There and Back Again

TaylorConf.Beth & Me

Thanks to everyone who prayed for Beth and me while we attended the Writers Conference at Taylor University. When I returned Paul asked me to rate the conference from 1 to 10. I told him that for my friend Beth it was a 10+ and for me it was a 9.

For Beth, it meant a handshake (in place of a contract to come soon) agreement with Hartline Literary Agency. Beth has completed three chapters of her Bible study on Philippians with the theme of friendship, designed for women.

For me, it meant encouragement for getting Bill’s messages in print, but with independent publishers. I met with an editorial advisor with ACW Press and he gave me some figures for that route. I pitched our book on The Church being transcribed by my blogger friend. It could be about 200 pages. So I’m to send the book proposal.

I also met with an author to ask questions about the process I’ve begun with Sermon to Book for Bill’s series on the 10 Commandments. She set my mind at ease about the editors structuring the chapters. She also advised me to request transcripts in order to compare their editing with Bill’s original messages. Michael has begun converting the cassette tapes into digital audio format. I have an hour phone call scheduled with STB next Monday 8/12. So I’m getting questions and topics ready.

The keynote speakers gave inspiring talks; class sessions we attended will benefit our writing; faculty and student staff helped us. We stayed on campus, and our dorm room happened to be the one where Stephen stayed during his freshman year. We enjoyed mealtime conversations with other conferees. A good conference all around, and I’m grateful for Beth driving and our sharing on the way there and back. At the conference she kept a lookout for me, for I tend to be where she is not.

Off on an Adventure

Hobbit Home.Wales

I leave tomorrow for two days at Taylor University’s Professional Writers Conference. I have Beth Summitt to thank for driving and sharing this adventure of writing. From Bible studies she’s led at her church, she’s written a book on biblical friendship found in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Beth and I attended Taylor’s conference last year and each pitched our book proposals.

This year my pitch is for one of Bill’s proposed books gleaned from his sermons on the Church. It’s not one of his usual series but a collection of sermons preached throughout his years at World Gospel Church, Terre Haute, Indiana. My new writer/blogger friend, Callie Daruk, is in the process of transcribing these sermons from cassette tapes, masters received after Bill retired. I edit the transcriptions from speaking to reading voice, and Callie and I have appreciated Bill’s teaching during the process.

Now it’s time to wind up for the pitch to get an agent and/or publisher interested in this book. That’s the adventure for writers who attend conferences where we get some one-on-one time with an agent, author, or publisher’s assistant, in addition to attending classes.

On my return I’ll post the “there and back again” follow-up of this adventure. Pray for us.


Today Bill went with me as I had several errands to run. He patiently waited while I got my hair cut. Later as I shopped for a casual top at Walmart, he followed me around the numerous display racks and shelves. No complaints. In an unfamiliar route he helps me look for street names and checks to see if cars are coming when we’re getting out of a parking space or waiting at a stop sign. I also look, for his right eye doesn’t have good vision.

We ate lunch at Chicago’s Pizza and Bill especially liked the sweet slice on the buffet. This stop was his favorite of all our errands. He likes to eat, paying attention to the clock, telling me it’s past 12 noon and we could have lunch. I think his eating is only to keep from being bored.

At the bank he stayed in the car while I cashed a check. Somehow the subject of marriage came up and the teller asked me how long we’d been married. When I said 62 years next month, she replied that I must have found a good man. I agreed. Then she asked me to tell another teller, a newlywed, what our secret is. I told them, “It’s commitment – to the Lord and to each other.” When I got back to the car I relayed the conversation to Bill, emphasizing the part about his being a good man, a keeper. I wish I had told the girls at the bank that Bill was in the car, that he now has Alzheimer’s disease, and that while we’ve changed, our commitment has not changed. It’s new every day.

Recuperating 003

This is Bill in August of 2010 when he got out of the hospital after a bout with Legionnaire’s Disease. He was always cold then. He’s cold now & turns on a space heater under his desk. That’s why I reached for this photo.



Journaling continues to be a good thing for me – a creative exercise, a way to express myself and reflect on what I’ve read, done or thought.

To whom I’m writing is still up for grabs. Sometimes my entries are prayers or close to that, and at times I sense I’m writing to another person who may read these in the future. More often than not, I’m writing for my own self, for my benefit. Putting it down on paper helps me sort out my thoughts, evaluate my actions and attitudes, and give the subject a chance to expand and connect.

Connections are a big part of what I write, especially as I connect two or more passages of Scripture or as I connect my life with God and His Word. Through my journaling I seek to connect my words with God’s Word.

I find in journaling a means of expressing – of relating to myself and of talking to God, of connecting Scripture with life situations, bringing the past and present together and even speaking to the future. I can express myself better on paper than speaking. Maybe it’s because writing is a slower medium and it gives me time to think.

As I write I reflect and set patterns, make decisions, and see how my faith works. It’s an expression of love and hope, but also of fear and doubt. I can be honest on a blank page, and I can be a positive influence even on myself. Journaling brings my life into proper focus.

Samples of what I’ve written as I’ve started new journals:

I begin a new journal, a fresh page, yet continue reading some of the same books.

I want in this last half of the year to be more loving and more hopeful – toward myself and others.

Today seems topsy-turvy, getting to my readings late. Unless I am changed, my experience is of no value. I must bear the mark of the disposition of Christ – following the example of servanthood. I am to be His epistle, not just say or teach His Word.

Grandkids gave me a beautifully bound journal, and I’m tempted to put it aside. But this is the year for my 80th birthday, so I decide to use it. Someday I’ll be happy I did.

In Whose Image?

denarius coindenarius

When the Pharisees asked Jesus if they should pay tax to Caesar, Jesus had them look at a coin: “Whose image is this?” (Matt. 22:20, NIV). Dutifully they answered that Caesar’s image was imprinted on the denarius. So, yes, he gets the imperial tax. “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (v. 21). We generally stop at the first half of that verse for proof that paying taxes is right, expected of us. After all, the emperor’s image is on the coin.

Jesus’ answer was twofold. So what bears the image of God? What belongs to God? It’s who. We go back to the creation story. Of all the creatures God made, only the humans did God create in His image: “In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen. 2:27, NIV).

This is basic to the pro-life message. Because we are created in God’s image, we do not abort unborn human children. God spoke through Isaiah about “children, the work of my hands” (Isa. 29:23, NIV). From the moment of conception, we are all stamped with the image of God. Life matters. We are precious in God’s sight, for He created us and we belong to Him. We defend the rights of the unborn, because we speak the truth of ownership, the right to live in His world.

The message of bearing the image of God goes further; because we belong to God, we make ourselves available to Him, His plans and purposes. In a way, we accept that image upon ourselves, into our daily living, honoring God and proclaiming His Word to others. We want the truth to be known in our family, neighborhood, nation, and around the world. We live out the image of God. We cannot say to the One who formed us, “You did not make me” (Isa. 29:16, NIV). God did. Therefore, we represent Him in all we say and do. That’s image-bearing.

DHS Class of 1959

The graduating class of 1959, D’Iberville High School, Mississippi, met for their sixtieth reunion. For this group of former students, it’s not unusual to get together and renew friendships. Ten classmates met in the home of Cynthia Lewis to celebrate their high school graduation of May 15, 1959. Members brought typical southern dishes to share: gumbo, po-boys, and brisket, also cookies decorated with the school’s logo. The centerpiece featured a large cake with the school colors of maroon and gold and a photo of the class’s fiftieth reunion.

DHS.60Reunion.2019  Not a good photo but it does the trick.

The Biloxi-D’Iberville Press gave prominence to the reunion with a write-up and photo, naming the ten 1959 graduates who met: Jerald Levins, Jimmy Rodriguez, Marlene Pickard, Shirley Richard, Charlotte Parker, Tim Greenwell, Cynthia Lewis, Janette Williams, and Orey Lee & Janet Krohn, including maiden names for the ladies.

Included in the write-up is our connection to this class: “Always a topic of any class gathering is the senior trip taken to Monterrey, Mexico, by the class just before graduation. The class raised about $2,500 that year by selling peanuts and magazines to pay for themselves and their four sponsors, Rev. Bill Coker and his wife, Ann, along with Coach Billy Salter and his new bride, Elaine. The seven-day trip by Grey Line Tours for the 23 seniors and sponsors, including meals and hotels, was by today’s standards, certainly to be considered a bargain. But then again ‘it was the 50’s.’ We now know why it was called ‘Happy Days!’”

Not only have these classmates met with some regularity, they often contact us. Bill’s two years teaching English to these students made a marked impression on their future. One man’s job sent him traveling to many countries; his senior trip to Mexico was the first time out of his home state. One lady earned her PhD in English and dedicated her dissertation to her former high school English teacher. Most have sent us Christmas cards annually, and they honored us with a 60th-anniversary card complete with greetings from all living classmates, and it included the names of those who have passed on from this life.

Sometimes I think of these young students as kids; but truth be known, they are only about two or three years younger than I am. Most are grandparents and have retired from good jobs. Throughout all the years of our ministry, these students have shown respect by keeping in touch with us and meeting for reunions, some we’ve had the privilege to attend. What a blessing they are!

The newspaper concluded: “With 60 years and counting, it seems that these classmates have made a friendship and bond that has already stood the test of time.”

Two Dishwashers

Teacups in Rain

I would stand by the dish drain as Dad washed the dishes. He took this task seriously, getting the pots and pans out of the way before starting on dishes and silverware.  My task (my turn) was to dry dishes while my sister put them back in the cupboards. Mother was busy putting away leftovers for another meal. Dad was also particular about dish products: he preferred Comet to Ajax as a scouring agent; he had a favorite detergent, one that “cut the grease,” as the commercial would say. Growing up I don’t remember having an automatic dishwasher; it was Dad.

Soon after I married Bill, he took me to the kitchen and said, “This is yours.” I was proud of the possession and responsibility, and I assumed he would help out with various tasks. Wrong. At least for many years, anyway. After Bill became dean of the college, he took up cooking, finding new recipes (sometimes strange ones). One recipe he copied from a magazine in a doctor’s office – imitation crab and angel-hair spaghetti, a quick and easy dish we still make today. When he would cook, I didn’t mind washing the dishes. Then when I cooked, Bill would do the clean-up

Now in our three-generation home, Bill is the “official” dishwasher. Emily says, “He’s the best!” We have a dishwasher appliance, but Bill doesn’t use it unless we insist when we have company. He’s as particular as my dad, maybe more so. He doesn’t like for dishes to stack up in the drain, so I stay handy or he will start drying. When he had an infected thumb, Becky took him off dishwasher duty, and he did not like it, lingering around, hoping she would not see him at the sink. It’s his job and he likes it.