February greetings from Marti Pieper in chilly but beautiful Seneca, South Carolina! Today, I’m delighted to welcome a dear friend to our CAN blog. Linda W. Rooks and I first met through the Orlando, Florida, Word Weavers group, where she is a charter member and where we have both served in leadership. Linda is a beautiful person whose written words echo the loveliness of her heart. I know you’ll enjoy reading this interview and learning about the ways God has turned the brokenness in her life into a strong and vital ministry to others.
Welcome, Linda! Please tell us about your latest book.
Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated guides a person step-by-step through the complexities of a separation by sharing practical insights, biblical wisdom, true stories of reconciled marriages, and my own reconciliation story after a three-year marital separation. Even if you’re fighting for your marriage alone, a reconciled marriage is possible.
And what inspired you to write this book?
When I was a young woman and dreamed of one day becoming a writer, the idea of writing for people with marriage problems was the furthest thing from my mind. But life has a way of interrupting our plans in unexpected ways so God can redirect our paths for His larger purposes.
In the ’90s my husband and I endured a painful three-year separation, which spun my world in circles. With heart in anguish and nothing to hold me together but God, I often sat and journaled my fears, my doubts, my questions and confusion until God brought me to a place of peace. When my husband and I reconciled and I showed him what I’d written, we both realized my writing and the hope God had given me through our experience could help others. The writings during that time became the foundation for my first book, Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation, and launched us into a ministry to those in hurting marriages. The many marriages reconciled through our ministry inspired me to write Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated.
As you shared, you had already written a book about marital separation. So why did you write this second one?
After Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation was published, emails from readers began pouring in, asking me questions about how to navigate their own circumstances. I responded to them, and in many cases walked with readers through their journey of separation and marital breakdown for quite awhile. About this time, my husband and I started a ministry to those in crisis marriages at our church.
After twelve years of ministry to marriages in crisis and seeing so many separated couples reconcile their marriages—even when only one of them made the effort—I realized a second book was needed. While my first one was more like a devotional to offer hope, strength and healing, I saw the need for a more practical book that would walk with a person step by step along their journey of separation. Those who are separated—or have a spouse seeking divorce—feel hopeless. If they don’t want a divorce, they usually do all the wrong things to prevent it. But in my experience, I had seen so many marriages come back together, I knew it was not hopeless. I wanted to provide a resource that showed these people the right steps so even if they had an uncooperative spouse, they could find a path toward reconciliation. Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated walks with readers step by step through their separation to give strength and guidance regardless of the outcome.
Thank you so much for explaining that. So what is the primary focus of this book?
Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated is written to provide guidance to those who want to save their marriages, even if their spouses have walked out the door and turned their back on them. They might be separated in different residences or in the same house. Their spouse may be threatening or pursuing divorce. The primary focus of the book is to help them avoid the common pitfalls of separation and show them the most effective way to walk this journey so reconciliation is possible.
Great! And what do you hope readers will take away from this book?
My hope is that readers will find hope for their marriages and faith that God will direct their paths. I want them to know they are not alone while walking this difficult journey and that others have successfully made it through. By sharing practical strategies, biblical principles, and a number of stories of reconciled marriages, I want to introduce them to a well-traveled path that can lead toward reconciliation.
That’s wonderful. How do you share Christ in your writing?
Through the years of working in ministry to those in crisis marriages, I have come to realize that God uses the lowest moments of our lives to bring us to Him. Marriage ministry is not just for marriage, but also an outreach ministry to lost or struggling souls who need to find God or come closer to Him. I’ve seen people come to Christ—or sometimes come back to Christ—simply because, in their pain, they finally realize they need something more. Many pick up one of my books because of a broken marriage, but find hope there because of Jesus. In my books, blogs and articles, I continually point readers to God as the ultimate rescuer of our hearts and lives.
I know you do! And why do you love writing?
From the time I was very young, writing has been an escape for me during tense moments or difficult times. If I am struggling with doubt, depression, anger, or heartache, sitting at my computer or picking up a pen and paper to write helps me sort out my thoughts. Often while I’m writing, God refreshes my soul and breaks through to give me a clearer perspective.
Also, I love words. When writing, I’m content and happy to spend as much time as necessary looking for just the right word to express what I’m trying to say. I love to fit the words together so a sentence or paragraph flows easily from one thought to another. My goal when I write is to phrase my words so they sing in the reader’s heart and lift their spirits.
Please tell us about your most touching moment with a reader.
May I share more than one? I love my readers. And over the last fourteen years, I have had many beautiful and touching moments when readers warmed my heart, often bringing me tears of gratitude toward God. The first one came within the first year after my first book, Broken Heart on Hold, was published. In an email, this reader wrote, “I sit here with your words meeting me in my pain. I am currently separated from my husband. It has been two months since he left me and the children. I breathe so deep and cry a lot when I read your book. Your words just penetrate my heart. I think you are the only person in the world who understands how it feels and that my pain is so real.” I was so touched by the fact that my book was helping her through her grief. It was an affirming moment that God was indeed using my crisis and my words to heal others. After corresponding with her for a while, we actually met for dinner a couple of times and shared at a deep heart level.
Another woman who was separated and brokenhearted emailed me many times over the course of several months, asking for direction. Her marriage appeared hopeless to her, but I saw hope and encouraged her to let go and give it to God. After seven months of our corresponding, she posted on my Facebook page, telling an amazing story of how God had used my book to help her restore her marriage. My heart soared at the revelation. She and I have continually kept in touch over the years.
A third reader was emailing for help and direction when she learned we were starting a new Marriage 911 class in the Orlando area. She ended up driving two hours each way every week for thirteen weeks to come to our class. She is dear to my heart, and we keep in touch to this day. Many others have touched my heart over the years, but these three stand out.
Those are beautiful stories. What ministries are you involved in, and why?
My husband and I are involved in a ministry for those in troubled marriages called Marriage 911. It’s a wonderful ministry begun by Joe and Michelle Williams in Modesto, California. Because God brought my husband and me back together after we endured a three year separation, he and I want to show others that hope for marriages in crisis is possible even in the most dire of circumstances. In Marriage 911, individuals can come without their spouse and still succeed in restoring their marriages. God is a miracle-working God, and over the fourteen years we’ve been doing this ministry, we’ve seen reconciliation take place again and again, even for couples who came with divorce papers in hand.
Do you have pets, and do they inspire your writing or hinder it?
Our two cats recently inspired me to write a story called “Missing Skittles” that ultimately appeared in Chicken Soup: Life Lessons from the Cat, published in 2019. Percy and Skittles are two male orange cats who love to snuggle with each other and us, but also bring a lot of smiles and laughter. We have always had cats and also a couple of dogs. Clyde, our wild and crazy Akita, passed away a couple of years ago, but inspired a chapter in my first book, Broken Heart on Hold. I think we can learn a lot of lessons from our relationships with our pets, and they always provide entertainment.
I agree! Linda, what are your passions outside of writing?
Outside of my writing, my biggest passion is for my family, especially spending time with our five grandchildren. The happiest moments we’ve had in recent years have been when the whole family went on trips together. One of the most memorable was a three-day river boat outing on the beautiful St. Johns River. Creating memories is one of the best things to do with time or money because they can never be taken away or erased. And when these memories are with grandchildren, they have a very long lifespan.
That’s beautiful. And now, please tell us about your next project.
After I have taken a breather from writing my last book, I plan to continue working on a book with the working title, Finding Hope in the Messy Garden of Life. It’s a devotional book set in my own backyard, where I weave together anecdotal experiences in my yard with personal analogies of life. Based on the tagline from my Heart Talk blog, “Finding Hope in Unexpected Places,” each story lifts the reader’s eyes above their failures and disappointments to see the glimpses of hope God brings amidst the weeds of their gardens and the messiness of life.
That sounds great, Linda. Thank you so much for taking time to share with our readers today!
For His glory,