Book Excerpt: 'Coming Home to Myself'

I loved the fact that the McCord home had "Mom and Dad" reclining chairs. I loved the fact that Mrs. McCord baked and canned and served up supper every Sunday after church. She prepared great feasts of roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green beans, homegrown tomatoes, cornbread and lemon ice box pie. The whole family ate together, and they stayed together. The McCord house was full of love and laughter. Everywhere you looked there were reminders that they were believers. There were calendars with daily words of encouragement, little boxes with pages of Scripture for each day of the year. Mrs. McCord's Bible was always on the dining room table, where she sat every single morning to have her devotional time. I had never witnessed someone who had daily devotionals, who had a Bible with so many notes on each page. She even had a prayer list with names written on it, people she believed needed her prayers. She had Guidepost magazines – a kind of Christian Reader's Digest – in the bathroom. This was all new to me.

Mrs. McCord was always spreading the faith! Yet she was one of the first highly religious people I ever met who didn't preach. Her way was to teach. And she did it with a smile on her face. She knew that her husband and her son both drank. She made them keep liquor in the garage. But while she didn't like them drinking it, she didn't give them a hard time. Her attitude was "I'm just going to hoe my own row." She is the woman who taught me about grace and forgiveness. She definitely had a light. I think she knew that her prayers covered everyone so she became a prayer warrior for all of us.

Stephen was wild as a buck, but he had a good heart. He was sweet, one of the good guys. He was never disrespectful to me on any level. He had a good, solid family foundation, and you could feel it in everything he did. I was madly in love with him and his family. I thought that I would marry him one day – it was all worked out in my mind.

Although he was the first love of my life, our relationship remained chaste for a long time. Usually the most we ever did was sit on the love seat and put our arms around each other. That's about as intimate as we were for a long, long time.

One night Stephen and I did go up to his bedroom, where the door was supposed to be open at all times. This time we closed it without thinking. Then we fell asleep on top of the covers on his bed. When Mrs. McCord walked in the room, she did what a lot of mothers would do – she assumed a lot. She woke us up and asked me to leave. I was mortified. I knew that I had really crossed the line. I went home and wrote her a long letter, explaining what had – and had not – happened. After she read it, she asked us to meet with her.

"We have rules," she said. "I can't have you two up in Stephen's room with the door closed. But I believe Wynonna when she says nothing happened between the two of you, and I believe you can be trusted to act responsibly. I love you both, and want the best for you."

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