Words of my mouth – I used to be a talker, but it seems the older I get, the more I prefer to listen. I think I learned in my thirties that the more I opened my mouth, the more inclined I was to stick my foot in it. I still talk, of course, but I’m not nearly as talkative as some of my sisters or friends. (They may beg to differ, of course!) Listening leads to learning, and I would hope learning would bring on at least a small measure of wisdom. At my age, my children and grandchildren look to me for a little wisdom now and then. Unfortunately they’re more likely to get a laugh out of what comes out of my mouth. Ah, well…
I used to be a speaker, as well. I loved to teach and lead Bible studies, I loved to speak at women’s retreats and banquets, and lead devotions at various meetings. Age does funny things to you, though. You would think the more experience one gained, the easier it would become, but in my case, the older I got, the more nervous I became about public speaking until finally it turned into down-right stage fright. “It’s not about you, Cindy—it’s about the message!” I would chide myself, but it didn’t seem to help, and gradually I just quit speaking.
Words from my pen – All along I had been writing those Bible studies, devotions, and messages. I would often think, “Thank you, Lord! I love this. If only I didn’t have to get up there now and deliver it!” Little did I know the Lord was about to drastically change my path.
First, He closed the door on the ministry my husband and I had in Colorado and moved us back to Indiana. Suddenly I was no longer a pastor’s wife, and many of the opportunities I had once had to speak and lead were gone.
Secondly, the Lord began filling my life with little grandchildren, nephews and nieces. What began as simply, “Tell me a story, Grandma!” turned into, “Would you please write those stories down, Mom, so the kids can still hear them when we move?”
Third, my husband bought me my first computer and the words began to flow. Storytelling became story-writing and as the kids grew we moved from simple rhymes to bedtime stories to picture books and then on to “chapter books,” as the kids called them. The more kids I was writing for, the more prolific I became. I couldn’t bear to disappoint them. Over the next eight or ten years I wrote thirty children’s books, fourteen of them novels.
The fourth thing was perhaps the most important one. Our son became very ill and eventually became totally bedridden and housebound. My role became not just Mom but 24/7 primary caregiver, and suddenly I had all the time in the world to write as I sat by his bedside and took care of him. Writing became my passion and creative outlet in those quiet years at home.
Words from my heart – There came a point when I had to decide what I hoped to accomplish with my writing. I absolutely loved entertaining my young readers. To hear their enthusiasm and anticipation for the next book was truly very gratifying. They were really the ones who pushed me toward seeking publication. “Please, at least try to get published, Grandma,” my eldest granddaughter pleaded. “There are thousands of kids out there that would love your books.” A fan letter from a little girl I’d never met reiterated the same thing. “Think of all those children you can reach for Jesus,” she added. My husband had a more practical motive for encouraging me to try to get my work published. “Sell your books so I can retire!” he would joke.
As I prayed about embarking upon the long, arduous road toward publishing my work, I made a commitment to the Lord. Entertaining the kids was great. Seeing my name in print would be wonderful. A real “career” would fulfill a lifelong dream. A little extra income certainly wouldn’t hurt (although I’ve tried to disabuse my husband of the notion that he could retire on what I sold!) What I longed for most of all, though, and what I committed to the Lord, was that if I was going to do this, if I was going to continue with this great passion of mine to write, it was going to be for Him, a ministry that I prayed would not only entertain, but inspire and influence young people. I wanted my work to uphold godly values and present Jesus Christ as Lord. I wanted to provide characters who would be strong role models of high character, faith and Christian values, and I prayed my work would inspire God-honoring qualities in their own lives.
What happens now remains to be seen. I’ve barely started on this journey toward publication. Whether my audience remains small or grows to the “thousands” my young readers so optimistically envision doesn’t really matter. It is enough for me that the Lord uses my words wherever He sees fit and for His glory. This, I feel, ought to be the heartfelt prayer and commitment of the Christian author.