Friday, October 16, 2020

A Lesson Learned by Renee Ryan


Thank you, Winnie, for inviting me to blog with you today. I always love visiting Seekerville. What a joy to hang out with so many friends, old and new. 

Throughout my career, I’ve written books for the Christian market for several publishers. I adore weaving my faith into my stories. Surprise Christmas Family marks my twentieth book with Harlequin Love Inspired. I had as much fun writing this one as I did my first book. Both stories are set in Colorado. They also carry the similar themes of non-traditional families finding happiness together, and precious little girls wanting a daddy of their very own. 

My father will turn 98 next month. The older he gets the more he wants to talk about the past. I love listening to his stories. Many of his favorite memories are also mine. One in particular happened when I was the same age as the twins in Surprise Christmas Family. Unlike Harper and Kennedy, I grew up in Florida and so, even in December, I was a proud member of the local swim team. At five, my twin sister and I competed in the 6-and-under category. She was the real swimmer. I had yet to finish a race or make it through a single practice. And yet, I was convinced I was a good swimmer, certainly equal to my sister in skill and endurance. 

I was, of course, wrong. My sister, showing off her considerable talent at a family Christmas party, swam from one end of the pool to the other (a distance just shy of 25-yards). Not to be outdone, I wanted a try as well. My father was not as enthusiastic as I was. He actually attempted to talk me out of this terrible idea. I was having none of it. If my sister could do it, so could I. When he wouldn’t relent, I resorted to little-girl tears, foot stomps and bottom-lip pouts.

He let me give it a try. As I slid into the water, the other wall suddenly looked very far away. Worried I might not make the crossing, I chose the dogpaddle in hopes of conserving my energy. Halfway to my destination, panic set in. “I can’t do it, Daddy,” I wailed. “I can’t do it!!!” 

I was going under, fast.

A heartbeat later…SPLASH. My father’s strong arms scooped me out of the water and set me on the pool deck. When he climbed out after me, I realized he’d jumped in fully clothed; fancy business suit, leather shoes, expensive watch, and all. Ashamed, I started to cry. He simply pulled me into his arms and told me he was proud of me for trying. 

Ever since that fateful day, I’ve always known my daddy would jump in the water to save me. I was fortunate to have an earthly father who demonstrated this kind of unconditional love. His example taught me how to trust in my Heavenly Father and to know that the Lord will always be there to save me. Is it any wonder I gave Harper and Kennedy not just one father figure, but an entire clan of uncles, and that all five men would jump in the water, fully clothed, to save them?

 

What about you? Any great memories about your father? Or husband? Brother or uncle or special teacher? Maybe a coach? Did any of these relationships teach you about your Heavenly Father? 

Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win one of five copies of Surprise Christmas Family.



SURPRISE CHRISTMAS FAMILY


Can a very merry mistake lead to a perfect holiday?

He isn’t the man she’s searching for…
  but he could be the one she needs.


Hope Jeffries is determined to gain full custody of her twin nieces from their absentee dad. But when she finally confronts Dr. Walker Evans, Hope discovers she has the wrong man—this handsome Colorado widower is the girls’ uncle! 

While Hope and Walker try to locate his brother, can they also give their nieces a perfect family Christmas?


25 comments:

  1. Good morning! Happy to be here with all of you. I'll check in often, so ask your questions. I'll do my best to answer them.

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  2. Renee, this is so true and that's what fathers do. When they get it right. I had a pretty decent Dad and my husband is always there for our girls. I do like the way fathers are portrayed in the Love Inspired books, at least the ones that are the heroes. They WANT the challenge of raising a child. Which is cool.
    The other thing this story tells us is that you probably grew up and developed your own talents and abilities, not necessarily the same as your sister's, which is way cooler than trying to be her.
    Good post Renee.
    May be back later.
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. Hi Kathy! A decent father is a true blessing. And I really love hearing that your husband has been a good father for your daughters. Something special about dads and their girls. ;-) Great insight into the LI hero. Would that all men were like our heroes.

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  3. Hi Renee!

    So glad you're here today. Your new release looks fabulous!

    Like you, my father was very influential in my life. He's also in his 90's and being very stubborn when it comes to his health concerns. When I get frustrated with him, I remember all that he taught me and I try to turn my frustration into understanding. After all, he's never been this old before! Neither of us knows how to navigate this time of life!

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    1. Hi Jan! Ah, yes, I am well acquainted with that stubborn streak you mentioned. It's tough to see our daddies losing strength and, in my case, his cognitive skills. Heartbreaking. My brother, an oncologist, said something profound recently. We go out the way we lived our life. Very sobering, for sure.

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  4. Hi, Renee. Always a pleasure to "see" you. I love that story you shared about your father. Even before you said it I was thinking what a wonderful example of our Heavenly Father. I've pre-ordered your book and can't wait to read it. Hugs!

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    1. Mindy!!! Like minds and all that. :) Waving frantically. I miss "seeing" you at conferences. This COVID is really playing nasty with our social lives.

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  5. Hi Renee! Your good memories about your loving dad brought back good memories about my loving dad! Thank you for that. And yep, I absolutely believe that a good relationship with a loving father helps set the pattern for understanding the Heavenly Father's love. Your story looks very good. I think I'll go right now and order it for my Nook.

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    1. HI Jenna! We are blessed, indeed. I'm not ready to say goodbye to my daddy, but I fear it's coming soon. Writing heroes who are willing to step up as fathers is very cathartic.

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  6. Welcome back, Renee! You've left me with teary eyes, though! :) What a precious memory for you and your dad to share. I know it'll be with you always. I have a lot of sweet memories of my dad, who passed away in 2018. He was always very supportive. When I sold my first book, he was so proud.. He came to my first book signing (at our church) and bought 20 copies to give away to all his friends and family. :)

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    1. Awww, thank you, Missy! It's great to be back. What a lovely memory of your father. :)

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  7. Thanks for sharing the sweet memory and the lovely reminder of the love of our Heavenly Father. My father was the best! There were 9 of us children, and he was always so supportive of us and patient.

    I don't think I've ever read any of your books, yet, but I need to remedy that. This one sounds like a fantastic Christmas story. Please throw my name in the hat for the giveaway.

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    1. Absolutely! And, um, WOW. 9 children. What a blessing!

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  8. Hi Renee, This was a great post. I am so grateful for my father and for everything he has done for me. He has talked with me about struggles and he has also hiked a 3 hour hike with me. He is always willing to help others.

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    1. Hi Angeline! What a wonderful father, and such a blessing to have a close relationship. :)

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  9. Hi Renee:

    Your post raised a lot of questions…at least for me.

    1. Are you identical twins?
    2. Are you the youngest?
    3. Were you and your twin always competing for your father's attention?

    I had an older brother and a young brother and competition on anything was always emotional.

    As for a father story how about this:

    When I was four or five my father took me on a work job in a big truck. It was a big moving van but not a semi or 18 wheeler. I think this was in NY or Connecticut and it was the first and only time I was ever in that truck.

    Anyway, my father kept telling me that up ahead in a few miles was 'Dead Man's Bend' and that we would have to make the turn at great risk. Men had died trying to drive around that bend.

    When we saw the warning sign, 'Dead Man's Bend' ahead, my father said, "Sit on my lap, I'll let you drive around the bend." I hopped on his lap and put my hands on the steering wheel. And sure enough I steered that big truck around that bend. I was very proud and I think my father was as well. Of course, my father had his two hands just inches above mine just in case but I did it. He didn't have to jump in and save me.

    When I told my mother about this when we got home, she almost had a fit. First she did not believe me and then she got even more upset when she did believe me.

    As I think about it today, I can just imagine my mother thinking that both her son and husband were killed on some stupid stunt going around "Dead Man's Bend".

    I didn't have to be saved by my father but it is still a story very fresh in my mind.

    Please include me in the drawing.

    Vince


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    1. Hi Vince! Great questions.

      1. Not identical, fraternal
      2. I'm the oldest by three minutes. I always tell my sister if we were royalty I'd have the crown
      3. My sister and I had different interests. Once I started ballet (and quit swimming) all was good.

      WOWZA, as a mother your "Dead Man's Bend" story gives me shudders. But what a really great dad.

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  10. I got my love for reading from my Dad! I am an avid reader, especially of Love Inspired books, and want to be included in the drawing. Loved your sweet story of your Dad! Mine is deceased, but I have many happy memories of him.

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    1. I just visited your Facebook page and see that you live in GEORGIA.....about 3 hrs. from me. The temps here are much nicer now, huh?!

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    2. Hi, Jackie! Oh, yes, so much nicer. And I'm so happy you have fond memories of your father. :)

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  11. Renee, congrats on being on the 2021 FHL Board. Thanks for serving and for guiding us in the year ahead.

    Thanks also for sharing your touching story about your dad! Your latest LI story looks delightful...and features a set of twins. Double the fun, for sure! Congrats on your continued success in writing and in spinning wonderful stories that tug at the heartstrings, whether featured on a blog or in a novel.

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    1. Thank you, Debby. I figure this will be last hoorah with writer's organizations. I hope to go out on a high, you know? It's been a YEAR!

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  12. Renee, I love that story of your dad jumping in the pool to get you. My dad has always been supportive. He is nearly 86 and I'm glad he is still here to be able to talk to when I want. Please put me in the drawing for your book.

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    1. Sandy, so happy your father is still in your life. What a huge blessing. :)

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  13. My daddy was the best. He passed 11 months ago and has left a hole in my life. We would chat on the phone several times a day and I would go visit as often as I could. He taught me how to love gardening and flowers and so many other things especially how to work hard and always put Jesus first. Thank you for sharing.

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