Out of the Dark Woods
A Review of Our Southern Breeze by Daphene JonesI finished the last page of Our Southern Breeze by Daphene Jones. I sat the book on my lap and let myself feel the gamut of emotions laid like paint on the pages. I let my mind trace the shape of her story, the curves and lines of childhood abuse, family dysfunction, bouts of depression, the repeating circles of lies, the zigzagging lines of one temporary prop after another to compensate for ingrained feelings of insecurity; or not fitting in; or not being smart enough or “good” enough. Her self-comparison to others played messages in her mind with a repeated theme: she never measured up. Her thinking too often bumped up against her past, her failures and inner turmoil. “I was frozen in my tracts—unable to think at all,” she said. “It took me days to grasp the fact that I had lost everything . . . again. Everything.” There were moments of painful reflection and promises to do better but there was no change. Daphene’s destructive habits and mindless choices of habit led her to despair and the suffocating feeling of being lost, without hope, in a dark forest. Dante expressed it best when he said, “In the middle of my road of life, I awoke in a dark wood, where the true way was wholly lost.”
Daphene was traveling on a painful, inevitable road to rock bottom. That was until she was asked by her estranged twin sister, Deborah Hall, to attend a Christian Conference in Anaheim, California. Deborah Hall was the subject of the New York Times bestseller, Same Kind of Different as Me. Unlike Daphene, Deborah led a stable, ordered, faith centered life with an outreach to the homeless and dispossessed in Fort Worth, Texas. The Anaheim meeting was a turning point for Daphene Jones. She experienced the power and presence of a personal God in ways that were specific and overwhelming. She was carried to a place of great relief and release. A weight of, what seemed like, ancient heaviness lifted as she opened her heart to the love and forgiveness of God. She writes, “It was as if a hundred keys were fitting into a hundred locks deep inside of me.” Daphene was filled with what Dante calls, “a love that moves the sun and other stars.” At Anaheim, Love began drawing a new shape that would define Daphene’s life.The rest of the book, the heart of the book is the story of redemption; the story of a life changed by the grace, mercy and forgiveness of God. It is the story of a life reshaped by God’s Word. It is the story of a woman who became a successful businesswoman. It is a book full of hope and encouragement and the promise of light for those who have experienced the dark woods or know someone who has. It is the story of second chances. I was blessed and my faith was affirmed as I read Our Southern Breeze. I highly recommend it.
Margaret Harrell Wills, EdDPoet, Speaker, and Author of Pressing Into Thin Places (2011)