I don't do many events these days, but reviving 61 Strong is forcing me out of my hermit cave a bit. Our first event is Saturday, November 14th from 6 - 9 pm in St. Louis at 3617 Grandel Square. We're hosting a game night to benefit Kaleidoscope Network. You can check our their website to learn more about them, but I think the recent Twitter chat hosted by 61 Strong did a great job of really capturing who they are and what they do.
I'll have books for sale at the event, and there will be chances to win books. It's a family friendly event with games for kids of all ages and the young at heart. We're encouraging area churches to bring their youth groups. Fingers crossed, Vox Dei YA author Tabitha Caplinger will also make an appearance. (Oh my goodness, her novel is good.) We'll have lots of fun prizes (non-book stuff, too!) and some snacks on hand, with more available for purchase. We're suggesting a $10 donation per person/ $20 per family, but we're flexible. You can give more or less as you can.
For my readers in the St. Louis area, you should stop by! I'd love to meet you.
I'm in a terrible mood. It's been the kind of week that has me debating between breathing fire and curling up somewhere by myself to have a good cry. Or maybe both. When the big and small things of life, work, stuff start to pile up, it's easy for me to forget what God's done in my life.
I'm one of several authors contributing to a compilation of essays and devotionals that will be released by Vox Dei Publishing in 2016. One of the stories I wrote for that keeps coming to mind. I'm sharing it today because I need the reminder. Some of you know the story, some of my newer readers may not. Either way, I hope it serves as a reminder that God still moves mountains. He's still around and He cares, whatever you're facing, big or small.
Most moments in life melt quietly into the next. Some change everything—you can clearly see the line between life before and life after.
At 6:45 p.m. on March 31, 2011, I was happily showing my husband how responsive my mare, Sassy, had become. Questions about next steps in life had been set aside and the entire family was looking forward to dinner at the new Culvers in town.
At 7 p.m. I was kneeling over the lifeless body of my middle son, begging, “Lord Jesus, bring him back to me.”
The moments in between replayed through my mind every time I closed my eyes for months after. My middle son, who was just seven years old at the time, asked if he could cool Sassy down for me. More like he begged. He’d been bullied that day at school and told me that a horseback ride was the only thing that would make it better. Sassy was in a great mood and had just given me the best ride of her life, so I agreed. Blake had ridden her a hundred times before, so he knew the ropes. The smile on his face as he shimmied through the gate will be forever etched into my memory.
For reasons I will never know, our beloved horse was placid and responsive until, without warning, she spun to the right and bolted. Being bred a working cow horse, she pivoted so quickly and with such a large stride, it knocked Blake loose in the saddle. He held on for a stride before tumbling backwards down the side of the horse.
It happened so quickly he didn’t have time to react or push himself away. He landed in the sand with a thud. About the time I breathed a sigh of relief that he was okay, her rear hoof grazed his forehead. He wasn’t breathing when I fell beside him in the sand. I rolled him over and cleaned the sand out of his mouth. He had no pulse, he was completely lifeless, and CPR got me no response.
I stopped what I was doing, placed a hand on him, and wailed, “Jesus bring my baby back to me.” He sucked in a sharp breath, but his eyes didn’t open. My husband was already on the phone with 9-1-1. My other two sons snapped out of their shock and asked what they could do. I told the oldest to put the horse in her stall and take her tack off so she’d be out of the paramedics’ way when they arrived. I told the youngest to pray.
God bless those boys, they’d just seen the most horrific thing of their lives, but they sprang into action. Sassy had stopped dead in her tracks the instant she’d felt her hoof connect with Blake. She watched from the corner, head hung. Dylan retrieved her and made sure she was okay and out of the way while Christopher fell to his brother’s side, taking his limp hand into his own and praying with all of his six-year-old might.
As I knelt over my son, praying harder than I ever had before, I distinctly remember the moment where I acknowledged, He’s yours God. I’m asking you to give him back to me, but I trust that he’s yours.
The paramedics came and took him to a nearby hospital, and still Blake slept. At the hospital, they told us he would have to be airlifted to the children’s hospital in the city. They gave my youngest son a stuffed puppy to “take care of for them,” and then they let us in to say our goodbyes. Blake’s little jeans and flannel shirt had been cut away. His face was horribly disfigured. And still he slept.
Once Blake was loaded into the helicopter, we followed in our car, praying and crying the entire way. Blake’s smile was seared into my brain and I grieved I’d seen it for the last time. When we arrived, they ushered us past the waiting lines and back to a waiting room. There, the in-flight paramedics sought me out with tears in their eyes to tell me they were sorry; they’d done all they could. Blake was still breathing, but initial scans showed no brain activity. The doctors gave us no hope. Again, we were let in to say goodbye.
But everything in me railed, NO! God did not give him breath again to take it away now. He will be healed. Our pastor was there, our parents were there, my sisters were there, and my best friend showed up to take my other two boys to eat before going home with her. The next few days were, to say the least, surreal.
Once I got it in my head that God was going to heal Blake, I began to fast and pray. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t eat until Blake was awake again. Each time the medical profession told me there was no hope, God gave me a glimmer of hope. Each dire pronouncement was met with improvement on Blake’s part. His brain “woke up” on pictures. He moved a finger on command. He squeezed my hand. All spread out over days and nights of prayer. If I slept, it was sitting straight up beside him, his hand in mine.
And then came the day when they said they were worried about swelling on the brain, that they’d have to operate if he didn’t wake up by the next morning. Unbeknownst to me, one of my sisters called the local Christian radio station to ask for prayer. I found out when the first stranger popped their head in to say they were praying for us. As it turns out, the whole city was praying for us. And that evening, a pair of blue eyes made their appearance.
I can’t imagine how scary that must have been, waking up in the ICU, in pain, with a giant tube down your throat and needles in your arms. By the next morning, though, the tube was taken out and Blake was even able to ask me for vegetables. It was my mother’s birthday, April 5. I remember my mama and I both weeping for joy at the sound of his voice.
Time and again, Blake and God defied all logic. We were told he’d be in the hospital indefinitely. He was released in 10 days. We were told he’d need in-patient rehab, he wound up qualifying for day treatment, so he could come home with us each night. They said it would take years before he healed. Six months later, the doctors admitted he’d been healed for over a month, they’d just had a hard time believing it.
Don’t get me wrong—it was a hard road. Blake worked hard each and every day, fighting and clawing his way back to the child he’d once been. The entire family made sacrifices as things shifted and rearranged to accommodate our new normal. I left my cozy corporate job to be with Blake through rehab, which meant we had to leave our expensive home in the suburbs. We went from middle class to poor with a mountain of medical debt overnight, but none of that really mattered in the face of the miracle God was working right before our eyes.
And, in a way that only God could orchestrate, all of those changes put us on a path we were always meant to be on, one we’d been stumbling around trying to find before the accident. The obvious miracle came the moment God put breath back in my son’s body, but it was followed by countless subtle miracles that will forever shape my life and faith.
Since then, Blake has gone back to being the life of the party. He lives to make others smile, and he’s really good at it. We’ve since moved, and people in his new world don’t know about the accident unless we tell them; there are no outward signs it ever happened. Sure, Blake has challenges to face he didn’t have before, but I think those aren’t so much about an incomplete miracle as reminders lest we forget, as we humans are prone to do.
About a year after the accident, a woman I didn’t know approached me to tell me that she’ds been one of the countless people praying for Blake. She’d just come back from a trip to Jerusalem, where she’d given a Sunday devotional at the tomb of Jesus Christ. The story she told was Blake’s.
Sometimes, we act like God stopped working miracles after the book of Acts. But Jesus told us that if we had even a bit of faith when we asked a mountain to move into the sea, it would be given to us.
What mountains do you need moved today?
If you want to be notified when the compilation is available, sign up for Vox Dei Publishing's monthly newsletter to be notified of new releases.
I have other posts I want to write, stuff I want to share, but all of that kind of fades to the background when there are baby goats on the farm... and there are baby goats on our farm again!
I get so tired of mending fences, I'm terrible at milking, and when we do milk, we tend to give as much of it to the dogs as we actually process because I get too busy. And lately, the goats have been particularly goaty, which makes me sorely tempted to sell them all and live in peace.
But then the next kidding season rolls around, and the babies make everything worth it all over again.
It's been a crazy few days (weeks) at work. When it gets to be too much, I go outside to soak up the sunshine and watch the babies hop around for a few minutes, and the irritation just sort of melts away.
So for now, I'll keep my goats and the headaches they bring, if for no other reason than the sheer joy of having babies around the farm twice a year.
Because baby goats make everything better.
Happy Cover Reveal day to author Angela Whisenhant! The cover is absolutely gorgeous!
By Angela Whisenhant
Release Date: 10.27.15
About the book:
One bad decision can change your life forever. Alyson Carter has always put her family first, so the small town of Sage Grove is shocked to learn she’s abandoned them for a man she met online. Seeking a more exciting life, she moves to his horse ranch in Colorado.
Attempting to adjust to life without her, her husband, Kurt, accepts an opportunity to train with the FBI, reluctantly allowing their daughter, Lacy, to move in with a family friend. When the friend is kidnapped, it’s discovered Lacy was the intended target.
Pursued by unknown assailants who will stop at nothing to catch her, Lacy finds herself scared and alone. She turns to her mother for protection, unaware that her mother’s secluded mountain sanctuary has become a prison. Alyson discovers she’s merely a pawn in the deadly game of a man she thought she knew. Secrets and lies draw her family onto a collision course with cold-blooded killers.
Her ill-fated decision has placed them all in danger, and she is forced to confront her enemy head-on to protect herself and her daughter. Now she must depend on a God she turned her back on and the husband she left behind to save them both.
Check out the book on Goodreads.
About the author:
Angela has been a passionate reader her whole life and that love of reading developed into a love of writing. She is excitedly awaiting the publication of her first novel, Tangled Web. She wants to tell the stories of real people who make real mistakes and, yet find real redemption. People who are leading normal lives and suddenly find themselves thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Sometimes they make good decisions and sometimes bad decisions. But either way they must live with the consequences.
Much of her inspiration comes from her life in a small town and her love of all things suspense. Her perfect storm is when the two collide. Crime in a small town impacts everyone because of the close ties.
Angela lives in Texas with the three loves of her life; her husband Leslie and sons, Kyle and Chase. Other than writing, she loves coffee, 80’s music, hiking in Colorado and HGTV. She aspires to live a joyful life, always chase her dreams and never settle for mediocrity.
Find her here:
Website | angelawhisenhant.wordpress.com/
Facebook | AngelaWhisenhantAuthor
Twitter | @angela_whiz
Book published by
Interested in reviewing the book?
Cover reveal organized by
My boys have been on a roll lately. Too bad I've been not so great about writing it all down. But I'm determined to get better, so without further ado, here's this month's conversations with my goofy kiddos. I'll try to get better about documenting for next month!
Blake: So, uh, are you going to make lunch soon, Mom?
Me (realizing it's really late): Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. I'll start lunch right after I finish this.
Blake (sounding an awful lot like Oliver Twist): It's okay Mama. It only hurts a little.
Blake (playing video game): Crap!
Me: Blake, don't use that word.
Blake: Sorry Mom. Things were just really intense.
Me (two minutes later, after making a mistake): Well crap.
Blake: Mom, you really shouldn't use that word.
Christopher: It's okay Blake. Things were just really intense.
Christopher: I feel sorry for myself.
Me: Why is that, sweetie?
Christopher: Because I'll never know what it's like to have a child as awesome as me.
Congratulations, Wendy Lynn Decker on your amazing upcoming novel - Sweet Tea. The Cover is as beautiful as the story inside!
By Wendy Lynn Decker
Published by Vox Dei Publishing
Release Date: 10.20.15
About the book:
The fourth anniversary of Olivia’s daddy and John Lennon’s death is approaching. Like the shot heard ’round the world, TV and radio stations keep the frenzy alive and recognize Lennon’s life, while Olivia’s mama remembers Daddy’s death. Instead of healing, Mama’s strange behavior keeps getting worse.
After viewing an afternoon talk show, Olivia discovers her mother might have more than a case of eccentricity – she may be mentally ill. When those fears are confirmed, Olivia is faced with more decisions than any sixteen-year-old should have to make. With no adult family members to turn to, she is forced to trust the only people who’ve offered help: one strange man and a friend her mother makes at the mental institution.
Facing the intricacies of her mother’s illness one minute and the decision to have sex with her new boyfriend the next, Olivia finds that through faith and determination, she can conquer it all in this poignant story of love, intuition, compassion, and hope.
What early reviewers are saying:
“In this day and age, society still finds it difficult to face the challenges families encounter that are living with a mentally ill parent. Ms. Decker’s novel brings these issues to light in a realistic manner that engages readers as well as helps them understand certain traits to look for should they face this type of situation.”
–Christine Harris, Co-President – Middlesex County NAMI
“Wendy Lynn Decker has a very unique and talented gift of writing. I really enjoyed the down home style that assimilates a Tom Sawyer genre and I wouldn’t be surprised if this book became recommended reading for contemporary school systems… “
-Ray Costa, LPC, LCADC, NCC
“Sweet Tea is a fine young adult story…So many titles on mental illness narrow the focus to coping and neglect the overall bigger picture of how home life with mental illness can interact with a wider world outside home’s front door”
-D. Donovan, Book Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
Decker brings to life the chaos, confusion and poignancy of loving and living with a mentally ill mother. I couldn’t stop reading, even when my heart was aching and my brain was cringing.”
– Shari Sanford, Paperback Exchange Bookstore, Belmar, NJ
About the author: Wendy Lynn Decker has lived in thirteen different towns in the state of New Jersey. Now, she lives a bike ride away from the ocean and her favorite restaurant. She is the author of the middle-grade chapter book, THE BEDAZZLING BOWL, which is the first book intended for a series.
Find her here:
If you would like to review Sweet Tea, We'd love to provide you with an e-book in exchange for a review on Amazon/Blogs/GoodReads. Email Aimee at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover Reveal put together by:
Rolling hills that had been vibrant green just weeks ago were now muted in tone, as if they were taking a deep breath before bursting into the song of fall.