Hello Sweet Readers!
Wow! I was not expecting the huge response on Sunday for my devotional.
Thank you all so much for all the emails and comments. That was such a huge encouragement to me – that something I wrote was an encouragement to you all. Thanks!
So many of you asked if I would keep sending devotions on Sunday mornings…let me think about that, please. I usually write one for Facebook, but it’s never been anything official and I don’t feel qualified to write one since usually whatever I’m writing is something that I need to work on and…yeah, I guess I can come up with a lot of excuses, but let me pray about it and see if God is leading in that direction. I feel like I’m already behind in so much!
Alright, I have the end of the story I started two weeks ago down below, and also a free book and one for $.99.
And there’s a NEW PREVIEW up on Say with Jay. Me and the Sweet Snowstorm will release on Friday, but you can see Jay Dyess introduce it and listen to a sample today HERE.
Also, Julia has been busy lately and she completely redid the covers for my Heartland Cowboy Christmas series! She gave me a cute graphic which I have up above so everyone can see them. The titles – and content – are the same.
She also made the paperbacks and they’re all up and live, as well as the paperbacks for the Sweet Haven Farm series. Writing has been extremely difficult for me for the last few months, but it’s been great to get all these little things that I’ve wanted to do but just haven’t taken the time for.
I thought Julia did an awesome job with the Heartland covers. Julia is such a joy to work with – I come up with some last minute requests and some crazy ideas and she always rolls with them, not to mention she’s so encouraging and extremely loyal. She’s been a huge blessing to me, especially this year as things have been…well, not what I expected them to be. She’s one of those people who looks at me and only sees good. And no matter what I’m getting into, she always thinks I can do it. She’s the best. : )
Alright, I have the rest of the story I started two weeks ago down below.
Be sure to check out the sample on Say with Jay – like it and leave a comment!
New Audio Preview on Say with Jay
Jay Dyess amazing brings another Jessie Gussman book to life with his perfect timing and incredible voices. I found myself wondering what woman was actually speaking when I remembered I was listening to Jay bring these characters to life. I loved Jay’s cameo and how he performed it! Even though this isn’t Jessie’s most funny book in the series, it’s funny in and of itself – in the situations – in the circumstances. I love it! – Janet
I really enjoyed the characters in this book. Their banter was constantly making me smile, and I loved that there was tension but not stupid, childish tension that seems needless just for the sake of drama. I’m not usually a fan of first person narration in a book, but this one was well done. Quick read with great characters and a sweet romance! – jdgjmc0
YOU will LOVE this book just like I do!! It’s beautifully written, the characters are true to real, and true to life. It’s funny, and loving, and exciting, just like a Rom-Com should be. Although it doesn’t have any sex in it, you can still feel the attraction and desire building. – Ken Green
Who would have thought a city girl could like the wilderness because she likes the woodsy guy?! I get it! I married a fisherman but had never fished. 37 years later, most of my vacations include fishing (as long as I can take a book with me!) Love Kimber and Bain’s journey! – Kenni J. Fewin
This was such a good story. It reminds you that anything is possible if two people want it bad enough. I loved the way Jessie’s characters interact with each other and pull you into the story with them. – Kindle Customer
Zane Hudson just got custody of his four young children. Only problem is, he can’t watch his kids and run his farm, too. He needs a permanent housekeeper. He has every intention of hiring someone until…
Waverley Madris is two months behind on her rent and about to lose her house and her children. Getting stuck with handsome Zane Hudson and his four kids in the Diner bathroom seems like just the type of thing that was just her luck.
Except she emerges from that bathroom an engaged woman.
It’s a marriage of convenience only… except, after a hard day of work on the farm, they can’t help but look into each other’s eyes, the heads of their children between them, the notes of the music they make together fading off into the twilight, and wonder, separately, if the sweet life they’ve made together might be even more beautiful if they fell in love.
If you love toe-curling sweet romance, real, dynamic characters and strong themes of faith and family, you will love Jessie Gussman’s Cowboy Crossing series.
Reviews for A Marriage of Convenience in the Show Me State:
★★★★★ “It is wonderful to read a book with a warm core of love and values at the center, that still asks important questions.” – Amazon Reviewer
★★★★★ “The characters in this story are so believable. It’s another reason I love Jessie’s books. Her characters are friends that you just want the best for.” – Karen
★★★★★ “Characters are realistic and likable. Story is fast moving and enjoyable. I would recommend this story to my friends who like happy ending romances. I will be looking for more by this author” – Kindle Customer
★★★★★ “Sweet story. Realistic characters. Inspirational (fun) story line. Responsible dialogue. Morally clean. An effortless read that left me smiling. Always good to be reminded the actions of yesterday don’t have to diminish the joy of today.” – BJ
They were high school sweethearts, but money and pride came between them. Can their twin sons trick them into falling in love again?
Reid Hudson would be happy on his Missouri farm except he’d always thought he’d be sharing it with his soulmate, Emerson. Instead, he gets six months with each of his boys and splits the holidays. Not the life he’d planned.
Emerson Mahoney hadn’t expected her family to fall into a fortune. When her new husband flatly refused to use any of their money to ease the financial burden from the birth of their twins, she couldn’t believe how hard-headed he was. She’d taken the opportunity to fly to the Swiss Alps and become a temporary member of her father’s new business team, never expecting it to last eight years.
When one of their boys deliberately misses his flight to stay on the farm with his twin brother in Missouri, Emerson is forced to come back to the states and confront the husband she is still married to and the man she’d never fallen out of love with.
When fuel shortages ground all airplanes, she’s forced to spend a month on the farm.
Can their twins trick them into falling in love again?
Reviews for A Second Chance in the Show Me State:
★★★★★ “One thing you can always count on in a Gussman novel is that relationship is paramount. Dialogue is always lively, humor plays a big part, character growth is a given, and just like in the real world, happily-ever-after doesn’t come without some work and some soul searching.” – Charlene
★★★★★ “There are many laugh out loud moments and a few swoon worthy scenes. The supporting characters almost steal the show.” – Mom of 8
★★★★★ “This was a fun story especially the part the twin boys played in it. Pride is such a difficult thing to work through and this was handled so well in this story.” – Kindle Customer
★★★★★ “Great book! Forgiveness, grace and reconciliation. Couldn’t ask for more. Spiritual growth requires those three things. Again, loved the book.” – cfarrar
★★★★★ “Jessie Gussman excels at dialogues that are goofy, funny, insightful and romantic all at the same time and this book is just a delightful read!” – Ballet in AK
And, here’s the rest of the story that I started two weeks ago, starting a little before where I left off last week:
It took the staff about a half an hour to put together that the druggie in the last room (there are four patient rooms in that ER) who had told them about his “blood disease” had been cut by the same piece of equipment that had sliced through my son’s leg.
You know how people walk around with their lips sucked in and their brows lowered, eyes narrowed, and their movements jerky?
The staff all knew what I had figured out, and they were outraged and offended on behalf of my son—a clean-cut kid who sang with his family in church and nursing homes, wasn’t even allowed to say the word “stupid,” and didn’t drink anything but water and milk. Ron’s poor choices had not only ruined his own life but were going to ruin the bright future of an innocent kid with so much potential.
I’m sure, even though it was a small hospital, they saw plenty of people who made bad decisions, and it made them angry that my son was going to suffer because of someone else’s stupid choices.
They gave Ron only the basic amount of care but otherwise ignored him and gave all their resources to my kid.
Ron wasn’t special to me in any way—other than he was created by the same God who loved Ron just as much as he loved me—but it bothered me that he was hurt so badly and had no one to fight for him.
My kid was being taken care of as well as that small-town hospital could. The VIP treatment, maybe. LOL.
After they gave my son the Novocain, it takes a while for it to work, so I said to my kid, “Are you okay here for a minute while I walk down and check on Ron?” (Of course he was—he had all the lollipops he could eat, and someone had snuck him a Sprite, which was a huge treat for my kids, he’d gotten out of a whole afternoon of work, he knew we’d stop at Burger King on the way home [the only fast-food joint in our small town and another huge treat, reserved for ER visits, LOL], and pretty soon, he was going to have the coolest stitches in the world…he was basically in heaven.)
The nurse’s head jerked up. Visiting between patients wasn’t something they typically allowed, I’m sure, but we weren’t typical patients.
But she didn’t care about that. She pulled me out of the room and hissed (seriously, hissed at me), “Do you realize that man has hepatitis and possibly AIDS? And he’s probably given that, and who knows what else, to your son? You don’t want to go see him!”
I said, “Yeah, I realize that. I just want to make sure he’s okay.”
Now, rather than being angry at Ron, she looked like she was mad at me. LOL. Or maybe she just didn’t understand. God loved him, and God wanted me to love him as well.
She looked at me like I was a species from another planet as I turned and took the short walk down the hall to talk to Ron.
His on-again, off-again girlfriend was sitting with him. It was four in the afternoon, but she looked like she’d just woken up. Straggly, thin hair, deep black circles under her eyes, and not an ounce of extra flesh on her anywhere. I suppose she had the scars on her arms that marked her as a druggie, but I didn’t look.
I suppose, too, that I should have been angry, or upset, or something. But I just felt that overwhelming pity and compassion. He was still oozing blood. The nurses had put a gauze pad over it, but I’m pretty sure they had no intention of doing anything else until my kid was taken care of.
Ron’s girlfriend pulled the gauze back so I could see his leg.
I’ll not describe it, but he was facing a long, difficult surgery—tendons were severed and who knows what else—and an even longer recovery.
I chatted for a bit, assured him that we were there if he needed us, and eventually walked back to my kid and watched the doctor stitch him up. No one kept track of the stitches. There were way too many.
[There’s more to the story—my pediatrician from my childhood, who was also my son’s pediatrician but had gotten appendicitis, retired and sent us to a doctor who then left her practice to become a nun (I kid you not) who sent his records to a doctor across town who lost them and who had a secretary from The Dark Side working the office who had this mother in tears before I gave up on the records, and God worked it out anyway. I’ll skip that part. : ) ]
That night, after we’d gotten home from the ER, after the doctor had taken me aside and told me it would be eighteen months before we’d know for sure about hepatitis (it turned out Ron had hepatitis B and C) and at least six months before we knew about AIDS, after the other kids had oohed and aahed over his many, many stitches and bemoaned the fact that he didn’t have to do his turn delivering papers, after the house was quiet and dark and the kids were in bed and I was alone, I remember sitting in bed with my Bible in my lap, scared and unsure about my son’s future and how I was going to handle this and what I could do (and did I mention I was pregnant with our youngest daughter at the time?).
(I don’t remember where Watson was. And, before you get upset about that, because some of you always do, : ) realize that if I would have had Watson to lean on, I wouldn’t have had to lean so heavily on God. This is one of the – many – fires where my faith was forged, one of the things I draw from when I write books. I’m not saying I didn’t wish that I had a partner, someone to walk with me, which is definitely the way God intended for humans to walk, but to bemoan the fact that I didn’t, that Watson wasn’t there, is to not acknowledge the fact that God knew exactly what He was doing and everything He allowed me to go through then led to all that He has for me to do now.)
It would be six to eighteen months before I knew for sure exactly what we were facing. That felt like a long time to wait to know my son’s future. To live in uncertainty.
I suppose there are times where there’s a prayer in your heart, but you just don’t have words. Those “groanings that cannot be uttered.”
That’s how I felt, and I wasn’t really reading my Bible but staring off at the wall.
Weak, after pretending to be strong all day.
Devastated, after smiling at my son and telling him hepatitis just meant we’d be eating a lot of vegetables and I’d explain more when he needed to know (because I wasn’t sure and I had to look it up—I’d always been kind of interested in health and medical things but never had any reason to study what a person with hepatitis should do to be as healthy as possible.)
Wondering how I was going to tell him he couldn’t share his toothbrush with anyone and the next time he got cut at the homeschool co-op gym class, he couldn’t let anyone touch his blood.
Picturing his face with his brows furrowed, the hurt in his innocent blue eyes, not understanding why I would single him out for punishment when he’d done nothing wrong…
All those hard things that you can’t think about until you’ve done everything that needs to be done and taken care of everyone else, and then your mind won’t stop and can’t be redirected to anything else.
So, I was staring at the wall, wishing there was a chance that my son wouldn’t have those diseases, but knowing that the likelihood that he did was almost certain.
I don’t recall being resentful of Ron, but looking back, I suppose it would have been natural to think: is this how God rewards people who return good for evil? Really? This is what we get for giving grace and a second chance to Ron? I’d given him food and drink when he had nothing, forgiven when he’d stolen, cooked for him when he came back out, and we’d given him a driving job, then a job at our garage, despite what he’d done to us, and not only did we lose that money, but our son had lost his “normal” good health and any longevity he could expect out of his life.
I guess those questions are normal, but all I recall is feeling pain over my son. He was the kid that never gave me a minute of trouble. Ever. He would work his heart out to please me—schoolwork, truck work, anything we asked, he did it without complaining and was just a joy to be around. He was great with his siblings and never fought with any of them. It killed me to think of him suffering, dealing with a disease that was going to shorten his life, wreck his health, and affect his ability to get married and have children.
It hurt too much to cry, and I didn’t have words, because I knew God had already given me so much more than I deserved, how could I complain about this? But I didn’t want the cup that God had given me. It hurt.
So I just sat on my bed, holding my Bible and staring at the wall. Scared and alone.
Eventually, my eyes dropped back to my Bible where it was randomly open on my lap on top of the covers, and God, in his mercy, had the Scriptures turned to Matthew 4.
My eyes, unseeing, finally focused on these words: “and he healed them” from verse 24. That’s a long verse, but those were the only four words I saw.
Now, some of you are going to know what I’m talking about here. It happened to me once before when my youngest son was in the NICU. I read those words, and a peace that had nothing to do with me or with my ability to relax and calm myself—it didn’t come from me at all—blanketed me, calming my spirit, erasing my hurt, and soothing my soul.
The fear disappeared along with the heartache, the pain and worry, the tightness and the sick churning in my stomach, and the feeling of being overwhelmed beyond what I could handle.
Just like that (a few seconds at most), my heart was light and there was nothing but calm and peace in my soul.
It’s a real peace. One that invades your entire being and assures you with a definite finality that you’re not alone and everything will be okay.
I never spent another second worrying about my son or the diseases he might have gotten.
(Well, I did spend about thirty minutes scared to death when, six months later, the doctor’s office called and asked if it would suit me to come into their office right away so the doctor could talk to me about the results of my son’s blood test for AIDS. I thought, since they were calling me into the office, that it was positive. I didn’t know that they weren’t allowed to give results—negative or positive—over the phone. LOL.)
I believed from that second on that everything was going to be fine. That my son did not have any of Ron’s diseases. That his tests would come back negative and he would be normal and healthy.
God delivered on that. Miraculously, every test my son took for the next eighteen months came back negative, and today, he is healthy and disease free. [He’s the father of my granddaughter and the grandson that is in the NICU today. : ) ]
I wonder sometimes—you give, and God gives back to you. That’s his promise.
He doesn’t say he’s going to give back the same thing that you gave.
We “gave” money and compassion and love and second chances.
God gave us the health of our son.
He also blessed our businesses and gave us that ten grand back over and over, like I said before.
I suppose, when I get to Heaven, maybe I’ll find out.
For now, I believe with all my heart that God gave to us, more and better—because there is no price for good health, right?—because we gave to Ron, out of love and compassion, not expecting anything in return.
You just can’t outgive the Lord. It’s the only promise in the Bible where God tells us to test him. (Malachi 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.)
I can say right now that every word of that verse is true because I’ve lived it.
You might wonder what happened to Ron…I don’t know.
Like so many people in those circumstances, his number was disconnected, his apartment cleared out (what little there was), and he disappeared from our lives.
You know, talk about ships passing in the night—we don’t know how long someone might be in our lives. Just a short window of opportunity to be a blessing (or, sometimes harder, years and years of trying to be a blessing). We just don’t know. I guess the lesson I need to remember is if I have an opportunity to be a blessing to someone—anyone, we’re all hurting in some way—don’t waste it!
And I can’t get this song by Ron Hamilton out of my head, so I’m gonna put the second verse and chorus down here:
Yesterday, my time was filled with vain and empty things.
And I was so busy with all that life brings
People crowded in my way
And I pushed them all away
They were just a senseless bother
Till I heard the Savior say—
Love as I loved, give as I gave
These are the people that I came to save;
Love as I loved and I will shine through—
Let others see My love in you.
Thanks so much for spending time with me today!
Hugs and blessings!