Once upon a time, a little girl was born to the England family of central Texas. Even as a child I felt a strong bond to my home state that exists to this day.
Though I have many great childhood memories, some of my fondest ones center around trips to the public library with my grandmother and siblings.
I didn’t just read books.
I devoured them.
First I attacked my stack of library books, and then I moved on to the books my siblings had checked out.
To me books were portals to distant lands and times. I sailed the seas with Robert Louis Stevenson in Treasure Island and took a hot air balloon ride around the world in just 80 days. I survived being marooned on an island with Robinson Crusoe and solved mysteries with Nancy Drew, the Hardy boys, and Trixie Belden. And I became best friends with a little girl from Prince Edward Island who had carrot hair and freckles like mine, and called herself Anne with an ‘e’.
But by far, the biggest story in my life has been God’s story. His love drew me in and began a work in me as a young girl that continues even now.
As you can see, stories — whether fictional or the story of my life that God has written — have always been a big part of who I am.
Blessed with an over-active imagination, it didn’t take much for me to make the leap from reading stories to writing them. And in addition to fiction, writing non-fiction became part of my life as well, from high school essay contests to my after-school job at the town newspaper.
My writing during college was confined to term papers. But later, as a young mother and teacher, I often spent summer months immersed in writing stories.
Unfortunately, I always ran out of summer before I finished those books. No telling how many partially-completed manuscripts I have squirreled away in boxes and files. Who knows? Maybe someday those old type-written pages will finally reach book-hood. 😉
While my two boys were in junior high and high school, the works of such Christian writers as Frank Perretti, Gilbert Morris, Jan Karon and Francine Rivers captured my attention.
Karon’s Mitford series awakened my love for stories with a colorful cast of hometown characters — much like my own Miller’s Creek.
But it was Rivers’ Redeeming Love which spurred a thirst in me to use story-writing to make my Lord and Savior known.
Then I blinked a few times and my children were grown.
The empty nest hit me hard. How would I spend these last years of my earthly life? How could I best make use of the time I had left?
Not long after our second son flew the coop, I lost my father and a friend to premature death. About that same time, I received a few troubling diagnoses of my own.
Isn’t it weird how sorrow and loss can wake us up to what is most important?
That whole time period helped me realize I wasn’t guaranteed another breath or heartbeat. If I was ever going to fulfill the nudge inside me to write books, the time was now.
So I joined a professional writer’s organization, attended live and online conferences, and snatched up every book I could find on the craft of writing. I treated those books like college coursework. I took notes, highlighted passages, and dog-eared pages.
Most importantly, I started applying all I learned in my first Miller’s Creek novel, TEXAS ROADS (a story about a tight-knit small-town community and one woman’s quest to find true home). That story became a 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers’ Genesis contest finalist — in the top five of almost 200 entrants in the contemporary romance category. (That remains a “pinch-me” moment in my life.)
While the writer’s life may appear glamorous from the outside, it really isn’t. It takes hours and hours of solitary work to bring a book into being and to completion.
That being said, there are also benefits of being a writer. (Not many can say they only commute a few steps to their work or have the luxury of working in their pajamas! 🙂 )
But for me, the benefits go so very far beyond that.
First and foremost, it is my utmost privilege to make Christ known through story. Jesus often used parables — His truth couched in story — to teach people about Himself and His kingdom. So I don’t take this privilege and responsibility of following in those particular steps of His lightly or for granted.
Right in line with that comes the benefit and opportunity to impact human lives. I keep an “Angel File” of letters and emails I receive from those who have read my books. Their stories of hearts given to Jesus and overcoming the enemy make every lonely hour spent behind my computer so very worth it.
And the Lord willing, I hope to continue this work until I die.
Regardless of what His future plans for me may hold, this I know with all my heart: God is the One who started the first chapter of my “once upon a time” life story, and He who gave me life and started His work in me will be faithful to complete it — a life-changing grace story for sure!
But the best chapter of my God-written life story is yet to be fulfilled. One day I’ll take my last gasp of earthly air and get my first glimpse and taste of Heaven.
That’s when I’ll at long last get to see my Savior face to face. Then I get to be where He is, free from the pain and sorrow of this earth, at last and forever.
Happily-ever-after to all,