Do you know someone who’s so much fun that they just keep you laughing? I sure do! Her name’s Renee Blare, and she’s the terrific woman in this photograph. Whenever I need a pick-me-up, I instant message Renee and have a chat. As we talk, I inevitably start giggling. Renee hasn’t always had an easy life, but she’s never let it stop her. Trials break some people, but they made Renee kind, sensitive, and full of fun. It’s an honor to welcome this special lady to my blog.
Danele: Hi, Renee! It’s great to have you with us!
Renee: Hello, Danele! It’s great to be here. Hold on a sec’…my dog’s trying to steal my tea. Crazy dog. Wait…for everyone’s information that was my husband’s nutty waterdog, Cooper. Okay, where was I? Oh, yeah, hi! Did I mention it’s great to be here?
Danele: Oh, Renee! You crack me up! You’ve already got me giggling, and we’ve only just begun to talk. I’m so glad we’ve met—you’re a gem! Anyway, let’s get things rolling. Can you tell us the circumstances surrounding your decision to give your heart to Christ?
Renee: Sure! Did you know I love water? I love it so much that I’ve been baptized THREE times! I grew up in church. I don’t actually remember my first day in a pew. I attended Sunday school and sang in the children’s choir. VBS (Vacation Bible School) was my thing to do in the summer as well as Bible camp until youth group took over. I walked the aisle the first time as a young child because my friends did it. The second time, it was as a teen because it was expected of my “new church home.” I could talk the “talk” with the best of them. I convinced all around me that I was one of them. The only person who didn’t buy the act? Me. Miserable and alone in the crowd, I battled anorexia, and when I couldn’t fit into this world, I struggled with depression…and suicide.”
Danele: Oh, Renee! I’m so sorry! What changed things?
Renee: At eighteen years old, I sat in my Christian single’s group (once again, going through the “spiritual” motions) and listened while people prayed. One person prayed for peace, another for guidance, and when the “talk” reached the next person, my life changed. My friend didn’t speak to God in the easy-flowing, divine words I was used to. He talked to the Lord as a close companion…lifting his guttural, needy plea in tearful but confident tones as if knowing he was being heard. In that moment, I realized he was talking to Someone and He was real. I also realized that I didn’t know Him. I asked Jesus into my heart that very night and walked the aisle once again to be baptized. Yes, for the THIRD time. Nothing like a good dunkin’ to wash the “dirt” away.
Danele: Wow, Renee! That’s wonderful! God is so amazing! When we grasp the reality of who He is, everything changes. I remember one of my first glimpses into God’s power. I was in a church service, and I saw a girl getting out of a wheelchair. As she walked across the front of my church, I couldn’t believe it. She wasn’t a stranger, and the incident wasn’t staged. I knew I was seeing a miracle. I had heard of God’s power, but seeing it in action changed everything. Like you, once my perception of God shifted, so did everything else. Renee, thank you so much for being so open with us! I know your testimony is touching lives today! It has touched mine!
Renee: I’m glad.
Danele: After you gave your heart to Christ, was there a time when God helped you through a difficult situation?
Renee: Oh, Danele, explain “difficult time.” LOL! I don’t want to play the martyr, but my life hasn’t been easy…or should I say my husband’s life? Well, let’s just say we’ve had plenty of trials. I’ll try to narrow it down to one. Give me a minute…is that Jeopardy music I hear? Ahh, that’s a good one (light bulb flips on in Renee’s head.)
Danele: Oh, Renee! Stop making me laugh!
Renee: Speaking of hearing Jeopardy music, about ten years or so ago, my husband was told he needed another surgery.
Renee: At that time, it would’ve been his “twenty-something” time under the knife. It was either have the surgery or lose his hearing. He’d already lost over 60%. The catch? This new procedure only had a 50% chance of success.
Danele: That’s awful. What did you do?
Renee: Pray and pray and pray…and learn sign language. Well, our own version of it, anyway. We were under some serious time constraints. James, my husband, and I feared the worst. I worried, and he sank into the mire of depression. As I searched for answers and help, I asked the wrong person for advice and quickly learned what NOT to do. (Who tells a wife to lie to her husband? Definitely not a Christian.) As James’s hearing and mood continued to decline, we struggled, both together and apart. Worrying began to take a toll on my health. I was having migraines two and three times a week. During my quiet time one day, God ordered me to stop it in a clear, concise voice. Matthew 6:34 became my life verse from that moment on: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Danele: I love that verse! So what ended up happening?
Renee: James had the surgery. Prosthetic middle ear bones replaced deteriorated ones. He woke from anesthesia with better hearing than before, and although he still needed hearing aids (which he never wears), the procedure was a success. What do I do now when faced with trials and tribulation? I don’t lie to my husband. I confront the truth of the situation, and I confront my emotions. I share that truth with James no matter what I think the consequences may be. And above all, I trust God to be with me (and us) through it all. I deal with each day’s troubles as they come, leaving tomorrow’s alone.
Danele: I’m so glad that everything worked out okay! You mentioned that God has helped you through many trails. Has God helped you deal with the loss of a loved one?
Renee: That’s a tough question. It’s actually something I haven’t talked about much, but I guess now’s a good time. In 2002, my father-in-law died from brain cancer. In a way, I would have to say it was a blessing since the disease claimed his life in a matter of months rather than years. The hardest part? We discovered his illness the day the world stopped turning, September 11th. That’s the day he was diagnosed.
Danele: That’s awful! I’m so sorry!
Renee: In the six months we had left with him, I learned to value life, no matter how hard or uncomfortable I may think it is. I watched a thriving, vital man lose the ability to speak and control his emotions. He communicated with a notepad or with mere grunts. Through it all, God showed me that it’s amazing what you can do when you need to. God also showed me that He is faithful. Even through the pain and the loss, God never left me. No matter how many times my father-in-law cried, or I cried, I knew I wasn’t alone. So, what did I learn? Never take time for granted. Spend it with those you love.
Danele: Renee, you just brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing with us. You mentioned that you felt the presence of God. Is there a specific place where you feel His presence the most?
Renee: I’m a prayer warrior. I don’t say that to brag or claim to be something great. I’m not. Have you ever seen that “meme” circulating around Facebook of the “Prayer Room” and it shows the before and after pictures of a kitten and a lion? For me, it’s the exact opposite. I enter into prayer armed and prepared to wage war. In the middle of the battle, however, something phenomenal always happens. I fall flat on my face. God bathes me in His peace, picks me up, and gives me strength to continue. By the end of this special time with the Lord, I’m usually trembling with exhaustion. But no matter what happens–I know I’ve been in the presence of God.
Danele: That’s so beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing! Now, I’d love to hear about your writing. I know that you were a semi-finalist for the 2014 ACFW Genesis award in unpublished Christian Fiction. I also know that you’ve written two books for Prism Book Group: Beast of Stratton and To Soar on Eagle’s Wings: Book One of the Snowy Range Chronicles. Can you tell us more about your new book series?
Renee: Sure! In July, I released To Soar on Eagle’s Wings, the first book of my romantic suspense series, The Snowy Range Chronicles. This series is set in the Snowy Range of Wyoming–a rugged southern mountain range along the border of Wyoming and Colorado. Timber Springs is home to the Fitzgerald family. With their father, the local pastor, the Fitzgerald’s struggle to come to terms with the unexpected death of their mother while life continues…on the Snowy Range. To Soar on Eagle’s Wings is the first of seven planned suspense novels with the second, Through the Raging Waters, scheduled to be released in 2016.
Danele: That sounds great! Can you give us the back cover blurb and a purchasing link for To Soar on Eagle’s Wings?
Renee: 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… http://www.amazon.com/Soar-Eagles-Wings-Renee-Blare/dp/1514775387
Danele: Wow, that sounds good! Renee, thank you so much for being with us today. I appreciate the way you’ve shared your heart. I know you touched lives today. It’s been a pleasure talking with you!
Renee: The pleasure’s been all mine, Danele. You’re an angel…hey, where’d your wings go? Don’t let this lady fool you, folks. She really is an angel.
Danele: Oh, Renee! You make me smile! Have a great day, and don’t let Cooper steal all of your tea.
Friends, Renee Blare is such a terrific person! She has a heart that beats for the Lord, and she is such an inspiration. If you would like to learn more about her or her books, please follow the links below. I hope you all have a wonderful day! And may this New Year bring you much joy!
Renee’s website: http://www.reneeblare.com/
Renee’s blog: http://reneeblare.blogspot.com/
Group blogs to which she belongs: http://diamondsinfiction.blogspot.com/