Behind the Story of Transforming Tragedy #3

I always told my parents I would never drink coffee.  I had the pompous opinion that it was just like smoking in two ways.  One, it makes your teeth yellow.  And two, it makes your breath stink.  But, do you know what? I drink coffee and…. I smoked for a brief bit, which is a story too comical not to share.  Rest assured I quit soon after starting, but then again, nine was a bit young to take up the habit.  

What?!? Nine?!?! –you’re thinking.  

Yep, I thought smoking like Dad and Grandma would be cool. 

Dad didn’t think so.  

It didn’t go over very well, but neither did his speech about how bad smoking was for my health while he held a cigarette in his hand.

Dad quit smoking not too long after my encounter. But I never heard the end of it. 


Back in the day, restaurants had smoking and non-smoking sections.  When a customer would walk in, the host or hostess would inquire of the seating preference asking, “Smoking or Non?”  Dad, without missing a beat would look at me and casually ask, “I don’t know, Heather. What do you feel like tonight?”  

Of course, the restaurant workers didn’t have a clue to what he meant, but I was mortified. The embarrassment didn’t wear off quickly, however, Dad was still getting a kick out of it a decade later. By then, I thought it was pretty funny too. 

Nevertheless, I still held to the commitment of never taking up coffee-drinking.  Even after getting a coffee maker for a wedding gift, Brandon, nor I, ever desired a cup.  We only used it when our parents would come over to play cards.  Then a few years later Dad thought I’d give coffee a try if I had a shot of Irish cream to stir in, so he gave me a cute Longaberger basket with a bottle of Bailey’s for Christmas.  Was that the commencement for me to become a coffee connoisseur?  Nope.  My opinion was the same—coffee caused bad breath and yellow teeth.  Not. For. Me.


Until I had three small children, pregnant with my fourth and taking a boatload of prerequisites to apply for nursing school.   Yep.  I started drinking coffee when most people quit—while I was pregnant!  Oh, dear heavens.  Sleep wasn’t much a part of my world back then, so caffeine became my friend. Dad had passed away a few years before I caved to my incorporation of coffee to my morning routine.  I imagine we would’ve enjoyed many visits over a hot cup had I started earlier.  Although I’m fairly certain, despite my stance, he knew I’d start eventually.

Probably because Dad lived long enough to know that so much of life comes down to never say never.

I said I would never have my photo on the cover of my book. But if you’ve seen the cover of Transforming Tragedy, well, I’m right there, smack dab on the front of it.

There was reason for me not wanting to be on it.  

A few years ago, I had a friend ask me to read a book with her, Dangerous Surrender by Kay Warren.  It was an excellent book! One I highly recommend.  However, it’s not a book I would have been drawn to pick up and purchase off a bookstore shelf.  The cover didn’t speak to me.  It’s a lovely picture of Kay Warren in a nice business-attire outfit.  She looks like she’s holding something like a door’s edge. I’m so grateful my friend invited me to read through the book with her for discussion, because again, it was fabulous. Reading through the book, though, gave me a different image for the cover.  I imagined a black-and-white photo of knuckles wrapped around prison bars implying intensity and desperation.  Through our discussion I said to my friend, “I won’t be on the cover of my book.”  

Oh, good gracious.  Why?!  Why do I say these things?!  Haven’t I learned yet?  Apparently not.

Over the three-year period of working on the book, I frequently heard, “You’re writing a book?  That’s wonderful.  What’s the name?”  

What’s the name?  What’s the name?!  

I didn’t even enjoy naming my children!  For real.  I was waiting for my angel from the Lord to show up and say, “Heather, you are with child and you shall give them the name______.”  That never happened.  I felt all the pressure of naming those precious people without the tiniest bit of their opinion.  The feelings were quite the same when titling this book.  

I had a couple dozen options.  When I’d think of a title, I’d add it to the Word document.  I originally thought the book would be called Even There from Psalm 139:10. My designer friend Sara made a one-sheet back in 2016 for my meetings with a publisher and agent at a speaker and writer’s conference I attended.  

How things change.  How things come together.  

While sitting in my office writing away, chapter by chapter, I wrote “It was a collision that changed the trajectory of my life and started transforming this tragedy into something else.”  As soon as the words came together on my screen, I saw it—the book cover—and yep, I could see me, standing on a dirt road with primary colors around.  

I saw the blue sky, the blue motorcycle, and the green grass. 

I was wearing a power color.  Red.  Red for the fire that burned my body.  Red for the critical state, for the emergency.  Red for the blood, not the blood from my own body, but from the body I believe provided for the miraculous healing I was able to experience, the precious blood of Jesus.  

And in light of this dark, horrific tragedy, I could see yellow, a bright cheeriness of the sun representing the hope that shines into every painful place.

bookcover copy.jpg

There’s much more to share, just about the cover, but I’ve got to introduce you to the incredibly talented designer first.  Since I need way more words to sufficiently serve those behind-the-scene details, I’ll call this post complete and leave ya with caution toward those never say nevers, bracing yourselves for the blow-your-socks-off plans God may have in store. 

purchase Heather’s book Transforming Tragedy right here

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