Karen Kingsbury and Me
I have been telling stories for as long as I can remember. At age 12, I decided I wanted to write a novel. Money from my job at the Ella Sharp Park Golf Course—which I held for two summers, when I was 14 and 15—paid for my first membership in the Writer’s Digest Book Club. The first writing competition I entered was at the state-wide Pentecostal Young People’s Association convention in 1992. I won first place and had the honor of representing Michigan at the national convention.
That PYPA convention really cemented the idea that writing was more than just a fun hobby for me—it was a gift from God that I needed to use for His glory.
Only I was not sure how to do that.
At that time, there were few Christian fiction books that I could get my hands in. In my late teens I discovered Frank Perretti (Prophet remains one of my all-time favorite novels!) and then discovered the Left Behind series of books during my early twenties. While these books were all amazing, they were not anything I could ever see myself writing. My stories all seemed more like Christian chick flicks in book form. Where could that possibly fit in?
In 2006, a friend I met on-line suggested I look for Karen Kingsbury at the local library. “Which one?” I asked. “It doesn’t matter,” my friend told me. “If Karen wrote it, it is worth reading.”
The book I found was Rejoice. I didn’t realize it was the fourth book in a series. Had I know, I probably would not have read it. But my friend was so right. The book was AWESOME! Finding out there were more books about the Baxter family thrilled me to no end. I couldn’t wait to read more.
Each one of Karen’s books has touched my heart in its own way. I am listing here just a few that really stand out for me. I hope that one day I will be able to touch one heart with my writing the way Karen’s words have touched mine.
I’m glad that God sent you the courage to jump off the merry-go-round of super-responsibility and back to your dream of writing. I can see that you have a gift for telling stories.
I’m certainly grateful that I live in this time. When my mother was young, she went through the Depression, which taught her about scarcity and lack. And, as most women of 1940, the instant she married my father, she was his servant. He was a petty tyrant, and sometimes, not so minor a tyrant, and she reacted with anger but had no place to go for help.
My mother, like her older sisters, had artistic talent, and she took courses in drawing, oil painting, and sculpture. Like most of the women–even wealthy women–she had little time or freedom to engage in her personal interests and talents. It was considered selfish and indulgent for a woman to think about her own needs instead of her husband’s or children’s. We found her art work packed away in the garage when she was in her 50s. It was sad, and I think it broke her heart. She was a frustrated, disappointed woman.
My grandfather (my mother’s father) and great-grandfather emigrated from Lithuania to the U.S. at the end of the 20th century. My grandfather, the oldest son, worked very hard to earn enough money to bring his eight siblings and mother to this country. Eventually, the whole family was together in Cleveland.
The youngest son, Zorach, was only five years old when he arrived in the U.S. Zorach had true artistic talent. He worked for a lithographer who encouraged him to go to art school. He had the courage and drive to get training in art, although his family strongly disapproved. In the 1920s, somehow he got enough money to go to art school in Paris. I heard that he wrote home asking for money, which my grandfather reluctantly sent to him. Zorach fell in love with another young artist from California, and they were married some years later. My uncle and aunt were poor until first her work began to sell and then his work sold too. They were Marguerite and William Zorach. They had a son and daughter. They limited the son to the world of business where he did very well. Their daughter Dahlov Ipcar had the freedom to study where she wanted and to become an artist and children’s book writer. Dahlov lives in Maine; she is almost 93–the same age my mother would be if she were still alive.
When he was in his 70s, my grandfather dictated the story about living in Lithuania and coming to America. My Aunt Jean typed it and distributed copies to family members. I’m glad that we have that window into the past. If anyone would like to read that story or others, please check out my website to email me.
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Belmont, MA 02478