Contemporary romance author, JoAnn Durgin share her inspiration for her Christmas novel, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe. Comment on any post date Nov 26 – 30 to get your name in the drawing for the book in e-book format or paperback. Deadline: Dec 8, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s JoAnn:
I met my husband, Jim, on a blind date back in the mid-1980s in Dallas, Texas. Then a student at Dallas Theological Seminary, he’d sworn off blind dates when he’d been set up with a runner-up to Miss Texas (gorgeous, tall, blonde…you get the picture) a couple of weeks before. Mutual friends had invited them both to dinner in their home after which Miss Runner-Up pushed away from the table, thanked them politely and bounced off, saying she had another date.
I was dating someone else at the time (an urban cowboy whom I suspected—rightly so—of two-stepping out on me). So, I wasn’t particularly in the mood to date (and specifically told my friends not to fix me up) when we all decided to go to dinner. Of course, I didn’t know at the time that my friend Susan’s boyfriend (now husband), Marshall, went to seminary with Jim.
In a sweet revelation, we found out later that both our friends prayed independently for someone to introduce each of us to, and lo and behold, came up with…well, you can guess the rest. We’ve been married 25 years this past September (on Jim’s birthday, no less—you marry a man on his birthday and he won’t forget his anniversary).
My first date with Jim was the Dallas Seminary Spring Banquet, quite an auspicious event. Jim was in the men’s chorus. When he showed up on my doorstep in his midnight blue tux—all 6’2” of tall, dark and handsome—I almost swooned. He was endearing when he tucked me inside his old bomb of a station wagon. I’ll never forget him telling me how he couldn’t find a replacement window for that little triangular piece of glass on the passenger side. “You can scoot closer, if you want,” he said, giving me this shy, sheepish look, “or else the fumes might get to you.” I was in love.
We became fast friends and went out together quite often, but honestly? 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. But Jim and I shared a mutual fascination (for lack of a better description) 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.
Then came the 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 the step of faith—more like a leap—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.
I emotionally distanced myself from him for months. He called and left messages, stopped by the law office, even had flowers delivered (a big expense for a seminary man), but I didn’t want to see him. Quite simply, I was hurt and embarrassed. But here’s the thing: 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, 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 continuing to work in my heart.
There’s so 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, and decided to try and make a long-distance relationship work. It seemed impossible, but we had optimism and were full of big hopes and dreams. Perhaps more importantly, we had faith that God could work it all out.
Those last 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 so precious for my heart. 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: Jim told me he always knew the first girl he kissed on the lips would be the girl he married. 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.
About JoAnn: JoAnn Durgin is the author of the popular Lewis Legacy Series, and her Christmas novella, Meet Me under the Mistletoe (where hero Jake shares Jim’s philosophy on kissing a woman for the first time), from Pelican Group Ventures/White Rose Publishing. She and Jim live in her native southern Indiana after living in California, Texas, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, and JoAnn is an estate administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky law firm. She’d love to hear from you via her website (www.joanndurgin.com) or drop her a line on Facebook.
About the book – Meet Me Under the Mistletoe: Captain Jacob Marston, Starlight, Iowa’s wounded hometown hero, made a long ago promise to the Lord: he won’t kiss a woman until he knows she’s “the one” he’ll marry. Now, at age twenty-eight, the rugged firefighter questions if it’ll ever happen. Then he meets his best friend’s sister, Julia Sinclair, and Jake believes he’s found the woman of his dreams—but she’s promised to another. When Julia makes an unexpected confession on Christmas Day, Jake shares his secret with her, and it looks as though happily-ever-after will make a holiday appearance. But somehow, everyone in the tiny town learns Jake’s secret and he’s transformed from town hero to laughingstock. Did Julia reveal his secret? Can Jake and Julia find their way under the mistletoe for a forever kiss?