Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives
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.