Jeth Cavanaugh is searching for a new life along one of Pennsylvania’s mountain ridges when he stumbles upon a stable of show jumpers owned by Rob and Katie Chilton. Throw in a volatile gaited stallion named Dynamo, and Jeth will do anything to work there. He earns his living by training and showing Rob’s jumpers, but Dynamo is his primary passion.
Everything changes when God enters his life—in the unconventional form of a hard slap by an old girlfriend—and ignites a new, greater passion within him. But along with fervor comes fear at the undeniable evidence of God’s hand on his life. Inexplicable events, both good and bad, make him moan plaintively, “Why does God do this to me? I get the feeling I’m being set up for something.”
He is, indeed. Jeth’s life is anything but predictable, much like the God he serves. The real Dynamo and his ultimate trainer emerge out of an excruciating mix of disaster and brokenness, which are never beyond the reach of redemption.
This story is God in your face: Who is He, really? What does He ask of us?
Jeth has just been offered a high-paying job training jumpers by a man who had done him great harm. His current boss Rob is terrified. Why would he not opt for it?
“Let me count the reasons [says Jeth]: Wingate’s got money; he’d like to own me. Have me under his thumb, once and for all. I lived there, remember? I know him and what it’s like to work there. Toxic climate. I’d never know where I stood, with Wingate or anyone else. He’d expect me to be a Freddie clone—cheat, maneuver. Winning is everything, no matter what it takes. No Sundays off—none. The cocktail circuit. You think I want that?”
Rob shook his head in disbelief. “But with—”
“Do you want me to leave and go with Wingate? Did you hear what I said?”
“Of course I don’t! And yes, I heard, but—”
Jeth looked up sharply. “Read my lips: Wingate could offer me the moon, and I wouldn’t work there. You said I did a good job tonight. He’d never say that, no matter how many rabbits I pulled out of his hat. I’d never trade my life here, no matter how many houses, cars, or women he threw in.”
Rob straightened, his entire frame relaxing. “Okay, then what’s the problem? I see a pattern here: The greater the victory, the deeper the gully afterward. You caught on to Hawkins—fell off the planet. Tonight—the class of your life. Who could have done what you did? Now look at you.”
Jeth lifted his head, the old frightened look in his eyes. “Rob, why does God do this to me? It’s not right. I get the feeling He’s setting me up for something.”
Rob looked away and sighed. “I don’t know. Since you came on the scene, I’ve felt I don’t know much at all about God. It’s not that you never make mistakes or act brain-dead stupid—I’ve seen enough of that—but, at certain times…”
Jeth was silent. Then he said softly, almost to himself, “I feel like Moses by the burning bush, that I should take my shoes off, on holy ground.” Rob looked at him curiously and watched him bow low and fall prostrate, with his arms stretched forward, as though reaching for something. Rob rubbed the prickling hair on his neck, not knowing what else to do, and then he felt it—a warming, palpable presence as from fire, and in the shadows, a horse nickered a welcome.
I like this because the very presence of God comes close enough to feel. I want to know this God who is far greater than even Jeth experienced.
When did you first get the writing itch?
I began thinking up stories when I was five or six. When I started to read, God grabbed me with—yes—a story, and I was hooked for life. But after reading my early attempts, friends and even my mother told me straight out to stick to music as a career. I pushed manfully along, however, and began publishing both fiction and nonfiction in 1978. Dynamo is my fifth novel and builds off a lifelong love of horses.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
Through the power of story, I want readers to see an extraordinary God who sometimes works in extraordinary ways through servants who fear and worship Him. I’m trying to create a hunger in my audience for eating the full banquet God serves up, instead of nibbling just crumbs to the point of starvation.
I came across a Henri Nouwen quote that sums up the essence of Dynamo:
God cannot be understood; he cannot be grasped by the human mind. The truth escapes our human capacities…. We only can be faithful in our affirmation that God has not deserted us but calls us in the middle of all the unexplainable absurdities of life…. God cannot be limited by any human concept or prediction. He is greater than our mind and heart and perfectly free to reveal himself where and when he wants.
Henri J. M. Nouwen, Show Me the Way, p. 116, (Crossroad, NY)
Please share a favorite childhood memory.
Branchville, New Jersey, a very small town, was the locus of the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show. The town fathers badly wanted a young woman to compete for the honor of becoming Miss Sussex County. They strong-armed three of us employees of Selected Risks Insurance Company to compete for the title of Miss Branchville. We did this in the empty lot next to the post office, and I won, probably because I was the strongest objector to the whole enterprise. On a certain night of the fair, Miss Branchville and representatives from other towns did the circuit of the show ring on the back of convertibles, dressed in long, sleeveless dresses. A cold ride, to say the least. Then we walked the plank to show off our “figgers,” as the British MC pronounced it. This was the part I had objected to: just one more cattle parade. Fortunately, Miss Sparta became Miss Sussex County, and Miss Branchville was free to go get warm.
That’s a fun story. 🙂 If you could meet anyone present-day or from the past, who would it be, and why?
It would have to be David, the subject of my previous novel, The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David. I worked approximately 15 years, researching, writing, and finding a market for the book, and I will want to know how close I came to getting it right. I want to meet Abigail, his third wife, as well. This book was endorsed by Eugene Peterson and some Old Testament notables. Amazon has posted smashing reviews of it.
Thanks for sharing with us Eleanor. Readers, if you would like a chance to win a copy of Dynamo please leave a comment for Eleanor.
Rules: You must have a USA mailing address to be entered. There must be at least ten qualifying comments for the drawing to take place. The drawing ends 4/20/2014. The winner will be contacted by email on 4/21/14 and have until 4/27/2014 to respond or forfeit–no new winner will be chosen. The author or their publisher is responsible for sending the book. Void where prohibited by law.
Eleanor K. Gustafson began thinking up stories when she was five or six. When she started to read, God grabbed her with—yes—a story, and she was hooked for life. But after reading her early story attempts, friends and even her mother told her straight out to stick to music as a career. She pushed manfully along, however, and began publishing both fiction and nonfiction in 1978.
Dynamo is her fifth novel and builds off her lifelong love of horses. A graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, she has been actively involved in church life as a minister’s wife, teacher, musician, writer, and encourager. Additional experiences (besides horses) include gardening, house construction, tree farming, and parenting—all of which help bring color and humor to her fiction. One of her major writing goals has been to make scriptural principles understandable and relevant for today’s readers through the undeniable power of story.
Dynamo is available on
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/eleanorgustafson
AmazonThe Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David http://www.amazon.com/Stones-Eleanor-Gustafson/dp/1603740791/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1366735533&sr=1-1&keywords=gustafson+stones