The Maze of Life

I’m a big fan of Focus on the Family radio broadcasts. So much so, I subscribed to them so they automatically download into my iTunes account. Then Chris and I can listen to them via my phone in the car whenever we have a drive longer than thirty minutes. I’ve heard several interviews with Gary Chapman, Bill and Pam Ferrel (love their marriage advice) and several others. If I were a non-fiction writer, it would be my dream to be interviewed on this program.

So imagine my complete delight when I found out my friend, Joanne Kraft (author of Just Too Busy: Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical) was asked to be on this program. She informed me herself, about 18 months ago, that this was in the works. It aired this morning (which shows you how slowly things happen in the publishing world) and I sat in a surreal stupor as I listened to it. I’ve said this before: There are no coincidences.

Let me back up a moment so that maybe I can give you a taste of how God works quite often in my life. April of 2009, I attended the Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference for the second time. It was only a couple months after my brother’s suicide and two days after my father’s death. Suffice it to say, I was quite a wreck. The only saving grace for me was that I was rooming with a wonderful woman whom I’d befriended the year before—that made up for the fact that the third roommate was a complete stranger. That woman ended up being Joanne.

It took all of five seconds for me to see what a force of life Joanne is. Vibrant, funny (she shares my love for sarcasm) and passionate. Her passion was for her family—four kids and a husband she adores. She had no difficulty pitching her parenting articles, and sold quite a few in the five-day conference. She showed me one, The Care and Feeding of Your Ogre, which she sold to In Touch magazine. I saw it in my copy the following February, which prompted me to email her by way of congratulations. She, living only an hour away, invited me to meet her for coffee so she could encourage me, as we were preparing for another year at the conference.

Although we didn’t room together at Mount Hermon that year, we did meet for walks and hung out some. She was there with Inspire Christian Writers—and asked me if I wanted to join. I did. That year at the conference, she received a contract for her aforementioned book. I was blessed and honored to be a (small) part of the critique group that helped her with revisions. I’ve watched her struggle with the marketing nightmare (often wondering if it’s worth it) and how God’s worked in her life through this book. And yes, if God puts a book on one’s heart, glorifying Him is worth it, no matter how difficult it might be.

Last summer, Joanne and her family moved to Tennessee. I’ve had limited connection with her, but she’s never been far from my mind and heart. Recently, my son, Christopher, asked me where he could find a mentor for his non-fiction writing. I immediately thought of Joanne, and without her permission, gave him her email (sorry Joanne!) She not only emailed him back, but she called him and talked to him for more than an hour, with the intention of continuing their newly-found relationship. Joanne didn’t know Christopher, although she new of him, yet still didn’t hesitate to reach out to him.

I don’t know what that relationship will yield—my Jesus-freak friend and self-professed-atheist son—but I know God’s hand is in this, as always. Isn’t it amazing to see how God works in our lives? Twists and turns, that from our perspective often don’t make sense, but from His—it’s an utter thing of beauty.

I urge you to listen to Joanne’s broadcast, whether you have children at home or not. I laughed, cheered and cried at her profound words. She not only discusses parenthood, but she talked about marriage and her own relationship with her now-deceased mom, which touched that missing-mom place in my own heart.

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