Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Grandma, the Book & the Award

It's not often I can look back over my life and see a series of events unfolded in a way I might have written them in a novel (and perhaps been called on the "coincidence"  or contrivance of it). But I was coming to my desk a moment ago for my day of writing and glanced up to where I have the Christy Awards my debut novel Burning Sky won back in June arranged on the shelf above my work space, along with a photo of my grandmother.

Why a photo of my grandmother?

When I was a girl, Margaret Johnson, my Dad's mom, sent me a copy of the book Christy for Christmas (she lived in California, I lived in Maryland). I might have been about twelve. Too young to appreciate the book at that time. But I did love books, and reading, just not this book, right then. So it found a home on my bookshelf for a couple of years before I gave it another try. And was swept away to early 20th century Appalachia, with a courageous and naive young woman who thought she could march into those isolated coves and teach children how to read, never knowing what obstacles she would face. Never knowing that love--God's, and a woman's, and a man's--awaited her.

I enjoyed Christy so much I sent my grandmother a much more heartfelt thank you note after I finished it than the one I no doubt sent the Christmas she gave the gift.

At this time I had long since forgotten that, years earlier, I'd sent my grandmother my very first story (I've shared about it on my Facebook Author Page, scroll back to July 16 posts to see and read it). When I started writing again in my early twenties, my grandmother, through our exchange of letters over the years, became a source of encouragement, a real cheerleader, for my efforts. She cheered me on through my twenties, through my journey with cancer and chemo fog at age 30, and again when I began writing once more in my mid-thirties.

She didn't live to see Burning Sky published, but the book bears her name in dedication. That it went on to win an award named for the book she gifted me all those years ago has, over these past weeks, felt to me like a precious heart circle closing. A happy ending, though a little bittersweet that she, and my Dad who passed away last December, couldn't celebrate with me on this side of heaven.

I'm thankful for all of you who have shared it with me, reader friends and family who've expressed kind words and congratulations (and sent chocolate!). I haven't posted a lot about my feelings concerning Burning Sky's awards, but this story about my grandmother and the book, Christy, is one of the deeper joys, one of those things I can look back on and see God's hand in the details.


16 comments:

  1. Hi Lori, What special memories. Thanks for sharing them with us. It's wonderful to see how God puts encouragers in our lives and we can look back and see what they have done for us.

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    1. It is. And it's important too, with all the things along this particular journey that challenge without encouraging. :) I want to have clearer eyes to see God's hand even in those, but also the faith to trust that He is in them, even when I can't see.

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  2. How cool, Lori! What an amazing circle there.

    Thank you so much for sharing that. And do feel free to share more like that in the future. It's so cool to see how God works behind the scenes. We all need that encouragement! We're still in the middle of our own life plots, you know? :)

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    1. Exactly. One of the things I look forward to in heaven is the "behind the scenes" look at how all our lives were woven together, through generations, across time and distance, in ways that I know are going to blow our minds. As writers we put such care into our characters' journeys, their connections, and I believe it's a shadow (a very pale one) of what God is doing with us. I don't know to what degree but I look forward to finding out.

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  3. What a special connection and memory to cherish. Thank you for sharing this. My paternal grandmother was also an encourager of reading, books, and words. Mimi and I exchanged letter and cards during my childhood and teen years, as she lived in Ohio and I lived in Conn. and FL.
    I appreciate your gift with words and story and look forward to the stories you'll share in the future.

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    1. Thank you Kerry! Letters (actual real letters) have become precious things, haven't they? Not just because so many who wrote them to us have passed on, but because they are a rare thing these days. :) I'm glad you were able to experience that with your grandmother too. Even as a child, quiet, shy, and reserved, I communicated much better in writing, so that made that correspondence extra special for me.

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  4. Oh, Lori, this is so beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing this story with us. I love how clearly God shows His hand in weaving "little" things in our lives together, where we can just sense His smile. And I understand what you mean about first receiving Christy when not quite old enough to appreciate it, and then later...oh, my. What a treasure of a story it is! Bless you, friend.

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    1. Thanks for this sweet note, Kiersti. It's true sometime a book comes along and it's just not the right time for us, for whatever reason. I'm just so glad I kept Christy and gave it that second chance. It's become one of my favorite books. For many reasons now.

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  5. What a sweet remembrance, Lori! How kind of God to give her to you for encouragement, just as he gifted you to write! Thank you for sharing this!

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    1. I hope it encourages us all to remember He knows what we need when we need it, so much more than we do. As I mentioned upstream in this comment thread, I can't wait to see the big picture of our connection, how small acts of kindness and encouragement have rippled down the generations to bless others. It's just one of those things my mind goes to often, and I wonder about.

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  6. Thanks Lori! What a sweet story, thank you for sharing. I'm sure your grandmother and your Dad are very proud :)

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    1. Thank you Catherine! My Dad lived long enough to read Burning Sky, for which I'm very thankful.

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  7. <3 <3 <3
    oh shucks! Why didn't those turn into hearts? No matter--I love YOUR heart.

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    1. I don't know why emoticons don't show up here as prettily as elsewhere. Ah well. I know what you meant by them. :) Love you too!

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  8. What a heartfelt thank you to your grandmother, Lori!

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