I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Life is a Romance Novel

By Roxanne Sherwood
I am a “happily ever after” kind of gal. But life is unpredictable. Events are often out of my control and don’t always turn out the way I want them to. This coffee mug, given to me by my dear friend, Elizabeth, pretty much sums up my life, though I’m a bit older than the typical romantic heroine.

1. The Setup (or the Hook)

Four years ago, my family suffered a tragic loss. On my twin daughters’ 17th birthday, my wonderful husband, Jack, had a heart attack. He was only 45 and seemed in perfect health, but he didn’t survive. I was left to raise seven children, ages 1-20, on my own.

I’d been the most important person in the world to Jack Sherwood, but now I wasn’t number one on anyone’s speed dial. I didn’t want to go through life alone, but the odds of remarrying were not in my favor. I heard, “With seven kids, no one would ever marry you.” Or “I can’t picture you with anyone but Jack.” I was happy with the lifestyle choices I’d made with my husband to have a large family and to homeschool, but I worried they’d seem insignificant to anyone else. What had I been doing my entire adult life that anyone else would think was worthwhile? When a friend said, “God gave me a dream that you’ll remarry,” it was hard to believe.

2. Inciting Incident (often called “The Meet”, though in my case, we didn’t physically meet yet.)

I heard a high school classmate in Florida, Steve, had lost his wife after a long battle with cancer, so I sent my condolences. A month later, he replied. After another month passed, I asked how he was coping. Though he was grieving, his sense of humor made me laugh. We began emailing, then Facebook chatting, and finally he called. His sexy voice had me at “hello.” God began knitting our hearts together.

3. The Turning Point

We hadn’t actually met, but Steve said he really, really liked me. I felt the same. Giddy. Dying to meet him. Finally, he flew to Texas for a couple of days. Our feelings were real. He returned home and we continued talking for several hours a night. In the beginning, I was sure we’d eventually run out of things to discuss. But we didn’t. Steve swears I could read the phone book to him and he’d find it interesting.

4. Raising the Stakes

Steve made an extensive commitment to someone in my family who was in a serious crisis, yet I wasn’t positive about my relationship with him because of the long distance. Was I now committed more than I’d intended?

5. Second Turning Point

A friend had been trying to fix me up with another widower for a year, and he finally asked me out. He was local, which was extremely appealing to me. He had the same family background. He was everything I thought I wanted. Only it turned out who I really wanted was Steve.

6. The Dark Moment

Steve hinted he wanted to propose during his next visit. Though I loved him, I had to choose to physically break up my family by leaving college-aged children behind and to relocate with my younger children to marry him. People were quick to remind me how children are meant to leave home. But they usually only go one at a time and “home” doesn’t usually leave them first. Going off to college is a gradual “leaving.” This would be sudden and permanent. Plus, my children were very close after the loss of their father. My younger boys would gain a wonderful new dad but would lose daily contact with their older siblings.

7. The Happily Ever After (or the Resolution)

When God brings someone perfect into your life, you should grab “happily ever after” with both hands. So I did. Steve isn’t perfect, but he’s God's gift and the perfect man for me—and the perfect dad for my three young boys. Plus, he still makes me laugh every day.

(And he even brought chocolate while I was writing this and provided the photos for this post!)

Steve and I married on June 18th and are living Happily Ever After!

Just for fun, here’s a little musical tribute written by Ponderer Heidi Geis. (Anyone who watched television from 1969-1974 or one of the many reruns of this show will know the tune.)

Here's the story of a lovely lady
Who is bringing up 7 truly awesome kids.
All of them have sunny smiles, like their mother,
The youngest one is five.
Here's the story, of a man named Stephen,
Who is busy with one boy of his own,
They are two men, living life together,
Yet they seem all alone.
Till the one day when the lady met this fellow
And they knew it was much more than a hunch,
That this group must somehow form a family.
That's the way they all became the Gra-ay Bunch.
That's the way they all became the Gra-ay Bunch.


  1. Roxanne, what can I say except your real life is truly my favorite-ever romance novel. I thank God and bask in all you will have to share together! Delores

  2. Roxanne~

    I truly love your story. It seems like only yesterday (it's actually been over a year!!!) that we were sitting in the "living room" at the Cedarbrook Lodge and you were sharing how you lost Jack. I left that retreat with a deep understanding of how important it was that I show my husband how much I love and appreciate him. Every day. And to never take him for granted. The way I treat my wonderful husband (a.k.a. "the love of my life") has changed because of our conversation and I will always be thankful to you for that.

    For me, that conversation makes it all the more wonderful that you have your enchanted fairytale happy ending! The grace with which you have handled your heart break makes the mending of it all the more beautiful. And it is such a glorious example of how God knows what we need, when we need it. He is our provider and His love is extravagant.

    Thank you for sharing this (in perfect novel outline form) again. I am celebrating your marriage, and holding my own sweet husband a little closer tonight. I love you, my friend. (And obviously, so does God!!)

  3. Awesome post, Roxanne. I still tear up thinking about the email you sent notifying me about Jack. My heart hurt for you for so long, but when I saw how happy you were at ACFW, I knew God was healing your heart and working to bring you and Steve together. I'm praying the two of you have a long life of happiness together. You have a true romance.

  4. And Heidi--loved the ditty about the Gra-ay bunch. :D

  5. Roxanne, I am so happy for you. I was giddy when I read your news of being engaged and even more so when i saw the wedding pictures.
    I am so glad you have your happily ever after. You and the kids so deserve it. Peter is such a cutie. I loved seeing him in his tux :-)
    Much love,
    Tracy Kowald

  6. Delores, I still get goose bumps when you shared your vision about two trees with silver bands.

    Heidi, Your life inspires me as well. I'm thankful to know I've encouraged you to be a better wife. I'm trying hard to live my own advice, now that I've gotten a second chance. Thanks again for the song! ;-)

    Lisa, You've held my hand and offered your shoulder many times on this journey. Thanks for your unwavering support then and for sharing my joy now.

  7. Tracy, Thanks for your support, especially in those dark, early days. Peter is a cutie, but he attended the wedding with three stitches on his chin because he slipped on the side of the pool.

  8. And I got to be there for the Happily Ever After . . . what a wonderful day it was. When I told Steve, "Thank you for loving my friend," he said, "How could I not?"

    What a hero!!

  9. Life is a long, hard journey. I am so glad we had Jack and the wonderful legacy he left. And I am so glad we have Steve to partner with you for the rest of the trip. You truly have been blessed with awesome men.

  10. I'm so glad your happily ever after has come, Roxanne. You taught me so much about marriage and loving my husband when I first met you. Thank you. I'm praying God continues to knit your families together with love and grace. How awesome that He's given you two amazing men to cherish you in your lifetime.

  11. Roxanne, even as I write, I'm a sniffling, teary eyed mess. :) Every time I hear a facet of your story, God touches something within me. He reminds me of His goodness.

    I see God's fingerprints all over your story. How sweet of Him to send you Steve (and you to him). How like our God to overcome "impossibilities" like having seven children and bring a godly, wonderful man to fulfill and enrich you. Thanks for sharing more of your "romance novel" in real life. :)

  12. Beth, Thank you so much for coming to celebrate my special day. Likewise, I have to say, "How could I have not fallen for Steve?" He is the kindest, most thoughtful man.

    I'm thinking of Katie Beth and Nate today. Praying God's rich blesses on their marriage.

    Jeannie, my sister and friend, Thanks for being here for the journey. I know that I'm blessed.

    Amy, It's great to hear that my story has influenced a young wife. Thanks so much for sharing. Now, I'm trying to make sure I apply my hard-earned wisdom to my new marriage.

    Jeanne, Thanks for your comment. I, too, see God's fingerprints in bringing Steve and I together. One thing I didn't emphasize in my post is that I had to take a leap of faith in marrying Steve. We'd been together less than 30 days spread over the past year when we got married. But I knew I couldn't turn down God's man for me or my family.