'Extreme' mother, daughter authors visit Victoria
Jennifer Lee Preyss
Nov. 6, 2011 at 5:06 a.m.
Renegade Church member Jennifer Ralston walked over to Kimberley and Kayla Woodhouse following church service Sunday, and presented the ladies with a small piece of scrap paper.
On the note, Ralston spelled out "hereditary sensory autonomic neuropathy."
"Did I spell it right?" Ralston asked Kimberley.
"Yes, you got it right" said Kimberley, smiling. "Go tell the woman behind the book table you can have a free copy of our book."
Earlier in the church service, Kimberley, the church's guest speaker, discussed her daughter Kayla's lifelong battle with hereditary sensory autonomic neuropathy, the rare nerve disorder that inhibits the 14-year-old's ability to feel pain and regulate body temperature.
Because Kayla cannot sweat, she must stay in temperatures below 65 degrees at all times, she said.
"If anyone can spell it, you can have a free copy of our book," giggled Kimberley.
Kimberley and Kayla, who were featured on ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," - after they lost their home in a fire and were struggling financially from overwhelming medical debt - are the co-authors of a new three-part Christian fiction series, "Race Against Time," released Tuesday.
Visiting more than 15 states as of Sunday, the mother-daughter duo are traveling the country promoting their novel and discussing God's provision and providence along the way.
"To me, this is the most important tour we've done because so many people are hurting. So many people have lost their jobs, they've lost loved ones, they've lost their homes ... people are really struggling, people are really hurting. And we just want to encourage each and every one of you to grab on to His joy, because it cannot be taken away," Kimberley said.
The Colorado Springs-based pair also co-authored a second novel, "No Safe Haven."
At 13, Kayla - the girl with the rare nerve disorder shared by only 25 other cases in the world - became the youngest author to publish a full-length novel by a royalty-paying publisher.
"What people don't realize is this is my normal and God gave it to me for a reason," Kayla said. "I truly believe if God didn't give this to me, I would not be the youngest published author."
While her mother spoke under the heated stage lights at Renegade Church, Kayla sat comfortably next to an air conditioning unit, which momentarily shorted the electricity of the building during service.
Kimberley calmly discussed the family's trials with Kayla's illness, including repeated hospitalizations, life-threatening brain surgery, medical debt and the house fire that led to their appearance on "Extreme Makeover."
Since the pair share a love for Christ, as much or more than a love for writing, Kimberley urged the audience not to focus on life stresses and challenges, but to praise God during situations of strife because opportunity and healing exists on the other side.
"His joy is always there; He's always there. But a lot of times we let go of it," Kimberley said. "We'd rather wallow in the mud puddle and suck the mud through our nose ... And yet He's saying, just grab on to me because His joy is always there."
After the talk, Kimberley stood next to Kayla, and the pair signed books for attendees of the service.
"Our books are totally Christian fiction," Kayla said, mentioning the different Biblical themes she and Kimberley have tackled in their novels. "And our faith is stronger through our stories."
After receiving a free copy of the pair's book, Ralston said, "I remember watching them on 'Extreme Makeover' and it's really neat hearing their story, especially the unedited version. I could tell there was something different about them."
Kimberley said she and Kayla have several more states to visit before returning home to Colorado.
"What we want to accomplish on this tour is to encourage people and let them know you can find the positive in the hardest circumstances," Kimberley said. "That you can do the best where you're at."