You know what’s funny? After writing more than a dozen books, I sometimes think that I must have mined everything from my own life that I possibly could by now. But then I’m writing along and BOOM—there’s something from my life on the page. Again. Without revealing any spoilers, I thought I’d share a few from my latest book, Not Until Then (which had an amazing launch last week…thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed and shared it!):
- James’s claustrophobia: This was inspired by my husband. And his sister, who used to lock him in his closet, just like James’s sister did. Fortunately, my husband doesn’t have the same fear of elevators James does. That was inspired by more than one of my children, who have refused to get on an elevator or two over the years.
- Cow jokes: Maybe it’s because we’re originally from Wisconsin. Maybe it’s because they’re just humorous creatures. Or maybe it’s because you can use the word “moo” in so many fun ways. But we love cow jokes around here. Here’s a bonus one for you: What’s a cow’s favorite thing to wear? … A muumuu. (You can thank my husband for that one.)
- The escaping cat: The grass is always greener outside, apparently. Like Mrs. Whiskers in the book, our cat has no idea what to do once he actually gets out there. At least he’s also not the fastest cat in the world, so he’s easier to catch than Mrs. Whiskers.
- Feeling inferior: Because she struggles with short-term memory and language issues as a result of an aneurysm, Bethany often feels inferior, especially compared to the “perfect” moms of her daughter’s friends. I’ll confess that I’ve felt like an inferior mom more than once over the years (the other kids’ moms packed better lunches or made a more dazzling costume or looked more put together…or whatever the case may be). Thankfully, like Bethany, I have learned that our worth comes not from ourselves or anything we do, but from the Lord.
And there’s one more, bigger piece of my life in this book: the character of Bethany, who was inspired in part by my youngest daughter. That may seem strange, given that Bethany is 40 and my daughter is only 10. But Bethany struggles with language and short-term memory issues after surviving an aneurysm. And my daughter has an expressive/receptive language disorder and apraxia. Now, an aneurysm and a language disorder are two very different things. Bethany’s struggles are not the same as my daughter’s struggles. My daughter has no memory issues, for example (in fact, if someone can’t remember where they put something, she’s the most likely to remember exactly where it is). But she does deal with many of the word recall issues Bethany faces. A word that she has known for years can suddenly escape her (even if she just said it a few minutes before). In addition, she often has trouble organizing her thoughts into the grammatical structure of a sentence, which Bethany describes in the book as the words refusing to “arrange themselves in a straight line in her head.”
Fortunately, like Bethany, my daughter is resilient and cheerful. And unlike Bethany, she doesn’t let her language struggles keep her from chatting about anything and everything with anyone and everyone. In that way, she’s much more like Bethany’s 10-year-old daughter Ruby. As she is in her sheer delight in so many things and her simple, childlike faith that is bold is sharing Jesus.
Ultimately, this book is a testament to how brave and strong and hard-working and resilient my daughter is. And to how much I admire her. Isn’t it funny how sometimes the littlest people can teach us the most?
I’d love to hear about someone you admire! Tell me in the comments!
Giveaway: I’m giving away a signed paperback of Not Until Then to one reader from the US, and an ebook of Not Until Then to an international reader. To enter, simply comment on this post by September 15.