What is the most circuitous route to Christian writing? Well, throw the dots on the floor and then connect them. That’s pretty much how I got where I am now.
My high school writing started with promise as I was placed in an advanced writing class. It ended abruptly when I immaturely read my teacher’s preference for sleaziness as a sign that I didn’t fit. Where are those guidance counselors when you need them?
As a second year seminary student, my professor called me into his office. Nervous, I wondered what I had done wrong. “Yours is the best written student paper I have ever received,” he said. He was Dr. Harold Kuhn, veteran seminary professor of many years and a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a prominent, respected magazine. Immaturely, I enjoyed those words then moved on as if they had not been spoken.
On my youngest daughter’s first day of kindergarten, I bawled my way all the way home after dropping her off. My husband consoled me. “Now you have time to write,” he said.
And write, I did. I wrote feature articles for our denomination’s monthly magazine and enjoyed a bit of fame in that little fishbowl. I also wrote a curriculum for parents to use to teach their kids the Bible, submitted it to several publishers, was encouraged but turned down by all of them, and immaturely set it aside to yellow in a file drawer.
Meanwhile, I took a job at a local nursing home as public relations director. Read “detour.” I wrote about individual residents, building projects, special events and enjoyed my place in the organization. Ninety-year-olds make an enthusiastic fan club.
My pastor-husband decided to start a new church, so we moved to a new community. My two-lane PR detour morphed into an expressway when I became a reporter for an award-winning small town newspaper, then a PR director for an organization that served older people; my skills expanded to fund-raising, press releases and feature articles for the larger Ames (Iowa) Daily Tribune and outlying small town papers, layout and design of public relations materials, and even radio spots.
Another move to buy a Christian bookstore almost parked my writing car entirely but eventually led to writing feature articles for a small local paper. “Want to try a column?” asked the editor who was a Christian. This writing turn delighted me as I experimented with humor and was free to express my faith. Again I became locally known, sometimes affectionately referred to as the Erma Bombeck of Traverse City, a designation I thoroughly enjoyed.
Meanwhile, I longed to have a more direct ministry impact. Hmmm…. What topic? I settled on marriage. Why not? These 42 years ought to be the soil for something useful besides two kids and clean laundry. Wholehearted Marriage Online, my first attempt at a website, painfully taught me some basics of online writing. I’m still working on developing an email list that would impress a publisher.
And another-meanwhile, my husband and I developed a curriculum to help participants learn to love God, others, and themselves well called Grace Journey. The video teachings are almost ready. The small group manual is done; the beta test of the small groups went very well. A seminar format is almost ready, and a book is in the planning stage. If I can remember how to set up a website, that’s the next step, along with recruiting appropriate people to lead the groups.
What? Has my detour actually circled back to the Christian writing of my original longing? I do believe it has happened. And all those steps, random as they were, have played a part in getting me to this place at this time.
So moving forward, it is time for me to pull out some of those public relations skills and let the world know about Grace Journey. I’m sure dear Dr. Kuhn is long gone to his heavenly reward but I wish I could tell him that his wide-eyed student from decades past is almost there!
Sharon Mavis welcomes subscribers to weekly emails on marriage from http://wholeheartedmarriageonline.com/free/ and is preparing to launch Grace Journey, a curriculum for loving God, others and yourself well. She is a teacher, seminar leader, writer and tries to keep their home functioning for her pastor-husband.