Plain Perfect will always hold a special place in my heart. Yes, it’s my first published novel, but it is also reflective of something that I strive for each and every day – the type of peacefulness that only comes from a relationship with God. While the Amish folks don’t have a monopoly on that type of inner peace, their simplistic way of life and strong faith are the foundations by which they live. It has been an honor to spend time with my Amish friends in Lancaster County. They have opened their homes and their hearts, and I am a better person for knowing them. Through their patience and kindness, I continue to learn about their ways and do my best to accurately portray their beliefs and lifestyle.
I’d like to share with you my story about how Plain Perfect came to be, during a time in my life when I needed God the most.
In August 2007, I was sitting in ICU at the hospital with my then 15-year-old son. I thought he might die. I was a broken woman, and it’s taken me a long time to even talk about that whole phase of my life. Cory was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder called Isaac’s Syndrome which caused all the muscles in his body to fasciculate (or ripple) and life-threatening high blood pressure. It was incredibly painful for him, and we were told that this syndrome is always caused by a tumor somewhere in the body. His case was so rare that doctors were brought in just to witness what was going on with him. The search began for the tumor, and we were told that he had a pheochromocytoma – a havoc-reeking tumor which is located in or near your adrenal gland. The doctors showed us the tumor on the MRI, then sent us home to wait until it got bigger and could be removed. So, we went home, and Cory was on 32 pills per day to control his symptoms while we waited for this pea-sized tumor to grow. Cory hit prayer lists all over the world.I couldn’t work at my job as a newspaper reporter. I stayed home with Cory. He slept a lot, and I wrote. I wrote Plain Perfect. My entire life, I’d always told my friends and family, “There’s something I’m supposed to do with my life, but I just can’t figure out what it is.” From the time I wrote Plain Perfect, I never felt like that again. I knew I was doing what I was supposed to do. Let me back up – one night when Cory was in ICU, the nurse told me that she made arrangements for me to stay in the McDonald House upstairs at the hospital – a room with a bed. I hadn’t slept much in days, and she said I wouldn’t do anyone any good until I slept. That night, I dropped to my knees and prayed in a way that I had never prayed before. I think it was on this night that God looked down at me and said, “Now you are ready to work for me.”
Cory’s symptoms began to subside, and we had periods where he would do better for a while, but we still made numerous trips to the ER when his blood pressure was sky high. My agent sold Plain Perfect to Thomas Nelson Publishers during this time, along with two more books to be written. Cory was better at the time of the sale, and we celebrated. But, of course…we had that larger issue hanging over our heads. Is the tumor big enough to remove?It was nearly three months later when we went back to the hospital to find out. What we were told changed the way I feel about virtually everything in my life. We were told that there was no tumor. It was gone. And the only explanation we were given was, “Sometimes things like this just happen, for reasons we aren’t sure of. Medicine is not an exact science.” The doctors also said that they must have misdiagnosed the Isaac’s Syndrome since all the symptoms associated with that also went away and lab work was normal. Cory went on to make a full recovery, and I went on to contract with Thomas Nelson for six full-sized novels and two novellas. We recently bought a beautiful home in the country, and we are loving life in a way I didn’t know was possible.Things aren’t perfect. Cory had to get his GED because he missed so much school, and he continues to struggle with ‘life’ issues, along with everything else that goes along with being a teenager. I’ve asked myself a thousand times “Why me?” Why have I been blessed in ways I certainly don’t deserve? I’m very fortunate to have an editor who is also my friend. I told her once, “I’m so blessed, Natalie. And so undeserving.” She said simply, “We are all undeserving.” But each time I receive an email or letter in the mail from a reader who says that my books have changed their life, made them want to be a better person, or gave them a glimpse at how a relationship with God can be, I am reminded that I am doing exactly what I am meant to do. And for that…I am eternally grateful. I thank God each and every day for my children, my husband, my extended family, my friends…and my readers. I hope that He will continue to bless me with stories to share—stories about faith, hope, love, forgiveness, and the power of prayer.
Thank you for traveling on this incredible journey with me.
Peace and Blessings Always,