Monday, October 18, 2010

Authors: To Thine Own Self Be True

Does anyone remember that old TV game show called To Tell the Truth? Since 1956 the show has appeared in some form over the course of six decades.

Here’s how the game was played: A panel of four “celebrity” judges would attempt to guess the correct contestant with an unusual occupation or experience. Two other people would pretend to be that person and were allowed to lie to the celebrities’ questions. The “real” person had to answer the questions truthfully.

This morning I awakened at 4:30 a.m. and lay in bed contemplating truth. Yes, I know . . . weird. As a writer this is not an unusual occurrence. Anyone know what I’m talking about?

We’re in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area this weekend checking on the house we had to leave more than two years ago when I was laid off from my job and we moved to Nashville for my position at Abingdon Press. The house still hasn’t sold.

We’re staying in a Comfort Inn on 28th Street near the airport and they begin breakfast service at 4:30 for those people catching early flights. I dressed quietly so as not to wake Mike or Riley, our Chihuahua (some watchdog he is), and took the elevator to the breakfast room. There’s nothing like the smell of coffee in the morning.

These may seem like disjointed thoughts, but as the prosecutor tells the jury on Law and Order, I will show that all these facts prove my contention that the witness is telling the truth about her occupation and experience. Join me in the courtroom.

* * *

Prosecutor: Isn’t it true that in your capacity as an acquisitions editor that you’ve been traveling around the country since mid-August?

Me: Yes, that’s true.

Prosecutor: And isn’t it also true that you’ve helped other writers understand their craft and clarify their mission in life?

Me: Yes, Sir.

Prosecutor: Could you tell the court how this lifestyle has affected you?

Me: Do I have to?

Prosecutor: You are sworn to tell the truth. Judge, please instruct the witness to answer the question.

Judge: Please answer the question.

Me: (Sigh) I’m tired.

Prosecutor: Would you please elaborate for members of the jury?

Me: I fall asleep when I’m driving sometimes, and I ache all over from sitting in a seat for hours at a time.

Prosecutor: Isn’t it true that your fibromyalgia flares up and you have periods of anxiety and depression from the stress?

Me: Do I really have to get into that?

Prosecutor: Might I remind the witness that you have sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Me: Yes, that’s true.

Prosecutor: What’s true?

Me: The part about my physical and mental condition.

Prosecutor: Ah! So you admit it’s true?

Me: Yes! I said it’s true.

Prosecutor: Let’s move on to your spiritual condition. Have you spent time in prayer? Do you regularly read your Bible?

Me: Mike and I have taken a “prayer walk” almost every day for this last month. I recall Scripture, but I’ve neglected my Bible reading. I mean I read my Bible, but usually before I close my eyes at night. Usually a Psalm.

Prosecutor: I see. A “prayer walk.” What does that mean?

Me: We pray while we walk. We praise God for His glorious creation. We pray for our nation and those in authority over us. We pray for friends and family and our world. We pray for the Abingdon authors and . . .

Prosecutor: I think the court understands. Do you pray for your occupation?

Me: Yes . . . a lot.

Prosecutor: And what have you deduced from your prayers.

Me: That the Lord is calling me to leave Abingdon Press as of December 15.

Prosecutor: What does He expect you to do if you sever your connection with Abingdon?

Me: Good question. To rest, to write, to edit, to pray. And . . . something else is coming . . . something good. I just don’t know what it is yet.

Prosecutor: To continue to travel?

Me: Not so much.

Prosecutor: I have no further questions, your Honor. It's up to the jury to decide whether this witness is telling the truth.

* * *

Now pretend you are the jury, dear readers. After hearing the evidence I intend to step out in faith. Will you as well be true to what God is calling you to do? Will you follow Him in faith? That may mean taking a job, or volunteering, or continuing to spend your time writing.

For the next 30 days I ask you to pray with me for the Christian book industry, for our roles in it, and whether the Lord might be calling some of us to sow, others to water, and still others to reap the harvest. What is He calling you and me to do? Will you join me in prayer?

Blessings on your day!


  1. Wow. What a call. To listen and obey. To really listen so we know how to obey. Even when it's really, really scary. I look forward to seeing and hearing what God has in store for you Barbara, and I hope that this time of slowing and resting will rejuvinate your spirit and give you much clarity and peace.

    You definitely aren't alone in your contemplation of the truth. And the prayer walk thing? What a cool think you and your hubby do together!

  2. Barbara, From the first time you and I met I knew you were going to be more than an editor, you were going to be a friend. And you have become just that. For that reason, and because I've seen the toll this job has taken on you, I'm tempering my disappointment at losing you in the former role with joy that you won't abandon the latter. You'll be in our prayers as you follow the path that God lays out day by day. Be blessed, friend.

  3. I respect your decision—your integrity. I will pray. God has plans to prosper you. Heck, I’m thinking you and I could take this world by storm!

    Be blessed,

  4. "He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul." These are the only words that came to my mind, Barbara, and, as you know, they are true. Praying with you.

  5. Wow, Barbara. Your post is exactly what I needed to read this morning. It brought tears to my eyes, for you and Mike, and for some decisions Paul & I have had to make over the last two weeks. Carolyn's post reminded me that we have a Shepherd, the Lord Jesus. He will guide us as we trust him. He will protect us from the wolves as we look to him. But we have to step out in faith in order to reap the blessings. You have set an example of both.

  6. Thank you for bringing to our attention that we should be praying for the Christian book industry. Yes, I remember To Tell the Truth. Sometimes it's difficult to discern the path the Lord has designed for us, but I am confident it is there and that He will catch me even if a rocky place causes my foot to slide. I had an appointment with you at ACFW but had to cancel the trip at last minute because of serious family illness.

    Blessings galore! I am saying a prayer about your house selling.

  7. Barbara - I only met you once but was inspired by you. I hoped - oh how I hoped - that you would become my editor - some because I want it to be my time to be published but mostly because I instantly respected and appreciated the person you are.

    This post has me perplexed. I appreciate your faith in listening to God's call and choosing to follow wherever He is leading you. I was just praying for my own call to be sent out from Him and I hope that I exhibit the same faithful answer to it when I hear it that you are.

    How was the 4:30 am breakfast?

  8. Walking by faith... what a concept! I can echo much of what Richard said. I've loved having you as editor. I never want to lose you as friend. And as you take this great step of faith, I want to be your prayer partner and watch from the ramparts to see what God will do in your life.
    ~Kay Strom

  9. Loved this post. Met you in Indy. I'm praying for you. God bless you for listening to His still small voice. Thank you for your honesty. I understand.

  10. Selfishly, I'm sad. I won't lie. I've LOVED having you as my editor and my champion. But I'm also truly happy for you. I'm happy that you know yourself so well that you know when it's time to let something go. And I'm happy that you love God so much that you desire to obey His call. As the 'jury' I say "YES" you've told us the truth! Rest up. God definitely has big plans for you. And I can't wait to hear all about it!

  11. Barbara, I join with you about praying and promoting Christian fiction. You have done a wonderful job of developing Abingdon Press fiction into a good line. I applaud your efforts. (And you bought books from some of the people I've mentored.)

    God bless you as you take a rest and prepare for the next exciting thing God is going to put into your life.

  12. There are few things in life more beautiful than a child of God following the will of God even when the path ahead is unlit. You poured ten years of work into these past two years of service at Abingdon. You gathered around you a family of authors whose lives you influenced so deeply that they now consider you a sister to protect, love, pray for, and write into our family reunions. May your every need be met richly in Christ Jesus and those still waters wash over and refresh you. We love you, Barbara.

  13. Ah, Barbara, what a gut-wrenching decision that must have been. I know Abingdon will miss you beyond words, and it's obvious from the posts above your writers will miss you just as much. I hope that doesn't mean you will quit blogging, too (from a purely selfish standpoint).
    So, as a member of the jury, I find you innocent of charges of---ummmm, what were the charges?
    Wow, Cynthia--no wonder your writing stands out so well--because your writing stands out. Ditto what you said.

  14. For the last week, starting during a conversation with someone just before church last Sunday, I keep getting these verses that won't leave me alone.

    It's 1 Corinthians 2:9-10:

    What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
    what God has prepared for those who love him"—

    these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God

    I know this is for others--for the lady I spoke with at church last week--maybe even someone here. But I just realized they're for me, too.

    I will pray with you!

  15. Wow. I'm proud of you. It's a tough decision to move on when you've worked so hard at something . . . especially when you are not sure where God is taking you.

    I will pray for you, for Abingdon, and of course for the Christian Publishing Industry.

  16. Thanks for sharing this, Barbara. My prayers are with you as you step out in faith, and what a testimony!! You just don't know how your example may motivate others to also take a big step in faith. ~I was honored to meet you in MN at the ACFW conference in Sept. 08, and I liked you right away. I'm sure you've touched many lives and will continue to do so. Blessings as you embark on a new journey. ~ Patti Jo Moore

  17. I admire you for following the Lord obediently. We've had to make similar decisions over the years. Can't tell you it was always a smooth and easy transition, but I CAN tell you that the Lord has always, always been faithful. He knows the plans He has for us--plans for good and not calamity, to give us a future and a hope. And He does restore "the years the locusts have eaten." Knowing that He's there, that He cares enough to craft a plan for you as an individual child of His, that small as each of us is, we have a place in His purpose--that is precious.

    I'll be praying for you as He leads you to your next fruitful field, and for the direction of the Christian publishing industry as a whole. I sense that we stand on the cusp of great opportunities. May God richly bless you!

  18. Barbara,

    I'm quite confident God will use you in a mighty way, be it in a time of rest and meditation, or to breath life, inspiration and creativity into the next port which awaits your unique talents and sensitivities.

  19. So many have already expressed themselves so eloquently. What else can I add? Thank you, Barbara for being a wonderful and caring shepherd. Working with you has been wonderful. Getting to know you as a person has been even better. I look forward to a long, continued friendship, regardless of which road the Lord takes you down. May you and Mike be blessed beyond measure... and Riley, too :+}

  20. Such a hard decision to come to, but God is good and has great plans for you. I prayed at my computer this morning for the Christian Book Industry and again on my drive to work. I do hope you'll continue your blog. It's a joy and inspiration to read.

  21. You've been a wonderful editor, Barbara, but I do understand the need to regroup. My prayers will continue for you and Mike.

  22. Barbara, I don't have much to add, but want to thank you for believing in my writing. Right now I feel as far out in left field as I ever have, but I take comfort in knowing God cares. With my tiny faith in Him, disappointment is easier to bear, broken dreams are kept from turning to dust. I pray your path is illuminated with each new step you take. Extreme blessings upon you and those who've become this Abingdon family. Linda S. Clare

  23. Dear ones, I never cease to be amazed at your response when the topic of my post is God-inspired rather than me-inspired! My flesh is weak, and it would not be my desire to crawl out of bed at four in the morning to find a corner in a deserted hotel breakfast room to write.

    What could I have written on other mornings had I not turned over in bed too tired to answer God's call? And there have been many of those mornings. Yet the Lord keeps calling just as He called to the boy Samuel (1 Samuel 3).

    Change is coming. What it is, I do not know. This I do know, the Lord told me to start this blog, and I will continue to post until He tells me to stop. Lord, help me to listen and to say, "Speak, for your servant hears."

    And Linda, I know for a fact that He speaks loudest out in left field. Look up because He may knock the next homerun in your direction.

    "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen" (Jude 1:24-25 KJV).

  24. Barbara, I'm glad I saw this post. It confirmed what I was feeling in my spirit. I wish I had your faith to step out like that. You have been such a wonderful blessing and I'm looking forward to seeing what God does in your life next.

  25. Barbara, I'll be praying for you, Abingdon, and the entire Christian publishing industry. You will deeply missed at Abingdon, but I can't wait to see what God has in store for you next. I'm sure it will be better than any of us can imagine. It usually is.

    P.S. Was your lawyer asleep or something? He really should have objected to at least half of those questions.

  26. Just read your post now, Barbara, and am recovering from the impact because during the time you've developed Abingdon's fiction line, it has felt as if you have been here forever cheering on your authors and dispensing welcome wisdom. And now your act of marching forth in faith into the unknown ... yes, God is calling on more of us to do the same thing. You lead by example. We celebrate your freedom and pray for your delivery into a new journey with God as you heal and meditate and prepare for the next "mission."

  27. Having just met you at ACFW, I will stay-tuned to this blog. Thank you for being a living reminder to follow others (you) as they follow Christ. Sometimes we're going to end up going in unexpected directions, but we'll go with God's assurance.
    Praying for you.

  28. Wow, I did not meet you at the conference, but I wish I had.

    We are all called to follow - so many of us get in the way.

    My prayers are with you as you stay in step with God's leading in your life.

  29. Barbara, I only know you from this blog and I follow it because it always seems to speak to me. I also have Fibroyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and I have been very sick recently and have had to make some big changes. I know God is with me in the changes, and leading me. It is encouraging to hear of your courage to embrace change, even when you don't know what's next.

    I will keep you in prayer, and the Christian book industry as well.

  30. Sorry the house hasn't sold. I have two sisters that live around Grand Rapids and it is a beautiful area. I wish you Godspeed.

  31. There's not a lot I can add that would be different from the feelings that have been expressed so far. For years I have been praying and will continue to pray for the Christian book industry, and its direction.

    I love you dearly as a friend and editor, and am excited to see what happens as you move into the next chapter of the story that God is writing on your life.

    Have you contemplated moving back home to Michigan?

  32. This is very exciting, stepping out to see what the Lord will do next. Sounds like you'll have a lot more time to pray.

    And you're challenging all of us to step out in faith too! Let's see what the Lord is going to do through all of us! What an exciting time!

  33. God calls us in many different ways, and I pray that you find the courage to step out in faith, and heed that calling.

    This is very exciting for you,move forth and seek what God has waiting.