Meet Paula:

A Q&A with Hope’s Promise Founder and author, Paula Freeman, on her new book, Learning to Be Me Without You.

What is your new book about?

Learning to Be Me Without You is a love story about a diagnosis, one last adventure, a crisis of faith that erupts on the threshold of death, and a transformed life. Two weeks after my husband, Ray, and I moved to coastal North Carolina he died, leaving me alone with my two greatest fears: How can I survive the grief of his loss, and will God be enough. It serves up hope, with a pinch of humor, and the wonder of discovering the presence of God in the wilderness of widowhood.

What inspired you to write this book?

It began with my need to unpack how the presence of God met me in my grief in unprecedented ways after Ray died, and I fell in love with a gentler and kinder Jesus. I have journaled for most of my life. So, when Ray was diagnosed with a terminal disease for which there was no cure or effective treatment, I created a separate journal for that experience. I journaled through his disease, our move to the beach where he could breathe better at sea level, his last hospitalization and death, and then through my first year of widowhood. I wanted to record my experience in real time—the events, the pain, the questions, the graces, and the healing. And I sensed a sustained movement of the Holy Spirit to “Write, therefore, what you have seen…” (Rev. 1: 19). This verse offered perspective from which to write and guided my internal conversation: Write what you have seen. Don’t preach. Don’t compare. Don’t worry about what others might think. Go ahead and name the hard stuff. Just tell the story of what Jesus did for you.

How does your book connect us to your work as founder and former executive director of Hope’s Promise?

Beyond the facts that we all have known pain and loss, and probably know someone who has been widowed, it connects in two very specific ways. First, one chapter includes quite a bit of Hope’s Promise history I think clients, staff and board members would enjoy: the research, the decision to begin the organization, the impact it had on our family, and my difficult, yet wise decision to pass the baton to Beth Woods, whom I love and wholeheartedly support. And the book deals with grief and loss—issues that undergird the adoption process for all members of the triad, and ones that I addressed in my first book for adoptive moms, A Place I Didn’t Belong: Hope for Adoptive Moms. I pray that each of these books inspires grace for the hard stuff and hope for the journey by pointing us to Jesus, no matter the flavor of our loss.

Tell us about the title.

Learning to Be Me Without You describes my challenge as a new widow, and one most widows encounter when their spouse dies. Responsibilities, rhythms of life, and relationships all change and become unscripted territory for us to navigate.

What would you like the reader to discover from reading your book?

My prayer throughout the writing of this book has been Lord, help me show the essence of how you worked in my life, so others might see You in theirs. I want readers to discover Jesus in their story and to say “Yes!” to His invitation to follow Him on a further journey, whatever that next step may be.

How can people contact you?

They can visit my website at or email me at I’d love to hear from Hope’sPromise families and friends. My heart remains with all of you!

How can I buy Learning To Be Me Without You?

Amazon link: click here

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