About the Book
Author: Martha McLaughlin
Release Date: January 31, 2020
“Just because you’re set apart doesn’t mean you’re set aside.”
Martha McLaughlin and her husband served as international missionaries for 10 years, ministering in a variety of ways, including helping to identify unreached people groups. When her physical breakdown forced them to return to the USA, she feared it was the end of her missionary journey. But instead, God told her, “Just because you’re set apart doesn’t mean you’re set aside.”
Today Martha feels called to try to help a different kind of unreached people group: the isolated sufferers of toxic illness, a growing but largely invisible population. Yet, like the canaries once used in coal mines to detect poisonous gases, they are a wake-up call to the effects of the thousands of chemicals used daily in our modern society.
Expertly researched and written, Chemicals and Christians: Compassion and Caution is loaded with valuable information and biblical counsel for hope and avoiding harm in our increasingly chemicalized environment. It provides steps for biblical health management, offers practical resources, and shows Christians ways to help.
Click HERE to get your copy!
About the Author
A professional writer since 2006 with a BS and an MEd, Martha has had more than 500 articles published. Alongside her husband, she served as a missionary in South America from the late ‘80s through the late ‘90s. A widow with two young adult sons, Martha lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and enjoys outdoor activities.
More from Martha
When people talk about taking the road less traveled, the implication is generally that there was a choice involved. I’ve made choices at times to wander down lonely trails, such as deciding to become a missionary and move to a country in crisis. Water and electricity were rationed, grocery store shelves were empty, a cholera epidemic raged, the president disbanded congress, inflation hit 10,000 percent, and active terrorist bombing shook our house on a regular basis. Most mission organizations and all non-essential embassy personnel left the country and those of us who chose to stay found ourselves on a very sparsely populated path.
At other times in my life I’ve ended up on roads less traveled not by any decision of my own, but by circumstances beyond my control. During my decade of missionary service, my health steadily declined and I was forced to return to the States to look for help. It wasn’t easy to find, but I eventually learned that Lyme disease, mold exposure, and the chemical onslaughts of a third-world megacity had overwhelmed my detoxification system. I discovered I could climb out of bed and function if I avoided anything that would make my full metaphorical barrel of toxins overflow. I also discovered that was much easier to do in theory than in practice because of the overabundance of untested and unregulated chemicals in common, everyday products.
My health condition introduced me to a world of chemically sensitive people, all of us living isolated lives, unable to safely access most medical care, shopping, schools, and churches. I’d been deeply saddened at having to leave the mission field and wondered why God had removed my ability to serve, but not the sense of call I felt. I gradually began to understand that I still had a calling, but to a different population. I felt God asking me to speak for people who are generally unseen and unheard. I want the Christian church to not only see us, but to find ways to open their doors and provide the spiritual nourishment and connection we so desperately need.
As I was discovering the needs of the chemically sensitive population, I was also learning how quickly it’s growing and how easy it is for anyone to join. I began to understand the connection between everyday chemical exposures and common mental and physical health conditions and symptoms. So the other side of my call is to warn healthy people, or those who haven’t yet connected their chemical exposures and health complaints, that it’s wise to be careful – that being a good steward of the physical body doesn’t just mean getting eating, sleeping, exercise, and relaxation right, but that avoiding toxins is a huge piece of the puzzle.
I’m not someone who always had a burning desire to write a book. I wrote it because I had something to say and a conviction that God wanted me to say it. I want healthy people to stay that way, and I want chemically ill people to be seen, heard, and reached with God’s love. My deep desire is for Chemicals and Christians to help save people from unnecessary suffering.
When/how did you decide to become a writer?
I grew up in a family that valued words. Both of my grandmothers were college English professors and my father was a pastor who consistently preached beautiful, lyrical sermons. I started writing poetry almost as soon as I could hold a pencil. I still have a copy of a poem/prayer I wrote as a young child in which I thanked God for sleet. I needed a rhyme for “people that we meet.”
I studied English in college and grad school, but unlike most of my fellow students I never had any desire to write a book. I did enjoy writing poetry and essays, and after I married, my husband and I wrote music together.
When my health forced us to return to the States after serving as missionaries, I needed something I could do from home. I began writing Continuing Education Unit courses, and then online articles. I was comfortable keeping my writing projects short and still had no inclination at all to write a book. Bit by bit, however, I began to realize I had something to say and to become convinced God wanted me to say it. Choosing to write a book felt a lot like choosing to become a missionary: less of a self-directed decision and more of a saying, “OK, God.”
Who was/is your biggest inspiration?
I’m deeply inspired by many of the chemically ill Christians I’ve met on my health journey. Their suffering is very real, but they hold tightly to their faith and encourage me with their examples of Christlike character in the midst of very challenging circumstances. I’m also inspired by the healthy friends and family members who support those of us with chemical illness, especially the spouses who take their “in sickness and in health” vows seriously.
Describe your book in five words.
Be careful with common products.
Do you have a favorite or special place to write?
I write outside on my patio as much as I can. There’s a lot of wildlife in my neighborhood, so sometimes deer or rabbits will join me, and I almost always have a chorus of birds to listen to. I’m outside now, and I have a butterfly and hawk in view.
Do you prefer traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks?
I don’t listen to many audiobooks, but whether to purchase a book in traditional or ebook format is a question I constantly debate with myself. There are certainly pros and cons to each, and they seem evenly enough balanced that I generally end up making purchase decisions based on price. When price isn’t a consideration, I often find myself buying print versions of nonfiction books and choosing the ebook format for novels.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
The most helpful advice I got and would pass on was from a fellow author who counseled me to keep my book title clear and simple. She told me that sales from one of her books were lagging, but took off again when she simply changed the title to something plain and straightforward. By the time I talked to her I had already experimented with three or four titles, all of which were attempts to be clever or artsy, but none of which clearly communicated what the book was about. I often download Kindle books when they’re offered for free and don’t get around to reading them for a while. Thinking about the frustration I sometimes feel at seeing titles in my list that give no clue to the books’ contents convinced me she was right. Readers may not know exactly what Chemicals and Christians is going to be about, but they can at least guess that it’s not going to be about flowers and Buddhists.
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