“I have known the author for almost 40 years and he has always been devoted to a wonderful combination of good thinking, creativity, clear communication and a lifestyle of love.”
–Chuck Kelley (Amazon review)
“A heart and a spirit tempered by many fires has produced a sweet, practical soul who shares his passion for reaching out to an increasing multicultural culture.”
-Scott Sterling (Amazon review)
A Bit of My Story
Early in my pursuit of following Christ, I heard that “journaling” was a good way of jotting down thoughts and recording insights from the Bible. I have always been easy with words, so this seemed worthwhile idea to try. I remember starting out with a little daytimer with replaceable pages. You would buy a packet of calendar pages, contact pages, and then some lined pages for notes. I started using those lined pages for my journaling. It was awkward at first, as I tried to figure out if this was to be totally private and therefore absolutely transparent, or semi-private and therefore sensitive to the possibility that others might someday read my entries. All that to say that journaling grew on me. I liked the opportunity to express my thoughts on paper most every morning.
As I recall, my consistency in journaling suffered a considerable setback by an experience called “seminary.” Time was now in short supply and assignments to write about the incarnation or the theme of Ephesians were sapping every ounce of creative writing ability. So for four years my writing was dictated by the wishes of professors and frankly became more a chore than a joy.
After graduation I became a pastor for awhile and found myself returning to the journal idea. My sermon preparation would invade the devotional writing at times, but I nevertheless found renewed encouragement in pouring out thoughts from my mind and … even my heart! Imagine that. Something strange began to happen on an occasional basis. I would get a train of thought that would just pour onto the page. Then another page. Pretty soon I would have 3 or 4 pages of words that, to me at least, seemed alive! I would go over them again because I loved their sound, and the words pumped life back into me. What in the world was going on?
I was discovering the power of words in a new way–words that moved me. They moved me to the point I began to wonder, would they move other people too. So my dear wife, Lyn was right in the line of fire. I would get my courage up and tell her I had a good thought this morning–could I read it to her. “Of course,” she would say, and always had an encouraging response. So I kept at it. I would hope for those days when a spark would ignite another fire of insight or passion in words. Those days came too infrequently, but were a delight when they did.
Soon I sensed the urge to find an audience for my words. Perhaps this is an instinct in everyone who writes. I loved the sight of words on a page, and felt energized by the power they could conjure. So I began to wonder if readers would feel what I felt when I wrote a particularly good paragraph. I began to dream of getting an article published in a Christian magazine.
But what in the world would I write about? I wanted to be helpful but not preachy. The words that flow from my mind are not technical. They are personal yet worth pondering. (At that point I hadn’t encountered the concept of a writer’s “voice.”) So I began thinking of unique things that had happened to me that might be of interest to others.
In the yard of our house, there was a massive avocado tree that would yield a harvest so plentiful that our small family could not eat a fraction of it. I had been looking for ways to get to know our neighbors. So one afternoon I enlisted the help of my two young daughters, knowing that neighbors cannot resist adorable kids. We loaded up our red wagon with ripe avocados and squeaked our way to several houses on our street. This personal story introduced my first article on creative ways to show love to others.
But what to do with my little essay? I had purchased Writer’s Digest to learn the basics of submitting an article for publication. I wrote to Discipleship Journal and Moody Monthly for their “writer’s guidelines” and fashioned a query letter about my article. I have had quite a few polite rejection letters for my article submissions, but this time Discipleship wrote to accept what came out under the title, “Avocado Evangelism and Other Non-traditional Ways to Serve.” That was my first published article, and I knew I had discovered a ministry that brought joy to me and had the potential to encourage many others.