Friday, August 22, 2008
The Pulpwood Queen Has a NEW Mission!
Writing my first book was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. First, because it was my story of my life in books, that made it highly personal, and second, because I had to do it while working full time and being a wife and mother.
What to tell, what not to tell. I battled for six years, internally, always with the thought in mind that everything I said would have consequences. This was to be my new baby. And when my baby was born I knew that my life would never be the same as it had when I had my first two children. What I went through pushed me to the limits on what I thought I could bear, but the pain and suffering I went through the birth process of my book made me forget everything when I received my first printed copy. What joy! My story was to be told and to me it was beautiful.
When the book was published I turned my book over to God. God is love and he would guide me through my publishing angst days ahead. What I did not know is that God had a bigger plan for me than declaring my life not only a reading life, but a writing life. One that has left me with this feeling of wonder and anticipation, much as the delight of sitting down with a new book that I have waited with bated breath to read. Oh, the joy of opening a new book to the first page. Yes, besides reading and writing AND promoting literacy, a new page has opened for me in life and one that involves a new mission. They call it Newgate.
Books have taken me many wondrous places. But one book in particular took me to a fundraiser for Newgate Mission, a mission whose sole purpose is to help people get back on their feet with a Christian foundation. Someone gave me the book “Same Kind of Different as Me” by Ron Hall and Denver Moore when I was on book tour. “You have to read this book, Kathy!” How many times had I heard this before but I always listen as the best books I have ever read have been presented to me by that word of mouth.
I missed church over this book. I began to read it after work on Saturday and woke Sunday early to finish the book. It was soon time for church but I was lost in the story. So lost, tears streamed down my face as I finished the last page. I had to write the author immediately and I did, via email. Ron Hall called me personally right back and we began a conversation.
I felt really bad missing church. I explained to my minister, Allison and gave her the book to read. She grabbed my arm after reading the book and told me she would have missed church too. The book is just that good. What I did not know would happen would be that soon I would travel with my daughters in tow to Longview, Texas to hear Ron Hall and Denver Moore speak about their book as a fundraiser for Newgate Mission. I believe over 2,000 people flooded into the doors of T.J. Field to hear the authors speak. It was standing room only and at the last minute the organizers added a front row and led us standing in the back to sit right in front of the podium. I met there some of my other Pulpwood Queen Book Club members who had brought their families.
To read a book is one thing, but to have an author or authors speak of their book is another. This brings their story entirely into focus. I have never been so moved. You just have to read the book. Afterwards, I spoke to Ron and Denver and leaving I noticed volunteers standing to each side behind tables of displayed information brochures on Newgate. I have to admit I had never heard of the mission before that evening. I paused as a young woman asked me if I would be interested in volunteering to help at the mission. Funny, I stopped and asked what kind of help did they need? That conversation has now led me to leading a life writing class at Newgate Mission. I go once a month to the mission and I can tell you my life will never, ever be the same.
Yesterday was just the third time I have gone to Newgate. As I write, I sit in disbelief at what happened at yesterday’s visit. I had both my daughters, age 14 and 18 in tow. I firmly believe that you want to teach your children what is important in life, you show them. Actions do speak louder than words. We arrived to find a wooden cross propped against the outside door that was covered with hand written messages and stuffed animals. We entered and anxiously could not wait to introduce the girls to the incredible men and women who come to the mission for my class. My youngest had come with me the last time and she had begged me to bring her again. She too had experienced the same joy I had from getting to know these people. That time 19 men and one woman had showed up for the class. We even took photos at the end that were posted last month on my blogsite, www.pulpwoodqueen.com. This time only five were in attendance but the stories began to unfold. A man after the class stopped me to show what he had written. He had begun his life story and then he told me why he had to tell his story. What he told me will be the story that I will never forget for the rest of my life. I can still see his eyes; the pain, the want and the need to have someone hear his story. He told me that from the first time he heard me speak, he knew that I was someone he could trust. I have never been given such a better gift.
What I did not understand as I volunteered to come to the mission once a month to lead this class would be what I would receive. I thought of this venture as one where I would be giving the giving. As the girls and I left I was filled with such a sense of what a gift this class was going to be for my life that I was blind sighted by what I learned next. Remember, the cross by the door as we entered the mission? I asked the minister in charge, Kent, what the cross was all about as we exited the building. He told me that a woman had been shot and murdered there the night before. She had been sleeping on a bench by the back door. Can you imagine? My daughters and I stared in shock. Who knew such a world existed. We know now.
As I write this column my oldest daughter, called out to me that Newgate Mission was on the news about the murder. Our eyes have been opened wide. I always knew that reading could take me places I never dreamed but to learn that reading could also lead me to a higher purpose? Yes, it can, it can indeed. What a wonderful world it would be if everyone would read voraciously. What roads reading may take us, what journeys, what joys! May reading lead all of you to a higher purpose too. I assure you my life has been blessed from being a reader. Now let my actions speak louder than those words.
Tiara wearing and Book sharing,
Kathy L. Patrick
Founder of the Pulpwood Queens Book Clubs and author of "The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life"