Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Christmas Grace, Signing Seeds

Grace Avery's husband was her rock, the foundation to her faith and her life. Now a young, grieving widow, she longs to have his baby, but artificial insemination fails her again and again. How far will she go to have his baby? She cries out to God, but He isn't listening. When the Worship Team Leader asks her to come back and bless the congregation with her gift of sign language during the Christmas Eve Program, her stifling grief holds her back. Can sharing her gift be the seed needed to reap the harvest she so desperately wants? Is God's grace sufficient? Is there Christmas Grace?

Published by Astraea Press
Cover by Cora Graphics 

About this author:  Lynn Donovan spends her days chasing after her muses, trying to get
them to settle down and behave long enough to dictate their words and actions. The results have produced The Clockwork Dragon, a collection of nine short stories in which she wrote half (4.5 stories), The Wishing Well Curse, and Thorns of Betrayal, Rocking Horse Shadows, and Christmas Grace, Signing Seeds. A speculative fiction called Fertility Pirates is hovering out there somewhere. Lynn enjoys reading and writing Christian fiction, paranormal, and speculative fiction. But you never know what her muses will come up with for a story, so you could see a novel under any given genre. All we can tell you is keep your eyes open, cause these muses are not sitting still for long! Oops, there they go again…

You can learn more about Lynn on her blog, SittingOnThePorchWithLynn.blogspot.com, follow her on Twitter @MLynnDonovan, LinkedIn.com at M Lynn Donovan, Face Book at MLDonovan, her Face Book Author page at LynnDonovanFGG and her website: http://lynndonovanauthor.webs.com/

Sneak Peek:  "Well, hello!" Pastor Barbara greeted Grace at the front door of the church. Her slow, Southern accent drew out the salutation. The afternoon air had cooled enough for a jacket. The weather was unpredictable from one hour to the next, especially in December in south Texas.
Grace stepped up behind her, staring at Barbara's hands turning the over-burdened key ring. "Hi, Pastor."
She chewed on the inside of her cheek, mentally rehearsing her already worn-out speech. She hated what she had to do. Not that she regretted her reasons for doing it. Chris meant more to her than any activity in church. It was just that she knew how the pastor would react. It had been Barbara who had asked her to start signing with the praise team. She would be disappointed to have Grace leave the team. She hated disappointing anybody, especially Pastor Barbara.
Barbara unlocked the doors and led the way to her office toward the back of the administrative area. "Come on in. You want a water or somethin'?"
"No, I'm good," Grace said softly.
"Wonderful!" Barbara's voice boomed in the empty silence. She rotated her shoulder to coax her heavy sweater off. It seemed to cling to her shimmering blouse. Eventually, she managed to move and shake her arm to get the sweater low enough so gravity could do the rest.
She blew an exasperated sigh and shoved wiry black hair back into place. Her keys rattled as she set them on the corner of her desk. Her milk-chocolate skin was moist from her efforts. She flapped the collar of her blouse to cool her skin.
Her eyes met Grace's. "How's Chris?"
"He's…" Grace choked. "He's not so good." She could barely get the words out.
"Oh! Oh honey. I'm so sorry." Barbara tossed the sweater at her chair, and then gathered Grace into her arms.
She leaned down to bury her face against Barbara's shoulder and cried. The well-rehearsed speech escaped into a dark, hidden place in her mind.
Barbara patted Grace's back while her tears flowed.
She had not intended to break down like this. There was something about Pastor Barbara that allowed Grace to be vulnerable, to let down her armor. "I'm sorry."
Grace yanked a tissue from Barbara's tissue box and wiped her eyes. "I didn't mean to fall apart like that."
"It's all right. Burdens are not meant to be carried alone." Barbara pulled a tissue from the box and dotted makeup-beaded perspiration from her forehead. Sincere empathy glazed her dark-brown eyes.
"Now, tell me. Why this meeting? You wantin' ta take some time off ta spend with your hu-usband?" Barbara's accent over-emphasized the first syllable of the last word. Her unique pronunciation warmed Grace's heart.
She nodded, her speech poking back into the lighted area of her memory. "Chris is so weak right now, Barbara. I need to spend more time with him. I've got to reduce my activities."
Then her excellent speech fizzled away like an untied balloon. "I have two freelance contracts to wrap up, and then I'm going to hold off submitting anymore queries…for now. I've got some residuals to tie me over, and Chris has his disability."
She just couldn't stop herself. Her mouth had a mind of its own. "We don't owe anything except our mortgage. We'll be fine until…" The words stuck in her throat. She forced herself to continue even though her voice pitched from the constriction.
"I feel like I need to spend all my time making him as comfortable as possible."
"Well, now, let's not talk like that. Only the Good Lord knows our days. I understand, though. I'm sure you want to be with him as much as possible." Barbara clung to Grace's hand. "Have you prayed about this? We sure will miss your presence on the team, but we understand."
"Yes. I've prayed 'til I'm blue in the face." Grace stared at the ground and swallowed hard, trying not to cry. She couldn't help but expose her frustration. Her faith was slipping through her fingers, and she knew it. Her armor had been completely discarded.
"Oh, Grace. Bless your heart. Let's pray now." Barbara took both of Grace's hands and bowed her head. She prayed for strength, healing, and protection for her and Chris. She thanked God for His wisdom and perfect timing. Finally she asked it all in Jesus's name, and they both said "Amen."
Grace felt numb. Barbara's prayers usually gave her such peace. It was the words perfect timing that caught in Grace's heart. What if this was God's perfect timing? It did not reassure her that Chris would make it through this.
Barbara squeezed Grace's hands one last time and then released them.
"Thank you." Grace sniffed. But she didn't feel grateful.
Something stirred deep down in her gut. A longing, no, a need, to get to Chris. "I've gotta go."
"Of course, God bless you." Barbara drew her into another embrace, but Grace pulled away. The odd feeling intensified and curled around in her gut like a knot of snakes. She absolutely had to get home.

Available at AstraeaPress.com, Amazon.com

Sunday, October 5, 2014

In the mean time...

Warning: This blog contains Ranting and Dramatical, Emotional Outburst!

Peace, Contentment: Concern vs Worry

I have sought peace and contentment my whole life. Don’t we all? Is anyone truly at peace in their daily lives? But I have to admit, I’m miserable when I’m not at peace. I can’t sleep. My blood pressure rises. My stomach hurts. I’m irritable. I’m sad. I’m…not myself. The self who is comfortable and relaxed.

“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” ~Romans 8:25

Lately, I have ridden a roller coaster of emotions with complete melt downs. I turn to God and Prayer.  I cry. I talk to my Husband. I call upon my prayer warriors. I talk to my daughters (my best friends in the entire universe). I talk to my sons (second best friends in the entire universe). I stand at the alter in church and ask the Elders to pray for me or my situation.

Some of my “concerns” are self induced. We want to move to Colorado. There is a lot of detail to moving to another state.

Finding the area you want to live. Check.

Four years ago, we chose Canon City after asking friends who live in Colorado, “Where in Colorado would you recommend living? and why?”

We bought land and had a plan. (I laugh at myself…because I now know the next chapter in this plan)

Say: Do you know how to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans. 

Yeah, boy howdy is that the truth!

We scoured the internet for our dream home. A Log Home. We found a dealer, who was also a builder. We found the perfect piece of land! Beautiful meadow, rising to lovely hills—Mountains to me who has been raised her whole life in the flat, open plains of the Panhandle of Texas and now lives in South West Kansas. We perused the catalog, with a realistic budget in mind, we chose a home. Then we spent months sketching how we’d change the original kit to suit our needs. After several years, literally, of intense focus on this one house plan, we decided it would be cheaper to change plans, so we scoured the catalog again and found another, more suitable floor plan. OKAY!
Photoshopped version of how home
would look on our land.

As we reached the “It could really happen in a year” marker, we sat down and discussed our version of the house plan, paid for official drawings, and muddled through the three-opportunities-to-make-changes-for-free process. There! The plans were “Just right!” and ready for subcontractor estimates.

We waited patiently, even though this process took three or four months. Toward the last month, I have to admit, we were getting antsy!!! Then our worst nightmare in this whole dream/process:

The bid was so high, we couldn’t afford it.

~Insert needle scratching a record sound~ 

Melt Down!

In the mean time, real, life-and-death stuff was happening to be “concerned” about.

First: My oldest, thirty year old daughter became pregnant with baby number three. She has two boys by birth and one by relationship. (And my I say, we love them all the same) But THREE boys. She wanted a girl and so did the rest of the family! (Grandparents included!) So of course the babies turn out to be boys!

Did you catch that? Babies! Twins! 

She’s having twin boys! That's fine. I love my grandsons as much as my granddaughters. It was just wishful thinking…

But now she's not only thirty and pregnant, it’s a High Risk pregnancy and she’s a little bitty thing. Five foot, oneish. Barely pushes a hundred and twenty pounds. Where will she have room for two babies, and her youngest are three and four years old.  The older one is nearly eleven and in football. He's an AP student, very active! She has a non-stop lifestyle.

Not a melt down, but extreme CONCERN. Praying over these babies and her. A full-term pregnancy would be great, Lord! I”m just saying…

Second: August 10th, my oldest son had a roll-over accident and nearly lost his left arm and his life. (HORROR NUMBER 1) then while being examined for other internal injuries, the discovery of CANCER was found. WHAT?! Okay, the accident was a miracle, otherwise the cancer would not have been found…I get that. But…


The Patch/graph
from his thigh
External apparatus
holding his arm together
So several operations, a graph from his thigh,  twelve days in the hospital, a $300,000 hospital bill (miraculously paid by a charity organization THANK YOU JESUS), and a trip to Houston, TX for THE BEST oncology clinic known to this modern mankind, he’s home. Chemo for 4.5 months is planned. Physical therapy for his reconstructed left arm.

Oh, did I mention he and his wife, had just had a baby boy? He was like six weeks old when the accident happened! And a two year old son, not to mention two older girls, thirteen and seventeen. 

Yeah. Major worries about them, during all this. Thank God for her parents and my son’s dad and step-mom who have pitched in and helped so much. They have an amazing cluster of friends who are also giving their time and resources to help daily!

Thank God, Thank God, Thank God. 

Sure. But…I’m eleven hours away…and—Concerned.

Third: My youngest daughter’s boyfriend (father of my granddaughter) did somethings that were stupid (sorry but it’s the truth) and caused himself to have TWO strokes. He’s recovering and going through physical therapy to regain use of his arms/hands. Actually, it was a wakeup call and he is really doing much better, mentally and physically. But a mother worries!!!

Prom 2014

And Fourth: My youngest is at the threshold of moving out and starting his life as an adult. (Just a whole ’nother wad of emotions and concerns) I know he’ll do fine…of course. My heart aches and yet it soars. He’s an amazing guy and I LOVE his girlfriend.

Let’s also remember, my mother died April 12th, in our home, after several years of battling Alzheimer's (dementia), and I am guardian of my forty-nine year old special needs sister who is blind, deaf and mentally challenged.

That’s my basket of worry!!!

My measly house-shattered-to-smithereens melt down seems pretty minor in comparison to all these real, life threatening concerns! I know.

SO…life goes on and we are rethinking our homestead plans. What to do? Find a different, smaller home to build on our land? Buy a house in town? What about Westcliffe? For that matter, what about a different area all together? Woodland Park is nice…  Love Boulder...


Did I mention, I hate not knowing what our general plans are? Country vs City, New Construction vs Resale, Canon City vs … God only Knows.

I don’t mind change. I love change. I don’t mind searching, I love perusing all resources and looking for just the right one. I HATE not know what our GENERAL PLANS are. Too many unknown variables became part of the equation and I had a melt down.

We have funds set aside for this move (thanks to death benefits from my mother) but suddenly, I felt like everything, including the funds, were slipping through my fingers and we were going to be destitute. Unrealistic, I know, but that was the elevator I was on while having my meltdown.

Okay. Take a deep breath. Pray. Pull yourself together. Pray. Trust in God. Pray. Be patient. PRAY!!!

What are our options?

The final answer is not in my grasp yet. (I hate to leave you hanging like this, but it is where I am too. Let’s chat while we are hanging on this cliff by the tips of our fingernails…So, how are you…)

I have sent four emails to different sources and are waiting replies to determine what options we actually have.
Buy resale in Canon City or Westcliffe (we like both towns and work is available in either one, PLUS my husband is fine with commuting either way.)
Buy resale in the area of our land.
Build new in Canon City. We have an actual site and builder as a potential here.
Build that same new house on our land.
Build something else on our land.

Which leads to Meltdown number 4! If we build new, either on our land or in town, we need to decide NOW because it will take four to six months. (And we all know construction is never under, it’s always over what is planned.)

If we buy resale, we shouldn’t do anything until after the first of the year because no one is going to accept a contract that says, We are moving to your area, no we don’t have a job yet, but we will, and we are selling our house here… Yeah that won’t fly.

OR if we can find a house at a price low enough, we can go ahead and buy it, pay two mortgages and treat it as a second home until we 1. obtain job in area, 2. sell home here, 3. move there. This would be nice! We wouldn’t be homeless for GOK how long until we get mortgage and housing.


In the mean time: 

My daughter is in her third trimester and so far so good. She’s holding up real good and the babies are healthy and staying put!

My oldest son has an amazingly positive attitude and is surrounded by Godly people who pray for and with him daily, hourly. He is facing this challenge/cancer head on and is going to have a powerful testimony one of these days.

The youngest daughter is holding up beautifully. Her significant other has actually impressed me with his diligence and determination to recover. He’s learned a valuable lesson and I pray he sticks with his new conviction to stay clean.

The youngest son has a good head on his shoulder. He has recently found a better paying job and will be building a savings before leaping out of the nest. He’s not overly anxious and I appreciate that. They are practicing cooking and gathering information for budgeting. 

AND he promises me he will stay in college until he has received a diploma. (So does his girlfriend!)

I am beginning to have peace with one of these homestead choices, but I will wait to see what the Lord and my husband have to say about it. In the mean time…

I know, I know…

Thank you for listening. Thank your for your prayers, positive thoughts, and “bubbles” as my dear friend always says. Does life cause you to have meltdowns? Since I unloaded on you, I certainly do not mind sitting back and hearing your story. Together we can empathize and pray for each other. I know God is in charge and His way is the better way. Now if I can just be patient while I wait.  

In the mean time...  God only knows.