Knowing author Dawn Kinzer has made me a more gentle, appreciative person. She’s a wonderful editor and super-kind person, as well as a great author herself, and is involved with super blogs to encourage women and writers alike. What I didn’t know until recently, was that Dawn has been through some rough times in her life, including divorce and enduring the additional challenges of having alcoholism in the family during seasons of great loss, coping with death, and financial challenges. Yet her decision to persist, and not lose hope, has inspired many. I hope you’ll bookmark this for a friend who may be struggling and needs to just get through another day in her own life with similar challenges. So glad to share Dawn’s powerful story with you as part of the #LetResilienceArise guest blog series.
By Dawn Kinzer
It remains vivid in my memory. That moment when God spoke clearly in my mind and heart and told me to say “yes.” I had no clue what I’d face by saying one, simple word.
After experiencing divorce and the devastation that comes with that decision, I’d promised God that I would never marry again unless he made it clear it was what he wanted. I’d only known Sonny for six months, and despite how I felt about him, I sure didn’t want to make a mistake. But for weeks, I’d had a gut feeling he was going to propose. So, I’d spent time in prayer, asking God for direction when the time came. With hearing God’s voice, I had no doubt that the man before me was the right choice.
My husband-to-be had two daughters about the same age as mine. Two were heading off to college, one would enter a year later, and the youngest would join the others the following year. We agreed that it would be best to wait to marry until all four were off leading their own lives, and when our wedding day arrived, all four girls participated with joy.
We’d survived broken relationships, but now with our daughters off at school, Sonny and I were eager to build new lives together. Unfortunately, the honeymoon phase didn’t last long—actually, we skipped over that stage and jumped right into the tough stuff.
Two months after the wedding, my youngest stepdaughter was killed in a freak car accident. Sonny was devastated. I was numb. I wanted to support him the best way I could, but we’d been married such a short time, and I wasn’t his daughter’s mother, so at times, I felt a bit out of place when it came to making funeral arrangements and comforting him.
While we still battled emotional pain, we were hit with financial loss. My husband works for the largest airplane manufacturer in the country. The company, going through a slowdown at that time, laid off thousands of employees, and my husband was one of the last to go. He tried to get work, but was repeatedly turned away for a variety of reasons: he was over qualified, they believed he’d return to his former job, and although it was never said—age discrimination.
I watched him spiral into depression. He avoided church, family, and social functions with flimsy excuses. Mood swings were frequent, and from day to day, I didn’t know if I’d face the positive man I’d married or need to walk on egg shells. Sleep became an escape for him. Being naïve to signs of alcoholism, I attributed behaviors to grief over losing his daughter and low self-esteem because of not contributing financially to our home.
There were times when I curled up and cried out to God. Why had he told me to marry this man? I loved him, but I was getting worn out. I clung to believing that God had given me the “go ahead” to get married because he had reasons for bringing us together.
After almost two years of unemployment, Sonny was called back to the company, and we celebrated. I thought all would be well. But only two months later, he called me shortly after I’d arrived at my own job. It was clear he was having a breakdown. He confessed that he was a closet alcoholic and needed help. I left work immediately and relied on my coping skills to get through the rest of the day. Things I’d observed and experienced pertaining to my husband’s conduct since his daughter’s death now made sense. He’d been drinking excessively, but had been able to hide it until he could no longer. He’d realized that he was an alcoholic years before we’d met, but living in crisis mode had increased the need to self-medicate.
My husband explained that he was heading for a beer when he literally felt God put his hand up in front of him. He heard God say, “Stop!” Sonny listened to one, simple word, checked himself into a thirty-day treatment facility, and we began a journey to health and healing. I had a lot to learn—like how an addict’s brain is wired differently from non-addicts—and how the disease needs to be treated. Notice I wrote “treated,” not “cured.” Alcoholics can’t drink socially—addicts can’t stop after just one drink.
We’ve been married fifteen years, and my husband has been sober for twelve. We’re very open about our past experiences. Our lives together began with horrific challenges, but we remained resilient, and the following years have been filled with many blessings. It’s easy to see now why God brought us together. My husband loves and honors me—and my daughters and grandchildren—and they all adore him. I would never be the person I am today if I hadn’t married Sonny. He claims he wouldn’t be alive if I hadn’t come into his life. We bring out the best in each other. Without my husband’s support, my dreams of becoming a published author would never have come to fruition. He’s always believed in me and encouraged me to use my gifts as a writer.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Even when I couldn’t understand why God was allowing bad things to happen, I knew I had to keep trusting that he hadn’t abandoned me. I obeyed God, and he followed through with his promise to give me hope and a future.
In 1904, Hope Andrews, an aspiring fashion designer, struggles with leaving New York City. But with no job, her parents leaving the country, and an abusive ex-fiancé refusing to accept their broken engagement, Hope doesn’t have much choice but to give in to her parents’ wishes that she move far away and live with her cousin indefinitely.
Talented Benjamin Greene can’t deny his passion for painting, but guilt over a painful incident in his past keeps him from sharing his gift. Instead, he devotes much of his days to helping his younger sibling rebuild a farm inherited from a great-uncle. Only his brother is aware that Ben spends his spare time in a studio on their property.
In the small rural town of Riverton, Wisconsin, Hope and Ben can’t help but be thrown together. But as feelings for each other deepen, tension thickens over how talent should be used. Their mutual passion for art brings them together, but will it also drive them apart?
Readers will find 20+ questions included for discussion and reflection.
Dawn Kinzer writes fiction because she believes in the power of story to comfort, challenge, and inspire. Her work has been published in the Christian Fiction Online Magazine, Backyard Friends magazine, The One Year Life Verse Devotional, A Joyful Heart: Experiencing the Light of His Love, and featured on the radio ministry, The Heartbeat of the Home.
Dawn’s historical romance series, The Daughters of Riverton, takes place in the early 1900s. The setting and some of the characters were inspired by her rural Wisconsin hometown. Sarah’s Smile is the first story in the series, and Hope’s Design is the second. A third novel, Rebecca’s Song, will be released in 2017.
A mother and grandmother, Dawn lives with her husband in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Favorite things include dark chocolate, cinnamon, popcorn, strong coffee, good wine, the mountains, family time, and Masterpiece Theatre.
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2jdkua3
What is the Let Resilience Arise series all about?
Elizabeth Van Tassel is a wildfire survivor who lost every possession and her home in 2007. Since that time, she’s been cultivating fiction and nonfiction projects of her own to inspire kids and adults alike with her lessons. But she’s also developed a wonderful network of amazing authors in all different genres and professions who have compelling stories to boost you or perhaps a friend you know who’s struggling with a similar challenge. Subscribe to this blog (on the home page HERE) for these articles and a monthly newsletter to come to your email or stop by again for more amazing stories. Also have your teens and tweens check out their own page and posts HERE. Want to share your story with others or have Elizabeth share hers with your group? Contact Elizabeth HERE and she’d love to discuss bringing lessons of hope and new beginnings to your group too.