Saturday, September 19, 2009

Shocking News! God turns Romance Writers' Ashes Into Beauty

She was raised in the church. Had head knowledge but no heart knowledge. When Uncle Sam called her husband to Nam, she had an affair. Got pregnant. Aborted the baby.

Her husband returned. She launched a career as a secular romance writer. Sold over three million copies, but couldn’t ward off despondency. Depression. She confessed her sin to her husband. He threw it in her face.

She suffered three miscarriages. Had three children.

The family moved. An eight-year-old invited her to church. She learned a “new concept”—God’s word as Truth. She begged for God to give her a passion for the Bible. He answered—and choked her desire for romance reading—and writing.

She consumed the Bible for three years. Couldn’t write. Heard God whispering, “Get to know Me.” In 1986, she accepted Christ. Went to a Bible study on Minor Prophets. Soon after, penned…Redeeming Love.

Joy ripples through me to share snippets from the life of Francine Rivers, a woman whose books are called “must reads” and “classics” in Christian fiction. A woman who “is not afraid to hit you full force with the realities of the world” but filters her words through the blood-stained lenses of our Christ’s crucifixion—and ascension!

My mind warred all morning to share my favorite Rivers’ review. I declared a draw: The Atonement Child…and another heart-rending text.

The story behind The Atonement Child? Rivers’ children stomped home one day, declaring, “Women who have abortions should be executed.” Guilt swallowed Francine. She attended PACE (Post Abortion Counseling and Education) meetings. Poured herself into Bible studies. Dialogued with her God…and her husband…over the fertile seed God had birthed…this time, in her mind…

Finally God cleared boulders out of the way of the story exploding her brain. Still, she’d go on walks and say, “God, I don’t want to write that book…it hurts so much!”

In The Atonement Child, Dynah, an attractive young Christian woman, attends the perfect Christian school, is engaged to the perfect future pastor, has planned a perfectly safe and happy future. One violent incident spatters acid over Dynah’s present…and future. Can things get worse? Yes. Dynah becomes pregnant…with the child of a rapist.

Rivers threads sociocultural issues as abortion, Christian schools, unfairness of life, sanctity of life, waiting on God, Holy Spirit guidance, breast cancer, aging, postabortion syndrome, phoniness clothed as godliness into a fast-paced, compelling story. And oh, the emotion oozing from every page! Keep tissues handy!

Dear readers, new Christian authors are writing books that garner space in store end-caps, even Wal-Mart! But DON’T overlook Mrs. Rivers in your haste to get the latest hot sell.

Where do you start? I’ll let you decide. The Last Sin Eater, Mark of the Lion series, Sons of Encouragement series, Lineage of Grace series, Redeeming Love, The Scarlet Thread, Leota’s Garden, The Atonement Child, Leota’s Garden, The Shoebox: A Christmas Story, Unveiled, Unashamed, Unshaken, Unspoken, The Priest, And the Shofar Blew, Unafraid: Mary: One of the Five Unlikely Women Who Changed Eternity.
Everyone has a favorite. Find one for yourself.

I’d better say bye-bye. It’s lunchtime.

Oops! You want the name of my other favorite? Leota’s Garden. Must reading for those who don’t see God turning beauty into ashes. At least not yet.

Visit Francine at

Congratulations to Susan, who will soon have a copy of Atonement Child zooming her way.


  1. I have read just about all of Francine Rivers' books and believe them to be some of the best. I never knew about her own history though, and that information makes her books even more powerful to know she's walked through some of the stuff she writes about--maybe that's why it's so powerful? Anyway, thank you for your review.
    lauradione1012 @

  2. Patti, I knew little of this about Francine Rivers. I have to say that I'm a bit choked up thinking about it. But I shouldn't be surprised. God takes so many things and makes beauty of it, doesn't He?
    Thanks so much for this beautiful message. What a blessing.

    I so look forward to meeting you in person.

    To my Inky sisters and our wonderful blog readers, I want to say a big hello from Denver. We have been SO blessed here! You'll be hearing reports of our experiences at the ACFW conference.
    God is so good!

    Happy Weekend!

  3. I love all things Francine Rivers. My personal favorite--so far--is The Last Sin Eater. That one is a real artistic triumph as well as incredibly insightful and spiritual.

    I've been wanting to read Atonement Child for a while, but as you mentioned, I've been swamped with new Christian fiction. I need to buckle down and make some time for it.

    I heard from Angela Hunt that Francine has spent several years working on a new trilogy. Can't wait.


  4. I wasn't aware of Francine's background either, Patti. What an eye opener. Perhaps that is why her writing is so powerful and touches us at heart level. God certainly uses us in amazing ways. He can always make something good from our mistakes. Praise be to Him.

    I look forward to meeting you soon.


  5. I had not known that about Francine Rivers. No wonder her books are so powerful. I loved the few books of hers I have read. The next time I read one of her books I will have to keep in mind all she has been through.


  6. I was privileged to hear Francine speak several years ago at a Christian writers conference in Seattle. It was very moving to listen to her speak. I've read Redeeming Love, Leota's Garden, and The Last Sin Eater. I highly recommend all three, but like Dina, my favorite is The Last Sin Eater. I haven't yet read The Atonement Child, but since this is the second time in as many weeks that I've heard it mentioned, I think that means I must read it! And since I'm on my way to Barnes & Noble today, I think I'll need to pick up a copy.

    Thanks for the great post, Patti.

  7. Oh wow! I knew Francine Rivers was originally a secular romance writer, but I had no idea of the difficulties she faced. It makes sense why in all her books the emotions of the characters ring so true and clear.
    Redeeming Love is one of the only fiction books I'm willing to pick up and re-read periodically. And I found "The Last Sin-Eater" made into a movie at our local video store! It was good as a movie, too!
    Thank you, Patti, for reminding me to pick up the rest of Ms. Rivers' books! They are too good to miss.

  8. I love, love, love this testimony. The temptation for so many of us is to keep secrets and put up a front of perfection. I so admire people who are willing to step out and say "I screwed up. I was a horrible person. BUT that doesn't mean I have to go on being that person." God's love is so grand and powerful.

    BTW my favorites are the Mark of the Lion series, followed closely by Redeeming Love. All beautiful, and redemptive, but also rip-roaring good reads. I want to be like her when I grow up.

  9. I've heard so much about Francine Rivers' books. Please enter me in the drawing.

    susanjreinhardt (at) gmail (dot) com


    Susan :)

  10. I'm with you Lisa, I want to be like Francine Rivers when I grow up too.

  11. Thanks, Patti. Wonderful post! I hadn't heard her testimony before, and it is so powerful. What an amazing God we serve!

  12. What a tremendous testimony. Thank you, Patti for bringing it to us.
    I haven't read all of her books but throughly enjoyed the Mark of the Lion series.
    mrstgr at msn dot com

  13. I've read most of Francine's books -- bought the first one (the first in the Mark of the Lion trilogy) years ago after talking to her editor at a writers' conference. The entire trilogy is powerful and so well written (as are all her books), but I have to say that Redeeming Love is my very favorite. A life-changing story that gets me every time I reread it, and a shining example of writing at its very best.

    I don't need to be entered in the drawing. I already own both books.

  14. A beautiful story of God's redeeming grace. Thank you for this book review!

  15. Hey, hey, hey,
    Back from the wedding just in time to thank y'all for GREAT comments!!!

    Laura, Debra, Connie, Cherie, Niki, and Suzanne, glad I could pass on one of the most powerful writing testimonies I've heard.

    Dina, thanks for the scoop about a trilogy. CANNOT WAIT for this one!

    Suzie, you buy books on the two referral system, like I do. Do you have an account yet at your local store?????

    Susan, thanks for stopping by! Lisa and Wenda, y'all too!

    "Laura from Texas," I just spent a weekend with some of your boot-wearing, drawl-talking statesmen and women. You will be happy to know that the second wedding dance (bride and FOB) was "Boogie Back to Texas) and sadly has been posted on Youtube. No, I will NOT reveal the address.

    Blessings to all! Talk soon!

  16. I need to read Leota's Garden. Loved this post!

  17. When i started reading Christian fiction again, Rivers was the first. Her stories have a special place in my heart - she's amazing!

    Please sign me up :)


  18. When my book club read Redeeming Love and the Atonement Child, I knew that Francine had experienced an abortion. I didn't know the powerful set of circumstances surrounding that choice. Thanks for sharing her inspirational journey. Please enter me, pgrau (dot) ggi (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks, Pat

  19. Karin, glad to meet a Rivers fan.

    Patricia, I "uncovered" this story in an old "Christianity Today" when also preparing for a book discussion group.

    I love Francine saying that she argued with God about writing this book.


  20. I read Redeeming Love and had goosebumps. Definitely a classic. But I've not read Ms. Rivers' other fiction, probably because I mostly read contemporaries and I've been under the impression she writes historicals. The Atonement Child sounds like my kind of book though.

    BTW, I just finished What the Bayou Saw on Friday. Not what I expected. More than I imagined. I'll post a review on my blog in a few days, and be sure to let you know. Now I've got Francine Rivers' and Patti Lacy books to put on my TBR list. :)

  21. Patricia W.,
    Now your post about knocked me on the floor! Thank you SOOOOOO much!
    If you like edgy, send me an e-mail so we can compare titles.
    Best way to catch me?

    Glad I have sold at least one Rivers book--or maybe, just maybe, you will win the drawing!!!!!!!!!

    Stay tuned!!

  22. I love Francine River's books--the Mark of the lion series is tops! But I don't have either of these so would love to win them. crmcc at setel dot com

  23. Rose, thanks for stopping by!
    While I loved Francine's Mark of the Lion series, I gravitate to her contemporary works.

    Can't wait for her new trilogy!!!!!
    Can you?????????


  24. I am always amazed at how God utilizes and manipulates difficult challenges transforming them into gifts of beauty. Thank you Patti for this review. I've read many authors but never Francine Rivers. What a wonderful author! I'm excited to head to the library this week and see if they happen to have her books.

  25. Cynthia, thanks for coming by! Oooh, today Francine has a potential new fan with a lovely name.
    If you stop back by, Cynthia, leave your e-mail addy, and we'll enter you in the drawing for a free book. Then you can bypass at least one of those library trips!



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