Today I’m thrilled to have inspirational author, Heidi Chiavaroli sharing an inspiring personal experience that ties into the theme of her novel, The Tea Chest. Plus, there’s a GIVEAWAY, so stick around!

I still remember sitting on the bed of my college dorm room, a few cardboard boxes at my feet. It was September 2001. And I wasn’t unpacking to begin my sophomore year. I was packing up to go home.

I had failed at college. But not with grades. (In fact, I’d ended the previous spring semester with a 3.98 GPA.) Instead, I had failed at my desire to be there. What I’d been working toward for years suddenly lost its appeal. My parents were mending a broken marriage, the country was reeling from 9/11, and I very much missed my high school boyfriend, now my husband. So I’d done the unthinkable—given up an amazing scholarship and the chance to pursue career dreams of becoming a dietitian. I quit so I could come home.

I failed.

This was something I thought about a lot as I sat down to write my fourth novel, The Tea Chest. While my historical heroine, Emma, dreams of supporting the side of liberty in colonial Boston even though her family is staunchly Loyalist, my contemporary heroine has some big dreams as well—she’s intent on becoming America’s first woman Navy SEAL.

Hayley was born when I stumbled on a news report about the first woman ever who entered the training pipeline to become a Navy SEAL. The report didn’t state her name but my imagination was already flying. Who was this woman? I could relate to something within her—this fierce desire to succeed, and even the feeling of failure if success didn’t prove possible.

I was the woman with the 3.98 GPA, after all. The one who spent her Friday nights in high school studying! The one who threw off dreams of becoming a writer, thinking they were impractical for someone who wanted to succeed at life. Instead, I threw myself into the sciences—and realized very quickly that God did not gift me with a methodical or even logical brain.

In The Tea Chest, Hayley struggles with intense pressure to succeed. It’s my hope readers will relate to lessons she learns—lessons that are dear to my very own success-driven heart! Because for so long, I felt my worth was in what I did and how well I did it.

Bringing these struggles to my fictional character Hayley wasn’t much of a stretch. I mean, this is a woman with some hefty goals! But I also wanted her to find freedom from this mindset. To feel that weight being lifted off her chest—to realize that her worth was not defined in what she did or how well she did it, but in whose she was. I wanted her to find true freedom, and give herself over to the One who has a way of turning disasters and disappointments into second chances, the One who brings forth new beauty in the midst of black ashes.

I know firsthand He can do this. Because five years after I sat in that college dorm room, facing my failure, I found myself sitting at a crooked, second-hand dining room table with a pen and notebook revisiting childhood dreams of writing books while two toddlers took their naps. I can honestly say that if I’d pushed forward toward my dreams of success in the world’s eyes—pursuing a career in the sciences—that I wouldn’t be fulfilling my ultimate dream of sharing words of God’s grace with beautiful readers like you.

Heidi Chiavaroli wrote her first story in third grade, titled I’d Cross the Desert for Milk. It wasn’t until years later that she revisited writing, using her two small boys’ nap times to pursue what she thought at the time was a foolish dream. Despite a long road to publication, she hasn’t stopped writing since!
Heidi writes women’s fiction, combining her love of history and literature to write split time stories. Her debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, was a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist, a Romantic Times Top Pick and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.


Cynthia Roemer’s PRAIRIE SKY SERIES: Stories of faith and resilience on the Midwest prairie Inspirational Historical Romance


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**Now for the GIVEAWAY! Heidi has graciously offered to give away a copy of The Tea Chest ~ Print (US only) or E-book ~ winner’s choice) Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

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