Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Theme that Made A Novel...And a Way of Living

By Christina Berry, author of The Familiar Stranger 

Welcome back to the new Moody Fiction Blog! Today we are continuing in the second day of our launch contest from Jan. 5-9th, and will be giving away 10 free copies of The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry! Read on for details...

Love keeps no record of wrongs, according to 1 Corinthians 13: 5b. This is probably the easiest verse to live out in the whole Bible. All of our relationships look like this, don’t they?

Or maybe not. Seems like forgiveness is one of the biggest struggles of mankind. Sure, God can forgive and remove our sins as far as the east is from the west, but we humans like to tally up points in a notebook of Wrongs Done to Us.
Lied to. Hash.

Cheated on. Hash.

Broken promise. Hash.

And the reason we keep track of all the pain is for a grand and noble purpose: to throw it back in the other person’s face when we have a disagreement. Or, gasp, when we mess up ourselves and need to justify our actions.

The Familiar Stranger, my debut novel from Moody, examines a marriage that is falling apart. Unbeknownst to Denise, Craig plans to leave his family, but when a life-threatening accident lands him in the hospital with a faulty memory, the two explore how to work through secrets that come up from the past. Denise especially must decide how to act/feel/think/pray after a grievous wrong is exposed and she has every right to end the relationship. The theme of the book—and the calling of my life—is to Live Transparently; Forgive Extravagantly!

Denise is a compilation of many strong women who I’ve seen give mercy where judgment and condemnation were deserved. However, many of her weaknesses and emotional battles come from my own struggle with forgiving painful, marriage-ending wrongs done to me. Again and again, those who are close enough to see the freedom from bitterness, the joy of forgiveness I enjoy in my life today ask how it is possible. Denise became my chance to show what God can do with a willing heart.

An interviewer asked why Denise tries to stand by Craig’s side when so many would urge her to ditch him at the first opportunity. I think it’s because she knew that obedience to God, despite gut-wrenching pain, would bring unthinkable rewards. There are Biblical reasons to leave a marriage. Denise had them, but in her heart she felt God calling her to something difficult and frustrating and holy and Christ-like.

Is every marriage called to this? Yes and no. There are times when a marriage truly dies. God will give a husband or wife peace about the decision when that is the case. In no way do I want to come across as judgmentally, across-the-board saying every issue in marriage must be covered by grace. But I do think we have a huge issue with trying to control others. When we give up that sinful instinct, our spouse truly rests in God's hands, and grace is a much easier option.

 To enter to win a copy of The Familiar Stranger, all you have to do is leave your comment below (along with your email--important for us to contact you if you are a winner!) answering the following question or responding to this post, and you will be entered into the contest.  Winners will be selected at random and will be notified the day after their comment is posted. Good luck!

Today's question: What fiction books have convicted you to live differently? What themes in literature have challenged you to change your lifestyle?  

Craig Littleton's decision to end his marriage would shock his wife, Denise...if she knew what he was up to. When an accident lands Craig in the ICU, badly burned, with fuzzy memories of his own life and plans, Denise rushes to his side, ready to care for him.

They embark on a quest to help Craig remember who he is and, in the process, they discover dark secrets. An affair? An emptied bank account? A hidden identity? An illegitimate child?

But what will she do when she realizes he's not the man she thought he was? Is this trauma a blessing in disguise, a chance for a fresh start? Or will his secrets destroy the life they built together?

Visit Christina at:  


  1. I think Karen Kingsbury's Redemption series touched on most of the issues any family faces. And her other books each take a look at some issue that affects families today. I can't think of one in particular that impacted me more than others because they all touch me in some way.


  2. Karen Kingsbury's book "Between Sundays" touched me. It certainly is appropriate for us to realize, as Christians, that it's what we do between Sundays that defines our character. After we leave the church on Sunday, where do our lives take us?


  3. Terri Blackstock's Restoration series made me think about how real is my faith in the day to day struggles and am I willing to be God's vessel to impact other lives for His glory.


  4. Mark of the Lion series convicted me about knowing more about the Bible, especially old testament. Three Kings by Gene Edwards examines the theme of loving others even when they hurt you. Both of these writers have positively influenced me for Christ through their fiction.

    Your book sounds wonderful. I will definitely check it out!

  5. I would have to say karen Kingsbury's redemption series too.Karen's books all give hope to people. Her characters are real people with real life struggles. her books all point to the Lord and His forgiveness as well as second chances. Her books inspire me to keep going and not become weigh down by life's struggles.

  6. Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion books were a portrait of humility and servanthood, the clearest I'd seen up to that point in my walk. For years I'd find myself asking, "What would Haddassah do?" when faced with certain difficult situations. She is still a shining example to me.

  7. Stories about perseverance have always changed and challenged me...especially that of Christian in Pilgrim's Progress. Also the family in The Grapes of Wrath.

  8. The Street Preacher by John Grisham really convicted me in regards to the assumptions I made about the homeless. I was moved to start doing more to help those who found themselves dealing with that kind of struggle.


  9. Cormac McCarthy's The Road did move me to pay more attention to the slender power of hope, but then I caught the bus to work and became consumed with normality! The only answer is to keep reading more books?

  10. This is a really great question! I actually gave myself a challenge this year to read 52 books that other people told me have changed their lives: http://bit.ly/6YPeK8 . I'm hoping that this will give me a chance to see in other people what they see in themselves, plus discover books that I'd never have thought to pick up! Mark of the Lion is already on my list, but I'm not up to 52 yet! Do you have one to add?

  11. Mark of the Lion, especially A Voice in the Wind, was a HUGE influence on me. It changed the kind of woman I wanted to be because Hadassah was so remarkable.

  12. WOW! The Mark of the Lion books were the FIRST Christian fiction novels I had ever read, and they changed my life! I was a brand-new baby Christian who knew NOTHING of what it meant to serve the Lord, much less be a woman anywhere near as noble as Hadassah. She really raised the bar for me! :)
    I already have Christina's book, and it is excellent! Okay, never mind the character and I share the same first name! I could identify with her struggles, big time. Congratulations to those who will win a copy!

  13. Unfortunately, I don't read a lot of modern fiction -- just don't have the time. But within the past few years I've read most of the old Ruth Fielding series, and love them! They challenge me and encourage me to live uprightly, especially as I view the spirit and morality of young ladies (and just about everyone in this society 100 years ago) of an era gone by.

    I have had the pleasure of reading Christina's book, however, and found it exceptional.

  14. The latest book I read that opened my eyes was the Five Love Languages. I thought I had my husband figured out but was wrong. So happy that your book is doing well and getting great reviews! :O)
    estrella8888 at roadrunner dot com

  15. Christina's book, The Familiar Stranger, helped me with forgiveness within my own marriage. I often recall her book when feeling overwhelmed with negatives emotions that drum up from my own past.

    I would love to do Love Dare with my husband... I still working on him though. :)

    (P.S. I saw Christina's reminder to post on facebook-- but this time I'm keeping this anonymous.)

  16. Christina's book is awesome!

  17. I have just finished reading Bo's Cafe by John Lynch, Bill Thrall and Bruce McNicol, and this book has really impacted me. Though a fiction book, it has a tremendous message about the importance of honesty and transparency in all of our relationships.


  18. Many novels have changed my life, but a few that have impacted me recently are: Lost Mission by Athol Dickson, Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur, Saints in Limbo by River Jordan and Safely Home by Randy Alcorn.


  19. I get a nugget out of almost every piece of Christian fiction I read, and I have read many. The Shack touched me deeply, I am now reading the Cozy in Kansas series by Nancy Mehl that challenges you to ask yourself if you are truly walking in love towards others. I know the effects of the poison of unforgiveness as well as the pain of infidelity. I learned firsthand the feelings of rejection and shame experienced by the wronged spouse (me). I would like to read Christina Berry's book myself and see how she plays out the infidelity/healing issue. I was blessed in that God restored my marriage and the last 3 years of my late husband's life were the strongest, closest years of our marriage...but not only that, Our wonderful Heavenly Father used the experience to bring my late husband and myself to His throne as a couple and individually.


  20. I would say that Ted Dekker's WHITE really showed me what it means to truly love non-believers, and not just put them into this category of "Oh, yeah -- that's a non-Christian. I should tell them about Jesus and love them." But to really seek to love them sacrificially just like Christ loves all of us. It was a real challenge to my perspectives of the world in seeing in the story how the lead character had to love someone he was supposed to hate.

    shaunstvn@ gmail.com

  21. I just finish reading this week-end "Any Minute" by Joyce Meyer. What I learned from that book is boundries in your work place. Not to let it consume you.

    I love all kinds of books. From Ted DekKer to fantacy (dragons and such). You can learn so much from any kind of good book (not smut books).

    Everytime I pick up a book I wonder where it going to lead me emotionally and spiritually.

    Like Denise in the above post, my first taste of christion novels was the Mark of the Lions series. I fell in love with Christian books. Books you can really learn and apply to your life.


  22. The Noticer by Andy Andrews. I learned that no matter what your age is, it is never to late (or early) to make a difference, help others. To pursue life head-on and realize what your purpose is.


  23. Angela Hunt's "The Novelist" has really had me thinking pasting living in different "realities" work life, church life, home life, etc and working to be the SAME person in each of them instead of wearing different masks to each position. She manages to help you see things in a different light without pushing you to change.


  24. I just finished re-reading Jan Karon's Midford series. Besides making me laugh out loud, these books speak to me of unconditional love, forgiveness, God's faithfulness, redemption, and trust.

  25. I love books that have historical references, that I can not only enjoy a great storyline, but can sneak a peak at another timeperiod. I also like stories about strong women, redemption, and love.

  26. Angela Hunt's The Debt put a phrase into my head several years ago..."why are we surprised when sinners sin...they're just doing what sinners do." It makes it a lot easier to love them when you remember that.

  27. I'm coming in late, but just wanted to let you know we posted about this blog at Winning Readings: http://winningreadings.blogspot.com/2010/01/moody-fiction-giveaways.html

  28. I would have to say The Mark of the Lion series is one of many I have read. Also Kay Arthur's Israel My Beloved. Seeing the love of God in spite of our rebellion and how He will go to just about any length to bring us back to Him is awesome. I like books about the redemptive love of Christ, reading about how God uses those others would throw away, and books that challenge me to examine myself and see myself as God does.


  29. When I was younger it was probably the Narnia series books. Recently I would have to name The Shack.

  30. The book that convicted me is The Forgiving Hour by Robin Lee Hatcher. I don't read the back of the book so I had no idea what the book was about. I had gone through a very nasty divorce and harboring a lot of hatefulness towards everyone. I found this book in the library and had never read a Christian novel before this. This book completely shed so much light on forgiveness for me that I read it 3 times before returning it to the library. I recommend this book to this day because of that. I was somewhat attending church and was half-heartedly getting by. I was able to take all this to My Lord and allow God to help to do the forgiving that needed to take place. This book sounds very much like a book that I would pick up. Thanks for posting new books that we may not otherwise see or happen to pass over.

    Have a blessed day!!

  31. I think that for me Rain Dance by Joy DeKok challenged me the most recently.
    Here a married Christian women is struggling with getting pregnant and she be-freinds a non-believer who recently had an abortion...

    How would I really act in that situation? Would i be bitter toward God? Toward my new friend? Would I allow the light of Jesus to shine through me?



  32. This comment has been removed by the author.

  33. I WON!
    Thanks so much! I have SO wanted to read this since I have read so many great reviews about it!

    Thanks Moody Publishers!


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