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By Karen Kingsbury
Karen Kingsbury, #1 New York
Times bestselling novelist, is America's favorite inspirational
storyteller, with more than twenty-five million copies of her
award-winning books in print. Her last dozen titles have topped
bestseller lists and many of her novels are under development with
Hallmark Films and as major motion pictures. Her Baxter Family books are
being developed into a TV series slated for major network viewing
sometime in the next year. Karen is also an adjunct professor of writing
at Liberty University. In 2001 she and her husband, Don, adopted three
boys from Haiti, doubling their family in a matter of months.
Today the couple has joined the ranks of empty-nesters, living in
Tennessee near five of their adult children.
I was born in Fairfax,
VA, the oldest of Anne and Ted Kingsbury's five children. I was hooked
on Dr. Seuss from the first time my dad read me The Grinch Who Stole
Christmas. I had the story memorized by the time I was five.
We moved often because of my dad's computer programming job with IBM.
Maybe it was the moving that truly underlined my love for reading. In
books I found friends I never had to leave.
When I was 10 years old we left Michigan for California, where we stayed
for the next two decades. I loved Southern California back then and I
grew up in the San Fernando Valley - a true Valley girl. The beach was
just thirty minutes away over Malibu Canyon, and there on the shore of
the Pacific Ocean I dreamed about being a novelist.
My heart overflowed with stories.
But the practical side of writing looked like journalism, which I studied
through high school and college. There was a point in my freshman year
at Pierce College when I actually decided I was sick of writing. I would
be a lawyer, a prosecutor.
That year I took an English class and three weeks into the semester,
Professor Bob Scheibel ordered me to the front of the room. Bob was a
surly old journalist with a lifetime of experience. He ran the school
newspaper. He pointed at me, real sharp-like, and said, "Are you Karen
I felt my knees tremble. "Yes, sir."
"Two things." He looked over the glasses at the end of his nose. "First,
you will never ever stop writing. And second, you're on staff."
There was no arguing with Mr. Scheibel. And, like that, my future was
set. I graduated from Cal State University Northridge with a degree in
journalism in 1986 and immediately started work as a sports writer for
the Los Angeles Times. I didn't know anything about sports, but my dad
was a good teacher and I was a quick study.
I covered high school sports initially, but quickly I began seeing bigger
stories, deeper stories and I earned a reputation. If a story needed
tears, my editors would give it to me.
About that time I met the love of my life, a blond, blue-eyed California
boy named Don, a guy with one driving passion - to live his life for
Jesus Christ. He brought a Bible to our first date and asked me if we
could read Philippians together. I didn't know a Philippian from any
other "ippian" and, seriously, I thought he was crazy. But he was cute
and clean-cut, so I put up with the Bible reading.
Three months passed and the tension in our "Bible" conversations grew. I
couldn't defend my viewpoints, my worldly values I'd accumulated over
the years. Finally, I'd had it. One afternoon standing outside his car I
took his precious, underlined, highlighted Bible and I threw it on the
Split the binding right down the middle.
Don picked up the
pieces, gave me a sad look, and drove off.
I figured the ground would open up and I'd be headed straight for ...
well, you know. Instead, God allowed me to get in my car and drive to a
Christian Bookstore, a store 'd driven past all my life and never, not
once stepped inside.
There I bought a Bible and a concordance. I went home to my apartment and
set about making a case for my manmade beliefs. Instead, I could hear
God saying, You can either fall away with your unfounded views on life,
or you can grab onto my Word and never let go.
I grabbed. I'm still holding on, still standing on that rock today. I'll
be devoted to God's word the rest of my days.
Don forgave me and we joined a non-denominational Bible-believing church.
We attended a weekly Bible study and a few months later we were
baptized. It was the same week Don proposed to me.
The two of us were
married on July 23, 1989, on what was a record-breaking day of heat. We
didn't care. With God on our side, we were ready to tackle the world,
ready to share His love however the Lord would see fit to use us.
We lived in a rented $100-a-month garage apartment with no air
conditioning or heat. Don was finishing up his teaching credential and I
worked at the newspaper. About that time I was moved to the front page
to write the Sunday feature story - usually something involving a sad
and twisted murder.
See Karen Kingsbury's Interview about her
book, "Love Story" with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb on The Today
On our sixth-month
anniversary we found out I was pregnant - though that was certainly not
our plan. I figured I'd never know this child - too busy working long
days at the newspaper. Don simply rejoiced and said, "We need to pray.
God will show you a way to write at home. He can do that!"
Over the next nine
months I prayed doubtfully, Don prayed faithfully. We prayed the Lord
would allow me to make my salary from home. An unlikely request at best.
During that time I sold a story to People Magazine - a sad true murder
story I'd covered for the newspaper. When it ran in People, a literary
agent in New York contacted me. He thought the story would make an
interesting book. I agreed to write a proposal.
At the time, I didn't
see my conversation with him as part of God's plan. But three days
before my return to work the agent called again. He told me to sit down.
He had gotten my proposal into a bidding war and the resulting deal was
beyond anything he had hoped for. The first check? Just $12.49 more than
I made a year.
I quit my job the next day. I've been home writing books ever since.
Over the next few years I wrote four true crime books - not my favorite
topic. After that I couldn't write about another murder. I begged God to
show me what was next, how I might find my way back to that long ago
Plan A - being a novelist.
In 1995 I read Francine Rivers' book, Redeeming Love, and I
knew I wanted to write books that glorified God for the rest of my life.
That spring I wrote my first novel - Where Yesterday Lives. I had
no agent wiling to represent it, and no publisher. Thirty rejection
letters followed. The publisher I'd worked with for the crime books said
they loved it - but without sex scenes and strong language, they didn;t
know what to do with it.
I pressed on, praying and believing.
A year later in 1996, I received word from Multnomah Publishers - they
wanted my book. And two more. At least. At the same time we welcomed our
third child - Austin - to our family. He joined Kelsey and Tyler and we
figured our life was set. Where Yesterday Lives was published in
1997 - the same week Austin was born.
Only days later, doctors discovered that Austin had a severe heart
defect. At three weeks old, he had emergency heart surgery - a surgery
that saved his life. The operation left him healed and with a life-long
battle against congenital heart disease.
Over the next few years we decided to add to our family in a way we had
never planned. We adopted three little best friends from Haiti - Sean,
Josh, and EJ. (See
here for more of our adoption story).
Ever since that first novel, I;ve been writing Life-Changing Fiction
certain that when God puts a story on my heart, He has your heart in
And I'm still sure that my professor from that distant freshman
English class was right.
I'll never, ever stop writing.
~ from karenkingsbury.com
Read another feature from our
E-Blast Newsletter on
Karen Kingsbury and
"Love Story" -
Karen Kingsbury's Inspiring Encounter
The High Line
A chance meeting even this beloved
novelist could never have imagined
By Karen Kingsbury
I've been writing novels for more than 15
years, and I'll admit it: My imagination can run pretty wild sometimes! I
see the stories come to life in my mind way before I ever get them on
paper-envisioning the characters and the twists and turns they'll take on
their personal and spiritual journeys.
Then last year something unexpected happened in my own life, something so
incredible that even I couldn't have imagined it.
I'd gone to New York City to meet with my publisher. My daughter, Kelsey,
and her husband, Kyle, came with me because they wanted to see the city.
It was a glorious autumn afternoon. Kelsey, Kyle and I were walking on the
High Line-a park built on a historic elevated railroad line above the
streets on Manhattan's West Side.
That morning I'd had a dream-come-true meeting with my publisher. My novel
The Bridge had become an overnight best seller and they'd signed me to a
10-book deal! I felt so blessed, especially to be able to celebrate with
Kelsey and Kyle.
Yet, standing there on the High Line, looking up at the bright blue sky,
all I could think was, I wish I could tell Dad about all this.
My father had passed away six years earlier. He was my rock. My very
first and biggest fan.
"Have I told you lately that I love you, Dad?" I whispered. That was
Dad's favorite song- the Rod Stewart version of "Have I Told You
Lately." He'd called me the first time he'd ever heard it.
"This song is how I feel about you, Mom, our whole family," he said.
"Whenever you hear it I want you to know that I love you." I was surprised.
Dad wasn't usually into pop music. But the more I listened to Rod's
distinctive raspy voice belting it out, the more I understood what Dad
"Have I told you there's no one else above you?
You fill my heart with gladness, take away all my sadness, ease my troubles,
that's what you do." When one of us heard the song, we'd call the other.
Sometimes we'd hear it when we were together and Dad would give me a wink.
"I can't say it any better than Rod," he'd say. The song was that
powerful for us. It connected us. So much so that my family had the title
engraved on Dad's headstone.
Not long after Dad died, I began to hear our song at odd but significant
moments. Like when my husband, Don, and I were driving home from watching
Kelsey and our oldest son, Tyler, in the opening-night performance of the
school play-the kind of occasion Dad wouldn't have missed for the world-and
the second we turned on the car radio, there it was.
Or when we took our first family vacation to the Bahamas without Dad. I
stepped out onto the balcony overlooking the sparkling sea. "Oh, Dad, you
would've loved this!" I said. Then I heard a familiar melody.
I looked down onto the deck below and the Bahamian band had switched
from playing island music to-yes, you guessed it - "Have I Told You
Now here I was, at one of those moments when I knew Dad would have been
so proud of me, and I couldn't share it with him. I missed him more than
ever. Lord, I prayed, please tell Dad that I love him.
"How 'bout we take some pictures?" I said to Kelsey and Kyle, hoping to
distract myself from missing Dad. "We've got this amazing view of the Hudson
from up here."
I pulled out my camera and took some shots of Kelsey, then of her and
Kyle together. I wanted to get one of the three of us. I was stretching my
arm out, trying to hold the camera far enough away so we were all in the
frame, when a man and a woman walked up.
"I can help take your picture," the man said to us. He was older than
me, dressed stylishly in a sweater and jeans. He had a slight accent.
Australian? English? He was a tourist like me, probably. "Would that be
"Yes!" I said. "Thank you so much."
"Just show me how to use the camera," he said.
Kelsey walked over and showed him which button to press, then we got
into place again.
He snapped the photo. "That's lovely!" he said, brushing a wayward
strand of blond hair from his eye. He handed me the camera. "God bless you,"
he said, then he and the woman went on their way.
When they were almost out of sight, Kelsey turned to me.
"Mom, did you hear what that man said when I was showing him how to use
"No, honey, I didn't."
"He said, 'I'm usually on the other side of this thing.
But this is fun too.'"
"Why would he say that?" I wondered aloud.
Then it dawned on me: the spiky blond hair, the fashionable clothes, the
lilt in his voice... Could it be?
I followed the couple, walking as fast as I could.
"Sir, sir! Excuse me, sir!" I called. The man stopped and turned around.
We were face-to-face.
"You just took our picture back there," I said.
"Yes," he said. By now Kelsey and Kyle had caught up to me.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Sure," he said.
"Are you Rod Stewart?"
"Sometimes," he said.
"No, really, I have to know," I insisted. "Are you Rod
He must have seen something in my eyes because he said quietly,
am." My knees went weak. If only my dad could have seen this!
"Can I tell you a story?" I asked.
I told him that "Have I Told You Lately" was my father's favorite song
and that just an hour earlier I'd been wondering if Dad knew how much I
Rod gently put his hand on my arm. I rested my hand on top of his.
now I'm meeting you," I said. "It's crazy. Your song's title is even on my
Tears came to Rod's eyes. "Can I give you a hug?" he asked. He pulled me
in tightly. "Thank you for sharing that. You made my day."'
When we let go, Rod clasped his hands together and pointed them
heavenward. Then he and his companion walked away.
Kelsey, Kyle and I looked at each other and sat down on a bench. We all
felt stunned. Just at the moment when I was missing my dad so badly, the
rock star who sang our song crosses my path? Really? You could never plan or
even imagine something like that!
But Someone had. Someone who orchestrates unforgettable encounters and
writes amazing moments into the stories of our lives. I looked up into the
bright blue sky. There really is no one else above him.
Thousand Tomorrows (Cody Gunner Series #1)"
"Like Dandelion Dust"
The Line Series #2"
"Loving: Bailey Flanigan Series
"Shades of Blue"
Side of Heaven:
Family Drama―Firstborn Series"
Bailey Flanigan Series
"Time To Dance:
(Timeless Love Series"
(Cody Gunner Series #2)
Bailey Flanigan Series #1"
(Sunrise Series-Baxter 3,
"A Treasure of Christmas
True Stories of God's Presence Today (Miracle Books Collection)
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"To the Moon and Back, The Baxter Family Series
In this continuation of the Baxter Family saga, Ashley Baxter Blake makes it her mission to reunite two people who, as children, shared a tragic moment - the loss of parents in the Oklahoma City bombing. Each year since they met, Brady Bradshaw has left a note at the memorial for Jenna Phillips, but she has never responded. It is Ashley-s hope that by bringing them together again, they may be able to help one another heal.
"In This Moment:
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes a brand-new Baxter Family novel about a beloved high school principal who starts a Bible Study to improve the lives of his struggling students, only to become the national focus of a controversial lawsuit.
Hamilton High Principal Wendell Quinn is tired of the violence, drug abuse, teen pregnancies, and low expectations at his Indianapolis school. A single father of four, Quinn is a Christian and a family man. He wants to see change in his community, so he starts a voluntary after-school Bible Study and prayer program. He knows he is risking his job by leading the program, but the high turnout at every meeting encourages him.
A Novel (The Baxter Family)"
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes a new book featuring everyone's favorite family-the Baxters, which tells the story of how John and Elizabeth first fell in love. From the day they met, John and Elizabeth were destined to fall in love. Their whirlwind romance started when they were young college students and lasted nearly thirty years - until Elizabeth died of cancer.
So when John Baxter is asked to relive his long-ago love story with Elizabeth for his grandson Cole's heritage project, he's not sure he can do it. The sadness might simply be too great. But he agrees and allows his heart and soul to go places they haven't gone in decades. Back to the breathless first moments, but also to the secret heartbreak that brought John and Elizabeth together.
Wings: A Novel
of Undying Hope
(The Baxter Family)"
(Lost Love Series)"
(Lost Love Series)"
Above The Line Series #1"
A Love Story"