First an update. Today’s a big day, friends. I finally sent off my book proposal to potential agents. I have a top choice, but am praying for God to guide the process so things work out according to his plan. It could be weeks before I hear back, so now it’s time to settle in and keep writing.
Today, though, I thought I’d tell you a different sort of story. I write Christian romance novels. I had someone tell me recently, “So, your stories are pretty fluffy and feel-good, huh?” I couldn’t help but chuckle. Christian does not equate perfect — quite the contrary. I feel compelled to write characters who are flawed, been through great disappointments, are unsure of their futures, and often get it wrong. Because that’s me. That’s you. When you pick up one of my books, I want you to be able to relate to the characters you see. Life on this side of heaven is messy and unpredictable and muddied by sin. Definitely not “fluffy.” Yes, you’ll find satisfying endings to my books, but only thanks to the hope and grace and joy found in what God has to offer.
It seems fitting that I share with you my own messy, real-life romance. My husband, Eric, and I met when we were 17 and 18. He swept me off my feet with his funny and charming personality. I felt treasured. We dated long distance for a few years while in college but managed to get married at the young age of 21. (Funny how we felt so old and mature back then!) Our personalities compliment each other but are very different. He’s extroverted, I’m introverted. He likes to go out, I like to stay in. He looks for solutions, I usually see excuses. We essentially finished growing up together, trying to find who we were.
Eric went in to professional theater and has had a palpable passion for chasing the career from the beginning. That means late nights and weekends were often spent apart. We were like two ships passing in the night. Before long, a few years into our marriage, I began to resent his job — feeling like he was choosing the work over me. Then he resented me for nagging and not being any fun to be around when he was home. It was tough, people!
Then we had our daughter. Joyous time! Yet the added responsibilities on me while he continued chasing bigger and better gigs, often out of town, fueled the fire of resentment. We argued — big time. I cried ALL. THE. TIME. We were both stuck in our own perspectives, unable to see the needs and desires and gaping holes in the hearts of the other. Looking back on those dark days is so difficult.
But then God presented us with a fresh start. At our lowest point, ready to give up, we had the opportunity to both take jobs in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Though neither of us wanted to move to Texas, we could not deny the peace we felt about the decision. So we looked at each other and said, “This is it. We have to try.” So we went. I cried for weeks before we left. I grieved my church and my friends and my family we’d be leaving. We both, I’m sure, feared the possibility that this wouldn’t fix anything.
But you know what, God broke us to build us up. We got to Texas and had no choice but to lean on each other. Thankfully, we both liked our new jobs. My job even offered free childcare for our daughter. We found a wonderful Christian marriage counselor. And…
We fell in love again.
Through years clouded by disappointment, resentment, fear, anger, and urge to give up, we trusted God to show us his desire to see us thrive as a couple. It’s not been fluffy. It’s been the hardest thing we’ve ever done. We were this close to saying the pain wasn’t worth it. We experienced the worst of “for better or worse.” Yes, some couples go through more traumatic times of infidelity or financial ruin, but this was our worst. And God’ grace redeemed us and remolded us into his image again.
Today, things aren’t easy either. Is life really ever easy? If it was easy all the time, why would we need heaven as our eternal reward? Eric still works in theater and even spent 10 months out of town doing a show on Broadway (which I was able to happily support him through!). I still struggle with being jealous of his time and attention. But I’m more in love with him now than I’ve ever been. It’s a romance that I couldn’t have written any better.
Through the ashes God revives his vision for greatness. I hope that’s what you’ll eventually find in my writing. My hope and prayer is that there is a place on the bookshelves for my stories. Because I truly feel like we need romances like this to be told. About what amazing redemption can be found on the other side of prayer and hope and faith. No need for fairy-tales when the promises of God ring true.