The story behind Ransomed Dreams
Out of the national tragedy of September 11, 2001 came a literal dream that wouldn't let go. It included FBI characters and a deep desire to give tribute to the agents who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to see our country both protected and healed. This story also required me to walk through my greatest fear, that of losing my precious children. These two different plot lines converged to create my first novel, Ransomed Dreams.
As I began plotting this book, God brought into my path a federal agent who just happened to be married to a writer. Both Jack and his wife met with me and together we brainstormed a story originally titled The Journey. Through the initial writing and a few years of editing, one major theme rose to the top… forgiveness.
As I wrote about Gracie's struggle to forgive the person who killed her family, I looked at the pictures of my children on my desk and wrestled with forgiving people in my past who nearly succeeded in destroying my family. But Steven's battle with forgiving himself struck even closer to home. Growing up in an alcoholic family I learned early that type A behavior had its rewards. Now an adult, I see that the same behavior that helped me survive stands in opposition to trusting Christ and walking with Him at peace. Through writing Steven's personal and professional struggles, God shined the light on my prideful living where I demanded perfection of myself and failed miserably. In God's amazing grace, He also gave me a clear picture of the peace gained from setting others and myself free from the perfection treadmill.
Forgiveness is in no way an easy process. But my prayer for readers of Ransomed Dreams is that they will see the healing power of forgiveness played out in the pages of the book in a way that they can transfer to their own walk with the Lord.
The story behind Healing Promises
FBI Agent Clint Rollins is one of my favorite characters to write, but the challenges he faces in book two were the hardest to put into words. This story grew out of a painful time of wrestling with God and doubting His goodness when two dear friends and a vibrant young adult in my church's student ministry faced life threatening illnesses. These amazing people all play cameo roles in Healing Promises. But the book is dedicated to Ken Whaley and his family, who showed me in action that even when circumstances don't go the way we prayed, God is on His throne and He is very, very good. Always.
Writing about a married couple whose deep love for each other is tested right along with their faith stretched me in ways I'm still decoding. The intimacy and history between marriage partners was both fun and painful to put into words. Clint and Sara's love sizzles at a deeper level than new romance, but inherent in that depth is the possibility of even more pain with loss.
In Ransomed Dreams I wrote about one of my greatest fears, that of losing my children. With Healing Promises, the fear I grappled with was not only losing my spouse, but also the reality of living in a fallen world with bodies that aren't always healed this side of heaven. My hope for readers of Healing Promises is that as they watch Clint and Sara's journey, they'll be challenged to ask their own deep questions. In doing so, I pray they'll find that understanding isn't the key to survival, but believing the truth is where the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) begins.
The story behind Enduring Justice
Of all three books in the Defenders of Hope series, this one was by far the most difficult to write. Maybe because I'm still grappling with the issues Michael Parker and Hanna Kessler faced. Especially the intersection of justice and grace.
One reason this book was hard to write was because it dealt with a subject that has touched my life as it has so many other people. Child sexual abuse. I shared my story of date rape in the book The Choices Teens Make. And I've talked with many hurting people whose lives have also been shattered by that pain. Enduring Justice grew out of my journey where I've come to see He is the one who puts shattered lives, hearts, and people back together again.
The path of healing is a tough road. It hurts. But there are people in real life—like there were people walking alongside the characters in Enduring Justice —who will share the journey and lighten the load with their presence and prayers. I prayed for people who would understand and point me in the right direction. God provided some amazing counselors, church leaders, and friends who've made this road doable because they've consistently reminded me it's God who is my Sanctuary, my Strength, my Hope, and my Healer. He's yours, too.
My prayer is that readers who identify with Hanna's story and Michael's deep need for justice will seek and find the help they long for through the God who longs to heal them.