Covington author Terri Webster will sign copies of her book, “Markers for Single Moms: Finding God’s Direction in the Chaos,” from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, June 20 at the Square Perk Cafe on the Square in Covington. (Special Photo)
It was a typical volatile divorce situation, back in 1988, when her husband of nine years left her to pursue an affair with her best friend, explained Terri Webster. At home with her 6-year-old son and 15-month-old daughter, Webster was crushed. To relieve her anger and fear, she began pouring out her hurt and unhappiness, along with her cries to God, in a journal.
Today, that journal has turned into a 13-chapter paperback book titled, “Markers for Single Moms: Finding God’s Direction in the Chaos.” It is available on Amazon and will be for sale today during a book signing Webster will have at The Square Perk in downtown Covington. The author, who is a Covington resident, will sign books from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, June 20.
“It’s like an Oprah (TV show) story,” she said. “It was my best friend. It was like something you think you would never ever go through…All I can attest to is the faithfulness of God.”
Born in Lafayette, Ga., Webster grew up in several Southern states as her father, who worked for the U.S. Forestry Service, was often transferred. At 19, Webster married her high school sweetheart and moved with her military husband to Germany for three years.
They came back to the U.S., and Webster shares that she surrendered her heart and life to Jesus Christ in 1983. Her husband left her four years later and she began a 19-year journey as a single mom. Her personal stories, which began in those private journals as a way to ease her pain, are revealed in her book in hopes that her story will help other single mothers.
“I share in one of the chapters of the book about being a victim or a victor and how we choose to stop having a victim mentality and have victory over our situation,” Webster said.
The 13 chapters, or markers, detail some of the personal markers God placed in Webster’s life to provide the direction she needed in the midst of her chaos.
“It’s my desire that by sharing these stories, others will find hope as they seek God’s direction for their own personal markers from Him,” Webster said.
“…This book is a way to reach out to single parents and give them hope and let them know their struggles can really just be stepping stones to get them to a better place. I want to let them know that there is hope. They’re not alone and there are people out here who want to help.”
A single parent for almost two decades, Webster said it was her relationship with God that helped her the most during her struggles to hold down a job and raise her children.
“He stepped in where I had that empty space,” she said. “My husband had left me. It was through my cries for help, God came and helped me…
“I was going to a small church and that was my church family. If it had not been for my friends at church, my church family, I would not be here talking to you today. I shudder to think where I would be without the people God put in my life. I tell single moms, you are going to be as successful as the people you hang around with — your support system. I thank God for mine.”
As she continued to pen her journals, Webster said she realized she enjoyed the writing process.
“I never intended on being a writer,” she said. “I started journaling…and it eventually turned into a passion for writing. I would do a newsletter for different things. I’m involved in missions and did a newsletter to keep up with everybody.
“People started telling me I needed to write. I asked, ‘what would I write about?’ The thing I know the most about is being a struggling single mom and trying to work. I was always blessed with a job, but (the money) was never enough to raise two kids on. We struggled with child support. He was in and out of the picture.”
Despite those difficult days, Webster said God was faithful and led her to turn her story into a book, as well as create a non-profit organization to help other single moms. In 2010, Webster founded Spring Ministries, a local ministry to help single parents. A percentage of her book sales today will go to Spring Ministries, she said.
“We’re working on a resident home,” Webster said. “We do car care where they can get a free oil change. Right now we’re searching for a board of directors. I’ve been trying to spend more time on writing and now we’re kind of in a place with the ministry where we need a board. We’re taking it step by step.”
Spring Ministries has a house in Covington and soon hopes to be able to move in three single-mom families who are facing homelessness.
Webster said other local organizations, such as Phoenix Pass and the Family Promise program that are also helping families, are doing an “awesome” job.
“The need is incredible,” she said. “(It’s important) for just meeting practical needs like having a car worked on or getting the oil changed or someone to mentor the kids. We pray with the single moms and talk to them and encourage them.
“Even if we can’t fix their situation, the purpose of Spring Ministries is to come alongside them as they rebuild their lives. We provide career and educational guidance. There are a lot of resources.”
Webster said Spring Ministries recently helped a single mom get into the Family Promise program.
“Because there’s a ministry with my name attached to it and I’ve written a book doesn’t mean I have it all together and doesn’t mean I’m not still working through all those years we’ve struggled,” Webster said.
“I haven’t seen my son in several years. I believe our relationship will be restored some day … I miss him, but I know the story isn’t over yet … My daughter is 28, and she got married a couple of years ago and just had a baby. She’s a school teacher in Newton County.”
Webster also has a 13-year-old granddaughter who is the daughter of her son.
For 16 years, Webster worked full-time as an administrative assistant at Georgia Piedmont Technical College until she went part-time last year to spend more time on writing. She is now working on two more books: “Prayer Markers for Single Moms” and “Devotional Markers for Single Moms.”
She is also happily spending time with her husband of almost seven years. In 2007, she married Donnie Webster, a firefighter who is now retired. They are involved in their church, Eastridge Community Church, where he is on the leadership team for Celebrate Recovery. The author has a stepson who is an emergency medical technician and a stepdaughter who lives in Florida and is mother to their 5-year-old grandson.
Webster said she and her husband enjoy their life and family and the faith they share together in the Lord. What about the past — the ex-husband and the best friend? Webster said she and the woman once tried to rekindle some kind of relationship, but it never worked out.
“It just wasn’t meant to be,” she said. “I don’t know what happened to her, but I do forgive her and I forgive my ex-husband. These days I just feel sad about it.
“God has been really good to me and blessed my life. I’m thankful despite the things that have happened to me. That’s where I find my hope, my strength and my peace.”
Beth Slaughter Sexton is a freelance writer based in Gwinnett County. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.