Friday, April 29, 2016

A Ring for a Prodigal

Janet Ferguson was the first one to volunteer when I put out the call for guest Birthday Bloggers. She's our Friday Night with Friends Guest blogger and shares her story and how God used it to make a novelist. Be sure to share some love with her and check out her author links below.
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A Ring for a Prodigal
Twenty-five years ago this prodigal returned to her Father’s house. I was twenty-six, living for myself, conforming to culture…and empty inside. Satan had sold me a lie—the lie that my ways were better than God’s.
I hit my knees and begged God to take me back. I asked him to put me someplace where I was needed, and if he wouldn’t have me, to let a tree fall me or something. I didn’t want to take another step without Him.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
God met me where I was. He took me back. Not long after, I married and became a mother. I threw myself into doing as many good deeds as I could. I tried to be the perfect mother, wife, friend, daughter, church member…
I wore myself out trying to make up for those lost years. But I knew it would never be enough, so I worked harder.
Then one Sunday, I heard the story of the prodigal, anew. When the lost son decided to go back home, he planned to be a servant. He knew he wasn’t worthy to be called a son. He would ask to be a hired hand.
But the Father would have none of that.
“‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:22-24
I realized I had not fully accepted my place as a child of God. I had kept myself on that hamster wheel of trying to serve my way back. Don’t get me wrong, we should serve, but we should realize that we don’t have to work our way back. Jesus covered our mistakes and our guilt with His sacrifice. Our Father has put a ring on our finger and is celebrating our return.
So, I decided to write a novel about a prodigal to encourage the others out there like me. I want His lost children to know they are never too far gone for Him to save. He is that strong.
That novel turned into a series of novels set mostly in Mississippi. The first is set in Oxford, Mississippi, and just released this month. It’s titled Leaving Oxford. Somehow it turned into a romantic comedy which deals with some deep, realistic issues, otherwise known as Southern contemporary.
If you’re interested, I’d be honored for you to read it or share the story with someone.
Here’s a little of that first story and my contact information.
Leaving Oxford
Southern Hearts Series ~ Book 1

Escaping home to Oxford, Mississippi, seemed like a good idea. Until it wasn’t.
 
A year after a tragic accident in Los Angeles flipped her world upside down, advertising guru Sarah Beth LeClair is still hiding away in her charming hometown of Oxford, Mississippi. And she may well be stuck there forever. Suffering from panic attacks, she prays for healing. Instead, her answer comes in the form of an arrogant football coach and an ugly puppy.
 
Former celebrity college quarterback Jess McCoy dreamed of playing pro football. One freak hit destroyed his chances. Although he enjoys his work as the university’s offensive coordinator, his aspirations have shifted to coaching at the highest level. His plans of moving up are finally coming together—until he falls for a woman who won’t leave town.
 
As the deadline for Jess’s decision on his dream career looms, the bars around Sarah Beth’s heart only grow stronger. But it's time to make a decision about leaving Oxford.

Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served her church as a children’s minister and a youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a few cats that allow them to share the space.