While I was writing Trusting Grace and beginning to develop the character of my heroine’s ailing father, it was as if God himself intruded into the sub-plot development with His own idea of what I was about to write totally changed. You know, it’s been said that a piece of an author finds its way into their writing subconsciously. Either way—in my proposal, I had the ailing father suffering from a stroke, but when I began to write about his symptoms it seemed God had other ideas in mind so I went with it. Who wouldn’t when the creator of the world wrote His love story to us?
I considered what happened that day a truly ‘Divine Appointment’. The centerpiece of my historical romance story is about learning to trust God first then others. It centers on finding love again for my heroine and hero both widowed. It speaks to the depth of character change when the hero and heroine face trials through dependence on God. However, as the sub-plot eked onto the page, I finally acknowledged that I would need to do a little research on a particular topic before I went any further—something I hadn’t intended to do because of the time involved.
To give you a little background—for five years my husband has suffered from a chronic and rare disease, CIDP, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy. It was clear God wanted me to make CIDP the heroine’s father’s illness and not merely a stroke. Could that have even been a possibility during this historical time frame of 1866? I laughed out loud. I rather doubted it, but to my complete surprise I found that CIDP had its beginning as Multiple Neuritis discovered by Robert Graces in 1843 when little was known about the disease. I also found that some experts believe Franklin D. Roosevelt may have suffered from CIDP instead of polio. Wow, God! He knew all along. I smiled and went back to writing.
So what only started out with a story of love and loss for the hero and heroine also became a story of a father/daughter relationship battling illness with lovingkindness, and the resilience of the caregiver, my heroine, Grace. It’s very true that God gives us more grace than we deserve, but even more so when we are facing huge battles whether it is death, illness, loss of love, job, financial or spiritual crisis. It was no mistake that three years before when I first sent this series proposal to my editor, I named my heroine Grace. You can follow how that became the title now.
Grace became my character’s strength for living. Both of them had brokenness and suffering in their lives—Grace becoming a widow with a farm to run, an ailing father and her loss of hope for family and children—Robert—losing his bride, his wheat farm, then be suddenly saddled with three children of whom he had no prior knowledge. God demonstrated his love and favored them with abundant grace by restoring their joy which transformed their desires and behaviors toward each other, but particularly to Robert who thought of the children as nothing more than a huge burden. This is where trust entered the story and is revealed in each the characters.
I don’t want their story or mine to sound easy because it’s definitely not. My life has been a huge struggle as I wrote while trying to maintain normalcy. It’s only the power of Christ in me that I can succeed at anything. A few lines from a favorite song I learned in choir many years ago still runs deep in my mind. It’s how He gives us more grace when our burdens grow greater and more strength when our labors increase. To add to that, I know from experience He also supplies mercy for our trials and gives us peace. I’d like to think that my characters in Trusting Grace exemplify this virtue, despite their vices. Without His grace that He so freely gives we have no power source. Our sustaining grace comes into sharp focus during painful moments we endure which empowers the Christian to walk through it. It’s during these times that we grow in grace and knowledge of Him (2 Peter 2:18).
If my story of love, hope, trust and restoration can help anyone who is a widow or have a spouse with a chronic illness help lift their spirits and give them insight, then I’ve written what I was supposed to write. My book is dedicated to sufferers of CIDP.
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More about Trusting Grace:
All of her life, Grace Bidwell has longed for a loving husband and children, but now the chances of her dreams coming true are looking slim. Widowed and caring for her elderly father, she struggles to maintain her late husband’s ranch, until she places an ad for a hired hand.
Robert Frasier arrives in town with three pitiful, bedraggled children who have nothing but the tattered clothes on their backs and a load of hurt, pride, and anger. Believing this is divine intervention in her life, Grace welcomes them with open arms. As feelings grow between her and Robert, Grace will have to convince him that she is a woman who can be trusted with his heart.
Readers will be swept away into 1860s Montana’s lush Gallatin Valley, nestled among towering mountains and proud pines, in this emotional conclusion to the Virtues and Vices of the Old West series.
Maggie Brendan is a CBA bestselling author of the Heart of the West, The Blue Willow Brides and Virtues and Vices of the Old West series. Winner of the 2014 Book Buyers Best Award (OCC/RWA) for inspirational fiction and the 2013 Laurel Wreath Award, she was a finalist for the 2013 Published Maggie Award of Excellence and the 2013 Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Award. She is married, lives in Georgia, and loves all things Western. She has two grown children and four grandchildren. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, researching her next novel, and being with her family.