Friday, April 15, 2016

Words of Faith: Angela's story of restoration and a gift from God

Faith, Hope, and Romance
A Words of Faith story written by Angela Ruth Strong

I write Christian romance, and I’ve been ridiculed for it. “Christians shouldn’t read romance. Christians should read about things that matter—like politics.” I felt a little sorry for the guy’s wife, but I also considered the validity of his claim.

See, I’d sold my first novel only a few months before my ex-husband left me. I had to finish writing the love story as my own marriage fell apart. Romance seemed like a fairytale, a myth, a lie. I couldn’t write about it anymore. When my agent called to say she was changing agencies and would be specifically focusing on romance, I decided to part ways.

I decided to write a really fun middle-grade series. I published an edgy book about the daughter of a pastor who couldn’t forgive her dad for running off with the church secretary until she fell in love with her own pastor. I submitted a non-fiction proposal titled The Other Woman Never Wins.

But then I met Jim.

Jim told me I was a gift from God. I didn’t have the faith to say it in return at first.

See, I’d been at a writer’s conference the week my ex started his affair. I didn’t know about the affair at the time, but at the writer’s conference I’d been reading Psalms where David says, “God, you are my all.” So I wrote in my prayer journal, “God you are my all.” Then I thought, “Is that really true?” And I remembered where David said, “Test me.” So I cried and wrote, “Test me.” Later than night, I tried to renegotiate with God. “Hey, God. When I said test me, that doesn’t include my family. Please leave my family alone.” But I came home to a husband who wanted a divorce.

I don’t believe God was saying, “You want a test, I’ll give you a test.” He was preparing me by saying, “You know I’m your all, Angela. You know you can put your faith in me.”

But still. That was in my head when my divorce got as messy as divorce can get. There was a lot I didn’t handle well. I certainly didn’t feel like I’d passed any test.

So when Jim said, “You are a gift from God.” I was subconsciously believing, “I HOPE you’re a gift from God. But I don’t feel like I deserve you, and God might take you away from me, too, so I can’t get too attached.”

Until one day I was jogging and praying and suddenly remembered the verse, “Every good and perfect gift is from above" (James 1:17). And I thought about what a good man Jim was. And I thought about how gifts don’t have to be earned. They are just given.

I raced home to look up every verse I could that included the word “good.”

First verse: Taste and see that the Lord is good. ~Psalm 34:8 (NIV)

Last verse: Now you have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. ~1 Peter 2:3 (NIV)

I called Jim sobbing. “You’re a gift from God. You’re a gift from God.”

We got married. 

Angela and her husband Jim on their wedding day.
Most romantic proposal and wedding ever, but that’s another story. I’m not going to say we are living happily-ever-after because life is life, and we’ve got blended family issues and health issues and money issues and my dented minivan is at Les Schwab with a flat tire right now. But through it all, I AM happy. Because I have faith in a God who loved me enough to give me a second chance.

When I tell this story, people tear up. Because this is what we all want. It’s why Jesus came to earth. Why he died. It’s the whole faith message.

We love because He first loved us.

Now that’s romance. And there’s nothing else I would rather write about.

Love changed my life. This same love can change the world. And I’m going to shout it from the mountain tops. Or, you know, write about finding love for Mountain Brook Ink.

I write Christian romance, and I know from experience that it DOES matter.


~*~
Author bio: 

Angela Ruth Strong studied journalism at the University of Oregon and published her first novel, Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 2010. With movie producers interested in her book, she's decided to rerelease it and write sequels as a new series titled Resort to Love. 

This Idaho Top Author and Cascade Award winner also started IDAhope Writers to encourage other aspiring authors, and she's excited to announce the sale of her first romantic suspense novel to Love Inspired Suspense.

For the latest news or to contact Angela, visit www.angelaruthstrong.com.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing with us, Angela. I look forward to reading more of your stories.

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  2. Beautifully written, Angela. Thank you for sharing!
    ~Anna

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  3. Thank you, ladies. God is the author of life, and he's given me a wonderful story to tell.

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