Grace Under Fire
Life…everything’s spinning along perfectly one day and the next? A freight train slams into your world and shatters it into a million pieces. And then a tractor comes by and grinds the shards into powder. Has this ever happened to you? It’s not fun, is it? How did you react?
When my life turned upside down, I didn’t respond well. Yes, I’m a Christian. I know who God is. I know He’s faithful and true. I pray, and He answers. But you have to understand. What happened to us wasn’t fair. And I was mad. This time, praise and worship wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t sufficient to meditate on the Word and soak up His power and strength. I needed to know why He’d let this happen…He wasn’t talking.
I can hear the questions. What happened? What kind of Christian is she?
Since Christmas is near and it’s the one I get the most, I’ll address the last question first. I’m a real one. I share my whole life with Him not merely the elegant parts. After all, God came to this earth, walked as a man, and sacrificed everything for me. And I believe God hears my fears, tears, anger, and my praise.
As for what tipped my world? Early one morning, I awoke to the second half of my soul at the bottom of the stairs. A crumpled heap of a man, unconscious, his body broken and bruised. Humpty-Dumpty would have been easier to piece back together again. He’s on surgery thirty-nine.
How did I respond? I’m not going to lie. I’d like to say rationally…NOT. I’d prefer to admit that I hit my knees and prayed for direction and strength like a dutiful child of God. Sorry, but I can’t. After the shock wore off and reality hit me like a two-by-four, my reaction wasn’t pretty. In fact, you could call it ugly…real ugly.
But my awesome Father didn’t waver. He stood beside me and took the abuse…and loved me anyway. Much like I’ve done with my own child. As to the “why”? That’s the question for which I can piece together only one answer. Freedom. He gave me liberty to rage, whine, mourn, and yes, even to sin. He forgave me when I lashed out at Him and, through the redeeming love of his Son, Jesus, held me close while I cried.
This battle’s not over and life isn’t easy. But my husband’s an amazing man and by the grace of God, he’s still alive. Although pain’s a constant companion, he continues to serve the Lord with a joyful heart and determined spirit. Free from sin, free from judgment, free from expectation. He’s a shining beacon of God’s saving power to all who gaze upon him, including me.
Our love’s stronger than before that fateful trip down the staircase. It grows within the heat of the flame much like the metal in a blacksmith’s furnace. God breathes His strength into us with each strike of the hammer.
As we celebrate Christmas, we remember God’s perfect love, and the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ. Through Him, we can do all things…even take on a freight train.
Spring’s in the air. While the sun shines in Timber Springs, snow falls on the Snowy Range, and trouble’s brewing in the meadows. The area’s new game warden, Steve Mitchell launches his first wildlife investigation of the season but the trouble follows him—straight to town.
Rachel Fitzgerald’s on Spring Break. Or at least she’s trying. Between paperwork, and harassing phone calls, she may as well have stayed in her classroom. So much for relaxation. A ‘chance’ meeting with her brother’s old roommate offers her weary soul a shred of hope, but she discovers love, like life, isn’t easy.
He talks with the wisdom of the Lord but rejects the future. She wants to soar with the eagles but walks alone. And trusting God proves to be more of a challenge than ever before…
An Excerpt from To Soar on Eagle's Wings
A shadow darkened the pages of her book. Shielding her eyes against the late afternoon sun, Rachel followed the bird soaring over lake. She caught her breath as he dove in a sudden display of power and skimmed along the surface, its reflection a shimmering echo. When the eagle climbed back to the heavens, his piercing cry echoed off the white-tipped crags above the high mountain valley.
“What’d I tell ya?”
Her foot vaulted into the air, sending a spray across the water. Rachel peeked over her shoulder and spied her twin brother. He stalked toward the lake, a stranger in tow. She closed her novel with a snap and sighed. He would find me.
Well, she shouldn’t be surprised. After all, today was their sixteenth birthday. She touched her cold ankle with a grimace. Although numb due to its icy bath, the injured joint still appeared puffy. She winced and peeked at the guy with her brother. Now this is embarrassing…
“You ready to head down the mountain? Mom and Dad want to start supper.” Michael propped his hands on his hips and shifted from one foot to the other.
At her twin’s look of expectation, all frustration dissolved. So much like her own, his hair curled around his head. He appeared almost comical. She suppressed a laugh. But when her gaze skimmed over his companion, an unexplainable warmth spread through her.
Her heartbeat thumped in her ears. With her lashes shielding her gaze, Rachel studied his broad shoulders and wavy brown hair. She tore her eyes away from the man and pushed her ankle back into the frigid water with a hiss.
“Rachel?” Michael’s brows sunk low over his eyes. “What are you doing up here anyway? Dad’s not gonna like it.”
She ducked her head. Great. Heat worked up her neck. After rummaging through her backpack a few minutes, she sucked in a deep breath and cleared her throat. The cool mountain breeze blew at her bangs, and she cut her gaze to the stranger. “I love it up here. I can sit and listen to the wind in the trees for hours.”
A low chuckle reached her ears, and she glanced at her brother. A slow smile spread across his face. His shoulder lifted, and he gestured at the pines. “So…what are they saying today?”
“Oh, stop it.” Rachel waved off Mike’s teasing and tipped her head back to track the flight of the golden eagle. “Do you see him? He’s a regular around here. I named him Max. It seemed to fit.”
Michael’s companion bumped him and pointed. “He’s a beautiful bird, that’s for sure.”
A clap shot through the pristine stillness, and Rachel jumped. She glared at her brother when he grinned at her.
“Hey, sis, you met this guy yet?” At the shake of her head, he continued. “This is Steve Mitchell, Paul’s roommate. I guess they’re both gonna be new this semester.”
The University of Wyoming freshman flashed his gorgeous smile, and her cheeks ignited once again. She pressed her palms against her face with a groan. Could she crawl underneath one of these boulders…or push her brother under one?
“Rach? You ready or not?” Michael’s annoyed tone drew her attention away from Steve, and she pulled her foot out of the water.
She bit her lip. “Well, not really.”
“What’d you do now?” The disgust in his voice was palpable.
“Nothing,” she mumbled. Michael’s rough grunt grated along her spine. She crossed her arms in front of her chest. So what if she’d twisted her ankle hiking into the valley? It didn’t matter if she couldn’t—
Rocks and pebbles cascaded down the hill into the lake, and she lifted her head. Steve’s wide shoulders were coming toward her. Snagging her sock, she wiped the water from her toes.
In a flash, Steve hopped the boulders and landed in front of her. “May I?”
“What—no really, it’s fine.” Rachel cradled her injured foot close. When he squatted at her feet, she found herself mere inches from chocolate brown eyes. Oh…does he know how much I love chocolate?
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Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, Renee started writing poetry in junior high school and that, as they say, was that. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family to the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and she's been counting pills ever since. While writing's her first love, well, after the Lord and husband, she also likes to fish and hunt as well as pick away on her classical guitar.
Nestled against the Black Hills with her husband, crazy old dog and ornery cat, she serves the community of northeastern Wyoming as a pharmacist and pens her Christian stories, keeping them interesting with action and intrigue, of course. She loves to interact with readers and invites you check out her website, blog, and social media.