How Matters of the Heart Characters Came to Life

When I created Katie and Hans, the two protagonists in Matters of the Heart, I wanted each to encounter God personally and uniquely. I came across a quote by theologian John Frame: “When we encounter the word of God, we encounter God…His word, indeed, is his personal presence. Whenever God’s word is spoken, read, or heard, God himself is there.”

Then during my devotions, I read Isaiah 55:11. “So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” RSV. 

The promise that God’s Word never returns without fulfilling its purpose set the stage for developing Katie and Hans. These characters needed to hear God’s voice through His Word and His people.

I wasn’t sure how to make that happen, especially for Hans. In book one, Desire of my Heart, we met Hans Korhonen, a Finnish immigrant. This peace-loving, gentle farmer connected with Thomas, who was five when the Trexlers arrived at the Korhonen homestead. In the progression of time through the series, Hans returns from serving for the Union in the Civil War. The war has changed him, and his adverse reactions to the tragedies in his life cause him to doubt himself and God. He feels trapped and forced into following everyone else’s rules and sets out on a journey to become his own man. He wants nothing to do with the God of his past, whom he feels has abandoned him.

What changed Hans? Why would he go from a sweet soul to this tortured man? Scripture tells us that God never leaves us nor forsakes us. How could I get Hans to a place of acceptance? I knew then Hans needed to run into God at every turn, even if he didn’t recognize Him.

Kathleen Orla Murphy, or Katie, is Aideen O’Sullivan’s niece. Aideen is one of my reader’s favorite characters, and I wanted to continue her story by bringing in a family member. Katie comes to America from Ireland after much loss, similar to the sufferings of the orphans and widows from the Civil War. As a tenacious female character willing to stand up for what she believes in, Katie must work to keep God as her focus. Yet despite Katie’s deep faith, her strong self-confidence has her relying on herself rather than on God. Feisty and headstrong, Katie’s reaction to the trauma in her life is positive. She chooses to see possibilities and works to change things for those who have experienced what she has already endured. She feels God has prepared her “for such a time as this” and tackles obstacles head-on, going against convention and the wishes of others.

These two individuals take different journeys toward faith, love, and acceptance yet end up at the same place—right where God intended them to be.

Matters of the Heart is a standalone book in my Discerning God’s Best series. To receive a FREE copy of the prequel, visit

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Published by Author Heidi Gray McGill

Heidi and her husband of over thirty years live in South Carolina. Besides writing Christian fiction with relatable characters in life-changing stories, Heidi relishes time with family and friends. She enjoys scrapbooking, playing games, traveling, and building bridges with her grandsons that must fall with a loud crash and usually involve a monster truck.

One thought on “How Matters of the Heart Characters Came to Life

  1. Strong characters seeking their own path and joy in achieving it separately and together

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