Some of you are aware that my book Wild Hope is in the final stages of publishing. I have worked alongside my project manager and a cover design team to decide on a front cover. As I have reflected on the entire book I have had to give the cover careful consideration. Below is an extract from my book.
My first clear memory of an encounter with God was when I was thirteen years old. Our maid, Johanna, and our manservant, Joseph, had gone on vacation for a month, so my older sister, Gaille, and I were helping Mom do the washing and cleaning, and my younger brother, Geoff, was working in the yard. Gaille was polishing the dining room furniture while I helped Mom hang washing on the line.
It was a beautiful southern-hemisphere December morning; the sky was ink blue and the earth smelled deliciously fresh from an early morning rain shower. The gentle breeze and warm summer sun would often dry the laundry in under an hour, leaving it crisp and smelling fresh.
As the gentle rays of the morning sun streamed down on us, I heard a clear, penetrating voice in my head, which I knew instinctively was God speaking to me.
“Tracy is drowning in the pool.”
Each word had a staccato-like precision that hammered into my head with unrelenting force.
My little sister, Tracy, was twenty-two months old at that time and the baby of the family. Not for a moment did I doubt that God had interrupted my thoughts to get my attention, and although I had no personal relationship with Him, I knew even at that young age that it was His voice I heard.
I had a little conversation with Him then and there. It wasn’t lengthy, probably only a second or two. I said naively, “If I tell Mom that You told me Tracy is drowning, she will think I am crazy.” So I simply asked, “Mom, where is Tracy?” I hoped this would rouse her curiosity enough to do something about the imminent tragedy occurring as my little sister was slowly deprived of oxygen in the pool at the end of our yard.
Mom casually replied that Tracy was with Gaille in the dining room.
I wanted to scream, “No! She is drowning. God told me!” Instead, I went to confirm her words, rushing to the dining room to see if I could find Tracy. Of course, I knew she wouldn’t be there. And all this time the seconds were ticking away as my baby sister drowned in our swimming pool, life slowly seeping from every cell in her tiny frame as she was robbed of air.
I ran back out as quickly as my legs could carry me, shouting with sheer desperation, “Mom, she’s nowhere in the house.” The urgency in my voice caught her attention, and as her own intuition kicked in, I saw her running towards the pool with the terminal velocity of an Olympic runner. She dove in and came out of the pool dripping wet, utterly distraught, sobbing as she carried a lifeless two-year-old in her arms.
I had always had a marvelous pair of lungs, and today I needed them. My older sister was smaller than me, but she was much stronger, and she often used her strength to keep me exactly where she needed and wanted me to be. My only defense against her unassailable power was to scream at the top of my lungs. I had a fair bit of practice under my belt, so much so that at thirteen I had an awfully good pair of lungs. On this particular day they came to good use.
When I saw Mom with the lifeless form of my baby sister, I screamed frantically, “God, help us,” over and over again as I ran around and around the yard in a total frenzy. The neighbor next door heard my screams and thought for a moment that we kids were having a brawl.
I am not sure how many octaves my voice climbed, but as she listened to the terror rising in my voice, she realized it was something more and came quickly to see what was happening.
There was utter desperation in my mother’s eyes; agony was etched on her face as she ran up the driveway with my sister’s limp body. When she reached our neighbor, she threw the lifeless form into her arms and rushed off to call for help.
Her hands trembled with a violence that frightened me and tears rolled down her face as she stumbled to the phone in our hallway to call the ambulance.
My older sister, Gaille, rushed off at lightning speed to see if the nurse that lived up the street was at home. (Alas, she was not.)
Our neighbor carefully placed Tracy’s limp body on the grass and laid her on her back. There was a bluish tinge around her lips, and although it looked as if she was sleeping, it was clear that her chest was not moving up and down as it should have been if she was breathing.
She lay on the carpet of green, her tiny frame motionless.
I felt a numbness creep over my body as I looked at my little sister’s lifeless form. There was a burning sensation at the back of my throat, and although I tried my utmost to swallow my tears, I could not. They prickled in the corner of my eyes, stinging them, until suddenly, without warning, they began to flow down my cheeks.
Our neighbor, Mrs. Beneke, wasted no time as she tilted Tracy’s head back and raised her chin. She pressed her mouth over Tracy’s lips and forced one breath after another into her tiny lungs. I stood there as hot tears streamed down my face and wet the collar of my pretty floral blouse. I was vaguely aware of the silhouette of my young brother, Geoff, but my focus was on the neighbor and my little sister, who was at her mercy.
I watched closely as Mrs. Beneke pressed her two fingers on Tracy’s tiny breastbone and pushed down in quick succession. She was giving my sister CPR, striving desperately to save her life. She would place her ear against Tracy’s mouth to listen for her breath—feeling for the flutter of life on her cheek. Nothing! Then she’d checked for her pulse. Nothing! Back to CPR and then pressing her mouth against Tracy’s lips, forcing air from her own lungs back into Tracy’s. It seemed like an eternity as I watched helplessly while our neighbor worked desperately to save my sister’s life.
She lay there frighteningly still. Her body was limp and lifeless. I stood there, aware that my little sister lay in the throes of death and I was helpless to do anything.
Our neighbor kept on going, forcing air and checking for a pulse. She was relentless in her pursuit. She would breathe, check for my sister’s breath, look for a pulse, and breathe into her little lungs again.
The air around me hung thick and heavy, with a stillness that was electric. I could feel our neighbor’s anxiety and I could hear the thud of my own heart. I felt as if the angel of death was standing right there, waiting in readiness to clutch another victim...
So here is my decision:
I have decided on the prairie scene with the road and the geese flying over head. I love the geese flying over water (my original choice), but the colors are dark and the cover design team said they would be even darker in print. The road fits with the overall theme of my book and I love it. I am excited to see the book in print. Some people expressed strong opinions, but I have gone with my heart. There seemed to be an even split between both images.
My deepest prayer is that the words I have written will impact lives and encourage many people in their Christian walk.
I am and always will be,
recklessly abandoned, ruthlessly committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,