Last week, I said I would be introducing you to the main character of my upcoming novel.
Introducing . . .
Amanda – also known as Mandy…
… wins a number of awards during her spell at college where she is majoring in art. During her final year, she receives urgent news from a friend that her dearly-loved sister, Deidre, has been involved in a tragic water-skiing accident. She races to her sister’s side in ICU where it soon becomes apparent that, outside of a huge miracle, her sister is not going to recover.
Where are their parents? The parents that appear to have been responsible for the accident? They haven’t even contacted her, nor are they visiting their critically-injured daughter.
Mandy, as she is known by her friends, settles down for a twenty-hour vigil by her sister’s side. She prays fervently to the God her sister believes in, telling Him that if He heals her sister, she will believe in Him too and will commit her life to Him. She can’t help but be impressed by Owen Douglas, the newly-ordained assistant pastor from her sister’s church. Does he really visit all the patients every day? She can’t help wondering what a nice guy like this is doing throwing his life away to serve a God who allows accidents like Deirdre’s to happen.
Where is God?
Deirdre does not regain consciousness. Owen steps forward and helps Mandy through the horrible days that follow. Her parents barely make it to the memorial service and Mandy realises she is now alone in the world—with no parents or a sister.
Fast forward several years, and Mandy commits herself to God despite His failure to heal her sister. Her painting continues to draw accolades, and her dream is to become a full-time artist.
She falls in love with Owen and they marry. She settles into her new life as Owen’s wife in a congregation where their predecessor was a widower, and so the ladies in the church are used to covering all the tasks where female leadership is required. The congregation loves their new minister’s wife, and they are happy to let her spend her days painting and producing beautiful landscapes that sell well. Life couldn’t get better.
The family grows
Then the children come along, and her time is mostly taken up with nappies and feeds, walks, and games. Her art is pushed to one side, but she knows this is just for a season, and she dedicates her life to her growing family. Once they are at school, she will be able to take up her painting once more.
Then comes the move that changes everything.
New Standards for Amanda
The next congregation had been led in the past by a dedicated minister and an equally-dedicated minister’s wife. They expect nothing less from Owen, and from Amanda, as they all call her. They have a list of roles they expect from their minister and wife.
Where her husband rolls up his sleeves and throws himself into the work of the demanding congregation, Mandy sinks under the pressure. Her children start to play up, and Owen doesn’t understand. He’s far too busy and can’t understand why his wife, whom he also now calls Amanda, can’t at least make an effort to meet the congregation’s demands. He wants her to realise she’s no longer free to be an artist. She is a pastor’s wife, as well as being responsible for the children’s upbringing. There is no time to pursue her youthful hobby of painting.
It’s all too much
Eventually, it all gets too much for the would-be artist, and she comes to the point she just wants out. Out of the church. Out of the ministry. And yes, even out of her marriage.
Afraid she is going to make a wrong decision, Amanda follows the advice of a friend and decides to take a sabbatical. She takes off, leaving her husband to cope with the children as well as his ministry. Before she leaves, her friend gives her a copy of a book to study while she is away, saying that this would help her understand and solve her problems.
She leaves a note for her husband and suggests he gets a copy of the book himself and see if they can together sort things out. She promises to keep in touch but asks him not to try and follow her.
Questions for Amanda
Will Owen look for her? Will he get the book? When will he be able to read it when he’s now learning firsthand what Amanda’s life was like? How will he cope with the children, the curious congregation, and his packed schedule which he can no longer cover? How will the congregation react to the news that they have a runaway pastor’s wife? Will either of them ever learn about their motivational gifts? And will Amanda—or Mandy—ever be able to return to Owen after her break?
As if the whole situation isn’t bad enough, a mysterious virus that originated in China lands in South Africa. Mandy’s sabbatical seems destined to be a lot longer than anticipated. What will the future hold for the Douglas family, and for the members of the Aloevlei Family Church?
Question for you:
Last week, I asked for suggestions re a name for this book. Thank you to those who offered input. I have now gone with the name:
Finding Mandy works well. A book I hope to read to see how she finds herself and her family finds her. I was blessed to be a minister’s wife for twenty three years and the a missionary’s wife for the next twenty six. Those different congregations different expectations are so real!
Thanks so much for your visit, Twyla. You’re right. Every congregation has its own expectations. I was a minister’s wife for 37 years and every time we moved, I had to refind myself. 🙂 I’m really enjoying writing Finding Amanda and trust it will turn out to be a real blessing (and challenge) to people in the ministry as well as members of congregations with expectations.
I must have missed your email last week… this sounds AWESOME. Finding Mandy is a perfect title, don’t know if it needs the sub as someone else has already mentioned. You asked for suggestions for the name of the town in South Africa where they live, I noticed that the church Owen pastors is called Ranak United, so the town could certainly be a derivative of that name? Ranakville or Ranakston for example… Ranaksberg sounds nice and South African lol!! Really love the bio, looking forward to reading the book! Write faster… :):):) lots of love xxxx
Thanks so much for your visit, Charmaine. Ranak United was the name of the church, and the town was Ranak. (Real original, huh?) But I’ve had a rethink. I am possibly looking at a series now, so I thought I needed a different name. So any creative ideas will be gratefully considered!
Oh and yes, it has a subtitle. It’s not Finding Mandy! It’s Finding Amanda! That’s the key issue. Also the subtitle is Runaway Pastor’s Wife.
Finding Amanda – Runaway Pastor’s Wife.
Oh, my gosh. I want to know where the parents that appeared are and how they are responsible for the accident.
The title is perfect. Can’t wait to read it.
Oh great, Dianne. Thank you for your response! Here goes – 12 hours to go. See my Book Brigade and help me chose a cover image.
I loved getting to know Mandy in this blog post and look forward to reading her story.
I really like “The Runaway Pastor’s Wife” as a title. Yes, I know that title is already taken, but there are several instances of books by different authors having the same title e.g. we have two different books entitled “The Scarlet Cord”, hmmm just checked Amazon and there are actually several! Substituting Minister for Pastor does not work for me either, as MPs are often referred to as ministers.
I do like “Finding Mandy” as well, but wouldn’t add the sub-title, but somehow it just doesn’t have the same energy and appeal for me as “The Runaway Pastor’s Wife”.
Did Mandy keep her maiden name when she married Owen? I see she is Mandy Kirkpatrick.
I’m intrigued by the book Mandy is given and want to know more about it.
Will be praying for you in April. I dying to read your new book, so please write really fast!
LOL Thanks Ruth. I don’t know any other way to write a novel in a month but to write really fast! Thanks for your input re the title. Her maiden name is Amanda Kirkpatrick and her paintings are done under that name. 🙂 Well spotted!
Great Shirl! I really believe this story has great potential. Like the others I am looking forward to reading how you resolve these issues.
Thanks, Rob. LOL! So am I! (Looking forward to seeing how I resolve some of the issues.
Shirley, i absolutely love everything about this book and i seriously cannot wait to read it!
OH wow! Thank you so much. I appreciate your input.
I like the name of the book and think it reflects the story line well. Mandy is on a journey to finding herself as well. May God bless and inspire you as you continue with this book.
Thank you Madeleine. That’s what I thought too.
I love your story concept! The new title and sub-title ring true for the story concept! It already makes me feel I want to know the answer, did Owen find her, or more importantly did she find herself?
OH yayy thank you Deryn! It’s falling into place at last.