It surprises me to realize that the first book I wrote under contract (not as a work-for-hire assignment) turns twenty this month! I wrote Simply the Savior during a time when there was a lot of emphasis on simplifying life. Magazines carried headlines like, “10 Easy Steps to a Simpler Life” or “You Too Can Embrace Simple Living.” Book clubs were reading Sara Ban Breathnach’s best-selling book, Simple Abundance, and her publisher soon took advantage of its success to spin off sequels, journals, etc.
All these things caught my attention because I had a strong desire to simplify my own life, and so had left a full-time job to work at home. But everything I read seemed to have a “new age” feel that didn’t quite satisfy me. “Wait a minute,” I thought. “I’m pretty sure Jesus had a lot to say about what really matters—about living a simple, uncluttered life.” I opened the Word, and Simply the Savior was born.
When writers read a nonfiction book they wrote twenty years ago, it’s like reading a tattered 20-year-old journal. I smiled when I read illustrations featuring small granddaughters who have since gone to college, gotten married, and traveled the world! And then there’s the surreal feeling you have as a writer reading something you wrote so long ago as you think, “Not only do I not remember writing that, I don’t even remember knowing it!”
Yet I just read Simply the Savior again and I wouldn’t change a word. Yes, my spiritual journey has deepened my faith and my understanding of Scripture, my marriage is twenty years stronger, and I’ve had to accept that being 50 wasn’t old enough to write about gray hair and wrinkles. But the 15 chapters such as “Simply Believe,” “Simply Listen,” “Simply Forgive,” and “Simply Love” are full of Holy Spirit inspired truths.
Because it’s a book about Jesus, and we are promised in Hebrews 13:8 that He is “the same yesterday and today and forever,” everything I was inspired to write back then still holds true—even if I don’t remember writing it. In fact, my not remembering is a strong reminder that the book came through me, not from me.
Sara Ban Breathnach’s book Simple Abundance sold five million copies and is translated into 28 languages. Simply the Savior sold 10,000 or so and was translated into German. Yet I received a note from a reader who said she kept a copy of my book in the glove compartment of her car so she could pull it out and read it when she felt a panic attack coming on. “Lord,” I said, “that’s enough for me.”
And I’ve accumulated twenty years of gratitude for having this little book in my life. My publisher, David C. Cook, also owned Best to You at that time, a Christian social expression catalog for which I wrote product and catalog copy. So they did their own version of spin-offs: a promotional paperback and both a lovely framed print and a mug designed with the chapter titles from the book.
This first book opened up my life as a speaker. I went where I was invited, and there were many and varied opportunities. I remember a small gathering in a little church basement where the rhythmic hissing of oxygen tanks permeated the room as I spoke to a circle of older church ladies—perhaps stirring in me a heart for the books I’ve written for the elderly recently.
In contrast, I also remember speaking to the women’s ministry of the much larger First Presbyterian Church in downtown Colorado Springs. Twenty years later my son, Tim, is the lead pastor of that church. I mentioned him in the book as a young seminary student with his first baby in his arms. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.
I’m not one to force my books on anyone (thus I haven’t sold five million copies of any of the six books I’ve written!), but there may be a few copies available from used booksellers online, or you can download the Kindle version here if you’d like to read Simply the Savior again, or for the first time. Simplifying once is seldom enough. Material, emotional, and spiritual clutter happens. And as the book says, “It is simply the Savior who gives us all we need to live a life of simple joy.”
Happy 20th Anniversary, little book. You have blessed me so.