Guest: Loving Prickly People by Sydney Avey

1 John 4:1 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

Sometimes the hardest people to love are prickly family members, the ones who are like cactus or a hot stove—get too close and you know you will end up hurting. Like Dee, the main character in my book The Sheep Walker’s Daughter, I had a difficult and secretive mother. Her silences were punishing, and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why she was mad at me.

The nineteen sixties partied hard as I entered college. Love was in the air; love songs, love fests, “love, love, love, all you need is…”  Not me. I didn’t feel the love. I knew that I didn’t love anybody. All my friends were in love, but I refused to tell any boy I loved him because I didn’t know what the word meant. Then I met Jesus at a college Young Life meeting. He showed me what love meant.

On my knees in my bedroom (I was still living at home), I prayed this prayer: God, if you are who you say you are, teach me how to love.” When I looked back on my life six months later, I was amazed to discover that God had softened my heart toward my mother.

My mother didn’t change. My expectations changed. It wasn’t a rational thought process, it was a heart change. I stopped expecting her to do anything differently. I started to see her struggles with insecurity.  I began to feel compassion. That is when I knew that love comes from God. I never could have manufactured that feeling on my own.

In The Sheep Walker’s Daughter, Father Mike plays the role of spiritual advisor to Dee. He tells her not to abandon her loved ones or the memories of her mother, painful though the memories might be. He advises her to bear with the memories and let the Holy Spirit soften her heart.

As many of us begin to lose our mothers, we may not feel satisfied that we loved enough. My mother and I struggled with each other up until the day she died, but we knew we loved each other. Paul told the Corinthians (1 Cor. 13: 7-8) that “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” And love never ends. You don’t have to manufacture love. God will give you love for the prickly person in your life, if you ask Him.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ GIVEAWAY ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The winner receives a copy of Sydney's book, The Sheep Walker's Daughter. Leave a comment about the blog with your email address. Let me know which one you want, e-copy or paperback. In a week, I'll draw for the lucky winner.

About the Book:

A Korean War widow’s difficult mother dies before revealing the identity of her daughter’s father and his cultural heritage. As Dee sorts through what little her mother left, she unearths puzzling clues that raise more questions: Why did Leora send money every month to the Basque Relief Agency? Why is her own daughter so secretive about her soon-to-be published book? And what does an Anglican priest know that he isn’t telling? All this head-spinning breaks a long, dry period in Dee’s life. She might just as well lose her job and see where the counsel of her new spiritual advisor and the attentions of an enigmatic ex-coworker lead her
The Sheep Walker’s Daughter pairs a colorful immigrant history of loss, survival, and tough choices with one woman’s search for spiritual identity and personal fulfillment.

Dee’s journey will take her through the Northern and Central California valleys of the 1950s and reach across the world to the obscure Basque region of Spain. She will begin to discover who she is and why family history matters.

About the Author:

Sydney Avey earned her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and did postgraduate work in mass communications at San Jose State University. She lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Yosemite, California, and the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, and has a lifetime of experience writing news for non profits and corporations.  She speaks on spiritual maturity at Christian Women’s Conferences and on the writer’s life at seminars in the Gold Country in California.  Sydney has work featured or forthcoming in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine and American Athenauem. She blogs at about the themes she explores in her writing–relationships, legacy, faith and wanderlust. photo credit: faith goble via photopin cc


  1. Thank you Sydney. What a beautiful post.

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