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

 

 

 

My Q&A Video #2!

I answer Camilla Cruz Uphaven’s question on the inspiration for each of my novels.

Find out:

My least favorite life event

Which characters are secretly me with different names

If I ever talked to a crisis hotline volunteer and my personal story there

and more!

The Day I Met Job

  Many of you know, because I haven’t been the spcosinsulinresistance-imagelightest bit shy about it, that our little family’s growth came to a grinding halt after our second child due to sudden insulin resistance symptoms and what’s known as “secondary infertility.”  We had two daughters very easily and then nothing.  Suddenly I was riddled with strange symptoms.  My body was like a foreign alien, and my main dream in life was shattered.

I’ll just give the recap of our family’s story so that I can share about what God taught me in November/December of last year – the point of this blog post.  It will be a long post, but stick with me and please read through until the end.

Some people dream of being corporate businessmen, others dream of being teachers or social workers and training and saving children.  Some dream of traveling the world or being a firefighter or an astronaut.

All I dreamed of, besides writing books, was having a large family that I could raise in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and homeschool and love.

When I became a mother almost 5 ½ years ago, I called my husband one day at work and said, “This is what I was MADE for.  This is the most fulfilled I have ever been.”

Four years later, when I began homeschooling, I called him again and said, “I take it back.  THIS is the happiest I’ve ever been.  A mother AND a homeschool mom.  It truly doesn’t get better than this.  I could do this for the rest of my life.”

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                My girls became Christians young (both at age 3) and are my best friends and usually nothing but joy. Yet strangers in grocery stores would make comments like, “Must have your hands full” and I thought, “With these two?!” Never.  Matter of fact, I had time on my hands enough to write a few books these last two years in the evenings.  These girls are sweet, quiet, adorable things.

I was totally ready to grow my family.  The girls prayed for their dad to be ready for #3, I prayed for my husband to be ready, and we waited.  After a year, my husband heard a Bible study talk on the Leviticus passages on discharges and mildew – passages most likely to skip over! But the teaching leader’s sermon was on obeying God in the things that don’t make sense. He explained that even when God’s commands seem like they might be a challenge, if we just obey, his yoke is easy and light. And my husband came home with a new peace in his heart, and said, “I feel led to try for #3.”

I cried.

 

Happiness Wall

My “Happiness Wall” for my first baby back in 2010

I went out and bought a stuffed animal, homecoming baby outfit, and journal – all prematurely of course – just because it’s what I always do.

Over time, I stuffed that bundle of baby stuff under my bed in a grocery sack and hoped I’d someday look at it again. We couldn’t get pregnant.

My emotions were a roller coaster.  I had a doctor who waved my concerns aside, saying I was 28 years old and got pregnant fine before.  “Just give it time, girl.  Don’t stress.”

I said, “No, I know my body.  None of this is normal.  Something’s wrong.”

She finally gave in and gave me Clomid, which made me swell up until I had to take my rings off, my shoes were tight, and I felt like my face had become a balloon.  I put on weight and couldn’t take it off.  I got medicine-induced mood swings that made me so depressed I would sob and rant and not know what was happening to me. I was filled with so much self-loathing for my body, that didn’t work and looked like a balloon, that I finally covered up my bathroom mirror in pillowsheets and Bible verses so I wouldn’t have to look at myself.  I hated myself so much, I had thoughts of harming myself.  I finally understood what it was like to have a touch of chemical depression as the meds messed with my head. I have so much more sympathy for those who have to go through that.  After three months, I got off and gave up on meds.

Our church went through a merge that we didn’t feel was a good fit for us personally and we started looking around.  At the first church we visited, which we eventually went back to, the pastor’s wife and I hit it off and she mentioned a new doctor and a new drug.  So I tried that too, especially after the claims that it wouldn’t be as bad as Clomid.  Letrozole was the new up and coming thing, after it had only been used for breast cancer before.  It was this new doc that found the insulin resistance symptoms I had, and informed me, after an ultrasound that I bravely submitted myself to, that I actually wasn’t ovulating at all.

In the midst of all of this, my emotions were a rollercoaster.  Every first Sunday of the month, during communion, I would confess my discontentment, my desire for control, and my idol of this perfect, large, homeschool family I dreamed of.  I wanted to be the women with twenty kids.  I used to name my twenty fake kids when *I* was a kid. I used to write stories about my future family.  Even my peers said I was “motherly.” There was the one that described me as a “fuzzy mother hamster.” This was what I was made for. Then why did I only have my two precious daughters?  Why wasn’t God answering their persistent prayers for a baby sibling? Would I never even get a son?  Would that longing for a constant stream of babies through my arms be snatched away from me?

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Me with Baby #1 in 2011

It’s hard to even write this knowing how some people want children and can’t have any at all – yet I had two.  I even watched my mother-in-law lose her youngest daughter. I was awestruck, even then, by her righteous response. But I was too new into our infertility journey, and my heart was unwilling to repent at that time. I would think back to her amazing response later though, it sitting with me in spite of my own anger at God.

But one day I woke up and went, “Pathetic or not, stupid or not, THIS is shaking my faith.  So I need to come to grips with the fact that it’s serious and I better get down on my knees daily about it instead of comparing myself to everyone else and trying to shove it under a rug and pretend it doesn’t exist.”

But it was still a back and forth battle.  I would pray before every single pregnancy test.  I coped in a variety of good and bad ways – the time I walked out of communion and my husband had to find me in the side alley next to the church vs. the time I read through all of Job and wrote a really special blog post about how amazing God was and how I could trust Him. Or the time I thought, “Fine!  I’ll just splurge on clothing spontaneously!” and bought myself a fancy dress that ended up getting ruined the first time I wore it vs. the time I wrote a poem about God working on my heart and asked everyone to pray.  Or the time I cried for hours at my husband and blamed him for more than his fair share of everything vs. the time I sat down with my kids and talked through idols and how God was working on me.  It felt like there wasn’t a single day I could predict how I could react, and the inconsistency and fight to surrender was killing me

And the worst part was that, all throughout this battle, God was silent.

I never heard from Him, I never felt His peace, and He did not take away my suffering. He didn’t cure me or heal me or even take away my desire to have more children. I prayed hard that He would just take away my desire.  I prayed hard that I would feel His presence.  But it felt like He vanished, and that made me more heartbroken and angry.

In November, one of my very best friends in the whole world, Bethany Jennings, informed me that her 3-year-old daughter was regressing.  She couldn’t drink well out of a cup, she was stumbling when she walked, her speech was slurring, and her eyes drifting.

At first I didn’t want to believe her, hoping it was just motherly paranoia, but I’ll never forget the day I requested she video her daughter, Cora, so I could see.  I watched, horrified, at how much the little girl had regressed from when I had seen her in April.  Something was seriously wrong, and it was probably in her brain.  My chest tight with anxiety, I prayed that their visit with the specialist would come as quickly as possible.

Cora Jennings was diagnosed with an AVF (arteriovenous fistula) – like a swollen blood vessel – over her brain stem. It was compressing her whole brain, causing many neurological problems; she was losing the ability to walk, talk, chew, swallow, and other dangerous effects. My friend went to the best neurointerventalists in the nation, and he had never seen anything quite like Cora’s specific problem and its unusual formation. He was stumped and went into strategy mode with a ton of his colleagues.

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There was a real possibility that my best friend’s second born daughter, her precious little fair-haired princess would die. 

I had a three-year-old daughter.  What if it had been me?

For the first time in a while, God shook me out of my own stupor to care for my friend, who showed nothing but firm resolve and faith that God would do what was best.  If God planned on taking her three-year-old out of this earth, then she wanted to lead thousands to Christ because of it.  Her posts, and even her private IM chats with me, showed nothing but beautiful faith, real raw emotions coupled with such a love for her Savior, and a hopeful attitude about how God would use their family.  We started the page Praying for Cora together, and Bethany wrote her godly thoughts down for thousands to read, people who were touched and followed her page, eating up her words and being moved by the Holy Spirit inside of her.

I couldn’t imagine having that kind of faith and peace, and wondered why God had never given that to me.  I wanted more children and I was being a brat.  I couldn’t imagine contemplating one of my children being taken away! I felt awed and humbled.

The Jennings live on the east coast, and the risky, never-been-done-before operation to stop the swelling flow of blood was happening in the morning.  For me it was in the middle of the night.12246719_10207973116347885_5303478278759824858_n

I set my alarm to 4 AM and started praying.  On my knees at first, then jogging in circles around my living room, I pleaded with God for her life.  I had never gotten up in the middle of the night and stayed up to pray. I knew so many people were doing so with me, but in my house it was silent, still, and I was alone. I had to come face to face with God, and it finally wasn’t about my secondary infertility. It was about something more important.  I would take infertility over my friend losing her little girl, and that was the first time some of my clenched fingers came loose in my heart.  Maybe I was willing to surrender my dreams after all.

I watched the sunrise, something I hadn’t done for possibly a decade, and took pictures, feeling closer to God than I had in a while.12241312_10208118536786954_1470777290341552039_n

When the call finally came hours later that Cora had been saved, that the operation had been a smashing success, and that she was going to okay, I fell into a relieved, exhausted sleep.  Praise the Lord for His mercies!

I enjoyed Thanksgiving with my husband’s family that next week, thanking God for new answers to prayer, reading IM messages from Bethany about Cora’s progress and recovery.

My heart was being softened and I didn’t even know it.

A mere few weeks later, I traveled to Iowa, to a town on the border of Nebraska, to a part of the country I forgot existed and had never been to before.  It was a mild winter for them, with only one thunderstorm and a brief bit of nippiness.  I had been invited to play the piano in the wedding of a former piano and voice student, who was a kindred-spirited best friend as well. He was marrying the young lady he met in school in Iowa and I was his honorary “groomsman,” his former teacher playing his favorite songs.  It was a special honor, and playing in my students’ weddings was always on my bucket list.  This was the second time I got to do so, and I was thrilled.

My friend, the groom, can be scatterbrained, to put it mildly 😛 , and he didn’t even let me know who I would be staying with while I was out from Thursday-Sunday until the day before. I was told I’d get to board with an honorary aunt, a friend of the bride’s who was as close as family, and who had also put my friend up when he came out to stay and work there a summer.  He gave me her number and we texted each other a picture so we’d know who was who when I showed up the airport. I thought, “Here goes nothing!”

She walked in with a cane but had a young face.  I later found out she was in her early forties, so not old enough to be my aunt, but not quite a peer either.

I was in and out in a whirlwind of joyful fellowship, enjoying old Texan friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and wedding prep and practice.  But every evening the aunt and I would sit and talk far too late into the night.  She’s one of those that it’s easy to just get started with and never stop.  It came out that I was a writer, and I gave her the address of this blog.  Unbeknownst to me, she perused a bunch of my articles.

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Me with my iconic pink tips 😛 next to the groom to my left  🙂

The very last night, after the wedding was over (It was beautiful!) and I had stayed and laughed my head off with the other young people in a hotel room, I returned nice and late to the aunt’s house.  She and her husband were talking, and let me in on their chat.

After the aunt’s husband went back to work (Hard-working man that maintains multiple jobs and puts in many late hours at night doing so!), the aunt decided to trust me. Based on the recommendation from the groom? Based on what she had read from my blog? Based on the comments I made? Based on the look in my eyes or our conversation?  I should ask her sometime.  But for some reason, even though I was still a bit of a stranger, she made the plunge to trust me with her story.

Guys.  I met Job that day.

On December 12, 2015, the same day my good friend and student got married, I met Job.

I didn’t know that Job lived in the twenty-first century, nor that he had an auto-immune disorder that left his limbs aching and hurting most of the time, nor that he was a 40-something homeschool mom in a big, beautiful, older home in a little town in Iowa.

But I tell you, he does.

Those of you who remember my Job post from last year might recall that the only thing that truly comforted me in the time of so many “whys” was Job, specifically when God speaks at the end.

Nothing else can comfort in this broken world better than the thought of how great and big God is.

How He doesn’t answer to us for His decisions, how He does what He deems best, and how He so poignantly and even sarcastically points out how much He can do as God that Job couldn’t dream of. In my darkest hours, when I truly thought, “I’d stop trying to be a Christian right now except that I know I can’t because I am His, and because there is nothing else,” I’d read Job and know that I could never escape Him, and the best place to be was by His side, even if it felt like He was crushing my soul with His decisions.  That, in the end, my only hope of peace and comfort and understanding was sitting at His feet.

Because Job suffered so very, very much.

And so does this woman in Iowa, this adopted aunt of my dear friend.

In all my life, I have never heard a story as horrific as hers. I didn’t think anyone could suffer this much.

I won’t go into the particulars because of my broad audience, and because that is her private story that I would never want the responsibility of telling, but just know that this woman and Job will sit at God’s right hand some day.  I know it in my deepest heart.

As she sat and talked to me, and as the tears ran down my cheeks, the horror and jagged broken pieces of my heart piercing me, and as I held her hand and listened, she said words I will never ever ever forget:

 “I.  Love.  God.”

I was dumbfounded.

She continued. “He is good.  And I can say that, even though my trial hasn’t ended for all these years, even though I’ve developed health ailments on top of everything and been rejected more times than I can count, even though I don’t see an end in sight, even though I was once suicidal and didn’t think I could stand living… I know that God is good and that I love Him and want to follow Him all of my days.”  She was not bitter.  Her pure faith filled the room. I was seeing someone again who had it far worse than I did – far worse suffering than I could imagine.  And, like Bethany Jennings, she had nothing but faithful joy radiating from her eyes.

But she took it a step further, and that was the clincher.  “So I saw on your blog that you were struggling with some infertility,” she soothed kindly. “That must be so hard. I know what it’s like to have your womb just cry out.”

My chin was quivering now and I was trying to keep from sobbing.  “You… DEIGN… to talk to me about my MEASLY ‘trial’ after all you have been through?  Why?”

And she said, “Because it’s still a trial and because I care and because I feel for you.”

  And she went on to counsel me in a way only a Job reincarnate could. And she didn’t see me as pathetic under her feet but she engaged in my pittance of suffering. And she challenged and encouraged me.

I went to my bed that night and cried until I fell asleep.  I cried the plane ride back home. I cried when I saw my husband and little girls coming towards me in the airport bearing flowers. I cried when I told my husband the story at home.  I cried every day that next week.

The very next day after I got home, it was a surprisingly warm day for the northwest, and I took the girls to a new park.  The sun was out, which was also a rare treat, and the sky was clear. I sat on the park equipment, my face lifted to the sun, my eyes closed, and I began to thank God for all that He had given me.  For all that I had.

And lastly, my bitterness finally gone, I opened my hand completely, baring my palm to Him.  And I said, “Thank You for my infertility. Because I know that, without it, I could not be Christlike. Thank You for what You have decided to do in me.”

I was not the same after that.

    Now God didn’t magically heal me just because I said, “Thank You.” I pretty much despise when people tell me, “Just stop stressing and it will happen” or “All I had to do was surrender and then God gave me what I wanted,” as if we follow this works-religion that tells us our life is all up to us and we just have to repeat some magic words or go through a chain of actions to make God do what we want. I know some pretty godly people who aren’t stressing and have fully surrendered, and are still fully entrenched in their trial.

I still teared up when I got negative pregnancy tests, and I realized that was okay.  It wasn’t me being angry, it was okay to still be sad.  I still had times I really doubted He could heal me.  And He still felt distant and I couldn’t hear His voice or feel His peace.

Six more months of this passed, during which I started going to the new doctor recommended to me by the pastor’s wife, conquered a decade-old fear (Woot!) that I won’t talk about here, and started a new med.  I was convicted I needed to have faith that God could do a miracle, while still trusting that even if He didn’t, this was what was best for His glory and our family.  And encouraging my daughters to not lose their faith as well, but to continue to pray.

I still had emotions that swung up and down, but never the same depression, never the same anger.

I was changed.

Fast forward to the present.  I was on a double dose of the new med, Letrozole (Femara), trying again after a failed month of it.  My childhood friend was in town from Idaho for the weekend, and my parents were flying into town the next day. Summer was in full swing, and the days were longer and easier.  I got over two colds and a stomach bug all through the month of May, and was just grateful for good health and sunshine.

I had recently shared my testimony at the end-of-the-year Bible study (BSF) fellowship day, and had spoken about what God had taught me through studying Revelation, Job, and my good friends.

“Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come!” Revelation 4:9

After I spoke at BSF, I had finally felt God’s presence subtly, like he was holding me around the shoulders, pleased with me.  The sensation filled me up.

Putting out feelers into my author community, I asked for audio book suggestions while I gave my house a deep clean.  Jennifer Westall replied to me and sent me a free copy of her book Healing Ruby, a depression-era story seeped in the gospel and realistic drama. Doctrinal disagreements aside, main character Ruby’s faith made me tear up. She was nursing a sick young man with tuberculosis, and challenged him boldly when he got depressed.

She admonished, “God CAN heal you.  God has the power to heal you.  Have faith in what He’s doing!  Have faith in His love for you!  Never let your faith waver!”

After finishing the book, I laid my hand on my stomach and prayed for God’s healing, asking Him to forgive me for doubting Him.  I may not be angry any more, but I thought God had moved on and wouldn’t do what felt like the impossible.

I pulled out my pregnancy test two days ago on Monday, for the umpteenth time, just going through the motions. I sat down on the bathroom floor, my back to the wall, waiting to check to make sure the test was negative so I could go back to bed.  I prayed like I always did, that my attitude would be peaceful and godly when I got yet another no, and I counted the seconds in my head, my heart racing like it always did in spite of me.  The light was off and the bathroom was dark, dimly lit by the sun poking up over the horizon.

After only two minutes, I wanted to crawl back in bed, so I got up on my knees and peeked at the test.  There was the clear, bold, negative line.  Immediately my mind spun with, ‘What will the doctor say next?  This was the third month of Letrozole.  I thought it was working, and I was ovulating for the first time in who knows how long.  Does that mean something else is wrong with us? What other options are there?” But immediately I shut down my brain.  Go to bed and don’t worry.  The night before, when I had prayed to the Lord on my face about the pregnancy test of the next day, I had finally heard Him speak.  “Rest,” He seemed to say.  “Go to bed and rest.”  So I had. And I wanted to do so now.

Yet something pulled me back.  Did you even look at it in the light? Before I tossed the pregnancy test in the trash, disappointed but resigned, I flipped on the light.

THERE.

In the darkness, I had missed it.

It was so faint.

But it was THERE.

It existed.

A faint, light, SECOND LINE.

I….

I…

I AM PREGNANT!!!!!!!

When I called Bethany and the aunt in Iowa, they cried with me, telling me their hands were shaking, voices full of tears.

I am SO THANKFUL for God saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  You will now glorify me more by being pregnant than not.  This valley is over.”

And, as my ecstatic five-year-old remarked, “God answers prayer!! This is God’s love gift to us!” Because the due date? It’s Valentines’ Day 2017.  Yep, February 14th.

God’s love gift indeed.

I may never know God’s timing, or why He had me wait, other than knowing it was to clean house in my heart and make me more like Him.  I may also never know why He decided, like Rachel in the Bible, to “remember me” and lift His hand and bless me in this way.

But I am thankful.  SO VERY THANKFUL!!  I am thankful for the prayers, encouragement, testimonies, faithfulness, and love of all of the saints who surrounded me in this process, and I am thankful that God gave me my heart’s desire when I didn’t deserve it.  I am thankful that He showed Himself the doer of things impossible to my little girls, and answered their prayers.

I am excited to share this happy-surprise-twist ending with you, but would have shared what God taught me no matter how it ended, even if I didn’t have a single other child.

God can do anything.  But sometimes He first wants you to sit and meet Job.  ❤

 

Christianity and Flatland

My daughter hates, hates, hates having her hair washed.

At two and a half (yesterday!), this has not changed.  The screaming ricochets around the bathroom, deafening our ears, and makes us feel like we’re reenacting something out of Psycho.

She always gets water in her eyes, bellowing and standing up, crying and flailing.  Every time I, wrestling with her and trying to keep her sane, tell her the same thing:

“If only you looked up!”

Even though lying back calmly in my arms and tilting her head to the sky would produce marvelous results, she insists on keeping her head down and forward, jerking away from me, and letting the water flood her face, terrifying her.

I feel like, as Christians, we are the same way.

So often we are completely flooded and drowned in temporary problems.  Some are pretty serious!  And “keep your eyes on Jesus” always sounds so trite.

What does that even mean?

We humans live in Flatland.  We really do.  Our view on life and the world is so two dimensional.  When a problem or a person or a world is right in front of us, we can’t see around it.  It’s there, invading every inch of our two dimensional view.

 

However, there’s a whole eternal perspective out there beyond that one looming problem taking up all of our five senses.

Wanting to be in control, it’s easy to say, “I’m going to keep my head forward and straight and take in this problem.  I’m going to let it live in my brain and soul and never take my gaze off of it until it goes away.”  And then we’re stuck, unable to move.

Instead, if we look up, in this Flatland world of ours, we see that the heavens go on for eternity: up, up, up.  And hey!  Going up and over can move us on past this problem, conquering it or handling it along the way.  Also, God sees four dimensions.  Not only does He see around and underneath and above the problem, but He sees what good it will produce in time. 

When I am encouraged, or encourage others, to look to Christ in their situation, this is the meaning: lie back, even though it’s scary, and look up!

I am not saying to ignore problems or pretend they don’t exist.  And I also don’t mean to forget practical steps that have to be taken.  BUT, if you simply go spend time in the Bible and on your knees, begging God to show you what to do, and obey what He’s already told you, if you focus on simply trying to be like Him in every situation – he will work things out for you, usually by a perspective change.  It’s super hard to be discouraged when you’re busy mimicking Christ and focusing on what He’s done for you.

Some times the only way to solve problems is, not by ignoring them, but simply by paying more attention to God instead.  If you’re looking up and focusing on “How am I Christlike right now?” you won’t go wrong.  Whereas, if you find yourself going, “But the problem…!” with full-throttle emotion and fear and despair, you know you’re letting the water and stinging soap wash over your eyes.

And there is no need to drown.  Look up.

Let Me Introduce You to My Babies…

Click on any of the book titles to be taken to Amazon to purchase.

 

My Fault (Ages 16+) – Christian Romantic Comedy

2D“I realized his eyes had lost that wary look. They were the bluest blue. Bluer than my favorite coffee mug. Bluer than the Solonaise County Public Pool when it’s actually been cleaned at the beginning of the summer before all those little kids in their floaties come and pee in it.”

Quirky Cleo Stanton has a problem: she’s falling for the guy she ran over with her car when she should not have been driving.

A devout Christian and quietly mysterious, Grayson Fox is as cute as he is kind, begrudgingly putting up with Cleo and her motor mouth. But will he ever forgive her for crushing his leg? Can she break him out of his shell? And what hilarity will ensue when the flamboyant Cleo tries to draw him out?

ABottleOfGlassHeartsCover

 

A Bottle of Glass Hearts (Ages 13+) – Collection of Short

Stories

Deep and emotional, this touching collection consists of short stories about love and unique relationships, including titles: Gem, Lucent Sylph, Curls for Rae, Aine, Starwarrior, and His Bottles of Tears

 

Gem (Ages 10+) – Science Fantasy

Gem 2The planet of Topha is breaking into pieces, and the next core earthquake will destroy it, killing the entire population.

But God has sent generations of Omnicrons: children born with advanced brain abilities, telepathy, and telekinesis – children called upon to literally hold the planet together with the power of their minds. Few Omnicrons survive while completing their task.

Twenty-five-year-old Soleil is hired to be a motherly caretaker for the current Omnicron, the precocious and brooding eleven-year-old Gem. She finds herself drawn to the chosen child, but Gem seems resigned to his fate, as numb and emotionless as ever. Undeterred, Soleil resolves to bring joy back into his life. Can Soleil restore Gem’s will to live in time? And even if she can, will it be enough to enable him to survive the task ahead?

 

Heartsick (Ages 18+) – Christian Romantic Suspense

Blessing Spivey didn’t expect to cause such an uproar on her first day of college.

She’s a missionary kid, outgoing and eager to achieve her dreams, and when she leaves 2Dbehind the harder life of Mexico and arrives at her small Bible college, all she wants is to obtain a teaching degree – and maybe a man as well.

But she’s barely set foot on campus before a shadow looms over her. She is told she’s an exact doppelganger for Tessa Lyme, the popular school sweetheart who shocked the college last semester with her unexpected suicide. And now Tessa’s mysterious ex-boyfriend, Shale Westin, seems to have it out for Blessing.

Despite Shale’s hostility, Blessing is irresistibly drawn to him, and to the strange story of his girlfriend’s death. What secrets did Tessa’s glamorous life hide? And can Blessing protect her own heart from danger?

 

Lucent with badgeLucent Sylph: A Short Story (Ages 10+) – Science Fantasy

Lucas Thissel has something he fears: an alien species of palm-sized glass fairies called Lucent Sylphs. They came through a portal from a metaphysical dimension, and they indenture themselves as slaves to human beings. Too much neglect or unkindness, and they will cloud over and disintegrate. Too much love and their hearts are overcome and burst.

And one has attached herself to him.

TheHotlineGirl_1850

 

The Hotline Girl (Ages 16+) – Contemporary Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling (No Fantasy)

Arabella Rose is the county’s best suicide hotline telephone operator. But very few know the personal reasons behind her passion, until a call from a strangely compelling man shakes up her entire world.

 

 

12thGirl2The 12th Girl in Heaven (Ages 18+) – Crime, Mystery, Romantic Suspense, Fairy Tale Retelling (No Fantasy)

Macy Bandele’s goals are simple: get good grades, don’t make waves at the university, and find some place to belong. The mysterious princess sorority, Rho Lambda Tau, seems like the answer to her problems. If only the handsome Dillan Noughton didn’t keep challenging her way of thinking. What sinister plans do the sorority hide? And can Dillan help save her from herself?

 

 

2D Angel-Lover (Ages 16+) – Christian Issue-Driven

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 who she is and, in the process, finds Something Else he did not expect.

 

 

Dashwood Avenuedashwood (Ages 8+) – Historical Mystery

It is 1953 and life for Kiralee Nottingham is dull, boring, and completely lacking in excitement. You can’t get a much smaller, quaint, seaside town than Upper-Chern, South Carolina. No one moves in or out and summer renters are a rare treat. The only kids Kiralee’s age are an obnoxious group that visit every summer. The oldest, George, is Kiralee’s personal irritant. Then, the elusive Slater family moves in. At first it appears they are the friends Kiralee dreamed about, but everything is not as it seems. With them come mystery, trouble, and adventure and Kiralee finds herself right in the middle of it! All the while, Kiralee is growing from awkward tomboy to young lady and George is leaving his old life as a spoiled rich boy to become an ally and friend.

 

 

 

Shameless Plug Day

Too excited not to share.

I now have an author page on Amazon.com and have a book available on Amazon Kindle!

My author page: http://www.amazon.com/RJ-Conte/e/B00MDY4T0S

Check out Angel-Lover, and read the first two chapters here.  See if it hooks you in.  🙂

Starting tomorrow, August 4th, through August 18th, in celebration of starting on Amazon Kindle, Angel-Lover will only be $0.99.  Get your copy now!  🙂

 

http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Lover-RJ-Conte-ebook/dp/B00MD5VH0W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407118860&sr=8-1&keywords=Angel-Lover+RJ+Conte

 

Tell me what you think when you read it!