Today’s special guest is Jacqueline Dunn from Jennifer Slattery’s heartwarming novel, When Dawn Breaks. Jacqueline, I know that your life has become a very busy one, and I’m thankful that you can take the time out to stop in and share a little about your story. In the last year, you’ve been through a lot of loss. Your story is one that truly does show the truth behind Romans 8:28, that all things do happen for good to those who love the Lord … What I’d like to know is your take on that verse.
I’ve certainly see God work a lot of good out of my mess! And boy, am I thankful! I think Jennifer would get upset if I said too much, as I’d probably give parts of the story away without even knowing it! But suffice it to say, I’m learning to trust God more and more each day, to see He truly does have my best in mind—even when I’m smack dab in the worst storm, literally and metaphorically, I’ve ever experienced.
You lost your home, practically everything that you own in a hurricane. I live in a hurricane prone area. I’ve seen the devastation of hurricanes myself, but I want to know the emotional toll this loss took on you?
Oh, wow, that was hard. I’d spent my entire adult life building my career and assets. It probably didn’t make a lot of sense to plunk so much money into a beach home, but the market was doing so well. I really though I was making a great, long term investment. I learned how futile my plans are, and I guess, in the end, I learned that was a good thing. Even so, it was still hard to lose so much; so much I’d worked decades to build. More than that, I lost a lot of cherished mementos… but in the end, I gained things of greater value.
Broken relationships are a theme of this story. I do believe that everyone has at least one relationship that might have been broken by either that person’s actions or non-actions or by the actions of others. What would you say is the one Scripture or Biblical precept that helped you to cope with a relationship that you know only God can heal?
God really used Romans 12:18 to encourage me. I’ve since committed this verse to memory. It says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
This verse first and foremost encourages me to do everything I know to work toward peace. That means owning up to my mistakes and realizing, when I’ve hurt others, like I have my daughter, it might take time to earn their trust. But then the verse also reminds me that I can only do so much; it’s up to the other person whether they want to forgive, and they may not. That’s hard. That’s really hard. But it’s life. That doesn’t mean I wash my hands of the person or situation but rather that I release them and their response to God.
Another theme that I saw in the story was one of leaning on God, and trusting not in your understanding but in God’s promises. How difficult a journey was that for you?
Oh, my, is that ever hard for me! I haven’t been a Christian for long, and sometimes it’s all so confusing, and terrifying! I hear other believers talk about God speaking to them, telling them to do this or that, and I can’t help but stare at the sky and think, “Um… when will I hear God? What does He sound like anyway?”
So a lot of learning to trust in God is learning to recognize His voice, which usually doesn’t come via a megaphone. Haha. I suppose that’s why He gave us promises in Scripture; so we would rely on the truth we know rather on what we think or feel. Not to say God can’t or doesn’t speak to us directly, but my old pastor used to say, “Before you go asking God to speak to you about this or that, get busy doing what He’s already told you.” That stepped on my toes a bit, in a good way.
And lastly, I want to know how you’ve managed to cope with all of the changes in your life.
Hm… I’m not sure how well I’ve coped, to be honest, though I’m learning. To be more patient, more giving, more loving, more relaxed. I guess that comes from learning more about God, growing closer to Him, and staying around other believers. You know, I think serving has also helped.
Shortly after the hurricane ripped me from my home, I began serving in a shelter filled with other storm refugees—those who literally had nothing, not even family they could stay with. That really put my problems and pains into perspective. Not only that, I found I could still experience joy by allowing Christ to love through me, even when my life is hard—especially when my life is hard! I’ve heard it said, the more we focus on ourselves, the more miserable we become. But the abundant life Christ promised comes from dying to ourselves, honoring others above ourselves, and surrendering to Christ and His plan for our lives. I’ve learned through all this storm garbage just how true that sentiment is!
Jacqueline, it has been a pleasure getting to know you both here and in When Dawn Breaks. I look forward to the interview with your author, Jennifer Slattery, on Wednesday.
More About When Dawn Breaks:
As the hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, her need for purpose and restitution motivate her to head north to her estranged and embittered daughter and into the arms of a handsome new friend. However, he’s dealing with a potential conspiracy at work, one that could cost him everything, and Jacqueline isn’t sure if he will be the one she can lean on during the difficult days ahead. And then there are the three orphans to consider, especially Gavin. Must she relinquish her chance at having love again in order to be restored?
Read a free, 36-page excerpt here.
About Jennifer’s First Novel, Beyond I Do:
Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?
Marriage … it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.
Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.
Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her teenage daughter and coffee dates with her handsome railroader husband.
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.