Keli Gwyn
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Real-life Romance with Roxanne Sherwood Gray

I’m delighted to welcome romance writer Roxanne Sherwood Gray as my guest. We met online back in 2008, and I was impressed with what a sweet person she is. When we first connected, I learned that her life had undertaken an unexpected turn the year before, a sad one. In time the Lord blessed her with a wonderful surprise of the romantic kind. When I saw her at the ACFW Conference in September 2011, she was radiant.

I’ve invited Roxanne to share her real-life romance with you. Prepared to be moved.

• • •

My husband, Jack, and I were busy, home schooling parents of six. In our early forties, life was satisfying, but we wanted more. I dreamed of publishing a novel. With a master’s degree in engineering, Jack had spent his career in computer security and yearned for a Ph.D. in computer science.

When I was pregnant with our seventh child, I urged Jack to pursue his Ph.D. I knew that if we waited for the right time—an empty nest?—to pursue our dreams, we’d wait forever.

The Sherwood Family six months before Roxanne lost Jack.

So I wrote about a widow with a second chance at love, while Jack took college classes. We celebrated contest wins and courses completed. He was my biggest fan. I was his most avid supporter. We were on our way. It was just a matter of time.

Turns out, we didn’t have time. At least, Jack didn’t.

In 2007, on our twin daughters’ 17th birthday, Jack suffered a fatal heart attack on the way home from work. He left me with seven children—ages 1, 8, 10, 17, 17, 18 and 20—all living at home. I had to remember to breathe.

Did you notice the premise of my work-in-progress? A widow must decide if love is Worth the Risk. My heroine’s young son was named Peter. So was my youngest. She worried that her boys wouldn’t remember their father. My Peter was too young to remember Jack. It was surreal to be living my novel.

I’d written a heart-wrenching scene where Stephanie, my heroine, is forced to take off her wedding ring. I’d built up the tension, so it was a really big deal for her. One day, I decided to date and quietly slipped off my wedding ring—I’d already worked through my emotions writing that scene. I don’t know if this novel will ever be published. Maybe I was the one who needed to read it.

When I heard that high school classmate Steve Gray’s wife had died after a long illness, I sent him my condolences. He had no plans to remarry—and risk loving—again. I only wanted a friendship with him because he lived 1,200 miles away—and I’d known him since 5th grade. If we were intended to have a relationship, wouldn’t it have happened when we were young?

Steve and I began emailing and chatting. After several weeks, he finally called. God made us attracted to one another’s voices. We talked for two and three hours a night for months, revealing the depths of our hearts as God knit our souls together.

We laughed like giddy teenagers and knew phone calls weren’t enough. Finally, he visited so we could discover if our feelings were real. He’d already won my heart, and I soon fell in love with the rest of him. 🙂

Steve & Roxanne on their wedding day--June 18, 2011.

In some ways, pursuing a relationship was a risk. When we married in June 2011, we’d spent only 30 days together, usually 3-6 days at a time. We never dated, instead spending time discovering if we could be a family.

Two hearts united. Two families combined.

My children liked Steve immediately, but the four in college stayed in Texas when I moved to Florida to be married. Still, I knew God had handpicked Steve for me—and my three young sons.

Roxanne and Steve on their honeymoon in Antigua.

People ask when I’ll publish our story. For now, I’m still a novelist—with a new, fabulously supportive husband, who makes me laugh every day. He also says the most romantic things, and I’m tempted to stop and write them down for my hero to say. Instead, I enjoy the moment—and just hope I remember the words later.

As for my decision to marry Steve? Worth the Risk!

Keli Gwyn


  • Melissa Tagg says:

    Yay!! I love Roxanne and it doesn’t matter how many times I hear her story, every time it gives me goosebumps at God’s provision…and I smile at the romance of it all, too. (Roxanne, will you be at ACFW this year? Please say yes!)

  • Jessica R. Patch says:

    Beautiful, Roxanne! This touched my heart this morning. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    hard to believe God would bless our family with 2 great brothers-in-law for my sister, but both Jack & Steve have been tremendous additions. We miss Jack but are so thankful God blessed us with Steve to take up where Jack left off.

  • I love love love this real life love story! Roxanne, I’m so priviledged to have watched you walk this out in faith and hope. Thank you for sharing your story today! A great way to start my morning. 🙂

  • Oh my goodness!!!!! What a romantic story!! I remember hearing about your loss a while back and feeling so sad…I’m so happy that God has brought you comfort in the form of a new love. Thanks for sharing, ladies! And Roxanne, are you still in FL? I’m in central FL. Not sure if you’re a part of RWA or ACFW, but both have chapters if you’re ever interesting in meeting up with some other writers. 😉

  • I love this story! And I love the way God brings joy into our lives the way He has Roxanne and Steve’s.

  • Keli, what a lovely/heart-wrenching post! Roxanne’s story is so beautifully poignant. Thanks so much for sharing how God can turn our sorrows into joys!

  • Beth K. Vogt says:

    I’m blessed to know Roxanne — and to know both Jack and Steve.
    Roxanne is a true woman of faith and I’m thrilled to see how God knit her heart together with Steve’s. (I even got to listen in on some of those late-night phone calls complete with the giddy laughter, thanks to rooming with Roxanne at ACFW.)

    Thanks for sharing Roxanne’s real-life romance today, Keli.

    • I should probably let Keli reply, but she’s still snoozing on the west coast. During one of those giddy phone calls in the airport after ACFW, Beth “appropriated” my phone and began talking to my guy. So glad she’s happily married and was only looking out for me.

      • Beth K. Vogt says:

        Yes, I most definitely was looking out for you, Roxanne. As was my husband, who came to the wedding to meet Steve! And he gave Steve the “thumbs up” –and likes him more and more as time goes on.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Beth, when I think of real-life romance, Roxanne’s moving story is one that comes to mind. I’m so glad she agree to share it here.

  • Melissa, Yes, I’ll be at ACFW with Steve’s blessing. After I spoke with him on the phone for the first time, he googled me and saw my interviews and contest wins. He’s always been supportive of my writing goals.

  • Erica Vetsch says:

    What a beautiful story. Thanks Roxanne, for sharing it, and Keli for hosting Roxanne here. God is so good!

  • Lisa Jordan says:

    Roxanne, I can curl up and listen to your story over and over again. My heart always fills with tears when you talk about Jack, but then my heart rejoices over God’s provision by giving you Steve. I do look forward to when I can hold one of your books in my hands…in God’s timing.

    • Lisa, Your encouragement through the years has meant so much. I appreciate how you’ve listened to my story again and again. And read my scenes over and over. I’m glad you’re here to share my joy. I do hope the day arrives when you’re able to hold my book in your hands. 😉

  • wendyblanton says:

    I was touched by your story when you told it at Deep Thinkers, but you didn’t tell us you wrote it first! Wow, talk about foreshadowing! Remind me never to write about a widow! 😉

    • Yeah, weird, right? Only I made the heroine younger, more beautiful… 😉

      I would have never named my son, Peter, if I’d have thought there’d be any other similarities between my story and me. In the early days after my husband’s death, I was walking around remembering my heroines thoughts and knowing they were now mine.

  • Keli Gwyn says:

    Roxanne, I’m so happy to have you as my guest. Your story is special–as are you. Every time I hear your tale of loss and new love, I’m moved.

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow! What an inspiring tale! My cousin lost her husband a year ago and I hope she’s lucky enough to find love again like you did! Thanks for sharing the pics, too!

  • Susan Mason says:

    OOPS. Forgot to fill out something. That anonymous above was me! 🙂

    • Susan, I’m so sorry for her loss. There aren’t many men out there, but it only takes one from God. I pray that your cousin is given a second chance at love. As much as I love reading romances, real love stories trump fiction any day. Maybe one day, she’ll be sharing her story.

  • What a heart-level story, Roxanne! I’m so glad you shared it here for us today. Thank you for opening your heart to us. How God has blessed you!

  • Oh, Roxanne, what a beautiful story. I love hearing about God’s provision in your life…and in the life of your children.

    My dad remarried after my mom died. I was shocked, because he’s such a hermit, but I’m so glad he doesn’t have to spend the rest of his life alone.

    • Lindsay, I’m glad for your dad too. After becoming one flesh, then having that torn apart, I was so lonely even among friends. It’s wonderful for you to accept your father’s new wife. You’d be surprised at how many grown children won’t.

  • Beautiful, Roxanne. I know that feeling of climbing out of a deep, dark hole and finding the sunshine myself. We lost a daughter to cancer and it took a while. You are truly blessed and I imagine that angel looking over you is smiling and happy to know you are doing so well. Thanks for sharing your heart-whelming story. Keli has a way of finding winners, which you definitely are.

    • Paisley, I’m so sorry for your loss. I was on a radio program and a caller, who’d lost a child, asked how I could laugh. But at some point, you do have to find the sun. (Finding the Son helps too.) In the movie “Courageous,” someone dies. The pastor counsels a member of the family to be thankful for the years with the loved one, rather than becoming bitter for the years that were lost. Sounds like you’re thankful too. There are no guarantees for Steve and me, but I’m thankful for every blessed day.

  • Roxanne, your story is beautiful and inspiring. I’m so glad that God blessed you with a man that loves and adores you and your children. Thank you for sharing this chapter in your life with us.

  • Loree Huebner says:

    Beautiful story…just beautiful

  • Teri Metts says:

    What a beautiful story!! And how wonderful is our God! He knows how to “write” a great romance.

  • Hi Roxanne,
    Your story still makes me cry. I’m so happy for you and Steve.

  • And congrats to you, Keli, on the publication of your novel!

  • I love real-life romance stories!

  • jeannemt says:

    Roxanne, every time I hear/read your story, tears spring to my eyes. I love how you chose to trust God through the dark days, and how you embraced love again when He brought it to you and Steve. What an amazing testimony you are. Sending you hugs!

    • Thanks so much, Jeanne! No one really goes through a trial thinking one day they’ll be a testimony to God. Mostly, we all try just to make it through our difficulties. But from the beginning, I recognized this was Peter’s only life. The only family he’d remember is one without Jack. I was determined to grieve well and become as whole as possible so that I could give Peter a relatively happy home. With God’s abundant grace, I think I succeeded in that.

  • karenk says:

    what a beautiful story…orchestrated by the composer of life. thank you for sharing your heart, roxanne 🙂

  • dtopliff says:

    Wow I’ve been privileged to watch part of this real-life story happening and the joyful happily every after. This is seriously my most favorite romance & I do think it should be written. I never tire of hearing it again, and there are always new exciting elements. Thanks, Roxanne.

  • Melissa Isaksen says:

    I cried when I heard your story at Deep Thinker’s Roxanne. (tried to stifle it though so I wouldn’t look like such a cry-baby but I think no one could see me through their blurry eyes!) Such an amazing and beautiful story. I’m so happy for you that you are so happy now and that both families have meshed well. I agree with Wendy above though, I didn’t know you wrote about it first, I don’t think I’ll write about anything bad either!! But God used it for good in your life. Blessings my friend! <3

  • Gabrielle Meyer says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Roxanne, it is beautiful. I love the picture of your combined families at your wedding. God is good.

  • Thanks for the post Roxanne. Laurie and I are thankful for our friendship with you and Steve.

    I’m reminded of a quote from Don Miller: “Joy will spoil those who have not suffered but humble those who have known pain.”

  • Janet Shultz says:

    Having heard this amazing love story from Steve, it is such a treat to hear it from Roxanne. God is truly amazing when it comes to bringing love after sorrow. God Bless you both.