JoAnn Durgin – Real Life Romance – Part 2 of 2

Shannon here: Contemporary romance author, JoAnn Durgin shares her first kiss with her husband story and a chance to win a copy of her book, Awakening. Comment on any post dated June 13 – 17 for a chance to win. Deadline June 18, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s JoAnn:

Leading up to the First Kiss…

As I mentioned in my previous post, I wasn’t exactly the type of Christian girl my husband-to-be thought he was seeking. Jim called it the “Seminary mentality,” meaning he wanted a girl like his own dear mother, raised in the faith from the time she was knee-high to a grasshopper. Again, this parallels my character Sam’s viewpoint in Awakening. And like my character of Lexa, I was taken to church by my mother as a child, but sadly left on the doorstep of my faith. But Jim and I  shared a mutual fascination (for lack of a better word) with one another, and continued to go out as “friends” even though there was always something simmering below the surface. We even went out together when we were both dating others. But he told me later that no other girl held the same challenge and appeal, even though they more closely matched his image of that elusive, “perfect” Christian girl. Again, a parallel between my story with my husband and Sam and Lexa.

There is a scene with Sam and Lexa which mirrors what I call our infamous Red Lobster date. It got to the point where Jim decided he needed to know where I stood spiritually (he’d been debating whether to take that step of faith to date me). That dinner at Red Lobster was truly awful; he challenged my spiritual condition and I stormed away, feeling personally attacked and defensive. Like Lexa runs away from Sam in Awakening, I ran away from Jim – but where Lexa physically distances herself, I emotionally distanced myself. Being in the same San Antonio work camp, it’s difficult for Sam and Lexa to avoid one another, but living in a big city like Dallas, it was much easier for me to avoid Jim. He called and left messages, stopped by the law office, even had flowers delivered, but I didn’t want to see him. Quite simply, I was hurt and embarrassed. I knew Jim was right; he saw straight through me. I was living a good, moral life, but I wasn’t living for the Savior. But he could tell I loved the Lord and wanted to learn and grow (again the parallels with my book), and that encouraged him. When Jim went on a musical tour of Europe with the Seminary, he wrote novels on postcards to me (which I literally burned but, in hindsight, wish I’d kept). But the Lord was working in my heart.

Through meeting Susan and Margaret (see my previous post) and being part of the “Free to be Thin” Bible study group, I needed the workbook but couldn’t find it at any local Christian bookstore. Only one place in the city of Dallas had that workbook. If you guessed the bookstore at the DTS campus, you would be right. The day I went to pick it up, Jim Durgin made sure he was there to wait on me. There’s much more to our story, but suffice it to say, he was soon graduating and leaving Dallas, and I had no plans to leave. So, about three weeks before he was to depart and move back home (Rhode Island) and seek a full-time ministry position, we sat in another restaurant (Houston’s – maybe subconsciously that’s why I have that city as Sam and Lexa’s home base), and decided to try and make a long-distance relationship work.

Those few weeks were glorious, and I fell hard for my handsome, tall, faithful man. Jim felt the same, but how would this all work? Only a few days before he was to graduate and leave, he told me something I found incredibly hard to believe…but also incredibly precious. As handsome as he was, as much as he’d dated, Jim had never kissed a girl on the lips. And this is what still stops my heart – he told me he always knew the first girl he kissed on the lips would be the girl he married. That’s why he wouldn’t do it until he was certain she was the one. And so, my friends, on the night before his graduation – with the world at our feet, but with no idea how we’d be together or what would happen (but knew the gracious Lord would orchestrate it all if it was meant to be) – Jim kissed me. On the lips. And it was, as they say…the moment I knew. And so did Jim.

If I’m invited back to Shannon’s blog, I’ll continue this story. How Jim accepted his first church position in California, how I met a lady on a cruise ship from that same small town…oh, my friends, how the Lord can work in our lives and accomplish miracles in the way only He can do. Blessings to you!

About JoAnn: A full-time paralegal, JoAnn lives in southern Indiana with her husband, Jim, and their three children. She is a member of the ACFW and its Indiana chapter, as well as the Romance Writers of America. Awakening is her debut novel, and the follow-up, Second Time Around, will be released this summer. She was a finalist in the long contemporary romance category of the 2010 RWA/FHL Touched by Love contest, and is a regular blog contributor with Hoosier Ink and Reflections in Hindsight. JoAnn is also an active member of the My Book Therapy Voices where she has won or placed in several of their quarterly Flash Fiction contests. Above all, she loves to share the redeeming love of Christ through her stories. Visit her at She’d love to hear from you!

About the book: Lexa Clarke signs up for a short-term summer assignment in San Antonio with TeamWork Missions, hoping to make a difference in the world. TeamWork director Sam Lewis has a job to do and can’t afford to be distracted by the petite, feisty blonde. But when she tumbles into his arms from the top of a house they’re rebuilding, Sam suspects his life will never be the same. A God-fearing man. A God-seeking woman. A combustible combination.



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