Yeah. After I did the first book, I had a lot of writers who said, “Okay, we need help.” The second book, Soul Care for Writers is specifically written for the struggles of writers. It deals with fighting fear, banishing blocks, defeating doubt, conquering comparison, and fortifying your faith. These are the things that all writers face. You don’t have to be a beginning writer to deal with that stuff, and sometimes it overwhelms us. So the book addresses the fears we have, then the fortifying faith piece solidifies where we go to fix all this.

And then I have three more coming out in the series: Soul Care When You’re Grieving, Soul Care When the Nest is Empty, and Soul Care for Creatives.

CVB: Those next two are both grief-related. As a former chaplain and a minister, I’ve seen a lot of grieving. Part of the problem faced by those who have experienced loss is that some people think that you have to grieve the way they think you should grieve.

Edie: Yeah. And I really want to avoid that. What I want to do is give people the opportunity to sort of camp out and explore what they’re experiencing. I want them to be able to lean into the memories while they’re leaning into God, rather than setting any expectations for what this is about. Because we all grieve differently.

As an introvert, I grieve very differently than a friend of mine who is an extrovert.

CVB: Absolutely.

Edie: She wants to cry on everybody’s shoulder while I want everybody to go away and let me cry in the corner. Both ways are really legitimate. So that will be part of what this book talks about. Grief for you looks different than grief for me and that’s okay. We all have to find out how God is going to lead us through this.

One of the things I’m going to do is ask is: “What is a memory that you have at this point?” A lot of times when you’re grieving, you’re so caught up in missing that person that you don’t remember important things.

CVB: It’s interesting. During my chaplain training, we learned that not everyone goes through the stages of grief in the same way. It’s not cookie cutter like some have tried to make it out to be. Now we do go through the stages, but it’s not automatic, or even in the same order. Sometimes the stages even repeat.

Edie: Sometimes you do this one for a while, and then you do this one. Then you’re here and there. One of the chapters will deal with expectations, because I think part of the soul care is releasing those expectations.

CVB: What do you hope people will take from these soul care books?

Edie: The bottom line for me is that God doesn’t always call us into a season of rest. Sometimes he calls us into a season of busyness and chaos. If you look at the ministry of Christ, you see that Jesus walked into chaos and brought peace. We have the Holy Spirit and we have the power of God in us. We can walk through those times of chaos and we can bring peace with us that not only calms us and gives us the soul care we need, but when we care for our souls, by focusing on God and focusing on Jesus, then we affect everyone around us.

CVB: That is eloquent. I love that. You know what I love about all that? There’s no condemnation in what you are saying. There are times in life where you’re just so busy. You feel like, “I really should get in that half hour Bible study first thing in the morning and then pray for another half hour.” But how do I fit it all in? And the Lord is saying through you, it’s a relationship. Fit it in when you have time.

Edie: He’s sitting there with his lap empty and his arms open wide waiting for those five minute moments. We just feel like that if we can’t give him an hour, we shouldn’t bother.

Order your copy of Soul Care When You’re Weary by Edie Melson

Order your copy of Soul Care for Writers by Edie Melson