I am pleased to welcome author Lea Sims to the blog today, as well as guest interviewer & author Jaycee Weaver!
Delaney Anderson is a confident, successful digital media executive living the dream in the heart of Manhattan. She has everything a modern woman could want -husband, home, wealth, connections, and a killer corner office overlooking the city. She’s on track to make vice president in another few years.
But Delaney is also a woman with a story, one that’s been locked inside her for most of her life. When that story starts banging to get out, life begins to unravel. A perfunctory marriage leads to an affair with a coworker. A painful and expensive divorce leaves her suddenly uncertain and adrift.
When the death of a family member forces her to return home after many years, she gears up for a fight with the ghosts of her past. But she runs head first into the grace of God -in the form of an old family friend, an unexpected church, and a disconcertingly kind man. She receives revelation from an unusual source and finds the courage to speak her truth and drop her chains. Through Delaney, we learn that we all have a story and that letting God redeem that narrative is the only path to a life of purpose.
Bethany Foley spends a lot of time waiting—waiting in parking lots for kids, waiting for her husband to change his mind, waiting for her heart to heal, and waiting on God to work a miracle and save her marriage. Her husband has left her for another woman, and she’s facing a daunting future of running her ballet studio alone and raising two small children part time.
There’s nothing Wyatt Foley wants more than to finalize his divorce and move on with his life. He’s got a new girlfriend, his construction business is booming, and he’s about to put a deposit down on a new life. He’d like to put his past in the rear view mirror, but his children are a constant reminder of what he’s leaving behind, and he can’t shake the feeling that somewhere along the way, he took a wrong left turn.
Through a series of divine connections and well-timed revelations, God intervenes. Wyatt’s world is turned upside down. Bitter truth forces his face to the mirror and his knees to the floor. And just a few miles away, his wife discovers something sacred about silent spaces of trust: God is in the waiting.
With the girding support of some amazing friends, an unexpected opportunity to rescue a girl, and divine intervention from an unlikely source, she learns that with God, there’s nothing broken beyond repair and it’s never too late for a happy ending.
Hi Lea & Jaycee! Welcome to the blog! Thanks for sharing your chat with us!
JW: Your books are both set in the fictional Refresh Station Church. Is this based on a real-life place?
LS: The refurbished fire station idea (and all other “fire” related ministry elements) were inspired by God and birthed from my heart. My father-in-law, my husband, and two uncles on my husband’s side are all firefighters, and I’m blessed to be part of an amazing fire service “family”—a model that lends itself so well to kingdom parallels of service, family, sacrifice, and rescue.
I love the opportunity that fiction provides to paint pictures with words. Diverging from a typical church building enabled me to paint with different colors. Because I write stories that pull no punches when it comes to describing the brokenness of humanity, my books really need the balance and the breathing space where the camera pans out—where descriptions of sights, sounds, and scenery can wrap some beauty around otherwise challenging realities.
JW: I so agree. Let’s dig in a little deeper. Running From Monday was one of my absolute favorite books last year. Right from the first page, readers are drawn into a rather vivid and painful scene. While I’ve read books that cover the topic of sexual abuse, I’ve never read one so realistic in its portrayal. What made you decide to tell Delaney’s story without holding back or softening the hard parts for sensitive readers?
Lea: At the end of 2016, I felt a strong confirmation in my spirit that it was time to step down from a women’s ministry leadership role I had been in for almost ten years. I felt God say, “This season is over. Lay that role down. I have something new to put in your hands.” I offered up my heart, hands, and gifts to God and told him to use them however he needed to.
One day, I felt a stirring in my spirit to pause [from my work]. I looked up, and these words dropped into my spirit: Delaney’s eyelids fluttered open. I opened a Word document and began transcribing exactly what was being downloaded to my heart. I wrote the entire opening abuse scene for RFM in about twenty minutes. I sat back from the keyboard with my hands shaking and my heart pounding.
I had zero doubt that it had come from the Holy Spirit. I called my husband into my office (I work from home) and read it to him. I told him what had happened and asked him what he thought of it. He said it had given him an immediate punch in the gut—that it was awful and powerful all at the same time. And then he said, “I think you should really meditate on the possibility that God is asking you to write a fiction story.”
I was stunned. I’d never considered writing fiction. But in that moment, all the puzzle pieces fell into place (a much longer story than I can tell here), and I had the answer to my months of prayer, fasting, and waiting. Almost immediately, I felt an anxiety about publishing a book with such a raw and painful opening scene. I considered moving it to the middle or end. I even contemplated redrafting it, softening it, making it more vague. And I’ve never had such a swift response from the Holy Spirit. I felt the words “Do not touch it” drop like a rock in my spirit.
I knew it would take some courage to leave it there and accept that some readers would not be able to get past it. But the vast majority who’ve read it have been deeply impacted by that opening scene, and the freedom it is bringing to women with a “me too” story have made me very, very glad I obeyed God. The opening scene is definitely a trigger, but it’s the very thing that can pierce the deep wound that is desperately in need of healing.
If I gloss over it or pull up short of telling the raw truth, I risk losing the many readers who need that gut-punching moment where a door to the past opens up and the Holy Spirit can slip into that open space and begin to minister.
JW: Waiting on Tuesday involves a married couple in the middle of divorce. Rather than place all the blame on the infidelity of one, you work in and through both characters’ culpability for the demise of their marriage and then bring God’s healing. How did you go about forming this story and walking the reader through such emotionally high highs and low lows?
Lea: I knew the focus in the second book would be on the restoration of a marriage. If I was going to be successful in telling a believable redemptive narrative about how this happens, I needed to prayerfully consider the complex but beautiful process by which God can navigate two people who are on the ragged edge of divorce back together.
I’ve watched some amazing couples in my own church walk this out, and I know that it’s an imperfect process with many painful gray areas, where a lot of self-evaluation, repentance, forgiveness and grace is critical. God has to be at the center of it. A supportive community of believers to whom both people are willing to hold themselves accountable is also integral to that redemption story. It was important to show that heart transformation occurs by degrees through divine appointments, meaningful conversations, and nudges from God’s Spirit that open the door to awareness and revelation.
Through Wyatt, I was able to show what kind of heart response would be necessary in those moments to lead an unfaithful spouse back to their marriage. Likewise, many rejected men and women find it too hard to open themselves up to reconciliation. They have trouble trusting, offering forgiveness, laying down the power card they hold, and walking out their own healing. Bethany was a beautiful vehicle for telling that side of this narrative. Weaving their journeys together produced what I truly believe is a powerful love story.
Falling in love is not the love story. Staying in love is where the real romance is.
JW: What is your greatest hope for what readers will take away from your books?
Lea: My greatest hope for these books is that they will carry the anointing of God on them, because only the anointing can open blind eyes, make hearts tender, break lifelong chains, and bring healing, restoration and transformation. No book, no matter how expertly written nor how great the story, can do any of those things. Unless the Holy Spirit breathes upon the page, the words remain just words.
I want readers to encounter God’s Spirit in these stories because ultimately, the book is just the vehicle or vessel through which the Holy Spirit wants to move from the static page to the human heart.
JW: What’s next for you and for Refresh Station Church?
Lea: I love to tackle difficult subjects and paint a picture of Kingdom principles and Kingdom life. The next book in this series (tentatively titled Caring for Wednesday) will take a deep dive into racism and prejudice. Lots of prayer currently underway with God about that one. Stay tuned.
A big thanks to Lea Sims for sharing her heart with us today! You can find both of her Refresh Station novels on Amazon. Her website also has a lot of great information about her ministry and other work. She loves to connect with readers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
And a big thanks to Jaycee Weaver for sharing this interview & this author with us! ♥
I am offering a Kindle copy of Running From Monday (or Waiting on Tuesday, winner’s choice) to one of my readers! Open internationally as long as ebook can be accepted from US Amazon – void where prohibited by law. This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What interests you most about this series?