|Remember to Forget, Clayburn Novels Series #1|
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Maggie Anderson comes to a realization as she is being carjacked: she is more afraid of the abusive boyfriend for whom she is picking up alcohol than the carjacker. In this moment, Maggie understands that she can let her life stagnate where it is, or she can stand up for herself and her freedom. In order to be free, she must leave behind and forget everything about her old life and begin anew.
Trevor Ashlock is another person trying to forget, in the small town of Clayburn, Kansas.
Will God's love, grace, and forgiveness be able to eradicate the past, or will Maggie and Trevor be able to come to terms with their devils and start over again? Deborah Raney, softcover, 355 pages.
Remember to Forget Discussion Questions: by Deborah Raney
1. In Remember to Forget, Maggie Anderson feels trapped in her life because of an abusive, controlling boyfriend. She’s unexpectedly given a chance to escape this life, but she’s lived under Kevin Bryson’s tyranny for so long, she scarcely knows how to handle her newfound freedom. Yet she longs for the new life she sees modeled by the people of Clayburn, Kansas.
If you think of Remember to Forget as an allegory—a story with layers of meaning, where characters and actions symbolize more than what is “on the surface”—in what ways does this story reveal what life is like without Christ? the longing the Holy Spirit puts within us for a relationship with God? and the transition into new life in Christ? (See 2 Corinthians 5:17.)
2. How much do you believe in “coincidence”? The Blakely family just happens to be headed where Maggie wants to go. Maggie just happens to be wearing tennis shoes and socks for the first time all summer. Wren just happens to have a bag of clothes in Maggie’s size….and that’s just for starters. There are many “coincidences” in Remember to Forget. Have you experienced similar circumstances—whether significant or trivial—that you believe are more than mere coincidence? Explain.
3. From the time Maggie escapes from her captor in New York, she is offered a ride several times by various people. Have you ever offered help to someone in need the way Opal Sanchez, the Henrys, the Blakelys, and Kaye DeVore did for Maggie, only to feel that your help was not appreciated? Tell the story. How did that make you feel at the time? Have you gained any other perspective since then? If so, what? Is it possible that somewhere down the road the person you helped became grateful for your help, but had no way of coming back to thank you?
Have you ever had a chance to go back and thank someone for leading you to Christ, or helping you grow in your faith, or develop your gifts? Did you take that opportunity? Why or why not?
4. When Maggie pours her heart out to Trevor at the bus station, she trusts him with her fears and tells him some of her needs. But she continues to harbor many secrets from him. If you’ve trusted God with your life, were you completely honest with Him—and with yourself—at first? Or did it take awhile to admit everything you are, were, or have done?
If you’ve come to the point in your faith walk where you have admitted every fault, fear, and mistake to God, what emotion accompanied that moment? Why do you think that is?
If you haven’t experienced that moment of confession yet, what do you think might be holding you back?
6. When Maggie first gets to Clayburn, she finds small-town life a little overwhelming and is amazed that everyone is so close and familiar in this community. If you didn’t grow up in a Christian environment, did your first encounter with Christian people—a church, Bible study, or Christian friends or neighbors—feel equally unfamiliar? Describe your feelings. If you are a believer, how might you help a new Christian feel more comfortable among the family of God?
7. Maggie gradually realizes that she has made a “crutch” of Kevin. As her attraction to Trevor grows, she feels cautious and worried that he, too, will become a crutch. How do you explain the difference between a worldly dependence on a person, and total dependence upon God, yet with encouragement and teaching from other Christians, which is completely scriptural? (See 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:24-25.]
8. When Maggie decides that she wants to stay in Clayburn and “come clean” with her friends there, she puts off telling them the truth, thinking she’ll first find a place of her own, pay off her bills, and straighten out her life. Have you ever responded this way to Christ’s invitation—tried to clean up your act first and then come to Him? What happened as a result? What have you learned because of that experience? How do you now respond when you feel His gentle tug on your life? Give an example, large or small, of how your life has been touched or transformed.
9. Even though they are usually law-abiding citizens, the proprietors of the inn, Bart and Wren Johanssen, “bend the laws” to allow Maggie to work at the inn (paying her instead with room and board, since she doesn’t have the proper identification to fill out tax forms, etc.). What do you think of their decision? How is it reflected in Scripture? (For a hint, see Romans 7: 5-6 and 1 Corinthians 6:12.)
10. Business hasn’t been good at Wren’s Nest, but Maggie thinks up ideas to bring in new business. Soon people are coming in and recommending the inn to their friends. If you believe in Jesus, how might you “recommend” your faith to your friends? How might you bring people in to “the nest”?
11. Although Wren is instrumental in helping Maggie find her new life, her own life has been far from perfect. She, and many others who helped Maggie along the way, have experienced times of tragedy, sin, and doubt. Yet because of those times, they have great compassion and concern for those in need.
All of us are flawed. How can you help others find new life in Christ in spite of—or perhaps because of--your flaws? Tell about a real-life experience with this if you can.
12. When Jackson Linder shows an interest in having Maggie work for him, Trevor expresses concern and jealousy. Do you think concern and jealousy are good qualities, bad qualities, or a combination of both?
In Exodus 34:14, God says he is jealous for your affection and devotion. Do you think this is true? If so, how does that make you feel? How might it affect your day-by-day actions? If you don’t think it’s true, why not?
13. After Maggie confesses her lies to Trevor, she wonders how he can possibly love her, knowing the way she was…not to mention everything she’s done. But Trevor tells her that he doesn’t even see those things when he looks at her. Instead he sees only her good qualities.
How does this experience between Maggie and Trevor mirror our relationship with God through Christ? (Read Psalm 103:11-13 and Romans 4:4-8.)
14. Just when Maggie has decided to forget about New York and embrace her new life in Clayburn, Kevin Bryson comes back to attempt to take her back to New York. All the while Kevin is trying to haul her toward his car and is pursuing her to harm her, Maggie is unaware that Trevor is watching over her. He is simply waiting for her to call out to him to rescue her.
Read Acts 2:20-21 and Romans 10:13. In what ways have you experienced evil pursuing you? How have you experienced God’s protection in times of crisis (whether you were aware of it at the time or not until later)? Tell the story.
15. Maggie falls into the river and Trevor rescues her there. She comes up out of the water in Trevor’s arms, knowing that she is now free from Kevin’s hold on her and free from the trappings of her old life. She is safe in Trevor’s arms. What might this experience in the river symbolize? Have you undergone this type of experience yourself? Where the old you became the new, transformed you? If so, share what happened.
16. When Trevor tells Maggie, “I don’t really know who Maggie is. It’s Meg I love,” how do you think she felt? (Read Revelation 2:17 and 3:5.) What does this tell you about what Christ does to you when you “come clean” with Him? What happens to your past? (See again Psalm 103: 11-12 and 2 Corinthians 5:17.) What things do you need to “remember to forget” about your past life so you can move forward as a new creation—a new person with a new name, loved and accepted by Christ?