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Faith inspires hope – and four novels

When Barbara Cook first visited the United States, she was struck by the wide-open space and the kindness of the people she met. Originally from Wales, Cook said she had spent most of her adult life living in England.”I raised my children in England,” she said. “But everything is built out there. There’s nowhere to build but up. New Mexico was breathtaking to me.”Cook said she found beauty in the desert. “I remember the first time I saw the sun set on the horizon,” she said. “I think I had only seen it set behind buildings before.”Following her visit, she and her husband moved to the United States in 1979, first to New Mexico and later settling in northern El Paso County.Twenty years later, her husband announced that he wanted a divorce; and, a week later, her mother died in England. Cook said she had been left with nothing much from her marriage, and she couldn’t afford a plane ticket to England.However, her friends at church all pitched in and bought her the ticket. “That was so humbling,” she said.Once in England, Cook said she was beginning to make funeral arrangements with her sister when a phone call came from America. It was Cook’s daughter, who told her to sit down.”My daughter said, ‘A tornado hit Ellicott and most of the school is in your yard or on your house,'” Cook said. “‘Mom,’ she said, ‘you may not have a home to come back to.'”Thousands of miles away from Colorado, Cook knew she couldn’t do anything about the disaster. She said she put the situation in the Lord’s hands. “I remember praying and asking Him to make something good come out of it,” she said.When Cook returned home a few weeks later, she learned that 50 community members, many of them strangers to Cook, had gathered together for a Saturday work project and cleared the debris from her home and property. As she set out to thank each person, she said she had trouble getting in touch with one of the men.”I almost gave up trying to reach him,” Cook said. “But my friend said, ‘no, you can’t ever give up, he was the only one who knew what to do.'”Cook followed her friend’s advice and kept at it until she finally reached him. His name was Allen Cook.”The Lord did make something good out of the tornado,” Cook said. “He brought me a new husband, and he is a gem.”Cook said her faith gave her strength to deal with the upheaval in her life. As she struggled, friends encouraged her to start writing her story.”I had always written, since I was 12 or 13 – journals, short stories and poetry,” Cook said. “I had never planned on being a published novelist.” However, she felt compelled and inspired to begin writing about her grandmother and the faith that inspired her through trying circumstances.Orphaned at age 15, without any other family, her grandmother managed to make her way in a small Welsh coal mining town, Cook said. For her first novel, “The Faith of Nellie Morgan,” Cook learned as much about her grandmother as she could and then filled in with fictional information. The second book, “Led by Faith,” is a nonfiction account of Nellie, her children and grandchildren. Cook’s fourth book will be out soon. It follows Cook growing up during World War II, raising her family and tapping into the strength and faith she inherited from her grandmother.When Cook is not writing, she gives presentations on generational faith. “I like to encourage people,” she said. “Even if you don’t come from a history of faith, it can start with you.”

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