For some time I have wanted to write a post with some details about how my book, God Gives More Grace, came into being. I am excited about its upcoming Spring release. The publication of this work serves as a constant reminder to me of God’s goodness and guidance in my life, as well as His providence over the years.
I guess, as with any good story, we should probably start at the beginning. I will be the first to admit that I never would have imagined that I would write a book, much less write a book that someone would want to publish! To start with, as a child, I had difficulty reading. I remember learning to read in 1st Grade with my teacher, Mr. Palmer. Mr. Palmer was a fun teacher. He had a moose with gold, silver, and bronze medals draped over its antlers hanging on the wall in his classroom. Students were permitted to wear the medals when they scored well on a test, or did something commendable. It was in Mr. Palmer’s class that I first learned to read.
However, reading was not a skill that came easily for me. Throughout elementary school, I had trouble reading. I could not read very smoothly out loud (something I still have to work very hard at), and frankly I did not enjoy reading all that much. While in 4th grade, my lack of ability concerned my teachers enough to send me to a reading specialist for a few hours during school each week. Though this helped, I assume, I never considered myself to be a strong reader, and English was always my least favorite subject. When people asked me which subjects I liked the best, English was always on the bottom of the list. I liked History, Science and Math–in that order. English came a distance fourth. I really don’t remember much of the instruction in my English classes. I am certain though, a lot rubbed off on me, and over the years I began to gain a better feel for what constituted good writing, but honestly, I could never tell you why the writing was good or bad. I think my public school education helped me appreciate the art of language. But, by the time I finished my sophomore year of high school, I would not have been able to pick out a noun, verb, or adjective in a sentence. And forget about adverbs, participles, or infinitives. I didn’t know anything about English grammar. And this is where my time in a Christian School really helped.
If the public school system emphasized the “art”of language, Christian schools seemed to emphasize the “science” of language. I was totally unprepared for my 11th Grade English class in a Christian school. For a guy who did not know what a verb was, looking at a diagram of a sentence (something I have never seen in my life) was like staring at a foreign language. I had no idea what they were talking about. While everyone else in the class was pumping out diagrams, I was stuck trying to figure out what a verb was. It made for an interesting year. I am thankful for the help (and patience) of my 11th Grade English teacher, Mrs. Skogen.
So, attending both a public and a Christian school gave me an appreciation for the art and science of language. But, even if my understanding of English had grown, my enjoyment of it had not. I was extremely glad once I made it through my first year of college (and got all of the freshman liberal arts courses out of the way) so I would not have to take another English course for the rest of my life. What I did not realize is that over the course of the next decade, God would use professors to help refine my writing. I remember one professor in particular. I was taking a course on the History of American Evangelicalism (I believe), and I had a paper I was working on throughout the semester. Though I may not have appreciated it at the time, my professor not only had a deep theological mind, he was also a stickler for English. He, probably more than any other professor, constantly challenged me to be “clear and concise” in my writing. Even after I had re-written a section, he would tear my writing apart and remind me to be “clear and concise.” And what was amazing–when I saw the red markings all over the page, I began to see what he was talking about. Even though it was not designated as an English class, I probably learned more about the importance of writing in a clear, concise manner in that single class than in a dozen years of English.
Looking back, I am grateful for the teachers who have invested in my life over the years. Though not always appreciated, their labors were not in vain. In the next part of my book’s journey I will explain how the idea for this book formed and a bit of the writing process. Stay tuned!