Sometimes, God brings people into your life and their is an instant connection. He did that when I met Audra Harders in 2010 at my first ACFW conference. From that first hug, I just fell in love with this wonderful lady. Her gentleness and encouragement calmed my nervousness, and she was quick to take me by the hands and pray with me. WOW! What a wonderful beginning!
I hope her notes today will be an inspiration to you – as they’ve been to me.
This is an excerpt from my debut novel, Rocky Mountain Hero. Since arriving at the Circle D, Melanie (my heroine) has been battling the guilt of estrangement from her parents. It all comes to a head due to the kindness and love of complete strangers. She learns forgiveness starts with forgiving yourself.
The water appeared lower than the last time she’d been there. Rapids formed between the rocks out in the middle of the river leaving calm ponds along the edges. She tore off her shoes and socks and stuck her feet off the edge of the bank, the cold water splashing between her toes. She closed her eyes and listened to the rush of current. Lord, I’ve been away too long. Please forgive me. What am I supposed to do?
What do I do, Lord?
“Quiet and peaceful, isn’t it?”
Melanie jumped at the unexpected voice. Her eyelids popped open as she caught her balance. “What are you doing here?”
Gabe stood about ten feet away, his arms folded across his chest. “Remember our last conversation about not going anywhere by yourself?”
“I’ve been here before. I thought you couldn’t go off into uncharted territory.”
“If I hadn’t followed you, we wouldn’t have known you knew where you were.”
He kept a straight face. Her shoulders tensed as he continued to stare at her. She hadn’t meant to worry anyone.
The familiar dimple appeared. “Have to keep an eye out all the time.”
She relaxed. I’ll bet you do. She turned back to the river. “I just need time to think. To be alone.”
She heard gravel crunch behind her then listened as he found a seat. She frowned. What part of wanting to be alone didn’t he understand? “I came here for quiet.”
“You won’t even know I’m here.”
She closed her eyes again. Lord? How can I pray with him here? I’d like to talk, just you and me? The echo of rushing water filled her ears. The breeze continued to flutter her hair across her face. Peace filled her heart.
In the gentle spray of river mist, she didn’t think one teardrop would appear too obvious. Maybe one tear from each eye. Why now? She’d had life all figured out. It wasn’t a bad life was it? Why was normal slipping through her fingers?
Two tears became a torrent. Gentle hands cupped her shoulders and turned her away from the river to a solid chest that smelled like summer sun. His solid support melted her resolve.
“They don’t even know he exists.” She hiccupped between sobs. “My parents have a grandson they don’t even know about.”
He rubbed her back making her sobs come harder. He shouldn’t nice to her. He wasn’t going to be so nice when she told him the whole story. Her arms encircled his waist.
“My folks wanted me to put him up for adoption.” The fights and accusations still rang through her head. The inconvenience, the gossip was all they’d worried about.
“Paul wanted me to get rid of him. When I said no, he dumped me. Just like that. Poof.” She squeezed Gabe tighter, the memory of the nastiness making her sick. “He never claimed Jason; swore he’d prove me lying if I ever tried to come after him.” She came up for air. “My girlfriend started dating him.” The humiliation and agony of that betrayal hurt her more than any heartache from Paul.
She smacked her forehead into Gabe’s chest. She gave him credit, he hung in there for the whole, unvarnished truth. She’d expected him to run long ago. “I want Jason to have what he’s found here: a home, family, love. Instead, all he has is me.”
His arms tightened around her. She pressed her ear into his chest, absorbing his strength. “Why can’t I be more like you? So strong, so patient, so. . .so confident. Gabe, I’m too scared to go back and make things right. I’m so weak.”
“Shhh. There’s nothing to be scared of.” His voice rumbled along with his strong, steady heartbeat. “Don’t bear such needless pain.”
Needless pain? She deserved every ounce of burden on her heart.
“Dear Heavenly Father.” His chin rested atop her head. “So much hurt and pain remain buried deep waiting for Your love and mercy to wash it away.”
Praying? He prayed for. . .her? A muscle twitched in her arm as she held on tighter.
“Dear Lord, only You see the cause, only You know the reason. Fill Your children with the realization of the salvation You bought for us with Your blood, ours for the taking if we just trust You.”
Fire ignited in the pit of her belly where only moments earlier a ball of ice sat. Her hands slid down along his warm, solid forearms. She squeezed his hands.
“Fill Melanie with Your peace and fill her with Your understanding. You are bigger than any trouble on this earth. Have mercy, oh Jesus.”
“Mercy,” she whispered. Standing beside rushing waters, her soul cried for cleansing. As her confession of sin, fear, doubts and everything else silently poured out of her, light and relief filled in. After crying her eyes out earlier, she didn’t think she had any tears left, but she did.
Pepper, you ask about frustrations in my writing life? When isn’t there one? Either I have my characters stuck in a situation I haven’t a clue how to get them out of, or they refuse to let me rescue them. LOL! Just like raising kids : )
But really, frustrations lay around every corner of the writing process. If I gave in to them, I’d probably still be writing “See Spot run” or something like that. My favorite verses for not only frustration and slumps, but for all the mysteries of life is from Proverbs:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
If it’s important to me, I’ve got to let it go. Easy to say; difficult to do.
Thanks for having me, Pep. You are always such a gracious and wonderful hostess. And a sweet, loving, fun person to boot. You make me smile : )
(She smiles because she knows I’m crazy)
Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful nugget, Audra – and for letting some new readers get a taste of your writing. Looking forward to more in the future 🙂