Writing, Fighting Trafficking, Addison’s Disease, and Kimberly Rae!

This week I’m heading to Realm Makers!  It’s a Christian, speculative fiction, writing convention that is being held, this year, in Reno, Nevada!  I’m taking the five month old, and will be gone from Wednesday – Sunday, so I’d appreciate your prayers!  Prayers for good health, good energy, good fellowship, good learning, and a God-glorifying attitude would be much appreciated.  ❤  Secretly, I’m super nervous!

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to reach out to other authors who are similar to me – same heart for counseling believers, similar writing style and genre, or a hero of sorts to me. ❤  I’ve been in contact with four ladies who write everything from historical fiction to alternative drama to psychological thrillers to clean romance. It’s my hope that if you like these ladies’ books, you’ll like mine and vice versa!  🙂

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Today, it’s an immense pleasure to introduce you to Kimberly Rae! She wrote my very favorite series of the year – and maybe of all time – the Broken Series!  The story involves members of a church all dealing with abuse, anti-trafficking, and saving women from prostitution.  But the best part is that they are so real and relatable.  They are Every Church, and 5 Shreddedevery Christian should read these books!  ❤

 

I asked Kimberly some questions and she graciously replied!

Me: Here at BlondeRJ, we’re all about Myers-Briggs types.  Do you know your personality type?  If not, are you an extrovert or introvert?  

Kimberly: Through talking to you, RJ, we figured out my type!  I’m an INFJ (explanation here).

People see me as an extrovert but I am actually an introvert. I’m very nervous around strangers and need time by myself to recharge. One odd thing about me is that I enjoy speaking to huge crowds, but get very uncomfortable in small groups.

Me: I adore INFJs!  I’m even raising one.  😉 What first inspired you to help and write about trafficked women and victims?

Kimberly: When I first had to come back to the US, I wanted some way to stay involved but wasn’t sure how. When I started considering writing a novel, I tossed around some ideas but didn’t know quite what to focus on. I was talking with my mom one day and she said, “If 1 Stolen Womanyou could write about anything, what would you write about?” By the end of the day, I think I had three chapters of Stolen Woman written. It was the book I felt I was meant to write – it combined things I care deeply about: fighting trafficking, missions, and women knowing their worth in Christ. Stolen Woman is still my best-selling book out of all of them. I love how God is using it!

Me: I still haven’t read Stolen Woman, and I know I need to remedy that right away!  You said, “Coming back to the US…” How many different places have you lived, and what is your favorite?

Kimberly: I’ve lived in several states in the US, but overseas is Bangladesh, Uganda, Kosovo and rickshawIndonesia. The most interesting by far was Bangladesh. There are over 100 million people in a tiny country about the size of Michigan! It was creative chaos, and their love for bright colors and loud noises and super spicy food just was so fun for me at age twenty-two, fresh out of college and ready to experience the world. I remember being in a rickshaw one day when a riot broke out in the road in front of me, and I thought, “If I knew I was going to live through this, it would be really exciting!” I got to wear beautifulmarket in Thailand shalwar kameez outfits, experience their amazing gift of hospitality, and I even ate cow brains!

Me: That’s amazing!  And you’ve had quite the trials yourself.  ❤  Can you tell us about what illnesses you struggle with on a daily basis and how God has helped your faith through them?

Kimberly: I have Addison’s disease, asthma, hypoglycemia and a rare condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. My day is very structured with specific diet requirements, medication, trying to deal with chronic pain, and responding to symptoms, etc. Like 90% of people with chronic illness, I often “don’t look sick,” so have to be careful about not doing too much to try to keep up with healthier people out of a sense of expectation by them or myself. I’ve taken up a beautiful verse from 1 Corinthians 8:12 that says the gift is accepted according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. God has DIGITAL CAMERAlimited me physically, so I am not expected to do what a person with more physical resources can do (just like finances and everything else – God is the provider, and He asks us to give back out of what He has provided, no more, no less).

I used to care very much about doing a lot, and realized I was finding my worth in how much I got done rather than in Christ’s value for me. Now God has taken away my ability to “compete” in that way (we women are pretty bad about competing with each other, aren’t we?) and now He is transforming me (sometimes kicking and screaming, I admit) into a representative of His beautiful truth that our worth is not in what we do or how much we do, but in Him and His love for us. If we can be radiant in that love, and not need to prove ourselves, oh, how we could change the world! We’d stop being so intimidating, so stressed, and so resentful, and instead shine beautiful and strong and at peace. A woman living full of joy and peace is a treasure. I want to be like that.

I won’t lie. Living with disease and health problems and daily pain is hard. Some people tell me that if I just had enough faith, it would all go away. I’ve learned over the years that it takes a lot more faith to trust God when He doesn’t “fix” things as when He does. My need for Him is constant, and living with a body that betrays me keeps my mind on the eternal, which isn’t a bad thing. In every difficulty is a gift—if you look for it, you’ll find it. God is there, offering the peace that passes all understanding, and the joy that is beyond current circumstances. There is purpose in what we go through, and for all I have learned of my God, and all He has taken away and given in replacement, I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s.

Well, that wasn’t brief. Sorry! That’s why I’ve got a series of books on living joyfully despite chronic illness—there’s a lot to say!

Me: What a beautiful, beautiful testimony, Kimberly!  And you seem to totally understand human nature and the heart, as evidenced by your writing.  ❤  Speaking of which, I bought the “You’re Sick, They’re Not” book you wrote and look forward to reading it! But, if we’re talking the books I HAVE read, which character in The Broken series is your favorite?

Kimberly: Candy and Jean, but for different reasons. I love Jean because she has so much potential and value inside her, but she doesn’t know it, and I love how she grows and blooms and gets set free. Candy is my favorite because she’s so fun and so real. Her character is actually based on someone I know! To this day, sometimes I’m in church and I imagine her walking down the aisle with all her stuff dropping behind her, and I want to crack up right there during the service. =)

Me: I looooooove Candy.  She’s my favorite too.  She has the most spunk EVER. 😀 What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said about your books?

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Kimberly: Can I pick two?

Me: Absolutely!

Kimberly: A lady told me once that her pastor’s wife said Francine Rivers used to be her favorite author, but now I am. Francine Rivers is MY favorite author, so that was huge, huge, huge to me.

Back in the beginning, after Stolen Woman came out, a teenager sent me an email that said, “Your book changed my life.” That has stayed with me and meant so much all these years.

Me: You are WAY better than Francine Rivers, and it’s my blog, so I can say so.  😀 

Last, and definitely not least, how do you think we, as Christians, can safely get more involved to help trafficking/sex/drug victims and prostitutes?

Kimberly: It is a great time to be fighting human trafficking and exploitation! There are over 2,000 groups actively involved around the world. Some of my favorites are:

Rahab’s Rope (Mumbai, India) – www.rahabsrope.com

Women At Risk Int. (worldwide) – www.warinternational.org

Tiny Hands (Nepal) – www.tinyhands.org

There are lots more sites and statistics and ways to get involved on my website. If you go to www.kimberlyrae.com, on the right sidebar you’ll see posts about fighting trafficking internationally, nationally, and even locally. There are so many ways to make a difference. Feel free to use to the “contact” button on the site if you have questions or need ideas – I’d love to help you change the world!

Me: Thank you, thank you, dear Kimberly!

 

 

 

 

 

The Boy Who is Forced to Save the World

I’m so excited to announce that I have the most amazing privilege of being a part of The Fellowship of Fantasy‘s second anthology!  Last year they did one on “Fantastic Creatures,” and this year on fantasy heroes!

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I have written a short story about an eleven-year-old telepathic and telekinetic genius named Gemini (or “Gem”), who was born to be the next “Omnicron” (think Avatar, the Last Airbender in a way) to use his mental abilities to hold the planet together during the next core earthquake that could rip it apart.

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Gem is INTP, precocious, emotionally shattered (Can you imagine reading minds your whole life?!) and cynical.

Meet our main character: Soleil Punicello. She is a twenty-five-year-old who is employed to nurture and protect Gem’s fragile psyche.

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Can she help him prepare for a role that could kill him?

Gem is like a mix between The Giver, Ender’s Game, and Lucent Sylph. If you like those style of stories, you should love Gem!

To read my story, and 27 other stories by my dear, intelligent, gifted author friends in this anthology FOR FREE, click here!  Enjoy!  And please leave us a review!  Let us know which stories were your favorites!

(Disclaimer: I have not read the other stories in this anthology, although each of the authors had to abide by the rules of “clean reading” material laid out in the group.  We each went through a rigorous judging – “Gem” passed with flying colors and made a judge cry!  WOOT – and were deemed acceptable for the anthology, but I can’t warn of any content myself. I have read half of the previous anthology and enjoyed it!)

Reasons My Children Get Out of Bed at Night

I have been keeping track of their excuses for a solid year now – writing them down and chuckling insanely to myself at yet another doozy. You have to laugh or you’d cry, right?

So here are a few of my favorites:

The list of why my children get out of bed at night..

My feet fell asleep.

Where’s my car?

Isn’t this stuffed animal cute?

Is this doll mine or my sister’s?

My eye is really itchy.

I bumped my ear walking around my room.

My bottom itches.

My legs fell asleep.

I want to change my doll’s name to Isabelle.

I keep feeling the bed move.

My sister kneed me in the back.

Can I eat what you’re eating?

We want to get our baby dolls.

My sister peed on my stuffed animal.

I had to tell you I went to the bathroom three times.

We were measuring ourselves, and I think my sister is taller than I am.

We were doing knock-knock jokes and my sister mentioned kidnapping and now we’re scared.

Can we wear all of this underwear?

I can’t find Teddy.

I saw the suitcase move.

I went poop!

We can’t find our blanket.

I have hiccups.

My tongue has a bump.

Where’s my ring?

What are you watching on TV?

And, last but not least, the finally honest, blunt approach: 

It’s boring upstairs.

 

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Threadbare

12232782_539219216245779_6251484058513023387_oToday we have authoress Bethany A. Jennings, professional editor, creator of the popular Twitter game #WIPjoy, and one of my very best friends!  (That last part is most important, of course.)  She got her start editing by practicing on my books, and MAN is she good.  She has edited ALL of my books (which you can find here!) except Dashwood Avenue and Angel-Lover, which were written in the dark, sad pre-Bethany-as-bestie period of my life.  *wink*  She says her favorite book of mine is my free short story, Lucent Sylph, because of the “symbolism and beautiful themes of love and sacrifice.”  ❤  (She did a great job editing that one too!) You can find her editing services here: http://simmeringmind.com/editing-services/

But finally this talented editor and beautiful friend of mine got to publish her own short story!  This beautiful, fantastic little tale is full of loss, hope, excitement, and sacrifice, and I highly, highly recommend it.  Get your own copy of Threadbare today for only a buck!

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Premise: What happens when your gift turns against you?

All her life Bess has known the magic streams around her, waves of power she can draw from to wield the gift of magical threads. Now the youngest member of a team of Anchors, she helps protect the city streets from Drifters—energy thieves who prey on the life force of ordinary humans.

But when a battle leaves Bess’s threads in an irreparable tangle, she is faced with an agonizing choice: sever her threads and lose her magic forever—or be slowly consumed by her own power.

Now for a fun interview with Bethany!

1. Who was your very first imaginary friend as a child?

I don’t remember the ones I had as a young child (if any), but as older kids my sister and I invented “imaginary boyfriends” for ourselves. (Here’s hoping she doesn’t come after me for admitting this online! Haha!) Mine was Mark, hers was Gilbert – and Mark and Gilbert apparently existed purely to make invisible mischief (and occasionally dance with us). We used to pretend they were riding in the back of my dad’s truck, or climbing on rooftops – all kinds of crazy antics we narrated to amuse ourselves during boring lulls in traffic or dull days.

2. Who is your favorite artist?

Oooooh, that’s hard, because I love so many! Of historical artists, I love the pre-Raphaelites, but don’t have a single favorite – although my favorite painting is The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse, which is special to me because I memorized the Lady of Shalott by Tennyson in school as a teen. Of contemporary artists online, I really like Sandara (a DeviantArt artist).

3. If you could have any magic ability what would it be? 

Teleportation! I’d love to be able to travel anywhere in the blink of an eye and visit loved ones near and far without the time and expense of regular travel. Also, I could get after my kids faster. 😛

4. Who is your writing hero and who is your spiritual hero?

Can I say C.S. Lewis for both? I adore the way that man thought and wove his spiritual musings into his stories. My writing is not much like his, and I don’t agree with him on everything, but I still love what he did with writing and how God used Him to spread truth and beauty through fictional worlds.

5. Tell us about your next story. 

Dragon Lyric is a dark, intense fantasy short story about a young bride who discovers that she has actually married a shapeshifter dragon – and is determined not to become his prey. It’s very different from Threadbare and more adult than YA, but it contains some of the same themes of hope and fierceness in the face of despair. I hope to complete my first draft soon!

 

Congratulations, Bethany Jennings!!

 

Reflecting on Mothers’ Day

What a difference a year makes!
This time last year, on Mothers’ Day 2016, I was recovering from the worst stomach bug of my life, dehydrated and feverish, just thanking God I wasn’t pregnant at the time. I had hit the longest point of infertility, and it had been three years I had wanted a Child #3.
I was grateful to be coherent and recovering, grateful for the lessons learned, grateful for a new doctor with a new drug to try, and grateful for the two girls given to me. As I hit Mothers’ Day, I remember being resigned and grateful, and in a good place with the Lord.
Around two weeks later, on June 1st, I found out I was pregnant with “Tiny Doll.” Here I am, a year later, mother of 3 with an almost 3 month old.
It strikes me there are a lot of 3s involved. Three years of personal waiting for Child #3 who is now almost 3 months old.
Three is an important number in the Bible too. For three days, Jesus lay in the tomb, and the disciples despaired. They longed for and grieved their very best friend, they mourned their betrayal and cowardice, and they hid in an inner room, scared, devastated, and feeling lost. They forgot all of His promises, all of His power, and couldn’t fathom the end of the story.
But in 3 days, Christ arose, conquering death, securing my salvation, and proclaiming Himself as God without a doubt.
This Mothers’ Day I rejoice in new ways, with the baby blessing I do not deserve.
Praise be to God!

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A Boxcar Children Movie Sequel

My daughters, who I homeschool, both adore The Boxcar Children.  The oldest, especially, can’t get enough of them.

There was a cute animated movie made about the first book, and a sequel is in the works.  The producers are looking for a voice actor for a smaller role!  My girls both entered the competition and need your votes.

You can vote for both of them once a day for the next 2 days, I believe.  They are both easy to spot because they’re wearing butterfly masks (Trying to give them some Internet privacy since the rules stated I had to upload their adorable videos on Youtube.)

Please help us out!  🙂

Vote here: https://www.facebook.com/BoxcarChildren/app/403834839671843?brandloc=DISABLE&app_data=chk-590bcacbca4bd

On Being Married to Four Very Different People

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I’m married to four different men.  

Seriously.

I’m married to three at the same time, and keep getting remarried to one over and over again.

And no, I’m not a polygamist.

Let me explain.

I was at a bridal shower last month and the host opened up the floor for people to give the bride-to-be advice.  I hadn’t come prepared to say anything.  I had a newborn, was sleep-deprived, and was barely clearheaded enough to know what day it was.  But as I listened to the advice she was getting, I felt a sudden desire to share what she wasn’t hearing.

So many people told her, “Put Christ at the center of your marriage.”

“Make Christ the center of your marriage!”

“Keep Christ at the center!”

Like, seriously people, what does that MEAN?

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No offense to the advice-givers, but I’ve been married for 7 1/2 years, and I have no idea what that means.  How would a young woman who’s never been married have any idea what that means?

It’s not even biblical.  Nowhere in Scripture does it say, “Make Christ the center of your marriage.”

It says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (Matthew 6:33) and to let Christ rule supreme in your OWN heart, but it never says “Make Christ the center of your life AND this other guy’s.”  It’s impossible.

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For some people, I know what they’re trying to say, but I think this is a trendy comment. It feels like a very cute phrase, but what does it mean?  Ask a Christian couple in head-over-heels happiness on their wedding day if “Christ is at the center of their relationship,” and they’ll tell you YES because they’re happy and things are blissful right then.  Let alone the fact that both of them could be living as selfishly as all get out and have no idea what real marriage looks like.

Ask another Christian couple if “Christ is at the center of their relationship” after their child has died and their finances have fallen apart and they’re struggling and seeing a counselor, and they might say NO, because everything looks bad and they feel unhappy, let alone that it may be at that moment that they are drawing close to God like never before.  I think we often have a lousy idea of what being Christlike actually is – and are far more concerned with what it outwardly looks like.

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For others, they might mean that the bride-to-be should be actively pursuing putting their marriage in a focused-on-God state.  But that’s even worse advice!  Many women are running around stressed and weary trying to force her marriage to be more “spiritual.”  Trying to force her husband to spend time with the Lord with her, trying to force prayer time, force service, force giving (and vice versa!) and it’s just not possible.

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Controlling something that takes two people is just not possible.

Many women spend more time and energy worrying about whether or not their husband or their “marriage” is righteous and God-focused, when all she is supposed to do is focus on whether or not SHE is righteous and God-focused.  What we should be telling a bride-to-be is that her “marriage” and her husband is not a fixer-upper project she controls, and that when she and her husband individually make sure they have a personal relationship with the Lord, that sanctification will follow.  That she’s not responsible for both halves of her marriage – only her own half.  That she and her husband will not go to heaven “as a set” but will be responsible for their own individual salvation.  That spending time pursuing God as a couple is wonderful and worthy, but will never take the place of pursuing God individually – it’s just an added bonus.  That if her relationship with God MUST involve her husband holding her hand, that she may not have a relationship with Christ at all – and it’s not going to stand the test of time if (God forbid!) something happened to her husband.  And that each spouse spending their energy trying to force the other to “make our marriage Christ centered” is a waste of time.  If only we taught brides to be more focused on their own personal walk with Christ, and not to idolize their husband.

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Because your spouse is a rapidly changing, growing living being.

Which leads me to my four husbands. And the advice I gave the bride-to-be that day.

My mom always said that you marry three people: the person YOU think he is, the person HE thinks he is, and the person he really is.  I think that’s dead right, but I think she’s missing the fourth guy: the person he will become.

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I met my husband when I was 19 and he was 18 years old.  Today, we are downright unrecognizable from back then.  Some things I miss, most things I cringe when I remember.  Most of the changes have been great, a few a little sad.

And 7 more years of marriage from now, he and I may be downright unrecognizable from where we are today – and I don’t just mean physically, although we do drastically change physically as well!  Currently, we are 29 and 30 years old, parents of three little girls under the age of 6, homeowners in the pacific northwest, members of a small church, anime aficionados, an author, a League of Legends player, a K-drama enthusiast. But 7 years from now, none of that could be true.

No one warns brides-to-be and husbands-to-be that you’re also marrying a stranger.

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Age, situations, accidents, promotions, jobs, friends, parenting, LIFE… it changes people. The things you love about your spouse today could disappear tomorrow.  The things that irritated you about them last year could be endearing traits you miss with all your heart next year.  The personality traits you thought you could count on could morph into something else entirely.

You are committing to marry someone who WILL BE, in ways you can not predict.

It’s a bit frightening!

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Have you ever answered the question, “Why do you love me?” with “Because you’re you?”  Well, what if they stop being “them”?  And become someone else?  We all do.  And that’s true love – committing to love that person no matter who they are tomorrow, no matter how life and trials and growth warp and change and mature and harden and soften and challenge and strengthen and weaken and bruise and injure and purify and solidify them.

Can you love a person you may not know tomorrow?

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That’s the thought I want to share with brides-to-be.  Can you let go of everything that person does FOR you today that makes you feel good, and love a person who may do none of those tomorrow?  They can’t really answer, “Yes, I can,” because they’re not there yet.  What they need to answer is, “Yes, I choose to commit to do so” because they are making a choice, and God promises to help them to succeed.  Love can grow and change and morph as well, and, while the devil wants to tear apart marriages, God vows to help us love like He does, which is unconditional and completely inclusive, no matter what life throws our way.

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DON’T READ THESE BOOKS!

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Here is a list of books you absolutely should NOT read.  Only a FOOL would read these books!  I’ll tell you why!  You can even click on the titles in bold to see what all the reviewers say about these DANGEROUS books!

 
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The 12th Girl in Heaven

This book has kissing in it – and the couple does it because they’re dared to do so by a sorority! What is this teaching your college student?! Also, the book contains depictions of unwanted showers! I was horrified!

 

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Teenage guy visits a church for the first time and feels like puking! What a message to give your teens going to church! Also there are sermons with passages from Isaiah! Who even understands Isaiah anyway? Plus, the blonde on the cover isn’t even an angel. What a rip-off!

 

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Just too creepy. First girl doesn’t work out for the moody stalker guy. So he finds a second girl who looks like the first and tries again…

 

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The heartthrob is a burn victim, while the actual good-looking guy is an egotistical pervert. Who wants to imagine the kiss scene including a guy without lips? *shudder*

 

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A boy keeps an unclothed female alien in his room as a pet! So indecent!

 

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It has teenagers running through a grocery store being chased by a guy with a gun! Too scary for your kids! Also, a girl gets called by the name of a vegetable the whole book! Just insulting!

 

astoundebookAstound: Cultivating a Wonder and Love for God in Your Kids

And this one’s the very worst!  It calls your young sweet children wicked sinners! My poor innocent baby’s self-esteem!  Don’t read it!  Don’t be a fool!

 

HAPPY APRIL FOOLS DAY, ALL.  😉  😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Threadbare!

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My best friend and editor, Bethany A. Jennings, has published her first short story!  This young woman is a prolific writer, but her stuff hasn’t seen the light of day until now, as she prefers to hold on to and hone her works in secret for a while first.  😉

But I tell you, she’s MY editor, and all of my works of fiction on Amazon are as highly rated as they are because of her help.  So you can be guaranteed that anything she writes herself is amazing.

Check out the premise of her heart-warming and exciting short story available for a buck!

What happens when your gift turns against you?

All her life Bess has known the magic streams around her, waves of power she can draw from to wield the gift of magical threads. Now the youngest member of a team of Anchors, she helps protect the city streets from Drifters—energy thieves who prey on the life force of ordinary humans.

But when a battle leaves Bess’s threads in an irreparable tangle, she is faced with an agonizing choice: sever her threads and lose her magic forever—or be slowly consumed by her own power.

Check it out here on Amazon!  I loved it!  ❤

The Birth of Liliella Violet Conte

The birth of baby #3 was going to be my second – and last – attempt at a VBAC.  If I couldn’t go into labor naturally on my own, this time around, I was going to commit to c-sections – in order to protect my scar and not risk rupture.  I had had two emergency c-sections already (both for legitimate reasons – and different reasons each time), but I didn’t want to be stuck having c-sections if I could help it.  There were only two hospitals in the entire Seattle area willing to try the VBAC with me, and Swedish Edmonds seemed very competent and confident that it could be done.  They still made me set an “end date” though, and didn’t want me to go over a week late.  However, because there was a scheduling snafu, they scheduled me for 9 days late.  I found the arbitrariness of it amusing and frustrating.  But I had 9 days to work with, so I prayed it would happen! I had never gone into labor on my own before though, so my hopes were low.

I had had many contractions over the last few weeks, and they seemed more frequent and more painful than the last two pregnancies, but I still didn’t get too excited.  As I passed the due date and went late, I knew I was following the same pattern.  Saturday night, February 18th, at 8 pm, when I was 4 days late, I started having painful contractions – but they were anywhere from 15-30 minutes apart.  They weren’t getting closer together, but they weren’t stopping.  I could function and talk and do normal activities through them, but, during the contractions, which were at least a minute and a half long, I had to stop and breathe.  And I definitely couldn’t sleep through them.

At midnight, I called the doctor to let them know what was happening, just to keep them informed.  They had told me they didn’t want me laboring at home, and this didn’t seem like labor, but I thought I’d let them know.  They told me I should come in if they even got to being 7 minutes apart for an hour, just because I was a VBAC-er.

After being up until 6 AM that first night, I was miserable enough to go take Tylenol and get ice packs.  It was my back that felt the contractions the most, so I put the ice packs on my back, with one on my front.  I was exhausted from being up all night.  Since the contractions were about 17 minutes apart, every time I’d start to drift off, another one would wake me up.  With the ice packs, I got them about 45 minutes apart, and finally went to sleep – for about four hours total.  I woke up the next day utterly exhausted.

But the contractions didn’t stop!  They continued on, all day, at an average of 12 minutes apart.  It was frustrating.  We didn’t go to church that morning so I could sleep in, as well as pay attention to the contractions and be closer to the hospital.

Brad and I both used our phones’ timer options where we pressed “lap” any time a contraction hit.  They just weren’t really getting any closer together as the day went on.  They weren’t fun either, as every single one hit my back with some lengthy pain.  I walked, took a shower, and even a lukewarm bath.  Nothing helped.  I was so tired.

Finally, by early evening on Sunday the 19th, I lost my mucus plug in two bursts.  I thought I had lost my mucus plug with Rachael and Rosalie, but this proved I hadn’t.  I had never seen anything like this – like a giant bloody slug.  *shudder*  Getting hopeful, I called the doctor again, and this time got Dr. Randolph Bourne, a male doctor in the practice who happened to be on call that day and the next.  He was supposedly great with VBACs, but I had decided against using him during the pregnancy, as I had never had a man doctor and didn’t feel comfortable with it.

He told me that it was a good sign but, unless I was feeling sharp terrible pain in between contractions, had bright red blood, or they got to being 5-7 minutes apart, to go ahead and remain at home.  *sigh*

That evening, we were eating our 10 pm meal, and I was trying to figure out HOW, on earth, I was going to get to sleep another night in a row with non-stop contractions, and we were watching a favorite episode of Stargate for fun.  My back was so tired out from the pain, at this point, but I knew the contractions HAD to be doing something.  Part of me still thought they’d suddenly stop and come to nothing.  I didn’t want to hope I was actually going into labor.

During the hour that we ate, I finally hit 7 minutes apart, and then the last couple were 4 or 5!  Getting excited, we called my parents, who drove the 20 minutes up from Kirkland to stay with the girls.  It was 11 PM at that point, and I was so done.  Wanted to actually be in labor and have this baby! The girls were in bed, but not asleep.  I said bye to them and opened the door to my parents, telling them they could use the spare bedroom to sleep.  Everything had been packed for hours, so I grabbed it all, and Brad and I headed out the door.

We got to the hospital around or just before midnight.  Before doing anything else, a male nurse hooked me up to the non-stress test to watch Liliella’s heartrate through the contractions.  I was sitting up and leaning forward to take the pressure off my back, but that was cramping her during the contractions, and her heartrate slowed way down.  That gave Brad and me bad memories of Rachael’s birth (her heart dipped and stopped and started and they took her by c-section because she was being strangled in her cord).  They had me lie back and Liliella did much better, but they still wanted me to stick around for an hour to double check.  I was fine with that, and told the doctor so, explaining my history and how nervous her heartrate made me.

I wasn’t comfortable with the male nurse doing a cervix check, so they sent in a sweet older lady.  She said I was only 2 centimeters!  TWO?!  After 28 hours of labor???  I felt like crying.  However, since they wanted to monitor me for an hour, she said she’d check me again after that hour to see if I could hit a 3 and stay at the hospital.  I was horrified at the thought of being sent home to spend how many more days without sleep and in pain.  Plus, I was having contractions every 5 minutes, so I had a hard time believing I wasn’t dilated further.

After an hour, Liliella’s heartrate sounded fine, and I promised myself I wouldn’t bend forward any more in this process so as not to compromise her any.  (But, because of my back labor, this was MISERABLE.)  I was still only 2 centimeters after an hour (although 80% effaced!), and so they sent me home, telling me to come back if the pain got to a point I couldn’t bear it, if my water broke, or if I started bleeding.  I tried not to cry as I gathered my things.

“How am I supposed to put up with this for another night?” I asked.  It was past 1 AM.  “This hurts in my back a lot, and is coming every 5 minutes!”

“What you have is back labor.” The male nurse told me I could go ahead and do a c-section if I wanted one.

“Oh, man.  What a shame that would be.  I’ve come this far, and I might actually be going into labor.  I wouldn’t stop now!”

Misinterpreting my word “shame,” he argued, “No shame in a c-section!  You’ve already done what half the population can’t do: grow a baby.”

I appreciated his encouragement – and there was NO way I thought a c-section was shameful!  Had had two beautiful ones myself already! – but I wasn’t going to give up, even if this labor went on forever.

“We could give you a shot of morphine,” he said.  “It will take thirty minutes to call that up if you want it.”

Morphine scared me.  I’d never had it before, and it sounded extreme at this point.  “Did taking Tylenol yesterday slow down my labor?  Could I just try that again?  It took the edge off the back pain yesterday.”

They promised me it wouldn’t slow down true labor, and gave it to me on the spot.  Stupid me – at this point Tylenol wasn’t going to do a thing.  But I didn’t know that.  😛

Brad and I drove home, and I just sobbed.  I was so exhausted, and disappointed with how slowly I was progressing.  In my head, I envisioned an infinite number of days without sleep, and in constant pain.

By the time we got home, I was just miserable.  I tried sitting in the bath again, but just sitting was miserable.  I was trying so hard to be quiet because my parents and the girls were fast asleep.  Brad told me to take my safe antihistamine sleep aid, thinking that would put me out even though I was in increasing pain.  I took it, but that just made me drowsy AND miserable.  I tried to lie down with the ice packs again, but couldn’t stand lying in a bed.  I flung the ice packs off and paced the room in torture.

“We should’ve gotten you the morphine,” Brad said.

“I know!  I’m an idiot!” I cried.  Not knowing I was in some sort of transition, I thought I still had hours of being at a 2 in front of me.

Brad called the hospital back and told them to order the morphine – that we were coming back in to get it.

“I’ve wasted our whole night.  I’ve wasted time and ruined your night,” I moaned, over and over again.  Pacing, in the midst of another contraction, I felt a gush.  “My water broke!” I exclaimed, feeling hope. “Now they HAVE to admit me!”

We drove back to the hospital, having only been home an hour(!), and this time I wept the whole ride, my back killing me sitting there.  Brad wanted to drop me off at the front, but I didn’t want to be alone.  As he grabbed my stuff out of the trunk, I put my forehead on the car and cried.  I hurt SO badly in my back and bottom.  But I wanted to walk.  Walking made it bearable.

Not even caring that I was crying, we stumbled back into the ER.  Brad thought I wouldn’t want to walk all the way to the maternity ward, so he barked orders to the lady behind the desk. “Get us a wheelchair now!” I’ve never heard him so authoritative.  😛

He rolled the wheelchair after me, but I ignored it, preferring to march down the hallway myself, finding that ever so slightly more bearable.  I just about collapsed in the elevator though as the pain ripped through me.  It felt exactly like someone was beating my lower back with a metal baseball bat.  It was the worst pain I had ever felt, especially because it went on and on, with almost no breaks in between.

I could barely open my eyes because of my exhaustion and the sleep aid, and yet I was in terrible pain and couldn’t sleep.  The nice older nurse helped me into a gown, and asked me to lie down on the hospital bed.  I’d try, then pop back up again and begin walking in place moaning.  Lying down was HELL.  Yet they kept making me lie back down.

I was dilated to a 4 1/2!  And rapidly dilating further.  I most likely hit a 6 or 7 before I got the epidural.  After over a day of getting nowhere, now my body was moving FAST.

At this point, I dropped all pretense of politeness.  My voice got very soft and rapid.  I kept moaning, in a soft weak voice, “Please!  Please!  I can’t do this.  Make it stop.  Can I get an epidural now?  Where is it?  Is it coming?  I can’t do this!  My back!  My back!  Please!”

Brad ordered people about and kept trying to comfort me.  I really didn’t want him or anyone else to touch me, and I didn’t want to lie down.

The nurse kept saying, “Come on, Rachael.  Lie down.”  They wanted to keep the monitor on me to watch the baby’s heartrate through the contractions, but I wasn’t even paying attention to the fact that I was having a baby at that point.  I felt like I was dying.  I told Brad, “This is what dying feels like!”

The only time I remember feeling irritated is when the nurse said, “You have to do this, Rachael.  Every other woman does.”

That wasn’t comforting.  😛  Otherwise, everyone was very nice.  And they were hurrying fast.  I was moving very fast, and they wanted to get that epidural in for me.  The only good thing about the excruciating back labor was that I wasn’t once worried about my scar and VBACing – because I felt no pain in the front of me!

They started an IV with some sort of pain med, but it did absolutely nothing.  Finally, thirty minutes later, but it felt like three hours, the anesthesiologist with the epidural arrived. I couldn’t even sit still on the bed to get it, and he had to insist I sit back down quickly in between rapid contractions.  They had Brad sit in front of me, and he started breathing hard.  He hates needles.  That was the only time I snapped out of my exhausted moaning, and turned to him.  I felt like I snapped into clarity worried about him.  “Are you okay, Braddy?” I kept asking him.  He insisted he was, and they put in the epidural.

Unfortunately, at first, it only worked on one side!  “My right side! My right side!” I murmured a bunch.  They had me roll to the side and I prayed it would fully kick in.  Finally, I only felt the pain very low in the front, so I upped the level once.  Other than that, it worked beautifully, and all pain left me!  HALLELUJAH!  That’s when the shakes started, which were obnoxious, but I get them every time I give birth – even with c-sections – and I can’t stop them.  Just a hormonal reaction I can’t control.  I shook until I had to push.

I was only in labor about an hour or two before I was fully dilated and ready to push.  They called the doctor and broke down the room.  From the ceiling, they pulled a giant object that looked like the steering wheel of a ship.  “What’s that?” I asked, feeling like a subject in an alien spaceship about to be probed.  They told me it was a light.  That thing was HUGE.  😛

Randolph Bourne, the man doctor, was still on call, so I realized I was being delivered by a man after all.  Oh well!  There were like five people in the room – I felt like I was on display for the whole world!  The man nurse, the man doctor, and like three other nurses, all crowded around staring at me, all propped up ready to push.  *groan*

The pushing process only took 45 minutes!  And, during it, we sat and chatted.  Seriously.  The mood was so calm and relaxed.  He asked me about my hobbies.  I told him about my books on Amazon, homeschooling my kids, and teaching piano!  Hahaha!  They wanted me to wait to push through contractions, but my original older lady nurse would get excited and have me push too early, and the doctor would tease her for it.

“I’m VBACing.  I’m doing it!” I said to the doctor, as it suddenly hit me with delight that I was having a baby.

“You did this all yourself.  No Pitocin.  Good job!” he replied.

That was a pretty good feeling!

I could feel Liliella dropping into the birth canal lower and lower, but there was no pain.  It was fascinating.  Like having a bowel movement.  😛  At first, I wasn’t pushing quite right, because I couldn’t feel myself push whatsoever.  I also would let out my breath when I pushed instead of holding it.  I explained I had weight-lifted since I was 12 years old, and always let out my breath when lifting a weight.

“You’ve been pooping even longer,” the doctor quipped.  “Do it like that!”

Brad held a leg and the nurse the other, and I got it right.  Then I pushed great!  Only 45 minutes later, she crowned.

“We see blond hair!” someone called out.

I felt shock at that moment.  “She’s BLONDE?” Never had I imagined, with Brad’s dark hair genes, that we’d get another blonde!

“Do you want to see with a mirror?  Or reach down and feel?” they asked.

“Noooo,” I shuddered.  Ignorance is bliss, in my book.  😛  Brad said later that there was a lot of blood.  I’m glad I didn’t look.  Haha.

And then she was out!  At 7:04 AM!  With a cry – that went on for twenty minutes (Baby was grumpy from the getgo  😛 ) she was there!

“Do you want me to put her on your chest?” the male nurse asked.

I had NEVER had that option with the c-sections before, so I was stunned and took a second to speak.

“We’ll clean her off,” he reassured me.

Horrified that he’d think I didn’t want to hold my baby if she was bloody, I quickly said, “No, no!  I don’t care about that!  Of course I want her on my chest immediately!”

And there she was!  Brad cut the cord, and my tiny blond baby was put on my chest.  She didn’t want to nurse for a bit, but I tried.  She was so precious!  Praise the Lord, I made it through 35 hours of back labor, got the VBAC I had prayed for, and had my beautiful, wonderful, miracle of a third daughter!  I instantly called my girls in to meet their sister.  All the joy!

Liliella Violet – born February 20th, 2017, at 7:04 AM, 7 lbs, 2.8 oz, 19 inches

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