Why I Wrote Taming the Dragons
I'm excited about the resurrection of my 1992 book Taming the Dragons: Powerful Choices for Women in Conflict and Pain. July 2020, it’s back in print but with some changes:
2) more stories,
3) journaling pages, and
4) questions designed for self-reflection that can also be used in group discussions.
Taming the Dragons is a book for women in conflict and pain, but also for anyone going through a rough patch, in transition, or just down on their luck. I name six choices we can all make when up against the dragons in our way, depending on what they are. I partner six women from the Bible with the Wizard of Oz, perhaps the most endearing fairy tale of our day, to illustrate what these choices are and how they work. I then tell ten short stories of women who have made these choices to better their lives and the lives of those around them. But why did I write the book?
To answer that question, I’d like to tell you a story from my childhood.
I was seven the summer my father asked my sisters and me if we’d like to turn the duck shed into a play house. Or maybe I asked him, I don't remember. The shed was about 8 x 10 with a shingled roof slanting away from the door, and it stood next to a small swamp, at the edge of our swamp, on the edge of our woods. Linda, Tresa, and I—all a year apart—happily swept out the straw, scoured the duck poop, and hosed off the cobwebs, but by the time Dad got the paint ready, Linda and Tresa had something else to do. Which left me to paint the floor myself—if I wanted.
I wanted to! I was eager and excited! I rolled up my sleeves and took the six-inch brush Dad offered and promised not to dip the brush into the paint bucket any farther than halfway up the bristles. I loved seeing the drab floorboards come to life before my very eyes, a vibrant emerald green reflecting the sunlight that poured through a high, back corner window behind me. And then I bumped into the wall under the window, and could not back up any far father. It was then I realized I’d backed myself into a corner with no way out. The yawning open doorway, kiddy-corner to where I stood, looked far away, with miles it seemed of wet green paint between me and the world.
I stood bewildered, then annoyed. I had been foolish. My father peered in. One look and he chuckled. “You’re going to have to walk across the floor to get out,” he told me.
“But I’ll get my shoes all painty!” And we both knew the ire of my mother if I did that! “And I’ll get my floor all messed up!” I wailed.
He pulled off his boots and peeled off his socks.
“Daddy, no!” I shrieked. “I don’t want you putting footprints all over my nice green paint!”
“Do you want to stay, then, and wait for the paint to dry?” he asked.
I was getting hungry. “How long will that take?"
He explained that unfortunatley the paint wouldn’t dry until the next afternoon. He gave me a minute to think about it.
You see, I really didn’t want him messing up my floor. It looked so fine and I was proud. But neither did I fancy spending the night curled up in my corner, waiting out the long cold hours of night with nothing but the forest sounds to keep me company.
“You know,” he finally said, “if you let me help you, I can mend the damage it causes.”
Sometimes we paint ourselves into a corner, the only choice before us the lesser of two evils. Neither option is good. But it’s still in our power to make that choice. And so that long-ago sunny summer afternoon I chose to let Dad fetch me despite the mess it would make. And over the next two days he worked hard to mend the damage, and I learned something. When we get ourselves into a tight spot, we don't have to stay there. We can choose otherwise. Make that choice and miracles happen. New choices emerge! I learned all about turpentine, sanding, and second coats. I was smarter; I had new information. My life was richer. My father was all the more dear to me. And my lovely floor was transformed into something wonderful and good.
As an adult, however, I got myself into a corner again—this time a marriage that was harmful and no way out. Other women have their own corners, some brutally painful. And once stuck, back against the wall, it’s easy in our misery and confusion to forget we can choose. Maybe we never knew.
We can choose to wait for the paint to dry, for someone to see reason, for those cows to come home. I did for ten years, to my detriment. Or we can choose to let our heavenly father, like my father who loved me, step into the wet paint and carry us, despite the mess it makes, back outside into the sunlight. We can make this crummy choice in full confidence, knowing he will transform the lesser of our two evils (though it might take some time) into something wonderful and good.
And so this is why I wrote Taming the Dragons: Powerful Choices for Women in Conflict and Pain. For women stuck in a corner, sometimes really suffering—but also for their friends who don’t know how to help them anymore. And of course I write for all of us, because what woman hasn’t known conflict and pain and encountered dragons along the way?
You can get Taming the Dragons: Powerful Choices for Women in Conflict and Pain at
One last thing. A reminder that God loves you more than the shed you're in, whatever it is. He stands at the door, on the far side of all that holds you back, and waits for you to decide. He gives you that choice. In John 10:10, he said. “I am come that they might have life, and that they have it abundantly.” Why not take him up on it?
Choose. Miracles happen.