What made me think I could or even should write a book?
People are often curious about anyone who has written a book. I guess they think that such a person is someone very special. People have asked me on several occasions, “Who are you?” No one had ever heard of me before I wrote a book. No one can associate me with any special group, education, or well-known people other than that I am Mrs. J. Richard Fugate (Rick to me). Most people from childhood on knew me as just a shy, quiet, nobody who never did anything special. Since writing On the Other Side of the Garden, women have said some strange things to me, such as:
- “If I weren’t as intelligent as I am, biblical womanhood would be easy for me too. (I believe there was an insult in there somewhere, but I guess she thought I wasn’t smart enough to catch it.)
- “That I didn’t know what it is like for other women since I had led such a sheltered life.” (I almost laughed when she said that because my life has been anything but sheltered. I did not grow up in a godly home where I could learn about God or even very many righteous standards. The atmosphere in my home was often negative and disapproving. My parent’s marriage was an unhappy one where there were loud, shouting, ugly arguments. In order to escape the turmoil, I withdrew into a protective shell. Basically, I grew up like a weed. I entered my teen years as a selfish, self-centered individual with poor grades and no prospects. Later in life, I learned that some people in my family tree had probably been believers but their lives did not reflect it. No one ever attempted to tell me about my need for salvation through Jesus Christ.
When I was thirteen, Rick became my parent’s paperboy, but we did not really notice one another until the summer I turned fifteen. My very beautiful best friend lived next door. Rick asked her for a date, but she turned him down. She later told me she did so because her step-father liked him and she disliked her step-father. Eventually, Rick came next door to me. We dated throughout high school and married as teens in 1958. We then failed over and over again as we stumbled through the jagged rocks of life until our proudness and self-“insufficiencies” were broken. At that point, our hearts heard and responded to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we were saved by God’s grace in 1968.
After salvation, God immediately began what seemed to be a crash course in teaching and training us in His word. He would first teach us His word, and then almost immediately give us clear opportunities to apply what we had learned. Through our personal tribulations and failures, as well as a few successes, He allowed us to learn many valuable lessons. Today, Rick and I enjoy a truly wonderful relationship. We have often been told by others that they cannot think of one of us without thinking of the other. In our case, one plus one equals one, not two! However, it has not always been this way. Our fifty-seven plus years have been filled with many ups and downs.
Through the years, Rick and I have experienced some no small amount of suffering from problems: in our marriage, from friends, and from others. We have lived through financial difficulties to the extent that our family ate vegetable soup for several days—without the vegetables. At another time, we sold a lawn mower to buy food for our children. We have lived in a brand-new, two-story house, an unfinished log cabin, and a used travel trailer. We have experienced fellowship in a wonderful Christ-centered church and have been without a church at all. We have watched our children make some mistakes as adults, and hurt with them through their experiencing the consequences of their actions.
Personally, I have been loved and hated, the object of compliments and ridicule, and the recipient of hugs and stabs in the back. A woman once hurt me so severely that it took me years to recover. I have had prayers answered instantly and prayers that went unanswered for years. To my sorrow and deep regret, I have been the instrument of pain to others and received the rod of correction from God for my sin. I have also lived for many years with severe chronic pain and physical conditions that have baffled doctors and resisted many normally helpful medications.
I don’t tell these things about myself in order to get anyone to focus on me. I actually abhor the spotlight and would much prefer to serve God and others quietly. Whoever I am and whatever I’ve accomplished has only been due God’s grace, mercy, and His power. I only recount these things from my life because they are, in a manner of speaking, the well-fertilized dirt in which God allowed me to grow.
You see, it took all of these things to teach me the dependence on God that no one can take away from me. It took lessons in crushed pride, shame, fear, weakness, and total failure to teach me the depth of God’s forgiveness. It took many losses to teach me to hold loosely to the things of this world and to hold tightly to Jesus Christ my Lord. It has taken the fire of trials for me to learn that my God is an ever present and always reliable source of comfort. I know He has been there in every past event, and will be for every new one to take place. He carries me in His loving arms today and every day. Before I sat down to write a single word I had to learn these things.
Now, why did God allow me, an uneducated and unknown person to serve Him? My only guess is that God may have wanted to use this sorry case to prove that, with God nothing will be impossible (Luke 1:37). All I know for sure is that as I saw the damage being done to families and the morals of our country by the feminist movement, I decided I needed to study God’s Word to learn what it said about the woman’s role in His plan. I looked up every verse that had anything to do with women, girls, men, and marriage. My husband urged me to make notes of the things I was learning, and slowly God revealed His design for biblical womanhood. Finally, I felt compelled to write these things in book form, even though it seemed absolutely ridiculous for me to do so. I wanted for at least my daughters to know these things. So, with a shoebox full of notes and my Bible, I began an arduous three-year battle. I began with a very sorry manuscript that was so poorly written it needed much help from others who knew more about writing than I did. Writing and rewriting became very discouraging. Only through much prayer and Rick’s and our then pastor’s encouragement kept me from quitting.
Was it the hand of God using all that He had allowed in my life and had taught me up to that point? I did not know at the time. Rick and I just dedicated the book to God and had no idea what He would do with it. I did not go on speaking tours nor did we promote the book or do any special advertising. Its acceptance slowly began to sell, primarily in the homeschool market where Rick’s book, What the Bible Says About Child Training, was playing a major role. God took it from there–-much to my astonishment. Eventually, I did timidly, and not very successfully, give a few public speeches. But for the most part, the book was promoted by women primarily through word of mouth. Soon classes on biblical womanhood were formed in many states throughout America. May God receive the glory!
As for me, I am no different than any other woman. I often cringe when someone praises me as if I am someone special-–I’m not! I recently spent a day in so much pain that I just sat down in my lounge chair, covered myself with my “blanky” and began to feel sorry for myself. Finally, I whispered a pitiful prayer for God to give me a measure of relief. Without knowing how sorry I was feeling for myself, Rick came in from his office and said, “Do you want to get away from all this? I have to go to the post office; do you want to go for a ride with me.” Immediately, I started to cry. Here was my undeserved answer to prayer from my sweetheart. How could I feel sorry for myself when God is so merciful and gracious and my husband so sweet to think of me?
However, the very next day I was feeling extremely tired and very grumpy. What did I do? Remember the day before? No, I was grumpy with my husband over the smallest thing that happened; requiring me to apologize for my poor attitude. So, if a reader receives anything of value from the book that God placed in their hands, please praise and glorify Him—not me! I often struggle just like anyone else.
The women who deserve recognition, are those who have given of themselves for years to host and lead Bible classes based on this book. They are the ones who have gone forth and done that which I could not do. They have spent hours studying, teaching, and mentoring other women. They have held the hands and prayed with women who are in pain. They have been instrumental in helping God improve many marriages and save multiple families from divorce and pain. Some of the women they have tried to help have rejected their teaching and even rejected them personally. Yet, they keep on spreading seeds to many other women; some of whom have gone on to conduct classes on their own. These women are champions in my eyes and worthy of great respect, not me. As Fanny Crosby’s great hymn sings this praise to God, “To God be the glory, great things, He hath done!”
In Christ, Virginia Ruth Fugate