Pursuing Gold – Striving for Excellence

Cynthia Simmons not only writes about characters who face huge odds, she’s faced them herself. Please tell us about your experience, Cynthia.

Have you ever faced a task so daunting and intimidating you wanted to run the opposite direction? I did. We homeschooled all of our children, but then the Lord presented me with a special gift: my fifth child with severe disabilities. I was already a busy mother, but had found my sweet spot, my comfortable zone in teaching.

When God landed sweet little Caleb in my lap, I was quite frustrated because I felt I couldn’t do more. That feeling only grew as he turned out to have grand mal seizures and multiple disabilities. The psychologist who tested my son commented on the myriad of weaknesses without corresponding strengths to help him overcome.

I remember telling the Lord I’d had enough, and that someone would write on my tombstone, “She Homeschooled.” Certainly I would be teaching him forever since getting him to learn even the simplest task took Herculean strength.

Just imagine teaching a child to count. I always handed my kids blocks, and we’d pick up a block as we said the numbers, “one, two, three, four.” That worked with my other children, but failed horribly with Caleb. You see, he expended so much effort to pick up a block that he couldn’t say the numbers. Getting the numbers in the correct order was almost impossible too. (We call that sequencing, which was one of his disabilities.)

Of course, I didn’t know the list of problems he harbored when I started. His bloodcurdling screams rattled me. Imagine your son screaming, “I’m stupid. I’m stupid, I’m stupid.” Oh how that hurt!

Looking back, I see the Lord’s guidance at his birth. We’d named him Caleb after the Caleb in the Old Testament who trusted God could defeat the Canaanites. After wandering in the wilderness with the other Jewish people, he was seventy-eight when he entered the Promised Land and eighty-five when he climbed the mountain to defeat the giants the Israelites had feared. We told Caleb that story so many times. His namesake persevered, and he and I had to do the same thing.

“…we exult in our tribulations knowing that tribulation brings perseverance…” Romans 5

I didn’t want to give up, though I often felt as if I were pushing a bus up a mountain. When I stopped to measure, I’d gone an inch. Caleb reversed letters and numbers, making it hard for him to read or write. I had to use special techniques to help him discern the shape and direction of anything on paper. We wrote letters in whipped cream, sand, cookie dough, and play dough.

It still took him months to connect the shape of the letter with the name and sound. After that gut wrenching battle, he learned to read and write. Caleb has boundless compassion for anyone unhappy or suffering. Just like a bee rushes to nectar, he finds that one discouraged person and tries to make him or her feel better.

I’ve given you a brief summary of Caleb’s intense battles. Now I understand staying with the job, and striving for excellence was what God wanted for my husband and I. Both of us grew during those grueling years. We worked hard, and God blessed our efforts. Let me encourage you to do the same in whatever difficulty you face.

 

PG cover

With his father dead and his business partner incapacitated, Peter Chandler inherits the leadership of a bank in economic crisis. With only a newly-minted college degree and little experience, Peter joins his partner’s daughter, Mary Beth Roper, in a struggle to keep C&R Bank afloat while the Civil War rages around Chattanooga. Political pressure for unsecured loans of gold to the government stirs up trouble as tempers and prices rise. Their problems multiply when Mary Beth discovers counterfeit money with Peter’s forged signature. Can they find the forger before the bank fails? The two friends must pursue gold on behalf of their business, as they learn to pursue their heavenly Father to find hope and peace. Cynthia is giving away a print copy of this novel to one commenter on this blog. 

Cynthia 3

A Chattanooga native, Cynthia L Simmons and her husband have five children and reside in Atlanta. A Bible teacher and former homeschool mother, she writes a column for Leading Hearts Magazine. She conducts writing workshops, served as past president of Christian Authors Guild and directs Atlanta Christian Writing Conference. “Cyndi” is fond of history and offers younger ladies the elegance of God’s wisdom. She hosts Heart of the Matter Radio and co-founded Homeschool Answers. Her author website is www.clsimmons.com.

Diane Kalas

Patriot Heart coverWelcome, Diane. Let’s get right to the thought behind your Civil War novel. 

Why I wrote PATRIOT HEART: back in 1990-91, a US military operation called Desert Storm took place in the Middle East. Not long afterward, the veterans involved came back with invisible scars that later became known as PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The heartbreaking stories about the men and women who couldn’t keep jobs or relationships soon became a regular feature on the nightly news. The heartbreaking numbers of vet suicides have increased over the years.

I write historical fiction and wanted to know how Civil War veterans who suffered with the same symptoms of PTSD were treated. Nineteenth century doctors diagnosed those afflicted with the condition as Soldier’s Fatigue. They offered bed rest in a soldier’s convalescent home, or recommended a discharge and a train ticket home. Often the soldier had a note pinned to his uniform, giving his name and destination, because he was so incapable of communicating. Let the veteran’s family deal with the troubled man.

As my story idea came together, I especially wanted to write my hero, Dan Goodman, as a strong Christian and show how he dealt with the horrors of Andersonville Prison for Union soldiers. Perhaps a 21st century veteran’s spouse, mother, sister, or girlfriend will read Patriot Heart and see there is hope for their loved one. Hope for the future in God, the Father, and salvation through Jesus Christ, His son.

Here’s how the back cover reads–sounds like an adventure on several levels!

DUTY             COURAGE                INTEGRITY

May 1865. All Dan Goodman wants is to marry an uncomplicated girl and have a family, but the war interfered and he became a POW who now believes he’s losing his mind and unfit for marriage. He dreams of Oregon to put the memories behind him. The problem is he owes a debt of gratitude to the beautiful songstress. In addition, Clara Barton wants him to be a witness for the prosecution in the first trial for war crimes in American history.

 

INDEPENDENT        ENTERPRISING       FEISTY

Letty Talbot is a world-weary steamboat songstress, and wants a new direction after sudden loss. Letty decides to run a supply depot for emigrants going out West, and talks Dan into a partnership where he builds the prairie schooners. Letty won’t admit she wants to keep Dan from leaving. Even though they butt heads a lot, no man ever interested Letty as this one did.

TRUST           LOVE              PEACE

If Letty marries Dan she losses her depot, because married women have no property rights. Letty must learn to trust God with her future. Dan must forgive fellow Union inmates who killed for selfish reasons, and face the commandant of Andersonville Prison in a court of law. Allowing his Oregon dream to fade, he can then embrace the future God planned for him.Diane_Kalas_031613