Real-life Romance with Roxanne Sherwood Gray

I’m delighted to welcome romance writer Roxanne Sherwood Gray as my guest. We met online back in 2008, and I was impressed with what a sweet person she is. When we first connected, I learned that her life had undertaken an unexpected turn the year before, a sad one. In time the Lord blessed her with a wonderful surprise of the romantic kind. When I saw her at the ACFW Conference in September 2011, she was radiant.

I’ve invited Roxanne to share her real-life romance with you. Prepared to be moved.

• • •

My husband, Jack, and I were busy, home schooling parents of six. In our early forties, life was satisfying, but we wanted more. I dreamed of publishing a novel. With a master’s degree in engineering, Jack had spent his career in computer security and yearned for a Ph.D. in computer science.

When I was pregnant with our seventh child, I urged Jack to pursue his Ph.D. I knew that if we waited for the right time—an empty nest?—to pursue our dreams, we’d wait forever.

The Sherwood Family six months before Roxanne lost Jack.

So I wrote about a widow with a second chance at love, while Jack took college classes. We celebrated contest wins and courses completed. He was my biggest fan. I was his most avid supporter. We were on our way. It was just a matter of time.

Turns out, we didn’t have time. At least, Jack didn’t.

In 2007, on our twin daughters’ 17th birthday, Jack suffered a fatal heart attack on the way home from work. He left me with seven children—ages 1, 8, 10, 17, 17, 18 and 20—all living at home. I had to remember to breathe.

Did you notice the premise of my work-in-progress? A widow must decide if love is Worth the Risk. My heroine’s young son was named Peter. So was my youngest. She worried that her boys wouldn’t remember their father. My Peter was too young to remember Jack. It was surreal to be living my novel.

I’d written a heart-wrenching scene where Stephanie, my heroine, is forced to take off her wedding ring. I’d built up the tension, so it was a really big deal for her. One day, I decided to date and quietly slipped off my wedding ring—I’d already worked through my emotions writing that scene. I don’t know if this novel will ever be published. Maybe I was the one who needed to read it.

When I heard that high school classmate Steve Gray’s wife had died after a long illness, I sent him my condolences. He had no plans to remarry—and risk loving—again. I only wanted a friendship with him because he lived 1,200 miles away—and I’d known him since 5th grade. If we were intended to have a relationship, wouldn’t it have happened when we were young?

Steve and I began emailing and chatting. After several weeks, he finally called. God made us attracted to one another’s voices. We talked for two and three hours a night for months, revealing the depths of our hearts as God knit our souls together.

We laughed like giddy teenagers and knew phone calls weren’t enough. Finally, he visited so we could discover if our feelings were real. He’d already won my heart, and I soon fell in love with the rest of him. :-)

Steve & Roxanne on their wedding day–June 18, 2011.

In some ways, pursuing a relationship was a risk. When we married in June 2011, we’d spent only 30 days together, usually 3-6 days at a time. We never dated, instead spending time discovering if we could be a family.

Two hearts united. Two families combined.

My children liked Steve immediately, but the four in college stayed in Texas when I moved to Florida to be married. Still, I knew God had handpicked Steve for me—and my three young sons.

Roxanne and Steve on their honeymoon in Antigua.

People ask when I’ll publish our story. For now, I’m still a novelist—with a new, fabulously supportive husband, who makes me laugh every day. He also says the most romantic things, and I’m tempted to stop and write them down for my hero to say. Instead, I enjoy the moment—and just hope I remember the words later.

As for my decision to marry Steve? Worth the Risk!

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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64 Responses to Real-life Romance with Roxanne Sherwood Gray

  1. karenk says:

    what a beautiful story…orchestrated by the composer of life. thank you for sharing your heart, roxanne :)

  2. dtopliff says:

    Wow I’ve been privileged to watch part of this real-life story happening and the joyful happily every after. This is seriously my most favorite romance & I do think it should be written. I never tire of hearing it again, and there are always new exciting elements. Thanks, Roxanne.

  3. Melissa Isaksen says:

    I cried when I heard your story at Deep Thinker’s Roxanne. (tried to stifle it though so I wouldn’t look like such a cry-baby but I think no one could see me through their blurry eyes!) Such an amazing and beautiful story. I’m so happy for you that you are so happy now and that both families have meshed well. I agree with Wendy above though, I didn’t know you wrote about it first, I don’t think I’ll write about anything bad either!! But God used it for good in your life. Blessings my friend! <3

    • roxanne7 says:

      I hate to break it to you, but you can’t write a story without conflict. It’s interesting how often the themes in our books are just the things the author needs to deal with. Thanks for sharing my joy!

  4. Gabrielle Meyer says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Roxanne, it is beautiful. I love the picture of your combined families at your wedding. God is good.

    • roxanne7 says:

      The wedding and cross-country move seemed overwhelming at times, so Steve and I contemplated a Las Vegas wedding. But our kids needed to be there as our families were united, so Steve planned our wedding. And did a wonderful job!

  5. Thanks for the post Roxanne. Laurie and I are thankful for our friendship with you and Steve.

    I’m reminded of a quote from Don Miller: “Joy will spoil those who have not suffered but humble those who have known pain.”

    • roxanne7 says:

      Matt, We’re thankful for you and Laurie. I like the Don Miller quote. Steve and I believe our suffering has made us more grateful when joy arrived.

  6. Janet Shultz says:

    Having heard this amazing love story from Steve, it is such a treat to hear it from Roxanne. God is truly amazing when it comes to bringing love after sorrow. God Bless you both.

  7. What an amazing story. Thanks so much fro sharing and blessings to all of you!

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