Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rock and a Hard Place: Deanna KIingel tells how writing helped her spiritual growth


By Deanna Klingel

Sometimes the writing journey takes writers into surprising arenas or corners. My host has asked for a blog story about writing or devotion. So I’m going to tell you how those topics often overlap for me as a writer in inpredictable ways.
Right now, during Lent, my own blog is Stations of the Cross. I post Mondays and Thursdays, each time a new station. This can be a private or a group devotion. But in my devotional text at each station I relate how I will use this station to help me carry my cross as a writer and as a marketer. That’s predictable.
What’s not been so predictable for me is the way writing can become a devotion when I least expect it, when I didn’t plan for it.  My first book, Just for the Moment: The Remarkable Gift of the Therapy Dog, is a collection of moments when my therapy dogs made a difference in other people’s lives. I didn’t realize at the time I was writing a book on ministry. When I realized that, the stories became illuminated in an unpredicted way that touches readers’ hearts. The little book continues to bring joy and comfort to readers who I thought would merely be entertained. God had other goals in mind.
    Two true hero stories I’ve written, Bread Upon the Water and Rock and a Hard Place, A Lithunian Love Story, took me deep into the lives of the subjects of my interviews. They shared difficult memories with me, how their faith sustained them and gave them courage to bear their heavy crosses. Both books were arduous journeys into history and spirituality with people I’d gotten to know, care about and prayed for. I needed to read and find scripture to go with my text, and learn more about their churches in early times and different places. Writing their stories was an opportunity for spiritual growth for me the writer. It was also an exercise in faith. Both books are outside the box of genre. Finding publishers would be as difficult as writing.  I, like the subjects I wrote about, had to put the whole thing in God’s hands. I would work hard and make it as good as I could. He would see to the rest. He didn’t leave me out on that limb for long, and writing once again intersected with personal devotion.
Rock and a Hard Place, A Lithuanian Love Story released in early March. This is a true story of children born in Lithuania  in 1930. They have happy childhoods until 1939, when Russia invades the country they
love. Their families become displaced persons wandering Eastern Europe for several years while bombs fall from the sky and neighbors disappear. The title refers to the time they are caught between a Russian invasion and a German betrayal; their love of two countries (Lithuania and the U.S.), family, God and Church. The very week the book released it could have been retitled Rock and a Hard Place, A Ukrainian Horror Story, as we watched history repeat. The couple I wrote about, now 84 years old, live in my small town placed there by God who had looked out for them and reunited them.