An Inside Look at Engraved on the Heart

July 2, 2018


-A guest blog post by Engraved on the Heart author Tara Johnson-

The spark of the idea for Engraved on the Heart began when our family visited Savannah, Georgia. I was entranced with the history and charm of the town. Secrets seemed to ooze out of every corner.

The first spark was ignited by a still-unknown soul. During a historic riding tour of the city, I was intrigued by a fact rattled off by our tour guide. “Many of the older homes and buildings in and around Savannah were built by slaves. In fact, if you look closely, you can find some of their fingerprints in the bricks.”

I walked down the cobblestone streets, admiring the weeping willows and moss hanging from the towering trees. As I passed a home, a darkened impression molded into the crumbling brick snagged my attention. I sucked in a surprised breath over the precious detail. There it was, staring back at me. The fingerprint of a slave.

I ran my finger over the scarred impression, marveling that such a small mark could tell such an exquisite story. Whose hands had formed the old brick? What was his name? What were his dreams? Running my fingers over that precious print linked me inextricably to the past, binding an invisible cord between the nameless slave and me.

The next day we visited the Georgia State Railroad Museum, where I found several books in the gift shop about famous women of the Civil War. Courageous heroes like Elizabeth Van Lew, who fought against the norms of her culture to give freedom and hope to those trapped in darkness.

God slowly unfurled a story in my heart . . . the tale of a girl who battled epilepsy as a child, just as I did, but grew to understand her worth in the eyes of a loving God.

The inspiration for Keziah Montgomery is a combination of three or four of these remarkable women who worked as spies or conductors in the Underground Railroad. To consider such a pivotal role as conductor while carrying a burden as unpredictable as epilepsy was a fascinating prospect. In the 1800s, such conditions often relegated the bearer to asylums. Ignorance was rampant.

And what better way to ramp up the intrigue than by having Keziah’s childhood friend Micah Greyson return from medical school in Philadelphia, no longer a Confederate but a devout abolitionist hiding a secret of his own?

If there is one thing I hope you take away from Kizzie and Micah’s story, it’s this: you have tremendous worth in the eyes of God.

Keziah struggles with the lie “I am worthless.” Just like Keziah, all of us face hardships of some kind or another, whether physical or emotional, but if we aren’t on guard, the enemy will tell us we have no worth.

The truth is Jesus thought we were so valuable, he died to keep us. You are precious to God. You are loved and wanted, cherished by the Creator of the universe. The scars in his hands prove it.

His fingerprints are engraved on your life.

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