The Call to Serve—A Christian Writer’s Testimony

evidence or proof provided by
the existence or appearance of something

I last posted here in February, six months ago. Since then, my schedule has overflowed with writing assignments and deadlines, and blogging fell to the bottom of my to-do list. But it’s time, past time, for me to write this post giving credit to the One who makes all things possible.

A children’s picture book I wrote on assignment in 2015 had, a while ago, passed more than 300,000 copies sold and is consistently on Amazon’s best-seller list in several categories. A friend noticed and said to me recently, “Congratulations! I’m proud of you.” How I responded somewhat surprised me, but it was a testament to how my faith in the Lord has grown in the past almost forty years since I accepted Him into my heart as my Lord and Savior.  

Everyone has a story. God has a plan for each of us. Without us being aware, He assembles His plan’s pieces perfectly and systematically. As I’ve grown in experience, and yes in age, I’m able to see more clearly now how the pieces of His plan for me have come together. This is my testimony:

In college I majored in education. I imagined myself teaching in the classroom. But then, one required class in the last semester of my senior year changed everything: “Introduction to Children’s Literature”. It turned me into a children’s book fanatic! I read all the best sellers present and past. I immersed myself in words that flowed in lyrical patterns taking children wherever their imaginations led. Teaching was no longer my goal. I set my sights then on grad school, library science/children’s literature, eyeing a future as a children’s librarian. I was writing then, too, (just for fun.) Writing was something I’d always enjoyed. As a teenager I explored writing’s many forms: poetry, prose, fiction, nonfiction. My high school English teacher recognized my talent and encouraged me to pursue a career in journalism. But I had other plans. In college, I took elective writing classes (just for fun), and as I wrote God grew my passion to write even more. In grad school, I shared some writing samples with my faculty advisor and she said, “You should be writing for publication.” So, I wrote. My first official published piece was my master’s thesis, a study of social changes in the contemporary children’s literature, published by the university’s press.

I graduated with a master’s degree in library science/children’s literature and with a new goal—to be a children’s book writer.

God’s plan unfolded then, at record speed. He led me into a job working as an editor for a leading children’s book publisher. There I learned not only creative product development but also how books are marketed and sold. I even did press checks—going to where the books were printed and providing an editorial sign-off at the printing press. My job required me to write and edit, but apart from my job I felt the Lord encouraging me to write even more. Submitting manuscripts to other publishers was a conflict of interest, so I wrote just for the fun of writing. I enjoyed my job at the publishing house, but it wasn’t as fulfilling as it had been. I wanted and needed more. I remember being at work one day, sitting at my desk in my office during a lunch break. I’d set aside a manuscript I was editing to jot down a few haiku poems I’d had swirling in my thoughts and I silently prayed, “God, I really want to write exclusively for You.”

And then it happened.

A few weeks later, the company I worked for was acquired by a publisher who decided to move it to another state. We were all given termination notices. I lost my job. This was the new beginning God had planned for me, the start of a lifelong ministry of writing for Him. This year, I’m celebrating twenty-five years as a freelance writer of Christian literature. God most often leads me to nonfiction where He combines my writing talent with my teaching skills to teach others about Him. He uses my training in publishing as a help when working with editors. Because I understand the process from concept through print production, it saves my editors time and effort when I provide them with well-formatted manuscripts that are clean of errors and delivered on time.

When my friend said, “I’m proud of you for 300,000 copies sold,” my spontaneous reaction was, “No! Don’t be proud of me. Be happy that the Lord is using me to share His words with 300,000 kids . . . their moms, dads, siblings, grandparents . . . “

That’s what it’s all about for me. My faith has grown so strong in the decades since I accepted Jesus that it’s enough just to serve Him. He uses me for His purposes, and I’m grateful. I’m so blessed to share His Word with others and to lead them nearer to Him. I’m content being a humble servant. I appreciate the well-meaning praises for my work, but I don’t desire or even like accolades for anything God accomplishes. There’s a quiet, soul-filling, and perfect satisfaction that comes with the assurance God is working through me. When I sit down to write He leads me, often changing the direction I’ve planned for my words to take. The words come easily when He directs my thoughts. He is worthy of all the praise.

So, that’s my testimony, my evidence of God’s existence and proof that He has a plan for each of us.

If you feel yourself drifting somewhere other than where your own hopes and dreams lie, be willing to change. You were born with skills and talents that God wants to use for His glory. If you want to serve Him, ask Him to use you. Then, when you feel pulled in a specific direction keep moving forward. You can’t see yet where the Lord is leading you, but He knows where you’re going. Be patient, follow Him, and don’t give up.

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Winnie the Pooh—the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

You can’t think of the famous author A.A. Milne without associating him with his sweet, much-loved bear, Pooh—and Milne hated that association. But, let’s start at the beginning:

First the good. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories happened because of Milne’s love for his son, Christopher Robin. Christopher became a character in his father’s children’s books as did Christopher’s stuffed animals: a bear, a piglet, a tiger, a kangaroo and a downtrodden donkey. Milne chose a forest near their home as the setting for his stories, and “The Hundred Acre Wood” became the enchanted forest in the Pooh books, Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) and The House at Pooh Corner (1928). Milne’s books became wildly successful and brought fame to the otherwise unrecognized author.

Now the bad. Milne hated being cast as a children’s book author. He had written three novels, four screenplays, and 18 plays for adults, all forgotten due to the success of Winnie the Pooh. “A writer wants something more than money for his work: he wants permanence” Milne said, and for him that meant a legacy as a great novelist or playwright.

And here the story becomes downright ugly. As an adult, the real Christopher Robin Milne resented being a character in his father’s books. In his autobiography, Christopher wrote, “(My father) had filched from me my good name and had left me with nothing but the empty fame of being his son.”

During A.A. Milne’s final years, Christopher rarely saw his father. The elder Milne suffered a stroke in 1952 and was confined to a wheelchair for four years until his death just days after his 74th birthday.

The Winnie the Pooh books continue to bring joy to children throughout the world, but few know the sad story of their author and his son, the real Christopher Robin.

If you want to read more about the real Christopher Robin and how his story ends, click on this link: “Christopher Robin Milne”.

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Aspiring Writers on Social Media—Think Before You Post

If you are an aspiring writer, you know that social media is an important tool for connecting with writers, editors, agents, and the publishing world in general. Connecting on sites like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and others, can help you build a community around your interest in writing. This can be an important first step toward publication and then, once you are published, social media will also help you connect with readers and market your book.

How you interact on social media is just as important as your presence there. The critical thing to remember is this: Think before you post.

I’ll use Facebook as an example here, but the idea extends to all forms of social media.

As an aspiring writer on Facebook, you will probably join writers’ groups where you can interact with other aspiring and published authors. These groups are a great way to connect, share information, learn the publishing process, and even meet editors and agents. The connections you make in these groups might also become Facebook “friends”. You send and accept friend requests, and then you interact with these people on your profile along with your family members, neighbors, friends from high school, etc . . .

And this is when things can get sticky.

Think about who your “friends” are. Have you added friends who are editors or agents? Do you have friends who work in the industry and might connect you with someone who can help you get published? Remember that these key connections see everything on your status. How you present yourself there can be an indicator of how it might be to work with you.

Think before you post.

Your key connections will see how often your posts are negative or complaining.

A positive attitude is an indicator that you might be easy to work with.

Your key connections will notice how you interact with comments.

How do you react if someone disagrees with something you post? An important part of working with editors and agents is being open to criticism and dealing with it professionally. Agents and editor “friends” on social media might notice if you are polite, careful, and thoughtful in your responses.

Do you engage in disrespectful speech or gossip?

Talking disrespectfully about others, especially other writers, agents, editors, publishing houses, is never helpful. What you say publicly does matter and does get remembered.

When you post about yourself, do you show you are confident but also humble?

Confidence in your abilities indicates you don’t give up easily. Humility shows your willingness to learn. You need both confidence and humility when working with editors and agents, especially on that first book.

What about your personal beliefs?

Think about how much you want to share with those key connections (editors, agents) about your politics or other ideas that might be controversial.

The takeaway is this: If you are serious about getting your book published and you post on social media sites, remember that “friends” on social media might extend beyond those you know personally. If you have invited agents, editors and others in the industry to interact with you on social media, remember they see everything you post. Think before you post. Ask yourself, “Is this something I should share with someone I want to work for?


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