My wonderful wife Louise is fond of saying, “We live our lives forward, but we understand them backwards.”
It is indeed amazing how you can look back and clearly see that a single sentence—spoken or sung—has empowered your life’s trajectory. One of my favorite stories in our newest book, GODWINK CHRISTMAS STORIES, due in October, is that of Jonna Fitzgerald.
As a seven-year old, Jonna could consume hours parading across her front porch pretending to be Miss Texas. And, the day her mother took her to a concert by the reigning Miss Texas, the fiddle-playing Judy Mallett, was truly a day emblazoned into memory. As shy as she was, Jonna stood excitedly in a long line after the performance because Miss Texas had promised every child a 45 rpm of her fiddling hit, “Orange Blossom Special.”
But, when Jonna finally arrived to the front of the line Miss Texas looked at her sadly and said, “I’m so sorry. I just gave away my last record.” Jonna’s heart sank. She so wanted that record. She had to tighten her lips and swallow to keep from crying.
Long after that, Jonna would determine that Miss Texas gave her something else which proved even more valuable. Along with an autographed picture Judy Mallet said, “If you work hard, you too can become Miss Texas.” Jonna took those words to heart.
The words of Miss Texas caused her to take up violin lessons. She practiced diligently. Twelve years later, she achieved her goal; she walked down the same runway as Judy Mallet, becoming the second fiddle-playing Miss Texas. And just like her heroine, her winning routine was “Orange Blossom Special.”
Jonna began a 12 month ceremonious journey, crisscrossing the Lone Star State, cutting ribbons, and endless performances as Miss Texas. New bookings came in everyday including one from a bank owner who asked Jonna to perform at a Christmas banquet. By the time December finally rolled around, Jonna was exhausted. She found that the role of Miss Texas had come with many behind-the- scenes stresses that she’d not envisioned.
She felt like she was losing her way and began questioning whether she was serving God in her purpose in life. "God I need a sign," she uttered in quiet frustration.
When Jonna arrived for her appearance at the bank’s annual banquet the owner’s wife sadly revealed that her husband had died a few months earlier. “But,” she said, “before he died, he insisted I give this to you. He wrapped it himself.” Jonna opened the gift and was astonished! Inside was a 45-rpm record of “Orange Blossom Special” by Miss Texas, Judy Mallet.
“How could he have known?” she said to the woman, whose countenance was a look of slight confusion. For Jonna, the treasured gift filled a vacancy since childhood, and rekindled the powerful words of encouragement that were spoken to her as a seven year old.
Meanwhile, the extraordinary godwink—from a man she’d never met—was a sign from above providing her with assurance that she was indeed right where she was supposed to be. In that defining moment, Jonna Fitzgerald determined that God gives us gifts and words to stimulate our spirits, not always when we want them, but when we need them.
Jonna Fitzgerald went on to become the 2nd runner up to Miss America, subsequently a TV news anchor, and currently, Congressional District Director for Congressman Louie Gohmert. Recently Louise and I attended her beautiful wedding in Texas, becoming Mrs Garrett Boersman.