Adultery, forgiveness, mercy….quite a combination of areas to tackle in a first novel! Can you give readers insight to the inspiration behind your story?
It sounds corny, but this entire story—the characters, the settings, the dilemma they face, it all came to me and played out in my mind like a movie while on a summer road trip through the mountains. I thought about it often, and more than two years later, I challenged myself to the task of transforming it into a novel. I’ve always felt called to encourage women, and am passionate about sharing the hope that Christ offers us. During the very long writing process (seven years) I went through some difficult health and family hardships that then translated into the struggles my characters faced. It was as if my journey (though not similar to the story line at all) became woven into the fabric of the novel.
Where do you think believers stumble the most when it comes to forgiveness and mercy?
I think our American Christian culture tends to compartmentalize sin into categories of our choosing. Some sin is tolerated as being a “struggle,” an “issue I’m working on,” or excused as being “part of the times we are living in.” While other sins represent lines in the sand that some Christians see as intolerable, and,more detestable than others. I wonder, though, on the day we all stand before the Lord, what it will be like when we realize that every single one of us are in the same boat, and need the same cleansing blood of Jesus. I wonder what we will think of our fellow sinners then. I hope we will all be elated that Jesus paid the price for us all, and He didn’t discriminate based on the labels we place on each other. Especially in the light of a grievous betrayal? Certainly, we all struggle with forgiveness. But, if we place our focus on Christ—on His love for us, and His good plans to turn a dark situation into something that glorifies Him, I know forgiveness is possible—and it is powerful. I’m not saying it’s easy. But aren’t the rewards of living free from bitterness worth it? How do we get there, you ask? Only through a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute surrender to His will, and by renewing our mind continually with the Word of God. Do you think, as a whole, that sometimes the church isn’t clear on the difference between contractual and covenant relationships? I don’t know that I’m qualified to have an opinion on that, but I think that if the members of the body of Christ could redirect their thoughts from their problems and the source of their problems and instead focus solely on the person of Christ and what He means to them individually, then relationships in general would thrive.
Do you think this is a novel that will have any appeal at all to someone whose life has been impacted by adultery and betrayal? Why or why not?
I’ve heard from women whose marriages ended after an adulterous situation, and they have found hope and comfort as they read about the main character and her struggle to forgive. That being said, I did hear from one woman who was finding it hard to read some of those deeply painful emotions, as they brought old wounds to the surface. I tried to be sensitive to readers’ real life scenarios as I wrote the book. I believe if someone is open to allowing God to minister to her broken heart, then she can receive hope and a lifting of her spirit by the end of this story. That’s my prayer—that by the end of the book, no matter what your journey has been, that you will feel hopeful and encouraged that with God all things are possible, and that He brings beauty out of ashes.
You made a statement recently; “We must work with God rather than running from Him in our hardships. We must never lose our hope. Storms will come. We shouldn’t fear them. With God, we can persevere with dignity and joy.” Can you expound on this a bit for your readers?
In my personal experience, I tend to handle difficulties much like a toddler pitching a fit. I immediately react with clenched fists, frustration, overwhelming fear—and in those moments of insanity, in the rush of emotions that flood my mind, I take my eyes off of the Lord. Thankfully, God is not put off by my outbursts. He understands my agony, and my humanness. He does not say, “Well, now you’ve pushed me too far. We’re done.” I’m so thankful He is a forgiving and merciful Father! So, when my runaway train of emotions finally comes to a halt, I unclench my fists, and I push the reset button. In an instant, Jesus is there, with outstretched arm, whispering, “Take my hand. Let’s walk this difficult road together. I’ll not leave you, I promise. We’ll get through it together.” I’ve learned that it is possible to experience peace and serenity even in the midst of intense pain and hardship. The hardship doesn’t disappear, but hand in hand with the Lord, I find strength.
Ultimately, we cannot place our hope solely in our desired outcome of a situation. We must place our hope in the person of Jesus Christ—He alone is the hope of glory in us and through us.
That it is much, much more than just writing a good story. There are revisions. And then revisions of the revisions. Editing, marketing, developing relationships with people in the industry and with readers—writing is not for the faint of heart!
Are you able to give us a sneak peek into your writing schedule and tell us if there are any more stories that are waiting in the wings?
Sure! I am almost finished with a novel study guide that will be a companion to ‘Precious in His Sight.’ It’s a compilation of personal stories that relate to the deep themes in the novel, along with biblical insights, questions for group or individual reflection, and journal prompts. I think it will be great for bible studies and women’s groups as a short term workshop. And for book clubs who want to dig a little deeper as a follow up to the novel. I’m also working on a sequel to “Precious in His Sight,’ and am looking forward to offering it to fans of the first book early in 2017.
How has the journey to publication impacted your faith journey?
During the course of this seven year writing journey, I went through some pretty intense storms of my own. I battled a debilitating and violent illness that was very tough. My family and I were blindsided by the heartbreaking discovery that one of our children was battling an opiate addiction. Some days, it was hard just to get out of bed and keep going, and yet, when I sat at my computer and thought about the characters in this book, the tough circumstances in my own journey, and my struggle to see God’s goodness in any of it, my experience became part of the characters’ journey. Putting myself into each of the characters’ shoes led me to a deeper understanding of God’s faithfulness and His daily outpouring of love for me.
What words of encouragement would you like to share with others who are working toward
First, there a many viable options to get your work published. Don’t be shy! Seek out other writers and published authors and ask questions. Writers are the most generous people I’ve ever known when it comes to sharing their knowledge, experience and time. And resolve to be patient! You’ll go through ups and downs, you’ll blow your writing goals from time to time, and you’ll feel like quitting once in a while. Stick with it. The reward of completing something that is uniquely you is worth all the late nights, cramped fingers, and re-writes. Persevere, trust God, and have fun.