Today I welcome a very special guest to my blog. Ruth Warner has lived in my head for almost 20 years now, and I’m excited to introduce her to the world.
Ruth is the heroine in my novel, Heaven’s Prey—that’s her picture on the cover. She and her husband, Tony, are in their mid-forties. We’re chatting with Ruth today just before the novel begins, because (whispering so she won’t hear) she’s about to be abducted by an escaped convict.
Ruth (rolling eyes): How many times have you rewritten or edited my story now? I know what’s coming. But for the sake of people who haven’t read it yet, I’ll pretend it’s my first time through the plot.
Janet: Thanks. And for the record, I’m proud of how well you’ll handle everything that happens. I hope you’ll give our readers some things to think about. So… let’s back up to the Wednesday this all begins. It’s mid-June. And it’s pouring—heavy winds and rain off the Atlantic from a storm that’s tracked upward along the eastern seaboard of the US until it hit Nova Scotia, Canada.
Ruth: I work at Harrington’s Fabric Hut, downtown. What a drive to get home! The storm drains can’t keep up with so much water. I’ve already heard of a few streets being closed. Luckily I live on high ground.
Janet: So you’re home from work and probably soaked.
Ruth: Just got changed, actually. It was so nice coming home to chili in the slow cooker. The spicy smell met me at the door. My husband, Tony, was already here. He’s a principal at one of the local high schools, and his day ends earlier than mine. It starts earlier, too.
Janet: The last few years have been brutal. Can you tell us about that?
Ruth: We’ve been through a lot. Our niece, Susan, went missing in Toronto two years ago. She was in her early 20’s, just starting a nursing career. The police were already looking for a serial rapist-murder, and Susan was … one more victim for him. For us … Tony and I have no children. Susan was like the daughter we never had. It still hurts.
On top of that, the identity of the killer, when they caught him? Harry Silver, champion racing driver. My husband’s hero.
Janet: Healing hasn’t come easily for you, I know. What’s your biggest challenge right now?
Ruth: Prayer is what kept me sane. It’s been hard, but I’ve learned to forgive Harry Silver, and to pray for him. I thought it was about healing. That’s what Pastor John said. Nobody warned me I’d start to care about the man’s soul. Tony’s an agnostic. He thinks this is all in my head, and he’s so offended that I’d pray for Harry. I don’t want to hurt him, but I can’t stop praying, either. It’s—well, God wants me to do this.
Janet: Tony’s a real sweetheart, and almost as patient as my own husband, but he just doesn’t understand your relationship with God. You’re praying for him, too, and God can use those prayers.
Ruth: I can’t convince him, so I pray. And tonight … he won’t like me going back out in the storm for our weekly prayer meeting, but Harry recently escaped from prison. They have to catch him before he hurts anyone else, and he needs to know Jesus before he runs out of time. This burden is getting heavier, and it’s too much for me to carry alone. There’s power in group prayer. I just hope Tony doesn’t get too mad.
Janet: What’ll he do while you’re out?
Ruth: He has a woodworking shop set up in the basement, and he spends a lot of time there. Faith got me through losing Susan; carving is what helped Tony.
Janet: Is there a particular Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?
Ruth: The Psalms and the Book of Philippians were a huge help to me in the early days of praying for Harry’s victims’ families, and eventually for Harry himself. The verse that really hit home when I started praying for him was Ezekiel 3:18. Let me grab my Bible … here it is: “When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood.” That’s from the NIV.
I’ve been praying for God to prepare Harry’s heart, and to send someone to warn him. He’s done such horrible things—but God still loves him. He yearns for him. I know it from the nightmares that made me pray for him. You or I might write Harry Silver off, but God hasn’t.
Janet: To be honest, I have to admit I wish there were a limit, a point beyond which God would reject a cry for forgiveness. I struggle with the thought of people who commit crimes like Harry’s—or worse—being welcomed into the kingdom of God. But I love this magnificent God who is not willing that any should perish. His mercy is beyond understanding.
Ruth: It is, indeed.
Janet: Let’s move on to some lighter things. Coffee or tea? Cake or Pie?
Ruth: I drink both, but I’m a tea person. Earl Grey’s my favourite. As for cake or pie, it depends. If I’m baking, it’s pie. Blueberry is my specialty. If I’m ordering, cheesecake. There’s this spot in Halifax, Sweet Hereafter Cheesecakery, with over 100 varieties of cheesecake in their recipe book. You know you want to get one to celebrate the novel’s release.
Janet: I do indeed. And since Sweet Hereafter is a real place, I can indulge. So what do you like to do to recharge?
Ruth: I love working with fabrics. Quilting is my passion these days, and I’ve started a community quilting group at church. We have nine women, and one lone male, and we sell our projects to raise money for the children’s hospital. Tony said this was one church group even he could support, so he made us some wooden stands to display the finished results.
Janet: Tell us something you appreciate about where you live.
Ruth: Hmm … the ocean. Tony and I like to drive along the shore roads on lazy summer weekends. We watch the waves, stop in little shops, and just unwind. And sometimes after a storm like this one, we’ll go and watch the breakers coming in.
Janet: What’s the most surprising, fun or scary thing you’ve ever done?
Ruth: I’m pretty boring. The only unusual thing I’ve done is to forgive and pray for my niece’s killer. It’s been a quiet life, and I’m glad.
Janet: And I’m sorry for what’s about to happen, but you’ll discover that no matter where you go, Jesus will be there.
Ruth: That sounds ominous …
Janet Sketchley‘s novel, Heaven’s Prey, releases November 1, 2013 from Choose NOW Publishing. Feel free to tell your friends! For more information and a free sample chapter, see the Heaven’s Prey page.