We all have them, right? Years that seem to have more than their fair share of hardship. I think 2002 would qualify as one of those years for me.
It started off with back trouble in the first two weeks of January, back trouble that would plague me for months. Ugh! Not a great memory. In addition to countless visits to the chiropractor and massage therapist, I tried all kinds of things to bring relief while working at my computer.
I did have a nice nudge of encouragement in March when Ribbon of Years was named a RITA finalist (my 6th book to be nominated for that award). What a pleasure to have a book that was so close to my heart be recognized in that way.
Then in April, it was back to negative stuff. I was misquoted in an article in the local newspaper (the misquote was caused by what was left out which made what was left in sound very different from what I actually said). The article caused a furor that had some folks raking me over the coals, suggesting that I had denigrated romance fiction. Can you say “unpleasant”? Yeah, it was. Let’s just say I gained new appreciation for celebrities who are ripped apart in scandal rags. I so appreciated those who spoke up in my defense, those who knew I would not have said what was being implied. I also came to appreciate this advice from Elbert Hubbard: “Never explain—your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.” Yeah, what he said.
Over the summer, there were some rough family times, plus I had a short-lived health scare. But that was also around the time when God began preparing me to write a particular novel, another one of those stories that would come out of a very personal place in my life. I don’t remember the exact month that the general idea for the story started to come to me, but I do remember where I was when I met the protagonist: In the dentist chair with a drill in my mouth. And while the drill was going, I heard the character speak the opening lines of the book. As clear as a bell in a very distinct voice. I saw the sky and the setting of that first scene exactly as I knew it had to be. I could hardly wait to get home and write it all down, even though I wouldn’t get to begin writing the book until the next year.
In the fall, after the resignation of the pastor and a tough week on my part of praying, studying Grudem’s Systematic Theology, and counseling with a pastor friend in California, I decided to leave the church I’d attended since 1979. I knew God was telling me to go, but man, it wasn’t easy. My main prayer once I knew He was sending me out was, “God, plant me quickly in a new church family.” He honored that prayer.
The first Sunday I visited the Boise Vineyard, I knew I was home. (I had no idea how blessed I would be in the years to come because of this change.) It was a good thing He planted me quickly, because a loved one was about to enter a very bad period and I would have to tag along for the ride.
Yeah, I wasn’t sorry to see 2002 end.