It was on the worst day of her life, in May of 1997 - when the author's arms hung paralyzed at her sides, when she howled like a wild animal because of the nerve pain, when she couldn't lift her arms to wipe her hair-and-mucus-plastered face - that she begged God to give her a job, to give her purpose. She was only 47. Around her, life went on - family graduations, weddings, funerals... She tried her best to keep up with social traffic, and with her husband's help, she looked presentable to the public.
She didn't know it then, but her pain was giving birth. The writer in her, being squeezed and pushed, was slowly coming through the birth canal of authorhood.
This debut collection consists of (She has to count twice because she can't believe how many.) 61 thoughts and feelings that she memorized on her nature-trail prayer walks, and later dictated into an old cassette recorder. (She couldn't hold a pencil.) This work spans a 13-year period of the sufferer's life who searched for a cure, visited many doctors, agonized through various modalities of physical therapy, and eventually agreed to try surgery with a meager 13% chance of recovery. Post-surgery, she is fortunate. Though she still has challenges, she thanks God for resurrecting her dead arms.
Born from the hellish pain of Brachial Plexopathy paralysis, the poems & artwork will make you tear up and chuckle. The author cries. She stomps her feet. Then she puts one foot in front of the other. And moves forward. Inspirational!
Her full name fills a mouth - Elizabeth Helen Rose Niemoczynski Schaarschmidt. Hence the pruned name for publishing. Elizabeth is a bi-lingual, born of Polish refugee Nazi and Gulag labor camp survivors in 1948. As a youngster she lived in the Polish section of South Bronx, attending St. Adalbert's Catholic School till 5th grade. When the family of 8 moved to Oxford, NJ, she went to White Township Elementary and Phillipsburg Catholic High School. In 1967 she met the love of her life on a blind date -- then Corporal Allen Schaarschmidt, just back from Vietnam, a USMC double-purple heart almost-amputee who walked with a cane. They married, had two beautiful daughters and a personal experience with God. After Allen graduated from United Wesleyan College, in theology, they founded Blessed Hope Church of the Nazarene in Phillipsburg NJ where Allen became the pastor. The year was 1980. Elizabeth went on to study voice and piano at United Wesleyan and became the church's Music Director. Years later, when she could no longer play the piano, she accepted her husband's invitation to be Ministry Director. Elizabeth is a devoted Pastor's wife, loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She is a dedicated and much-loved ministry, youth and worship leader. Her Sunday morning reflections, spiritual lessons taken from everyday life, stir up both laughter and tears. Her life scripture is Psalm 84:5-7 "Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka [tears], they make it a place of springs...They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion." To her pain, her daily companion, she says Thank You. She often drinks cold coffee because she's too busy prattling about, dictating thoughts into her laptop, working on her purpose, shoving pain out of the way.