By RJ Thesman / LipreadingMom.com Guest Blogger
Our bylines appeared in the index of the best-selling anthology, “A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers.” Still, we did not meet until we read our devotions at Homer’s Coffee House in Overland Park, KS. After the reading, she came forward to greet me and I knew then, this was a special woman.
We both grew up in Oklahoma and that in itself would have been enough to meld our souls together, but as she began to share about her journey – I found another kindred soul who wanted to write about her struggles and provide hope for others.
Shanna Groves (a.k.a. Lipreading Mom) suffers from hearing loss, but that has not stopped her from using her gift of communication. She tells others about ways to cope even as she reflects her Christian faith. Shanna’s life oozes with joy.
We met again at a writers’ conference where Shanna told me about the book she wanted to write. The divine whisper prodded me to offer my editorial services, so we began working together to make sure that her novel reflected the finest quality and reached the widest audience possible. When “Lip Reader” was published, I shared in the joy and pride of a work well-done.
Shanna and I worked together again when she asked me to edit the first draft of her next book, “Confessions of a Lip-Reading Mom.” In an ironic twist, this was Shanna’s first nonfiction book while my first novel was about to be published. Both of us changed genres even as we shared the same publisher, CrossRiver Media.
Throughout the years, we met often and shared our hearts with each other, prayed for each other and brainstormed together about ways we might market our books and reach more of an audience with the message of hope. I continued to help Shanna with editing ideas. She taught me about Twitter as a second language. I felt close to Shanna as a colleague, but had no idea how she might personally affect my life.
Just before the fireworks of July 4th, 2008, my beloved son was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Throughout his surgery, chemotherapy treatments and radiation, Shanna often asked me, “How’s Caleb? How is he today?”
Although doctors gave us little hope, I knew Shanna and her family prayed for my boy. God provided a miracle as my son survived and none of the predicted side effects from the surgery affected his quality of life. Now, five years out, we celebrate his remission and the incredible healing power of our God.
But Shanna used her creative energy to help us with the medical bills. The Carnival for Caleb originated out of Shanna’s compassionate heart and also her desire to teach her children about helping others. With games, food and a silent auction, Shanna and all our friends raised over $3,000 to help my son with the mounting bills.
My relationship with Shanna continues, as I follow her progress through hearing loss and the resulting influence she has on those who struggle to hear not only physically but also spiritually.
It is rare in life to find someone with whom you can work, pray and laugh. But Shanna is one of those persons for me. We delight together in the written and spoken word, and we also seek to glorify God through all our creative endeavors.
But the best part of our relationship is that I can depend on Shanna for encouragement and smiles when life is hard. She has become not only a friend, but also a spiritual sister.
Thank you, RJ! Read my story on her blog today at RJThesman.net.