The Full Story

“If you’re going to walk with the Lord, you’d better wear comfortable walking shoes, because you never know where He’s going to take you.”
Those are my own words from my own life and, believe me, I’m still on a journey with Him that began in my childhood.
That journey has taken me from the timid world of “I can’t” - asking for “F’s” rather than give oral reports - to the world of “I’ll try” and speaking before crowds across the United States and Canada with even a few guest spots on national television!
You ask “How?” Well, let me tell you…
Looking back, I see it’s due mostly my easy-to-read writing and two unexpected events:
1. A supposed one-time practical joke of masquerading as wise elderly storyteller and humorist I named “Miz Maudie” to bring entertainment and encouragement to older folks when I noticed they were being isolated and ostracized. At the same time, she’d cause other age groups to realize or remember that older folks are people too, intelligent and fun.
2. Being called on to give a ten-minute presentation as myself in a community National Day of Prayer service.
I’d already been published in newspapers and national magazines but had spoken only in college Speech class. Went home sick each time. And those were the times I didn’t even give the speech, just sat there trying to get up my nerve to volunteer to be next!
But by now, I’d finally pushed my scared-half-to-death silly self to college to earn my CDA, BA, MA and teacher certificate, leaving my Louisiana home for a Tennessee college where I was a professor in Allied Health. Yet, I’d never appeared before the public in a speaking role.
Working for weeks to prepare for the two events a month apart, I wrote, deleted, wrote, deleted, wrote, practiced aloud, deleted and wrote some more, practicing aloud until I had the timing and inflections down pat.
Little did I know those two presentations would lead to invitations to more church and civic groups - and lots more writing, deleting, writing, practicing…
Then folks found out Kathryn and Miz Maudie were the same and invited both of us to speak – to which friends teased, “Oh, you’re getting so popular!”
“Popular, my foot!” I exclaimed. “They’re just getting two for the price of one!”
But very soon my work was discovered by leaders and professionals such as Mrs. Henry Cannon, Minnie Pearl of the Grand Ole Opry, who invited me to her home in Nashville to encourage me to go full time into the world of humor.
“You’ve got a God-given gift,” she said. “You and Miz Maudie are getting the same kind of love and response Minnie and I do because the people know we really love them. You need to be out there. You’re going to make millions.”
Upon learning I preferred to keep my work more of a ministry, she said, “Well, you’ll never make the millions that way, but that’s all the more reason you need to be out there. This old world is starving to death for love.”
That was 37-years ago, leading to my resignation from the college when my program was fully accredited, accepting a church staff position created for me in Memphis by a pastor who was to become my second-mom and the older “chaperone” Mrs. Cannon had recommended.  
I was free to work at the church when in town and free to accept any engagements until I known well enough to earn my living. Calls grew to district, state, national and international. My writing, too, opened doors to more banquets, in-services, retreats, and conventions in the religious, education, civic and health care world because someone somewhere had read my work.
How? Because I combined my areas of study with my areas of interest along with real-life examples of my own and those shared with me by others. Clean humor with a message and inspiration is the way I’ve always written and spoken.
Meanwhile, my mother became what seemed terminally ill and, as an only child, kept me from advertising my work, just accepting what came my way. But in the nursing home where she’d gone to die, she did a miraculous turn-about from vegetable-like to alert and lively. Although then an invalid, she became the life of the place and put gray in my hair when she started courtin’!
My planned pamphlet “You Are Not Alone” for others with ill loved ones grew into a book with Mama’s adventures -  a book the publisher titled, “Believe It or Not—Mama Likes the Nursing Home!” A book of hope.
That introduced me as key-note speaker to state and national health-care conventions, usually the first family member to address care givers. Instead of the usual bedsores, lawsuits and government code speeches, I’ve given appreciation and challenge to keep up the good work.
These led to DVD’s for those working or living in long-term care plus presentations to Women’s Ministries and Senior Adult groups.
My second-mom, Jacklyn Welch Shockley, retired and was busy co-writing speaking material, music and traveling as a team of three upon her retirement. We even co-wrote a Christian Historic Fiction novel, using her 1940’s experiences, ideas and time line, my research and writing – with my finishing it after she was gone.
“Long Way from Lonely” is the story of a young veteran just home from World War II traveling South, hoping to find a warmer clime, a college and someone to love.
More writing has upped my work to even more writing and includes speaking to writers, plus coming up with a smaller book for the newbies, “Helpful Hints if You’re Ready to Write”.
There’s not enough room to list where my work has appeared through the years starting at age 15 so I’ll include the most recent two, reminding you, “It doesn’t always have to be a book.”
My latest works have appeared in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Really Did That?” and well-known author C. Hope Clark’s fundsforwriters.com - a helpful on-line weekly newsletter every writer should subscribe to and read from your inbox.
On the local front, I continue to be a weekly regional newspaper columnist and write requested articles for other papers. As city Public Relations Writer, my work takes me places and appears in numerous newspapers, on radio and internet news and on our city’s new web site.
For new folks, it’s not just write, submit, get accepted, but on-going learning, reading and studying, joining a nice writers group, attending conferences and workshops.
So, if you’re a writer or a wanna-be writer, give it a try. You’ve a story waiting to be told!
In this new site, I won’t be as wordy in the future. Just want to introduce myself here and to bring an encouraging word in an occasional brief e-mail for those who get on the mailing list.
I’ll conclude with the same words I used to begin: “If you’re going to walk with the Lord, you’d better wear comfortable walking shoes, because you never know where He’s going to take you.”
But, boy, oh, boy, what a wonderful journey!