Being a Minor Sufferer

I have the most mediocre, run-of-the mill trials.

I mean, really.thinkstockphotos-469098080

And, since I know You’re listening, Lord, that doesn’t mean I want them ramped up to a Daniel or Job on the scale of suffering!  Just making sure You know I’m okay with my Mary and Martha level.  I’m good with that!  ;-)

Unlike my Job-like friends I talked about in this article, I’m kind of this mediocre sufferer.  My trials are always highly obnoxious, only a little scary, and a bit sad.  Not real earth-shattering.  Let me make a “RJ’s Suffering List” in a Paul-like way.  You remember the Apostle Paul’s list, right?  Involves a lot of beating, people trying to kill him, and even a shipwreck? AND his list is all stuff done in the name of Christ!  Like real persecutions for his faith.  MY list is just regular life woes.  Would only count as “thorns in the flesh”!

So, that disclaimer being said, RJ Conte’s very vulnerable, honest, and pretty complete list would go something like this:

Separated her shoulder and ankle ligaments – twice each

Had hormonal imbalances.

Had a doctor perform the wrong test, which scared her senseless for a bunch of years

Had to deliver two healthy babies by emergency c-section – couldn’t have her perfect births

Lost relatives to spiritual and physical death

Went through 18 months of infertility after having two children successfully 

Lost some cartilage on one side of her knee 

Has chronic environmental allergies to everything, including most animals

Gets pneumonia or some other respiratory infection once a year from colds

Has a couple ex-friends who won’t talk to her due to her infuriating stupidity in her young adult years

Has had other friends get caught in serious sins

Has occasionally been treated selfishly and not loved the way believers should love one another

Has a daughter with a massive amount of food allergies – none that are life-threatening, but all that lend itself to obnoxious hives and maybe vomiting

Has had to move a little bit often, and leave churches a couple times

Doesn’t make money on her novels…

Because her novels are overtly Christian, and the world isn’t quite down with that

Had to have Accutane because the acne went on FOREVER. And, even now, in adulthood, some of it has come back

Has been insulted on her physical appearance…

Maybe because she’s never at a perfect weight, but always has those last 15 pounds she’d love to lose…

And what do you know? Finds out she has gestational diabetes in her recent pregnancy, and probably some insulin resistance, which probably caused her infertility to begin with…

Therefore, has to give up regular Mountain Dew  *sob*

 

Woot!  That’s my LIFE Trial List!  I put ALL of those on there so that you can hopefully identify with one or two or five or all of them.  See?  I’m a normal human being like you. Please tell me Paul isn’t laughing up in glory. No offense to anyone whose list is identical to mine, but it’s kind of measly.

What do you do when you’re the “normal friend” with the normal, daily life trials?

The person who doesn’t have much to say or help to give out because you’ve not gone through much of anything that interesting – or that every other Christian hasn’t gone through to some extent?

And sometimes you wish you could trade in the whole group of the small guys for one big, God-glorifying trial that’s over a few days after it begins but makes you this awe-inspiring Christian with a great testimony?

And then you’re ashamed of yourself for saying so, because the Elijahs and Jobs of the world look at you like, “You’re thirty years old, for grief’s sake, and have it all.  Seriously?”

Okay, maybe they don’t do that, because they’re freakin’ Job, for goodness sake, and have so much love and compassion and godly character that they could drown you in it.  But you’re convinced they probably are tempted to think that way about you.  That they’re secretly wringing their hands at home, staring at your Facebook posts, and hating your guts. Right?

I have a dear person in my life whose short years are littered with a few, scattered, mediocre trials.

“I kind of had a crush on someone but they didn’t like me back.”

“I have some big fears.”

“I didn’t make the grades in college that I liked.”

“My managers didn’t treat me well.”

“Someone close to me moved away.”

But this person has completely walked away from the Lord. They can’t see beyond their own suffering, which they see as horrendously awful, even though very few in their life have any clue what would warrant their dramatic, victim response.

The little ongoing things are REAL, folks.  They’re sneaky.  They creep in and go on and on and on, making us think our life is less than perfect, will never BE perfect, and drive us crazy with their prickly itchiness.  Sure, we may not have lost our entire family to death or been tortured for our faith or be stricken as a paraplegic, but things are still NOT RIGHT.  And, as pathetic as we can feel, those things linger day after day after day and break down the joy that we’re supposed to have.

I’m going to introduce a radical concept: all trials are trials.

Call out!  Ask for help.  Reach out.  Ask for prayer. Get godly advice. Don’t be ashamed.

Sure there’s some validity to saying, “Wow, I’m a stupid, babyish ninny.  Get a grip and move on with life, and don’t let these little things bother you.” But I really don’t think that’s always helpful or productive, and few human beings are in that kind of place. And God totally gets that.  You don’t hear him calling us “stupid, babyish ninnies.”  God only gives us the trials He knows we can survive and also come out the other end (1 Corinthians 10:13). So for some, those may seem “smaller” but there’s no belittling comparison scale in the kingdom of God.

And His GRACE is sufficient for ALL of them.

If you or I are really struggling in a little Martha trial (“My sister drives me NUTS, Lord.  Make her clean house and play host with me!”) chances are, that’s where my spiritual idols are.  And the feeling of being used as a slave by one’s lazy sister, whether the right perspective or not, has the same capacity of driving us away from the Lord as the massive shooting of one’s whole family does for someone else.

DON’T let that make you feel small, pathetic, or worthless.  All things that make us believe that God is making a mistake (Martha: “Jesus, why are you letting her SIT there?  Jesus, do something differently!”), all of those things that make us doubt that God is good, drive us from Him.  And, before you know it, your “mediocre list” has become a gigantic battleground for the devil.  It’s a fight for your very soul.

Can I highly, highly, highly recommend One Thousand Gifts, which I’m re-reading for the51vwntxh1sl-_sx347_bo1204203200_ 2nd or 3rd time? Ann Voskamp is a very, very average homeschool mom and housewife.  She had her one “big tragedy” in young childhood when she was hardly old enough to even get it. But, besides that, her trials have been run of the mill.  Compared to anyone else maybe.  However, Ann saw that bitterness, ingratitude, and a coldness to God were sneaking in right under her nose while she washed dishes and did laundry and made dinner for the millionth time day after day. And, in beautiful, poetic words, she explores the beauty of all of life – everything God gives – the great and the impossible. And how her entire life’s perspective changed.

This Christmas I asked for butcher paper.  Yep, this giant, larger-than-life roll.  My sweet mother-in-law, without question, went and bought it for me, and it sits under my tree like a giant possibility of gleaming white.

I know what my very first use of it is going to be – the making of a floor to ceiling list.  Of gratitude.  That the Conte family can walk by and add to at any time.

So that those little bugs don’t get in the way – my shoulder is aching again as I type this, and I’m really, really hankering for a piece of holiday pecan pie that I shouldn’t eat.  (Man alive.  Die, taste buds, die!  You cruel villains!) Because those little bugs grow and grow and grow in our hearts to become the most giant of Godzillas. To become life or death to our souls and our First Love (Revelation 2:4).

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This guy has it all.  Pure happiness in liquid form, baby.  :-P  :-D

So no one is a “minor sufferer” at all.  Even giving up the Mountain Dew can be a giant
battle that leaves you a little breathless, a bit bruised, and more surrendered for the kingdom of Christ.  Hey, if you’re going through a sugar detox, come to me, and I will WEEP with you, bro!

 

It all matters in the Great Fight that is this Christian life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections on the Election – by the Home School Legal Defense Association

Everythinmike-farrisg that I could say about the current election is said even better by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)’s chairman, Mike Farris. Excellent recap of our concerns, needs, prayers, and even hopeful relief in Donald Trump’s election.  I urge you to read it carefully.

 

So what does this mean for issues of concern to homeschooling families and related communities?

1. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and related treaties most likely will not see the light of day.
The person leading the State Department’s transition team is Steven Groves, a long-term ally from the Heritage Foundation. Steve and I were the only two witnesses allowed to testify against the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

This is a strong signal that the State Department will move in a good direction on protecting American sovereignty.

2. We will need to exercise special diligence on judicial appointments.
Historically, Republican appointments for federal judges are good in many sectors of constitutional law. However, GOP-appointed justices have been very unreliable on issues of parental rights and religious freedom.

HSLDA will join with other religious freedom–oriented groups to ensure that these issues are given appropriate consideration in the process of vetting federal judges.

3. We cannot just assume that all will be well on education issues.
Donald Trump has no experience or track record with education policy. There is some very early talk about an effort to actually close the United States Department of Education. That would be a wonderful miracle.

It is fair to expect Trump’s team to take away any federal program that will promote the Common Core. This does not mean that states will automatically stop this program. But the federal financial incentives to do so should be halted.

We can and must insist that the prohibitions on any federal role in homeschooling (which we first won in 1994) will be extended and hopefully put into permanent law.

4. Religious freedom will still be an extremely important issue and cause for concern.
While we can expect the administrative branches of the federal government to be far less of a threat itself to religious freedom, the federal courts are not so easily changed in the short run.

However, many of the threats to religious liberty are at the state level. State agencies are the ones that have prosecuted Christian pharmacists who refuse to sell abortion-causing drugs. The Supreme Court (led by GOP-appointed justices) eviscerated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and limited the ability of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to protect citizens against state agencies which invade our free exercise rights.

There is not a lot that the Trump administration can do to fix these state-based problems originally caused by the U.S. Supreme Court. Appointing good justices is a start, but that is a long-term issue that will require a real change on the Court.

Religious freedom fights will continue to escalate and we cannot relax thinking all is well on this front.

5. The right to life may see some important gains.
It is very possible that Planned Parenthood will no longer receive federal funding. That will be a really big deal, if it comes to pass.

We certainly should see the federal government step back from its role as a worldwide promoter of abortion rights.

6. Mike Pence may become the most influential Vice President in American history.
While Donald Trump clearly understood the hearts of the American public in remarkable ways, his lack of political experience will require him to lean on others for knowledge and wisdom. There is no finer man I have ever worked with in politics than Mike Pence. He is a strong evangelical Christian and an unfailing friend to homeschooling families.

I am committed to praying every single day for Mike Pence, that he will be relied upon in significant ways not only for policy but for wisdom and an example of character.

7. Trump and the GOP majority in Congress have a real chance to deliver.
If the Trump administration becomes known for verbal outbursts and vendettas, the GOP will suffer long-term damage. Worse yet, because of the strong evangelical Christian support for Trump, this community will suffer lasting political consequences through association with a leader for whom character does not matter.

However, if Trump turns a page in his life and becomes the man that many good and godly people hoped he would become, then we have the far better story that people can change and that character still does matter.

But as important as the character issues are, the plain fact is that Trump and the GOP must deliver meaningful change that results in less federal government, less debt, less intrusion into our lives, and greater protections for the freedoms actually listed in the Constitution. The alienation coming from the long-term failure of the GOP to deliver any meaningful reform is at the heart of the reason the electorate rejected every experienced politician, first in the GOP presidential primaries and then on November 8.

In short, if Donald Trump exhibits consistent character and together with the GOP leadership in Congress delivers meaningful change, then the future looks brighter than it has in a long time. But, in the meantime, citizens must be vigilant at all times because the allure of Washington, D.C., can entice the best and the brightest.

8. We need to pray for our president.
Donald Trump will be sworn in as President on January 20. If we are Americans, he will be our president, just as Obama was our president. Our duty to pray for our president is unconditional and does not depend on whether we voted for them or not.

I am praying that Donald Trump will become the man that many believed him to be and that he would come to know Christ in a mature way. (I don’t know his soul, but we can always pray that someone would grow in Christ.)

In conclusion
Pray for our leaders. Hope for the best. Watch and be ready to fight at a moment’s notice.

 

Winner of the Mad Libs Contest!

We have a winner of the Mad Libs contest! Thank you for sending in entries!
 
Judging had to pick Jenna Skye Aquino for her succinct, creative, and clever paragraph using all 5 crazy words:
 
“Steven was trying the new meatloaf recipe his girlfriend had found online. The last time she tried something new it was disastrous. He had never felt his stomach crinkle like that before nor did Advil alleviate the pain. Hopefully this time around the recipe won’t make his body bloat like a globe. He was a nincompoop for trying the recipe but he loved her, this he would do to support her.”
 
Congratulations, Jenna. You win a paperback copy of Heartsick!
 

My Q&A Video #2!

I answer Camilla Cruz Uphaven’s question on the inspiration for each of my novels.

Find out:

My least favorite life event

Which characters are secretly me with different names

If I ever talked to a crisis hotline volunteer and my personal story there

and more!

Do You Like Mad Libs? Here’s a Game For You…

GIVEAWAY!!

 
Anyone ever get the feeling that Dr. Who episodes are created by the directors playing Mad Libs and then the writers just going with whatever comes up?😛
 
While I’m waiting to get my voice and lungs back (had a rough bout of walking pneumonia) to continue my video series, I thought it might be fun to do an original sort of giveaway.
 
You guys are ALL writers, and you just don’t know it.😉
 

I’m going to give you a series of 5 crazy words, and you need to write a 2-4 paragraph micro-story.

Results need to be in before November 1st! Winner will receive a paperback copy of my last novel published (and biggest novel!, Heartsick!
 
Send me your micro-stories over pm or email (dashwoodavenue@gmail.com)
 
Now HERE are your words:

meatloaf, crinkle, Advil, globe, and nincompoop!

All 5 words MUST be used.
 
May the best Mad Libbers win!!😀
 
2D
 

Ask Me Questions!

Hello, all!2014-06-05-14-00-19

I’m thinking of trying to get with the twenty-first century, and try to use video more with my online presence. I’m looking at a video advertisement idea, as well as I want to leave a video for you on my blog and Facebook page answering questions YOU have for me.

They can be on anything: Christianity, parenting, Asian TV, or, of course, writing and publishing.  Please shoot your question my way here in the comments, or, if you want to be anonymous, to dashwoodavenue@gmail.com (and label it “anonymous question”).

Look forward to “seeing” you here later this week!

I WILL Love Perfectly

This blog entry is going to be shamelessly ripped from my pastor’s sermon and Jonathan Edwards’ thoughts. It was so encouraging to me that I had to share it, and I hope it’s something that warms your heart and fills you with hope as it did me! Thank you to Daniel C., my pastor, for faithfully sharing the Word!

The greatest apologetic that the world will ever know is our love.

But what will love look like in heaven?

It will NEVER END.

So much else in this world passes away, but love endures forever.  Love will always exist – always be active. Love is vastly superior to the other gifts.

Love in Heaven

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There is coming a time when our love for God will be radically different.

If we were honest with ourselves, there has never been a portion of a moment where we’ve loved the triune God with our whole heart, mind, and strength as we should. Most of us start our prayer time with, ‘Sorry I haven’t loved You like I should this week, God…”

Do you realize that a day will come when we WILL love God rightly?  In Eternity!

What a beautiful day to look forward to!  That spark of love that feels like a fragile ember? God will fan it into a flame for eternity.  Our hearts will NEVER be cold towards God again!  The believers in heaven will have NO difficulty expressing their love.  it will be a wildfire.

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There will also be an overflow of God’s love for His people.

Heaven is a place where God’s presence and love dwells, so uniquely, that we haven’t fully experienced it here on earth. God is an infinite fountain of love, all sufficient, overflowing, and inexhaustible.  He is unchanging. He won’t turn to us, 100 years in, and say, “I think I’ll be different today.”

We will know what it means to be loved by God in new ways for all eternity.

If this love awaits you:

  • Do not love the things of the world.
  • Love and long for the things of heaven.
  • Be content with difficulty because keep in mind what God has in store for you!
  • Fix your eyes on Christ in heaven.
  • Love God and His people now.

It’s not that heaven puts into people what was never in them to begin with. This love is growing there through the continuing work of the Holy Spirit.  You are already growing in love, believer.  <3

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You’re Invited to My Pity Party!

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You’re invited! Right here on social media – my special pity party.  All 637 of you on my friends list get to come!

I promise to be vague, I promise to provide lots of emoticons, and I promise to give you just a few details so that you can guess the individual that’s hurt me but I don’t say her name outright. Sounds like fun?  Bring your popcorn and gallons of ice cream because I’ll be crying my eyes out.  You’ll know because I’ll make it very obvious.  No leaving your office chair, and all sympathy welcome!  Warning: This post will have a lot of goofy meme examples.  :-D

 

Ever been to one of these? Ever found yourself forced to attend one of them even though you never RSVPed?

I am very concerned about the amount of memes and passive aggressive pity posts I have seen on Facebook.

Things like this:

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I feel like these things make injured people feel like they are “being the bigger person” while not-so-subtly letting all their friends know they’ve been hurt.

But instead of being the bigger person, I feel like we are wounding the cause of Christ. When I see Christians post these things, I cannot help but think of one thing only: this is a person who has not forgiven.

We may say you are working on forgiveness, and it is true that we can be tempted to bring back up old (or recent) scars, fighting the temptation against bitterness, but there is no “working on forgiveness.” There is only “forgiving” and “bitter.”  Each and every day that you choose to not get angry about a person’s sin, not dwell on it in your own mind, and not bring it up to others, you have forgiven. Every time you indulge to gossip about that hurt, you choose, in that moment not to forgive.  There is no state of “I will be fully un-bitter and fully forgiving in a matter of months. Every day I might be getting better and get angry about it less.”  There is only, “Today I chose to forgive.  Yesterday I sinned against God and chose to stew about it and talk about it to others.”

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven times…”

“…Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” Matthew 18:21-22, 32-35

Every day that you publicly invite questions because of passive aggressive memes and statuses, hinting about how someone has hurt you, is a day you make your Father in heaven angry – the Father that forgave the sins you commit against Him day in and day out.

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Another thing to think about when we post our pity party invitations and proclaim our unforgiving hearts online (or even privately to listening ears) is that we have failed others too.  We have been that erring friend.  We have been that bully. We have been that loud mouth or insensitive jerk. All of us have been there.  And God has brought us through a period of cleansing out our messed up hearts. Some of us have had lots of relationships restored.

When we post our hurts on our pages to all our friends, when we mention “that friend” that did such and such, we give God NO room for reconciliation and restoration.

God is the same God over your friends’ lives and hearts as He is over yours. In only thirty short years of living, I have seen SO many relationships restored to me.  Relationships where I thought the other party would never forgive me – where I was an immature rebel.  And relationships where I thought the other person would never apologize, where they had offended me.  And yet, I’d say about 75% of them have ended with restoration and reconciliation – in the way Christians are supposed to behave with each other.  As they and I have prayed quietly for each other, seeking counsel only from one or two wise counselors (but keeping the whole situation under wraps) restoration and repentance has happened.  Then, when those friends are welcomed back into fellowship with you or you with them – sometimes it’s taken years, but I’ve always been so in awe of the Lord when He makes the impossible happen – you don’t have bitter memes that are clearly about them littering your wall.  You don’t have hundreds of people who have become little detectives in the meantime, totally figuring out which friend hurt you so they can take up offenses for you. They – or you – can humbly walk back into friendship and fellowship knowing that your reputations have been preserved safely. That all has been forgiven and ugliness has not been spread.

Meanwhile, the people who choose not to post but to daily forgive and zip their lips from speaking (and their fingers from typing) are known as gracious, kind, trustworthy individuals. People do not fear messing up around you, people do not walk on eggshells around you, and people do not keep secrets from you, knowing you’re not talking in back alleys about them.

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Do unto others as you would have them do to you.  If you were that friend who sinned and messed up a relationship, would you be thrilled knowing the other party was posting memes about how they were the bigger person and you weren’t worth a second chance?  Is this how God treats us?  No, like the father of the Prodigal Son, He restores us, choosing to forget all that was behind, and pressing forward in celebration of getting His son back.

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Obviously, there are wicked people who shouldn’t be welcomed back into your life and who have done unspeakable things, but that still doesn’t mean you are exempt from forgiving them.  As far as the east is from the west, so are our sins removed from God in forgiveness.  How can we refuse to stop talking about what others have done when we know they will never sin against us as much as we have sinned against God?

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:25

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Let’s wait in quiet hope for our offenders to repent, only seeking godly counsel from one or two, telling people to pray instead for US that we would have pure and godly and forgiving hearts, giving 70X7 endless chances, not thinking ourselves “deserving” of anything from anyone, and not filled with pride that we would not fail in the ways we’ve been failed against.  There but for the grace of God go I.

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Setting Up the Romance Ship

I am a very, very typical reader on the whole.

I cheer on the good guys, have love/hate relationships with most of the bad guys, and root for the love interest that everyone else roots for. (At least that 90% of the population roots for.)  I don’t pick weird combinations, desire strange outcomes, or hope for bizarre pairings. I ship the characters everyone else ships.

As someone who loves love stories, and loves to write them even more than read or watch them, I’ve noticed a sincerely dominating – and profoundly important – pattern that needs to be in place to catch the average 90% of the population’s heart.

I’m going to call it the First Contact Romance Ship. (FCRS)

It’s very, very simple.

Set it up so that your main girl character bumps into her love interest FIRST.

Either it’s a negative or a positive interaction, but her very first male interaction needs to be with her future love interest. Unless the guy is going to be a false love interest and turn into an enemy later on – and that’s your plot (think Frozen) – this needs to be the case. If she bumps into a random male side character or doomed love triangle character instead, you will have torn up and angry fans – at least that average 90%. You know, the ones who aren’t rooting for the main girl to fall in love with her own little sister. That weird 10% is not going to be addressed in this article. So if you’re part of the strange and unusual 10% who always ship the oddest pairings, read no further, unless you’re trying to write a best-selling romance novel.😛

TV, movies, and novels do this in a variety of ways, over and over again.  I’ll just pick one example in each category. I picked obscure ones for the fun of it, but this is done in all popular entertainment. (Warning: SPOILERS):

1. Secret Garden (TV show)

secret-garden-secret-garden-korean-drama-ef-bc-88sg-lovers-34479655-1920-1088Main Guy picks Main Girl up in his car, thinking she’s someone else, and they end up at
his hotel. Main Girl leaves, but not before thinking the worst of Main Guy and his intentions. Then, even though she crushes on Other Guy for a bunch of episodes, you root for her to eventually end up back with Main Guy – and she does.

2. Austenland (movie)
austenland-holding_13254521245I didn’t love this movie in any way (Wow, so cheesy), but I thought it was genius when it comes to the FCRS principle. In the most subtle version of FCRS I’ve seen yet, Jane has a witty conversation with Mr. Nobley at the dinner table, and insults him.  When her feelings are hurt by the hostess, Nobley stands up and gives her a sad look.
She spends a good portion of the rest of the movie kissing and flirting with the stablehand, who looks like a really promising catch, yet all the 90% of viewers want is for her to get back with Nobely, even though it look hopeless.
Later, in a plot twist, the stablehand is a really a rogue, and Nobely is the real prince charming.  Brilliant.  I thought I was rooting for the wrong guy and was happy tthe_hosto be proven incorrect.

3. The Host (novel)

Melanie is in love with Jared.  We all know that. But Wanda, the alien, takes over her body,
and is an entirely new person in that body.  Even though Melanie the body misses Jared, Wanda falls for Ian, the first eligible male who defends her in a group of guys who all want her dead. And you’re happy when it happens.  :-P

You can find examples of FCRS all throughout fiction.  It’s a simple step to make sure that your fans root for the guy you have planned for your heroine.

What strikes me as really odd are the writers who seem to not understand this.  Without naming names of books that I thought failed as romance novels, I’ll post quips of real reviews by readers who were unsatisfied by the romance pairing. Every time I read a book and think that Main Girl ended up with the wrong guy, it’s because her first meaningful interaction with an eligible male did not include the actual Main Guy she was supposed to fall in love with (with very few exceptions – like first guy was just cruel in many ways, and Main Guy, who came about later, poured himself out in love and sweetness for Main Girl, or when first guy is shown to be someone whom Main Girl looks at as an apathetic weakling, idiot, or beneath her.  Nothing shuts off romance for a woman more than that.)

Here are real reviews from readers/viewers who agree with me every time. All of these books/shows/movies involve love triangles where FCRS was ignored, and fans were upset at the guy Main Girl chose. All of these come from one-star reviews or angry blog articles. Some of these novels, especially, have lower ratings overall. I see it over and over again whenever FCRS is ignored:

“The romance: There were (count ’em) THREE love interests for Main Girl in this book. None of them really go anywhere big, but it just felt like every guy in the book was into her. The hardest part about that is that there is an obvious choice – I genuinely thought that one guy was better than the others, and that just makes for a love triangle (or square?) that’s unsatisfying.” 

“A cliche ya story with special snowflake protagonist and several one dimensional love interests.”

“Girl falls in love with the other bad boy character (despite essentially zero interaction between them).”

“Perhaps writers are trying to tell us that life is unexpected, that people change, and that what you think will happen is never what you actually end up with. But still, we fangirls can feel a little gypped when we don’t get the pairing we want. After all, we are the consumers and the writers should keep our opinions in mind when writing.”

“-Possible romance with her Best Friend in the very beginning of the book. 
-Main Girl’s attraction to Second Guy. Look, you just met him a day or two ago. AND you seemed to like your Best Friend back at home. But now you are in love with this guy?!”

“Ending really destroyed everything for me at least. That other guy – baseball player… what was he called? Never mind. At the end like what? He never really played a big role this entire film and at the end he confessed his feelings to Main Girl. Like seriously did you even had a normal conversation with her?”

“Main Girl never ends up with the one man that could have supported and nurtured her crazy writing talent so that it grew wild, covering their mansion with green vines and exotic tropical flowers and palm leaves big as a man’s head where birds the color of jewels spoke to startled visitors in the parlor.   Main Girl ends up with geriatric old Mr. Germanic Graybeard. After learning of the dorky  but sometimes necessary practice of fan fiction, I immediately undertook to rewrite the ending (some wrongs just need to be (re)writed/righted), giving Main Girl the man she really wants, needs, and deserves.”

You get the picture.

I have a theory, too, about why this is with women.  Bear with me now, because I’m going to get a little philosophical.  Feel free to ignore this part if you want.🙂

I think most women really want a first and only love.

The first man that catches her eye, that stirs her heart, that she feels something for.  I think it’s because God really created humans to have a one and only soulmate, and divorce, death, and immature selfish lust get in the way of the good and precious love He originally planned for His creation.  He placed Adam and Eve in the garden with only each other. He didn’t create a ton of men for Eve to choose from or vice versa. I think “First Love” is powerful to human beings. And I think that 90% of women, in fiction, want the heroines to end up with their firsts. Because, to the 90%, that’s the most romantic of all.

So.

If you’re writing romance, it can be a temptation to do something new, exciting, different, and unusual.  I think that writers are often very unique thinkers, and like to do things outside the box.  But they get surprised when their average reader is upset by what they’ve done when it comes to love. Go ahead – be different.  But just add one *little* tiny scene in the beginning where Main Girl encounters the guy she’ll end up with.  And the fans will love you for it.  :-)