The Story Behind Winter’s Prey

The Story Behind Winter’s Prey

screen-shot-2016-07-12-at-10-30-24-pmYesterday, I shared a little about the background of Winter’s Prey in a post on Facebook—from a writing perspective. But I think it is important to share a little more about the background of the story.

I started writing the book when I was 14 years old. That’s right, 14. There are many reasons why it took 26 years to finish this book, but mostly I think it had a lot to do with God’s timing.

When I was a little girl, about 9, something happened that greatly upset me. It was a little something. In fact, it was so insignificant that it doesn’t even warrant mentioning. So why am I mentioning it? Because I held onto that something for a long time—and it made me miserable.

On the first morning of third grade, I got up, pranced down the stairs of our parsonage-home in Illinois, and walked into the living room where my dad was reading his Bible.

“Good morning!” he said, “and how is my big third-grader this morning?”

Those words made me feel loved. They made me feel that Dad was so proud of me!

By the next year, our family had moved. On the first morning of fourth grade, I walked out of my bedroom in our apartment on the campus of a Bible college in South Dakota and into the living room where Dad was reading his Bible.

“Good morning,” I said.

“Good morning,” he replied, not looking up from his Bible.

I waited. He said nothing more. My heart sank, having expected to hear those same words again. Instead of being assured of how much my dad loved me and was proud of me, I was now certain that he didn’t care.

I understand now that what was going to follow was one of the greatest displays of love and self-sacrifice my parents had ever shown to my sisters and me. You see that was the day they started homeschooling us. Dad’s new position with the college meant he would be on the road a lot, and he didn’t want to leave us behind. So they dedicated themselves to the labor and expense of making sure we could be together and still get the education we would need for life. It would mean long hours, lesson plans upon lesson plan, textbook purchases, and even coaching girls’ basketball at one point! (Can you imagine teaching 2nd and 4th grades while trying to wrangle a 4-year-old all in a 1981 Chevy Citation!!!) The entire day (and the years to come) was a display of love—but I saw only my disappointment.

My dad never could have met my expectation because he did not know it existed. He was one of the most loving, caring, and kind men I have ever known. He never would have intentionally hurt me, but my 9-year-old brain didn’t really understand life for what it was.

Years passed, and even though I had a good relationship with my dad that little seed festered in my heart. It grew into, as the Bible puts it, a root of bitterness. I heaped other disappointments up on top of it. I kept score. And, while I loved my dad very much, attitudes of resentment and even rebellion began growing in my heart.

When I was twelve, we moved to Billings, MT where my dad became the pastor of a church that was about to close its doors. For the first few months, we lived in an RV behind the church. IT WAS COLD!!!!! Do you know how cold it can get in a trailer when it’s 20 below? Let me tell you, it’s C-O-L-D!

In the spring, we moved a mobile home onto a piece of property outside of town. That summer on those 80 acres, I fell in love with Montana. We didn’t get to live there long before we had to move back into town, but I memorized just about every inch of that land. And talk about treasures! Someone had used part of the land as their own little landfill—a long time ago. I found antique medicine bottles, an old purse, junk I didn’t recognize—all kinds of things to stir up the interest of an imaginative 13-year-old.

That winter we went to a special meeting where the speaker talked about forgiveness. It wasn’t until that night that I realized that I had a very unforgiving heart toward my dad. I really don’t remember anything the speaker said. I just remember the ugliness that God revealed in my heart. I confessed it to God, and found a new freedom in my relationship with Dad in the days to come. But I never told anyone about what had happened, at least not for a long time. Instead…

I started writing a story. I didn’t want others to have the hurt of bitterness in their lives. I didn’t want it to destroy their relationships like it could have destroyed mine. I don’t know if most 14-year-olds think this way or not, but I did. So, in our little space of prairie “Barren Fields, Fruitful Gardens” and Marc and Jess and Jon and the whole Bennett family were born.

Obviously, the story doesn’t end there because it took me 26 years to get to this point! But I believe there were still things I needed to learn. Some of them you will see in this book, some of them don’t come out until the next book, or even the one after that. But Winter’s Prey is the beginning, and I hope it will do just what that 14-year-old girl—cuddled up on her bed with pen and notebook in hand and the relentless Montana winds beating and whirling about her mobile home—hoped it would do. I hope that it will bless. I hope that it will encourage. I hope that it will stir each of us to love when others are not lovely, to forgive when others seem unforgivable, to extend grace where judgment is more desirable, and to value our relationships with each of our family members to such an extent that we will work to make them what they ought to be.

I hope you enjoy Winter’s Prey and that it will bless many for years to come.

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SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAAbout Rachel Miller

I am the author of four books including my newest release, Winter’s Prey. I am also the Executive Director of Forbid Them Not Ministries, the happy aunt of ten nieces and nephews, and slightly addicted to life in Montana.

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Moses and the Identity Crisis

IMG_1957This week, I have finally been able to add a little extra treat to my morning quiet times. I’ve been able to get back to work on “Where the Myrrh Grows.” As I’ve been working on it I have been struck by something I had never noticed before.

Moses has been one of my favorite Bible characters for a very long time. His desire to know God has always inspired me to seek to do the same. God honored him as a man of meekness, but He wasn’t always that way.

As I began looking at his days in the wilderness, I had to start at the logical place – the event that led him there. One impulsive act, which to him appeared to be the right thing at the moment, changed his life forever. But as I read over the story, I saw a heart conflict in him that I had never seen before.

Was Moses having an identity crisis?

Many years after Moses lived, Mordecai told his cousin Esther that God had brought her into the kingdom “for such a time as this.”* I can’t help but think that the same sentiment had probably surrounded Moses for most of his life. Rescued from the river by Pharaoh’s daughter, raised by his Hebrew mother, given a place of honor in the Pharaoh’s palace – he was positioned perfectly to relieve the persecution and affliction of his people. But how was he to go about it?

In a sense, he was what missionaries sometimes refer to as a “third culture kid.” He was Hebrew, but brought up in an Egyptian world. The result was that he didn’t quite fit in either world. His was a culture all its own. He had been raised among the judges and rulers of the land, but sought to identify with his own people who were little better than slaves. He wanted to fulfill the purpose for which God has rescued Him from the Nile. He seemed to know what that purpose was, but he failed in its application. Instead of bringing the Egyptian who was beating the Hebrew before Pharaoh and seeking justice, Moses killed him – and thus began his wilderness experience.

Many of us understand our purpose, but don’t know how to apply it. Fortunately, no matter how badly we mess up it doesn’t usually end in murder. But finding the application of our purpose – the way we’re supposed to work out whatever God has called us to – can be difficult, frustrating and even damaging to ourselves and others when we miss the mark. It can easily be the beginning of a wilderness.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Seeing how trying to reach the standards, guidelines, expectations, and methods for life and ministry set by others – though they be very godly men and women – can actually derail and hinder what God had planned. Not because there is anything wrong with any of those requirements and expectations. Not because they are unworthy goals, but because seeking to meet those expectations was a box into which my purpose and calling didn’t fit.

When Moses ran into the wilderness and finally had a moment’s rest, he must have looked back at the event that had gotten him there and thought, “Man, I really messed up. I completely failed at what God wanted me to do.” And he was probably right. But God took him into that wilderness to teach him what he would later need in order to fulfill that purpose. When he learned how to properly live out what God wanted him to do, God was glorified and the people of Israel were delivered.

The same is true in our lives. It is easy to look at what we feel is expected of us and assume that it is part of God’s will for our lives, but the expectations of others are not the guide God has established for our lives. He wants to lead us by His Word and the Holy Spirit. Though it is not always the case, sometimes when we add those expectations to the mix, what we are really doing is adding an unnecessary weight of stress.  God has laid out his guidelines for our lives in Scripture; that should be our first standard for living. Living a life guided by the expectations of others, no matter how good those expectations, can cause us to completely miss what God actually wanted us to be doing – trying to do both has the potential to destroy us physically, mentally, and spiritually.

How about you? Has God shown you His purpose for your life? Are you carrying it out in His way, your own way, or the way you feel others are expecting you to carry it out? Only one of the three options is the right way.

“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:6

*Esther 4:14

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ABOUT RACHEL MILLER

I am the author of three books, including the In All Thy Ways Devotional Journals. You can check them all out here. I also run a Christian editing and writing service. Check it out and let me know how I can help you.