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College Visits and Living a Life of Passion

                  My wife and I have been taking our son on college visits.  Hard to believe but he’ll apply to them in just a few months.  My wife and I enjoy these times.  The campus tours.  The car drives to the school.  Dreaming about his future.  Talking about his potential major.  Discussing all of the possibilities of his life.  We had the same great experience with our daughter four years ago.  I imagine that this time two years from now, I’ll write him the same letter I wrote to my daughter.  I wrote it in longhand to make it special and to get her attention.  In the letter I challenged her to use this time of her life, before she had life’s responsibilities and family responsibilities and just plain responsibilities, to do what she loves.  To not let expectations – real or perceived – to lead her to a choice, but let her heart lead her to a choice of major, of career, of job.  Don’t just start working and making money, I implored her, but pursue a passion.

                  You see, I knew she was too much like my wife and me – type A personality, wanting to be successful, and devoting herself to excellence.  And all of those are great characteristics – but I wanted her to do all of that for something about which she was passionate.  I’ll give the same advice to my son because he has the same Berry characteristics.  In fact I already have given him that advice in our drives to campus.

                  See, since I was in high school, I’ve wanted to be a successful writer – success simply defined as being able to live off my fiction.  My chance came and it went.  I studied English in undergrad and graduate school (prior to the fine arts programs out there today).  I wrote manuscripts, sent them off to agents and publishers alike.  But first came marriage and then came fatherhood and then it became time for me to be a productive member of the household.  And while I kept up with my writing for a time, the responsibilities of being a father and earning an income with my wife to pay the mortgage and provide a future for our two wonderful children slowly crowded out my passion as I focused on my responsibilities.

                  While I have never regretted doing the responsible thing for my wife and children, I did regret the writing – or lack thereof.  Soon the regret waned and the writing wasn’t something I missed as much as it was something I recalled once doing and then it became something in my past.  But four years ago, we started going to a great new church where our pastor talks to the potential and the gifts that God has given to each of us and that its in the use of our gifts that we live up to the potential we each have in our lives.  Each time he’d talk about potential and gifts, I had tweaks of regret that I no longer wrote.  Then my regret became a thought of ‘what if.’  And then I started to write again.  And the more I wrote, the more I began to dream again about being a writer and living off of my fiction.  And before I knew it, I’d researched and written a historical thriller on the 24 hours leading to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln that will be published as an e-book this summer.

                   I’ve always admired Eric Liddell, the Olympic runner portrayed in the movie Chariots of Fire.  He once explained his passion for running to his sister this way:  "I believe God made me for a purpose. He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure."  So while I know that I have responsibilities as a husband and a father to help provide for my family and I have a drive to be successful at what ever I do, I’ve also come to learn that God made me a writer, and when I write, I feel His pleasure.   

                   So I write!

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