#9: Spiritual Life
The most significant relationship you will have—because it extends beyond this earth to eternity—is the decision you make to either accept God and walk with him throughout life or to live life on your own. Not making a decision either way is actually making a decision. You’re either with God or you’re against him. If you’ve made that step to accept Jesus as the personal guide and guard of your life, you’ve stepped into an amazing adventure. I call it “whatever faith.” It means trusting in God whatever comes your way. Life isn’t always easy, but God is always there.
If you want to grow in your faith, and you’re willing for God to stretch you, then do what Bill Hybels of Willow Creek suggests: “Pray dangerously.” Take a risk that takes you out of your comfort zone. Have you ever heard the person who quipped, “Well, I decided to pray for patience…and God gave me something to be patient about”? It’s true. I prayed for patience when I was a twenty-something, and God “miraculously” brought 3 very needy individuals to my door to befriend whom others would consider difficult and unlovable. When you pray a risky prayer, such as “God, I want to make a difference in the inner city,” God is listening, and unbelievable events will occur as a result.
I love the quote by A.W. Tozer: “God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible—what a pity that we plan only the things we can do by ourselves.”
Without taking risks that stretched my faith, I wouldn’t have left 3 high-powered jobs to risk new ventures.
I was working at a book publisher, Harold Shaw (now part of Random House/Multnomah) as Managing Editor for 10 years. But during that time God was growing in my heart a passion to make a difference in women’s lives. I was offered a position at Christianity Today International as head Editor of Today’s Christian Woman. I turned it down, because I wasn’t quite ready to let go of the book publishing business and plunge into magazines, which I’d never done before. I also felt like I hadn’t completed my work in the book publishing business. So I said no.
But God was persistent. A year later, the offer came again, and I said an enthusiastic yes! I stopped working at Harold Shaw on a Friday and started working at Christianity Today the next Monday.
So for 7 years I plunged wholeheartedly into the magazine business, acting as head Editor of Today’s Christian Woman magazine, and Executive Editor of Virtue, as well as handling ancillary book projects for all 13 of Christianity Today’s house of magazines at the time. That’s how the book The Busy Woman’s Guide to a Balanced Life came about. And other books such as 30 Days to a More Incredible Marriage, 30 Days to a More Incredible You, and 30 Days to a More Incredible Relationship with God. I took great joy in brainstorming ideas for the just-launching Women of Faith ministries and in searching out stories for the magazine that would appeal to real-life women in the trenches and help them grow in themselves, their relationships with others, and their faith.
Then the nudge that God had given my husband and I years earlier about adopting from China continued to grow until we started filling out paperwork. Three years later, we traveled to China and brought home the best travel souvenir we’ll ever have—our daughter. That God intended us to be together, as a family, we have no doubt. One look at her face in the picture we received changed my priorities forever. I was now a mom. That meant, for me, that I would set aside traveling, and conferences, and helping start magazines in other countries, and brainstorming on the board of Women of Faith, and become a stay-at-home mom for a season.
But my heart also longed to stay in publishing, where I was making a difference in people’s lives. I resigned on a Friday from Christianity Today Int’l, and three hours later received a call about a full-time position with Tyndale House. I could work from my home. So, for 7 years, I acted as Senior Editor for Tyndale House Publishers and was able to work on projects such as Let’s Roll, the book on 9/11 hero Todd Beamer, written by his wife, Lisa Beamer, and Refined by Fire, with Lt. Col. Birdwell, who is now a Texas senator. God gave me the desire of my heart—to make my daughter a priority and also to continue making a difference in publishing.
Then, for a third time, God nudged me. For 25 years a colleague and I had had a dream of starting a traditional publishing company that would focus on helping new authors break into the publishing industry at a time when other traditional publishers were tightening the reins of the books they published, due to to a difficult economy. We also wanted to represent a broad variety of books for 8-12, young adult, and adults in as many genres at possible, since Christian publishers, in general, focus mainly on 3 genres: romance, historical before 1940, and suspense. We wanted to produce books that would be mind-stretching, heart-transforming, and life-inspiring in as many genres as possible.
That dream, called OakTara Publishers (www.oaktara.com) launched in 2007, and we’ve produced over 300 novels and nonfiction titles since. Everything from children’s & family classics, fantasy, futuristic, historical, humor, issues, legal/political thrillers, mystery & detective, romance, romance-suspense, sci-fi, suspense, and young adult in the fiction side, as well as issues, parenting/marriage, self-help, and inspirational nonfiction. We even have a Teens4Teens line, with novels written by teens for teens, like Kaylie Hathaway’s Beautiful Disorder. OakTara’s goal is to reach those readers who want a great story or inspiration for daily life but wouldn’t walk through the door of a Christian bookstore. Instead we tantalize them with good books they can get where they normally shop.
Think of it this way. Imagine you’re holding a popcorn kernel in your hand. It doesn’t look like much, does it? It doesn’t smell like much, or taste like anything. But put it in a popper or in your microwave and it produces tantalizing aroma that brings people running. That’s what OakTara seeks to be—the tantalizing aroma that will draw a broad variety of readers toward the ultimate truth. And that truth is Jesus Christ.
Check back Monday for Life Balance Area #10—Work. (Hint: There’s a reason men can sleep when the kitchen’s a mess, and women can’t.)
Adapted from Shannon Perry’s “Grace in High Heels” radio interview with Ramona Tucker (Salem Communications), October 9, 2013, www.shannonperry.com.
Ramona Cramer Tucker has been on the cutting-edge of publishing for over 29 years, in a wide variety of positions, including: Senior Editor, Tyndale House Publishers; Editorial Director, Harold Shaw Publishers (now WaterBrook/Random House); Editor, Today's Christian Woman magazine and Executive Editor, Virtue magazine (Christianity Today, International); and as a freelancer for Simon & Schuster, Random House, Viking-Penguin, Zondervan, Nelson, Baker/Revell, InterVarsity, David C. Cook, Howard, Barbour, Summerside/Guideposts, and other publishers. She is Adjunct Faculty for the English Department at Wheaton College and the cofounder and Editorial Director of OakTara (www.oaktara.com).