"The choices we make change
the story of our life." ©
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
I’m excited to be sharing a book signing table with Sharon at Barnes & Noble in Burnsville, MN this May 13th from 11:00 AM until 1:00 PM. If you are in the area, please stop by and say hello, will ya? We’ll be signing our debut novels. Mine novel is a women’s fiction chick-lit called: A Stitch in Time and Sharon’s novel is The Secret Life of Becky Miller.
Our next Guest Blogger in our God Allows U-Turns 2006 Guest Blogger series will be Tricia Goyer. Tricia will come online Monday, April 3rd. You won’t want to miss seven days of postings from this amazing writer!
I’m heading out to Montana on Thursday the 30th for a series of book signings with Tracie Peterson and Dianne O’Brian for our new co-authored book: I Can’t Do it All. We’ll be at the Family Christian Store in Belgrade on Thursday the 30th from 6:30 – 8:30 PM. We’ll be in Missoula at the Garden of Reid’s book store (ditch love that name!) on Saturday, April 1st from 12:00 noon until 2:00 PM. And the three of us will be conducting an informal chat session with audience Q&A at the First Baptist Church in Livingston on Monday night, April 3 at 6:30 PM. The public is welcome, please join us!
In the event I can’t get to a computer while I’m there, this posting might remain on the blog site for a few days until Tricia comes online. But I’ll do my best to post updates. Thanks in advance for understanding.
Have a blessed day!
And that’s what’s on my mind today.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Day Seven – Onward!
I want to thank Allison for inviting me to share my experiences about a few of God’s U-turns in my life. It’s given me a chance to look back at all the zigzags that didn’t make sense to me at the time, and see how they were really switch-backs leading me on my expedition up a mountain that needed conquering.
Isn’t it exciting that God doesn’t waste anything? Our interests and passions, our failings, our suffering, our wrong turns. He finds ways to turn it all into a blessing for us and for others. In THE SECRET LIFE OF BECKY MILLER, Becky daydreams adventurous scenarios to enliven her soccer-mom life. I was able to use my past interests to inform the writing of those escapades—even my secret agent delusions were useful. ☺
I've felt overwhelmed and discouraged, so it's a joy to write a book to bring women encouragement. I've wondered if my life makes a difference, so I had fun watching my character struggle with that same issue. From job loss, to sick children, to roll-on-the-floor laughter with friends, to painful faith questions--it all finds a way into my stories. Isn't it cool how God can use our zigzags and U-turns?
If you want to read about Becky, you can order the book here and receive it in May.
If you’d like a once-a-month email update on my writing, speaking events, and special behind-the-scenes info and goodies, please join my Book Buddies list.
If you want a giggle, visit my Friends Quiz to find out which of Becky’s best friends you have the most in common with.
If you are part of a Bible study or a book club or women’s group, you can print out a free discussion guide for THE SECRET LIFE OF BECKY MILLER here.
Because I’ve entered the writing world while parenting, I share some fun family-life ideas on my website, as well as writing resources and other great links.
Anytime you need a bit of inspiration, please feel free to visit my blog – where you can post your comments and questions.
AND for in-person smiles and hugs, Allison and I will be signing our debut novels at the Burnsville, MN, Barnes and Noble on Saturday, May 13 from 11am-1pm. We’d love to meet you face to face!
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Day Six - Toward the Writing Road
Yesterday I shared that several years ago, I felt a new calling on my heart to write. I was a busy mom of four, and wasn’t sure what kind of writing I should pursue. In grad-school I had begun writing for magazines—devotions, parenting tips, personal stories. While directing CrossCurrent, I wrote scripts, press releases, monthly newsletters to patrons, and talks on Christian faith and the arts. I assumed I’d pick up from there.
But anything I tried felt flat and uninspired.
I asked God for direction for several years, and began to specifically pray for a writer’s group. Through God’s wonderful weaving of circumstances, I stumbled across a small group of Christian writers and was invited to join. Most of the members were writing novels, and it looked like such fun, I felt the first deep creative stirring I’d had in years.
So I started to write novels. I began THE SECRET LIFE OF BECKY MILLER on the airplane home from a writer’s conference. The heroine wants to do Something Big for God, and has trouble seeing that her life can make a difference in ordinary ways. The imaginative, whacky, good-hearted, but overly-driven Becky drew from the experiences of my own life, and of the many women I know who pressure themselves to excel at everything.
Six months later, that book received a contract from Bethany House. The novel releases this June, with the sequel to follow in nine months. Two other novels (not part of the series) will release the next year. Right now, I feel a new sense of calling--excited, grateful, fulfilled. But my novels wouldn’t have depth if God hadn’t taken me through years of blunders and uncertainty. Early in my Christian walk I was annoyingly self-assured. Heaps of enthusiasm, driven to share, eager to help others, yes. But way too confident in my own strength, and lacking compassion for others. God has made it clear He’s not in the business of making me strong. Instead, He’s taught me about my emptiness, my weakness, my frailty, and that I can lean into His strength.
When you sense God's invitation to try something new, don't be afraid to tell Him how much you need Him. Part of the fun of the Christian adventure comes when I notice daunting obstacles, tell God about them, and watch how He brings answers in ways I didn't see coming. He is better than any novelist at cliff-hanger moments and beautiful resolutions, all wrapped in pages of tender grace.
Tomorrow, I’ll share some last thoughts on following God through the zigzags and U-turns of the writing life. Today’s photo shows the bookstore end cap display that Bethany House designed for four books they are releasing this summer. If you look closely, you’ll spot THE SECRET LIFE OF BECKY MILLER, and U-turns own Allison Bottke’s novel A STITCH IN TIME. Yep. We’re end cap mates! ☺
Friday, March 24, 2006
Day Five - Watching and Waiting
Although I tried to learn the blessings of an ordinary life, I also continued to ask God for an avenue to use my creative energy to communicate about Him in a special way.
When He remained silent, I plowed ahead in any new endeavor I could find. I tested out a zillion different volunteer roles at my church. I choreographed a church pageant, sang in a praise band, led the Sunday school music openings, spoke to the mom’s group and facilitated women’s retreats, taught Vacation Bible School. I even got a part-time job at a local Christian bookstore. Although these activities may have brought a bit of blessing to others (through God’s grace), there was no sense of an open door, or a calling. In fact, I often seemed to make a mess of things.
Many times, I drove home from church in tears wondering where I had failed God . . . why He no longer wanted to use me for His kingdom. At the same time, health problems left me feeling broken and used up. Old beyond my years.
Day after day, I sought God and asked Him for direction. Finally one day at a family reunion, a quiet word spoke into my heart. “Write.”
Ah, happy ending. Now I had focus again. Right?
Not so fast. I was ready for a quick U-turn onto a new road, but God had planned a long, slow merge ramp. More on that tomorrow.
Has God whispered a calling into your life? A vision toward a specific task or ministry? Part of the journey may involve waiting and seeking and waiting some more.
If, like me, you have a stirring in your heart to write, feel free to visit my On Writing page. You can find more support on my Links page.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Day Four - Letting go.
For me, discerning God’s call to do something new is frightening, but far more terrifying is God’s call to STOP doing something. When He coaxed me to set aside the dance and drama ministry that I believed was my life work, I fought Him to the limit of my strength. One of my life’s most painful U-turns was the decision to resign from my position with CrossCurrent.
Although I continued to serve Christ as a wife and mom, I felt lost without a clear focus of ministry. Those years of feeling that God had put me on a shelf taught me how much I’d measured my value by my accomplishments. In some ways, I’d let my zeal for serving Him get in the way of knowing Him and loving Him. He led me to still waters, even though I preferred whitewater.
I wrote about the struggle to discern a new path in Jane Kise’s book, Finding and Following God’s Will.
Is there a volunteer position, job, or role that God has been nudging you to set aside for this season of your life? He may have something new to put into your hands, but is waiting for you to release your grip on something old. And if you are standing before Him with empty hands, trust that He isn’t finished with you. Even during seasons that feel dry and empty, your life is making a difference.
Tomorrow: More about how God put a pen into my empty hand.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Day Three - Facing Fears
On Day One, I mentioned one of my great dreads about giving God full access to my life. I thought He’d make me become a missionary to China. So how did I find myself on a plane to Hong Kong, thrilled to be making the trip?
After grad school, God opened doors for me to found a Christian arts group made up of classically trained dancers who loved Jesus and wanted to use their skills for something more meaningful than Swan Lake. During my years as artistic director of this ministry, CrossCurrent, I was invited to help train an evangelism dance team in Youth With a Mission. They were based in Hong Kong. I could hear God chuckle as I used the gifts I had once believed had no place in His kingdom, to share the Gospel in a place I’d once feared to visit. In a sense, He’d brought me to the experience I’d dreaded—but it looked nothing like what I’d expected. His hand in my life steered a path that fit the unique person He’d created me to be.
Are there some things you fear that God might ask of you? Invite Him to give you the courage to trust Him. And take heart—His path for you is full of joyous surprises.
You can read more about God’s miracle provision for the mission trip in Allison’s book, GOD ANSWERS PRAYER.
Check back tomorrow for more zig-zags that led me into writing novels.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
I’ve posted a photo of the view from my front door. Happy Spring in Minnesota! ☺
Yesterday I shared about how God's love stirred a desire in me to serve Him.
What does a young Christian do if she wants to change the world? My gifts and interests all leaned toward the artsy. I loved to dance, sing, act, and write (and as already mentioned, I wanted to be a secret agent). But back in my high school and college days, a woman who wanted to serve God as a vocation either became a Christian schoolteacher or a church youth worker. So, I earned a degree as a Director of Christian Education, preparing to work fulltime in the church.
Then something weird happened. As my husband and I served a congregation in southwestern Minnesota, I found my best “ministry” seemed to happen in conversations with actors in the local community theatre I joined, or at the dance studio where I taught. And my husband longed to use the media to communicate about God in ways beyond church doors.
Another U-turn. We headed to Regent University in Virginia for grad-school. I began to accept that the arts I kept pushing onto the back burner, might be a gift God had given me to help me worship Him and share Him with others.
Are there any secret longings or gifts you’ve shoved into the background, because they didn’t fit your Mother Theresa or Billy Graham image of serving God? I invite you to take another look. God has used talking donkeys, spit and mud, and nets full of slimy fish to convey His truth. Tomorrow I’ll share more of the ways God used U-turns in my life toward the path of becoming a novelist.
For some of my devotional thoughts on the way God uses ordinary things, page through the archives of my blog .
Monday, March 20, 2006
My career goal in sixth grade was to become a secret agent. Today I’m a wife, mom, and novelist.
Clearly, my life has taken some U-turns. In Allison’s book, GOD ANSWERS PRAYER, I shared the story of a short-term missions trip my husband and I took with our children. But the story began before that. Allison invited me to share some of the journey over the coming days. I’m delighted to visit the U-turns blog for the week, and especially excited because Allison is a fellow Minnesotan and we’re both debuting our first novels with Bethany House this June. More about that later in the week. ☺
I grew up singing “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” and feeling His love. But as I entered junior high, I began to sense God calling me to a deeper commitment. I resisted. Somehow I believed that if I allowed Him full access to my life, He’d let my house burn down, let my parents be killed, and strike me blind, all to strengthen my character. He’d make me go to China and be a missionary. I held the door shut against the gentle knock of the Holy Spirit.
At the same time, my family’s life was wrenched by alcoholism and conflict. Depression led me to the point of wanting to die to make the pain stop. Instead, I wrote God a letter inviting Him to be my all in all. It took the desperation of pain to show me my need for Him, but then I threw myself into knowing Him with the passion of a honeymoon bride.
Instead of leading me into a path of frightening struggle, as I’d feared, God began to heal wounds, teach me about Himself, and kindle a fire in me to share His grace with others.
Finding the best path to do that sharing, however, was a winding road. I’ll give you the “after the honeymoon” story tomorrow.
Meanwhile, if you want to hear about the quirky zigzags in my life, visit my website and go to the link “About Sharon.” You can read about “The Secret Life of Sharon Hinck”—where I confess my love of “Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, dressing up as a Star Trek character, and scaring the police at an outdoor rehearsal for “West Side Story.”
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Greetings Friends! Please join me in welcoming our third special guest in the God Allows U-Turns 2006 Guest Blogger series.
Sharon Hinck’s first novel will be on the same end cap display as my first novel, so we are kindred spirits. Sharon is also a contributing author in our God Answers Prayer volume. Be sure to tune in to the next seven days of postings from this talented writer!
In Sharon’s words…
Sharon Hinck is a wife and mother of four children who generously provide her with fodder for her books. She earned an M.A. in Communication from Regent University in 1985 and spent ten years as the artistic director of a Christian performing arts group, CrossCurrent. That ministry included three short-term mission trips to Hong Kong. She has been a church youth worker, a choreographer and ballet teacher, a home-school mom, a church organist, and a freelance writer. One day she¹ll figure out what to be when she grows up. Her debut novel, THE SECRET LIFE OF BECKY MILLER, will be out this June from Bethany House.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
I am writing this post from my sisters desk in Ohio. We are off tomorrow to drive to Pennsylvania where I will be speaking to a group of women at the Clarion Spring Retreat. Just arived yesterday where I flew in to Cleveland Hopkins Airport. As always, I'm looking at the folks walking the concourse, wondering why I NEVER run into anyone I know. My author friends are always telling me about cool meetings they have with fellow authors or speakers, and that NEVER happens to me.
But lo and behold I had A SIGHTING. Who should I see but none other than ANGELA HUNT! One of my favorite novelists and teachers. In fact, Angela was oh so gracious to read my debut novel, writing a much appreciated endorsement quote for my publisher to use. We chatted a bit and then went our separate ways. How cool is that!
I am still in awe that I know folks like Angela Hunt - let alone be able to stand on a busy concourse and visit.
God is so good!
That's all I have to say about that.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
We got about a foot of snow dumped on us yesterday and I’m about to venture out and see if I can even get out of my driveway.
But first, I want to share that I just conducted a live radio interview (via phone) for my recent book: "I Can't Do it All" on the Northland Notebook program out of Duluth. You can log on to their web site and hear a streaming audio version of the interview at your convenience. I just completed the live interview so you might want to give it a bit of time to download to their web site.
Go to: www.wwjc.com
Click on Northland Notebook
“I Can’t Do it All” is the book I co-authored with best selling novelist Tracie Peterson and Dianne O’Brian. It is sub-titled: “Breaking Free from the Lies That Control Us.”
I think the interview went well. Ted Elm is a great Host. I have been interviewed by Ted many times and I've grown accustomed to his sense of humor - one never knows when he's asking a serious question or not.
Check it out and let me know what you think. Better yet, pick-up a copy of “I Can’t Do it All” yourself, or for a frazzled friend!
I head out of town tomorrow and am not sure I’ll be able to BLOG before Sharon Hinck joins us as our next Guest Blogger in our God Allows U-Turns 2006 Guest Blogger series – but I’ll try!
That’s what’s on my mind today.
Monday, March 13, 2006
That’s right, we are buried once again! I woke up at 5:00 AM to the sound of wind and sleety-snow pounding against my windows. Looks like 8-10 inches of powder dumped on us last night. Yuck! I’m NOT a snow-gal, so forgive my whining.
It makes me think about our Guest Blogger last week, typing out his postings from sunny Scottsdale, Arizona. Please join me in thanking W. Terry Whalin for 7-days of excellent blog posts! If you didn’t read his awesome U-Turn stories, make sure to spend some time scrolling through the archives. It will be well worth your time. Bless you, Terry!
Terry encouraged us to think about the historic U-Turns that have been made over time—powerful stories that helped to change the fabric of our nation. I was especially moved by the story of Chuck Colson, a man whose personal testimony U-Turn helped to strengthen me when I first came to know the Lord at the very start of my U-Turn. What a difference Mr. Colson is making in the world.
What a difference we all make when we share the personal stories of how God works in our life.
As you may know, the two newest books in the GOD ALLOWS U-TURNS compilation series are just now being shipped to bookstores around the country. The 106 contributing authors whose stories appear in these books are also receiving book orders they placed months ago. I’d like to share an email I received a few days ago from Cheryl Haggard, whose story Lessons from Monteray Street appears on page 166 in the volume GOD ALLOWS U-TURNS for WOMEN - THE CHOICES WE MAKE CHANGE THE STORY OF OUR LIFE.
So, I am wiping Molly's nose for the umpteenth time yesterday and a knock, knock, knock on my door broke my concentration (not too much goes on in rural Idaho during the day other than ag burning and cows mooing). It was a package of books from Bethany House—I got my shipment of "God Allows U-Turns - The Choices Women Make." I did everything I could to keep myself composed as I signed my name electronically on that doohickey thing. The Fed -Ex woman asked what I was so mushy about and I showed her. She stood in the 20 degree Idaho chill and read about three stories (of course, mine included). She and I were both reduced to puddles...and I made a new best friend. Thank you for letting me share the story of my kids' lives. What an honor it is to be part of something bigger than our daily grind of raising sick kids. God's purposes are so huge—more than I can dream or imagine. To think one person can be touched by your story of how a loving God can restore you makes the pain melt like a snowman on Waikiki beach. The GOD ALLOWS U-TURNS books are beautiful and so are the stories.
Email from contributing author Cheryl Haggard, Star, Idaho
Thank you, Cheryll, for making the choice to share your U-Turn story with our readers. Somewhere out there is a Fed-Ex driver who is making another kind of U-Turn in her life. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
In closing, I’ll do my best to BLOG this week, but I’m heading out to speak in Clarion, Pennsylvania (my speaking locations are listed on the calendar page of our web sit in the event you live nearby and can join us at the ladies retreat,) and I’m knee-deep in preparations. Our next Guest Blogger in our 2066 Guest Blogger Series is author Sharon Hinck. You won’t want to miss her postings beginning the week of March 20th.
In the mean time, may God bless and keep you!
And that’s what’s on my mind today.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
DAY SEVEN—W. Terry Whalin, Editor / Writer
God Allows U-Turns Guest Blogger
It’s been a repeated lesson in my life. If you don’t change, then change will happen around you—whether you want it to change or not. Let’s take technology. It keeps advancing and only a few years ago, no one knew about the word “blog.” Yet today a new blog is created every second.
The weather vane is a metaphor of this type of life change. It shifts back and forth in the wind. You either lean into it and move ahead or you are blown back from it. We have many points in life where we are brought to a choice. Because God didn’t make us as robots but gave us free will, we chose the story that makes our life. Allison Bottke has called this key point God Allows U-Turns.
I’ve had many of them in my life. Several years ago, I neglected my personal health. My job as an editor was consuming every waking moment of my day—and I loved it. Instead of making time for exercise, I discounted it saying, “I can’t get it done.” Instead of thinking about what I was eating and making good choice, I ate anything that appealed to me. My weight ballooned and every six months or less I needed to purchase larger pants. I was making poor choices in my life and not choosing to change.
Over two years ago, my wife, Christine purchased a South Beach Diet book at Bed, Bath and Beyond. (It’s not where I have ever purchased a book and I regularly buy books.) I made a u-turn or change in my life and began to eat differently. Also I added a consistent exercise component to my diet (currently at least three and some times as high as six times a week). My weight began to drop and I’ve consistently kept off 40 pounds. It wasn’t easy yet I’ve discovered many goals require loads of work to accomplish. Are you willing to do the work? If so, then you can often accomplish your goal.
Many people dream of writing a book. They long to hold that printed book in their hand and show it to friends and new people. It is a huge accomplishment and something that I longed to accomplish as well. The world of publishing has its own unique twists and turns. To understand it requires effort and I’ve found most people would rather do their own thing (and get consistently rejected) than learn the system and move within the system. When they want to write a book, they simply sit down and begin with page one and persevere until they complete the final page. Let’s cheer those people because they have managed to complete a task yet far too often, these manuscripts are consistently rejected and the only way they appear in print is if they are self-published.
If you have a dream of publishing a book with a traditional publisher, I’ve got some help for you. Over the last four years, I’ve read thousands of manuscripts and proposals. Also as an acquisitions editor, I’ve been the person to champion a manuscript within a publishing house and ultimately issue a book contract to an author. Far too often, I’ve not had the material from the writer to be able to champion their cause. I’ve not had the time (no editor does) to write each of these authors and tell them about the specific elements they are missing. Instead these authors get a form rejection letter. I wrote Book Proposals That Sell to help writers understand how publishing works, then shape their material so the editor can champion it and it will have the best chance of appearing in print.
With the choices ahead in your life, I’d encourage you to turn to the Lord of the Universe for guidance. Don’t make those choices on your own strength. Over the last few days, I celebrate the chance to bring you a few stories of significant change. May God guide you in those choices. Terry Whalin signing off at God Allows U-Turns.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
DAY SIX — W. Terry Whalin, Writer/ Editor
God Allows U-Turns Guest Blogger
At least ten years ago, I had the opportunity to write a couple of biographies about Luis Palau, who is as remarkable speaking to millions of people as he is one on one. For an entire day, I sat in the Palau home listening to stories of how God had worked in his life and ministry. For me, it was another life-changing experience and resulted in two different books. From one of those books, Luis Palau, part of the Men of Faith series, I thought it best to give you an example of how Luis Palau talks about his faith—in any setting. Luis and his team at the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association was preparing for the Mission to London.
“At a welcoming party for Mission to London in 1984, Luis sat beside a member of the royal family. A picture of politeness, the princess turned to Luis and said, “Dr. Palau, I am going to talk to Mr. Pickford for twenty minutes, then I will talk to you. Is that all right?”
“Yes, Your Royal Highness,” Luis said. After almost exactly twenty minutes, the Princess turned and began conversing with Palau.
“Dr. Palau, I have wanted to talk to an evangelist for years and years. I have two questions, First, do you have the assurance of eternal life? And, if you do, how do you come about it? And, if one wanted to have this same assurance, how would one get it? Can you help me?”
Luis could tell by her expression that the princess was engaging in more than polite conversation. She was earnest about each question she asked.
“Yes, Ma’am, I can help you,” he said. Luis knew his time to convey the truth would be brief. He used the gospel presentation that Child Evangelism taught him in Argentina. The princess listened intently as Luis quoted several verses, including 1 John 5:11–12, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
She said, “But how do I get the Son of God, if I want life?”
“Ma’am, the Bible says, ‘Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’” (John 1:12).
“But, Dr. Palau,” she asked earnestly, “how do I received Him into my heart? What do I have to do?”
“Ma’am, Jesus says, ‘I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me’” (Revelation 3:20).
“And how do I open the door?”
Luis continued, “Your Highness, you pray a simple prayer and you invite Jesus into your heart. It would be as if I were going to the palace this afternoon and knock on the door. You might look out the window and say to your husband, “Oh dear, it’s Palau. What are we going to do? He talked too much. Do we let him in or not?” Luis smiled, “And if you want me to come into your home, all you have to do is send one of the guards to open the door and say, ‘Come in, Luis, take a seat; what would you like to drink?’ And I will come into your house and visit with you.”
While the princess closely followed Luis’s explanation, she still looked perplexed. “But how do I open the door to my heart?”
Slowly Luis put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a copy of the Four Spiritual Laws. Should I lead her in a little prayer right here? Maybe it isn’t good protocol. Instead Luis handed the booklet to the princess and said, “Your Highness, don’t tell anyone I gave you this little booklet but put it in your purse, and tonight when you get to the palace explain to your husband (seated about ten seats away) what I have told you know. Then get on your knees beside your bed, and together pray the prayer in this booklet, inviting Jesus into your hearts.”
The princess smiled in gratitude as she took the pamphlet. “Thank you. I have waited all of my life to know how to have eternal life. I have another question. I understand you have four sons.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Luis said.
“Do you read the Bible to them and pray with them?”
“Yes, when they were little we did that almost every night.”
“If I wanted to do the same with my own children, how would I go about it?”
Luis explained, but he was curious as to the source of her question. “Your Highness, where did you get the idea about reading the Bible and praying with your children?”
She proceeded to tell Luis about one of their visits to Africa. At a cocktail party the royal couple stood in the middle of a lengthy reception line with about a thousand people. Suddenly an African gentleman came up to her with his hand in his pocket. As he pulled out a small book, the secret service agent grabbed it from his hand.
“I protested,” the princess said to Luis. “I wanted to see the book.”
“Then the man said, ‘Your Royal Highness, the Lord told me to give you this book.’ I put it in my purse and I took it home.”
“Yes, it was called Our Daily Bread.”
“Oh, I know it. It is published by the Radio Bible Class in Grand Rapids, Michigan.”
The princess smiled because Luis was familiar with the book. “That’s right. It’s a daily Bible reading with a prayer and a meditation. I’ve read it four times and I am getting a little tired of it. Do you think you could get me more to read?”
“More? Ma’am, I’ll send you a planeload!”
The conversation was only the beginning, for the princess went home and prayed, personally committing her life to Jesus Christ, and her life was changed.”
At the Mission to London crusade, Luis preached every night for six weeks in Queen’s Park Ranger’s Stadium. People from every creed, color, religious background, and walk of life trusted Jesus Christ—a top rock star, a famous actress, a disillusioned policeman, a car dealer, a truck driver, and a bus driver were interviewed on the same night on the BBC; an official crusade photographer, an Australian soccer player, a young businesswoman, a gentleman whose wife had prayed for his salvation for twenty-nine years, twenty-five boys from a British boarding school, a young gang member who had helped disrupt the meeting earlier that same evening, a runaway teenager, and more than a few religious ministers.”
This brief story from my book, Luis Palau, is just one example of how the Lord has used this single person to touch millions of lives.
This is Terry Whalin signing off for today. Tomorrow will be my final entry.
Friday, March 10, 2006
DAY FIVE –-W. Terry Whalin, Editor / Writer
God Allows U-Turns Guest Blogger
Over ten years ago, it was my privilege to get to write two books for the chairman of the board for the fastest growing men’s movement in America called Promise Keepers. Bishop Phillip Porter was the leading African American in the organization and continues to be active today as chairman emeritus. Our first book was Let the Walls Fall Down about racial reconciliation. It is filled with significant and intentional u-turns or life choices. For today’s entry I want you to see Phil Porter’s intentional choice regarding integrating an all-white college:
“When I was in high school in 1954 I was recruited by Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. They offered me a dual scholarship—for football and for my academic credentials. I was also a successful boxer at the time. Then during the third game of my senior year in high school I broke three vertebrae, and my football days were over. Yet Lincoln still offered me the academic scholarship.
A Supreme Court decision in 1954 changed my college plans. In the case of Brown v. Topeka Board of Education, the court declared that the separate-but-equal doctrine was wrong. As a result schools had to integrate.
I was ecstatic about the ruling. Little did I know that I would be personally asked to play a role in this historic event.
Phillips University, an all-white school in my home town of Enid, Oklahoma, was on a search for black students to integrate their school. This university, which was associated with the Disciples of Christ denomination, called my local black high school to see if any students qualified to attend. My principal, Luther W. Elliott, Sr., thought about me and said, “I know just the guy for you—Phillip Porter.”
Along with Professor Elliott I went to meet the president of the university, Dr. Eugene S. Briggs. We sat in the high-back, deep-red leather chairs of his office and talked. Dr. Briggs had read about my success as a Golden Gloves boxer and had seen my academic qualifications. Dr. Briggs offered me a $250 scholarship—the total amount for four years.
“We’ve also arranged some social life for you at Phillips,” he said with a smile. “We’ve recruited a black girl named Lois Mothershed from Little Rock for next year’s class. Lois sings like an angel, and she’s from the Disciples church.” Some social life! His conversation implied that Lois was my only possibility for social life among the other college students.
“There’s one more thing, Phillip,” Dr. Briggs said. “Integration will not be without problems. We’ve never had black students studying in close proximity to white students. This is a Christian college, and we’re trying to integrate peacefully. We know about your successful fights in boxing, and I want you to promise that you will not fight.” I assured Dr. Briggs that my boxing and fighting days were over.
“You’ll have to take a lot of flack from people, Phillip,” Dr. Briggs continued. “Can you do it?”
“I can keep calm in any situation,” I reassured the president.
On the first day of orientation for the school a large group of students met on the school baseball field. The school set up tables with watermelon, and on that August day we enjoyed the fresh fruit. I walked along carrying my piece of melon and smiling at people. I’d stop and introduce myself to people making light conversation. It was my desire to fit into my new school.
Suddenly a big red-haired boy from Louisiana rushed over and slammed my face into the melon I was carrying. He laughed and said, “I always wanted to put a nigger’s face in a melon.”
I forgot my promise to Dr. Briggs, and with fury I turned loose my boxing skills on this rude kid and whipped him. A few minutes later both of us were standing in Dr. Briggs office.
The president shook his head with disappointment. “Phillip, I told you it would be difficult. You promised me that you wouldn’t fight, and here you are fighting before classes even start.” I apologized for letting him down.
Because the red-haired student initiated the fight, he was immediately suspended from the school and sent back home to Louisiana. After the boy left the room Dr. Briggs turned to me. “You need to keep yourself under control, Phillip,” he cautioned. “You may face things worse than this during your four years at Phillips University.” I consciously made an effort to keep my emotions under control. I thought to myself, I’m here. I’ve been chosen by God, by my parents, by my community, by this school, to help integrate. My job is to do that. I’ve got to help integrate.
I repeated those words to myself during the remainder of my college years. But I held myself under control and wasn’t drawn into another fight. Sure there were opportunities, but I resisted the temptation to lash back with my fists.”
Maybe you are going to be tempted to be drawn into something that you shouldn’t today. Lean on the example of Bishop Phillip Porter’s intentional u-turn from Let the Walls Fall Down. It’s a decision that changed his life.
That’s all for today. Terry Whalin is signing off until tomorrow when we look at a u-turn in another significant person, Luis Palau.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
DAY FOUR –-W. Terry Whalin, Editor / Writer
God Allows U-Turns Guest Blogger
They are small little books with a huge impact. The Young Reader’s Christian Library includes a black and white illustration on every page so young readers love them. It’s been my privilege to have written a couple of these books. One of them was about a baseball player turned evangelist named Billy Sunday. He was the forerunner of Billy Graham. When this man made his u-turn, he held large crusades around the country on what was known as the sawdust trail. During his lifetime, Billy Sunday preached over 20,000 times or an average of 75 times per month. More than 100 million people heard Billy Sunday proclaim the Good News about Jesus Christ.
This great evangelist wasn’t always a preacher. Billy Sunday was a hard drinking baseball player and joined the Chicago Whitestockings in 1883. Let’s take a look at a significant u-turn experience in the life of Billy Sunday from my book:
“The summer weather in June 1886 was perfect for baseball. Billy Sunday and his teammates were at home in Chicago for a series against the New York Giants. Along with several Giants players, the men were drinking alcohol at their favorite bars. Sunday was beginning to feel drunk and light-headed from the alcohol. When they walked past the corner of State and Van Buren Streets, the group sat down for a few minutes on the curb side. There was a show worth watching across the street. A “Gospel Wagon” with a team of horses was filled with men and women. With trumpets, flutes and a trombone, they filled the air with music from hymns. The music reminded Billy of his days as a child when his mother sang hymns in their log cabin home in Iowa. Sunday began to cry as he thought about the music.
One of the men from the Pacific Garden Mission noticed Sunday reacted to the music. He walked over to Billy and the other players. “Won’t you come to our service. It’s only two blocks away,” Harry Monroe said to Billy. “You’ll hear some things that will interest you.”
Something stirred deep inside Billy. In some ways, he looked like a man with everything in his life. In a single month with the White Stockings, he earned more money than a year on the farm. In his third season of baseball, Billy was popular with the crowd and a successful athlete. But inside, Billy felt empty. He wanted something more in his life.
Billy stood and told his teammates, “Boys, I bid the old life good-by.”
Some of the players laughed. Others smiled. Still others shrugged their shoulders and had a look of admiration mixed with disgust. Sunday and the clean-shaven young man walked to the Mission. The building for the service wasn’t fancy. In fact, it was located in between a couple of bars and dance halls. Over the door a sign said, “Strangers Welcome.” Another wall held a verse from i timothy 1:15 in the Bible which says, “Christ came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am chief.”
Billy walked into the Mission and sat down among homeless men and drunks Harry Monroe began the service. After several hymns, a number of men stood and told how Christ had changed their lives. Some were former burglars. Others had been caught in alcohol but now they were freed through the power of Christ. Sunday sat among the shabbily-dressed audience and carefully listened to the message.
When the invitation was extended for those in the audience to commit their life to Christ, Sunday didn’t move from his chair. “I’ll be coming back again to this Mission,” he resolved as he returned home.
During the next five nights, Sunday attended the services at the Mission. One night, Sunday knew he needed to commit his life to Christ, but he felt like he couldn’t do it alone.
A nervous Billy stood up and knocked down several of the curved-backed wooden chairs. Some people nearby assumed that Sunday had been drinking alcohol. In reality, Sunday’s mind was clear. Billy had a life-changing decision to make.
Others walked to the front during the singing. Sunday stood and tried to decide about walking forward. Suddenly Mrs. Clarke came and placed her arms around him. The wife of Colonel George R. Clarke, a western miner and Chicago businessman, Mrs. Clarke whispered to Sunday, “God loves you. Jesus died for you, and he wants you to love him and give your heart to him.:
The ballplayer could no longer resist. He swung clumsily around the chairs and walked to a seat in the front near the stage. Henry Monroe came beside Billy and they knelt to pray. Mrs. Clarke joined the two men in prayer.
“I want to make that commitment tonight,” Billy said. He bowed his head and accepted Christ. Mrs. Clarke told Billy some verses from the Bible and urged him to obey God’s commands.
Years later, Sunday wrote about his decision during that night. He said, “I have followed Jesus from that day to this every second, like the hound on the trail of the fox.”
Billy Sunday’s life moved in a new direction and would touch millions of people. Let’s celebrate God’s power to change lives.
That’s all for today. Terry Whalin is signing off until tomorrow when we look at a u-turn in the life of the chairman emeritus of Promise Keepers.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
DAY THREE — W. Terry Whalin, Writer/ Editor
God Allows U-Turns Guest Blogger
It marked one of the more unusual stories that I’ve written about people. Samuel Morris lived from 1873 to 1893. It wasn’t like some of the contemporary novels I’ve written where I could interview the subject and people around them. This biography was written from the few books and documents around on Samuel Morris. Over a month ago, I wrote about the transformation of this book since it first released ten years ago.
Born the son of a tribal chieftain in Africa, as a young man, Samuel Morris was known as Kaboo, an African Prince. He escaped death from an enemy tribe and came to America. In fact, he studied at Taylor University where a building is named in his honor. Here’s one short U-Turn story from the life of Samuel Morris (affectionately called Sammy) when he was a student at Taylor:
“One day, Sammy was shocked when a confirmed atheist visited his room. Even the most savage pagan and idolaters in Kru land (his home in Africa) believed in some kind of god. Sammy had never met anyone who said, “There is no God,” and called himself an atheist.
But there was an atheist on campus who heard all about Sammy. He was not satisfied with what was said in favor of Samuel Morris.
“Oh, I can put that unlearned black to shame,” he boasted. “I know every argument and the answer to every scripture.” He asked a friend of Sammy’s to take him to Sammy and witness his downfall.
Sammy’s friend laughed. “Remember Proverbs 25:14” ‘Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.’”
When the pair arrived at Sammy’s room, he was praying, so they waited in the hall for him. After a long time passed, Sammy opened his door to the friend and the atheist.
After the introductions, Sammy said, “Please read the Bible where the last person marked.” He handed the Bible to the atheist, but the student threw it down on the table, scoffing, “I do not read that book anymore. It is full of love affairs, wars, and a lot of big fish stories. I don’t believe a word of it.”
Sammy sat still and listened to the atheist talk. Then he rose to his feet and spoke with compassion for the fellow student, “My dear brother, your Father speaks to you, and you do not believe Him? Your Brother speaks, and you do not believe Him? The sun shines and you do not believe it?”
Sammy paused, then continued, “God wishes to be your Father, Christ is your Brother, the Holy Ghost is your Sun.” Extending his hand on the atheist’s shoulder, he insisted, “Kneel down, and I will pray for you.”
The atheist sank down as though his life had crumbled within. But he resisted Sammy’s prayers and would not open his mouth. When the prayer was over, he stumbled to the door. Suddenly he felt a stab of pain in his heart, and he fled to his room.
Daily, Sammy, Aman, and many of their friends prayed for the atheist. Near the end of the semester, the atheist returned to Sammy’s room. Sammy smiled and put his hands on both shoulders of the young man, saying, “You are a Christian? That’s what you have come to tell me?”
“Yes,” the atheist agreed. “I have not been able to eat or sleep or study properly. All I could think of was Jesus dying on the cross for me. My Brother, who loved me that much.”
Together they knelt, and this one-time scoffer prayed from his heart to his heavenly Father. That student became a preacher and then a bishop.”
This is Terry Whalin signing off for today. Tomorrow I’ll tell another U-Turn story in the life of a baseball player turned evangelist.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
DAY TWO — W. Terry Whalin, Writer/ Editor
God Allows U-Turns Guest Blogger
It’s one of the most startling U-Turns in the political arena. I’m talking about Chuck Colson who went to prison for his work in the Nixon White House. The story of his dramatic changed life has been captured in best-selling books like Born Again. From Chuck’s prison experience, he started a world-wide ministry known as Prison Fellowship.
In the early nineties, it was my privilege to write a children’s biography Chuck Colson which was part of the Today’s Heroes series (targeted to 8 to 12 year old readers). My book shows a completely different side of Chuck’s personality that I’ve not seen in any other book. Colson is a serious practical joker and some of this humor is weaved into this biography about his life. If you get a chance, I hope you will read it.
In today’s entry I want to give a brief story about a Chuck Colson U-Turn. In a couple of months, we will celebrate Good Friday and Easter. For many years, Chuck led a team of people into the prisons for these services. From his perspective, there is no better place on earth to celebrate the empty tombs than the dark tombs of prison. In 1982, for the fourth straight year, Chuck Colson led a small group of about twenty volunteers to the Indiana State Penitentiary in Terre Haute. He didn’t personally know all of the people in the group.
One of the people in particular Chuck wanted to see was a young black man on death row, James Brewer. Now from my book: “While waiting for his death sentence, James had grown seriously ill from a kidney disease. Even so, he had maintained a powerful witness about Jesus Christ to others on death row.
After Chuck’s visit with Brewer, the Prison Fellowship group sang, “Amazing Grace” and Chuck began moving everyone toward the exit. He was growing anxious about the time. At a nearby airstrip, a plane waited to fly Chuck into Indianapolis where he would see the Indiana governor. As he was about to shepherd everyone through the exit, he noticed one of the local volunteers still standing by the cell of James Brewer.
With one more glance at his watch—it was getting late—Chuck walked over and said to the short, white man standing close to the bars of Brewer’s cell, an open Bible in his hand, “I’m sorry, but we have to leave.”
The man looked up at Chuck, “Just give us another minute, please. This is important.”
His patience running thin after the long, tiring day, Chuck snapped, “No, I’m sorry, but I can’t keep the governor waiting. We must go.”
The man responded softly, “I understand—but this is important. You see, I’m Judge Clement. I sentenced James Brewer to die. Now James is my brother, and we want a minute to pray together.”
Chuck stepped back, shocked and awed by what was happening before him. Suddenly, it didn’t matter whom he kept waiting. Here were two men, one with power and one powerless. One had sentenced the other to death. If they weren’t brothers in Christ, Brewer might have wanted to kill the judge for his sentence. Now, instead, they were praying together in love and joy.
Later the judge told Chuck, “Since I sentenced Brewer four years ago, I’ve been praying for him every day.”
As they walked out of the Indiana Penitentiary, his upcoming meeting with the governor seemed far less important than what he had just seen. Once again, firsthand, Chuck had watched the power of Christ tear down barriers and build a sense of love and caring between people who might otherwise have been filled with hate and bitterness. This is the real power, the power of Christ to change lives, Chuck thought. Compared to this, the power I had in the White House is nothing.”
Where do you find real power? I guarantee it’s not in something inside you.
This is Terry Whalin signing off for today. Tomorrow we’ll learn a U-Turn story from an African Prince.
Monday, March 06, 2006
DAY ONE –-W. Terry Whalin, Editor / Writer
God Allows U-Turns Guest Blogger
I’ve always loved a good story. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the story where you sit on the edge of your seat and strain to hear the next word from a speaker because you don’t dare miss it. Or when you are reading a book and completely lost in the magic of the story and you can’t seem to turn the pages fast enough.
Because of this interest, I’ve always found a fascination in the stories of God Allows U-Turn books. How do the small and large choices of life influence the overall story of your life? In a matter of a few pages in the God Allows U-Turns books you can discover the significance of these choices. It marked a personal thrill to be included in the new God Allows U-Turns for teens volume. If you haven’t seen this book, I highly recommend you check it out—and especially the last story in the book (mine). It’s a story that has not appeared in print for a number of years and I’m delighted to have it appear in this fresh format.
I don’t want to ruin the story for you and tell it here. I return to my teenage years and talk about my personal rebellion from God and anything associated with the church. Through some bold words from a journalism colleague, I was directed to a Christian bookstore located near the campus. I purchased small book called Jesus The Revolutionary (now unfortunately long out-of-print). As I read the pages of this book, I saw a different side of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t religion but I learned about a relationship. I made a life-long u turn and began a relationship with Jesus Christ. From a book, I’ve experienced firsthand the power of the printed page. It’s driven much of my life-choices about what I’ve written and accomplished. The printed page can reach far beyond the boundaries of a single auditorium where you are speaking. That page can travel to places where I will never walk or see yet the words can touch and change lives. It’s a concept and privilege that I never want to take for granted.
Over the last fifteen years, I’ve had the opportunity to capture into print the stories of others. I’ve profiled more than 150 best-selling authors and listened to the stories of the choices—large and small—which have guided their lives. From a young age, I loved to curl up with a biography. During the summer months when I visited my granny in Frankfort, Kentucky, I would constantly visit the library and check out a stack of the red and yellow hardcover biographies. I did more than carry those books home. I spent hours reading every page. Now years later, I’ve written a number of these biographies to help others understand the significance of change in their lives.
Over the next few days, I’m going to tell a brief story from these biographies. Each day I plan to focus on a different person. I hope as you learn about these books, it will encourage you to understand and celebrate the power of changed lives.
This is Terry Whalin signing off for today. Come back tomorrow to learn about a U-Turn in the life of a well-known figure in American politics--Chuck Colson.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Starting tomorrow, we'll have daily postings from the one and only W. Terry Whalin. Let me tell you folks, if you've never read Terry's Blog for writers you are missing out on some of the BEST free advice available in the blogosphere today! Plus, Terry's book: BOOK PROPOSALS THAT SELL is a MUST HAVE for anyone in the industry. I sell it on my book table.
Join me in welcoming Terry as our second guest in the God Allows U-Turns 2006 Guest Blogger Series. (Steve Laube, Literary Agent, was our first official guest - you'll want to scroll down to read his archived pithy postings!)
W. Terry Whalin knows and understands both sides of the editorial desk--as an editor and a writer. He is the Fiction Acquisitions Editor at Howard Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, based in West Monroe, Louisiana. He worked as a magazine editor for Decision and In Other Words magazines. His magazine articles have appeared in more than 50 Christian and general market publications plus he’s written more than 60 books. His personal site is located at: http://www.terrywhalin.com/.
A journalism graduate from Indiana University, Terry writes a wide spectrum of subjects and topics for the magazine and book marketplace--from children to teen to adult. His latest books include Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success (Write Now Publications) and Running On Ice by Vonetta Flowers with Whalin (New Hope Publishers). He is board member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (the leading nonfiction writers group in the nation) and an associate member of the Evangelical Press Association. Also Terry is the creator for a popular site for writers called Right-Writing.com. Terry blogs about his life as a writer and editor at The Writing Life or http://www.thewritinglife.ws/ . Terry and his wife, Christine, live in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Come back tomorrow to hear from W. Terry Whalin! Have a blessed Sunday.
And that's what's on my mind today.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Here is the schedule below. Make sure to mark your calendars if there is a particular Guest Blogger you don't want to miss. The only criteria these guests have been given is to tell us what God Allows U-Turns means to them. Some are contributing authors in the God Allows U-Turns series and they'll share their story with us. Others will speak about writing and ministry in general and all will share from their heart!
Stay tuned tomorrow to the introduction of Terry Whalin, our next Guest Blogger.
Have a blessed Saturday!
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GOD ALLOWS U-TURNS
2006 Guest Blogger Series
1 2/20-26 Steve Laube Agent
2 3/6-12 Terry Whalin Author
3 3/20-26 Sharon Hinck Author/Speaker
4 4/3-9 Tricia Goyer Author/Speaker
5 4/17-23 Heather Gemmen Author
6 5/8-14 Michelle Medlock Adams Author/Speaker
7 5/22-28 Cecil Murphey Author
8 6/5-11 Sharen Watson Author/Speaker
Add 6/12-18 Dena Dyer Author/Speaker
9 6/19-25 Lucinda McDowell Author/Speaker
10 7/3-9 Connie Pombo Author
Add 7/10-16 Jennifer Cary Author
11 7/17-23 Vicki Caruana Author/Speaker
12 8/7-13 Eva Marie Everson Author/Speaker
13 8/21-27 Charles Gibson Author
14 9/4-10 Michael Powers Author/Pastor
15 9/18-24 Karen Kosman Author/Speaker
16 10/2-8 Kathy Pride Author/Speaker
17 10/16-22 Esther Bailey Author
18 11/6-12 Nancy C. Anderson Author/Speaker
19 11/20-26 Amy Wallace Author/Speaker
20 12/4-10 Karen O'Connor Author/Speaker
21 12/18-24 Cheryll Hutchings Co-Editor
Thursday, March 02, 2006
When we choose to follow God—our daily choices must reflect our faith. When we make conscious choices in all aspects of life that are built on the foundation of God’s Word, we see lives changed. Our new God Allows U-Turns books are subtitled: The Choices We Make Change the Story of Our Life. Praise God!
And that’s what’s on my mind today.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Thank you, Steve, for allowing us a glimpse into your head and your heart.
And that's what's on my mind today.