I’d like to introduce you to a sweet friend of mine, DiAne Gates. DiAne is such an incredible person!! She has been such an encouragement to me, and she always has a kind word to say. Not only is DiAne a terrific author, but she’s also a magnificent photographer. I always look for her pictures online—they brighten my day. I’m so happy to have DiAne on my blog today, she’s someone special.
Danele: Hello, DiAne! It’s great to be able to talk with you!
DiAne: Danele, I’m honored to be here. Love your posts, and the best perk of those lonely hours banging the keyboard is the blessing of all my new writer friends.
Danele: That’s one of the things I really enjoy about Prism Book Group–the authors support each other. You’re right—it’s such a blessing! Now, DiAne, I can’t wait to hear more about you, so let’s jump right into things. Have you ever faced a difficult situation that made you totally rely on God?
DiAne: Yes, I have. One Friday afternoon in 2000, I answered the phone and heard my daughter sob, “Moomm.” She and her husband were leaving the gynecologist’s office from her prenatal sonogram and the news was devastating. The doctor recommended they abort the baby. All his organs were on the outside of his body, and they said he wouldn’t survive the pregnancy. The doctor gave them the weekend to make a decision. On the phone, my daughter said, “We don’t believe in abortion. Mom, what are we going to do?” I answered, “Pray. Listen to what God says. I can’t tell you, but you and Clint must be on the same page.” Then I asked, “Do you want me to come?” After I hung up, I called our Sunday School prayer leader and our class began to pray. Then I crumbled in pieces and cried and prayed. I boarded the plane on Sunday afternoon for what I thought would be the saddest trip of my lifetime. When Michelle and my three-year-old granddaughter met the plane, one look in her eyes told me there would be no abortion. Monday, Clint and Michelle left for the doctor’s appointment, and Ashton and I waited. And waited. ’Til they burst through the door, faces wreathed in smiles. God had healed our Noah since Friday—in the womb. The amazed doctor said it was a miracle. Noah was perfect. And when he made his appearance into this world, he was indeed a perfect baby.
Danele: That is so amazing!
DiAne: Yes, but that’s not the end of the story. Seven months later, a blood vessel in our Michelle’s brain stem ruptured and she died. No warning. And that phone call and subsequent flight to Indiana was the most awful trip of our lives.
Danele: Oh, DiAne! I’m so sorry!
DiAne: Our son-in-law was military, and he was being transferred to Kansas and scheduled for school, so Dick and I brought the children home to Dallas after the funeral. They lived with us until his schooling was complete. And for the next seven months Papa and Mimi became mama and daddy. No time for grieving—children don’t wait. In September, the kiddos and I went to Ft. Leavenworth to live with my son-in-law to get their fractured household up and running. Again, no time for grieving until I returned home a year later. God carried me through that first year, but alone, at home, my world caved in. And my faith was locked in a vise grip and squeezed.
Danele: I’m so sorry!
DiAne: I’d love to tell you that I gave my jumbled emotions to God and trusted Him…but I didn’t. However, He never walked away from my anger, my outbursts, or my depression. Like that poem about the one set of footprints, He carried me—and He still does. Because grief never goes away. It just morphs into a new normal. A new normal where pain and joy learned to mutually cohabit in my heart. Around the three year mark, the new normal of thankfulness began to penetrate the void. Thankfulness that has cemented my soul to my Savior and my God. Thankfulness that seven months prior to her death Michelle had the courage to say, “No, we will be happy with whatever God gives us to love.” And her God-given courage allowed us to have a small part of her through her children. What has God taught me through this heartache? He will never leave me—no matter what kinda ugly I work up. His grace really is sufficient—even when I think I can’t bear another gut-wrenching moment. And every one of His promises are true. I believe God uses the roto-rooter of grief to increase our heart’s capacity for joy, if we, like you say, Danele—surrender and embrace whatever chaos He allows—knowing He will turn it for our good and His glory. In one of my darkest moments, I walked out on the patio one morning, slumped in a chair and sobbed and shouted, “If You really are here, I need to feel Your presence, right now!” The morning was still, but a breeze swirled around me and wrapped me, like one of those micro-waved blankets from the Emergency Room. And He comforted me.
Danele: That’s so beautiful.
DiAne: After that, He called me to become a GriefShare facilitator and after some heel digging, I obeyed. And He taught me that Christians grieve too. Goodness, Jesus grieved even though He knew He was going to raise Lazarus a few minutes later. I also learned grieving is not only okay, it’s necessary. We live in a small town in East Texas and our first GriefShare group brought together fourteen ladies from our town who had lost children. It was a desperately heavy and hard thirteen weeks where God performed miracles in each of our lives. And thirteen years later, He is still allowing me to walk alongside hurting people. Allowing me to be His physical arms to hold them. And He has taught me I have no answers for these folks, but He does. I’ve walked out of meetings astonished at words that popped out of my mouth. Words that weren’t mine…He put them in my mouth…just like He said He would.
Danele: I’m so glad that you allowed God to turn your pain into a beautiful ministry. Is there anything else you would like to say about your difficult experience?
DiAne: Do I miss Michelle? Oh my, yes. Would I love to have her back? Absolutely not. That would be the height of selfishness. She’s healed and with Jesus! One thing I asked my Lord after I obeyed, “Please keep the scar in my heart soft and tender so I can always feel other people’s pain.” And He’s answered that prayer too. When you’re with someone who has lost a loved one and stressing over what to say…say nothing. Just wrap your arms around them and cry with ’em. Did you know scientists tell us tears of grief are different? Their chemical make-up is unlike any other tears. Perhaps that’s why the Psalmist tells us, God saves our tears in His bottle. So if you’ve lost one you love, let the tears flow. God’s saving ’em. Amazing!
Danele: DiAne, thank you so much for sharing your heart with us. I know that you’ve helped some grieving people today. Have you ever experienced a miracle that you would like to talk about?
DiAne: I sure have. One afternoon several years after Michelle went to be with the Lord, we were returning from visiting the children and had Noah with us. It was raining and the highways were slick. I sat in the back with the three-year-old, pointing out a rainbow in the distance and telling him about his namesake. Suddenly, Dick interrupted and demanded, “Sit back! Relax! And hold Noah in his car seat.” Fear gripped my heart. A string of red taillights stopped in front of us. I twisted to look behind where an eighteen wheeler was closing the space between us. No way that truck could stop. I breathed a prayer and waited for the inevitable. Suddenly, we were encased in the middle of the rainbow. Golden light sparkled over the car and the most calming quiet surrounded us. No squealing brakes. No crash. Nothing but a grand silence. Then it was gone. Everyone in front and behind had stopped. Neither Dick nor I could say a word. Traffic moved again and we must have driven a mile or so before I found my voice. “Dick, what did you see and hear back there?” He replied in a soft, hesitant tone, “You…You tell me what you saw first.” When I began to describe, he filled in the details. We had seen and heard exactly the same things. We will never forget the sound of that silence nor forget the warmth and sparkle of the golden glow. God saved us. How I don’t know. But I often repeat to Noah the account of that afternoon and continue to repeat God’s Word: “For I know the plans I have for you, ‘Declares the Lord’, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). Then I remind Noah, “That’s twice God saved you, Bubba. He sure has a plan for your life. So you’d better check with Him about that plan.”
Danele: Wow, what an experience! Thanks for sharing it! Now, I’d love for you to tell us a little about your novel, Roped.
DiAne: Roped was released by Prism Book Group on August 21st of this year. This story has been forming in my head for a number of years. I love Texas and I love rodeo. I took a series of writing courses from The Children’s Institute of Literature and one assignment was to write about a child I didn’t know. The lady I worked with had a young daughter and both gals were bona fide cowgirls. I began going to rodeos with ’em and the story wrote itself in my head. After getting it on paper, I sent it to one publisher who promptly rejected it so I threw it in a drawer…for years. Five years ago, I joined North Texas Christian Writers and paired with six other serious writers and the painful rewrites began. ’Til God brought me to Prism Book Group.
Danele: I was so impressed with your book. It had definite Christian themes, and I really enjoyed it. In fact, I had a total blast reading it! Can you share the back cover blurb for Roped and a link where we can find it?
DiAne: Sure! Thirteen-year-old Crissy Crosby chases a dream to live up to her parents’ rodeo legacy. But the rodeo championship is two months away and problems beyond her ability to solve stack and teeter like a game of Tumbling-Towers. Meanwhile rival Jodie Lea and her father, Ed Fairgate, contrive to swipe the silver buckles from Crissy’s grasp any way they can…Prejudice, anger, and dark secrets simmer in a pot of family feuds destined to boil over in a tragic nightmare at the rodeo. Will Crissy develop courage and faith to overcome the consequences of her temper? Will her dreams of buckles and titles become reality? Or will the character-building adversities of her life quash her dreams forever? http://www.prismbookgroup.com/Roped.html
Danele: I’d love to hear what you are working on now.
DiAne: My work in progress is Twisted, the sequel to Roped. In this book, we’ll find out why Jodie Lea Fairgate is the perpetual burr in Crissy Crosby’s hide. ’Til Uncle Bo shows up and things serious-up. Makin’ what happened the night of the rodeo in Roped look like a kindergarten spat. I’m about three-quarters of the way toward the finish line with this one.
Danele: DiAne, thank you so much for being with us today. I really appreciate the way you shared your heart with us.
DiAne: I’ve enjoyed chatting with you, Danele. It’s a shame we live so far apart. But one day, we’ll have eternity to get to know one another and praise our God together—forever!
Friends, DiAne Gates is such a beautiful person. If you would like to learn more about her or her books, or if you would like to contact her personally, please follow the links below. I hope you have a wonderful day!
Blog: http://dianegates.wordpress.com/ (Moving the Ancient Boundaries)