Intersection Column | The Bravery of the Young
by Tammy L. Gray
I’ll never forget the first time I met Tayler. She was barely nineteen, recently engaged, and had just accepted a position as the receptionist at our church. In her lap was a squirmy seven-month-old little girl. I asked the girl’s name and, after a few inquiries, learned that little “Lilli” was Tayler’s niece. What I didn’t learn until a while later was that only three months prior, Tayler had taken full guardianship of her sister’s daughter after finding her niece in a state of severe neglect. This girl, barely out of high school, took on the responsibility of raising a child when she was still a child herself. What amazed me more was that her fiancé, Luke, accepted that responsibility as well and became a full-time parent before he was even twenty. I asked Tayler what it felt like to make that decision, knowing it would forever alter her future. She just shrugged and said, “There was no decision. She needed me.” In that moment, I saw more bravery and commitment in Tayler’s eyes than I’d seen in the eyes of men and women three times her age.
I also knew in that moment that one day I wanted to write a version of her story. So, ten years later, I sat down again with Tayler as she walked me through the fight they were still in to gain custody of Lilli, of the struggle she’s had watching her sister’s life crumble due to continued addiction, of the constant fear she might lose her daughter, and of the challenges of being a mom in every way but one. But never in that conversation did she question her choice or the gift God had given her. Thus the inspiration for Love and the Dream Come True was born, and soon my heroine, Lexie, and her daughter, Morgan, became as real to me on paper as Tayler and Lilli were in real life.
But Lexie and Morgan’s journey isn’t the only one inspired by real events. My hero, Cameron, was also inspired by my own struggles as an artist. As I questioned the gifts God had given me and struggled with the pressure of perfection and sales and marketing, those dark moments of doubt found their way onto the pages of the story.
And what I realized in writing both character arcs was that each one of them was at their bravest when they were young, when they hadn’t yet suffered defeats and disappointments. They were willing and open and ready for the challenges God threw their way. I began to ask myself, when did I lose this freedom? When did I begin taking each step forward with doubt and caution until I couldn’t even see the path ahead anymore? There’s a reason Jesus applauded the faith of children. They are willing, pliable and fearless.
Love and the Dream Come True isn’t a story about fighting to make your dreams happen; it’s a story about surrender. Surrendering your dreams to the path God has for you. It’s about recognizing that God doesn’t want perfection. He wants real, true faith. He wants you to say yes when your fears are saying no. And when you do, wow, does He ever bless you for it.
I’m so thrilled to say that on December 10, 2021, after a ten-year legal battle, Lilli officially became the adopted daughter of Tayler and Luke. I was in the courtroom when the judge declared them a family and thought my heart might explode. This is the promise fulfilled. This is what happens when faith overcomes fear.
Since that day, God has asked me to take some mighty steps. And with each one, I remind myself of His faithfulness even when it’s hard, and some of them have been. But my hope as I age in years is that my faith and heart stay young and brave. Because the journey only ends when we become unwilling to step forward.
About the Author
Tammy L. Gray lives in the hill country with her family, and they love all things Texas. Her many modern and true-to-life contemporary romances include the 2017 RITA Award-winning My Hope Next Door and 2021 Carol Award-winning Love and a Little White Lie. Writing has given her a platform to combine her passion with her ministry all while sharing the messy yet remarkable journey that is a faith-filled life. Learn more at TammyLGray.com.
About the Book
Four years after getting the biggest break of his life, Cameron Lee's music career has taken a nosedive and he reluctantly returns home for his sister's wedding. Single mom Lexie Walters has finally achieved her dream of interior design and her life is at an all-time high when she runs into her teenage crush, Cameron Lee. Immediately drawn to each other, soon Lexie and Cameron must face the real world, the one filled with questions that sometimes can only be answered by a leap of faith.
Did You Know?
The St. Ignatius, Montana, Amish community is the only Amish community in the U.S. to sit on tribal lands. This remote community not only is the setting for Mary Alford’s latest release, Among the Innocent, but also contains a wealth of geographic, cultural and historical gems. Here are just a few examples.
Both the community and the town of St. Ignatius are part of the Flathead Indian Reservation. And there are three different law enforcement agencies that have jurisdiction over the area: the tribal police, the St. Ignatius police force, as well as the sheriff’s department out of Polson.
Another interesting fact about the Amish community is that it backs up against the rugged Mission Mountains.
The historical St. Ignatius Mission features 58 hand-painted murals painted by Brother Joseph Carignano, a self-taught artist who worked as the mission cook and handyman many years ago. The beauty of the mission is something to behold.
-Mary Alford, Among the Innocent
Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore
“Local bookstores are like a power station to your community. People from every walk of life can come in to connect with resources that will change their life.”
-Linda Evans Shepherd, Called to Pray