There is a story behind the story. There always is. I had a miracle in my life. Actually, more than one, but the extremely premature birth of my daughter, was the one that shook my world. While my daughter, Faith, was in the hospital struggling to survive, I was taking notes just to keep things straight, as there was a lot of information flying at us very quickly. A few years went by and I attempted to assemble the notes and my memories into a book. I’d written a lot of books and articles for teachers and kids, but this was the hardest thing I’d ever tried to write. Eventually though, I had a manuscript. This was about 2006. Through one of my editors I found a wonderful agent for the book, Rosalie Siegel. She had been a preemie herself and really appreciated the story.
Rosalie did a great job getting the manuscript to the final table at a number of top-notch Christian publishing houses. The word that came back each time was that they loved the story, loved the writing, but wondered who I was. Did I have a following? Had I been on television? Did I have a blog?
The answer was uniformly no. I was a writer who specialized in books on teaching elementary math. I was not an expert in neonatology or theology, nor was I about to become one. What was there for me to blog about?
The publishers, on hearing this, decided to pass. If I was Charles Barkley writing this book about a preemie birth, they would be on board. But with no built-in fan base to rely on for a potential market, they were unwilling to take a chance.
So, I let the book lie. Every year or two, I would take it out again and work on it for a few months. Each time when I thought I was done, I would read it again and feel it was not good enough. It could always be better. It was a slow process and I began to wonder if it would ever actually be finished.
Then 2019 rolled around. Three years earlier my wife, Karen and I had moved south and joined Hilton Head Island Community Church in Hilton Head, South Carolina. As a church we began to read Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge. Someone once mentioned to me that when you are reading Psalms in the Bible, just for fun, you should pick out the Psalm number that matches your birthday and that is your psalm. I was born on July 27 (never mind the year!) so for me, it was Psalm 27. I figured let me try the same thing with Batterson’s book. I started reading chapter 27. Here’s how that chapter starts: “For thirteen years I was a frustrated writer. I had a half-dozen half-finished manuscripts on my computer, but I couldn’t seem to finish a book.”
What?! Wow! It was like he wrote that chapter for me. He was in that desert for thirteen years. Oh, coincidence that 2019 was the thirteenth year for me on this book too? I think not. I finished the chapter then went back and began reading a chapter a day for forty days. I learned about circling our requests to God in prayer and I began to circle this book in prayer in earnest. Every day.
During the second week of circling the book in prayer, I was at our Wednesday night church Roots meeting. In this group we focus on the sermon from Sunday and go deeper in a small group setting. Someone posed the question, “Have you ever had God break into your life in a miraculous way?” Everyone had a story. Incredible, moving, poignant stories. I had mine, which was the basis of this book.
And it hit me right then. I knew what I could blog about. Miracles! That’s what this book is about. A miracle. I would interview people and share their miracle stories on a blog.
In the meantime, my son, Andrew, once a newspaper photojournalist, had just completed his second year of a new job as social media manager for Elon University. I ran the miracle blog idea by him, and he was very positive and kept using the word “we” as he talked about how “we” would link this up with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
I told my daughter, Faith, about it. She had been doing interviews for StoryCorps, heard on National Public Radio, and is now a search engine optimization specialist. She was on board for interviewing folks in Colorado, where she now lives.
My wife, Karen, had been very reluctant to read the book over the years. It was too emotional. I couldn’t put it out there though, until she read it. Since we’d moved to HHICC, her faith had strengthened, and she finally mustered the power to read it and offer great editing notes in a very short period of time. What could be better than to have your whole family working together to spread God’s Word? Amazing.
As I circled the book and the blog in prayer, my writing and editing also became stronger. It was finally going to be worthy as an offering to God. It was all coming together. In God’s time. I just had to be a little patient. Like for thirteen years.
As I finished up the writing, I discovered the book, Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life by Eric Metaxas, another incredible inspiration and confirmation of the need to share God’s amazing work through the book and the blog.
Even though we now have a way to build a following with the blog, I decided not to continue to pursue publishing with a traditional house even if a good-size fan base is established. This was a humbling experience. Most authors I know who have been published by a big-name publisher look down on self-publishers. I know I did. However, since all proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to charities (read about them here on the site), I figured the more money we kept, the more God would get for His work. I could use a little humility anyway. So that’s how we went this route and began Belief Books.
What a blessing it has all been to write this, and for God to have given me a new job in helping to spread His Word. I am very thankful. Psalms 96:3 says, “Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does.” And that’s exactly what I hope to do here.
May God bless you,