Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives

10 comments Posted on August 3, 2012

by Bonnie Leon

One moment we’re gliding along, certain of our future and satisfied with our present. And then, something comes along that throws us into a ditch.

In 1991 writing was a new adventure for me. I’d always loved to read, and storytelling had been part of my upbringing, but I’d never imagined myself as a writer . . . that is not until 1990 when I was gripped by a compulsion to write. I gave myself up to the new adventure. It was so much fun. As time passed I started to wonder if there was more to my writing than personal entertainment. I received an invitation to a writing seminar. A needed typewriter (in perfect condition) was found in a dumpster. And a seasoned author told me I was gifted and that I should keep writing. It all seemed more than coincidental.

I was happily drifting along, and then a ditch ruined my plans.

It was June 1991 and I was driving along a winding river with my daughter when a log truck loaded with huge logs approached from the opposite direction. It was going too fast and the moment I spotted it I knew something was wrong. It’s outside back tires were lifted off the pavement as it barreled around a curve. It was going to tip over!

Believing I was living my final moments on earth, I slammed my feet on the brake pedal. My mind searched for a way to survive as I drove toward the edge of the road, praying the truck didn’t hit us head on and that it didn’t knock us off the embankment.

We hit, and the sounds of tires squealing, the rasp of metal against metal and breaking glass swirled around me. A scream for help from my daughter thrust itself into the melee. To this day, it is the worst sound I’ve ever heard.

We hurtled toward the edge of the cliff and then abruptly we stopped, as if we’d run head long into a wall. It all took only seconds, but those seconds changed my life forever.

The van teetered on a cliff above the river, but my daughter and I were alive. There was no explanation for why we didn’t plunge over the cliff. I believe an angel caught us. There was no easy exit, but we managed to climb out through broken windows and then took a ride to the hospital by ambulance.

My daughter was unhurt, but I began a round of doctor visits, invasive procedures and therapy. As it turned out there was no repair for the damage to my body. I was left disabled and in chronic pain. The doctor said I’d never be the same. He was right.

Month followed month and I became mired in hopelessness. Unable to care for my family or my home and incapable of returning to work, I felt useless. I was afraid, depressed and angry. And I struggled with guilt. Where had my faith gone? What had become of my strength? Where was God?

My life was gone. I had no purpose. One day, at the end of myself I cried out to God and asked if he could give me something to do that mattered.

Soon after that plea I received an advertisement for a summer writing conference. I tossed it in the trash. I couldn’t go. I wasn’t physically able and I didn’t have the money.

Two weeks later I received a phone call from the registrar who offered me a scholarship to the conference. I decided that if God had provided a way for me to go, then I could trust him with my physical pain. I accepted.

Frightened and feeling I didn’t belong, I attended the conference. I was blessed by the love and encouragement of other authors and saturated with an education. I left ready to write my first book.

One year later, I returned to the conference. Manuscript in hand, I sat across from the acquisitions editor from Thomas Nelson Publishing and presented my first novel to her, certain she’d reject it—after all, what did I know. She read and read and then she looked at me and said, “I love it. Is it finished?” Stunned, I told her that it was and she asked me to send three chapters. I did. A request followed for the rest of the book. And then a telephone call came with an offer for a contract.

That book was The Journey of Eleven Moons, a CBA bestselling novel and the first of many yet to come. Joy Takes Flight is my nineteenth novel.

Even now as I tell the story I can barely believe how it all happened. I’m reminded that though I am limited God is not. And he makes all things, even the really hard stuff, in life meaningful.

With Him, all things are possible.


  • 08/06/2012
    Patti Iverson said:

    I’ve heard your story before and it’s better and more special every time I hear it–as are you, dear Bonnie, as are YOU! Write on with joy… <3

  • 08/06/2012
    marie jank said:

    What an inspiring testimony. Our God is so awesome and indeed all things are possible w/ Him. Thanks for such an encouraging and uplifting testimony.

  • 08/06/2012
    Camille Eide said:

    Wow! I just realized I was holding my breath as I read through the account of the accident. I’ve heard pieces of it before, but wow. Bonnie, your story is so inspiring. And you tell it with such confidence and hope. I don’t know why God allows pain, but I do know that he is a GOOD God, that he knows & sees all, that he is infinitely loving, and he can make beauty from ashes. I have also learned to trust him in the midst of circumstances that make no sense. (blogged about that here: http://camilleeide.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/and-of-course-god-is-nowhere-in-sight/)

    THANK YOU so much for continuing to be an inspiration to me. I have no clue where God will lead me on my own writing path, but HE knows, and that’s all I need to know. 🙂

  • 08/06/2012
    Bonnie Leon said:

    Patti, you are a dear. I intend to “write on” as long as I am able.

  • 08/06/2012
    Bonnie Leon said:

    The awesomeness of God is what helps me walk through each day, Marie. He holds me close through every storm. He is my encourager.

    Thank you for your kind words.

  • 08/06/2012
    Bonnie Leon said:

    Camille, I dropped by your site and read your personal experience–beautiful story.

    God’s ways are not our ways. And there are times I am confused and wish He’d done things differently. But I know that He is good and never leaves me. He has walked with me through many valleys and lifted me to the mountain tops as well. And one day, He will carry me to His Heavenly Kingdom and then I’ll see clearly what it was all about.

    Bless you.

  • 08/06/2012
    Andrea Abruzzo said:

    Bonnie, you and I have met on Facebook through a mutual friend and had a bit of unintended conflict. I have to tell you, I am so impressed by not only your story, but the way you tell it. Thank you for sharing that. May God continue to bless you.

  • 08/07/2012
    Bonnis Leon said:

    Hi Andrea. I don’t remember specifically what the conflict was, but I do know our mutual friend and so I can guess. We are still a part of the human family and no family I know always agrees. 🙂

    Thank you for your encouragement and your kind words. They mean so much.

    Many blessings to you.

  • 08/07/2012
    April McGowan said:

    WOW, your retelling had me on the edge of my seat.
    After facing what has now been diagnosed with chronic illness, and gone through those stages of hopelessness not too long ago, I can tell you that looking back on the the teetering edge of what I’d like to think of is the other side: God can REALLY use all things that come to us in our life for our good and especially His good. Thanks so much for sharing and giving others hope!

  • 08/07/2012
    Bonnie Leon said:

    April, I know you’ve had an arduous journey. God’s path can be difficult, but knowing that He has everything under control helps me to rest in Him and His plans. And, truly, He does use ALL things. Even the stuff I don’t like.

    I’m so excited for you and the new direction God is leading. I will be watching for your debut novel. I can’t wait to read it!

    Grace and peace to you from God.


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