Brief synopsis of my faith-based Novel, Family Secrets
Faith Simpson, a New York Police Department detective, grew up in North Carolina and was summoned back to her little hometown of Mint Hill for the reading of her great-aunt’s will and to settle her estate. Faith’s parents were tragically killed in a car accident when she was a child. Because there were no living relatives other than her great-aunt, she went to live with her at O’Gallagher Estate in the little town of Mint Hill. There she experienced isolation, mental abuse, and loneliness. Her only contact with the outside world was her friends at school. Because of the stipulations and demands of the will, Faith was forced to resign her position as a police officer and remain at her Aunt Irma’s huge estate. The entire storyline revolves around a secret her parents and her great-aunt hid from her. That skeleton in Faith’s closet involved her true parentage, a murder, and years of deceit and greed. Her quest for the truth took her across the Atlantic Ocean to Ireland to unravel the mystery of her life. Through Forrest Strongbow, a handsome young Native American man, and other friends, she was able to confront her problems. As a result, her faith in God was renewed and strengthened.
I’ll never forget the terror I felt as a child when I heard adults talk about “mad dogs.” Certain times of the year, especially summertime, as children we would be told, “You be careful outside! There might be a “mad dog” out there. He will bite you!” If you don’t know what a “mad dog” is, it’s a dog that has rabies. During my growing up years in North Carolina, people let their dogs run wild and didn’t have them vaccinated. That word, “mad dog” conjured up fear in the hearts of every child throughout the south.
Back in those days, children could be found playing in the woods, in the neighbor’s backyard, and I often played on the red hills and gullies with my little friends behind the church. There were no computers, iPads, cellphones, etc…just plan old ingenuity and imagination. We played cowboys and Indians and rode brooms for horses. If we weren’t riding out bicycles ’round and ’round the church, we could be found sliding down the red hills and into the gullies behind the church. Sometimes we would slip off and ride on the paved road in front of the church. Wow! What a thrill! What a good time we had. And we always managed to get into some kind of mischief…from terrorizing the neighbor’s watermelon patch, lighting up an illicit smoke of “rabbit tobacco,” or chewing pine needles to cover the smell of smoke on our breath. I, along with the neighborhood young’uns, would roll up notebook paper and try to smoke “rabbit tobacco” just like all other country kids in North Carolina. During that time in the south, many children could be found behind the woodshed or barn smoking “rabbit tobacco.” I never truly succeeded in getting it done successfully. The paper would catch on fire and almost burn my face and hair. It’s a miracle we didn’t burn ourselves and the woods behind Wilson Grove Baptist Church. The neighborhood boys introduced me to Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium (rabbit tobacco.) Since I was the pastor’s daughter and had no brothers at that time, I had never heard of such a thing. Momma and Daddy saw to it that my life was sheltered.
As the hot, sultry dog days of summer turn to fall here in North Carolina, the dried leaves of the mysterious plant, “rabbit tobacco,” can be found growing plentiful in rural areas all over the south. Believe it or not, it truly has medicinal purposes…it will open up a sinus in a heartbeat. Native Americans used it for many things…asthma, mumps, vomiting, arthritis, and I could go on and on.
The infamous watermelon patch…now that’s another thing. We got adventurous one day and decided to burst all of the neighbor’s watermelons. Unbeknown to me, one half of the watermelons in that garden belonged to my father. Watermelon juice was flowing freely that day, and I have to tell you..it caused a major bruhaha. The trial began. I was called in for questioning in the living room of the parsonage. My daddy was the sheriff, the judge, the jury and the executioner. Punishment followed immediately with no hesitation!!! I was given a whipping with a hickory switch that he gathered from a bush in the front yard, and as far as I know those other kids were never punished. All that was important was that I paid for the consequences of my sin.
Today, I’m thankful for Godly parents who loved me, disciplined me, and led me to a personal relationship with Jesus as a young girl. They taught me how to love just like Jesus loved, and most importantly they taught me about forgiveness.
Julius and Pauline Digh – My Precious Momma and Daddy
You can surmise from this post that I was a mischievous little girl. Had it not been for their strong discipline and God’s tender mercies and protection, there is no telling where I would be today. They were always there for me and punished me with love and forgiveness. I learned that disobedience and sin brings about punishment, and they believed in delivering it swiftly with no questions asked…always with love.
As believers, we are faced with many frightening things. They are not always rabid dogs and temptations to smoke rabbit tobacco or to terrorize a watermelon patch. Satan comes in many forms. That’s why the disciple who denied our Lord, Simon Peter, tells us in 1 Peter 5:8…Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. If Satan can’t have your soul, he will try to destroy and devour your testimony. I am reminded of these word also found in 1 Peter 2:24…Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
Because of the sacrificial death of Jesus…we can LIVE!
Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!
Living in the south has truly been a blessing. Life’s a little slower, the air is a little cleaner, and the folks are jist plumb friendly. I must admit I’m southern through and through. I use southern dialect in my speech and expressions. I definitely use it in my writing. It used to be a well kept secret that the south is often called “heaven on earth.” So many people have moved here from the north, the west, and the mid-west…so the secret’s out. My husband and I have one friend from New York who wants to be one of the good ol’ southern boys so bad he can’t stand it and will blatantly insist that he is southern. But his strong New York accent gives him away every time. He can live here a lifetime, but he’ll never talk like us.”
Why do folks love the south so much? Duh!—Just look around! We have beautiful mountains, enchanting coastlines, beautiful rivers and streams, clean air, rolling farmlands, beautiful people…I could go on and on. We tend to get our water polluted sometimes, but it gets taken care of eventually. It’s the “Bible Belt.” What else can I say. As a matter of fact, you might say North Carolina is the buckle of the “Bible Belt.” We have churches on every corner. At any given time on Sunday morning in my little town, you can walk into a service and see entire families worshiping together. It thrills my soul to walk in at Waxhaw Baptist Church and see the Parker family. You will see the great-grandmother tending to her great-grandchildren while the grandmothers and parents participate in the worship service. Now ain’t ‘at jist som’um else!
We love some good ol’ southern gospel music and the old hymns of the church here in the south. We are gradually learning to tolerate contemporary Christian music. It’s not that we don’t like it…we jist ain’t let it speak to our hearts, jist yet. Some contemporary singers don’t pronounce their words, and so us old folks can’t understand the lyrics. What can I say? We are plumb guilty of lovin’ that “ol’ time religion.”
I can’t say enough about my unique southern neighborhood and church. The little historic town of Waxhaw and the Land of the Waxhaws gave birth to the seventh President of the United States. Andrew Jackson was a true southerner through ‘n through. He grew up “the way the crow flies” might near five or six miles behind my house. He was here when the Native Americans roamed the woods behind my house.
Yes, you can tell I’m southern and proud of it. The Christian novels that I have written are filled with southern stories and phrases. (I’ve italicized some of the southern words and phrases.) The only place I’d rather be than to be here in Waxhaw is HEAVEN. I’m reminded of the old hymn, Until Then, written by Stuart Hamblen. I have reworded it somewhat.
So until then, my heart will go on singing.
Until then with joy I’ll carry on.
Until the day my eyes behold that city
I’ll keep on writing…’til God calls me home.
“Y’all Come Back Now”
In 2007, my entire life changed. I was going full speed ahead as a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and an employee of Union County Public Schools. That particular day was spent helping our new superintendent of schools get ready for his first school board meeting. Packets of information had to be prepared for each board member, food had to be picked up and arranged, and the room had to be in perfect order. As the conference room filled with people, I noticed I didn’t feel exactly right. I ignored the fact that I felt bad, but I attended to my duties. As the night progressed, I realized my throat felt strange. I continued to ignore my condition and greeted the public with a smile.
While taking the minutes during the business session, I continued to have that strange feeling…almost felt like I had a fur ball caught in my…
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We all leave footprints in the sand as we go through life. Little do we realize how much people are watching us. Have you ever tried to step in the same steps your father or mother stepped in? I did…I would follow my daddy and try to step into his footprints. My little legs wouldn’t reach far enough, so I simply ended up just following him. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized there have been some who may have followed in my footsteps. I have tried to walk in the footprints of my Lord, but I must admit, I’ve failed many times. My heart’s desire is that I walk in a manner that my two daughters and the rest of my family can follow.
My footsteps have become slower and less defined over the years. At times, I even drag my feet. My steps have led me through many trials, but I’ve always come out on the other side victorious. Why? I had Jesus walking with me. Not only Jesus, but my family…Hoyle, Lori, Julie, and George. My grandchildren and sons-in-law have always been there for me, as well…Mark, Brian, Sr., Leah, Brian, Jr., Andrew, and Seth. Along with my family, I have had one true, God-given friend walking with me…Ruth Winn, but she is no longer with me. Ruth went home to be with the Lord several years ago, but the prayers she prayed for me are still being answered today. While suffering from ovarian cancer, she would call just to check on me…NOW THAT’S A TRUE FRIEND. It was almost like she could sense when I was having a bad day. Our friendship started about 71 years ago when we were just babies. I can truthfully say, she was always there for me, anytime I needed her. She never forgot my birthday; even when she was so sick, she always sent me a card. Since her death, her husband, David Winn, still sends me a card on my birthday. There will never be another Ruth in my life…she was a gift. If we live our lives and have one true friend, we are blessed. I learned so much from her…her bold witness, her strong convictions, and her love for Christ. She inspired me to be a better person and to walk in the steps of the Savior.
Ruth Janet Williams Winn (August 28, 1946 – October 29, 2013)
We never know how our lives and our footprints affect those around us, so I will press on trying to walk in the steps of the Savior…just like Ruth did. The old hymn by Eliza E Hewitt resonates in my heart as I walk through this life. Even though this song was published in the late 1800s, it still speaks to my heart today.
Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Trying to follow our Savior and King;
Shaping our lives by His blessed example,
Happy, how happy, the songs that we bring.
Pressing more closely to Him Who is leading,
When we are tempted to turn from the way;
Trusting the arm that is strong to defend us,
Happy, how happy, our praises each day.
Walking in footsteps of gentle forbearance,
Footsteps of faithfulness, mercy, and love,
Looking to Him for the grace freely promised,
Happy, how happy, our journey above.
Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Upward, still upward, we follow our Guide;
When we shall see Him, “the King in His beauty,”
Happy, how happy, our place at His side.
How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Stepping in the light, stepping in the light,
How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Led in paths of light.
The photograph I have posted was made after I published my first novel. I think the date was in 2009 or 2010. I spoke to a group of over 200 ladies at the First Baptist Church in Salisbury. I was able to share my faith and my testimony and how I started this journey of writing.
Please note that I had to have a microphone, because my voice was very weak. I contracted whooping cough at 60 years of age, and to this day, my voice has not returned to normal due to permanent damage from persistent coughing which characterizes pertussis (whooping cough). My right vocal chord just doesn’t work properly. To put it bluntly…my entire life changed in “a moment in time.” After spending many months confined to bed, I was able to make this book signing event. As a result of the childhood disease, I now suffer from many things, including the right vocal chord injury. Before all of that happened, I was a soprano soloist, but God closed that door and graciously opened the window of writing. After that first manuscript was completed, my dear husband wanted to see that it was published; so, we chose the path of self publishing. I must admit Hope Returns was not perfect, but it was born out of suffering and drawing closer to God. That first publication was in 2008. I chose to republish it in 2015 with a few corrections. I worked for a group of educators, and I hated to see it out there with mistakes. I know that the second publication also bears the scars of what I was dealing with, but I don’t plan to make any additional changes. One will have to accept it as it is “warts and all.”
Today, I’m 72 years old and so thankful for God’s healing grace. It’s been twelve years since pertussis, and I still deal with many issues…especially a weak, raspy voice. But at least I’m able to write about true-to-life characters who need Jesus as their Savior. I cover many relevant issues that we as people deal with on a daily basis. I’ve always loved a good mystery, and of course I have to include those in my stories. They always have a touch of romance, and I usually have a pastor in the storyline (could that be because I’m a preacher’s kid?). My main goal in writing is not to get rich but to proclaim the Gospel in my own feeble way. My five novels have far surpassed what I thought they would, and my singing would never have reached as many people for Christ as my little books have. My writings are now being sold around the world…thanks to Amazon. God has blessed me in so many ways, and I can never thank Him enough. Last week I heard from a lady in Canada who has purchased my books and will be donating them to the public library in her town there. So you see…God’s not finished with me yet. He’s still on His throne, and I can never praise Him enough.
First and Second Publications of Hope Returns
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift…2 Corinthians 9:15
My last novel, Unfailing Love, dealt with choices the protagonist made in her life and how they impacted her life. I am posting a portion of the epilogue regarding her choices. This book was written in first person, therefore, these are the words of Lucy…
“Because of my life’s experiences, I’ve concluded that everything has revolved around the choices I’ve made. Over the years many of my choices led me down a dark lonely path, but I’ve made many positive ones as well.
As I reviewed the multitude of choices I had made over the years, it was like I was looking into a kaleidoscope. The dark bold colors of the rainbow blended with softer hues and created an exquisite picture from every shade in the rainbow. Those dark mysterious colors represented my bad decisions, and the softer beautiful colors represented my God-driven decisions. But throughout my lifetime, I have learned to take “the road less traveled.”
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost (The Road Not Taken) — 1916)”
The choices we make in life determine our future…even in the small things…such as the food we choose to eat. For example, as I sit here writing I have chosen to eat candy corn…not such a good choice!!! So, after the next three pieces, I will not eat anymore.
I’ve made many choices in my life that were positive, but I’ve also made some negative ones as well. The most important one I’ve made so far in life has been to follow Christ. With his help, I’ve managed to walk through life for 72 years with God’s help. I can’t say I’ve always chosen the best path, but God has always been there to bring me to another fork in the road. Thank God for His guidance and His gift of salvation.
I would hate to see where I would be today without the Lord. I’m not sure what Robert Frost was having reference to when he wrote the poem, but he told a friend, “No matter which road you take, you’ll always sigh and wish you’d taken another.” As for me, I can honestly say I have no regrets concerning my choices in life. God’s word tells us in Matthew 7:14 – “narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
I’m so thankful I have chosen that “narrow way.”
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