A Busy Weekend

I organize my schedule to maximize time and distance traveled. The result was two meetings on the Northshore, one in Mandeville and the other in Pearl River. The next day, I was scheduled to promote Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot at New Covenant Fellowship in Kenner. Two friends accompanied me to the Northshore, Ingrid Green who has published several books of poetry and Dallas McGlinn, publisher of Gathering Magazine (currently on hiatus).

We met at Puccino’s to car pool across the lake. Rebecca and Mary, fellow writers, were there when I arrived. The meeting in Pearl River prevented me from riding with them. We were chatting when Ingrid joined us. She knew Mary, and opted to join them. They left for Mandeville. I checked the time to see if Dallas was late. She wasn’t. When I looked up, she was pulling a bag full of her magazines out of her car as she chatted on her phone.

First stop, Southern Christian Writers Guild meeting for a critique session. I like critiquing but it’s difficult to find a balance between negative and positive comments. In a former critique group, we had a “suck it up” rule. Writing was handed out before the critique session. We came prepared to spotlight every flaw and highlight every stellar string of words. The subject of the critique was not allowed to speak until everyone had commented. Few people could tolerate the inability to defend themselves and their precious baby they had labored to produce. Many never came back. Marlaine, the leader of the Guild, had an excellent solution. She had prepared a worksheet for us to fill out while the authors read one page of their work. We than handed the worksheet to the author who could glean from our comments in private.

After the meeting, Dallas and I departed for Pearl River where I was scheduled to address a joint meeting of the Christian Ladies Book Club and Serenity Book Club at the Precious Pearls Café. The turnout was small. The organizer of the

Pastor Bill Shanks and Vincent

event disappointed. “Eight people committed to attending before I left the house this morning,” she said. I wasn’t disappointed by the small group. If Jesus can show up wherever two or more are gathered in his name, so can I. There were more than two at the meeting. We had a delightful lunch and talked for hours. I left with new friends in Christ. The long ride home gave me opportunity to learn more about Dallas and strengthened our friendship. As far as I was concerned, everything that happened that day was profitable.

By the time, I arrived home I was exhausted and my sinus dripping. I went to bed early hoping I would not wake up sick. Early the next morning, I awoke with a headache. Two Advil’s and another hour of sleep relieved most of the pain. I

owed Pastor Shanks and Tasha a book for contributing their stories and added two books to the usual twenty I bring to promotional opportunities.

Pastor Shanks had put an announcement in the church bulletin welcoming me. I was pursuing the bulletin when a woman tapped me on the shoulder. I looked up. “Do you have writings on the internet?” Clearly she had stumbled upon one of my four blogs and recognized my name and image. Unsure of which blog she was referring to, I responded with the blog that has the most readers, “I write for NOLA.com’s Faith Blog.” She smiled and sat down. Service open with wonderful worship music, and I felt stronger as I sang to the Lord. Then I read the same excerpt that I had read at White Dove the previous Wednesday. The congregation at White Dove was silent during the reading. This congregation laughed at all my attempts at humor.

After the service, I sold more books than expected, witnessed a display of Christian love and met an interesting person. An elderly gentleman was hanging around the table, eyeing the book. “I’d like to have a book but don’t have the money,” he said. A young man standing by the exit door heard him. He pulled out his wallet and handed me a twenty. “Give him the book.” The elderly man was rendered speechless by the display of kindness. He gratefully took the book and left. Once again my credit card scanner did not work, and I was keying in a sale when I heard a man say, I want to talk to you when you’re done. He was interested in hiring a ghost writer. “I’m the man who canceled Mardi Gras,” he said. If you write the book, I can have it produced as a movie. He had my full attention. I did not commit to ghost write his book, but I will write his salvation experience and hope to release it sometime next year.

As I was walking out of the church, the woman who asked me if I had writings on the internet waved. “I bought your book with my Ipad.”

Isn’t technology wonderful!

A Dark Time

Dr. Kathy Baker

by Kathy Baker and Teena Myers

Our strong willed seventeen year old son had moved out a month before Christmas. He wanted to live his life his way. His disregard for our choice to live in a manner that honored God left us one option – tough love. We set him free to do things his way, but he could not do them in our home anymore. He packed his things and left with two friends that he valued above his family.

Christmas Eve my husband, Jerry, left with our daughter for last minute shopping. I spent the morning enjoying our Christmas decorations, contemplating the joy of opening long awaited presents. Thoughts of family reminded me of our son’s struggle. I turned on my television. “The Greatest Story Ever Told” distracted my thoughts for the next three hours.

The movie of Jesus life and sufferings concluded, and I walked into the kitchen pondering Thornton Wilder’s The Eighth Day. Wilder challenged the reader to understand their lives as a great landscape that extends far beyond what the eye of our experience can see. Who knows how one experience so singularly horrible, can set in motion a chain of events that will bless future generations? Tragedy may appear to be random, but that does not mean it is. It may fit into a scheme that surpasses even what our imaginations dare to think.

While searching for my favorite coffee cup, I heard a low cry coming from the kitchen door. I opened the door. To my horror a bloody young man whose head was grotesquely enlarged and covered with contusions fell onto the floor. His left eye was swollen shut; patches of hair and scalp were missing. I didn’t recognize the face. I recognized the clothes. My son had come home.

As he gasped for breath, I heard, “I’m sorry I hurt you, Mom. I love your more than you know.”

Tears streaming down my face, I fell to the floor and pulled my son into my arms. “Lord, take my life in place of my sons.”

“Kathy, I have already taken your life. I want your son’s,” whispered the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit.

My arms tightened around my son hanging by a thread between life and death. “Son, fight for your life. Call on Jesus, and you will live.” I gently laid him on the kitchen floor. “I’m going to call 911 and your Dad, I’ll be right back.”

Within moments, we were in the hospital emergency room, our son whisked behind closed doors. We waited and prayed. Jerry’s sister and her husband arrived. We walked the corridors praying, waiting, praying and waiting. Hours elapsed. Then a breakthrough, our son responded to treatment.

A complete recovery was eclipsed by a greater miracle the morning my son was discharged from the hospital. I awoke to rays of the sun barely breaking the horizon. “This is the day you have prayed and waited for,” resounded in my heart. Recognizing the Lord’s voice, I bolted out of bed, jolting my husband from a sound sleep.

“Where are you going?”

“To the hospital,” I replied.

I sat by my son’s bedside full of emotion. “Be quiet” echoed in my mind withholding a torrent of words.

My son opened his eyes. “You’re here early.”

Be quiet. I drew my lips tightly together lest the wrong word shatter a holy moment in time.

He rubbed his eye and looked at me deep in thought. “Mama, I am ready to live – I mean really live. Please help me.” For the first time in his life, my son released his purpose and times to the direction of the Holy Spirit.

All of us experience dark times in our life that inexplicably grow darker. Take courage. Jesus always shines through.  That Christmas Eve was a dark time for me, but God gave me more than I could image when he turned tragedy into good.

Dr. Kathy Baker is a certified Christian Marriage and Family Therapist and a licensed Belief Therapist. She holds a Bachelor, Masters, and a Doctorate in Restorative Justice. She is a co-founder of Church of the Crossroads in Laredo, Texas and has ministered from London to Peru, from Guatemala to Hawaii and across the United States, before God called her and her husband to New Orleans. She is the founder of Interfaith Counseling Services and co-pastors Metro Christian Fellowship 8121 Airline Hwy, Metairie with her husband Rev. Jerry Baker. Her interfaith Women Wanting Wisdom Bible Study has chapters in Louisiana and Texas. Contact Kathy at kathylbaker@yahoo.com

Santa Buys Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot

Imagine Christmas 1I ‘m taking a break from marketing my book for the rest of the month I wrote in an email to my publicist. Other work is falling behind. I need to get caught up. …Send. I clicked the computer off and went to the bathroom to take a shower.

I walked into the bedroom to dress and noticed a “1” flashing on my phone indicating one message. Play. “Hello, Teena. This is Lisa from Hosanna Church. Would you like to sell your book at Imagine Christmas?”

“People go to Imagine Christmas for the show. You won’t sell any books,” said my husband.

“Probably not, but the event draws a large crowd. It’s a lot of exposure,” I replied. Decisions. Decisions. I already had plans for tomorrow. I called a friend to see if she would man the book table for me on Friday. Not available. I had prayed God would open doors for me to sell the book. Do I turn down an obvious answer to prayer because it’s not convenient? I canceled my plans and called Lisa.

Lisa said they would set up a table for me, but I’ve learned not to depend on what I am told. When organizing an event miscommunications are the norm, not the exception. My son put my table in the car. I added my books and marketing material. Thinking I was finished, I shut the trunk.

Games were being set up in the in the parking lot when I arrived. I drove to the far end of the lot where a few cars were parked and walked into the church. No need to drag my table into the church if they set one up for me. They didn’t. The event coordinator recommended I set up outside in the food tent. Probably not the best place as the sun was setting and the tent dimly lit, but I don’t argue with event coordinators.

I needed the heavy table, so I drove the car to the food tent. A young college student standing nearby came to my rescue when I opened the trunk and the box holding my books fell out spilling books on the ground. I set the table up close to the sound board so I could pilfer electricity if my Ipad battery ran low. Everything was arranged neatly on the table when I noticed the ground was not level and the table slanted. “Please don’t let the books slide off,” I prayed. Then I looked for the money bag. I’d forgotten the bag at home. I can’t sell books without change. Calling my husband to bring the bag wasn’t an option. He had taken our son out to eat. There was no choice but to go home.

A police car blocked the one and only exit out of the parking lot. I stuck my head out of the car window. “Officer, how do we get out?”

“We can’t let cars in or out; too many people in the parking lot. It’s a hazard.”

“Where are people supposed to park that come to the event?” He pointed to a side road. I hastily explained my problem and promised to park on the side road when I returned. Satisfied, he released me from captivity.

Santa holding his copy of Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot
Santa holding his copy of Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot

On the way home, I purposed to have a positive attitude. This would work in my favor. I will bring my desk lamp back and light up my table in the dark tent. I return to Hosanna with my change, lamp and glad I’d exchanged my heels for tennis shoes. The parking lot was filled with people. The street I was directed to park on was lined with cars on both sides as far as the eye could see. I found a parking spot and navigated through the throng of children playing on the inflatables provided by Hosanna for the children to play on. I set the lamp on my table in triumph and clicked the switch. The bulb flickered and died.

At this point, I doubted I would sell any books. I appreciated that the pastor at Hosanna had thought of me and included me in the event. The women at the registration table were giving bookmarks to everyone one who registered. The exposure was a measure of consolation as people might buy the book through retail outlets. Then the MC of the Christmas show stopped at my table. “Have you sold any books?”

“No,” I said. “I seldom make sales unless I am allowed to speak about the book or read an excerpt.”

“Are you coming to the show?”

“Yea, most of the people are inside. I may as well.”

“We’ll make it happen.”

The church building was packed; standing room only. Ten minutes before the show began, the MC introduced me and handed me the microphone.

The not so promising beginning ended well. I sold some books, more the second night than the first. Even Santa bought a book.




The Adventure Continues

Teena Myers (seated) is speaking to Lynda Deniger, author of the children series Salty Seas at the Meet the Author Event

My adventures in marketing have kept me so busy; I barely have time to write. At one time, I had NOLA’s faith blog posted two to three months in advance. Not anymore. I recently looked at my calendar and realized I would miss my weekly post if I didn’t write something soon. This is why I decided that I would never pursue publishing a book.

With the advent of social networks and the explosion of electronic readers publishing houses are doing less for their authors. Today, many authors design and purchase their own marketing materials, schedule their own events, and spend countless hours on the internet friending, emailing, maintaining websites and searching for readers who might review their book. I have an advantage in the marketing arena because I wrote about people. Some of those people are in ministry and have helped me spread the news about Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot.

My first event took place at New Horizon Calvary Chapel. Dorothi, leader of the Christian Ladies Book Club, invited me to speak to the club. I asked her to wait until my book was released. In the interim, the energetic and enterprising Dorothi turned the invitation into a major event with eighteen authors. The attendance was reasonable for a first time event. I sold more books than expected, but could not have done so without the help of Dallas.

I met Dallas when I became a contributing author to the magazine she published. The magazine is on hiatus, but she continues to maintain the magazine’s website until God resurrects the project.  Until then, she helps me when she can. Her help at Meet the Author was invaluable. I was able to leave the book table to chat with Ramona and learn how she sold 5,000 books in three years. I was also able to film Pastor John Raymond talking about The Bridge Radio which his church recently acquired. I returned to the book table and learned someone had paid for my $15 book with a $100. Fortunately, the event was over, and I didn’t need any more change.

Pastor Anthony Marquize holding his copy of Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot

The next marketing opportunity opened at White Dove Fellowship. Pastor Marquize invited me to make a presentation about Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot to his Wednesday night Bible study. I’d met Pastor Marquize when he was running for the United States House of Representatives. His story, which left me in awe of God, is told in the chapter titled “Friends”.

I left late and then realized the bridge was closed. I’d have to take the long way around. I hate being late. Service had started when I arrived. I sat on the pew with my box of books irritated at my tardiness and glad I had opted to read an excerpt from my book, which made it easier to control my tongue. Then Pastor Marquize preached the finest sermon on submission I have ever heard.

As service drew to a close, I set my books on the information desk for anyone who wanted to purchase a copy. I’d had trouble receiving credit card payments with my smart phone at Meet the Author and encountered the same problems. The kind customers dug though nooks in their purses for hidden treasure and others borrowed the needed cash. I now own an Ipad, which should solve the problem. My solution cost twice as much as I made that night. Welcome to marketing!