A special message from one of the authors of A Ruby Christmas novella– Dianne E. Butts
Hi Julie. Thanks for having me on Embattled Spirit again. (I was previously on Jan. 16, 2013.)
It has been an amazing experience being a part of the collaborative novel, A Ruby Christmas.
When I wrote my chapter, which takes place in the beautiful mountains of Colorado and turned out to be chapter 2 in the book, Ruby discovers, in a most unlikely place, a message from her mother who died eight years earlier. When I was writing that message, I was asking myself, “What would I want to leave behind? What is the most important message?” Of course for me, that message would be “Know Jesus Christ as Savior.”
But an amazing thing happened after I wrote that chapter that has sent my own spirit into battle.
You see, in publishing everybody has to work a long time in advance because it simply takes a while to write books, put them together, and get them ready to hand to a reader for their enjoyment. So all of the writers who wrote a chapter for this book were working on them last spring. I actually sent my chapter to the publisher on April 29, 2013.
Since it has been that long, I kind of forgot what I had written. So when I received the entire book from the publisher a few weeks ago, when it was all put together and ready to publish, of course I turned to my chapter to read it. And there, I was pretty stunned to read what I had written back in April. I had completely forgotten that I had a biker character in my chapter whom I had named “Crash.”
Now, I’ve hung out with bikers for a very long time – even when I was younger than Ruby. I’ve been riding a motorcycle since high school. And I’ve known a few bikers with the nickname “Crash.” I’m telling you, when a biker has that nickname he or she has it for a reason. They’ve earned it.
Last spring, after I turned in my chapter for Ruby in April, of course it was the beginning of riding season. On June 9, 2013, my husband and I and a girlfriend rode in a benefit ride that started in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We’d ridden this ride before. It’s an annual motorcycle ride that benefits the families of fallen police officers. The ride took us through the Black Forest north of Colorado Springs, then into my home town of Castle Rock, Colorado. I had asked my husband and friend if we could make one stop on the journey this year, and they said that would be fine.
So for the first time in many years, I (we) visited the cemetery there in Castle Rock where my dad and my brother are buried. On June 23, 1977, my brother was riding his Harley when he was hit by a drunk driver and died on the spot. I’ve driven past the cemetery on the highway so many times, but I always think I’m too busy to stop. It’s good to stop and remember the people in our lives.
When we stopped at the cemetery, I wanted to get a photo of me with my motorcycle. I’d had the bike I was riding that day, a 2000 Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad, for seven years, but I’d never gotten a photo of me with it that I really liked to put on my Facebook page. I thought the cedar trees at the cemetery would make a nice backdrop. Unfortunately, I ended up forgetting the photo.
When we continued the ride, we headed back toward Colorado Springs on beautiful back roads along the front of the Rocky Mountains for the last leg of the ride, and then got on the highway to head toward home in Pueblo. Just south of Colorado Springs I felt something strange happening to my motorcycle. I didn’t know what was happening at the time, but my front tire was going flat. I tried to wrestle my bike to the right shoulder, but it veered hard left—right into an RV that was passing me because I’d slowed down from 75 mph.
When I hit the RV with my left shoulder, I was knocked off my bike and I went rolling down the highway at about 60 miles per hour. I remember tumbling over and over and praying, “Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus.” When I finally came to a stop, I crawled off the highway to the shoulder.
People came to help me. Paramedics came and took me to the emergency room in Pueblo. I had relatively minor injuries—it could have been so much worse. I had a chipped bone and lots of road rash that required stitches. My hands where swollen and bruised, I had big lumps on my legs, three spots on my knees each the size of a quarter where my jeans had ripped through. It has now been almost six months since the crash and I’m still healing.
But I had no major injuries—no internal injuries and no head injuries. I was wearing a full-face helmet and that no doubt saved my face and my life. My motorcycle was totaled.
I hate to say it, but I, too, have now earned the nickname “Crash.” At least I lived to tell about it.
About a month after my crash, we learned a couple at church had lost their son in a motorcycle crash in Texas. In September a couple we know—I know her from being in Bible Study Fellowship—crashed and she died. A few weeks ago a car hit a Harley rider on the same stretch of highway where I crashed and he died.
All this has left my spirit embattled. Perhaps this is what they call “survivor’s guilt”? Why did I survive my crash when others have not? Many have told me I was “lucky.” Let me tell you, there was no luck involved here. First of all, we were covered with prayer—we prayed before we left, we stopped along the way and prayed for the entire ride and everyone involved. We ride representing Jesus, as members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, so the ride was covered in prayer. Second, it was not “luck” but good sense—inspired by my husband, a Colorado State Patrolman, now retired—that gives us a rule we ride by: we always wear a helmet.
Still, my girlfriend who died in that crash was wearing a helmet.
I’m not sure why I’m still here while these others, including my brother, lost their lives. My spirit continues to wrestle with it. And I am eternally grateful the Lord God chose to keep me here for a while longer.
Two days after we rode through the Black Forest north of Colorado Springs, on June 11, 2013, a fire sparked and spread into a massive forest fire. Over the next ten days it burned more than 22 square miles and destroyed over 500 homes, surpassing the previous most destructive Colorado fire the year before, the Waldo Canyon fire of 2012. When I wrote my chapter for Ruby in April of 2013 about one interesting thing that happens in a forest fire, I had no way of knowing that six weeks later the Black Forest would burn and so many people would be affected, so many spirits would be embattled in its aftereffects.
If I, like Ruby’s mother, wanted to leave one message for those struggling, for those batteling, for those left behind, what would it be? It’s the same reason I’m spending my life writing. It’s what’s most important: Know Christ. Let him be your Savior. Right now. Today. Because you may not have tomorrow.
And when you are facing the flames, you need to know what Ruby discovers: that God has not left you. It’s just that He knows there is new life that cannot come to you unless you go through the fire.
CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:
www.DeliverMeBook.blogspot.com (This is where I will post every day that a new chapter comes out. I don’t have those set up yet so I don’t have links yet.)
Also find Dianne here: