Sunday, 8 May 2022

Mother's Day

I skipped over Easter for some reason this year--that defining day in the life of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, when he atoned for our sins and rose from the dead so that we might have eternal life and earn the privileged of returning to his presence one day. I love him with all my heart and am so thankful for the gift he gave to all mankind regardless of their life circumstances or what they choose to do. His supreme gift is one that should never be forgotten. But in a way I feel even closer to him than I did in April on this particular Mother's Day. Perhaps that's because I've read a little more about his mother, Mary, the past few Weeks.

What an extraordinary, spiritual and amazing woman she was to have been chosen to be his earthly mother. We don't know much about her from the scriptures but she had to have known how remarkable he would be from from the very beginning and what an incredible responsibility she had to help prepare him for such a divine and important mission. Tears fill my eye just as they do when I think of our mother, Eve, and the choice she made between staying in the Garden of Eden where life would remain perfect and bringing life and death into the world so all of God's children would have the chance to come here.

It breaks my heart to see all the people protesting Mother's Day in front of churches in our country on this special day. I never thought I would live to see such selfish, blatant and hateful disregard for the sanctity of life and religious freedom. Each person on earth has a mother who was willing to go through the perils of carrying a child, not knowing how he or she would turn out, but hopeful each one would bring love, acceptance and joy into the lives of so many others. 

And regardless of what some would-be comics on television say to get a laugh, not one woman I have ever known has not mourned for a child lost through miscarriage. These little ones were loved, wanted and cherished from the moment of conception and the hurt never goes away. I know this from losing every baby I ever tried to carry. Motherhood is the supreme gift of being a woman and our bodies were specifically designed for such a glorious challenge.

Mine was not a happy, peaceful home growing up. There was little laughter, nurturing or guidance, and I've had a hard time over the years trying to understand why I never felt like my own mother loved me. I know it began when I was five and she blamed me for the farm accident that nearly cost my three-year old brother his life. Her very words were. "If you had been watching him the way I told you to this never would have happened." He was in a coma for six weeks and when he came out of it the right side of his body was paralyzed. He demanded constant attention and care as he struggled to survive and began learning how to do even the most basic things again. I became his guardian and would sleep on the floor by the side of his crib. Needless to say, our home was never the same again. The constant stress and tension could be felt by every one of us.

When I was nine, I was confined to bed for six months with Rheumatic Fever. My mother had joined the work force to help pay all the medical bills and I was left on my own on a chair and footstool combination during the long hours of the day with only my father to check on me at irregular times when he came in from the fields. I was only allowed to stand up when I needed to go to the bathroom or went to my weekly doctor's appointments. At ten, I had sufficiently recovered and was given violin lessons, even though I knew we couldn't afford them. I wanted to play the piano, but that wasn't the worst thing about that experience. My teacher, an old man with white, pulp hands, began to molest me. I was too young to understand what was going on but the horror I felt grew to the point that I was pulling out all my eyebrows and eyelashes. When I told my mother, she said he had never touched her so he couldn't be doing anything to me. Things were very different then.

After my father died when I was thirteen, leaving seven children ages fifteen to one, my mother had a mental breakdown but never missed a day of work. Our home life was horrible and she began to do some very uncharacteristic things that impacted a few of us siblings so much that we have never recovered from them. At one point she came after me with a butcher knife because I wouldn't go along with something she was doing that I knew was wrong. I ended up running away from home a few months later never to return. 

I saw her occasionally after that, but it cost lots of money to make long distance phone calls in those days and traveling more than a few miles from home was seldom done for the same reason. She would remember Christmas and birthdays but I could never talk to her about anything that was important, especially the decision to marry a man I somehow knew would not be good for me. I think one of the reasons I married him was simply because he didn't like her because of the way she treated me. When I finally left him after 22 years of similar emotional abuse all she said was. "Maybe you should reconsider. You're not attractive to find anyone else."

And when she got cancer and had only few months to live, I was told I could only see her for twenty to thirty minutes once a week. My job was to type up all my grandmother's short stories and readings and put them into binders so all my siblings could have one. I didn't even get to tell her goodbye the day she died, even though I was at her house when it happened. It was a rather bitter pill to take.

I don't write these things for any other reason than to let you know that even though life with my mother was not at all I wished it could have been, she was trying to do her best in some very trying circumstances that were too painful for her to even talk about. I guess I better understand now because of all the mistakes I've made with my own children. Not that I didn't love and nature them with every fiber of being. If anything, I was too protective because I had to work so hard to have them in my life and knew that one day they would each find their biologicals mothers and I would have to decide how I was going to react to that. 

That's happened now, and it's been hard. But I have come to realize that every child needs many good women for support throughout their lives. Perhaps that's why teaching has always been such a passion for me. I've always felt like my students were part of my family and treated them as such, even when they least deserved it. My grandmother--who died when I was nineteen--an older neighbor and several teachers who took me under their wings provided that stability, hope and encouragement for me. I would never have survived without them.

So on this special day I really am thankful that my mother did not decide to get rid of me because I was an inconvenience or she may not have wanted me as much as she could have. Life has not been easy but the opportunities for refinement and growth have taught me more than I thought possible. I just hope we'll have time to really talk when I get to heaven. I think we'll both be in a better, more understanding, place then. Without mothers mankind would be lost. They bring life, purpose and hope into the world. May God bless each one of them with added wisdom, understanding, patience and love.

 

Sunday, 10 April 2022

Last month I was asked by a dear friend, Andre Gensberger, who is both owner and publisher of Books 'N Pieces online magazine to write an article for his April issue titled: Why the World  Needs Clean Fiction and Characters With Value. At first I thought he was baiting me because that's not a popular type of book being written today, so I asked if I could think about it overnight. But when I said my prayer, I knew this was an opportunity to address why I write books that are suitable for the entire family. I feel like God has given me a gift that can be used to bless the lives of others by expressing my love an devotion to Him and His Son, Jesus Christ. It is a sacred responsibility I take seriously, even though I know few people will read what I've written. I decided to share it with you since I sense that many of you feel the same way I do about the eroding moral fabric in society today. 

Those of us who believe need to stay true to our convictions and not allow the woke agenda's being promoted today to take away the peace and safety we feel when we are free to express our religious beliefs. If you would like to read the many other good articles and short stories in his magazine you can access it at www.BooksNPieces.com. Here's what I wrote in answer to his most thought provoking questions.

Why the World Needs Clean Fiction and Characters with Values

I see the need with most of the books my 13 year-old granddaughter reads because her obsession with the macabre, violent and unreal frightens me. Fortunately, she's not into the really graphic sexual stuff yet, but I see the handwriting on the wall. No one wants to write about normal people with regular problems anymore because it's much too tame and doesn't appeal to the masses who have been conditioned to accept things as being routine that caused people to gasp even a generation ago. I feel a great need and responsibility to help fill the gap between people who have decided that God no longer exists, and ones who still believe in him, with stories that cause people to get in touch with their inner selves and hopefully find the strength to fight their own problems without giving in to all the negative influences that are so prevalent in our me-centered society.  

Brylee Hawkin's Virtue

Brylee is a character of the twenty-first century. She knows what it's like to feel rejection, regret, betrayal, anger and loneliness. Watching her grow from a frightened young woman with no real sense of self into a confident adult who can run a ranch and give emotional support to a family she doesn't know helped me to identify my own strengths. She has no answers when she arrives in Australia to face her estranged father, but she has the faith necessary to keep moving forward when her beliefs threaten to destroy everything she is trying to build--even a new romance. She learns how to fight through the hardships and pain without turning her back on God, like most everyone else in her family has done, because she understands that without her faith she has nothing left to cling to. Her journey parallels that of most anyone who has ever lived, not in exact experiences, but in the throbbing disappointment, excruciating heartache and loss of dreams that few mortals escape. Brylee's story is not for readers who prefer fantasy to reality, but it is for those who want a thought-provoking and exciting read that is full of twists and turns they will not see coming.


An Author's Values

 

I am in the minority and can only speak to the values I've set for myself, and they are ones I cannot violate even though I know I would garner far more success if I did. I was raised in a very strict home where our mouths were washed out with soap if we said even the mildest swear word and our behinds felt the pain coming from a razor strap if we back-talked to our mother or stepped out of line in any other way. I'm not saying that's any way to raise kids, but we knew what it was like to respect God, country and adults--something that is sorely lacking in today's permissive and self-indulgent society. I also grew up reading books where the authors could tell a riveting story without lacing it with profanity, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, explicit sex and many other things I feel are unnecessary but still show up on nearly every page in the books that are coming off the press today. I feel accountable for every word I write because it defines who I am as a person. I'm proud of being a Christian in a very unChristian world. I want people to know I believe in God and in my Savior who died for each of us since I know I will have to account to them one day. That stance offends a lot of people who can say some very unkind things, but I try to let their comments roll off my back because we have the right of choice and should never condemn someone else for their personal beliefs.


Creating Women of Substance 


In the past seven years, I have published sixteen books--two series and four standalones. Each lead comes from a place of true individuality underscoring diverse problems that could happen to most anyone. I write in first person because it feels more authentic to me, and I cast women as my lead characters because I really have no idea how men think and want my stories to be believably real. I also feel that the genres of family life, romance and mystery are more likely to be read by women who want to identify with the lead character. 


In Indecision's Flame, Brylee is searching for forgiveness and family as she tries to make peace with a very disturbing past while trying to build a future where she can thrive. Reagan Sinclair, as  a new FBI agent, finds out through some very desperate experiences that perhaps her parents were right in saying that a career exposing her to the seediest underbelly of life isn't the right place for a girl who attends church every Sunday and believes in God. Maya lost her husband in an unexpected avalanche and is left with two children to raise. Rani has a chip on her shoulder as big as the state of Colorado and cannot stand weakness in anyone, but then she discovers some of her own. Andrea just wants to be married but falls in love with a guy who is all wrong for her. And Jada goes back to her old college as an adjunct professor hoping to find answers as to why her professional life is flourishing while her personal life stinks. The series I'm working on now is about a middle-aged divorced woman who finds herself alone with no one to cling to for help, but she is willing to risk everything she has left to become part of a family she has never known and isn't sure still exists. 


Indie vs Mainstream Publishing

 

I'm not sure I've ever really broken into mainstream publishing. That's pretty hard to do without some serious cash backing, and I'm afraid to push too hard because I don't want anyone telling me I have to change my characters values and beliefs just so the general public will be more interested in their stories. I guess I have to say that I value my integrity over potential dollars earned. Whatever I make goes directly into an account for my grandchildren, and I like having people tell me how much they appreciated one of my books because it gave them direction, courage and hope. I appreciate being able to connect with other writers of faith-filled books who are going through the same struggles I am in finding the right audience. It gives me the courage to stand by my beliefs because the work we're doing is helping people, if only one by one. For me, that's what my writing is all about.


Personal Growth Through My Writing

 

I think I realized how much I've grown as both a person and an author when I started my latest series. While each of my books contain reflections of an incident or feelings I've had somewhere throughout my life, I was able to truly let go with these. I no longer care what someone else might think about the storyline or how my characters react to personal problems. We live in a very diversified world and have to accept both the good and the bad in others if we want to be happy. That doesn't mean we have to embrace a lifestyle that isn't right for us or accept any kind of abuse, but we do need to show compassion and understanding. That's something I've always believed but have managed to let judgmentalness, jealousy and anger cloud many of my dealings with people. I don't feel that way anymore. I know who I am and would like for my faith to embrace everyone who is struggling and fill them with the same peace I've managed to find. I would still like to find that golden niche every author dreams of, but I'll keep on writing until I do.


There you have it. I hope it makes a little sense and would love to hear how you feel about the books being written today. I can only say that in these times of turmoil and strife I only read things that will build and uplift because I get enough of everything else from the news. People need to know about all the good there still is in the world and how kind and loving most of the people are. Maybe I just choose to look for the positive because that's how I'm trying to live my own life. May safety follow your footsteps and may you find joy in the little beauties you find along the way. 


Books by Author JS Ririe found at: https://amzn.to/2BXNSdv

 

Crossfire at Bentley

Kismet finds a Way

Rivers of Rage

Beyond the Glass Doors

Agent Reagan Sinclair series:

Final Allegiance

Resilience

Safe Haven

Unsheltered

Welcome Redemption

Indecision’s Flame – Book One

Lost – Book Two

Exposed – Book Three

Betrayal – Book Four

Reawakening – Book Five

Unraveling – Book Six

Destiny – Book Seven

 

 

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Confessions

This won't be as long as usual since I'm still in pain. After having such a great January, as I explained in my last post that talked about doing something creatively exciting instead of writing down my usual list of goals, I was simply waiting for the next shoe to drop. But I didn't expect such an uncomfortable blow. I've been doing a little updating in my home so it would feel more like me and take away some of the eyesores I've hated since moving in nearly seven years ago. The granite countertops went in without too much of a hitch right before Christmas. Then I spent most of January waiting for the flooring I wanted throughout most of the main level to arrive. 

There was plenty of carpet available, but I wanted laminate floors because I knew they would never grow ugly and have to be replaced as long as I took care of them. Besides, with all my allergies it just made more sense. It took three months for my backorder to arrive, but by the first of February the installers were ready to go. With no one to help me, I began boxing things up and moving them into places where they wouldn't get ruined by dust or be in anyone's way. I wasn't the least bit sorry to see the old carpet being tossed. It was being held down by a hundred little nails in all the places it had buckled anyway. 

But with the prep work done by noon the first day, I was told that they wouldn't be able to start laying the new floor until morning because they had another job to finish first. That was irritating, but I let it go and swept all the floors again and settled in on the sofa for the night. I'd had to take my bed apart so its parts could be moved. Sleep was intermittent at best, as it always seems to be when I'm going through any kind of mess, but I was ready for another late arrival as soon as the sun came up. This time I was told that the boss wouldn't be coming to help. He was spending the day with his pregnant wife. 

"Goody," I thought. But the twenty-one year old young man seemed to know what he was doing. So I went into my office to work since it was the only place I would be out of the way. He got most of the great room finished, but said it would take him until the early morning hours to finish and he would do better work if he came back in the morning. I agreed since my nerves were pretty much shot. I cleaned up everything I could find after he left and then spent another night on the sofa. He managed to finish by three the next afternoon, but I was unaware of just how extensive the silicone mess he left behind was. I could see large smudges of it when the overhead lights were on and raised bumps seemingly everywhere, but research on the internet told me some of it might come up with alcohol. I spent a couple of hours scrubbing but it didn't work.

So before I went to my volunteer job the next morning, I picked up some goo-remover at Lowe's. I spent a couple more hours on my knees that night trying to get it up and started putting a few things back together. I'll omit the rest of my ordeal since I know many of you have experienced it, but by Saturday night I had the floors polished and was ready to sleep in my bed. Unfortunately, I was also starting to develop a rash in an embarrassing place I won't mention. By the next morning all I wanted to do was scream, but I figured I could live with anything until Monday when urgent care centers were open. I really didn't want to go to an emergency room.

Much to my surprise, the doctor told me I had shingles and a UTI. I'd had the first shot and hadn't thought much about ever getting it because I try very hard not to get overly stressed. But when it hits it is ruthless, and I must have taken on more than my body could handle during my renovation projects. I picked up some meds and lidocaine patches at the pharmacy but knew there was nothing I could do to spend up the recovery process, although the doctor felt we had caught it early enough that it shouldn't get too much worse. 

I spent forty-eight hours in horrid pain, but I was able to sleep last night and feel like I will be able to return to my volunteer work tomorrow. I've always believed in the power of prayer, but my quick recovery from something that could have lasted so much longer has certainly increased my gratitude for God's love and protection, along with the marvel of modern medication that can treat so many rough things. I still have four days of meds left to take and they cause some uncomfortable nausea, but when I get on my knees it is with complete gratitude in my heart.

I don't know what this has to do with making new year's resolutions, but I thought it rather ironic that such a low could so immediately follow my jubilant high. Nonetheless, it's all part of the unavoidable things that happen just because we are part of the human race. I suppose all I can really say is that it is so important to cherish the beautiful moments of fulfillment and joy because the bad will always slip in. At least that's been my experience. And it's a good reminder that there is always someone above who is there to listen and offer encouragement and hope. For so many of us, we don't have anyone in our homes to fill that very basic need. 

By the way, Happy Valentine's Day. Don't know that I'll get another post out by then.

Books by JS Ririe:

Crossfire at Bentley

Kismet finds a Way

Rivers of Rage

Beyond the Glass Doors

Agent Reagan Sinclair series:

Final Allegiance

Resilience

Safe Haven

Unsheltered

Welcome Redemption

Indecision’s Flame – Book One

Lost – Book Two

Exposed – Book Three

Betrayal – Book Four

Reawakening – Book Five

Unraveling – Book Six

Destiny – Book Seven

 

Book by Viola Ririe:

So Long, Bishop


All Books available on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2BXNSdv  




Wednesday, 26 January 2022

The Goals Not Set

Here it is, almost the end of January and I have finally decided to make an accounting of the goals I didn't even bother to set this year. Like many of you, I spent a lot of time deciding what I thought would be attainable in areas like physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. I included things like eating less, moving more, doing something unselfish for someone else each day, counting my blessings with more intent and doing better at staying on top of things that needed to be done around the house. I'm sure each of you could add a hundred more items to that list, but by this time each year my enthusiasm always wanes. I was more intent on being like everyone else who wanted to look like Barbie or Ken instead of a real person who had been created by an Eternal Father who knew what he was doing by making each of his children just a little different than all the rest.

I really didn't want to exercise more or give up my addictions to chocolate, ice cream or chip dips. Nor was I happy about spending more time doing things for other people if it meant getting dressed up and leaving the safety of my home. I am a complete introvert and social interactions are very difficult and draining to me. I can't even get excited about going out to lunch with one of my female friends because I can't think of anything to say. And when one of my sisters, who use exercise more like a religion than an attempt to stay healthy, drones on and on about the hours she spends each day lifting weights  and twisting her body into uncomfortable positions I want to gag. Nothing sounds more boring that doing repetitious movements that require no intellectual thought. 

I'm not saying that goals like that aren't honorable and worth the effort, but they are just too hackneyed and unrealistic for me. I have been setting similar ones my entire adulthood and have never been able to stick with them for more than a few weeks. Perhaps that is why I am carrying around more weight than I should. But I simply can't believe that staying 10 to 20 pounds under what the, supposed, experts say is the weight a person should be at for a specific height is any healthier than being that much over it. I would starve to death if I only ate a bowl of cereal and some fruit for lunch and a salad at night. Besides being boring, it would take all the joy out of living. 

So I purposely didn't write down any goals this year. All the really important ones pertaining to my eternal wellbeing had already been set, and adhered to on a daily basis, like praying daily, studying God's word, being honest in my dealing with others, actively participating in church assignments, supporting members of my family and taking time for personal introspection. Of course, I miss doing one of those things occasionally because I get tired and distracted like everyone else. But the minute I recognize my error, I do something about it. 

I didn't even commit any new resolutions to mind, except for trying to get my blood sugar under better control. I figured if I could do that one thing everything else would automatically fall into place. I would have no other choice than to eat more responsibly and get on my exercise bike more so I wouldn't feel sluggish at night and have every muscle in my body sore from sitting in one place for too long. Arthritis has become an unwanted friend, but there really isn't a whole lot that can be done to reverse it.

I don't know what my A1C is doing right now and won't have it checked by the doctor until May, but I do know that some of the stress I felt over the holidays is gone. I decided that what I really wanted to do with the month of January was write for as long as I could each day, without getting eye strain or a headache, and not feel guilty about doing it. Other retired people could make time for the gym, plan activities with friends, go on a cruise, learn to knit or spend hours in front of the television set if they wanted to. But for once in my life I was going to concentrate on what made me feel most creative, even if no one else understood or appreciated it. 

I had no idea how quickly my life was changing until a few days ago when I realized that I was waking up between five and six every morning--during the winter, no less--excited about turning my computer on so I could see what my characters had to tell me in the new book I was writing. Even when I was having the accurately-named writer's block, I wouldn't stop working. If it took me two hours to type a page, instead of the one that I usually averaged, I felt more invigorated than frustrated because I understood that my abilities were growing as I took the time to unravel what had caused the blockage.

I was thrilled a few minutes ago when I saw that I had written over 150 pages of a novel in less than four weeks, doing a great deal of editing as I went. I'm not saying that giving into one's passions is always wise. Some of them are more detrimental than useful, but I have found that concentrating on something I love, rather than the things other people think I should be doing, has made me happier than I've been in a long time. And I am seeing lower numbers when I prick my finger more days during the week than I have for months.

I still spend two days a week volunteering with work I consider important  and am always available when someone needs my help. But I'm no longer going to chastise myself for being so unlike most everyone else because I want to do something I feel I am good at instead of torturing myself because I'm not stick thin. God made me to appreciate the printed word for a reason, and I would be doing myself a real disservice if chose to ignore it. Other people can do what they like, but I feel more liberated than ever because I no longer care what anyone else thinks. 

Perhaps a little wisdom does come with age, or maybe I'm simply deluding myself. But it sure feels good no longer feeling the pressure of conformity. Even if no reads a word I've written, it really doesn't matter. I like what I'm doing and am learning more about myself in the process. After all, isn't that one of the purposes for life? Learning who we are when no one else is watching? 

Anyway, I can't wait for February. My creative juices are flowing, and I don't want them to stop. Hopefully, you'll be able to spend a little time thinking about what makes you really happy. There may be a season for everything, but there are perfect moments each day. May each of us find and cherish them.




Books By JS Ririe:

Crossfire at Benley

Kismet Finds a Way

Rivers of Rage

Beyond the Glass Doors

Reagan Sinclair FBI series:

Final Allegiance

Resilience

Safe Haven

Unsheltered

Welcome Redemption

Indecision's Flame series:

Book 2 - Lost

Book 3 - Exposed

Book 4 - Betrayal

Book 5 - Reawakening

Book 6 - Unraveling

Book 7 - Destiny

Book by Viola Ririe:

So Long, Bishop

All books available in print and eBook formats on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2BXNSdv 

Saturday, 18 December 2021

Time to Remember

I've come very close to having this year end without much more than a puff. I suppose a lot of other people feel the same way when confronted with the perils of the holiday season whether it's shopping for the perfect gift, fixing the best meal ever, finding time to do everything required, worrying about travel and the weather, or agonizing over family get-togethers where someone always seems to get upset. I've certainly had many of those concerns the past few weeks, but they have been tempered by far more serious matters that have been difficult to get through.

They started right before Thanksgiving - which I always spend alone because my children have plans with other members of their extended families. I could complain, but it has never seemed wise to make waves since I've lived in a different state than both of them until recently and was too far away to come with only one day off from work. But I digress because none of us need a fancy meal with more food than our stomaches can digest in one sitting to count our blessings. All we need is a heart willing to look beyond the obvious daily challenges that keep us so overtaxed we often have trouble deciding if we're coming or going.

The first event came when my son-in-law ended up in the hospital with Covid. He had gone to the emergency room on Sunday night with all the symptoms, but the hospital where he lives said his lungs were clear and sent him home without running the simple test. That seemed rather strange to me, but some places in rural Colorado aren't known for being on top of anything. By Thursday, he was so bad that the minute he stepped into the clinic to see his regular doctor he was immediately admitted. I won't give all the details of his grueling and frightening experience since I'm sure most everyone in the world today has stories they could tell of family members or friends who have fallen victim to that horrid, manmade virus with either positive or heartbreaking results. 

While he was developing blood clots in his lungs and the doctor was telling my daughter to prepare for the worst, my niece's home in South Carolina burned down. Her father, my brother, died the day after Thanksgiving last year and she was thoroughly devastated since she, her husband and four children lost everything they had left that reminded them of him. That included his scriptures, the flowers from his casket, the scrapbook one of my sisters and I made with every picture we could find, and the little cars he had played with as a child. Unfortunately, I have nothing left I can send her except a picture from a coloring book he once painted for me and a letter he sent me while I was in college over 40 years ago. 

Between trying to comfort her, and take care of all the other upsets I'd brought on myself by deciding to replace my kitchen countertops and the carpet that had been buckling for over three years, I talked to my daughter daily. She was living through one of the worst nightmares of her life but could only go to the hospital occasionally to see her husband because there wasn't anyone she could leave my eight-year old grandson with. They'd all been exposed at the same time while attending a wedding and were supposed to be under quarantine. 

I told her I would come anyway, but she suggested I wait until they knew more. Thankfully, the blood clots dissolved and he wasn't put on a ventilator like anticipated. But he still spent two weeks in the hospital, and it will be many more months until he's able to do even a portion of what he once could. You see, he has a pacemaker and had to have his heart shocked back into rhythm several times while he was at his worst. That was enough of a worry, but the fact that he's twelve years older than my daughter and on disability complicates most everything.

With none of those issues resolved, two days after Thanksgiving, my nephew in Texas went missing. He had a wife, three children and five grandchildren and was just ready to turn 49 years old. Since I wrote that last sentence in the past tense you obviously know that he didn't make it. He chose to end his life, like his older brother had done 5 years earlier. That really blew our family apart it was so unexpected, but then I suppose a great many of us have dealt with similar experiences the past year or so with the virus, the isolation and the astronomical increase in drug overdoses since the border has been open and fentanyl has been coming across it by the truckload.

But I suppose what really made me take a moment from my busy day to write was having my son tell me a few minutes ago that a foreign exchange student who had lived with his wife's family of origin for an entire school year had just gone missing in Sweden. She had been hospitalized twice in the past few weeks for depression, and divers have been combing the lake and people scouring the woods by where they've been staying for the past day and a half trying to find her. She's an only child from a very affluent family and they have little hope of finding her alive. I met her on several occasions while she was here, and my granddaughter adores her. 

Two suicides of people I know in such a short amount of time have given me great cause to reflect on the reason for this season and the hope I have in Christ. The miracle of his birth, life and death have not been on my mind as they should have been the past few weeks because there have been so many other things to occupy it. But as I sit in the quiet of my little office, I recognize how fragile life is and the enormous need there is for hope in this harsh and confusing world. We need to unplug from the steady diet of doom and gloom the media presents in nauseating length and concentrate on people. They need our smiles, our listening ears and the knowledge that they are not alone.

I don't know what I would do if I thought this life was all there is. But I know from the depths of my heart that we existed before we came here as choice spirit children of Heavenly Parents and were created in their image. We came to this earth to gain experience, learn how to walk by faith, and repent and change course when we make mistakes. And when our time to leave this earthly realm comes, we will return to those we love where we can continue progressing. 

I wish I could shout that simple message from the rooftops so everyone could hear it. So much of this world is in a mess, and heartache is rampant everywhere. But I know there are good, kind, generous, optimistic and loving people all over the world who believe in the true meaning of this season and who glory in the birth of our Savior who brought light and life to all of us because through him we can be born again and live forever.

So tonight, I'm going to turn off all the outside distractions, plug in my tree lights and spend some time thinking about how lucky I am to know I even have a Savior. I may even read the story of his birth a week early. I love Jesus Christ. I honor him. I want to live my life for him. And when I die, I want to see him again. That's what this season means to me because I know I was in that heavenly choir singing and praising his name when he came to this earth. And I shouted alleluia with everyone else because of what he was willing to do for me. 

I wish everyone a beautiful Christmas, regardless of the pain they may be feeling. This time of year is a gift that I want to cherish more closely, just as I do the people I love and those I have yet to me. We all belong to the same family, regardless of color, race, religion, occupation or personal desires. It truly is a time of year to give thanks.





Monday, 1 November 2021

BECOMING

It's been a busy fall in the arid deserts of Utah with more than an anticipated amount of rain. At one point, we had five straight days without seeing the sun. After nearly four months of continual blue skies most everyone was pleasantly surprised, if not welcoming, of so much moisture over such a brief amount of time. I found myself busying around trying to get produce picked, vines cleared away and dead flowers cut back or pulled up. I mowed my grass, which will have to be done again before the snow falls, and finally put all my lawn furniture and garden ornaments in the shed. There has been nothing to do outside since then but wait for the more inclement weather to come.

However as is quite normal here, or so I've been told since I've only lived in the state for six years, a revival of glorious fall weather often happens after the first serious frost. It takes that initial shot of freezing temperatures to turn the leaves  the brilliant shades of gold, burgundy and brown that are usually associated with states like Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. And I have certainly enjoyed watching them fall from the trees and listening to them crackle under my feet as I walk down the sidewalks to church or visit more homebound neighbors.

But their presence has kicked off my usual round of melancholia that always surfaces when the days become shorter and the nights so much longer. I already refuse to drive after dark unless it is necessary. And the ice and snow-covered roads literally fill me with dread since our freeway system connecting the two towns I most often travel between have been in a constant state of construction for the past three years. I never know what I might run into, like the semi-truck driver in front of me last week who had a blowout and fragments of his tire were swirling through the air everywhere. I managed to miss the larger pieces of black debris but heard several thuds against the front window and roof of my car before he was able to move to the side of the road and pull to a stop.

I know more of those unnerving experiences are on the way since most Utah drivers seem to believe they are the only ones on the road. Perhaps it's my age, but I'm ready to stay in the slow lane until spring because there's less likelihood of becoming involved in an accident. The coming cold and gloomy days also mean a dramatic change in my activity level since I have no interest in becoming a slave to some gym, and any major movement will be confined to walking around the house, getting on my stationary bike and waiting for the next snowfall so I can start shoveling before some kindly friend beats me to it. 

Housework also becomes more of a chore without much sun, and I tend to put it off unless I know company is coming, can actually see the dust on the glass or wood surfaces or notice that the floors need more than a simple sweeping or vacuuming. Bathrooms and kitchens are a different story since I hate clutter and like the rooms where I take care of my cooking and most intimate business sparkling clean and sanitized.

Since this time of year brings with it countless more hours when I have less important things to do than during the warmer months, and the lack of sunlight strips me of most of the energy I manage to acquire, I find myself feeling like I've lost my rudder. Nothing sounds more satisfying than hibernating with good books, warm blankets and bowls of the most decadent goodies. Sound familiar to anyone else? But excessive indulgence in anything is unhealthy, and I don't want to be left with more regrets than usual when spring arrives again. That's why I force myself to stay busy.

I never sleep late, mostly because my back and joints don't like it, and I try to fill the morning with productivity knowing that by three in the afternoon I won't be good for much besides relaxing with a book or watching reruns of my favorite programs on DVD. I don't have cable or satellite TV because there are so few programs I feel are worth watching. It's just another thing that gives my age away. The amount of violence, profanity and sex that most people find entertaining leaves me cold, as do large gatherings of people since I'm more introspective than outgoing in nature and seldom have more than a few things to say. 

Nonetheless, I still find serious self-reflection onerous and often frightening because I like to remain in control. Painful life experiences have kept me from letting more than a select few into my heart and soul. I can write about feelings in a fictional way, but heaven forbid that I would actually have to tell someone how I really feel. It has been my experience that no one really cares, even the ones who should.

That's why when I read this Facebook post a week or so ago it gave me something a little different to think about. I have always thought of life as being a test that I would ultimately end up passing or failing when I met my maker. The idea of becoming fascinated me because I was reminded that life isn't always black or white, and all choices aren't entirely right or wrong. We're here to become what God meant for us to be. And each life, with its ensuing challenges and joy, was tailor-made for the individual. When we think we're falling apart, we are really just taking another step in a very personal journey. 


Me: Hey God, I'm falling apart. Can you put me back together?

God: I would rather not.

Me: Why?
God: Because you aren't a puzzle.
Me: What about all of the pieces of my life that are falling down onto the ground?
God: Let them stay there for a while. They fell off for a reason. Take some time and decide if you need any of those pieces back.
Me: You don't understand! I'm breaking down!
God: No - you don't understand. You are breaking through. What you are feeling are just growing pains. You are shedding the things and the people in your life that are holding you back. You aren't falling apart. You are falling into place. Relax. Take some deep breaths and allow those things you don't need anymore to fall off of you. Quit holding onto the pieces that don't fit you anymore. Let them fall off. Let them go.
Me: Once I start doing that, what will be left of me?
God: Only the very best pieces.
Me: But I'm scared of change.
God: I keep telling you - YOU AREN'T CHANGING!! YOU ARE BECOMING!
Me: Becoming who?
God: Becoming who I created you to be! A person of light and love and charity and hope and courage and joy and mercy and grace and compassion. I made you for more than the shallow pieces you have decided to adorn yourself with that you cling to with such greed and fear. Let those things fall off. I love you! Don't change! . . . Become! Become! Become who I made you to be. I'm going to keep telling you this until you remember it.
Me: There goes another piece.
God: Yep. Let it be.
Me: So, I'm not broken?
God: Of course Not! - but you are breaking like the dawn. It's a new day. Become!!!
~Author John Roedel


Pretty powerful stuff if you really think about it. Letting go of all the weighty matters that consume so much of our time and energy will make room for something far more beneficial for 
everyone. Think I will frame it and hang it on my fridge because I'm going to need the reminder as I head into another winter. Maybe I can dispel some of the gloom I anticipate by replacing it with more light before it has time to settle. What knows what I might become by spring?

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Strength Through Adversity

A few days ago, I was with my sister in Branson, Missouri. We were being silly kids again and attending Motown concerts put on by some of our friends. One night, we were sitting on the front row of a show when a lady in a wheelchair pulled herself into the seat behind my sister. I glanced over my shoulder and smiled. She didn’t look like everyone else in the crowd. Her clothes were rumpled, her movements jerky and her voice disjointed and loud. But it was apparent she wanted to be friends and immediately began talking to us. Her questions, and rather boisterous outbursts, continued after the performance began. People in the audience started giving her dirty looks and saying unkind things just loud enough for her hear, but she tried to ignore them. When one of the performers asked a few couples to come to the stage so he could sing to them while they danced she wanted to be spotlighted too.

She got to her feet with such wobbly movements I thought for sure she would topple over, but her husband let her lean on him while he got her up the few steps. She came alive for just a few minutes, moving around to the melodious strains of a love song, but I knew she was in trouble when her knees began to shake. I wanted to rush up and lend my support since no one else on stage appeared to notice that she was in trouble. But before she collapsed to the floor the performer helped her husband get her back to her chair. She apologized profusely for not being able to stand longer and asked for a soda. I left to get it for her while the performer told the rest of the audience that she had only been able to walk for a little over a year.

 

It was during intermission that I learned more of her story. She was the poster child for MS when she was a little girl and got to go to Disneyland and meet a bunch of celebrities who paid a great deal of attention to her. But when her cuteness faded, she was basically tossed away to make it on her own. She lived on the streets, doing anything she had to for survival, until the man who became her husband saw her. He told us that he really didn’t want to become involved because he had other ideas for his life, but God told him he would be giving up a great many blessings if he walked away. He decided that God knew more than he did, and since this life was a test he was willing to take the challenge. He worked with her everyday for several decades until she could finally stand and then walk short distances. His love and support helped her reclaim as much of her life as she could. She had two seizures before the show was over but didn’t let that take away any of her joy at just being there. That experience gave me a lot to think about when I went back to the bed and breakfast that night.

 

I had been taught that strength comes through adversity, and I realized early the next morning that I had seen one of Heavenly Father’s most choice spirits the night before. She had been given a test I would never want or be able to handle, but she was doing everything she could to rise above her challenges. That awareness was followed by a true epiphany. I saw quite clearly that I had come to define my life by all the really bad things that had happened since I have almost complete memory loss when it comes to the day by day experiences most people are able to recall without any effort. Even when my kids bring up something fun or unusual that happened when they were growing up, I can’t remember it. But I know that somewhere in my genes is an incredible gift – the ability to keep moving whenever life seems determined to push and keep me down.

 

I know we all have times of great adversity when the pain is almost more than we can endure – times of death, illness, heartache and loss that zap us to the core. There are also times of challenge that make us dig deep to find the strength and courage necessary to even get out of bed. But mostly, there are just unrelenting irritants like broken water lines, flat tires, unruly children, allergic reactions, lost items and requests from others that we really don’t have time for. But regardless of what we’re asked to go through by a loving Father who knows what we need to become more like him, or simply the things we bring on ourselves through carelessness and plain stupidity, how we react to the unpleasant will determine where we ultimately end up.

 

I learned about adversity and how it can destroy an entire family when I was five. I'm sure I've related this experience before, but I think it warrants retelling since it has much to do with the topic. It was the spring of the year and my father was getting the tractor ready to plow the fields. We were poor dirt farmers, and I was sent outside with my three year-old brother and told to watch him. I suppose I did for a time, but kids minds can’t stay focused for long and he was determined to be with our dad. He slipped away and went to the field. But our father didn’t see him, and the tractor lunged forward just as he was trying to climb on the neck of the disk. One of the blades ran over his neck, another his chest, and a third over his legs. 

 

He was lifeless when our father, through super-human strength, lifted the disc with one hand and pulled him out with the other. He came running towards the house, shouting for the keys to the jeep and saying that Sandon was dead. My mother took one look at me and said. “If you would been watching him the way I told you to this never would have happened.” Then she turned her back on me and disappeared. That was the day I became a little adult who allowed the cares of the world to settle directly on my shoulders.

 

My little brother was in a coma for six weeks, and the doctors had no idea how to help him since all the medical marvels we have today had yet to be invented. His trachea kept collapsing and they had to operate several times without being able to transfer him to a sterile environment. We three girls were sent to stay with family and friends because our mother needed to be with him. 

 

When he woke up, the right side of his body was paralyzed along with the accompanying brain damage that made it so he had to learn how to walk, talk and do even the simplest things again. We were thrilled when our parents were finally able to bring him home, but it was a scary experience too. His crib was set up in the living room and he became the center of our lives because there was nothing he could do for himself. Several large and noisy machines were in the room with him and our mother had to learn how to use them, especially the one that suctioned out the mucus that formed in the hole in his neck where the doctors had inserted a tracheotomy tube. Each accomplishment he made was celebrated, but the strain his partial recovery put on each member of our family was great. 


The doctor and hospital bills were enormous, there were no physical therapists or specialized who knew how to help him because no one with his kind of injuries had ever survived before and someone had to be with him every moment because scar tissue would grow over the end of the tube in his neck that had to be surgically removed. He couldn’t speak unless the hole was plugged, and he couldn’t breathe if it wasn’t.

 

I became his personal guardian because I blamed myself for all he was going through, but he never complained about anything. He taught me more about building strength through adversity than anyone else ever has. We could never have a pet because he tripped over everything. He had to do special exercises several times each day to help strengthen his stiff and shrunken limbs, and he had to wear a heavy metal brace on his right leg until adulthood. He never got to play during recess because his teachers spent that time trying to help him understand his lessons. He fell down constantly and always had holes in pant legs and scraps on his arms and legs. Kids were cruel and made fun of him continually, but there was always a smile on his face, even though I knew his heart was filled with pain because he understood that he would never be able to do the things others could. 

 

But despite his disabilities he set goals and accomplished some of them. He graduated high school, married a girl he had grown up with and had 6 children. Unfortunately, a lifetime of pain, rejection and self-doubt caused him to lose his way and he forfeited association with all but one of his daughters. He ended up marrying a young girl who had some serious issues and when they broke up he got involved with more bad people and fell into a fire pit while he was at a party. He couldn’t get out, and the people he was with waited until they thought he would never survive before dropping him off outside the emergency room doors without any identification. It took three days before any family was notified. When I saw him in the burn unit his face and body were swollen to twice their normal size. 

 

Because he allowed his faith to waver, he spent his last 15 years in a nursing home in incredible pain because some of the burns never healed. But he recognized where he had gone wrong and never blamed anyone else for where he ended up, not even the people who put him there. He spent his time cheering up the other residents, studying his scriptures and praying for help, strength and forgiveness. I lost him the day after Thanksgiving last year. And while I take comfort in knowing that he is now able to run and feel the wind blowing through his hair like he couldn’t do in this life, I miss him every day. He was, and is, an amazing man, and I admire him more than ever for his willingness to accept and even flourish in the face of what I consider true adversity. 

 

Personally, I don’t particularly enjoy adversity, but I recognize its purpose and the gifts it offers if we’re smart enough to recognize them. Sandon’s accident gave me a love for the disabled because I can see their true value and what strong spirits they have to be given such difficult challenges. They’ve already proven their worth and their reunion in heaven will be glorious. 

 

There have been many defining moments in my life. I’ll share just a few and what they taught me. When I was in the third grade I contracted Rheumatic Fever and spent six months in bed. I could only get up to go to the bathroom or for my weekly visit to the doctor where my blood was drawn. The disease damaged my heart, and I have never been able to participate in strenuous physical activities. But those long months without seeing anyone other than family taught me to love the printed word and gave me the desire to express my thoughts through writing. 

 

When I was thirteen, my father died quite suddenly from a massive heart attack leaving seven children behind. I found him lying on the bathroom floor, but couldn’t open it because his body was blocking the way. His death was too much for our mother and she had a complete nervous breakdown a short time later. Those were awful years. She came after me with a butcher knife when I was a senior because I wouldn’t support some of the truly horrid things she was doing. I ended up running away a couple of months later, but was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to attend college. I never went home again, but thanks to a loving grandmother I was able to see my younger siblings a couple of times before she died during spring semester of my freshman year. 

 

I’ve often wondered what possible purpose God had for taking our father when we needed him so much, but I suppose it kept me from making more mistakes than I did because I knew he might be watching me. His death also taught me how to love my Heavenly Father more. And over time, I learned to talk to him like I would have talked to my father. He has been the only one in my corner most of my life since I’ve spent the majority of it alone.

 

With no one to give me advice, support or love after the age of 19, I ended up marrying a man who said he needed me to help him become the man he really wanted to be. I knew how to be needed and take care of others, but I didn’t know anything about being love. I could never do anything right with him, and he let me know it on a daily basis. I was terrified of his ability to reduce me to just a shell of the person I was before we met, but in those days girls just didn’t walk away from a marriage. 

 

I tried to give him a family that I hoped would make things better, but each pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. He blamed me for all of them because in his own words, “he could me pregnant. It was my fault I couldn’t carry them.” 

 

When I knew Heavenly Father wanted me to adopt, he said he didn’t want someone else’s children, but he would sign the papers if I would do all the work and I did. I lasted 22 years with him before my body started to shut down from all the abuse and stress. The doctor told me I would be dead in 6 months if I didn’t do something drastic. It was hard walking away with nothing, but Heavenly Father gave me the strength to start over again. 

 

My daughter had already graduated from high school, and my fifteen year-old son said he would go with me as long as we had a place to live. But my ex-husband bought him a pickup he could drive to school each day, along with all the spending money and freedom he wanted. I was in a small basement apartment and making $17,000 a year so all I could give him was love. Those were the hardest days of my life being away from the children I had fought so hard to have. 


But Heavenly Father was my constant source of strength. He helped me move 4 times that first year, and hold my head up at the high school where I taught after my principal called me into his office to tell me to watch my back because the good people from my home community were out to crucify me. He helped me find a job in a different town and my son came to live with me. He helped me through graduate school while I was working full-time, find summer jobs so I could make it financially and make several additional moves. He gave me the courage to walk into the unknown over and over again, and taught me how important it was to stay close to him.

  

We live in both perilous and exciting times, but I feel calm when I'm doing what I know is right. And I know there are many people in the life that comes after this one who are lending whatever support they can as we navigate some very difficult journeys. May we remain strong, teachable and loving in a society that calls evil good, encourages hatred and division and tries to silence those who appose what the people in power are trying to promote. It is a beautiful world, and there are amazing people everywhere.


In case you find time for additional reading, I'm enclosing a list of the books I've written, along with a brief synopsis. Each book is built around family, searching for truth and overcoming personal struggles and opposition. They can be found on Amazon Books in both print and Ebook formats at https://amzn.to/2BXNSdv 


Stay happy and know that the answers to most of life's problems are just a prayer away.



Kismet Finds a Way: by JS Ririe

Andrea Halbert always lived by the rules, but she’d never found Mr. Right. Then one dark a stranger entered her life. He was handsome, charismatic, and had a passion for living that made her head spin, but he also had a dark past and secrets he was unwilling to share. Her head told her to be careful, but her heart didn’t want to listen. Will a whirlwind romance, and some choices she did not see coming, cause her to fall from grace, or will she be able to help a man she can’t forget find his forgotten dreams?


Crossfire at Bentley: by JS Ririe

Jada Sloan spent four years at the university in love with a professor – seven years her senior - who hopped in and out of her life like a yoyo. Ten years later, after a rocky road to success and a failed marriage, she found herself back at Bentley as a guest lecturer. But a new friend, a conspiracy and a chance encounter with her old flame threaten to destroy her purpose-driven life. Will she find the inner strength to let go of her past or become part of a puzzle no one seems capable of solving? 


Rivers of Rage: by JS Ririe

     For Rani Wade, it was far from easy knowing that her parents had dropped her off at a stranger’s house with no intention of returning. But left with the will to survive, she embraces a new life that unexpectedly takes her to the mountains of Colorado and an adventure that causes her to reevaluate everything she believes about permanence, hope and the reality that people are seldom forced to be alone, even when abandoned by the people who should love them the most.


Beyond the Glass Doors: by JS Ririe

     Maya Kincade was used to taking risks. That’s how she claimed the perfect life and how it ended. But she wasn’t ready to have her world torn apart and be left with two children to raise. That’s when a long-lost relative enters her life with a proposition she is unable to refuse, and she must dig deep into her soul to decide if her husband’s death will be the worst loss of her lifetime.


Final Allegiance - Reagan Sinclair, FBI - Book 1: by JS Ririe


Reagan Sinclair defies her family’s wishes by joining the FBI. While her motives are pure, her first undercover assignment proves that true bravery comes from the heart. Loaned out to the Drug Enforcement Agency to infiltrate a compound in the Colombian jungle, she is forced to face her own mortality when the mission is compromised and she attempts a daring escape without the necessary backup.


Resilience - Reagan Sinclair, FBI - Book 2: by JS Ririe

    Life is beginning to return to a semblance of normalcy when Reagan is approached about another undercover assignment with the DEA. Seeing her former partner again is intriguing, but she will never forget his cold arrogance and ruthless behavior in the Colombian jungle. Pull off the role of his make-believe wife won’t be easy.


Safe Haven - Reagan Sinclair, FBI - Book 3: by JS Ririe

   After trying to come to terms with more than just the fallout of a challenging assignment, Reagan returns to FBI headquarters with a new price on her head. Eloise Seville has vowed to destroy her life, and with a mole somewhere within the ranks of the DEA, she knows that discovering her true identity won’t be hard.


Unsheltered - Reagan Sinclair, FBI - Book 4: by JS Ririe

    Stunned, hurt, and afraid after the tragedy at the safe house  and a brutal demand, Reagan is forced on the run with baby Sam knowing they might never see their family again. A strange and unnerving encounter gives her the ammunition she needs to start a return battle against the evil monsters that have stolen so much of her life. 


Welcome Redemption - Reagan Sinclair, FBI - Book 5: by JS Ririe 

  Not wanting to spend time in a Mexican prison, Reagan agrees to testify at Eloise Seville’s trial. But her uncanny ability to see things others often overlook tells her that the subpoena was merely another ruse. Her journey takes her back to Colombia where she and Agent Fielding go up against their ruthless and formidable enemies in a calculated showdown where only one side will be victorious.


Indecision’s Flame - Book 1: by JS Ririe

Brylee Hawkins was prepared to enjoy a bright, hopeful future until her fiancé convinced her to return to the Australian Outback to confront her father. On her own in a harsh and unforgiving land, she is forced to face an unsavory past and an even more disturbing and dangerous present filled with unrelenting lies, secrets and cover-ups.


Lost - Indecision’s Flame - Book 2: by JS Ririe 

Torn between her family and the obligations of a promise made to her father, Brylee longs to return to the United States and to her fiancé, but fate has other plans. Jake, the brother of her father’s wife, decides to take her under his wing and teach her the ropes of running the ranch—mostly in an attempt to get rid of her before she learns of her father’s legacy and the part she is to play if she wants to help keep it alive.


Exposed - Indecision’s Flame - Book 3: by JS Ririe

With LeAnn gone from the ranch and the aftermath of the flood to contend with, Brylee is forced to assume more responsibility than she is prepared for in raising her little brother and trying to keep the family heritage intact. Her troubles deepen when a secret she was keeping from her fiancé is revealed through an unexpected source.


Betrayal - Indecision’s Flame - Book 4: by JS Ririe

     Despite a fractured heart, Brylee forges onward in support of her cousin, Molly, who suddenly decides to get married. Tension and violence quickly ignite in the outback when a nugget of gold is found on a neighboring homestead, and Brylee and Jake are forced to put aside their differences as they are pulled deeper into a web of misunderstandings, cover-ups and danger.


Reawakening - Indecision’s Flame - Book 5: by JS Ririe

Jake’s cryptic note forces Brylee to reconsider remaining in the outback where personal heartbreak and unrelenting responsibility are reducing her to a shell of the woman she has once been. But the arrival of an old aborigine from her past whose revelations about her childhood and omens for the future make leaving impossible. 


Unraveling - Indecision’s Flame - Book 6: by JS Ririe

Brylee’s avoidance when it comes to revealing parts of her curious past lead her back to the cave of drawings. While Trevor’s disappearance fuels LeAnn’s involvement with their neighbor, Raymond Tucker, whose only goal has been to acquire every ranch in their part of the outback by whatever means is necessary.


Destiny - Indecision’s Flame - Book 7: by JS Ririe

Beth effectively ruins Christmas with an unexpected visit and Raymond steps in to save the day, further ingratiating himself into the family. LeAnn’s accepting behavior towards their unwanted benefactor causes additional rifts as Brylee and Jake race to figure out what he’s up to before the secrets of the mountain are revealed.