It is my hope to arrange some pre-release gatherings in January and February to give readers of my blog early access to the book. (Would a discount in the purchase price encourage you to attend?) I am hoping to have a few gatherings in Wyoming, Missouri, and possibly southern Colorado. My intent is to offer a one hour presentation on the virtue of hope and then have some time to socialize and give you the opportunity to get copies of my book. As I get some things arranged, I will keep you posted right here with details.
In looking at my calendar I am anticipating the first week of January as a good time to head to Missouri. It would be nice to have several events while I am there. My hometown of Old Monroe would obviously be a desired venue. Other options would include the areas of O'Fallon and Troy. If my brother has any pull in the Diocese of Jefferson City we could include someplace like Louisiana or Bowling Green into the mix. Depending upon time constraints in my travel schedule, I could also envision a trip to Ste. Genevieve as well.
In Colorado I would like to make it down to the Florence and Canon City area for a gathering or two. There will always be a special place in my heart for the people of St. Benedict's Parish. You were my first venture into full-time ministry and I treasure those years in your parish.
Our faith in Jesus Christ empowers each of us to be people of hope regardless of the difficult circumstances confronting us at any given time. That is the message I strive to convey in my teaching, preaching, and writing. That is the intent of my book. As a 30 year cancer survivor I want to be a symbol of hope to others by being living proof that adversity can be overcome. It is not always easy, and and I realize we will not always win, but the fight is worth the effort.
My book is a brief autobiographical sketch (just over 200 pages) with a focus on some of the more serious challenges in my life. The 53 chapters of the book are very short. That is my preference as a reader so that is how I designed my own writing. At the end of each chapter you will find a reflection question or two in which I encourage you to ponder your own life circumstances. We each have a story. I am simply sharing my story to invite you to enter fully into the love, mercy, and healing of Jesus Christ as you live your story.
I was recently asked whether my book contained guidance for holding a book discussion group. I had not considered that and the book was too far along in the process to make any monumental changes at that point. However, I thought the suggestion was a good idea. I subsequently wrote an eight session study guide and have created a new page on my website to give you access to that material. Click on the "Book Discussion Guide" tab at the top of the page to download it for free. If you have difficult printing the page, simply copy and paste the information into a word document and print it that way. I hope many people find the guide useful.
The few people that have seen a picture of the cover of the book prior to this post have mentioned the similarity between my blog picture and the picture on the cover of the book. That was obviously done intentionally. It is a picture I took in Thermopolis, Wyoming of the Big Horn River. In addition to being beautiful scenery there is a question I am subtly asking you in the photo. How do you decide which way to go when the river of life splits off?
I am grateful to many people who have touched my life through the years to get to this point. My family, friends, and fellow pilgrims on the journey have all impacted my life in one way or another. The medical personnel at St. Joseph's Health Center in St. Charles, Missouri, where my first battle with cancer was waged, are forever etched into my mind. Spending over 50 days in the hospital in the course of a four month period gives one a different perspective on life. I especially owe a debt of gratitude to the hospital chaplain during those days, Marilyn Antrobus. Marilyn asked me to write about my journey shortly after I finished the chemotherapy treatments. I was unsuccessful at that time, but after 30 years of reflection I was finally able to complete the assigned task. Thanks Marilyn.
A couple of people from St. Benedict's Parish taught me how to praise God even when things were tough. You drove to University Hospital in Denver to pray for me on site while I was in surgery. You helped me get through my second diagnosis of cancer in ways you never imagined, and you positively impacted my prayer life ever since then. Thank you.
The medical personnel, especially the surgeon, at St. Luke's Hospital in Chesterfield, Missouri brought me through an open heart surgery with flying colors. The expertise of the surgeon and all of the supporting staff was magnificent. I am grateful that my sister-in-law who works at the hospital was able to refer me to such a competent and skilled surgeon.
Finally, I am grateful to Archbishop Paul Etienne who graciously wrote the foreword to the book. Working with him for almost seven years prior to his recent installation as Archbishop of Anchorage on November 9, was a pleasure. His kind words at the beginning of the book are truly appreciated.
It has been quite a journey, and the story continues to be written. Thank you to each of my readers for being part of the story!