I am pleased to introduce you to Christina Ryan Claypool, author of Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife today. I will be reviewing her book soon but didn’t want to wait to share about it with you. Today Christina is sharing about her inspiration for the story. I will be sharing an excerpt soon as well.
First, let me tell you about the book. . .
Secrets of the Pastor's WifePublished by WestBow Press
by Christina Ryan Claypool
Publication Date September 12, 2018
Genres: Christian Fiction
Main Character Ages: 35-60
Written for: Adults
Wherever Cassandra Martin goes, her secrets go with her. And hiding her past is beginning to take a toll.
Cassie lives in a small white parsonage in the village of Maple Grove. For 15 years, the beautiful and talented artist has appeared to be the perfect wife for Rev. John Martin, the new pastor at Maple Avenue Community Church.
The couple has moved frequently, and Pastor John is too busy with other people’s problems to notice Cassie’s distress. She has no close friends to confide in, fearing her secrets could jeopardize her husband’s position.
That’s until Maple Grove coffee shop owner Katherine “Katie” Montague embraces Cassie as if she were the daughter she never had. Sensing her pastor’s wife is haunted by something tragic, the caring widow begins praying for her. Will Cassie trust Katie with the pain of her past or will she let the secrets destroy her?
Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife features discussion questions for women’s book clubs, church small groups, and recovery ministries. Entertaining and inspiring fiction, this compelling storyline will encourage emotional healing, forgiveness, and restored faith.
A Novel about True Friendship
By Christina Ryan Claypool
It was our last lunch together. Kimberly had an aggressive form of cancer and knew her time was short. I hadn’t accepted the fact yet, because she was only in her early forties and had a loving husband and three children to finish raising. But she couldn’t fight anymore.
Getting ready for my friend of almost two decades to visit that fated day six years ago, you would have thought royalty was coming. I prepared a lunch feast, set the dining room table with the good china, and lit the candles, even though there would only be the two of us.
When her husband dropped Kim off, I was startled by how fragile she looked. Usually, lunch meant going to a restaurant like we had only the month before, but Kim had wanted to come to my home. Truthfully, I can’t remember which one of us blessed the food, but I vividly recall her telltale prayer at the end, “And God, please give Christina a friend.”
Now, wait just one minute, Kimberly. I don’t need a friend, I have you. This thought raced through my mind denying the reality, she had already accepted. A few weeks later, she was gone.
Those of you who have lost a close friend, empathize with how painful this loss can be. It’s a rare gift to find a faithful friend, although many folks have an ardent desire to experience intimate friendship.
But is friendship becoming extinct? One of the reasons I wrote my recently released book, “Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife: A Novel” is because I’m worried about friendship. I’m concerned it might soon be as outdated as last year’s technology, and I’m pretty sure technology is the culprit deserving most of the blame.
To explain, having a social media connection isn’t like having a faithful friend. A recent article on www.healthline.com, “Social Media is Killing your Relationships” asks, “What if every like, heart, and reply we give to someone on the Internet is actually taking away from our energy for offline friendships?” The article’s writer Jennifer Chesak also reports, “Research shows that good friendships are vital to your health…More specifically, having close friendships correlates to functioning better, especially as we get older.”
That’s why my novel is about the friendship between an early 40s pastor’s wife and a sixty-something widowed coffee shop owner. I chose to make the main character a fictional minister’s mate, because there’s often an unrealistic stereotype for this supporting ministry role, even within Christian circles.
I identify with the difficulty these precious women can have when trying to find a confidential friend to share their current issues or even past heartbreak. Often, we place ministerial families under a microscopic lens of scrutiny, and have the unrealistic expectation their lives should be perfect. Quite frequently, the needs and even existence of a pastor’s wife can also be overlooked, especially if her husband is an in-demand dynamic leader.
During my years working in broadcasting, I was asked to host a TV special, “Ask the Pastor’s Wife,” where the female guests shared about their lives. One minister’s spouse was concerned about me interviewing her, apprehensive over my understanding of her situation, so only minutes before the show was to be recorded for broadcast, the pastor’s wife anxiously asked what my husband did.
“He’s a public school administrator,” I answered nervously, unsure of how she would view this revelation.
But instantly, she visibly relaxed, smiled a wide smile, and teasingly joked, “Oh, that’s the same thing.”
This wise lady understood whenever you are married to a man in any kind of leadership role, it can be isolating and challenging to find a trustworthy confidant, fearing you could jeopardize your mate’s position simply by being a flawed human being.
Yet if we’re truthful, we’re all flawed, but burying our pain and problems forces us to wear a societal mask. And masks can become a type of prison that morph into a lifestyle of pretending everything’s perfect when everything’s a hot mess.
The bottom line of what “Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife: A Novel” is about, is the desire most women carry deep within to experience intimate friendship. The kind of friendship that allows us to take our mask off, sit down with a steaming cup of coffee or hot tea, and pour our worries out to someone who won’t judge us. That said, this is not a book for young readers, as some of the subject matter discreetly deals with complex, adult subjects.
Of course, if we’re married, our spouse should be our best friend, but as women we need other females who will walk this crazy journey of daily living with us. We don’t require hundreds of friends, not like on Facebook where friendship is created by clicking “confirm.” Instead we need someone with skin on to put their arm around us or to pick up their phone at 2 am to be present in our time of crisis or heartbreak, and we should be there in return.
A friend like Kimberly was to me or like Katherine “Katie” Montague is in my novel. The widowed coffee shop owner yearns to be a trustworthy confidant for Cassie, the pastor’s wife. I hope the book is an entertaining read.
But at the end of the day, my desire is for this novel to provide comfort and encouragement for everyone who needs emotional or spiritual healing or support, the kind of support friendship provides. After all, that’s what friends do, they are God’s servants whose presence lets us know, whatever we’re going through, we are never alone.