Sydney Tooman Betts resides with her husband near the extensive cavern system that inspired the setting for several chapters in her series The People of the Book.
While single, Ms. Betts (B.S. Bible/Missiology, M.Ed.) took part in a variety of cross-cultural adventures in North and Central America. After marrying, she and her husband lived in Europe and the Middle East where he served in various mission-support capacities. Her teaching experiences span preschool to guest lecturing at the graduate level.
Before penning her first novel, A River too Deep, she ghost-wrote several stories for an adult literacy program.
Please welcome Sydney, everyone!
Sydney Tooman Betts: Her Story
Hi! I am Sydney Tooman Betts. Linda has kindly invited me to talk about why I wrote the first of my six novels, A River Too Deep. As is typical of Jesus, He used a symphony of circumstances to inspire me. The first was a desire to share the gospel. At the time, I was home schooling my two children, and though I was heavily involved with my church, the supermarket was the only place I reliably rubbed shoulders with people who were not already following Jesus. The produce section is not an optimal venue for deep conversations, so I began to ask God for another means, and God answered immediately. Although I had never aspired to write a book, I felt as if He opened the lid to my brain and dropped that ambition inside.
The content of our history lessons activated the second section of this symphony. We were reading a book by a Native American gentleman who decried the expectations of missionaries in the 1800s. They centered around imitations of American society: tilling the land, wearing clothing made of cloth rather than animal skins, and cutting hair to conform to current norms. When this broke my heart, an idea began to form.
A confluence of my daughter reaching her teens and tension I created with my husband formed the last element.
While I was wondering where she learned certain less-than-respectful patterns of speech, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. She had learned them from me. I began to realize my submission to my husband most often played out like this: “I will follow you wherever you lead as long as you run your plan by me first for my approval.”
During the duration of this novel’s composition, God revealed to me a series of truths about not only my attitude toward my husband but also toward Him. They were eye opening and have produced a deeper happiness in my marriage. By embedding them in a compelling story, I hope to offer those same insights to readers. You can discover them by reading A River Too Deep, but I am happy to give you two samples.
Although our 21st century view of submission is grim, God’s instructions are clear; and He never tells us to do anything that is not beneficial. How can this be? Doesn’t a wife’s submission leave her vulnerable to bullying and oppression? On the contrary, it is the most facile way to open a well-intentioned man’s heart. Think of people under your authority. If they are conscientious, intentionally following your lead and treating you with respect, you will grant them latitude in the form of privilege and likely consider their proposals.
We all, as mothers, have specific goals for our families and appreciate a child who willingly helps us achieve them. Now consider the opposite: a child or employee who bucks your authority and thwarts your well-considered goals by insisting on their own way. You will become more restrictive, implementing rules to keep them from damaging either themselves, others, or in the case of an employer, the company goals. Likely you will regard suggestions they proffer with skepticism or downright suspicion.
A second revelation concerned trust.
I used to think the amount of trust I invested in a person was commensurate with their performance history. Why then, did I feel I had to point out all the potential flaws in my husband’s proposals? Why, too, did I doubt his love for me if he veered from demonstrating it in the ways I prefer? Much to my chagrin—and gratitude for God’s kindness—the Holy Spirit showed me I do the exact same thing with Him. If I don’t feel His love for whatever reason, I am prone to doubt it exists; or if circumstances are not pleasant, I interpret them as evidence His care is lacking. This ought not be so! Both He and my husband deserve my trust without needing to re-earn it at every turn.
If after reading the above, you care to explore my books further, you can find them on Amazon. The link to A River Too Deep, below, will lead you to its sequels.
A River Too Deep by Sydney Tooman Betts
In the Spring of 1817, Alcy Callen and her father visit a step-uncle they have long presumed dead. Instead of enjoying a loving reunion, they are plunged into treachery and deceit. Even the man who helps Alcy escape is not the reliable suitor he appears. She is caught between gratitude and fear, unable to avoid her rescuer’s attentions or understand the responses they stir. Of One person only is she certain, but will He save her before it is too late?
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Dear Lord, please bless each word Sydney writes for You.
~ For Jesus’ sake ~