This week I’d like to visit with you myself. About family. This blog doesn’t meet the requirements of whoever makes the rules about optimal word length, but that’s OK. I’m not asking for their approval. I must warn you, however, that I speak in very explicit terms that may offend you. I hope you’ll read it anyway. And that you’ll share this link with every Christian parent you know.
I just looked at the calendar and can barely believe my eyes. Only five days until Christmas. Probably like you, I have boxes and bins full of Christmas memories. But our boxes and bins, plastic-covered larger items, and certainly a tree that in former years was decorated by our grandchildren long before now, remain in closets. No food coloring for sugar cookies on the grocery list this year. No tangled lights or bulbs needing to be replaced. No hiding of gifts.
Christmas 2017 is not the season to be jolly in a certain home I’m about to tell you about. Nor ours.
An Ordeal of Biblical Proportions
This sordid story involves the shattering of a stable, loving, Christ-centered home by organizationally incestuous government agencies whose employee rolls include individuals who are biased against Christians. I’m not at liberty to reveal names, but you can believe me when I say our county’s Child Protective Services and our state’s Department of Family Protective Services are misnamed by calling themselves “protective.” CPS has destroyed—not protected—this family.
We have learned by walking alongside this particular family that our state’s Department of Family and Protective Services is a huge, unwieldy, bureaucratic agency with “policies and procedures” they check off as accomplished without true accountability. And that the title “investigator” is given to their least experienced, entry-level person who has the power to destroy a Christian home. The Department assigns a “tenured” status to a case manager with only one and one-half years experience. And the “professional” counselors and therapists with whom the Department contracts, by and large, receive the lowest reviews by clients. In many cases, these professionals cannot make a decent living on their own, so CPS takes them.
Not only does the Department of Family and Protective Services fail to “protect,” it is inept, corrupt, and anti-Christian. They protect their own above all else. Certain of their employees want to destroy whatever vestiges still remain of Christianity in our homes. We crazy Christians are a dangerous cult, after all. And our family court system is in league with CPS. In recent days I witnessed a family court judge sweep away a family with Christian principles like so much roach droppings.
If you have crosses on your walls … or Bible verses on bulletin boards or refrigerators … If you implement a household behavior plan that’s connected in any way with your Christian faith … or if that household plan requires consistent accountability that ties in with God’s expectations and the history of God and His people … If you believe and teach your children that sex is a God-given blessing granted only to a married man and woman … and if you protect your children from pornography and sexually-explicit movies and books but discover a certain someone outside your home has taught your children how to get around the password-protected security on your computer so the children can watch pornography … If that pagan someone has taught your children sex acts too graphic to describe here … even then, contact CPS only through your attorney. Why? Because you may be accused of abusing your children by coaching them in how to claim sexual molestation.
If yours or your loved one’s is a broken home where the other spouse has hooked up with a militantly atheist family who presents the essence of today’s political correctness to the world and practices incest in their home … If your life is the polar opposite of the ex-spouse’s (an ex-spouse who once claimed to be a Christian but now claims atheism and makes fun of the Bible TO THE CHILDREN) … If you or your spouse are a clergyman or -woman or professional counselor … be careful. Be very, very careful. They consider you dangerous.
If you learn your children or the children of anyone you love have been exposed to sex not in a violent way but as pleasurable and a natural way to express love between adults and children … if that sex has progressively included more and more acts over several years of the children’s development so that they no longer believe engaging in such activities is wrong … If those children have now turned on their Christian parents … and if CPS and the judge have been taken in by those disturbed children and given them to the molester, you are facing the worst trauma of your life.
‘Tis certainly not the season to be jolly.
I’m a Christian. Have been since I was 12—60 years ago. I believe God is completely good. He is completely wise. Completely powerful. And He is limited by neither time nor space. His goodness lives everywhere at once.
I’m none of the above. Not one iota.
That said, I know He is at work even while I crawl into bed, cover my head, and weep for this family. No one needs to tell me I can claim unshakable hope. I know my hope rests in the unshakable promises of God. I don’t understand why God allows such evil to prevail for a single day. But by faith and hope I know one day I will.
This Time of the Year
Even at Christmas, the love of God, the purity of Jesus, and the sweetness of the Holy Spirit do not erase this world’s evil. One day they will, but not yet. In fact, God’s children alone see the indescribable contrast between the two. And when evil has blanketed a family devoted to God with its blackness, that family sits in sackcloth and ashes while all around them people cover their homes with colored lights, set out lovely nativity scenes, hang mistletoe, loop garland around balusters and porch posts, and sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
The Persecuted Church in America
Meanwhile, certain individuals who compose Child Protective Services and others who sit on family court benches will carve their turkeys, spoon their cranberry sauce, and compliment the cook on Christmas. So will the molesters.
If my body didn’t actually ache after being in bed for hours, that’s where I’d stay, weeping and praying for this wonderful, godly family. But I’m sitting at my computer composing a far-from-jolly message to whoever will read it. I’m sorry if it disturbs your sensibilities or interferes with your joyful anticipation of Christmas. I hope you’ll find it in yourself to forego such reactions and, instead, pray for persecuted Christian parents in America and elsewhere.
That’s exactly what we are.
Below you’ll find the reasons why I write from an explicitly Christian perspective. At present, I’m not able to muster and organize thoughts sufficient to finish the last ten chapters of my second novel. But every day I pray the Lord will help me accomplish it.
Meanwhile, between shopping and baking and gift wrapping, perhaps you’ll give a thought and prayer to those whose Christmas is saturated in misery even as they grasp at unshakable hope.
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Family History: Why I Write Christian Historical Fiction
Family history claims the heart of why I write Christian historical fiction.
First of all, as a child, I sat on my grandmother Ella’s lap for her stories about life in Indian Territory before Oklahoma became a state. And her hardships decades later. Also my mother Goldie spoke of her life in Oklahoma and Texas during the first half of the 20th Century.
Similarly, my own memories developed in the 1940s and beyond. Family tales of grit and faith overcoming hardship and heartbreak mesmerized me. I often imagined storylines based on memories.
First, I was born the only daughter of a cotton farmer in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in the 1940s. As a result, I experienced none of what other kids enjoyed—the neighborhood. Consequently, my first friends were the children of the kind, hard-working Mexican laborers on our farm. Then my circle expanded to include friends just down the unpaved road. Those farmers’ daughters constituted my neighborhood.
“Birth” as a Reader
Because school friends in town lived several miles away, I learned early on to love reading. As a preschooler, I enjoyed a book with audio accompaniment: Bozo Under the Sea. I wore out the book and record! Because Jack & Janet, Dick & Jane, and Tip & Sally fascinated me in first grade, come summertime, you could find me in the community library. The air conditioning created a crisp, welcoming atmosphere. As a result, I wanted to stay all day. I can still feel the air and get a whiff of the distinctive scent of book bindings.
Certainly, by fourth grade my appetite for reading was insatiable. With a dictionary at my side, I read Little Women and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In fifth grade, The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables. Similarly, in sixth grade I read Where the Red Fern Grows and The Red Badge of Courage. Likewise, by middle school, I was tackling Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol, The Adventures of Oliver Twist, and A Tale of Two Cities. And Gone with the Wind. Later on, To Kill a Mockingbird made an indelible imprint on my heart and conscience. I could go on, but you get the picture. As a result, I cared little about genre, setting, or plot. Above all, I treasured the characters and experienced their emotions, failures, and triumphs.
“Birth” as a Writer: Family History
Due to attending Abilene Christian University five hundred miles away from home, I delighted daily in writing letters. I told Mother and Daddy and my brother Dale every move I made, no doubt with editorial embellishments. Then a quirky English professor asked if I’d ever considered creative writing as a career. In a word—No—but his discovering my secret longing intrigued me. You see, baring my soul in print—a reality I knew writing would entail—was more than I could consider.
Then, I wrote down family history. Mother’s clan migrated in 1923 from Oklahoma to the southernmost tip of Texas in a train of seven covered wagons, a novelty on the roads even then. So I set down for posterity my family’s recollections of their caravan journey. It turned out to be no more than a cataloging of who traveled in which wagons, where they stopped and for what purpose, and the spectacle they presented along the way. As a result, it ignited a desire to write historical fiction based in family history. I had a well spring from which to draw.
“Growing Up” as a Writer
Later, life took me elsewhere in Texas and Alabama and Germany, with fun-filled forays into Great Britain, South America, Europe, and Scandinavia. I was an Army spouse rearing children and living life. Therefore, my writing pen sat in a drawer. Years later, when my daughter struggled with an at-risk triplet pregnancy and her three 2 ½ pound babies fought for survival, a desire to release the storehouse of words I’d long bottled up tugged at my heart. I vowed would devote the rest of my life to them. And if disabilities didn’t plague them and they could read, I would leave them a legacy of faith in writing.
Nine years later, my story won the prestigious Jerry B. Jenkins Operation First Novel award. Thereafter, Mountainview Books released The Calling of Ella McFarland in December 2015. In August 2016 it won another prestigious award: American Christian Fiction Writers’ Carol Award.
Consequently, I’m certain these successes came from my faithful God who affirmed my vow: to leave a legacy of faith in writing. Rather than shy away from outright Christian faith, the presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a must in my stories.
Writing Well Spring: Family History
Certain ancestors and their experiences appear in my stories. First of all, there’s bit of my grandmother and a strong dash of my mother in one character. Then my father’s sterling qualities appear in another. In contrast, there’s a low-down family reprobate in another. Certainly, there’s cotton planting, hoeing, and harvest time. The glorious aroma of fresh-picked cotton and the nothing-in-the-world-like-it odor from the pig pen. Similarly, our sewing machine whirring. The clink of a milk pail. A cow hollering to be milked. Likewise, summer’s sun on my face, the hearty South Texas wind in my hair, and the comfort of backing up to a wall heater on a cold winter morning. As a result, all find their way into my stories.
Above all—my family’s history, my own life, and the kaleidoscope of lives in my stories—Jesus appears as the golden thread linking the past to the present and beyond. Because Jesus turns an ordinary morning into a hint of the “Sweet By & By,” He adds the delicate aroma of the Rose of Sharon to the sultry stillness before a summer storm. Most importantly, He wraps the bitterness of grief and failure in the richness of His incomparable grace.
My Purpose as a Writer
Tales that reach beyond the ordinary to the extraordinary because of Jesus are the stories I write by His grace.
I pray each of you will enjoy a Christmas packed with love, peace, and joy and that you’ll come away from it saying, “This was the best Christmas of all.”