Friday, August 10, 2012

Better Than Fiction Guest Post: Olivia Newport, Love Sneaks Up

I was privileged to get to know our guest today when her debut novel, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, was the featured title of the month in June over at the online book club I co-host. Not only does Olivia have a beautiful way of telling a story, but she weaves flawless research into her historical romance in a way that wraps you up in days gone by completely while you take the journey with her memorable characters.

I was so pleased when Olivia sent me this story of her own parents. It's my pleasure to introduce to you...

Love Sneaks Up
by Olivia Newport

My parents met in Washington, DC. She was a girl from Arkansas, barely not a teenager, and he was a young man from Brazil who arrived with the classic immigrant’s lack of English. My mother’s sister—even younger—had met my dad earlier and firmly warned Mom not to have anything to do with him. (Why? That piece of the story I’ve never heard.) The story goes that Dad used to visit the apartment Mom shared with a couple of other women to use the telephone. If he couldn’t find a date, he’d take the roommates bowling. Gradually it was just the two of them and he wasn’t interested in the telephone.

But they gave each other up, because they were too different. His course was set to go back to Brazil and she was not quite sure about that. They broke up, and she was miserable without him. Finally she took her miserable self and parked it in the lobby of his office building and waited, elevator after elevator, for him to come down. And at last he did. And they picked up again.

Hearing this story was one of the most tender moments I had with my mother after Dad died. I picture her, around the age my kids are now, choosing not be miserable.

Mom was a Southern Baptist churchgoer. Dad was nothing, when it came to faith. He used to drive her to church and use the hour she spent worshiping to polish his car. One Sunday morning he decided to go in with her. This being 1950-ish and the church being Baptist, of course there was an altar call. I’ve never been much of an altar call kind of person, but this story from my own spiritual heritage keeps my heart open to what can happen. Dad heard the gospel explained (by now his English was just fine but I don’t suppose the Holy Spirit needs English) and responded.

Even though Mom signed on for living in Brazil and had a baby there, Dad was the one to decide they should return to the U.S. He landed an engineering job in Chicago that was the financial pillar of my childhood—and his entire career. Six more kids were born in a hospital in Oak Park, Illinois.

If the church was open, we were there. My parents taught Sunday school, my mom sang in the choir, and my dad was a deacon. When I was six and learning to read, my dad patiently taught me the discipline of Bible reading by listening to me read five verses in the King James every night. (I once asked if I could read ten on one night and then skip a night. He said it didn’t work that way.)

What would my heritage be if my Mom had not gone to that office building that day? (Well, I guess I wouldn’t be me, to start with.) And what would my spiritual heritage be if Dad hadn’t decided not to polish his car that Sunday?

Seven children grew into reasonably well-adjusted adults and produced 19 grandchildren and—so far—15 great-grandchildren.

During a family reunion at a church camp in the 1980s, when most of my siblings and I were still only dreaming of the children we might someday have, we uncharacteristically latched onto a Bill Gaither song, “Find Us Faithful.” (Dating myself, I know.) Maybe we found the music lying on the piano in the lodge.  Maybe we were feeling spiritual because we were at a church camp. I don’t remember. But I do remember that the song turned into a tribute to our parents. The chorus goes,

Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful.

I’m grateful every day that my parents found each other, that God’s grace found my dad, and that my family showed me the richness that comes from love.

Olivia Newport is the author of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning (May 2012) and the forthcoming Accidentally Amish (October 2012) and The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow (January 2013). Find more information at
Olivia will visit Simple Revelations again on Friday, September 14th, 2012 to share with us the inspiration story for her next release, Accidentally Amish. 

Next Friday, be sure to stop by for a "Better Than Fiction" story by author Keli Gwyn that has changed her own life in innumerable ways.

**If you have an idea for a Friday "Better Than Fiction: Real Historical Romance Tales" Feature, visit this post for criteria and submission details**


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