An unexpected package came in the mail some days ago. I checked the return address, saw who it came from and opened the package. I found the book this proud, new first-time author sent for examination. Inside, I discovered a nicely crafted hard-cover volume of 185 pages describing “a real life story of love and triumph” - Dear Wanda.
As I often do, I turned to the back cover to see who would lend their name to promoting the book. Dean Massey described it as an “honorable tribute from a loving husband!” He commended it for breathing “love and devotion,” and suggested it deserved reading as an example of “commitment and devotion.” marital ingredients that are often in shortfall today.
Juanita Leonard called it a “compassionate compelling memoir” of a forty plus years marriage that faced insurmountable odds and revealed an unbroken covenant. James Edwards suggested admiration can be the judgment of this family living in the never-forsaking Godly presence of the center of their faith.
I found aspects of the book troubling, both in craft and content. The author would have profited with a critical proofreader to catch some rather obvious errors, and I had some difficulty staying with the writer without getting left on a sidetrack when he sometimes flitted about; it left me sometimes catching up.
I did find myself wrestling with some unanswered questions, which the author prompted. While musing on various answers, I saw the strong possibility that God often does reveal great interest in our adventures like marriage. While it seemed to me the author needed a lot of propping up throughout his life, the “Dear Wanda” thread weaved its way through the book and seemed to suggest that when given opportunity, God often has a way of bringing people together like restoring two halves of the same fruit.
I’m not sure I could have written as candidly, and seemingly as openly, as this author did. In doing so, he risked personal exposure that some of us find too threatening. Yet in doing so, he also revealed our common humanity and the potential powers of healing and wholeness when we expose our lives on the God-ward side.
I never met Wanda. I met the author as a brand new rooky pastor--a predecessor in my final pastorate. In a yet unpublished manuscript, I paid him tribute for paving the way to some of the success I later achieved in that pastorate, knowing also that he underwent great personal adversity in that situation.
Dear Wanda prompted generous feelings toward the author, sparked by my respect for my own mate of 65 years. As our mutual friend David Grubbs suggested, “there is open and wise counsel in Fred’s vulnerability.” Readers may find many unanswered questions in this volume, but the one thing you will find constantly reaffirmed is the “ever present, powerfully healing and encouraging quiet companionship of Wanda."
It became a story Fred James had to tell. He tells it in this 185 page volume, published by Evangel Press, available from author Fred James, 4332 Fall Creekway N, Indianapolis, IN 46205 ($15.00).
From Warner’s World, we are