Sometimes I have to remind myself, with all the problems going on in the world, that I accomplished something extraordinary this year. I published my book, The Promise, on January 4, 2020. That’s nine months exactly as of this day.
I tried taking advantage of all the hours the pandemic opened up for me as we became homebound for months. I dove into learning what the best marketing strategies worked for me. It was expensive, all-consuming, overwhelming, and definitely not worth the work or pay off for me in the end.
As I was sharing this with a friend, she reminded me to think back of why I published it in the first place. I had no grand ideas of what it would become. I just wanted to have my story put into a book so that I could give a copy to each of my kids. My friend said to me; you have by far exceeded any expectations you ever had for your book. Look what it’s become.
In this time, I have also gotten to know many other authors. One of the things I hear so many of them say is that the real rewards are not from the money you get for your book. It comes from the feedback of our readers that tells us that all our hard work made a difference in someone else life.
I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to read my book and sharing all your wonderful reviews and thoughts. I am humbled by your giving hearts!
There are many characteristic of a fairy tale. Mine would be the one marked by seemingly unreal beauty, perfection, luck, love, and a happily ever after ending. But in real life embracing the fairy tale is like receiving a beautiful gift without any instructions on how to build it or care for it.
I had to unlearn my old ways, one thing at a time as they came into play. Like worry. Every one worries about things when the occasion merits it. That’s normal. But for me worry was the main focus of my everyday life. All of a sudden I’m living my beautiful dream and my only worry was what I would make for dinner. That wasn’t worrisome enough so I’d start worrying about when the rug was going to be pulled out from under me. When was Tom going to leave me like everyone else did.
I had no trouble trusting that God would never leave me, but it took a long time to put my faith and trust in another human being. The luck within my fairytale was having someone like Tom who constantly told me how much he loved me.
As I write this I realize that I do have a fairytale story with beauty, luck, love and a happily ever after ending. It’s all the in-between stuff that puts the meat and bones on our love story.
One of the things that helped me the most over the years was having friends to share my thoughts with. Knowing that others had the same goals, thoughts and concerns made me feel normal. It’s not right to leave people with the impression that everything is perfect. We learn and grow from each other.
My hope is that you will find this a place where you can share your thoughts and questions as well. We all have a valued amount of information stored up inside us. Why not pass the goodness on?
I leave you with a lesson on worry from—Winston Churchill.
“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
A reader of my story The Promise asked me what kind of work I did that gave me the ability to forgive my parents. It was a lifetime process that began when I got down on my knees and asked for the grace of forgiveness. I thought that my faith was strong enough that God would take all the pain of my past away. Little did I know at the time that when we pray for something, God isn’t going to fix it for us. He gives us lots of opportunities to practice and learn from it.
In honor of Mother’s Day, I must share with you that it was through the bond of motherhood that my relationship with Mom began to heal. She became a significant part of my life during that time when I had our four children. She loved being with them as much as they loved having her around, and I appreciated her help, too.
Today I choose to remember all the good things about my Mom. One of my fondest memories I have was sitting beside Mom as a child watching her zip together an outfit on the sewing machine. She would ask me to thread the needle for her when it needed it, and she taught me how to sew, too. She also taught me how to bake bread, crochet, as well as many other crafts. I remember how she held my hand as we walked to school for my first day of kindergarten. How her face lite up the moment I walked into the hospital after her knee surgery. The serving of apple crisp she brought into the hospital after each baby was born. The way she laid her head on my shoulder as she sat beside me knowing this was the last time she’d receive communion before passing away.
As mothers, we each do the best we can with what we know how to do. We all have grandiose ideas of the kind of mother we want to be, and then God gives us lots of opportunities to practice how to be that way. We learn from mistakes, but only after we forgive ourselves for making them. I am grateful for the blessings that motherhood has given me. For my mother, my children, my husband, and all we learned together along the way.
A heartwarming story of resilience though faith and love.The Promise is an inspirational story of faith, hope, and love. Connie really gets into the voice of a 14 year old and although I was fortunate enough not to experience the awful situation she was in, I could remember my self doubts of adolescences. I volunteer as a court appointed advocate for children taken out of their homes. I have been working with a boy who has been in care since he was 12. He is now 18 and has been moved from one facility to another. The pain, sadness and rejection he feels is heartbreaking. Connie expresses this so well. Thank you, Connie, for having the courage to tell your story and making us aware of what these kids experience.
Thank you for your wonderful response. It is a confirmation for me that my story is touching those who need to hear it.
I want everything to be perfect today. My friends are all around me fussing like fairy godmothers, wanting to make me and my simple wedding into something magical. But no one seems to know what to do with me, and all I want is to be alone so I can fuss over myself.
I make a clean getaway by telling them I need to use the bathroom. As I sit on the edge of the tub, looking around, I wonder how this ugly bathroom ever became the little oasis it has been for me.
Standing in front of the mirror, I push my hair back so I can get a good look at my face. Pausing for a moment, I meet my own eyes in the mirror. God, I know You’re somewhere inside there. You’ve always been with me, and if I hadn’t felt you there all these years, I would have never been able to hang onto your promise. Here we are. Today’s the day I marry the man of my dreams. I know I have a lot of hard roads ahead of me, but at least I’ll have Tommy walking beside me, and You will always be at the center of our love like the glue that binds us together. How can I go wrong with two strong forces in my life like You, God, and Tommy?
When I come out, my friends are waiting. They like what I did with my hair, but still, have to touch tuck, and spray, so every piece of hair is in place. Another friend holds my unzipped dress so I can step into it. My maid of honor, Mary Faith,
puts the mantilla on top of my hair, pinning it in place. I look at the friend who’s been there for me through the worst of times. It’s been five years. She never judged, was always honest, upfront, and sincerely cared, but most of all, she never gave up on me. If it hadn’t been for her telling me that Tommy was the best thing that ever happened to me, I wouldn’t be standing here in front of her right now. I think she knows from here on out I’m in good hands. Maybe she’s relieved in a way that she won’t have to pick up the pieces of my life for me anymore. “It’s getting late,” she says to me, “it’s time to go.” She’s not a touchy-feely kind of person, so when she smiles at me, and I smile back at her, we know the fondness we feel in our hearts for each other. No matter where life takes us, the memories of these teenage years, we share will always be with us.
“We have about ten minutes to get there,” Dad says, looking at his watch. “Thank goodness it’s only around the corner,” I say to Mary Faith as we dash toward the car.
“Connie,” I hear Sue’s voice in the back of us. “Look here.” I turn and smile when I see her snapping a picture. I feel like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, turning to say, “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date.
Father Lawrence pauses for a moment as we sit for his sermon.
“All these readings are about Love. Of course, it is appropriate to talk about as we join these two in holy matrimony. But I have to say in the short time ‘I’ve had a chance to get to know Tom and Connie. There is an understanding of love between them that goes beyond their years. What struck me the most in our conversations was their understanding of unconditional love. There is a pureness to the word where one loves with their whole heart, their whole soul, and their whole mind. There is no condition for how I feel about you; there is nothing you need to do to make me love you. I love you for who you are. I give it freely. But when two people come together in holy matrimony, they become one. Entering into a bond of commitment that comes with the promise of expectant love. Now we are no longer looking from our point of view, but from the view of the one, we love. Will you love me in sickness as well as health, and through the years of growth and change, even when I am old and gray. These are the conditions of marriage, and yet in your commitment, you still offer to love each other no matter what. It is as simple and yet complicated as following the Way, the Truth, and the Light. There is no expectancy in love because all we can do in love is give and receive. So, those who go into a marriage with the idea that ‘it’s a 50-50 proposition will only find themselves fighting over who did what the last time of equal value. If you must put a number on it, then give 80% by doing the best you can and let the 20% fall where it may. True Love gives without condition because that’s what it’s designed to do. The only condition that God asks of us is to love one another as he has loved each one of us. To do onto your brother as you would want to have done onto you. I know it sounds so simple. In truth, it is until we let our pride get in the way. Marriage is not about your way or my way. It’s about finding common ground that brings two people together as one. It’s only the beginning of your love story, Tom and Connie. There will be many ups and downs yet to come; it’s all a part of growing into a deeper love for one another. I pray that you always see the blessing of God’s promise that has brought you here today and that you will create many happy memories of lasting love in the years to come.” Tommy and I look at each, smiling because Father Lawrence found a way to fit the promise God made to me into his words today. He did it in the form of showing us that that promise will carry through into our new life together now. It all feels so unreal to me. Too good to be true. The kind of thing I would dream about to escape from the bad that was happening in my life. I don’t want anyone to pinch me for fear I’ll wake up and find out that none of this is real. Standing before us, Father Lawrence says, “Since you intend to enter into marriage, join your right hands and declare your consent before God and one another.” Tommy and I turn toward each other. We join our right hands and then our left as well. I look up at him, and he smiles down at me. Everything around us disappears, including Father Lawrence. We hear his words but only see each other standing face to face surrounded by light.
Tommy leans over to me and whispers, “Did I tell you how beautiful you are yet today?”
“All I know, Tommy, is that you’ve made me the happiest girl in the world. Thank you for loving me the way you do.”
”There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you!” -Maya Angelou
One of the questions I get about my story, ”The Promise,” is, why did you write it?
Sometimes the agony of holding something within ourselves becomes more painful than letting it out. You know how a child often comes around pulling at their mother’s apron strings mom, mom, mom, mom! Trying to get her attention. That’s what the child inside me kept doing for years. Each time I’d begin to write what she’d show me, it seemed as if I was writing about someone else until it finally penetrated my inner core. I had learned to protect myself from what I let inside me, but I couldn’t protect myself from what already existed within. I realized as I began to write that putting it all together was something that I needed to do for me because I often wondered if it was as bad as it seemed. It was! And as painful as it was to relive, it was also healing as I faced all the fears, hurt, and anger it created in me.
Releasing the agony of the story allowed me to forgive. It freed me from being a victim of my circumstances, and in that freedom, I choose to overcome rather than fall prey to the lifestyle of dysfunction, it tried to pull me into.
My hope for putting it out there for all to read is that in releasing the agony of my own sad story, maybe someone else will find the courage to face and tell their own.