Christine Righthouse saw a vision of her daughter, Lena, in heaven, which inspired her latest book.
“Pocket Angels” is dedicated to the memory of all children who have been victims of crime or have lost their lives through tragic accidents, school shootings or mass shootings.
Christine and her husband, Gary Righthouse, lost their 14-year-old daughter Jan. 15, 1996. Lena’s older sister, Alicia, found her murdered in their home that day.
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“It was a horrible death, and she was stabbed between 16 and 18 times,” Righthouse said.
Based on Christine’s personal journals, she wrote through her grief and published her first book, “Lena — A Murder in Southern Indiana,” in 2001.
Her second book, “Pocket Angels,” released this month, is full of Bible stories, poems, songs and nursery rhymes.
Righthouse said this book is much lighter and is a unique journey she and Lena will take the readers through. The book is full of truth with a lot of imagination.
“I’ve been a Sunday school teacher for 35 years,” she said. “Being a teacher, you have to pray and trust in the Lord to give you lessons.”
Righthouse said before she wrote this second book, she was going through another hard time in her life when her mother-in-law passed away.
“She always had all these big dinners where all the family got together,” she said. “When she passed away, everybody split up, so it’s like we lost the whole family at one time.”
Righthouse could feel herself sliding back into depression.
“I laid down on the couch one day, and I was going to have a pity party and feel sorry for myself,” she said. “I was going to lay there and cry, and I was awake but shut my eyes, and I could see Lena in heaven sitting on a bench.”
She said she could see Lena playing with some things flying in and out of her pocket.
“In my mind’s eyes, I thought they were butterflies, but when I looked closer, they were baby cherubs,” she said. “I also saw a church and the cross in a circle, and that is how this story came about.”
Righthouse said it changed her whole outlook on what happened to Lena.
“The special little stories started filling my head, so I just started writing them all down as fast as I could,” she said. “I didn’t even know where I was going with it.”
Righthouse began writing her latest book in 2018 and called several different publishing houses. The manuscript was all handwritten, which is how she submitted it to her chosen publisher, Christian Faith Publishing in Pennsylvania.
“I can’t type, and I’m not a very good speller and not even good with texting on the phone,” she said. “I didn’t used to write before what happened to Lena, and I do all of it by praying and asking God, and he led me.”
Righthouse said her first book came about when she started writing down memories of Lena.
“I didn’t want to forget anything about her, so I kept writing it all down,” she said. “Then the court hearings came in and the plea, so it kept getting bigger and bigger and ended up being a book.”
Her new book includes some photos of Lena and her family, and there also is one with Lena on her motorbike with some of her friends.
“Lena was a people person and loved fast-moving things, and we surprised her with a motorbike on her 13th birthday,” she said. “Back then, you didn’t have to have a license to drive it. We’re thankful we got it for her.”
Her parents told Lena she would need to share her motorbike, so she would drive the neighborhood kids around, and that’s the picture in the book.
Chapter 6 in the book is where children or the parents can fill in the name of their lost loved one to be part of the story.
There also are some blank pages after that for the purpose of writing down memories about the person who is gone.
In Greathouse’s mind, Lena is the storyteller of “Pocket Angels,” so it’s like she is getting the last word now.
On the dedication page of the book, Righthouse thanks her family and several other people for their support, including author Janette Oke and actor Ed Asner.
“When all this happened to Lena and I was writing my first book, I started writing to Janette, and she started writing me back,” she said. “We’ve been corresponding back and forth, and she even tried to help me get this book published.”
Righthouse also had written to Asner and one day received a phone call of encouragement from him.
When she started to promote “Pocket Angels,” she tried to reach out to as many people as she could think of who might want to help.
“The book is really to help kids who have suffered and parents who have lost children and are suffering,” she said. “I’m teaching God’s words through these little cherubs.”
Christine’s hope is to bless and inspire people of all ages to continue their faith in Christ and always remember God is love.
“Pocket Angels” will be available this month online at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.