I started writing stories when I was five years old. In fact, I can still remember the first story that I ever wrote. I’m certain there are many I’ve forgotten, but that one sticks out in my head. It was about a horse and a little girl, and the horse was her best friend. I loved horses when I was a kid.
As I grew older the stories changed. There were always the romances, but some were mysteries, and some were just about ordinary life. These were mostly short stories in high school and I passed them around my study hall. There was a girl who sat behind me who was hooked on one story in particular, and did I ever have fun giving her the next few pages every day. I have always loved to share my stories.
I worked in a law firm as a young woman, and I loved the writing. Whether my boss dictated it, or I was tasked to come up with something, it was always a pleasure to see the story unfold.
Eventually I left the workforce and settled into a stay-at-home mom role and started homeschooling my three children. I had been married for 14 years at that point, seven of which we’d spent in marriage counseling. It was an extremely difficult time in our lives, but we were determined to make it work.
And though I wanted to make my marriage work, I ached for companionship. The days were lonely, and the nights weren’t any better. We went to our counseling appointments, we went to church, we studied our Bibles, we prayed…well, you know the gambit. Nothing seemed to help us. I felt as if God had abandoned me.
And then one day I heard a song on the radio that changed my whole life.
Toby Keith came out with Were In Love, which is the poignant account of lost love and the desire to renew it. I heard a story in that song and I sat down at my old computer (which had been given to me by the neighbor) and started typing. Scenes and people, vivid details started to flash through my mind and all I could do was type. And I typed 900 pages in 21 days. I would type from about 4:30 a.m. until 8:00 or later at night. My oldest daughter brought me food at my computer so that I didn’t have to get up. Her and the neighbor lady were hooked on the story and would read the pages that I’d typed the day before.
The characters in this story deeply loved one another, and there was stability there—a stability that I craved and needed—and to this day I believe that God sustained me with those stories to help me get through that rough time in my marriage.
As I typed I was amazed at the colorful, vivid description that I’d find on the pages day after day. Lots of things I didn’t even remember writing.
At one point I experienced the most vivid scene of all, and it was of an old woman sitting near a stone fireplace. She’s at an old wood plank table in Chianti, and there’s an American soldier from World War II sitting with her, and she says to him, “In this world there are men of two kinds. The one, the knight, is the man possessing only strength and quality of moral character. He will never ask a lady to compromise her honor for less than a vow, and never, ever will he consider another once he has captured her heart. A knight keeps his vow, even when it hurts, and the honor of a knight is a thing a country is built upon. A knight comes along only seldom these days.
“Now a blackguard is a man who can be found quite easily, for it is an easy thing to be a blackguard. He attempts to trick the young ladies into taking him home and caring for him, making them believe their honor can be given away as a mere trifle, offering no vow, and making only demands. The blackguard is to be avoided at all costs, for to settle for someone like him, is to settle for something less than ideal.”
God gave me that scene with that American Soldier at just the perfect time. You see, I was being tempted by another man. My oath, my marriage vows, though it was hurting me terribly, had to be kept. I had vowed to forsake all others, and until death do us part.
It was then that I realized that this fellow who was tempting me wasn’t exactly a knight. He was a blackguard in disguise.
The next month I typed 500 more pages.
Every day I read my Bible; I went to all of our counseling appointments, took care of my duties at home, and in my spare time I wrote, and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I couldn’t stop.
I wanted my marriage to be fun and romantic, and I did ask God for that, but it wasn’t to be—not yet.
Our marriage battles continued for another seven years. By the time we’d been married for 21 years we’d spent 14 years in counseling! We just couldn’t get along. However, things were getting ready to change—and change very quickly.
On Palm Sunday in 2003, my husband came to know the Lord in a most extraordinary way. He experienced a healing at the Cross that day that I never realized was possible. For many years he’d suffered with depression and anxiety, and in one day the symptoms vanished. Even his appearance changed that day. He told me that he left his troubles at the Cross, and I believe him. Ten years later (2013) we learned that he had Hashimoto’s disease, which can cause depression. He did eventually have to have his thyroid removed, but he hasn’t suffered with depression since.
We just celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary, and I can honestly say that I have been having the time of my life. Since that day, Palm Sunday, 2003, my husband has become my most reliable teacher, my most trusted advisor, and my very best friend.
People ask me if we have troubles and I say no! We really are who we appear to be!
Satan has created a rotten assumption that all marriages are terrible, and that everybody fights and there’s trouble. And you know what I say to that? People are disobedient and people compromise. But, when we hold tight to the Truth of Christ and all that He means, He rewards our obedience with His image—and I can see that image on my husband’s face every day.
Jim doesn’t take drugs for depression anymore and he hasn’t for many, many years. And we don’t sit with marriage counselors every week either.
Moses last hurrah, so to speak, happens in Deuteronomy—it’s his last great sermons to the Israelites before God takes him Home.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “These commandments I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road…” Moses goes on to say, “then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.”
You know, we walked to church every Sunday when I was a kid, and I learned to love the Lord. If it wasn’t for my Dad planting those seeds within me, I wouldn’t be writing to you about my books and my 35 year marriage miracle.
Impress the commandments on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road… then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
The land, in my case, is my marriage and I have been blessed in that land, and I live and increase in it every day. All other temptations fall by the wayside. I love being married to my knight.
The apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians “Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May He be given the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. AMEN!”
And may my books reflect His gracious character and nature. I pray that you read them and take them to heart. Many things are difficult, but Jesus will be there with you through it all.