Open Letters to Persecuted Christians – From My Children

We’ve been praying through Voice of the Martyrs prayer calendar – praying for a different persecuted country every day.  This has been very eye-opening to my two oldest

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Front Cover of the Prayer Calendar

girls – children who’ve known peace, safety, and security all their lives.

Today we studied a passage on heaven and Jesus’s second coming.  At the end of the passage, Paul tells people to encourage each other with these words.  I mentioned that thinking about eternity in heaven was probably very encouraging to those being persecuted, and my oldest daughter got a lightbulb idea from the Lord.

“Let’s write a note of encouragement to them about heaven!” she said.

So that became our English assignment for the day.  ❤

I copied down exactly what both girls wanted to say.  These are 100% their words, not mine.  As we look for a place or person to mail these, I thought I’d share them here as well.  ❤

 

Dear friend in Christ,

            I’m writing to you because I want you to know that Christ is always with you and you can depend on Him to always be there.  Even if your enemy is hurting you, you can know that Jesus, our Lord and Savior, will always be there in your heart and around you.  You can know that at some point you will be in heaven and you will enjoy it.  You will get to see the Lord who you’ve been waiting for – the One you believe in!  If any of your Christian family members have been hurt or persecuted or killed, you will be able to see them up in heaven too.  Just remember that Jesus, your Lord, is still with you, and you can depend on Him to help you.  Every day, in every way, He will always keep His eye on you, so that He knows what is happening. Everything that is happening to you is all in His sight and it is all for good.  Even though you might be alone, you can still have the Holy Spirit in your heart and you can keep Him there. He will never leave or go away.  You will never leave Him.  You will always be in God’s arms. Even though we, in America, haven’t gone through the persecution you have, we still have a very bad sin of not focusing on God.  😦 We can learn from you because you and your family focus on God and keep up standing up for who you believe in.

Love,

R.S., 7 years old, USA

 

Dear friend in Christ,

            God loves you and He will always be there for you, no matter how hard your troubles are.  He’s there with you! When Jesus comes back again, there will be a great celebration.  He will take all of the Christians up, and, if you are one, He will take you up too.  🙂 At the end of the world, God will create a new earth and it will be part of heaven. Everyone will be satisfied in heaven and there will be no sadness. There will be no anger.  There will be no dying.  Everything will be happy in heaven! Whenever you have a trouble, just pray to God and He will figure out a way to solve the problem. I will meet you in heaven too!  🙂

Love,

R.J., 5 1/2 years old, USA

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Preciously Precocious Children – Part 3

GemEleven-year-old Gem has traveled from his home planet of Topha to meet with ten extraordinary children, all sixteen and under. These children have been given the RJ Conte label of “Preciously Precocious” and are heroesGem 2 of their own stories.

 

Gem, future possible savior of his fragile planet, is prepping to take on the planet’s core with the power of his mind.  For motivation, he’s interviewing child heroes.

 

 

And now for the final installment of interviews! And make sure you check out each of their amazing stories – all of which are on Amazon – including Gem’s!

 

  1. Footer - Footer Davis Probably is Crazy - 11Fontana “Footer” Davis, 11 years old, of Footer Davis Probably is Crazy by Susan Vaught

Gem: Do you prefer English or math?

Footer: I prefer anything Ms. Perry doesn’t teach. I really like English because Ms. Malone teaches it, and she gets me, you know? She didn’t even make me go to the office over that serial killer book.

Gem: (laughs) I get you there.  Some of my supervisors’ minds are really awful and unkind places (I have telepathy). I prefer Soleil in every way.

Okay, you get a dingbat as a pet.  What do you name it?

Footer: What’s a dingbat?

Gem: Anything you want it to be.  A fictional pet.  (grins)

Footer: If it’s anything like a walrus, don’t get it near me. Seriously. Walruses are creepy. If it looks like a kitty, I’d call her Dorothy for Dorothy Thompson, who was like the bravest, coolest journalist in history. I think I’ll be an investigative journalist. I like investigating stuff, and I plan to find these two kids who went missing from the farm behind my house.

Gem: (cheers) Go Footer!  So what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Footer: I do a lot of brave things, like clean snake guts off bird feeders, look at pictures of walruses, and try to keep my friend Peavine’s little sister Angel from stealing all my books (she’s plotting my murder, no doubt), and show up in 5th period every day even though Ms. Perry is there (probably plotting my murder too).

Gem: (laughing harder) How you feel about walruses is how I feel about sloths.  (shudder)  Thanks, Footer!  Stay alive!  🙂

Footer Davis is on the case when two kids go missing after a fire in this humorously honest novel that is full of Southern style.510r0Cpkh4L

Here are some things that are true about Footer Davis:
1. She has a BB gun named Louise.
2. Walruses freak her out.
3. Her mom has bipolar disorder.

But she wants you to know that it’s not that big a deal. She’s just Mom, and usually she’s fine except sometimes when she doesn’t take her pills. But right now what’s most important to Footer is what happened to those kids at the Abrams farm. See, there was a fire there a few nights ago, and those kids haven’t been seen since. Pretty sure they got burned up. What Footer and Peavine—that’s her best friend—want to know is who started the fire?

Buy Footer Davis Probably is Crazy on Amazon.com

 

Blondie - Blondie McGhee - 92. Blondelle “Blondie” McGhee, 9 years old, from Blondie McGhee: At Your Service by Ashley Eneriz

Gem: What do you believe about love?

Blondie: I really love being a detective, and I really love my dachshunds (a.k.a. wiener dogs), Emma and George – although George can be a pain in the behind most of the time!  He has helped me solve several cases.

Gem: I wish I had a pet!  So who do you get along better with: your mom or dad?

Blondie: Hmmm… That’s a tricky one. Both of my parents are pretty cool, but I am still on cloud nine from when my dad put together the most awesome surprise with clues.

Gem: I miss my parents.  That’s really cool.  So what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Blondie: Go into my school attic when some other girls told me it was haunted. I was scared of running into a ghost – or even worse, the principal – but I had no idea what kind of adventure I was really about to be in!

Gem: Now I want to know!

Got a crime?51mCbpvUVUL
Need a professional detective?
You’ve come to the right girl.

Blondie’s the name and solving cases at Graham Elementary is my game. 

I promised I would never, ever solve a case for that meanie, Owen Thomas, but when he is accused of starting the crazy food fight and is about to be expelled, I am his only hope.

Can I wipe his name clean of mashed potatoes before the principal expels Owen for good?

Buy Blondie McGhee: At Your Service on Amazon.com

 

Ruby - Healing Ruby - 133. Ruby Graves, 13 years old, from Healing Ruby by Jennifer H. Westall

Gem: Do you ever have a dream while you’re sleeping that makes you not want to wake up?

Ruby: Sometimes I dream about being with my daddy. He was strong and good to me, and I miss him like crazy. I dream I’m sitting at his feet again in front of the fire, listening to his deep voice read his Bible before breakfast. I wake from those dreams with a sad kind of joy, missing him so much, but knowing I’ll see him again someday.

Gem: I wish I could’ve met your dad.  So, on a less sad note… who’s the most irritating person in your life? (laughs)

Ruby: I swear, I can’t pick just one. My brother Henry loves to pick on me, and I could just punch him in the mouth sometimes. But my oldest brother James might be even worse. At least Henry plays with me and makes me laugh. Ever since Daddy died, James acts like I’m a burden he has to carry to Timbuktu and back twice a day. Why, he even tried to marry me off just to get rid of me!

Gem: Wow.  Maybe I’m glad now I never had brothers!  So what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Ruby: I don’t see myself as brave. It just seems like there are times when God calls me to act, and doing so puts me in the middle of a storm, sometimes literally. I’ve learned to trust Him, even if it means running headlong into the storm, because He is in the storm. Nahum 1:3 says, “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in the whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.” I don’t know why He calls me, I just know I have to obey.  I’m not brave. I just choose to trust Him.

Gem: You have amazing faith, Ruby.  I needed that.  Thank you!

Ruby Graves, a young girl in Depression-era Alabama, faces the hardships of poverty and 51jNtK+qVFLloss with as much faith as she can muster. At only the age of thirteen, she’s already lost a younger brother to illness, and now faces losing both her father and the boy who’s stealing her heart to illnesses as well. Armed with her beloved Scriptures, she prays daily for their healing, only to have her tender faith shattered by her father’s death. Through her pain, she’s able to connect with her long-lost Uncle Asa, who’s mere presence at his brother’s funeral brings murmurs of a scandalous past involving her parents and a prominent local pastor, Irwin Cass. When Ruby discovers that one of Asa’s many secrets is an ability to heal, and that she may be next in line for the “gift,” she vows to find the faith that has eluded her so far, a faith that could mean never losing loved ones again. But faith and doubt can’t reside in the same heart, not according to her father, and doubt is Ruby’s constant companion. As she struggles to find the true meaning of faith, she’s opposed at every turn by the pastor who would see her family destroyed and a community that can’t see deeper than the color of one’s skin. Through her search for a faith that could move mountains and a true understanding of her gift, can Ruby trust in a God that may require the ultimate sacrifice?

You can buy Healing Ruby on Amazon.com

 

Chad - Angel-Lover - 164. Chad Burnhill, 16 years old, from Angel-Lover by RJ Conte

Gem: Hey Chad!  So I’m an INTP.  What’s your Myers-Briggs type?

Chad: Hey.  So that’s a really interesting question.  For a long time, I was convinced I was an INFJ.  I think I have two very strong J parents – workaholics, driven people.  But in reality, I found out recently I’m actually INFP.  It explains a bunch, including my depression and artistic creativity.

Gem: So we’re close in type, except you’re the mushy emotional version of me, eh? Okay, feeler, tell us a secret you’ve never told another soul.

Chad: Oh great.  Now I’m going to feed into your perception that I’m a soft feely guy… I’m in love with Angelique Rose – this angel at my school.  She’s not a literal angel, I don’t think… I mean, she sure looks like one with the blond curls and all… (coughs ) Something’s seriously different about her, and I’m going to figure it out.

Gem: Blondes, eh?  I hear you on that one.  (winks) What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Chad: Stepped foot in this mega church in my area.  Walking into one of those religious places was absolutely terrifying.  Then coming clean to my parents about what I thought later… Whew.  I have a feeling I’m going to have to be really brave about some other things too because I have a feeling all’s not right in Angelique’s world…

Gem: Stay strong, man!  We’re rooting for you!2D

Chad is a reclusive teenager whose thoughts are full of loneliness and suicide. The only thing that he obsesses over more than planning his own death is the nicest, sweetest, most beautiful girl in school. As he stalks her and watches her, he learns the truth about what she believes in and, in the process, finds Someone Else he did not expect.

Buy Angel-Lover on Amazon.com

 

 

 

Preciously Precocious Children – Part 2

Gem’s back to interview more children heroes – middle grade and young adult books that Gem 2can be enjoyed by your kids.  🙂  Make sure to pick up books on Amazon that interest you, and feel free to share the interviews!  And check out Gem’s own hero story as the sole savior of his dying planet of Topha here.

1. Sadie Larcen, 16 years old, from The Tethered World by Heather L.L. FitzGerald

Gem: What’s the best thing about being a kid?

Sadie - The Tethered World - 16Sadie: I’d have to say that the best thing about being a kid is the way you can quickly adapt to new circumstances. When you’re young, it’s easier to take life’s unforeseen plot twists and turn them into an adventure. My little sister Sophie definitely embraced the crazy things that happened to our family better than I did when our lives were first turned inside out. (laughs) But these days I actually get bored if something doesn’t stir the pot—or the plot—and break the monotony. I’m sixteen, which is still kind of a kid, right? These days there’s definitely a fairytale loving princess inside who wants to get out and find some excitement. Maybe even a little danger 😉

Gem: I’ll let you come save my planet, and take your monotony then!  Ha!  So what’s your dream job?

Sadie: I feel like my life is divided between “before the kidnapping” and “after the kidnapping.” Okay, it totally IS divided into those two parts. Who am I kidding? So, before everything I would have told you I wanted to be an author. Or maybe just a bookish English professor or something.

But now–NOW–my life, my location, my interests have all become, well . . . complicated. Though I’ve achieved one particular goal–that of being an author (see The Tethered World Chronicles for more on that. Haha!)–that particular accomplishment now feels like a small fish in a big pond. It was something I’d always assumed I’d do later in life. Instead, I actually set my family’s adventures down right after they occurred. (It was cheaper than therapy so, there’s that.)

And yet, in the vast, hidden realm of the Tethered World, there’s so much work to be done. I know God has a bigger purpose for me than I’ve ever dared to dream for myself. Plus, there may be a particularly tall, dark, and handsome Nephilim prince whom I’ve grown rather fond of . . . *sigh*.  I guess I can no longer give a safe and definitive “what I wanna be when I grow up” answer to your question, Gem. Sorry for the roundabout way I’ve replied. But, like I said, it’s complicated! One thing is certain . . . it’s going to have more to do with my life underground in the Tethered World than it will Topside, where I grew up in Washington state.

 

With everything that’s happened to me “after the kidnapping,” I can accept that. And, hey, it’s not like I really have much choice anyway. One can’t escape the call of their Maker.

 

Gem: I totally get that.  Whether or not I survive telepathically controlling my first core earthquake will mean I can suddenly begin to dream about my future.  I know I want Soleil by my side, but what else is there?  It’s hard to think past the big bits of suffering that have to come first, and going through a near-death experience and (Hopefully!) surviving may totally change my perspective.

 

So, along those lines, what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

 

Sadie: The bravest thing? (laughs) A couple of years ago I would’ve said that forcing myself to ride a rollercoaster at Disneyland (with eyes closed, of course) would have counted as my attempt at bravery.

 

Now…well, for starters, I’ve ridden a dragon, have been transported by a cyclone of faeries, and have traveled to mysterious places to rescue those that I love—without always succeeding. It’s hard to wrap my brain around the changes that have taken place inside—sometimes I hardly recognize myself! Until recently, my idea of adventure was what I could find in books. It’s only by God’s grace that I’ve come through these things. Seriously. And not just “by the skin of my teeth” sort of come through…but I’ve learned to be thankful for everything that has happened to me and my family, despite the fact that I once fought so hard against it.

 

I think that kind of thankfulness takes bravery.

 

Gem: I can learn a lot from you.  Thank you, Sadie.

 

“Normal” means different things to different people. For sixteen-year-old Sadie Larcen, 51L-3BglRLLfamily dynamics look a little different than most. Parents with oddball occupations? Normal. Five home-schooled siblings—one with autism? Normal. Police knocking on the door and parents gone missing? Definitely not normal! When Sadie uncovers the reasons behind her parents’ disappearance and the truth about her heritage, she despairs of ever feeling normal again. Especially when she learns that her mother’s interest in Bigfoot, Dwarves, and other lore extends beyond her popular blog. Sadie’s family has been entrusted with keeping the secrets of the Tethered World—home to creatures that once roamed the Garden of Eden. Sadie and her siblings must venture into this land to rescue their parents. Stepping out of reality and into a world she never knew existed is a journey Sadie fears and resents. But she chooses to risk all to save her family. She’s just not sure she will survive during the process.

 

You can buy The Tethered World on Amazon.com!

 

ClaireLee - Just Claire - 132. ClaireLee Monteiro, 13 years old, from Just Claire by Jean Ann Williams

 

Gem: How many children do you want when you grow up?  I know you’ve been a caretaker to your own siblings for a while.

 

ClaireLee: I want eight children.

 

Gem: Wow!  That’s a love of kiddos!  Do you have an embarrassing hidden talent?

 

ClaireLee: I can bite my fingernails off and spit them a long ways across a room!

 

Gem: Sounds like a great weapon!  Haha!  Okay, but now the important, serious question: what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

 

ClaireLee: The bravest thing I’ve ever done is crawl across a log over the river to save someone.

 

Gem: That’s why I wanted to interview you, because a little bird had told me you were a secret hero too.  🙂  Thanks, ClaireLee!

 

One mother damaged. One family tested. One daughter determined to find her place.51yGK1eDm-L
ClaireLee’s life changes when she must take charge of her siblings after her mother becomes depressed from a difficult childbirth. Frightened by the way Mama sleeps too much and her crying spells during waking hours, ClaireLee just knows she’ll catch her illness like a cold or flu which hangs on through winter. ClaireLee finds comfort in the lies she tells herself and others in order to hide the truth about her erratic mother. Deciding she needs to re-invent herself, she sets out to impress a group of popular girls.
With her deception, ClaireLee weaves her way into the Lavender Girls Club, the most sophisticated girls in school. Though, her best friend Belinda will not be caught with the likes of such shallow puddles, ClaireLee ignores Belinda’s warnings the Lavenders cannot be trusted. ClaireLee drifts further from honesty, her friend, and a broken mother’s love, until one very public night at the yearly school awards ceremony. The spotlight is on her, and she finds her courage and faces the truth and then ClaireLee saves her mother’s life.

 

You can buy Just Claire on Amazon.com

 

Gem: Bensin, you’ve been living life as a slave.  Boy, do I know how that feels. Although you’ve had a little sister, Ellie, to protect as well!
Who’s the hardest person in your life to understand?

 

Bensin: Officer Shigo, definitely. He’s the City Watch officer who arrested Ellie and me. All slaves know we’ve got to be careful around Watch officers, even when we’re not breaking the law. A lot of them look for any excuse to punish us. But Officer Shigo is different. When I needed money, he invited me to do some chores over at his place. I’ve gone a few times, and he pays me well. He always asks how Ellie and I are doing, and he’s come to watch several of my cavvara shil tournaments. He acts friendly and supportive, but he’s still a Watch officer, and I know he would arrest me again if he caught me trying to escape again. Sometimes when he asks questions about Ellie and me, I’m afraid he suspects what I’m planning. I can’t figure out what he really wants from me.

 

Gem: That would be confusing.  My ability to read minds would come in handy in this situation.  (winks)  Who’s your best friend?

 

Bensin: That would be Ricky. He’s a little older than me, and he knows a lot about nearly everything. He’s the one who taught me how to pick a lock. He’s got a list of helpful tips that he calls Ricky’s Rules for Surviving Slavery, and he says someday he’s going to publish them in a book and make enough money from it to buy his freedom. Of course, the people who would benefit most from a book like that are the ones with the least money for buying things, so I’m not too sure that’s going to work out for him. But in the meantime, I’m glad he’s around to help me figure out useful stuff.

 

Gem: (laughs)  I’d buy his book.  🙂  What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

 

Bensin: That was probably when I tried to help my little sister Ellie escape from our owners, Mr. and Mrs. Creghorn. I’d promised our mom that Ellie would be free someday, so I picked the lock and sneaked out with her one night. I knew what happens to slaves who get caught trying to escape, but I had a plan I was pretty sure could work. Unfortunately, things didn’t exactly work out the way I hoped. (sighing) Actually, it took even more courage a couple months later when I had to sneak into an abandoned warehouse by myself and face three armed criminals who were hiding out there. I knew I could get killed, but what would have happened otherwise would have been even worse.

 

Gem: I can’t even imagine having to protect a little sister.  Wow!

 

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only25454725 victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

 

You can buy The Collar and the Cavvarach on Amazon.com

 

Preciously Precocious Children – Part 1

GemEleven-year-old Gem has traveled from his home planet of Topha to meet with ten extraordinary children, all sixteen and under. These children have been given the RJ Conte label of “Preciously Precocious” and are heroes of their own stories.

Gem 2Gem, future possible savior of his fragile planet, wanted to meet other inspiring young people: children who stop dragon trafficking, who protect their families when their mothers go through deep clinical depression, children that speak up to bullies and solve mysteries. Children that have the gift of healing and travel to distant planets like pilgrims. Children that defend fragile otherwordly life. Children that go underneath the ground to other worlds and compete in martial arts, children that fight slavery and mental illness.

We’re going to meet, interview, and talk to these ten Preciously Precocious in a three-part blog series.  And make sure you check out each of their amazing stories – all of which are on Amazon!

 

  1. Amanda Greene, 10 years old, from The Gold by Krista Wagner Amanda - The Gold -10

Gem: Who was your first crush?

Amanda: Elliott, the boy from E.T.!

Gem: I haven’t seen that one. I’m sure you’d think me an alien too.  😉 So what’s your favorite book of the Bible?

Amanda: John

Gem: And now for the ultimate question. What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Amanda: Walked into a mysterious forest!

Gem: Now that sounds promising!

51jbmneuX5LTen-year-old Amanda is constantly teased and tormented in school. Her home life is less than satisfactory where her widower father, who is often away on business trips, leaves her in the care of her indifferent teenage sister. Worse, not a day goes by when Amanda doesn’t miss her mom. To escape reality, Amanda creates fantasy stories, but when she discovers a talking golden pebble, her imagined world turns into a new-fangled reality.

Buy The Gold here on Amazon.com

Rejoice - Shatterworld -12

 

2. Rejoice in the Lord’s Salvation Holly, 12 years old, from Shatterworld by Lelia Rose Foreman

Gem: Tell us your most embarrassing story!

Rejoice: I forgot to watch the weather when I was harvesting seaweed. A storm blew me so far away from the colony that I got lost. I had to be rescued!

Gem: I’m glad you’re okay! So what do you think is the worst thing about growing up?

Rejoice: The colony is forcing me to be a farmer. There’s nothing wrong with farming, but I don’t want to farm. I want to be an astronomer, but my parents tell me I’m being selfish.

Gem: If anyone understands what it’s like having their whole life dictated to them and being groomed for a specific task, it’s me.  If I survive the core earthquake to come, I want to escape all this training, and go do what I want to do!  So now for the ultimate question: what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Rejoice: I’m not brave, but I can tell you what the hardest thing I’ve done is: telling the aliens they were all going to die is hard.

Gem: Yeah.  My people understand that too, Rejoice!  You are brave, in my book.

512-AX+uLZLTwelve-year-old Rejoice cannot stop thinking about space. Her religious colony fled the violence of Earth to a new world to establish an agrarian utopia. The elders have determined that she will become a farmer, no matter what she wants. When she discovers aliens in the ocean and then the doom that is aimed at her planet, Rejoice needs to help her people find a way to survive.

Buy Shatterworld here on Amazon.com

 

 

3. Cora Harrison, 12 years old, from Cora and the Nurse Dragon by H. L. BurkeCora - Cora and the Nurse Dragon - 12

 

Gem: The most important question yet: do you like broccoli?

Cora: I’ve never had it. My dad doesn’t really cook. I mean, he’ll make pancakes or something for special occasions, but mostly we get whatever they make in the kitchen of the big house and that’s usually something that can get carried in a pot or a basket. It’s kind of a fancy word, though. Would make a cool name for a dragon.

Gem: Lucky! I’d rather never eat the stuff again.  😉  Okay, for more of an abstract question then: what color of the rainbow best represents who you are?

Cora: This is a weird question. It sounds like one of those poetry questions my best friend Abry is always getting good grades on in school while I get Cs because they really don’t make sense to me. People aren’t colors. I kind of like yellow, mainly because the best racing dragon I ever saw, Gold Digger’s Folly, is a yellowy-gold and that looks really cool, though. I’m not yellow, though. I’m kind of brown-ish, I guess, but Abry tells me that sort of answer is why I always get Cs.

Gem: Haha.  I need to meet this Abry.  And I’d like to see a real dragon too!  For the final ultimate question I’m asking everyone today: what is the bravest thing you’ve ever done? (I’m trying to psych myself up to be brave for a super big task myself…)

Cora: It really depends. If you asked Abry, a LOT of things I do are brave, but that’s only because she worries about silly things like falling out of trees and getting diseases from stepping on nails. I’ve stepped on at least two nails, and I’m still alive. Not sure what she’s going on about. Abry’s a lot braver than me where it involves people though, talking to strangers or teachers, so I guess there’s more than one way to be brave. I guess it would have to be the second time I hatched a Mayfly dragon. The first time I didn’t know what to expect, that they only lived a few weeks, so when it died I was so sad, I thought I’d never get another dragon. When I decided to get another dragon, even though I knew it would die again, I guess that was kind of brave.

Gem: You betcha. Death brings out people’s true bravery every time – even if it’s the death of a pet.  I’m interviewing another guy later whose very special otherworldly pet might die on him too.  Thanks, Cora!

51rD1Bt4MaLCora’s a young girl with two dreams: to be a dragon jockey when she grows up and to own a pet dragon now. She constantly buys “egg packs” at the dragon emporium in hopes that one will hatch into a rare pet-sized dragon, but only gets short-lived mayflies. However, when an unexpected egg does develop into something new, Cora may be over her head.

Buy Cora and the Nurse Dragon here on Amazon.com

Rosalie, Butterfly Rider

Am writing. Middle Daughter is writing her own short story. She dictates the plot to me, and I pretty up the words and type it up. 

Piece of today’s section:

 

Rosalie never got tired of flying.

She tore her hair free of the bun and let it sail behind her, the wind rushing past her face to tangle in her pale locks. Tiny insect houses dotted the landscape like colorful flowers below her. Butterflies played in free-floating spirals of joyful buzzing, their larvae crawling up stalks to watch and cheer. The forest beneath her was full of billowy branches that gave the appearance of feathers dancing in the breeze, but Vanessa climbed in altitude until Rosalie thought the deep green crowns looked as tiny as blades of grass.

In the corner of Rosalie’s vision, a circular pattern of red light with a deep crimson cross pulsed. With the reigns, she gently nudged Vanessa towards the center of the perpendicular lines.
Beyond the vast forest lay an open plain at the foot of a magnificent mountain peak. Sparse shrubs dotted the outskirts of the lush wildflowers and phlox.

A voice deep inside of Rosalie’s mind whispered that she had arrived. She shouted over the wind to her ride, “Land here!”

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Why I Stopped Texting at Red Lights

may1Last year, my state of Washington enacted a new law: you can’t even hold your phone in your hand at red lights any more.  Ever.  You will be ticketed and fined if you are caught even holding your phone at a red light while sitting and waiting.  Yes.  For reals.  The article is here.

I think this law is stupid.

End of blog post.

—–

Okay… just kidding.  There’s more.  *wink*

I could go into all the reasons why I loathe this new law, why I think its stupid, etc. etc.  What is dangerous about sitting completely stopped at a red light? Practically nothing that would involve a phone.  How long are those red lights where you’re just sitting and waiting?  Often super long.  Would I ever practically get caught doing it if I kept my hand down below the window?  Probably not.

Will so many of you comment with why the law isn’t stupid and will I still insist it’s stupid?  Yep.  *wink*

I could also give you all of my excuses: I get lost easily and have to constantly check gps.  True.  I never text or anything while actually moving.  True.  I am an efficient person who likes to use that dead time.  True. The odds are 99.999999999% that nothing will ever ever happen if I hold my phone in my hand while stopped at a red light.  Also true.  The law was probably made because people are too stupid to pay attention to whether their car’s moving or not.  Probably also true.

However, it’s a law.  It can be repealed on the basis of idiocy, but until then, we’re stuck with it.

I keep wondering if my kids are whispering the same things to themselves behind my back.

“This is stupid.”

It probably feels super stupid to them when I tell them to turn the other way and not sneeze all over the food.  I know they’ve got to think it’s stupid, because they continue to sneeze all over the food and look confused when I exclaim over it.

It probably feels stupid when I tell them to get dressed, make their beds, tidy up their rooms, and do their devotions before they go down to breakfast.  Because time and time again, they choose to ignore this one also.

There are lots of things our authorities tell us to do that can seem overbearing, nonsensical, and stupid.  However, we elect those authorities into office, and until laws get changed, the stuff still stands, stupid or not.

Yet there are just things that are tempting to ignore because they seem stupid.  Using your phone at a red light isn’t in the Bible.  It’s not even considered common sense nationwide.  If I were to move back to Texas tomorrow, I could still hold my phone in my hand and make calls while I drive!

After the umpteenth time of trying to reiterate why we have a certain rule in our house, and having my kids give me that blank look that shows stuff isn’t computing, in a fit of frustration, I vowed never to use my phone at a red light again.

That wasn’t where you thought I was going with this, was it?  *wink*

But really.  I just realized that there are areas – giant areas – and sometimes teeny tiny areas – of unsubmission in my own heart.  Things I want to do anyway because I truly think I know better – and because I’ve decided they’re stupid.

And because I was trying my very best to get through to my kids – “Whether you like it or not or care about it or not, God says to obey your mother, and so you should want to do it because you LOVE HIM, and obeying me shows love to Him.  So because you love Him, just do your homework assignment the way I told you to.  Okay?”

I realized that often times I show hypocrisy.

Now there are gigantic ways I do this, of course, and you might be saying, “Come now, RJ!  What’s this about phones at red lights?  Next you’re probably going to talk to us about watching illegally ripped movies on Youtube or fibbing that your vacuum cleaner stopped working and that’s why your carpet wasn’t clean!  No one cares about this little stuff.  We all do it.  Talk to us about your big, deep sins.  Let’s gawk at that.”

Oh, my friend, I usually do.  I usually talk about the giant stuff on this blog.  But not today.  Today I want to talk to you about a stupid new little law on cell phones at red lights.

Because I think that the same heart attitude of, “I don’t care.  Stupid people made this stupid law and I’m going to do what I want anyway” is the same attitude that my kids have towards completing their chores, and the same attitude I have towards all my biggest sins of pride, ungodly speech, impatience, selfishness, and fear.

“I know what I want, and so I’m going to do it anyway.”

When did Christians become people who tried to get away with as much as possible, instead of people striving for holiness?

And no, I’m not saying we do even the smallest and stupidest of laws so we can be “perfect” and harshly, fearfully lash out at those around us (or maybe even internally judge) like, “How DARE you commit the red-light-law?!  God have MERCY on YOUR SOUL.”

Also, don’t do it because of those watching.  “Kids, let me read you this blog article I just wrote.” *sniffs and straightens lapels* “You can get a good look at how righteous Mama is!  Feel like wanting to be me?”

No, I’m saying, strive for holiness in all those little unsubmissive ways that are pricking your conscience right now – for no one other than the Lord Himself.  Because you love Him.

You’re so in love with Him, that you’d lay down every pleasure, everything that you’re lazy about, everything that you just can’t do without, and everything asked of you just because He defines your happiness and reality. Because you want the cleanest conscience and the holiest living because you’re just in love with who He is – and simply because He says so. ❤

 

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 RJ Conte is a wife and homeschool mother of three little girls (aged 7 and under) by day, and an author by night.  She has written a devotional for toddlers and preschool kids that is meatier than the typical fare they hear in Sunday school.  ASTOUND delivers doctrine and big concepts for the very small, and teaches them to love God, in language they can understand!

 

Clean Romance, Infertility, and Marriage Advice from Melanie D. Snitker!

MelanieDSnitker2016Melanie D. Snitker is a sweet author friend of mine from Texas.  She writes stories with a heart – an emphasis on a deep love for each character, and a romance to go with it!  I’d like to think that if you enjoy my novels, you’d enjoy hers.  🙂

Melanie has prayed for me, knit baby cutesies for me, and encouraged me at the hardest of times.  I hope all of you can support her worthy books!  Thanks for being you, Melanie!

You can purchase Melanie’s books here on Amazon.com!

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Me: Hi, Melanie! Here at BlondeRJ, we’re all about Myers-Briggs types.  Share about being an ISFJ and what your personality is like. 🙂

Melanie: You know, I’d never thought much about the Myers-Briggs types until I met you, RJ! I find it all fascinating. Like you mentioned, I’m an ISFJ. I’m definitely quiet and very introverted. I get along well with people, and I tend to be a really good listener. If I say I’m going to do something, not only will it get done, but I’ll do my best while I’m working on it. I’m organized, and I rely heavily on lists and my online calendar. One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced ties into my being an introvert: I also tend to worry about what others think. I’m slowly getting better about this as I get older, but it was something that held me back for a long, long time. I think that it will always be something that’s in the back of my mind to a degree. I have to admit I really admire those who can say and do anything and not worry what others will think!

Me: Even we 100% extroverts can be people-pleasers and worry what others think, for sure.  I’ve been LOVING the book When People are Big and God is Small by Edward Welch, and would love to recommend it right now to my readers.  It’s helped me put God in His proper place, and see my need to love others instead of just *need* them.  🙂
Speaking of loving people, you write the sweetest romances ever. What first inspired you to help and write about clean romance for Christians?

Melanie: I enjoyed romance novels as a teen, but didn’t really read much beyond Janette Oke, Dee Henderson, and a few other Christian authors. When I got into high school, I started to browse through some of the other romance novels at the library. I was shocked to find that clean romance was a difficult thing to find. That’s when I decided I would start writing the kind of romance novels I wouldn’t mind my own daughter reading some day.

Me: What a sweet legacy!
How many different places have you lived, and what is your favorite?

Melanie: I’ve lived in Arizona, both in Flagstaff and Phoenix. A lot of people that haven’t been to Flagstaff are surprised to find that it has a lot of mountains, and it can get a fair amount of snow in the winter. I’ve also lived in many different places in Oregon as well as Texas (where I currently reside). My favorite place to live overall is Texas. The people here are incredibly friendly, I like the mild winters, and I love all the wildflowers (bluebonnets, especially) in the spring. My second favorite place would be Oregon, especially in the fall when all the leaves turn. Gorgeous!

Me: I live in the gorgeous pacific northwest as well!  Love it!
Melanie, you were a huge encouragement to me two years ago. Can you tell us about one of the hardships you’ve experienced and how God has used that in your life? ❤

Melanie: I have endometriosis and it has resulted in a lot of infertility issues that I’ve dealt with for a long time. It took two and a half years of tests and a surgery for my endo before we found out our son was on the way. After he was born, we’d hoped that the next baby would be much easier. Four and a half years later (after another surgery and different medications), we were finally able to try one round of IVF. Praise God, one of those sweet embryos burrowed in to stay, and our daughter was born eight months later. There were so many times during this journey when I wondered where God was and why this had to be so hard. But I learned more about patience than I would’ve liked to, and I also learned about God’s perfect timing. There have been many times in the last six years since our daughter was born where I’ve looked back and realized that, even though I didn’t think so at the time, God really did know what He was doing!

Me: I loved your faith when I was going through that hardship myself!  And you have absolutely beautiful kiddos!!  You have absolutely beautiful characters too.  😛 Which character, in all of your books, is your favorite?

Melanie: I’m going to have to go with Lexi (although Lance is a close second). She’s introduced in Finding Peace, the first book the Love’s Compass series. Then she and Lance get their own story in the second book, Finding Hope. She’s my favorite because she goes through a lot in her life with a cancer diagnosis that leads to a complete hysterectomy which saves her life. It also means she’ll never have children of her own. What causes her inability to get pregnant may be very different from what I or many of my friends have experienced with infertility, but many of the emotions are the same. She’s definitely a character that was written straight from my heart.

Me: Awww.  I remember Lexi!  So what’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said about your books?

Melanie: I’ve had several readers thank me for creating quality, clean romance novels that they can read without the guilt, and that they wouldn’t hesitate to let their teen daughters read as well. It’s what I originally set out to do, and even though the road of an author can be a rocky one at times, it’s encouragement like that which reminds me it’s all worth it!

Me: Amen! On a real-life front, how do you think we, as Christians, can learn to love like Christ more in our marriages?

Melanie: I think it’s easy to get caught up in every day life. Things get hectic, the kids always need something, and by the end of the day, it’s easy to feel like we have nothing left to give. But it’s the little things that show Christ’s love in a marriage. Like when my husband is completely exhausted, yet takes the trash out with a smile. Or when I’ve had a rough day and I’m tired, but I bake my husband the cookies he loves because it will brighten his afternoon. The other day, we had a busy afternoon full of cleaning and grocery shopping. I’ll admit, I was a complete grump by dinner and not much fun to be around. Instead of getting upset with me, or even letting my mood change his, my sweet husband made a trip to the store to find something I was looking for, and even brought something else back that made me laugh. Finding ways to put our spouse first, even when it isn’t easy, can give us even a small glimpse of the kind of unconditional love that Christ has for us!

Me: I think your home must be very joyful and warm.  🙂  Thank you, Melanie!

Melanie: Thanks again, RJ!

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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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