Welcome to my Real Life Romance segment for this month. Today, we have a special guest, multi-published author, Shannon Vannatter. She's sharing her story of her own second chance romance AND giving away a copy of one of her books. Read on to see how you could win.
When I was fifteen, my father, a school board member, received a call from a desperate mother. Her son had gotten into trouble and quit school. Now, he wanted to come back and finish. This dropout, two years my senior, would be in my class. Drifting off to sleep that night, I wondered what he would be like.
The next day, I saw him and he was beautiful. Most guys are handsome, this guy was more than that. All of the boys at my school wore buzz or bowl cuts. Neither was popular back then. This boy had black, naturally wavy hair to his shoulders, and the greenest eyes I’d ever seen. I decided on the spot, though quite shallowly based on looks alone, to marry him. Several other girls made the same vow and he was soon the most popular guy in school.
As the months passed, the new guy finally noticed me and we began going together. We didn’t go anywhere together, since I couldn’t date until I turned sixteen. As my birthday neared, rumors began to circulate that my boyfriend drank heavily and smoked pot. Raised in church, I never tasted alcohol or tried smoking cigarettes, much less marijuana. Of course, when asked about such things, my guy denied the rumors. I refused to believe the gossip and gave him the benefit of the doubt.
He was a pastor’s son. But his parents had divorced when he was ten. Though he’d been in church most of his life, had gotten saved at a young age, he didn’t attend anymore. I asked him to come with me every week. He’d promise to try, but he never made it.
Finally, after months of waiting, my birthday came and my parents allowed me to date. The rumors continued and a strange aroma surrounded me whenever my guy was near. When I mustered the courage to ask about it, he told me the kid sitting behind us in class smoked a joint that morning.
I think I knew, but didn’t want to know. As the school year came to a close, the truth could no longer be denied. We hashed it out, no pun intended. Given an ultimatum, drugs and alcohol or me, he didn’t pick me. I spent the summer in tears and prayerfully placed the relationship in God’s hands.
The week before school started again, my ex-boyfriend came to my house. Claiming to have quit drinking and drugs, he could no longer live without me. Though cautious, I could soon tell the difference in him. Once back together, he even started attending church with me. A few months later, we went to a revival and he rededicated to Christ. We dated throughout high school, graduated together, and married a year after graduation.
Seventeen years into our marriage, two life-altering things happened. My husband answered the call to preach and I got pregnant. We’re thirty-five years in now and our son is seventeen years old. My former pot head is a full time pastor and we’re still going strong.
Do you have any relationships with someone you met in high school? One commenter will win a copy of Sweetheart Reunion.
Award winning author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter writes contemporary Christian cowboy romance and has over a dozen published titles. A romance reader since her teens, she hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as she demonstrates that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does.
She gleans fodder for her fiction in rural Arkansas where she spent her teenage summers working the concession stand with her rodeo announcing dad and married a Texan who morphed into a pastor. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her husband and son, flea marketing, and doing craft projects.
Connect with her:
Sweetheart Reunion: Hearts Reunited in Cowboy Country
Reuniting with the Cowboy by Shannon Taylor Vannatter
The Cowboy Next Door
A charming cowboy moving in next door shouldn’t be bad news. But veterinarian Ally Curtis knows Cody Warren—she’d never forget the boy who left her when she needed him most. Cody is doing everything he can to show his beautiful neighbor he’s not the wild bull rider he once was, from helping her find homes for her beloved strays, to protecting her when her business is threatened. But Cody has a secret that keeps him from fully reaching out. Yet as they continue to work together to promote her shelter, he can’t keep himself from hoping that Ally might have a home for him…in her heart.
Rocky Mountain Cowboy by Tina Radcliffe
A Cowboy’s Second Chance
The last person cowboy Joe Gallagher thought he’d see on his ranch was high school sweetheart Rebecca Anshaw Simpson. Twelve years after she married another man, she’s back as his physical therapist. But healing his body is nothing compared to guarding his heart from the woman he never forgot. There’s much the single mom would rather forget, but Becca won’t let regret and a surly rancher get in the way of her job and the chance to start over with her little girl. She has only a few weeks to make peace with her past. But Becca never expected she’d fall all over again for her first love.
Purchase Link: https://www.christianbook.com/sweetheart-reunion/9781335007827/pd/007827
With the school year starting this month comes the reality of the fact that my daughter will start kindergarten next year, whether I am ready or not. I'm sure this brings anxiety to quite a few mamas, and not just me. But it brings another kind of anxiety to me than to many. I'm not worried about my daughter being able to handle kindergarten. I'm not even worried about missing her during the days, although it's definitely going to be different. I was worrying about money.
You see, my husband teaches at a private Christian school, and we've always said we'd send our kids to the same school he works at. Teachers get a tuition break, but private schools still aren't cheap. And we're living on one income. No offense to you amazing readers, but being an author doesn't bring in much money to help.
I prayed about the anxiety over finances and God answered much quicker ... and in a different way than I expected. The very next day, I saw a posting for a position teaching preschool where my daughter has been going. I applied and got the job, despite not having taught preschool in about nine years. I'm taking on two-year-olds this fall. And my son is starting preschool a year earlier than planned, too, because of this. He's thrilled. It's going to be an exciting and challenging year, but I can see God's hand in the timing.
Anything like this ever happened to you? Do you see things like job opportunities as blessings? I'd love to hear some of your unexpected blessings.
'Mommy, you're the best."
Those words. They can turn a bad day better, can't they? My daughter doesn't know about giving a different number of stars to let people know how much she likes something. She knows "the best" and "that's not my favorite." Those are her ratings. And most of the time, I'm told I'm the best.
Every now and then she qualifies it, saying, "Mommy, you're the best mommy I ever had." Um. Thanks?
But honestly, while it makes me feel good, it also puts the pressure on. With all the social media out there, we see a LOT of mommies and all the pictures of their children with perfect hair, unstained clothes, expensive vacations, etc. Some days, I'm doing good to limit my children's television intake. But if I stop and compare myself to all the perfect pictures, not remembering that those mommies probably don't post pictures of the days that aren't perfect, well, I'm doing myself a disservice. After all, don't I do the same thing?
Yes, I still want to live up to my daughter's expectations. I want to be "the best" mommy I can be for her and her brother. And I pray that I can be. But as long as she thinks I'm the best, it doesn't really matter what the rest of the world thinks.
We've got to stop comparing ourselves to perfection and remember that we're all doing our best. As long as our children are healthy, growing as they should, and learning to love God, does the rest matter? No.
So, how are you ranking in your house? Do you ever get "the best"? Or are you sometimes "Not my favorite?" It's a lot to live up to. But we can do this!
There's not quite two years between my children's ages. About 21 1/2 months, which was closer than we intended, but what God gave us so we won't complain. Needless to say, my son, who is about to turn three, is at a stage we've already gone through with his sister. And even though they're not exactly the same, there are some similarities.
When we were almost home from our trip last month, it dawned on me that I had taken several things for granted with my daughter. Her car seat had been moved all the way to the back of the van to make room for Grandpa to sit in the middle with brother. And while I did have to help pass things back to her, for the most part, once she had the activity she wanted, she was fairly content to entertain herself for a while. Her brother needed more one-on-one interaction.
My daughter is also finally to a point that we don't have to worry as much about potty accidents because she can tell us she needs to go and can hold it for a little longer after that, too. The son ... well, we won't go there. That's a whole other story.
She can color in the lines (when she wants to). She can write quite a few of her letters, and even put some together in words. She can draw pictures that look like more than scribbles. He's still learning to color correctly.
My daughter can dress herself. She doesn't always make the most fashion-conscious color choices, but she can have enough on to be decent. My son still needs help with everything from shirts to shoes.
As I was dealing with helping my son with one of those things, it dawned on me that even though it wasn't that long ago I had been helping his sister in a similar situation, I had already started taking for granted that she could and would do it herself.
How quickly we become accustomed to things like that. And then it frustrates us to no end if we have to stop and help with something the child had learned to do herself months before.
Do you think God looks at us like that? We'll realize we're doing a bad habit, break it, be doing very well, and then have a bad day and slip back into the habit. I know I do that. And God loves us anyway, even more than we love our children, even on days they need more help than they should. It's reassuring to me. How about you?
What's something you take for granted and know you should be more aware of?
What's your favorite part of going to the ocean?
I love to stand at the edge of the water, letting the foamy waves rush over my feet again and again, scooping up any treasures I notice washing up, feeling the sand slipping away as the water recedes once more.
The first time my four-year-old daughter experienced this, she was very concerned. After all, it is slightly disconcerting to feel something you considered solid and safe to start deteriorating under your toes. Would the waves carry her out to sea, too? Where was it going? Why was it happening? By the end of our vacation, she loved it, too, giggling at the sensations.
But think about it. It's a Bible lesson in and of itself, isn't it? God teaches us that if we build our foundations on shaky unsolid ground, it will be washed away one way or another. We have to have a base that's firm and won't erode so quickly. Isn't it amazing how God put those little reminders of big lessons in our little everyday activities? It's like He knew we'd need the reminders.
What about you? Do you love the feel of the water washing away the ground you're standing on? Does it make you nervous? How about in real life? How's your foundation?
This is a place for me to share thoughts and ideas not just related to writing. Thoughts about what's going on in my life, about an idea I got that I thought shareworthy, or just a funny anecdote.