WHAT YOU’RE ABOUT TO READ won the writer, Kathy LaMaster, a new $700 iPad Air 64GB.
Well worth it.
Not just because she said a bunch of nice things about me, which sure didn’t hurt my feelings. But because of what happened afterward.
Read Kathy’s story, if you can stomach a barrel of compliments about me and my books – then read about what happened next.
About the writer: Kathy was born in the Buckeye state of Ohio. But she is now a single mom in North Carolina with a grown son who recently graduated from North Carolina State University. Kathy is unemployed at the moment, but she’s doing some substitute teaching in a local school while attending classes herself to get re-equipped for a new job. She attends a United Methodist Church, enjoys her Sunday school class, and makes music with the church handbell choir.
The story of Saint Stephen M. Miller
by Kathy LaMaster
[Okay, so I wrote that title.]
I WAS INTRODUCED TO STEVE’S BOOKS at a book fair sponsored by a former employer. I was “window shopping” as I was a single mother with a son in his senior year in high school. I was a lifelong bibliophile, but the vast majority of my reading material came from the local library. I rarely had extra funds to purchase books of my own.
I spied The Complete Guide to the Bible and immediately picked it up. I was mesmerized by the glossy photos and simple text.
I am passionate about learning more about the Bible and to me this represented the Holy Grail (pun intended) of reference books.
I flipped through it and even sniffed the rich ink, but alas, it was not a payday Friday and I needed gas money for the following week.
I went back to work, but wrote down the title and vowed to purchase it on Amazon as soon as I could. But there was just something about the book that I could not let go of and at the eleventh hour, right before the book fair shut down, I called my son and asked if I ran short of money the following week, if he could lend it to me until Friday.
He is a gem of a boy and readily agreed. His response was something along the lines of “Geez, Mom. Just buy the book, already!”
I was enamored by it and read it from cover to cover. I looked Steve up on Facebook and subscribed to his blog and have been a fan ever since. I have fallen in love with his dog, Buddy, and wept as I viewed a video from his daughter’s wedding. I think of him as a friend.
But I am not certain that Steve knows how much he has done for me and several of my friends and family and this is the perfect opportunity to make sure that he does.
Steve is extremely generous and gives his books away far more than I can imagine any author doing. I have been on the receiving end of his generosity and have read each book from cover to cover.
He sent a book to my son that he toted back to college. I’m not going to say that Ethan read the book from cover to cover, but it currently resides beside his Bible at his new town house. I am proud to see it when I visit.
Steve sent a book to my mom, who resides in a nursing home [Kathy’s mom died a couple of weeks ago]. She is not the voracious reader that I am, but a couple days after receiving the book, she asked me if I knew that Jesus was a Jew.
Yes, that simple fact I assumed all Christians knew was news to my mother. She learned this tidbit from Steve’s book at the ripe old age of 73. She was very proud to receive the signed book and showed it to her visitors for quite some time. I know because they relayed it to me. The fact that Steve took the time to make my mom feel so special means the world to me.
A couple of years ago, we had a Silent Auction at my former workplace. I cannot recall the cause, but it was a worthy one or my employer would not have permitted it to take place.
I asked Steve for a donation and he sent not one, but two signed books.
There was a fierce bidding war and I was determined to get The Student’s Guide to the Bible [recently repackaged as The Complete Guide to the Bible, Student Edition] as I had yet to read it.
I won the bidding war and my best friend at work was intrigued by it. She had bid against me and asked if she could read it when I was finished. This is the point where I selfishly admit that I really, REALLY wanted to read it first. I cherish books and do not mind loaning them out, but I definitely prefer to do it AFTER I have cracked the spine, so to speak.
However, my friend Ann Marie looked at the book the same way that I remembered looking at The Complete Guide to the Bible. She had two teenagers at home, one extremely troubled, and she was hoping the book would somehow resonate with them.
I remember thinking “What is the matter with you? You love Ann Marie more than you love any book!” So I did the unthinkable (for me) and immediately lent the book to her.
She reported back that her daughters pored over it. When one wasn’t reading it, the other was. On the rare occasion that neither of them had their nose in it, Ann Marie was reading it. She was thrilled that the book opened a dialogue in her household about the Bible. This happened over a weekend and she returned the book to me on Monday.
I messaged Steve on Facebook to let him know what an impact his book had made on her daughters, especially Lexie, whom Ann Marie had adopted upon the death of her brother.
Steve asked for her address and promptly mailed The Student’s Guide to the Bible to the girls and a book to Ann Marie as well.
I don’t know if Steve realizes how much this meant to Ann Marie and her daughters. They received the books on a Saturday and Ann Marie sent me a photo of her book and another of the inscription that Steve had written to her. It meant the world to her family.
I saw the light in her eyes when she spoke of the girls talking about the book and how much she enjoyed her book. She was having a great deal of anxiety over Lexie at the time and she told me over and over that the books were a blessing to them and gave her hope as a mother.
Steve…if I have never thanked you properly for all that you have done for my friends and family, consider this as my humble attempt to put into words the blessing that your books have brought to me and so many of my loved ones.
What happened next
Okay, this is Steve talking now.
I got that email from Kathy on Saturday, while I was preparing the next day’s Bible study on the topic of the power that words have to help or hurt people.
I had my wife read Kathy’s email to our Bible study group as an example of the kind of thing I said I should be doing for the people in my life.
During the discussion that followed, one member of our group wrote down the terrible things people had said to him throughout his life. “You’ll never amount to anything,” was one example. He told me he had never received a letter like the one I had gotten.
I did two things when I got home from church on Sunday.
First, I sat down and wrote an open email to my wife, both of my kids and both of their spouses. I devoted a paragraph to each one of them. I told them what I loved about them.
Next, I organized a letter writing campaign for that fellow in my Bible study class who had never gotten a letter like the one Kathy wrote to me.
The next Sunday, we had a notebook full of letters for him. We spent 45 minutes of our class session taking turns standing and reading our letters to him.
He was dumbfounded – for the entire 45 minutes. His face looked like it had been shot full of Novocain. Until we read his wife’s letter to him. The walls came tumbling down.
You can read his wife’s letter in this blog article: Bushwhacking a friend with kind words.
I think that session is destined to become one of the most memorable Bible study classes I will have ever been a part of. I know it was the most moving of any I can remember.
I don’t know how many people will pay it forward and write letters to other loved ones. But I do know that a week later one of the dads in our class leaned over and whispered to me that he was working on a letter for his wife and kids.
I should probably give away more iPads.