NOTE FROM CHRISTA: As the mother of a daughter with Down’s Syndrome, I cautiously approached Jeanne’s book. Too often, memoirs or true-to-life tragedy books are stuffed with cloying sanctimony. Others border on frightening in their fist-shaking at God.
But, as I posted on Facebook, this is one book I didn’t finish. it finished me. In fact, so much so that after reading it, I actually felt joyfully exhausted. Jeanne’s blistering honesty and spiritual transparency gripped me from the beginning. This woman was real. Really real [I know it’s a redundancy; sometimes it’s just really, really necessary]. Jeanne opens the door to her heart and soul and invites you to bear the burdens and the blessings with her. Reading her story, their story, was a privilege. If tragedy has ever wrapped itself around you, read this book. If you’ve been blessed by a life untouched by the cloak of tragedy, read this book.
When a tragic drowning accident leaves fifteen-year-old Jacob in a coma, the faith of his family and community is shaken to its foundation. Medical experts used phrases such as “persistent vegetative state” and said, “Jacob will never wake up,” but Jacob’s parents knew God would have the final say.
Without sugar-coating the realities of pain and suffering, Parting the Waters presents the heart-warming, true story of what can happen when a community rallies around one wounded family. While Jacob’s parents struggle to preserve their faith and family, the prayers and innovative efforts of community members result in Jacob’s gradual awakening. Each dramatic milestone in Jacob’s recovery creates a new ripple, touching and changing many lives forever.
Told from a mother’s perspective, Parting the Waters is a poignant tale of unexpected beauty found in brokenness.
Bonus feature: a “Q & A” section that fearlessly tackles issues regarding God, His love and mercy, and His divine purposes related to suffering.
Jeanne Damoff has been married for 29 years to George, a biologist, poet, and musician. Their three grown children, Jacob, Grace, and Luke, are her favorite people in the world. She has degrees in social work, sociology, English, and secondary education, and has taught such varied subjects as English, Latin, art, music, and cheerleading. For eight years she taught pre-school through junior high Bible, using a curriculum she designed and wrote. Jeanne is a published writer, a professional choreographer, a musician, and a speaker. She loves to laugh and gives points to anyone who makes her laugh out loud. These points are very valuable. Everyone should strive to earn them, starting now.
Tell me a little bit about your background and your family.
I was born and raised in Dallas, TX. Graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in Dec., 1981. Double majored in social work and sociology, minored in English, and took secondary teacher’s certification in sociology and English. Married George Damoff May 5, 1979. Jacob was born May 10, 1981; Grace followed June 30, 1983; and Luke completed our family on April 18, 1985.
What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies?
My hobbies and work overlap. I’m a writer, speaker, choreographer, musician, and photographer, and I love all of it!
What has God been teaching you lately?
God is teaching me to rest in His sovereignty and plan. Mine is to daily present my body as a living sacrifice and obey Him in the moment. His is to do everything else.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Where are you headed next?
The grocery store. Oh, did you mean in my “career”? (Pardon me while I laugh over that concept.) Let’s see. I’m 51, and so far life has mostly been a series of surprises. God opens doors I never expect, so I just try to keep hold of His hand and let Him lead. As for what’s on my immediate horizon, in the coming months I have some interviews and speaking engagements connected to Parting the Waters. In February I’ll be traveling to Thailand for three weeks to serve as official photographer for several Women of Compassion retreats. I’m so thankful for and honored by these opportunities.
How did you get involved in writing?
I’ve been writing since childhood and always felt like I was breathing my native air in English classes. I also loved teaching creative writing as an English teacher. Though I didn’t seriously pursue widespread publication before 2003, for most of my adult life I’ve been stocking a mental character file. Whenever I’d meet a quirky, obnoxious, funny, or bizarre person, I’d take mental notes. Three of those people inspired minor characters in my first (as-yet-unpublished) novel. I highly recommend the practice to everyone, even if you don’t write. It transforms otherwise unpleasant situations into fascinating encounters.
How do you find time to write?
I really admire people who work full-time day jobs and still manage to crank out books. At this point, everything I do is freelance, so I set my own schedule. If I’m in the middle of a writing project, I can devote as much time to it as necessary.
What did you enjoy most about the writing process?
Hard to say, but I do love the dance with words-knowing what I want to say and finding the perfect way to say it. The right metaphor, a certain cadence to the language, wrapping words around the ache the beauty stirs inside me. For me, language matters as much as story.
What was the most difficult aspect of the writing process?
I actually enjoy all the parts-plotting, writing the initial draft, editing. Probably the hardest thing is getting focused to plunge in, no matter where I am in the process. I’m far-too easily distracted.
Talk to me about your decision to self-publish – what drove that decision and what has the process been like?
I started writing Parting the Waters in 2003, and even then I knew that self-publication might be the best avenue for this book. But I wanted to put it through the paces-to submit to agents and editors and get professional feedback. I’m so glad I did that! I know it’s a much better book than it would have been otherwise, and in the process I met my agent and lots of writers and editors who’ve become dear friends. We did receive serious interest from publishers, but ultimately believed God was leading us to self-publish-mostly because we expect to use this book in ministry and give away a lot of copies, and we didn’t want a publisher to take it out of print if it wasn’t selling enough.
What would you say to someone who wants to become a published author?
Write as God leads. Tell the story on your heart-not the one you think will sell a million copies. Attend reputable writer’s conferences and listen to feedback from professionals, but understand that there are a lot of opinions out there, and ultimately you get to decide what works for your writing. Keep writing until God leads you to stop. The goal is obedience to Him for His glory-not publication or best-sellers or fame.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
Parting the Waters is a true story. Several years after Jacob’s accident in 1996, I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to write what I was seeing God do. I didn’t want to, and for the next few years I kept giving God excuses for why I didn’t have time. Without going into detail, let’s just say He essentially removed my excuses, and I went home and wrote the first draft in two weeks.
What are the major themes of the book?
Beauty from brokenness. God’s goodness and sovereign purposes in suffering. The body of Christ. The power of community when it works as it should.
What insight did you gain from the process of writing about such a difficult personal experience?
Reliving our experience on the page was excruciating at times, but also very cathartic. I believe it’s good for all Christians to look back on our most difficult times and see how God carried and led us when we felt like we were wandering over jagged shards in a fog. Probably the biggest insight I gained was a deeper assurance that God is in control and I can trust His loving purposes, even when it hurts to breathe.
How and what is Jacob doing now?
Jacob is a precious, happy 27 year old who lives abundantly in spite of his brain injury. Though he wasn’t expected to ever awaken from coma, he walks, talks, laughs, and loves intensely. He spends his weekdays with his long-time aide, Rusty Mauldin, working with his cattle and in his garden, then comes home on the weekends. Jacob worships the Lord with the passion of a lover who is not hindered by self-consciousness. Watching him is like glimpsing eternity.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I hope they will realize more deeply that God loves them and is working out His plans in their lives with perfect faithfulness. Sure we suffer consequences when we make stupid choices, but many of the trials and sorrows we experience have nothing to do with punishment or a lack of faith. They are part of God’s goodness-conforming us to the image of His Son. I hope readers will meet God on the pages of our story and walk away changed by grace. Thanks for stopping by Jeanne Damoff’s Parting the Waters Blog Tour.
Here are the blogs featuring Parting the Waters during our JAN 26-30 Tour.
5 Minutes for Books
A Little Whine and Cheese
A Peek at My Bookshelf
A Spacious Place
Ashley Evans Boone
Blame it on the Loud Mouth Gene
Blog Tour Spot
Bluebonnet in the Snow
Book Nook Club
Canadian Prairie Writer
Christy’s Book Blog
Conversations with a Stranger
Davis Family of 6
Five Bazillion and One
Gatorskunz and Mudcats
Getting Down with Jesus
Good Word Editing
i don’t believe in grammar
Kells Creative Musings
La Vida Dulce
Life with Missy
Lift My Noise
Marc Whitman’s Blog
Musings from the Windowsill
Mystery, Suspense, and God, Oh My!
Net’s Book Notes
One Voice in a Big World
Portrait of a Writer . . . Interrupted
So You Wanna Be Published
The Friendly Book Nook
The Writing Road
They Hang Like Paper Lanterns
This Present Joy
Tooles in Virginia
What I Learned Today
Write by Faith