Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My Real Life Heroine

She was a spinster in the truest sense of the word. Her elderly body had crippled into an osteoporosis crouch, while her permed hair had faded into a dull brown with very little gray and the curls clung to her head in a bob reminiscent of 1950. Her horn-rimmed glasses might be the only pair left in the universe, but perched on her hooked nose perfectly, while her deep-set eyes fought the blueish shadows under her bottom eyelashes. She had never married. He broke her heart and left her for another woman. After that, she devoted herself to God with nun-like devotion in the shadows of her Baptist church.

Dorothea was my grandmother's first cousin. She attended all our family gatherings and regaled us with tales of the missionaries she wrote devotedly, with her reedy voice and wordy explanations. She never got annoyed with anybody. Her patience seemed limitless, her questions were endless, and she was on a never-ending quest to know you - inside and out. There was no surface with Dorothea - only depth.

I was thirteen when Dorothea adopted me. Apparently, she saw the piles of Nancy Drews going on the second and third read-around. She owned a bookstore. A Christian bookstore. At thirteen, that meant nothing to me. What were Christian books anyway but long commentaries penned by RC Sproul and Dispensationalist evangelists? Heady, Gothic works of such mastery of the English language that their message was lost in a plethora of adverbs and adjectives. And in the midst of Nancy Drew and a deep aversion to Charles Spurgeon, Dorothea placed a yellow-bordered book in the hands of a fiction-hungry thirteen year old girl.

I devoured Janette Oke. Well, not literally, or she wouldn't be writing today. But I devoured her words. With the hunger of a child deprived of food. Dorothea brought me a present-wrapped book for the next few weeks until all of the Love Comes Softly series had been eaten and digested. Sigh. Back to Nancy Drew? No. NO! Another gift-wrapped paperback from the this amazing place called a "Christian Bookstore". It was book #1 in the Seasons of a Heart series. Janette Oke wasn't done writing!! And Dorothea wasn't done either ...

For the next eleven years,  I received gift wrapped books - always gift wrapped. Gilbert Morris, Janette Oke, T. Davis Bunn, Michael Phillips, Beverly Lewis, Tracie Peterson, the list goes on ... Dorothea introduced me to all the veterans of Christian fiction. Dorothea WAS a veteran of Christian fiction - and she wrote her legacy on me.

I will dedicate my first published work to Dorothea ... and I hope God will let her peer down from Heaven, without her horn-rimmed glasses because she no longer needs them. In the meantime, I will gift-wrap a book for a thirteen year old reader in my youth group. She needs to be introduced to Janette Oke, I do believe ... it's time to carry on a tradition.

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Jaime Wright - 

Writer of Historical Romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional Coffee Drinker. Works in HR and specializes in sarcasm :)

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  1. Sigh, sniffle. Wonderful Jaime. My grandmother gifted me my first copy of Love Comes Softly as a 14 year old--it changed my life. Some people don't get it, but in those pages and the pages to follow, I found an open window through which to view Christian relationships. No, they aren't true stories, but within them I found Truth that impacted me. And though we live in an information age, today's teens are no different--they crave the same Truth.

  2. Thank you for making me cry like Peter Pan when he bumped his head!
    She sounds like she was MARVELOUS!!

  3. My great grandmother did something similar for me. She had her own little library in her house and books would be passed from one family member to the next

  4. Oh, Jaime! What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing this glimpse of Dorothea and the wonderful woman she was and the profound impact she had on your life.

    Each of our lives tell a story. May we always be mindful of the stories our life is telling and live so that we can one day enjoy our happily ever after when The End has been written.

    Books are such special gifts and I am going to follow your lead and share some with a special young lady I know!

    1. I know, Jaime's got my brain turning!

  5. Beautiful story, Jaime! "Love Comes Softly" was one of the first Christian Fiction books I read too. :-)

  6. I wish I had known your Dorothea from your description alone! What a beautiful post about her legacy. I intend to do just that with my daughter when she turns 13!
    lattebooks at hotmail dot com

  7. What a sweet story! Love Comes Softly was my first Christian fiction book, too. That started my love for this genre that always encourages and teaches me. I love your idea of passing the book on to someone new. Maybe I'll do the same!

  8. This is such a cool story! Janette Oke was my first jump into "adult" Christian fiction as well! My mom would read Love Comes Softly to us when we were younger and once I was old enough to read I read the whole series as well as several other books of hers! I've reread the Love Comes Softly series several times and I still love it just as much! Thank you for sharing this beautiful story!

  9. How very special. Janette Oke was my first intro to christian fiction too. I think my older sister actually passed them on to me, but I have an aunt who always got us books as gifts when we were growing up. Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden when we were young, and more adult fiction as we got into our teen years. I don't remember authors specifically except Eugenia Price and her Savannah series & St Simons Island trilogy. Now I often get her books as birthday and Christmas gifts.

  10. Beautiful post, Jaime!

    My grandmother had a small bookcase full of books which I inherited when she passed away - she had a lot of books by Janette Oke, Catherine Marshall, & Eugenia Price. I would always look at, & borrow, her books - when I would visit her. She is probably the reason why I love to read so much today.


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