Hello everyone! I'm excited to be here today and thrilled to be included in the Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection. A huge thank-you to the CCC girls for having me over and hosting this fun blog blitz!
Many things have been shared about the Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection such as historical research and character inspiration, but I wanted to base today’s blog on something I’ve never shared before: the personal inspiration behind the spiritual thread in my novella For Richer or Poorer.
First, here's a little more about the story:
In order to bring her starving family to New Jersey, Polish immigrant and housemaid Marcella Lipski must marry wealth…so she dons her employer's discarded ball gowns and goes husband hunting at Newark's tourist spots. There are a few problems, though. Ella's shy. She knows nothing of the rules governing American high society. She'll lose her job if she's recognized. Oh, and she can't speak a speck of English. When a poor-but-mysterious cart driver catches her eye, she must protect her heart at all costs. She won’t leave her family hopeless.
Woody Harris has no desire to be rich, and he lives out his faith by giving most of his possessions away to the street kids on his freight route. When his horse spooks and bowls over Ella, inflicting bruises, Woody offers her free conveyance for a week and starter lessons in English as compensation. He's soon charmed by her innocent, farm-girl ways and her concern for "his" kids. But by the time he learns Ella will only marry for money, it's already too late for his heart. (Check out Woody and Ella's character inspiration photos on the collaborative Of Rags and Riches Pinterest Board!)
While there are many fun things going on in the surface story, (from hiding family scandals, to playing the imposter to secret conversations in confessional booths), the subjects requiring me to draw from deeper personal experience were the characters’ spiritual journeys.
The summer before I wrote this novella, my dad resigned his church of thirteen years and went into itinerant preaching ministry until the Lord gave him further direction. Next thing you know, I get the unmistakable conviction that I should quit my job as a piano teacher and follow my parents in music ministry as we did years ago when my dad was a traveling revival evangelist. At this point, none of us knew what God had planned or how He would open opportunities for us to make a living this way. This not knowing, this walking by faith, despite circumstances that encouraged us to cling to known securities, provided the living-by-faith theme for For Richer or Poorer.
My Polish heroine, Ella, tries to work through problems in her own strength. She has admirable qualities of determination, perseverance and a willing heart, which tend toward a flawed desire to control her circumstances, especially as they affect her family. While writing her story, many times I wanted to look up at God and plead the fifth. I myself struggle with a yen for control and am too eager to invite God into my plans instead of asking Him to take over. I often lead out into defeat. But then He proves Himself time and again, despite my fears, and grows my faith as He guides me into battles that He fights for me, providing the victory as He vanquishes my doubts.
My hero Woody believes he can't fix anything no matter how he tries (whether in his relationships with his family and the heroine or with the orphans he feeds). Throughout the novel, he learns the importance of faithfulness (continued obedience to the known will of God) even in the face of unchanging obstacles.
If you’re wondering how things turned out for my family, my dad now pastors a church in his hometown (his long-time dream) where I am the church pianist and will begin piano lessons again this fall. During our year of “walking by faith,” the Lord worked as we obeyed Him, providing for every need and allowing my family to participate in areas of ministry we never dreamed would be opened to us. He is faithful.
Natalie Monk is an award-winning writer of historical romance. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. A preacher’s daughter from South Mississippi, Natalie loves porch swings, old movies, and meeting readers through her website: www.nataliemonk.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
What about you? Have you ever faced a situation that seemed to be hopeless until faith and perseverance finally broke through? Have you ever struggled with circumstances until you gave up control to God and He gave you the victory in His own time and way? Respectively, what helped you press on or brought you to surrender?
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