Shannon here: Contemporary Romance author, JoAnn Durgin is back. Today JoAnn shares her proposal story and a chance to win her latest book, Twin Hearts. Every time you comment on this post, your name goes in the drawing. Deadline: May 5th, 11:59 pm, central time. Here’s JoAnn:
In late 1986, I moved from Dallas, Texas, back home to southern (stress that part) Indiana, and then to Visalia, California, a charming little “oasis in the desert” between Bakersfield and Fresno. Why Visalia? My boyfriend, Jim Durgin, was the new associate pastor for youth and music at a charming little church. He’s a Newport, RI native, and we met when I worked in downtown Dallas as a legal secretary and he was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary.
We met on a blind date (that’s another story I’ll have to write about someday, maybe a fictionalized version). I always detested girls who “followed” guys and moved with the hope of getting a ring on their finger. But guess what? In a series of events only the Almighty could orchestrate (including an unexpected job loss, a surgery, a Caribbean cruise, an unexpected job offer and a ton of letters and phone calls), the Lord made it abundantly clear He wanted us both in the same place and see where this relationship might lead. And where He leads…
Fast forward to early February of 1987. Jim stopped by my office every day leading up to Saturday, Valentine’s Day, and he’d drop off little gifts or cards. Each day, the gift was a little larger, a little nicer. I had my suspicions. I can’t remember all the surprises, but one I still have—a huge Ziggy card. When he told me he wanted to take me to Carmel and Monterey for Valentine’s Day, I knew without a doubt—oh yes, something “big” was planned.
At the time, I worked for a wonderful man named Aram Kinosian. He and his lovely wife, Joyanne, owned a second home in Carmel, and he also owned a cookie shop there (and rubbed elbows at parties with Clint Eastwood, then mayor of Carmel). On that Saturday about noontime, Jim pulled up to their home in Carmel, telling me they’d invited us for lunch. Turns out, somewhere along the way on our car trip north, a bird had met its fate and was firmly wedged in the grillwork of Jim’s car. He was mortified, but I went inside with Joyanne for a bit while the men took care of, um, dislodging that poor creature.
Our hosts treated us to a very special lunch at the famed Pebble Beach Country Club (they’d married there and told us all about their wedding – hint hint) overlooking the ocean. Jim tasted calamari for the first time and pronounced it delicious. I tasted nothing even though I ate; my stomach was roiling. I knew he was going to propose later that afternoon. Plus, it was a little hard to miss all the winks and head bobs between Jim and Aram, and Joyanne and Jim.
Shortly after lunch, we bid them adieu and Jim suggested we take a walk on the beach. The skies had darkened and threatened to rain. I was a twit and didn’t want to get my new shoes full of sand and asked if we could find a park bench instead. There were plenty of them lining the beach—but being Saturday and the biggest romantic day of the year after all, they were all occupied.
I could tell Jim was getting a little antsy as we walked and walked…and finally found one. As we talked, I could see little sweat beads forming on his forehead and he moved his hands a little more than usual. When he started to go down on one knee, my heart almost stopped…and then when he was almost on the ground, he let out a little cry. You see, a dog had decided to, um, add some fertilizer right beside that bench. Eww I know, but thankfully Jim realized it. Was it nerves that kept us from detecting it before then? Must have been love is all I can say.
I vaguely remember some claps and oohs and aahs all around us. We went to the main street and shopped, hand-in-hand, and found Aram’s cookie shop. He hugged and congratulated us and told me he’d thought of baking the ring into one of his cookies. Charming as that is, I have to say, I’m glad they didn’t go that route. All in all, it was a great day, and it never did rain.
We married on Jim’s birthday in September of 1987, and this year, my sweet husband and I celebrate 25 years of marriage. Has it really been that long? The Lord has blessed us immeasurably with three wonderful children: Sarah, Chelsea and Matthew and assorted dogs and hamsters. If you’ve read Awakening, the first book in The Lewis Legacy Series, the character of Sam Lewis is based on Jim, and his Lexa (Clarke), is based on yours truly. San Antonio is where these two characters fall in love. This fall, the ACFW annual conference is in Dallas, and we’re going together to revisit where we met and fell in love, and then Sam’s taking Lexa to San Antonio, and especially the Alamo.
I love writing contemporary Christian romance, and it’s a high honor and calling. I believe in putting God first in a romance, and forgiveness and redemption are big themes in my books. But always, I believe in happy endings!
Many blessings, my friends. Matthew 5:16
About JoAnn: JoAnn Durgin is the author of the popular contemporary romantic adventures, Awakening, and its follow-up, Second Time Around, published by Torn Veil Books. Her third book in the series, Twin Hearts, released in March 2012. JoAnn, her husband, Jim, and their three children live in her native southern Indiana after living in TX, CA, PA and MA. She likes to say she’s “been around in the nicest sense of the word.” She’s a full-time wealth administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky, law firm, and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Her books are available at every major online book retailer such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, both in paperback and electronic versions. Please visit her at www.joanndurgin.com or on Facebook.
About the book: Josh Grant is a man seeking redemption. He’s not looking for love, but finds it in a most unexpected and tender way. His twin sister, Rebekah, is an elementary schoolteacher torn between two very different men: a dashing, British aristocrat offering her the world, and the other a humble, faithful Louisiana lumber man. When family tragedy strikes, the twins lean on Sam and Lexa Lewis and their fellow TeamWork Missions volunteers for encouragement. Together they learn lessons in faith and family and what’s most important in life as they discover it’s time to stake their claim on love, which means a road trip from Louisiana to . . . the peace to be found in seeking and finding the sweetest desires of the heart.
Come back April 25th for Tina Pinson.