Enjoy meeting Christian Author Network members on their personal blogs as you seek clues for the chance to win our grand prize: 26 free books, one from each participating CAN author! Check out 26 stops, each featuring a different CAN author, many featuring additional prizes or giveaways! Catch us on this hunt July 17-23, 2016. The winner will be announced July 25, 2016.
How it works:
- Make sure you start on the Christian Authors Network website!
- Hop from the first blog post to the next and continue through to the last one.
- Each post will contain a short phrase. (Mine is in bold red below)
- Contestants will string the phrases together in order.
- The winner will win the grand prize of 26 books.
- FYI: The phrase will be clearly marked, but may be difficult to find (Mine is in bold red below).
My guest today is multi-published author and popular speaker Dianne Barker! Dianne is the bestselling author of nonfiction books that span from biographies to marriage to organization. I think you’ll enjoy what Dianne has to share with us today. Also, Dianne is giving away a copy of her book I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life! See below for details.
Sarah: Thank you for joining the CAN Scavenger Hunt, Dianne! Visiting your website, something stood out to me—faithfulness. You’ve been faithful in your writing career, faithful in your speaking career, faithful to a long marriage, and faithful to the Lord. How would you encourage others to develop faithfulness in their lives?
Dianne: I’d say, “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (1 Chronicles 16:11). If pleasing the Lord is our highest priority, that settles other issues. At age seven I gave my life to Christ. As a teenager I had a desire to write and landed my dream job at 18, working part-time at our local newspaper, the Johnson City Press-Chronicle, while attending college. After graduation I explored several opportunities offering higher pay, but I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. Too young to recognize writing was God’s call on my life, I stayed at the newspaper—knowing only that I loved my career. I couldn’t imagine the amazing life the Lord had planned.
I met Dr. Sherwood W. Wirt, founding editor of Decision, at the magazine’s School of Christian Writing. A year later Billy Graham held a crusade in Knoxville, Tennessee (which made national headlines with the visit of President Richard Nixon). I covered the crusade for my newspaper and reconnected with Dr. Wirt. Through his influence, I was chosen by the crusade’s executive committee to write a commemorative book, Billy Graham in Big Orange Country—my first book…at 24.
Vietnam hero Clebe McClary saw the book and asked me to write his story, Living Proof. He introduced me to a high-school friend, Harold Morris, who was in Georgia State Penitentiary serving a double-life sentence for armed robbery and murder. Innocent, he was convicted by the false testimony of two companions. After being miraculously paroled, he spoke to youth groups throughout the country warning them about the dangers of wrong associations. A tape of his testimony reached Dr. James Dobson, who used it on his Focus on the Family radio broadcast. The program received the greatest response in its history. Shortly after that Harold was diagnosed with throat cancer. For years I’d encouraged him to let me write his story. While recovering from surgery and treatment, he decided a book could continue having an impact on young people, whatever the outcome of his illness. Dr. Dobson, who had offered to help us find a publisher, launched Focus on the Family Publishing with Twice Pardoned, a # 1 national Christian bestseller in 1986 (30 years later, 1.5 million copies in print). My part was simply following Jesus and the impressions he put in my heart.
When I was just 16 he led me to the young man I’d marry three years later, and we celebrated our Golden Anniversary last 9/11. Through every challenge, our commitment to Christ has kept our marriage strong. How could I not be faithful to such an incredible Lord?
Sarah: What’s the most common advice you give to young couples?
Dianne: The problem isn’t making your marriage work. It’s making your Christianity work. The Bible doesn’t give us a list, “Ten Commandments for a Flourishing Marriage.” But it gives us abundant relationship principles for living as a committed Christ-follower. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up…Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger…Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (see Eph. 4:26-32). Putting God’s truth into practice—applying these principles to daily life—is key to making our Christianity work…key to a flourishing marriage. The Lord surprised me with a mentoring ministry, sending to my door young wives seeking marriage advice. Identifying with their challenges, I related experiences from my marriage and explained how applying biblical truths changed the situation and nourished the relationship. That gentle teaching fills my forthcoming book, Help! I’m Stuck and I Can’t Get Out! The Maximum Marriage Maintenance and Repair Kit.
Dianne: Having a # 1 national Christian bestseller is as good as it gets. But after the success of Twice Pardoned, the Lord gradually led me away from my public life as successful journalist and bestselling author to what I call a “shrunken life.” I spent the next fifteen years out of the publishing loop, taking care of my parents and my husband’s parents as they declined in health, and getting our two children through high school and college. During that time the Lord gave me an amazing gift: peace that I was where I was supposed to be doing what He had designed, and a promise that someday he would enlarge my life again. Those were precious years, getting to know my Savior’s heart and learning to rest in His everlasting arms.
By 2001 the kids had left the nest and our parents were in heaven. Much had changed in publishing during my absence. I began reinventing myself by attending writing conferences and seizing opportunities—submitting magazine articles and writing guest blog posts. I self-published two books: Cabbages and Kings—Reflections on Living Abundantly in Christ (a collection of columns originally published in my newspaper column) and I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life.
To silence that subtle whisper, “Who cares what you think?” I encouraged myself (remember, King David did that). I printed a reminder that remains above my keyboard: “It’s good…and God is in it.” About three years ago the Lord surprised me with a weekly radio program, “At the Library” (featuring author interviews) on the Christian station WHCB (Saturdays at 3:30 p.m.) www.whcbradio.org. Truth cushions the bumpy rollercoaster ride: God has a purpose—in the ups and the downs—and He loves surprises.
Sarah: I’ve found the Christian Author’s Network to be a wonderfully supportive association. What do you like about belonging to CAN?
Dianne: For most of my writing career I’ve been going it alone. I had no idea there was a group of Christian authors who encourage, pray for, and generously invest in each other. I’ve learned much from these amazing authors and received numerous writing opportunities. CAN members are an amazing resource for anything I need to know about the publishing industry. What an honor to call these accomplished authors my friends!
Sarah: If you had a theme Bible verse for your writing and speaking ministries, what would it be—and why?
Dianne: “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17). Discouragement is a persistent enemy. I fight it with truth. Nothing is too hard for God. And I love spreading encouragement in my monthly post (third Monday) on the CAN blog.
Before you leave, Dianne is graciously giving away a copy of her book, I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life (Don’t you love that title?). To enter, please leave a comment below. If unable to leave a comment, please send me an email to enter. Giveaway ends July 23, 2016 at midnight Eastern Time. The winner will be posted here, July 25, 2016. Due to shipping costs and international regulations, US only please.
On to the Next Stop!
Thanks for visiting! Now on to the next stop on the hunt…please visit Dianne’s website for CAN Scavenger Hunt Stop #9 and our next author!