Linda Ballard

Linda Ballard

The title and illustrated cover of the book could easily be defined as an attention grabber. It is one that piques the curiosity enough to draw you in, to curtail the desire of wanting to know the rest of the story and even more so after hearing the author speak.

The title of the book is “Here, Jesus…Catch!” and is written by ‘Jean Smith,’ a pen name of an author accustomed to our East Texas communities, having grown up around Henderson, who currently lives in Longview – Sheila Jean Smith Reynolds.

In day-to-day living she doesn’t hesitate to tell you that her pen name is just a part of her real name and the book was definitely God-given.

“The book is more like a memoir,” said Jean. “Everything is factual and God-inspired. The whole reason for the book is to give hope to people who don’t know how or have lost all hope. Hopefully, it will inspire others.”

Jean grew up in a home marred by alcoholism, spousal abuse, mental abuse and suicide.

“You know, growing up in the ’60s we thought the trials we faced were normal, but today with what I now know and see going on shines a new light on the word ‘dysfunctional’ and what it really is. Just about any topic that happens to people in life, I can pretty well hit on in the book and bring it back to scripture and to God.

“I am a true blue daily miracle. At the age of 55 I thought I was going to die and God had a different plan. Two years ago, the doctor told me to call in hospice and go home. My husband called a doctor in Dallas and he told him to get me there immediately. When I woke up from surgery a chaplain came in the room. He was nothing shy of amazing. He told me that as strange as it may sound, God would not let him pass by my room. He said it was like a barrier was up that he couldn’t cross and he had a message for me. That message was to never give up.

“I didn’t tell anyone prior to surgery that I truly did not believe I would wake up, nor did I tell my family afterward that while under the anesthesia, I heard a loud, audible voice saying those words – ‘never give up.’

“I fell apart when hearing them again from the chaplain and it seemed to almost relieve him to know the words meant something to me. You see, I wasn’t raised in a Christian home, didn’t know a lot about Jesus, but through the trials of life I learned about faith.

“Upon a return visit from the chaplain, he again told me he had a message for me from God. I was to take pen and paper in hand and write a book. I argued there was no way – I had, after all, suffered two strokes, and 107-degree temperature had caused brain damage – but the chaplain just repeated the words never give up.

“When I picked up that pen and paper it was like God opened my brain and it (the words) began to pour like a sieve. The book was not written to be a profitable project as I believe everyone has a story to tell. If it changes or helps one life then it is all worthwhile.

“Faith is everything. It changes your perspective on life. Never give up when you feel that hopelessness or feel there is nothing else to hold on, too. I have been hopeless and I don’t live in that hopelessness anymore. God took it away.”

Jean has given multiple talks in the area regarding the trials and tribulations she faced. You can meet her and hear her story at noon Tuesday, Aug. 13, at the McMillan Memorial Library in Overton.

IT was a fun time held by all on Thursday evening as the Lean in Circle of Friends met at the home of Janice Cameron for a monthly ladies night out. Summer refreshments were served as the “girls” caught up on laughter and conversation – which may or may not have had the neighbors calling to report the disturbance. The laughter continued throughout the viewing of the new DVD release of “Poms” starring Diane Keaton. It seems there were some familiarities to the movie this group could relate to. Missing-in-action from this fun-filled evening was Jeanie Thompson and Gayle Mitchell, so the next meeting is on them. This meeting of friends included Wanda Billings, Kelly Watson, Janice Cameron, Linda Ballard, Elizabeth Tullar, Cindy Gilmore and Cynthia Beck.

AS STUDENTS prepare for back-to-school, Whitney Folsom, administrative assistant at Son Shine Lighthouse in New London informs us of a graduation, of three women from their facility. The graduation will take place at 4 p.m. Aug. 4 at First Baptist Church of Kilgore. Son Shine Lighthouse is a one-year, faith-based program designed to help women and women with children by offering personal, spiritual and educational advancement.

As school is starting, the facility is also receiving some last-minute children to be enrolled and in need of necessities. For further information, contact Whitney at 903-895-4577.

May His Love and Laughter Fill Your Hearts and Your Homes Throughout the Week. In the meantime, we may be reached at or 903-984-2593.


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