Reviews and Endorsements
“Pashley infuses this story of betrayal, heartbreak, and reconciliation with unrelenting themes of grace, forgiveness, and Christian duty. The pain of the betrayed wife is well-written, and Sugar’s restless search for peace will evoke sympathy. Even Clay and his mistress are portrayed with psychological depth. Readers will identify with the characters’ spiritual journeys. . . [they’ll] appreciate Pashley’s overall message of hope and renewal.” — Publishers Weekly
“Precious in His Sight is more than a captivating, well written novel…..it is a modern day Bible story. Karen uses a fictional story to retell the greatest story ever told……that with God all things are possible…..and that love covers a multitude of sins. This is a story of a family who faces the overwhelming heartbreak and consequences of infidelity…… and how each family member ultimately chooses forgiveness, mercy and love. The character development, the beautiful descriptive language, and the plot twists will keep you glued to the pages. This book will stir your emotions, warm your heart, and ignite a longing in your spirit to know the One who loves us unconditionally……no matter who we are or what we’ve done.” —Denise Jackson, NYT bestselling author and wife of country music superstar Alan Jackson
“Rife with rich descriptions of southern life, including the comfortable world of Southern American Christianity, “Precious in His Sight” tackles issues facing many in the modern world: the sanctity of life, the value of marriage and family, and what it means to trust God when things are at their darkest. The novel is a story of redemption and love that might just leave you smiling through your tears.” — Faith Filled Family Magazine
“The characters are well developed. ..[they] are an inspirational couple, [and] their story, as they continue to overcome one thing after another, is one that you will never forget.” Five Stars! — Readers’ Favorite
“…the heartfelt words and tear stained pages of a story that takes you into the heart of a betrayed spouse. Once I got into this story I couldn’t put it down. I needed to know what God was going to do…because I knew that this book was going to be one of hope and redemption.” — His Mercy is New.com
“Karen Pashley has inspired me with her willingness to share her heart and personal stories with readers. Even throughout the pages of fiction, her message is woven together with a redemptive thread that is thought provoking and uplifting. Her ability to tackle really difficult subjects with vulnerability while pointing to the hope in Christ has spoken volumes to me as a ministry leader. I have been privileged to feature her writing with readers who are living in a place of brokenness and need solid biblical truth. I believe Karen Pashley has a message women today are desperate to hear.” —Jennifer Renee Watson, ministry leader, writer & speaker
“Karen Pashley is the real deal! A wife, mother, and friend that has not only walked the Christian walk of joy and peace , but just as important that of pain and trial. She speaks to her reader’s most vulnerable places and brings to them the truth, hope and encouragement of the Gospel. Precious in His Sight will keep you reading late into the night! Thank you Karen for using real life hardships to teach us all that, we too, like her characters, can be overcomers in Christ!” —Stacy Clayton, MA., speaker, Bible teacher
“It’s been a while since I finished a book feeling like I really knew each and every character and was emotionally invested in each one. Karen’s thoughtful development through detailed scenes and descriptive prose feels more like relationship building. Because of that, the theme and message of hope woven through the unimaginable, heart-wrenching situation challenges the reader’s belief system. It is impossible to read this book and not be changed—because it makes you realize and come to terms with how precious in His sight all of us are, regardless of the mistakes we’ve made or the consequences we are left with because of those mistakes. Precious in His Sight would be a great choice for a book club.” — Denise Voccola, author of Little Cabin on the Trail
Karen Pashley Biography
A self-described “southern transplant,” Karen Pashley made her way to her adopted southern home by way of New York and Florida, but it was on a trip back to the Northeast where Karen got her inspiration for the new novel, “Precious in His Sight,” which Karen describes lovingly as “country club southern fiction.” The book depicts a southern woman with traumatic issues to deal with, something that is familiar to Karen.
“When I speak at events, I let people know immediately that my life is as real as it gets,” says Karen. “I was smart as a whip, graduating high school and starting college at sixteen. But without much guidance, I went off the grid for a little while and in the process, derailed my college plans. I was twenty years old when I found out I was pregnant. We married immediately and without reservation. Looking back, the odds were not in our favor. But he was industrious, and passionately optimistic. So was I. Between the two of us, we believed we could accomplish anything we set our minds to. Over the years, I shared life, children, and the ups and downs of building a business with my entrepreneurial husband. I grieved the loss of a baby, homeschooled our four daughters, battled a frustrating incurable illness, and just last year, clung to God like never before when addiction became part of our family’s vocabulary. I like to communicate through anecdotes, life lessons, and testimonies. I speak with passion, humor, and honesty. My goal is to help people fill up their faith tanks, and hit the refresh button in their souls.”
Like the main character in her new novel, Karen has had her moments when she wasn’t sure what God was thinking. She has battled Meniere’s Disease for several years, an illness that rendered her barely able to function on a daily basis because of the extreme dizziness. She lost most of the hearing in one ear, and lived in a constant state of nausea and fatigue, experiencing frequent violent bouts of vertigo that would slam her to the floor and reduce her to a sweat-drenched, vomiting wreck curled up for hours unable to move. In spite of the unpredictability of the disease, Karen found hope in the midst of despair.
“I won’t lie,” says Karen. “Sometimes it was hell. But I learned in those dark, horrific moments that my Lord Jesus had not abandoned me. He, too, knew the anguish of physical torture, and He was with me in that pit. Rather than panic, I learned to rest in the midst of the attack, picturing Jesus sitting next to me, knowing He would not leave me. Knowing He had a reason for my suffering. It helped. The experience showed me things about myself I wouldn’t have known otherwise. And it humbled me, and has given me an extraordinary gratitude for the gift of health. Today, I am virtually symptom-free. And every day that I feel good is a precious gift.”
Last year, Karen’s world became even more shaken when she learned that her vibrant, intelligent, beautiful daughter had lived a secret life of addiction for years. It started with an injury the summer after her high school graduation. The dependance on pain killers escalated through college and into her career. By the time the family found out, the daughter they adored was losing her battle with opiates, and her life was in jeopardy. The shock, anger and fear nearly did Karen in, and once again, she questioned God.
“This kind of thing was the farthest thing from my mind—something that might happen to other families, but surely not in a ‘good’ family like mine. I was furious at God for letting me down—not hearing all those motherly prayers I’d prayed over her all her life. But when the shock began to wear off, and the hard work of treatment and recovery took over, my faith was challenged in incredible ways. I watched God do miracle after miracle in my daughter’s life. I learned that He alone had the power to bring her back—my earnest attempts were admirable, but His ways were higher. Today, she is living free from addiction, and is charting her course to a new life with her Lord at the helm. There may be rough patches in store for her from time to time, but I am resting in the fact that nothing, not powers or principalities, not temptations or trauma, not even the insatiable appetite of prowling lion can separate her from the love of God. His arm was not too short to reach her—or any of us for that matter. And He can rescue us from whatever mess we get ourselves into.”
In addition to speaking and writing, Karen is an accomplished foodie who founded “Girls Dine In,” a monthly gathering that is part supper club, part cooking class where she brings women together for great food and fellowship.
“When I first proposed the Girls Dine In idea in front of a group of women at church, I thought no one would be interested. After all, we’re all so wrapped up in our families, our jobs, our commitments. So when I saw hands go up all over that room—I knew that what I was sensing for myself was true for others. That women are hungry for fellowship—for laughter—for fun! Girls Dine In offers women a chance to leave the cares of their day behind. We’re in our third year now, and the events are packed every month. I love to see women walk in with a friend or a neighbor, expecting something wonderful. It’s good food for the body, and for the soul.”
Whether cooking or writing or speaking, Karen has her finger on the pulse of what women need, and she believes “Precious in His Sight” will resonate with women in a real way. Even before it was published, the novel was already garnering attention. The novel was awarded first place in the unpublished novels competition at the 2014 Blue Ridge Christian Writer’s Conference. The premise of the novel is certain to raise a few eyebrows as it deals with some difficult moral issues that an unsuspecting wife must face. And the choices she ultimately makes will challenge a lot of Christians to think about their own personal beliefs. But ultimately, whether in her writing, cooking clubs, or speaking engagements, Karen has one goal in mind for the women in her audience: hope.
“The life of a Christian is not all peaches and cream, nor should it be,” says Karen. “But when we bend down and pick up the bricks of hardship, one by one, and apply the cement of the Holy Spirit to them, we are building an impenetrable wall of faith that cannot be constructed any other way. We must work with God rather than running from Him in our hardships. We must never lose our hope. Storms will come. We shouldn’t fear them. With God, we can persevere with dignity and joy.”
Q&A with Karen Pashley
Author of “Precious in His Sight”
Q: What inspired you to write the book “Precious in His Sight?”
A: I believe it’s vitally important that women find their true authenticity and live in it. By that I mean, thinking and acting independent of what others may think, or assume about us, and being comfortable with ourselves, even when we go against the grain or don’t buy into what’s popular, It is a challenging concept I’ve personally struggled with, and I believe many others do too.
Q: Introduce us to your main character, Sugar Brennan.
A: In today’s image-conscious, social media-focused society, it’s tough to filter out all the external influences that can drive our motivations and our actions. Sugar Brennan has been bombarded with messages her whole life about what it means to be an upstanding southern Christian woman. She’s invested a tremendous amount of energy into fulfilling that image. I wanted to explore how she might react when faced with a devastating moral crisis. Many, many times while writing the early drafts, I would lie awake at night wondering how I would handle her situation, and how God could turn something that awful into something beautiful. Sugar inspired me to dig deeper into my relationship with God. I hope she inspires my readers to do that as well.
Q: There are several twists and turns in the story. Did you have those in mind in the beginning, or did they develop as you wrote?
A: The entire story came to my mind and played out like a movie while I was driving through the hills of Massachusetts with my family one summer. It started as a “what if” kind of daydream, just to pass the time. An hour later, when we pulled into a little country store to fill up on fuel and snacks, I bought a dusty spiral notebook, returned to the passenger seat, and scribbled descriptions for all of the characters and settings. By the time we reached our destination, I had written the entire outline for Precious in His Sight. After that trip, I stuck the notebook in a desk drawer and didn’t pull it out for a year. When I did, the plot and characters begged to be written, and since I had always wanted to write a novel, and I had some time on my hands, a project was born.
Q: The main character makes some life choices that may shock readers. Why did you have her make those decisions?
A: As a married woman myself, I wrestled with Sugar’s choices. The wrestling led me to the conclusion that regardless of the difficult circumstances I might find myself in, there is always hope. And there is grace, even when we fight against the pain. It’s often our futile attempts to avoid pain that wind up causing us even greater calamity. Without pain, we don’t get to the bottom of ourselves. And unless we get to the bottom of ourselves, we can’t experience the power and peace that come from complete surrender. I wanted Sugar to run, and wrestle, and squirm, and ache to find that “peace that passes all understanding.” I wanted her to experience the freedom of letting go.
Q: The story presents the ethics of risking the life of a pregnant woman for her unborn child. How did you decide how to portray that dilemma?
A: I didn’t set out to write a pro-life story. In fact, while developing the characters, I struggled with their predicament for some time. I researched their scenario and learned that cancer during pregnancy strikes more often than we realize, and that some doctors still advise women to abort their babies, even with today’s medical advances. In certain cases, continuing the pregnancy poses life-threatening risks to the mother. I had to ask myself, as a person of faith, what would I do? The answer seemed simple enough. But while writing Christine’s character, and thinking about her back story, the question became, what would a woman with no religious allegiance or personal faith do in this situation? At the time, I didn’t honestly know how Christine would handle her plight. As I got into her head more, I felt like the choices she made were a natural progression of her journey.
Q: What do you hope readers will learn from the main character’s plight?
A: I hope readers are inspired by Sugar’s tenacity, her deep love of family, and her determination. But more than that, I hope readers connect with her frailties, and her yearning to be real and open and authentic. I hope that Sugar’s journey encourages readers to seek God and cling to Him in the dark times of life, and to trust Him when circumstances don’t work out the way they hope. I hope readers learn that they have the choice and the power to be become women of joy, and strength, and serenity, no matter what life throws at them.
Q: Sugar Brennan is a strong female character. You seem like a strong woman too. Is Sugar modeled after you?
A: Ha! Sugar is a feisty go-getter, that’s for sure, and I think we have a lot in common. But as I wrote Precious in His Sight, I found myself identifying with all of the characters. I think there’s a little bit of me in each one of them. And their struggles motivated me to search my own heart. Like Sugar, I’ve made decisions based on what others might think of me. At times, I’ve tried to outthink God, running from His will in a panic before relinquishing control and finding solitude in His open arms.
Like Clay, I’ve experienced the humiliation of sin, and the haunting regrets that follow a fall, and I’ve felt the forgiving hand of my Savior take mine and say, “Come on, let’s walk out of this darkness together.”
Like Christine, I’ve been confused about God’s love for me, and at times have wondered if I measured up—wondered why He would care about me when I was so undeserving.
Like Daniel, I’ve been skeptical—wary of the church and the hypocrisy that sometimes exists within her walls. But I’ve come to love the church, not the buildings, or the denominations, but the people who exemplify the body of Christ in a variety of flavors and forms, and who are just doing their best to navigate the path to eternity. And like Miranda, I’ve put certain people on a pedestal only to be terribly let down when they don’t meet my lofty expectations. Because of that, I’ve learned to see people’s mistakes as opportunities for them to grow, and I can now look with anticipation toward what God can do, rather than with disdain at what they did.
The wonderful thing I’ve discovered along the way is that God’s love for me underscores all of my shortcomings, all of my fears, and my failures. His grace is gift enough, yet I often fight against that gift, straining and striving to satisfy my insatiable need to put my own stamp of approval on myself. Understanding His grace, arising in hope, and resting in His steadfast love are the keys to a life that celebrates this undeniable fact—that I am precious in God’s sight—we all are.
Q: What are you involved in besides writing?
A: My husband and I have four daughters, one granddaughter, and another grandchild on the way, so we invest quite a bit of time creating opportunities for our busy family to be together. We take the whole brood skiing in the winter and to the lake in the summer, and we enjoy holidays and special events throughout the year. I’ve always been a big cook, and I love entertaining and getting people together, so a few years ago I combined my two loves into a monthly event called “Girls Dine In.” Each month I create a themed menu, write the recipes, put together table décor and music to go with the theme, and host an all-out cooking frenzy in my kitchen. The women love learning new techniques and inventive ways of serving and presenting a dinner party. And they have a chance to do something just for fun that doesn’t involve the kids or the job or anything. I also like taking walks in the woods, binge-watching Netflix, and painting furniture.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I’m working on a new novel about five former college roommates who reunite twenty-five years later. It’s kind of a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants for middle-aged women, set on the Gulf Coast beaches of Florida. The characters are quirky and funny, yet deeply troubled and carrying heavy burdens. I’m falling in love with them as a write, and can’t wait to share their story.
About Precious in His Sight
The story of a guilt ridden husband, his determined wife, and the “other woman,” whose struggle may set them all free.
What is the price of obedience?
In Westfield, South Carolina, where wealth and prestige go hand-in-hand with sippin’ sweet tea and servin’ Jesus, successful architect Clay Brennan and his adoring wife Sugar enjoy the American dream.
When strong-willed Sugar learns of her husband’s infidelity, she keeps it to herself. Exposing his secret would destroy their kids’ respect—ruin their stellar reputations—not to mention Clay’s position on the church board and her well-attended Bible studies. Though her heart is crushed, she commits to rebuilding her marriage, trusting God to heal the deep wounds that linger long after her husband ends the affair.
But when the former mistress returns to Westfield with devastating news—it poses a heart-wrenching dilemma that challenges Sugar to rethink all she’s believed about faith, family, and the healing power of forgiveness.
Raised in a preacher’s home, Sugar Brennan has been taught to love her enemies. She’s worn the WWJD bracelet. She’s got the fish on the back of her car, but…extend Christ’s love to the woman who nearly destroyed her marriage? Surely God wouldn’t ask her to go that far.
Precious in His Sight is the first title in a series of women’s inspirational novels about a prominent southern family and the life-altering challenges they must overcome on their journey of faith.
About Author Karen Pashley:
Karen Pashley lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and the youngest of their four daughters. Her first novel, Precious in His Sight, won 1st place in the unpublished novels competition at the 2014 Blue Ridge Christian Writer’s Conference. Karen is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Association, Word Weavers International, and the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association. Visit www.KarenPashley.com for more information.