Not Who I Imagined

I am delighted to feature this blog by fellow author Margot Starbuck (is that a cool last name or what). Margot’s new book Not Who I Imagined releases now!

When You Can’t Trust a God Who’s Like Your Father

Margot Starbuck

The first time someone told me that my relationship with God was probably a lot like my relationship with a father figure—the dad who relinquished me for adoption, the one who drank too much and left when I was six, or the stepdad who also drank too much and left when I was fifteen—I thought they were crazy.

“Of course God’s not like those deadbeats,” I reasoned. “God. Is. Good.”

I was sure of it.

If I’d been forced to give God a face back then, it probably would have looked like the warm affectionate gaze of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s dad, the one played by Michael Landon on the 1970s Little House on the Prairie TV series. Or like my sweet steadfast faithful Grandad. Or maybe my pastor.

Of course I didn’t think God was like any of my earthly fathers.

If only it were that simple.

I discovered that our earliest experience of caregivers teaches us what to expect from an “other.” It’s how we learn whether someone will feed us when we’re hungry. Or comfort us when we cry. It’s how we learn whether or not we’re worth showing up for. Worth sticking around for. Worth loving. Dr. James Loder says that these formative faces actually prefigure how we will come to know God.

For a lot of us—with dads who left, or ones who died, or ones stuck in addiction—that’s bad news.

In my darkest days, when I was clinically depressed and altogether undone, God spoke his truth to my deep places. Four words.

These four words changed everything:

I am for you.

In that moment that I raged against God and demanded to know who in this life had ever come through for me, I suddenly realized that the father of Jesus who’s revealed in the gospels isn’t some absent parent who abandons his own son. He’s not a cosmic child abuser who cavalierly offers his kid. In fact, as those four words penetrated my deep places, I came to lay hold of the fundamental difference between Jesus’ Father and the caregivers I’d known.

The human caregivers I’d known had been for themselves. And I don’t mean that they were any more selfish than I am today. I mean that—bound by addiction, violence, mental illness, human limitation—they weren’t able to be for me the way that I needed them to be. Stuck, they were for themselves.

In the moment I heard those four words—I am for you—I got it.

I understood, at last, the difference between the two.

I’d been to church. I’d attended a Christian college. I’d gone to seminary. But it wasn’t until that moment, of my deepest pain, that I understood—if only in part—the meaning of the Trinity.

God, the Father of Jesus, was not for himself the way my caregivers had been. He wasn’t the kind of father who bailed on his son, who sacrificed his son. Nope. This Father gave his own life out of his love for me.

Does that math make sense?

That’s what the Christian doctrine of the Trinity means. It means that the Father sacrifices his own life out of love for me. Love for you. Love for his son.  He doesn’t throw us under the bus. He doesn’t leave us. He dies for us.

It was the moment I began to believe that I was worth loving.

That—as you might imagine—has changed everything. Marriage. Friendship. Everything.

Are you willing to pull back the mask you’ve given to God—one with glassy distant eyes, or one that’s disappointed, or one that’s angry—and see the Face that is true? Are you willing to reject the lie that God’s face is anything like the fleshy ones you’ve known?  Are you ready to look into a face that delights in you?

Say yes.

Margot Starbuck’s newest book Not Who I Imagined: Surprised by a Loving God gives readers a peek at the face that is true.

Purchase Books:



Fun book trailer:

PRIZES for sharing! (available to YOU and to your audience!) Anything you or your audience shares during March about Not Who I Imagined, on social media, tagging @MargotStarbuck—which includes sharing YOUR post—AUTOMATICALLY enters sharer to win $150 Amazon Certificate. (Two entries if you share link to Amazon!) More here:

Photos for download


Need anything else?






Grief Journal for You

Which Way
My Happily Ever After?

Grief Journal

By PeggySue Wells

Saying good-bye is a reason for deep grief.
There are many good-byes in life. Some are easier than others. A good-bye can
be a natural part of life. Other partings are intensely painful.
Saying good-bye to a marriage relationship truly is a tearing of flesh and heart.
Giving up the family and heritage you dreamed of building together is a wrenching
Perhaps the parting is between you and a beloved child. Someone precious to you
took an early journey home.
Losing a relationship, a job, a location, a dream – each is a significant adjustment.
We grieve the loss.
Grief work and mourning exact a toll emotionally, physically, spiritually, and
financially. It is also a time of growing, resting, learning, and yielding. Like deep muscle
exercise, this is all sorts of good, profound stuff. Grief cannot be avoided or sidestepped.
Sharing the journey helps. This journal is your companion through the process.
Each day for one month, read one statement and journal your thoughts and emotions. Putting one foot in front of the other, you will get through the desert of grief and enter the Promised Land of the next chapter of your life.
Take pen in hand, and begin. One day at a time.

Time doesn’t really heal all wounds.
Time merely teaches us how to live
with this gaping hole in our heart.
How does your heart feel today?

Crisis wears many faces.
Crisis can look like the loss of a loved one,
the loss of a relationship, the loss of a marriage, the loss of a job,
the loss of what is familiar due to relocation, the loss of a dream.
A crisis is a turning point.
Yet while we are in crisis we often feel powerless, hopeless, desperate, paralyzed.
Crisis can destroy us. Or crisis can make us stronger.
It all depends on how we face the face of crisis.
What does the face of your crisis look like?

No one can avoid it, go around it, slide under it,
fly above it, or swim below it.
Grief cannot be walked around, it must be walked through.
One step at a time. One day at a time.
What are you most afraid of when you think of the future?

It seems like you had to say good-bye
before you had the chance to say hello.
What dreams do you miss most?

Life changed overnight.
This was so unexpected.
What was the biggest shock?

Too often, tears are the only water
in the dry desert of grief.
What is the value of your tears?

There are many difficult decisions to make.
What is your toughest choice?

No one can take away the pain
and few understand the depth of your grief.
Though the scars remain, the open wound eventually heals.
How will this scar make you better?

Swimming with the tide is easy.
Swimming against the tide increases your strength.
How are you becoming stronger?

When you feel like you are in the pressure cooker,
it’s time to let off steam in a healthy manner.
Talk to a friend, take a walk, journal your honest thoughts,
scrub something until it shines.
How will you let off steam today?

People often mean well, but say the wrong things.
Listen to their hearts, not their words.
How did someone show you that they care?

Though the situation seems overwhelming right now,
may it soon open the door to opportunity.
Where do you feel overwhelmed?

Someone may be willing to help carry the burden.
Maybe then it won’t seem so heavy.
Who is available to help you?

Hope and encouragement are better than advice.
What does hope look like to you?

Anniversaries of loss and grief are annual reminders of our pain,
and of how far we’ve come on the journey to the other side of grief.
How far have you already come on your journey?

Our own deep grief reminds us not to turn away when we see others in pain.
We can cry with them. We can give a hug.
We can ask, “How are you?” and really mean it.
Who needs to hear from you?

Another who is grieving can be a companion through the journey,
but may not be able to give comfort.
Two drowning people cannot save each other.
Who is strong for you?

Healing cannot be rushed.
It’s harmful to tackle projects we’re not ready for.
There are no deadlines for when we must be over it.
Can you trust the process?

When we are drowning in grief
it’s okay to cry.

Where do you find encouragement?
We fear the waves of grief will overwhelm us.
Choose to ride though the powerful emotions now
so the unfinished process will not haunt the future.
How will this be a stepping-stone in your life?

Being bitter about the loss only increases the pain.
We can be thankful for what we had, for what we still have,
and for what the future holds.
What are you thankful for?

There is a whole world out there just beyond the pain.
There is a whole world out there in spite of the pain.
Go to a movie, try a new restaurant, visit a museum.
What will you do today?

When someone wants to talk
and we don’t feel like it,
we don’t have to.
What do you not feel like doing?

It helps to have a safe someone to talk to
when it’s time to talk.
Who is a safe someone you can talk to?

It is surprising when close friends don’t understand.
It is surprising when support comes
from unexpected sources.
Where does your support come from?

It’s not comforting when someone says,
“At least you had those years together.”
Or “At least you don’t have to worry anymore.”
At least we’ve learned not to tell another, “At least . . .”
We’ve learned to say, “I’m sorry.”
What else have you learned?

Cocooning is tempting.
Some alone time is good.
Balance it with time out and with others.
Say yes to many invitations.
We can’t wait for someone to invite us out.
Invite someone else out for a milkshake or a concert.
What delights your heart?

There is no aspirin for heartache.
Chocolate is medicinal.
So is tea.
What gives you comfort?

A stuffed teddy bear is something to hold onto.
A good book or video is for losing your mind in something other than the pain.
Where does joy invite you?

On the journey of grief
we will meet fellow travelers.
Perhaps we can walk a while together.
Will you walk a while with another?

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or
seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8–9

At the Intersection of Words and Music

Someone wrote about my family!

As you know, I have seven awesome children and while they were all still at home, they performed foot-tapping, smile-inducing, front-porch style fiddle, classical, and classic music as the WELLSpring Fiddlers.

What happens when you submerge a writer in music performances? You get the novel Für Elise by PeggySue Wells that releases in March!!!!

There are many kinds of love. Love for family, love for country, love for duty.

And there is true love.

Watch for Für Elise, published by Elk Lake Publishers this March.

Für Elise Releases in March!

Für Elise by PeggySue Wells, a novel very dear to my heart, releases with Elk Lake Publishers in March!

Next month! Mere days away!

In the novel Für Elise, Parajumper Michael Northington thought he was protecting the patient. He discovered he prevented his friend from receiving life-giving care. Furious at the betrayal, Michael tossed his insignia onto his boss’ desk and left the world behind.

On St. Croix, Michael taught scuba diving to tourists until his former partner and boss coaxed Michael out of retirement to rescue a liberal senator’s daughter. Preparing to leave his island retreat, Michael meets Elise.

Renowned artist and musician, Elise is finding her way after the loss of her doting parents. Struggling to keep her father’s musical legacy alive, the historic atmospheric concert theater in repair, and exploring a natural romance with her childhood sweetheart, Elise is resentful of the mysterious stranger who has taken over the cottage she shared as a studio with her father.

Overseas, things get complicated when Michael and his partner defy orders and bring four orphans out of the bowels of a human butcher shop and discover a weak, maybe coincidental, connection to Michael’s dead friend.

Back on St. Croix, Michael slowly settles his past as a future begins to blossom under the gentle influence of Elise. Then, like a note out of tune in the heart of island culture, the charismatic Senator indicates his interest in Elise with the assurance that should she return his affections, her father’s legacy will be preserved.

Now, though they are worlds apart, Elise finds her thoughts curiously returning to Michael. Especially after he leaves the island once again and she has no idea how long until he will be away. Or if he will return.

At a society function on St. Croix, those who caused the death of Michael’s friend are in one place. Also descending on the party are the international partners who want payment for their losses incurred by Michael’s interference. As deadly Hurricane Hugo unleashes on the island, the lives of enemies and friends, including Elise, depend on Michael’s skills as a PJ.

Check back for news, excerpts, and give-aways to celebrate Für Elise!



Taylor U. Talks About My Bestseller

Thank you Taylor University for the article about my bestselling co-authored book #The Slave Across the Street!

Alumna Co-writes Book in Top 100

By Rachel Vashon g13Published: Jan 30, 2014

They met for the first time on a three-way conference call with an agent. One had a tragic story, and the other was an experienced writer. Together they would share a story that would grip readers and inspire a desire to make a difference. Within months, The Slave Across the Street would be ready to share with the world.

In May 2013, The Slave Across the Street was ranked #5 for the Wall Street Journal and #85 byUSA Today. It is now slated to be made into a movie this year.

PeggySue Wells fs04, co writer of the popular selling book, recalls initially wondering if human trafficking victim Theresa Flores’ story was possible. Any lingering doubts were quickly erased as she listened to Theresa retell the story of how she was caught up in sex trafficking as a teenager in Detroit.

“She relived the nightmare as part of her own healing and to offer education, help and hope for others,” PeggySue said. “We often prayed together, inviting the Lord to guide us both.”

PeggySue gave Theresa the freedom to be real and assured her on their first meeting that nothing said would “scandalize” her. Through discussions and Theresa’s journals, PeggySue wrote A Slave Across the Street in a way that maintained Theresa’s voice. She adds that she intentionally and carefully chose words that weren’t graphic but allowed readers to follow Theresa’s journey.

“As a writer, I knew it was vital to capture the reader’s interest immediately so the book opens at the pivotal place where Theresa’s life is suddenly no longer her own,” PeggySue said.

Theresa’s story impacted PeggySue as she learned a lot about sex trafficking through the writing of this book.

“As the mother of seven children–one son and six daughters–writing The Slave Across the Street reaffirmed how vital it is to nurture strong family relationships, and how important parents are in nurturing, educating, loving, and protecting the children God placed in our stewardship” PeggySue said.

Today PeggySue and Ampelon Publishing connect people with Theresa through fund-raising events where Ampelon provides discounted copies of the book. Theresa uses these opportunities to speak to others about trafficking. When Theresa is unavailable, PeggySue fills in for her.

“The deeper satisfaction is that The Slave Across the Street has inspired others to get involved in ways that make a difference in our world,” PeggySue said.

Editor’s Note: Theresa Flores will be with PeggySue at the Forgotten Children Worldwide Benefit Dinner and Auction Saturday, February 8 in Bluffton, Ind. Theresa has been asked to share her story to this group, which was co-founded by Matt g81 and Barb (Holtzclaw) g80 Hartsell.



Exercises While Expecting

Grand news! My Grammy Award arrives in April. Baby Micah will promote me to Grammy status.   21665_706246735513_1353724329_n

Getting into the grandparent club is by invitation only. As my daughter experiences her pregnancy, here are tips from my years as a childbirth educator, labor coach, and having my own seven babies.

1)    Reduce the chance of varicose veins by not crossing your legs, and whenever you can, put your feet up. Circulation has an simple time getting to your feet thanks to gravity. Returning through a pelvis that has the added weight of your growing baby is not so easy.

2)    For pregnant women, walking keeps the baby head-down into the pelvis for the easiest birth position. Support your posture, breathing, and heart by walking regularly. Change it up with swimming and bicycling.

3)    Sit tailor or Indian style to stretch and tone the inner thighs and perineum or kegal muscle. This position encourages blood flow in the lower body and doesn’t even feel like you are exercising.

4)    Find opportunities to squat. In addition to stretching the perineum one-third more than passive sitting, squats tone thigh and pelvic muscles and save mom’s back which is already taxed by baby’s weight.

5)    Eliminate back pain with pelvic rocks. Get on your hands and knees. Without moving your shoulders, arch your lower back like a cat for a count of three. Next, rock your hips so your lower back sags. Repeat 40 times. Pelvic rocks strengthen the tummy and back muscles that carry the weight of the pregnancy. Additionally, pelvic rocks improve circulation, breathing, and will help rotate a posterior baby.

6)    Kegals are the important exercise you can do anywhere and no ones knows you are exercising. The kegal muscle has three openings; the urinary, vaginal, and anal openings. To prepare this muscle that will stretch to allow the baby to pass into the world, squeeze as if stopping the flow of urine and hold for a count of three. Do 200 repetitions each day. When not pregnant, do 50 daily. This prepares the perineum for birth, quick recovery, helps prevent tearing, and supports the uterus and bladder so they remain where they belong.

7)    Invest ten minutes each day practicing complete body relaxation. By learning to relax quickly and completely, you will aid your body to get through labor and dilation of the cervix as smoothly as possible.

Childbirth is the hardest and most rewarding work your body does. These simple exercises tone your birthing muscles for childbirth and quick recovery.

Forgotten Children Worldwide features The Slave Across the Street

images1The Slave Across the Street, the bestseller I co-wrote with Theresa Flores, was featured in our local newspaper. Theresa and I will be at the Forgotten Children Worldwide dinner and auction in Bluffton on
February 8.

Slave’ co-author to speak at Forgotten Children event

Theresa Flores, the subject co-author of “The Slave Across the Street,” will speak Feb. 8 in Bluffton during the Forgotten Children Worldwide dinner and auction.

Flores co-authored the book with PeggySue Wells, of Roanoke. The book recounts Flores’ experiences as a teen in an affluent Michigan neighborhood forced into sexual trafficking.

Forgotten Children Worldwide, based in Bluffton, has as its mission assisting orphans and vulnerable children throughout the world. The dinner and silent auction will be held in the Wells County 4-H Building with doors opening at 4:30 p.m.. Ticket information is available by calling 353-1580.

“The Slave Across the Street” was on two best-seller lists in May, at number five in the nonfiction e-books category of the Wall Street Journal list and at number 85 on the USA Today best-seller list.

Wells, who has written a dozen other books, is currently hosting a writers’ workshop at the Roanoke Public Library, with sessions on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. The workshop, sponsored by the Roanoke Library and the Roanoke Lions Club, is open to the community.

Get your copy of The Slave Across the Street at:


Special Price on The Slave Across the Street

Sharing with you this announcement from my publisher, Jason Chataw at Ampelon Publishing. ref=sr_1_1

We’re running a special on the eBook version of The Slave Across the Street around National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11th. The special will go from the 10th to the 15th for 99 cents and will be available on most platforms like amazon, B&N, Apple and Kobo.
Spread the word!

The Slave Across the Street is the true story of an upscale Detroit teen caught in sex trafficking. This is a riveting look at human trafficking from the inside. The book includes tips to recognize trafficking in your community, and how you can protect your loved ones.

Number 5 on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list, and number 85 on USA Today’s bestseller list, The Slave Across the Street is the book I co-wrote with Theresa Flores. This biography of Theresa’s is an audio finalist and is optioned for a made-for-TV movie. Grab your copy at this special rate.


Talking Pigs

A tip of the hat to friend, author, and illustrator Mary Coons on the release of her long-awaited Pig-Tale. Think E.B. White and you have a flavor for The Piglys and the Hundred-Year Mystery.

Mary is a talented artist with a vocabulary that surprises. Put the two together and marinate for several years in her creative muse and the result is this great story. Surely destined to be a classic.

Watch this clever trailer about the Piglys.

The Conductor Was Sore Afraid

Merry Christmas! Here is a classic Christmas tale from my family to yours.

Participating in the annual church Christmas pageant gave me the erroneous impression that the humble barn where Jesus was born was a quiet setting. The crowning moment of each December’s extravaganza was the Nativity scene. Dressed in bed sheets and their fathers’ oversized bathrobes, all the children solemnly sang Silent Night.

Then I moved to the country, got my own barn, and had my own birth in the stable.

Drought forced a farmer to sell livestock, including a soft-eyed, pregnant mare.

“She’s just like Mary,” my children implored. “She needs a place to have her baby.”

So this innkeeper found room in our stable for the mother-to-be. A baby monitor allowed us to hear what happened in the barn during the night. Birds in the rafters supplied a cacophony of twittering, mice scampered through hay, and horses slurped their feed before rustling through straw to bed down. Once asleep, the horses groaned while they napped and passed gas so loud we thought the mare was giving birth, and dashed to the barn at 3:30 a.m.

Following weeks of false alarms, the baby was born in her own time on a night I was too sleep-deprived to tiptoe to the barn. What an exquisite wonder that morning to discover a newborn in the stable.

That’s why this year’s Christmas pageant was my favorite. “Let’s have live animals,” the music director crowed.

Opening night the staging was elaborate. The well-rehearsed choir took its place. The orchestra began on the downbeat. “Joy to the world,” the audience joined the choir as the words appeared on the overhead. “Let men their sons employ.”

Choreographed to mask the noisy rearrangement of animals on stage, the pianist’s solo was a wasted effort. The keyboard was unplugged. From behind the curtains, the audience heard the trainer smooching at the donkey who was reluctant to come on stage and was more reluctant to walk off.

The violinist’s microphone was not on, as the wise men bowed before the wailing Christ child. Mary and Joseph tried to look holy while sheep nibbled their robes, between burping and chewing their malodorous cud.

At that moment a runaway sheep left his post and dashed about the little town of Bethlehem. Engrossed by the drama, the drummer forgot to drum. The conductor looked up from conducting and paled as the speeding sheep fairly leapt into his arms.

By the second performance the “g” was added to sons, the keyboard and violin found their plugs, and fencing was added for the sheep. The rest of the performances went without hitch, but my favorite was opening night. It seemed a better reenactment of what probably happened in that starlit stable many years ago.

PeggySue and her children currently have two horses because horses are like potato chips – you can’t have just one. 


Nutcracker Suite’s Russian Dance performed by the Anderson Youth Ballet at the Paramount Atmospheric Theater in Anderson Indiana.