In a conversation with my dad and aunts, I discovered that my grandmother was completely different than I’d ever imagined. I’d always known she was a strong Christian, and that she had struggled through extreme poverty in the Depression. I knew that she had passed down a legacy of strong-willed independence in her five daughters, and then to her many granddaughters. I had loved her immensely as a child, and remembered wonderful days with her, picking flowers, telling stories, even fishing and playing ball. She’s about as close to a saint as a person can become in my family, what with us being Protestant and all.
But that one conversation blew my mind. I realized I didn’t know my grandmother like I thought I did. Because I learned that my very own grandmother had a secret, a gift that no one in the family had ever spoken of, and only two of her children even knew about. She kept it to herself for many reasons, most of which I’ll never know. I do know one thing, she never wanted any recognition or the slightest hint that this gift had anything to do with her. It was all from God, and she never took it for granted. I still wrestle with that understanding, and I wonder what it would be like to feel the presence of God the way she did. The story just wouldn’t leave me alone, so I wrote it because I had to.
Once it was finished, I asked my cousin Amy to take some pictures and design the cover. Two of my cousins and my sister joined in the fun as models, and they took an afternoon to do a shoot at the Jesse Owens Memorial Park Museum in north Alabama. What they were able to capture was so much more than I’d ever hoped for, and I knew it would honor the spirit of my grandmother. So we put it all together, and I self-published Healing Ruby.
Jennifer Westall dives into Christian characters to explore her own questions of faith. Inspired by the life of her grandmother, Healing Ruby (2014) is the first in the Healing Ruby series, which delves into the mysteries of faith healing. She’s also the author of Love’s Providence (2012), a contemporary Christian romance that navigates the minefield of dating and temptation. She resides in southwest Texas with her husband and two boys, where she homeschools by day and writes by night, thus explaining those pesky bags under her eyes.
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