Finding my place in the church has been a sixty-year-long search. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what that place was, it was all the stuff I needed to know before it could take place. But now I’m there and I love it.
I discovered when I was about twenty-two that I was creative, and that being an artist was what I am meant to do. So, I went to college to get a degree in Fine Art. Unfortunately, it was also the time I discovered that drugs could enable me to relate to people socially. I imagine that you can easily see what a conflict that was. So, I was learning how to make art while smoking a joint very two hours and taking acid two to three times a week. I believed that was the best way to do it. Seriously. I did get my degree in 1971— a BFA from the University of Minnesota.
However, I’m sure you’re not surprised that it didn’t work well. My first wife left me. I tried to support myself with my art. Didn’t work. It got really bad. But then Jesus called me in January of 1974. That was wonderful. But it seemed like nothing was working. The jobs I found were so boring that I didn’t last long. But the Lord was beginning to discipline me. I had a hard head, and just didn’t understand what the plan was.
First the Lord gave me a wife and made me a graphic designer
The first major help was that the Lord gave me a wife, who loved me. It was a real shock. No one loved me, as far as I knew. But Jesus did, and his best gift to me was Patricia, a Southern girl from Virginia who had a strong call into the ministry—who also loved me. The next big gift from the Lord was a job I loved in 1979. But it turned me into a prostitute [that’s what fine artists called commercial artists]. I fell in love with typography and font design. In fine art, my physical coordination made my art too ugly for me to stand. I had found some things that worked, but no one liked what I did.
But as a graphic designer [the world’s name for a fine art prostitute] I could use drafting tools, type composers, and photographic reproduction like PMTs, to make art that pleased me, and my customers. The main thing I learned was that commercial art [graphic design] was about serving my customers—enabling them to get the art they needed to build their company or position. The Lord showed me that this was a loving thing to do, so I continued my growth. I made the decision to drop fine art and to pursue graphic design.
Finding my place in the church didn’t exist. I discovered that the church did not like ex-hippie artists who were born again and filled with the spirit. Since that is who I am, the Lord showed me that I needed to love my wife and help her in her ministry. Graphic design became my bread winner. To help Pat, I was a husband and a Bible teacher. Pat got more grief from being a woman than I did from being a crazy artist.
There was no place for either of us in the church
I don’t want to bad mouth any one. So, let’s just say that the church threw us out—many times and many churches in many different denominations. We simply weren’t welcome. We had some satisfying ministry leading Bible studies, and Pat became a Biblical counselor. But sooner or later, someone became offended. Sometimes we were even politely asked to leave. Usually it wasn’t that nicely done.
The Lord made me a teacher, writer, font designer
The next big thing was teaching. The Lord got me the job of teaching the Commercial Printing Degree at the huge Community College in Albuquerque. The only teaching experience I had was teachng Bible Studies. But no one else had a degree, and I had one. The first day on the job, I touched my first computer, and started teaching desktop publishing, on a Mac IIfx, with PageMaker, FreeHand, and Photoshop. I was in way over my head, but the Lord gave me the grace to get things put together.
Next, I was asked to write a textbook on digital printing. It turned out that my two-year degree was one of the first to teach an all digital workflow, using PDFs. I wrote one of the first textbooks on the all digital workflow using PDFs in 1994.
Next, He gave me font design. I needed fonts which showed things in professional typography, which could not be shown in type that was normally available. So, I learned that. It was my first successful artist production media. The fonts sold, even though I knew they weren’t normal stuff. The Lord just decided to bless that.
I had to design and produce the artwork for my books, because there was no one who could do it. My publisher paid me to produce the digital artwork. That was a real surprise. I made more doing that than I did in royalties.
In 1993, Pat and I started a church.
Finally, we had a place in the church. Of course, that was also problematic because our ministry was focused on people the church didn’t want to deal with. Basically, we were a spiritual hospital. So, finding my place in the church had not happened yet.
In 1996, I converted all my courses to an online optional path to graduation. My career changed to teaching, writing books to help me teach, and doing all the book production.
In 2009, I began publishing full time. Due to Pat’s health issues, we had to close the church. I finally retired in 2009 to care for my wife. But, for the first time, I was allowed to teach about Biblical truth and the life of believers. What a joy that was. I spent a lot of time discovering who I was in Jesus, and what He wanted me to do.
Finding my place in the church
The Lord was showing me who I was and what I was supposed to do. But, the church was not interested. It was too strange. But I became very aware that my position in the church was something that Jesus could and would take care of for me. So, I quit worrying about it.
My wife died in late 2019. In my grief I turned toward Jesus, and He responded strongly. He made it clear to me that I should be writing fiction. That was a shock. But it took over my life. It had to. Though I had been a compulsive reader during many times in my life, fiction just seemed too difficult.
But the Lord showed me, I needed to be anointed. To do that I needed to be holy. To do that, he and I needed to be talking all the time. I always had, but it was kicked up a level. I got back into making sure my sins were confessed and forgiven. Then I was clean and He could anoint my work.
It was wonderful. I found myself treating my books like I was creating fine art. The Lord and I worked on them ten to fourteen hours a day—six days a week. We wrote all the copy, We mostly used my fonts. We created all the graphics. I produced the book, uploaded it, and published it.
My process now is simple. I ask the Holy Spirit to show me all my sin. Normally, there is nothing, because I aggressively get rid of sin as soon as I commit it. Having done that, I ask the Lord to anoint me so I can tell a story that will change readers’ lives. He’ll give me a starting idea, and I get to work. It’s the same process as I used to create a painting, a drawing, or a sculpture. I’m given an idea. I produce what results from that, and then I’m sitting there asking for the anointing and get the next idea. The story just builds. When I go back to edit and rewrite I discover that there are many passages which are written above the level of my normal capabilities. Praise the Lord. It comes to a stage of completion at around a 100,000 words. So, I publish it. Then I go through the same process with the next book.
First, I wrote a three-book fantasy. Then I wrote a fifteen book saga: which is made of a four-book series, followed by two three-book series, completed by another four-book series—plus a standalone side story . There were several short non-fiction pieces during the process. Now I’m starting a new story. and the Lord is leading me through it.
So, I’ve ended up as an artist who writes, edits, draws, makes covers, illustrations, logos, and whatever the story needs using my fonts. It’s the most fun artwork I’ve ever been involved with. The Lord is with me constantly throughout the creation process. I take worship breaks as needed. I pray as led. It’s become my life, and I love it. I’ve found my place in church. I attend a mission work, a church in the making. I help where I’m allowed to help. It’s all amazing. Because Jesus approves of what I am doing. Nothing else matters.