And You Invited Me In began as a catharsis to an event in her life. Preferring to write a romance novel, this story was penned in 1992 as a response to what Cheryl saw happening in our conservative Christian community after a friend died of AIDS. At one time she considered herself to be the "conservative of the conservatives." Yet when the words of Jesus were being ignored...that got her attention.
Actually this story began over three decades ago. One May evening she told her friend, Karen, that she could not eat dinner with Karen and her husband because they were also inviting a gay man to dinner. Cheryl says "I told her that my Christian beliefs prevented me from eating dinner with someone gay. However, God was chuckling, because when I changed jobs the next week this same man worked across the hall from me."
Ironically, during this time close friends separated when the husband found a same-sex partner. Then to her utter surprise, a former student left the ministry and got a same-sex partner. The common thread in these three stories is that all these men were affiliated with her church at one time, and the church just swept them under the carpet. "It was as if their place in our community of believers never existed. Maybe they didn't know how to address the situation...I just don't know, but we 'forgot' them."
The final event that opened her eyes was in 1992 when her landlord was dying of AIDS. This man was very involved in the same mega-church that Cheryl and her husband were members of in a major Southern city. Almost over night when this man became very sick and the Tylers had to get things ready for his unsuspecting family. Cheryl called their church--one that put rigid requirements on the gay community and people with AIDS--and the minister only visited one time.
Cheryl could not understand the lack of response, but it was similar to what happened to her friends many years before. She realized that the church needs to understand that if we live like Jesus lived, that we would be embracing instead of rejecting our loved ones. It was then that her husband suggested that she write a book.
And You Invited Me In, is about reaching out beyond our comfort zone to embrace those who have hurt or rejected us. It is about unconditional love that goes beyond the social rules of the community. It is about hearing the heart of the person who is wounded and applying the balm of unconditional love.
After reading the book, Shawn from East Tennessee wrote, "Wow...It's like you've been watching my entire life and recorded it..." And You Invited Me In is a novel for today.
I’m so proud of you and the work that you have done to create this ever so timely book. You have masterfully woven the worlds that so often wage war at each other…the church and homosexuality….but you sensitively show a respect for each and show us relationship is possible after religion. It is our prayer that pastors and leaders across the globe will read this and open their hearts to a community that God has not shut out.
The Evangelical Network
Here's a bit more about Cheryl:
Downton Abbey? Oh yes and I love every character. We watch it over and over again..
What am I reading? Forgotten Road by Randall Arthur. He is a wonderful author who writes about grace in a powerful way. His books take your heart.
When the TV's on what do I watch? We've given up television for a while. We ARE watching movies, but we choose what we watch like the old TV Series Mission Impossible.
What movies do I watch? I took it on myself to try to see most of the movies nominated for an academy award. Loved: Silver Linings Playbook, Les Miserables, The Impossible (will take your breath away), Skyfall (okay not nominated, but loved it), and Argo. You also need to see the Intouchables--inspiring!
What do I do in my spare time? My work provides less and less of a vacation, but this year we're heading to Tulsa to a family reunion. Yippee!
Who is in your family? Living in our house is my husband, Michael, a hairstylist for movies and TV, and daughter Michaela. We have 3 cats and a dog. However, we have another daughter, Lizzi, son-in-law, Chris, and granddaughter Edith who live in Virginia. Then there is my mom, brother and his family. We always have fun at holidays.
Real Life Occupation? School counselor, but I'm beginning to eye retirement. Last fall I realized I was beginning to get to the place where I was ready to retire..