More Than One Way to Pitch a Book

I had just arrived at the Write to Publish Conference in Wheaton, IL, and placed my book, The Cheesehead Devotional, on the consignment table. A man named Bob Hostetler picked up a copy.  I said, “That’s my book”, excited that already someone was buying it, or so I thought.

He replied, “I’m going to pitch it tonight.”  I was pleased, noting he held several books in his arms.  We chatted a few minutes and then I hurried off to my first workshop of the conference.  When I arrived for the evening meeting, I learned that Bob Hostetler was the featured speaker for the conference.  He’s co-authored several books with Josh McDowell and written many other well-known books and articles.

His message was to not allow discouragement to keep us from writing what God has called us to write.  He showed humorously how comparing ourselves to other writers is not helpful.  He began picking up books of workshop speakers and making comments on how his books just didn’t compare.  His comments brought lots of laughter.  Then he picked up my book and said, “Now Judy here has written The Cheesehead Devotional . . . That is just wrong!!!” and threw (pitched) it across the room!  It was absolutely hilarious — everyone roared, including me.  I was so surprised, but I so understand that non-Packer fans have their issues. I found out later that Bob is a Bengals fan — explains it.

The next day, I told him, “Bob, I’m going to use your name — that you pitched my book.  You told me you’d pitch it and you did.”

He replied, “Judy, you can tell them I was compelled.”

I added, “And it was a big hit.”

The humor surrounding my book continued throughout the week.  The director of the conference listed the titles of Bob’s books one evening before he came up to speak.  When she got to the book, “Quit Going to Church”, she paused, then said, “Now that’s just wrong!” and threw it on the floor.  Again, it brought the house down.

At the editor’s panel, editors were asked to describe the type of books they were looking for.   Eddie Jones, senior editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, who published my book, explained that they published devotionals that addressed a particular niche or specific wound. He went on to mention my book saying that it addressed the particular niche of the Green Bay Packers.  Another editor leaned over to his microphone and added, “Or a specific wound”. Again, a ton of laughter.  I don’t remember his favorite team, but obviously not the Packers. A small football war beginning??

To cap off a great conference with wonderful teaching, great networking, new friends, and so much laughter, I received the  Best New Writer 2013 award at the Saturday night banquet.  As I went up to receive the award, very surprised, one of the organizers of the conference shouted, “Now that’s just right!” I am very honored to receive the award, and thank God for all His goodness to each of us.

So if you want to pitch a book, realize there may be many wonderful results. And if you want to read the book, check it out on Amazon.

 

Those Rascally Critters!!

I had to brake for a turkey crossing the road the other day.  It was so sad.  I rather enjoy braking for deer as they are so beautiful to behold.  Yes, it’s so dangerous to hit a deer, but when it’s a turkey, I actually consider hitting it.  Turkeys came on our property once and totally demolished a bird feeder.  One flew through a neighbor’s window and almost destroyed his kitchen before destroying itself.  He came home to find the mess.

I have flower gardens, so I don’t want turkeys.  I also don’t want deer eating my flowers, and that’s one reason we have a dog.  She does a great job shooing them to the neighbors.  I apologize to them once in a while for that.  We had one dog, though, that was so mild-mannered that the deer would come up and eat his food. Wish we had a picture of it.

The creature at the top of my list of those not allowed is the red squirrel.  The grey squirrels are abundant, and my husband spends a great deal of time designing methods to keep them off the bird feeders.  Quite comical.  We even had those nocturnal flying squirrels once.  A red squirrel, though, is destructive.  They have gotten into our shed and shredded things as well as chewing up a seat in the boat.  Plus, they chatter.

I decided to follow Jesus’ example when He spoke to the fig tree and told it that no one would eat its fruit again. The next day it was dried up from its roots.  So, I started talking to the red squirrels.  I told them that they were to no longer live on my property, that it was not their home, that they needed to go somewhere else and have a happy life, but they were not to remain on my property.  I didn’t yell, I just spoke very firmly.  It took about five weeks, but they left.  The next year it only took two or three weeks with those that came.

I think we went a couple years with no sign of red squirrels.  Then two years ago, one came and he was sassy.  He would chatter at me when I was outside like he was telling me to get lost.  I calmly told him to leave as it was my property, not his.  I did throw a couple rocks at him — he was really annoying.

About the same time a raccoon visited.  Now I kind of like raccoons.  My brother and a friend found two baby raccoons next to their mother who had been hit by a car.  Each took one home.  My brother named ours Yunior.  Yunior would walk down the sidewalk between my brother’s feet.  Mom would not let Yunior in the house but Grandma would.  Her house was old and had pipes outside the walls.  At the joints of the pipes there were drips so she kept a pan there to catch the water.  We would give Yunior crackers and he would wash them in the pans.  We kept him in a dog house with a cage outside its door.  My cousin and I would lay on the ground with our heads against the cage and let Yunior play with our hair.

My husband, however, was not quite so fond of raccoons and borrowed a live trap from a friend.  He put some bread in it and placed it behind our little pond about 30 feet from our door.  The next morning he woke me to tell me we got the raccoon.  I ran downstairs and opened the door to see it.  As it lifted his head, I was saying, “Oh aren’t you cute.  Wait, you are not cute.  Lee, it’s not a raccoon, it’s an opossum.”  We laughed and went out to see it.  By then it was trying to play dead, so we joked that we could no longer see it.  Lee loaded the cage into the car, drove to the other side of the peninsula and released it.  We were hoping that someone over there wasn’t catching critters and bringing them over by us and releasing them.

That night, Lee put some meat in the live trap and the next morning the young raccoon was in there.  Now, he was cute.  I love those little bandit faces and inquisitive eyes.  This time, I went with Lee to drop the little guy on  the other side of the peninsula and hoped he would have a happy life.

So, mission accomplished.  Lee set the trap out where it had been and we thought no more about it until the next morning.  Our dog was going nuts out by the trap.  I went out and who would be there, but little Mr. Chattering Red Squirrel.  I tried to contain myself.  I said, “Hello, Mr. Red Squirrel.  I think we had a talk about this, that you needed to leave, so I’m glad you have accommodated us so nicely.  I hope that you have a long and happy life where we take you.  You could have left yourself, but, as I told you, this is not your home anymore.  I do apologize for throwing the rocks at you.  That was not my best moment.  But, having said that, it is time to say goodbye.”  Yes, Lee took him across the peninsula.  We wondered if we should have banded them all to see if they came back, but we’ve had no opossums, raccoons, and thankfully, no red squirrels or turkeys since then.

Spring has just sprung and I am looking forward to sitting out on my patio by our little pond and viewing only birds and grey squirrels.  I may have to exercise my faith and authority again, but in the meantime I will be content to see raccoons, opossum, deer, turkeys, and red squirrels at places other than my property.  I will continue to talk to the animals.  They listen.  And, if need be, I will tell them where they cannot be.

Our voice of authority is a real voice.  It is, of course, for more important things in our life than just pesky animals, but animals provide great practice and some funny stories.  Read Mark 11 and learn how important what you say is.

 

 

Connecticut Weeping For Their Children

Playoff scenarios and Super Bowl trophies all lose their intensity and importance in the light of the Connecticut horror of little ones gunned down.  Precious lives lost for no reason.  The gunmen had his reasons, I’m sure, but not one of them made sense and every one of those reasons were evil.  Herod killed innocents under the age of two to ‘protect’  his position of king. It didn’t work.  Bethlehem must have felt like New Town feels today.  Matthew 2:18 says “Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more.”

Today, parents, families, communities are shattered.  I cannot imagine the grief.  As a teacher, I can see those cute, noisy, curious kindergarten classes, and I wonder where I would have been with my 5th graders as a scene like that unfolded.  We would have been huddled in lock down.  Part of me thinks I’d just take the screen out of the window, get everyone out and run.  I know I would not have followed the separation of church and state jargon so prevalent today.  I would have prayed out loud and fervently and led my students in prayer.  As a mother, I can imagine the fear as the news broke and wanting to go and get my kids and hold them tight.  These things should not be happening in our schools.

After Columbine, a lady who was a giant in prayer said we should walk around our schools daily and plead the blood of Jesus.  It’s an old expression and odd to some.  Jesus shed His blood and died to give us life, wholeness, protection, healing. The wine and bread of communion commemorate that His blood was shed (wine) and His body broken (bread).  When we ‘plead the blood of Jesus’, we are praying a wall or covering of protection over something.  The Bible says and science knows that life is in the blood.  How much more in Jesus blood.

And pleading here is not begging God’s protection.  It’s proclaiming God’s protection.  It’s putting up a wall that Satan, the author of evil, can’t cross.  When we pray that way, we take authority as God’s sons and daughters, which is what we should be doing.  I think we have let that slip and now twenty sweet lives are gone, and families are heart broken beyond understanding.  Let us pray God’s comfort and strength for those families and that community, and let’s gird this nation up in the prayer of protection.

Worship Like a Dog

We all love our dogs.  Well, most of the time.  They can drive us nuts, but we usually enjoy telling the stories of how they drive us nuts.  Not many of us realize how God connects our love for Him to the way dogs act.  We know we behave like sheep, but dogs!?

Several years ago I did a study on the word ‘worship’.  I discovered that one of the common Greek words for worship was ‘proskuneo’.  This word is made up of two Greek words.  ‘Pros’ simply means toward, forward, or pertaining to, while ‘kuon’ means dog — the noun, a hound, the animal, dog.  The ‘eo’ at the end makes it an action verb.  Most commentaries indicate worship is the action of a dog in submission to his master as in laying or bowing at his feet and licking his hand.  That certainly is one definition of how a dog behaves toward his master. 

However, most dogs I’ve owned didn’t behave that way on a regular basis.  Instead, they go nuts when I walk in the room.  They run to me, sometimes they jump, they get excited, and they are generally thrilled to be around me.  They want food,  want play, or just want attention.  How many of us love to be greeted by the dog when we come home from work, because it’s just pure devotion?  Have you ever noticed that with some dogs, you get the same enthusiasm if you’ve  been gone five minutes or five hours?  Dogs delight to be in the presence of their masters and they show it with their whole bodies.  I believe that is the true expression of worship.

Are you delighted with the presence of your Lord?  Are you ready to dance, and without embarrassment, when you know He is near.  Of course, we can bow quietly in complete submission, but we can also jump up and down for joy.

Another place where dog is mentioned in the Bible is when Mephibosheth is brought to King David and  is sure that David will kill him, because he is the last descendant of Jonathan.  Mephibosheth said, “What will you do to a dead dog such as I?”  He had been crippled years before as the family sought to flee after hearing that both Saul and Jonathan had been killed by David’s men.  The young boy was raised fearing for his life if David should ever find him, and sure enough, David found him.  David was not planning to kill him, though, for he had entered into a blood covenant with Jonathan. That meant that all the one had belonged to the other and vice versa.  David longed to find Jonathan’s offspring to show kindness and continue the covenant.  He had Mephibosheth move to the palace and eat at the King’s table as his son.  Lands and servants became his.  All those years in hiding, thinking he was a dead dog, when he really was the King’s son.

How many of us have thought God was angry with us, that He would just as soon get rid of us as be bothered by us?  We think we are dead dogs in His sight.  In reality, God loves us, wants to show kindness to us, and wants us to live in His presence on a daily basis?

Maybe this is why dogs are man’s best friend, because man is God’s best friend.  Let’s act more like our own dogs rather than dead dogs.  God loves you more than you love your own dog, so be free to dance and jump and worship with all that you are.  God will enjoy it as much as you.

 

Luke Sheets

I could not believe I was googling this, but I had to know.  As my thoughts screamed that it could not be, one thought said clearly to me, “But, he is with Jesus.”  “Yes, he is,” I said softly.  Then louder I said, “Maybe he wasn’t the pilot.”  By now, I had typed, ‘Luke Sheets killed in plane crash’.  It was an oxymoron –  Luke was a meticulous pilot, responsible, thorough, intelligent.  Of all people, this couldn’t happen to Luke.  My voice shook as I saw the news articles line up with the words  ’Luke Sheets, pilot, killed in plane crash’, and told my husband who was now reading over my shoulder, “Luke wasn’t the only one.  Two others died, and two are in serious condition.”  We were stunned.

Just the week before he had graduated from Oral Roberts University.  The last time we saw him at church, he helped me get my Packer widget on my phone front page, and I had just been wondering if he’d be home much this summer to use my jet ski.  For a few years, Luke and his brother, Blake, shared the use of my jet ski and would summerize, winterize, and troubleshoot it for me.  Luke was our friend, part of the family — a feeling that many in our church had. Luke had also taken my husband and me up in his plane last August for our first flight over Door County — it was amazing.  His potential was amazing, and it seemed so wrong that he was gone.  “Of all the young people I have ever known,” said my husband, Lee, “Luke impressed me the most.”  As I continued to read, I saw that everyone on that Cessna 401 was quite amazing, too, and all graduates of ORU.  They were on their way to Iowa from Tulsa to an Acquire the Fire Conference.

It was true that Luke was gone, even though everything within me screamed that it could not be.  So began the conversations with others to inform them, cry with them, pray for Luke’s family, and begin to accept that this had happened.  I stopped at the house to see Blake, Luke’s brother, who was home alone and had been the one informed by the police the night before.  He then had to inform his parents who were traveling in ministry.  They were on their way home and other family were on their way to be with Blake from the next town.  It had not yet sunk in and he knew that it would only get harder.  We hugged and talked about Luke.

It wasn’t known yet what had happened, but within a few days, the one survivor was able to shed light that the heater had malfunctioned and toxic fumes filled the cockpit, making it difficult to breath and see.  Luke made an amazing emergency descent into a field in Kansas and landed well.  As they were traversing the field trying to slow down, a wing tip touched the ground, sending the plane into a spin.  The fuselage struck a tree and burst into flame.  Luke’s roommate, a former marine, got Hannah Luce out of the plane and got both of them to a road to get help.  That brave young man had more than ninety percent of his body covered with burns and passed away the next morning.  Hannah had 28 percent burns and is undergoing skin grafts and recovering, surrounded by a great deal of prayer and love.  She had no internal injuries or lacerations, another testament to how well Luke landed the plane in dire circumstances.  It was said at his funeral that most pilots with 30 years of experience could not have done what Luke did.

The prayer is that the harvest of these four young men will be a hundred times more than it would have been had they lived.  We know they all received a heroes welcome in heaven, and we know they are worshipping at the throne of the Lamb, and that they are having a blast.  I had a little picture of Luke and Jesus sliding down a snowcovered mountain just laughing and laughing.

That Saturday of hearing the news, several of us got together for prayer in the evening as we often do on Saturday night and we talked and cried and prayed.  After a while, I finally fully entered into worship as we sang, and while in that place, I felt that Luke just leaned out over the ‘wall’ of heaven, looked down at me and said, “Good girl”.  My young friend being my advisor.  I often think of Luke and what he is doing in heaven, playing and worshipping, and know that I will see him again.  I also think of not seeing Luke again here on earth, of not calling him when my jet ski is available or not working right, of not seeing his smiling face with his parents at church, and that is painful.  I pray for his parents, brother, and extended family.  I pray for Hannah that she will recover well and declare the works of the Lord.

Luke Sheets was a good friend to so many.  We so miss him.   And, we will so see him again in heaven.

We are Packers

Here we are, enjoying Florida sunshine.  Granted, Wisconsin weather a couple weeks ago hit the 70’s, we got patio furniture out, and we began delighting in the out of doors.  Still, walking sand beaches, watching dolphins play, and leaving the door to the balcony open all day and all night is grand.  So, today it was 78 degrees.  My husband and I had just walked the north beach of Honeymoon Island, about 4 miles, and now my son and I were going back out to each lunch at the Island café and walk Dog Beach, where everyone brings their dogs.

So, why were we all sitting on the end of the bed, indoors, staring at the flat screen TV?  Because the Packers were down by 10 points, there were only 3 minutes left, and we knew they won.  We just couldn’t remember how.  Crazy?  Yes.

It was the Bengals Packers game from 1992, Brett Favre’s first game with the Packers.  First string Quarterback Don Majkowski got injured and so did back-up Ty Detmer.   New kid, Favre, came in.  He looked so young – he was so young – even Mike Holmgren looked young.  The announcer said Favre had strength, but ‘no touch’.  Still, he wowed everyone that day.

The game was 20 years ago.  It seemed I remembered listening in the car and my son kept telling me not to pound the dashboard.  I was obviously excited.

So here we sat 20 years later, when we should have been out in the sun and the dazzlingly beautiful day, watching to see how the Packers pulled it off.  We must truly bleed green and gold.  We loved it, discussed it, and actually argued as to whether the Bengal’s retry of a field goal was due to a defensive or offensive penalty.  We were into it and cheered when Kentrick Taylor got that amazing pass from Farve to tie the game.  Taylor was in because Sterling Sharpe injured his ribs.  Chris Jacke kicked the extra point to win the game after missing two earlier field goals.

Humans really are quite silly.  We laugh, watching how silly dogs can be or how goofy kids are sometimes, but I hope you can laugh at your own silliness.  I think God enjoys those quirky little characteristics we have.  After all, He made us, just like we create characters in the stories we write, and don’t we enjoy the variety of traits and quirks of the people we know.  Maybe all this just shows why my first book to be published is the Cheesehead Devotional.  I think I hear God chuckling.