Candice Curry grew up with a father she could never trust: a conman who always had a scheme going and a slick argument; who frequently came home with other people's cars or lived in other people's homes; who lied compulsively; kept moving his family around to avoid authorities; and cheated and manipulated whomever he could. A man who was often high or drunk, and always unpredictable.
Candice had felt particularly betrayed by an incident that happened in her teens, when her father entrusted her into the care of one his friends who ended up raping her.
And yet she deeply loved her dad, longed for his approval and affection and was heartbroken when he finally ended his life - having alienated two wives and five children - by hanging himself in a hotel room when Candice was 36.
A year before her dad died, Candice had come into a relationship with her spiritual dad – God – but it was a slow process for her to let go the expectations of a daddy's girl and realise that all her needs for affirmation and love were fulfilled in her Heavenly Father.
From that place of wholeness, she was then able to forgive her earthly father and let go of her bitterness, anger and disappointment.
The change came about during her second marriage, shortly after she had given birth to triplets.
She explains: "I started to take the kids to the church across the street. I wasn't trying to be a good mom. I just needed the break it gave me from the kids."
She goes on: "I didn't want to make friends there; I just wanted to sit and be silent. I had no intention of getting involved. ... If they [got to know me, they would realise] how dark I was and what a mess I had made of my life. In my eyes, the people who walked the halls of the church had their lives altogether. I didn't fit in."
When Candice had had a pregnancy scare with the triplets and been told there was no heartbeat, she had lain in bed for seven days and begged God to spare her babies. Now she felt she had gone back on every vow she had made and was a miserable failure, whom God looked at with disappointment.
"My life was a mess and I needed help... My husband was tired and had given up on me...I failed him as a wife ...Our marriage was spiralling out of control, and I didn't know how to fix it," Candice admits.
However, she continued to go to church every week for over a year. Her husband, however, was adamant that he would never set foot inside.
In 2010 their strained marriage was further tested when one of the triplets was diagnosed with autism. And that July, Candice found out Brandon had been cheating on her.
"All my life I had considered this the number one deal breaker," she relates. "But standing face-to-face ... an entirely different feeling came over me – complete loss. Realising what we had done to our marriage over the years turned my anger into deep sadness. I knew that the level of forgiveness we needed to save our family was more than either of us possessed."
God stepped into the situation in the most bizarre way – by causing the home air conditioner to quit. For three days they were without AC in a Texas summer and the family had to all sleep together in the one room that had cooling. Instead of being pulled apart – Brandon and Candice were forced together and forced to treat each other with kindness in front of the children.
On the third night, waiting for Brandon to come home from work, Candice lay in bed and heard the voice of God speak to her for the first time and "it made me want to plug my ears".
God told her what she didn't want to hear. "I heard Him say my name. He whispered how much He loved me but also told me that I didn't have the right to bail on my husband and my marriage."
Candice understood "my job, as the Christian – though conflicted – I had become, was to show my husband what true forgiveness and grace looked like. No matter how much it hurt or how difficult it was, God instructed me to stay and fix what I had broken.
"I knew for the very first time that my obedience to God wasn't about me and what I wanted; it was about loving others more than I loved myself."
When Brandon got home, Candice told him that she wasn't going anywhere and they spent the rest of the night in tears, talking and apologising to each other.
Two nights later, he asked if he could attend church with the family. On his second visit to church, when the preacher asked those who wanted to respond to Jesus' invitation for forgiveness and relationship with Him to come to the front, Brandon grabbed Candice's hand and went forward.
"Just 12 days after we stood face-to-face in our kitchen and decided to divorce, we stood hand-in-hand in front of the entire congregation and I watched as my husband gave his life to Christ," says Candice. Then she confessed her own need for Jesus to live in her and that September they were both baptised [immersed in water] as an outward sign of their inward commitment.
Candice acknowledges that becoming a believer didn't make everything perfect or take away the struggle. "We continue to tread water more than we want, but now we see the shore, and on it stands our Saviour."
That safe place of belonging helped her to deal with her dad's suicide, testify in a later FBI investigation of her father and become a foster mother to her own half-sister.
After all her difficult experiences, Candice concludes her book "The Conman's Daughter" with these words: "None of our stories are pointless. None of us are a mistake or worthless... Even when we are walking though the fires of life, [God's] plan is always perfect and always leads to redemption. His love for us is beyond anything we will ever be able to understand here on earth. But it is real, and it is ours."•