One of my favorite things, as a child, was digging through Grandma’s box of black-and-white photos. Some of these dated back to the early 1900s. One caught my eye and I always drew it out first—a professional portrait of a couple, dressed up for an outing. It was the 1920s, and the woman in the picture wore a dress that skimmed the tops of her knees. Shocking! Grandma said the woman was her cousin, who lived in Chicago, and the man was her “intended.”
Grandma’s cousin also wore white stockings and high-heeled shoes and a ribbon around her forehead. I memorized the photo, making up stories as I gazed at it. Of course, she was from a big city. According to Grandma, decent girls around her small town in West Tennessee wouldn’t dream of dressing like that. In the early sixties, about the time I was pawing through her pictures, Grandma still wore a dress while she worked in the garden and the field.
Grandma married in 1920, at the age of fourteen. Grandpa was seventeen. They moved in with his parents and younger siblings, where Grandma was given the daily task of cooking, keeping house, and watching the youngest children, while the rest of the family worked in the cotton fields. And she was only fourteen. Maybe that’s why no one she knew dressed up in the flapper costumes.
One thing they did do in the Mississippi Valley was make and partake of … moonshine. It was outlawed, of course, as was all strong drink. So there was money to be made and two hundred-proof swill to guzzle. Unfortunately, my grandfather died in his thirties as a direct result of the alcohol he drank.
When I set out to write the story of Nancy Sanderson, I remembered that photograph and set the story in the 1920s, an era that had always fascinated me. A few of the remote facts of my family’s history found their way into the story as well. One of the characters in Amelia’s Legacy has to dodge the law because of his connection to the moonshine-running industry.
As I wrote and worked on the story, I noticed a recurring theme running throughout—of forgiveness. Forgiveness has been an ongoing issue in my life. I think it so often finds its way into my writing, because it’s been ever present in my life. I find great joy in the fact that I am forgiven. And not only has God forgiven me, He has blotted out my sins, according to Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
Forgiveness is so important to God, He places a demand on us to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15). Forgive, so that you may also be forgiven. The Message Bible goes on to say, “…if you don’t do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.” And how many times do we forgive a transgression? Seventy-times-seven (Matthew 18:22). I don’t know about you, but I don’t keep count, because I’m hoping no one keeps count of the number of times they’ve had to forgive me.
Nancy Sanderson achieves forgiveness and begins to turn her life around then suffers a setback when her past catches up to her. How often does this happen? She deals with it the best she knows how, which isn’t very well, and definitely isn’t the right way. Thanks to a loving family, she eventually finds her way. But it comes down to a final question of forgiveness. Can she forgive the one who set out to destroy her?
In my heart I desire to leave the reader with a basic knowledge of the practice of forgiveness. Or at least a prompting in the heart and desire to make things right. It’s like getting up in the morning and deciding to smile and have a good day. Sometimes, that’s what you have to do. Smiles are contagious. If you smile, other people return your smile. Forgiveness is similar. If you forgive, others will be much more likely to forgive you. God knew this, you see. It is really for our benefit.
It still all comes down to that amazing Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Betty Thomason Owens lives in Kentucky with her husband, Robert. They have three grown sons living in the area, along with their daughters-in-law, four beautiful granddaughters (one more on the way!), and two handsome grandsons.
Betty is semiretired, and spends most of her time writing, studying about writing, and critiquing other peoples’ writing. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group, and attends regular local meetings. She’s also involved with Bluegrass Christian Writers, a lively group of Kentucky writers, who meet quarterly in a Lexington, Kentucky bookstore.
Betty has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale Books, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell Press.
She also writes historical fiction. Her most recent release, Amelia’s Legacy is the first novel in the Legacy series for Write Integrity Press. In addition to the ’20’s era romances, Betty also writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and the upcoming Love Boat Bachelor.
It’s the Roaring Twenties and anything goes …
Orphaned and living with her grandmother since the age of six, Nancy Sanderson desires only her freedom from her strict grandmother, Amelia Woods Sanderson, who divides her time between Nancy and a successful career. Her grandmother’s plans include a wealthy, smart, and well-connected young lawyer named Robert Emerson, who bores Nancy.
Instead, Nancy seeks the company of the wild-hearted Nate Conners. When her rebellion turns deadly and her dalliance with Nate leaves her in trouble, Nancy turns to Robert, who promises to protect her. But Robert has underestimated Nate’s thirst for revenge.
As hidden truths become known, can Nancy find the strength to forgive herself and gain true and lasting freedom?