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Chris Fabry
Married to Andrea since 1982. We have 9 children together and none apart. Our dog's name is Tebow.
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Where We Are Now

After finding and remediating mold twice in our Colorado home, we abandoned ship in October 2008. Because of the high levels of exposure, our entire family was affected. After months of seeing different specialists for all of the problems, we came to Arizona to begin comprehensive treatment to rid our bodies of the toxic buildup. In August 2009 we moved into a larger home, four bedrooms, south of Tucson, north of Mexico. I am doing my daily radio program/ writing from that location. Thanks for praying for us. We really feel it.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010
I listened to a section of last year's Christmas program on Chris Fabry Live! the other day. It's not because I'm narcissistic. Well, I am, but the reason I listened again was due to a listener who lives in the mountains of California who called and said that program meant a lot to her. Her son had committed suicide in the past year and she said that program meant so much. I wondered what we had said. (Andrea, my wife, was our featured guest.)

Toward the end of the program I read a few paragraphs from the story I was working on. I had written that section earlier that morning. As I read, I made the mistake of looking at Andrea, who was in a little puddle. The section was from Almost Heaven, Billy's message to his listeners who were struggling. They were words that helped a struggling mom in California nearly a year later. They were words that challenged me again as I listened.

My goal in writing is to move readers as much as I've been moved by other writers. Sentences that ring true to the heart and don't gloss over life's hurts. I long to hear readers say they underlined sections of the book and want to read it again more slowly.

Over the past few months I've sensed that I need to let go of the controls on the "writing thing" and let the books get into the hands of as many people as possible. If you'd like to help with that, we're instituting a Christmas special for Almost Heaven, Dogwood, and June Bug, my trilogy of West Virginia fiction. If you purchase two books, you'll receive one free—any combination of these titles. And I'll personalize them for you for Christmas and throw in free shipping. Just click on the What's New tab above or follow the link in the sidebar to find this offer on my website.

The gift of a story is a wonderful thing. I'd love to see something from Dogwood under your tree this season.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
We are not defined by our losses, but they do mark us. Hence, I don’t spend a lot of time looking back, grieving. But every now and then I think of my office in Colorado, the friends I left behind there in the form of books. No, not books, treasures.

Part of that treasure includes the loss of Pat Conroy. He is one of my favorite writers because his novels (one in particular) struck a deep, deep chord within. It still does. I had several copies of The Prince of Tides, including the audio version recorded by Frank Muller. I also had a framed picture of Beaufort, S.C. that my wife gave me that reminds me of our trip to Fripp Island in 1998.

On that trip, I discovered that Pat frequented a grocery store named T.T. Bones. The proprietor said if I left the books with her and paid for the postage, she would have him sign the books and send them to me. I bought hard cover copies of The Prince of Tides and The Water is Wide, two of my favorites. A couple of weeks later I found them in the mailbox, signed in the Conroy way, “For the love of Fripp!”

Then, when Pat’s nonfiction book about his days of playing basketball for The Citadel came out, I had a fleeting moment of meeting him in a long line at the Tattered Cover in Denver. I even took a picture of him and hung it on my wall.

In October of 2008, we abandoned our home and all our belongings because of a toxic mold exposure. Our children were sick, my wife and I were sick, and the toxicologist told us not to chance taking anything with us. No pictures, no furniture, no books. I had an extensive collection of writing books that I miss every day I sit in my little office and try to create, but I miss nothing more than the sight of those signed books by Conroy.

Over the years I’ve tried to come up with a creative way to have Pat on my radio show. However, the type of fiction he writes is not conducive to a “Christian” talk show. He tells great stories, and there are deep aspects of faith in them, but I haven’t been able to figure out the right subject matter.

Then I heard about a new nonfiction book that released November 2. My Reading Life is a literary travelogue of sorts, reflections about the books Pat has read and how they’ve affected him. This was my chance. The 200 or so outlets that take our program would finally hear Pat Conroy, and more importantly, I would get the chance to speak with a literary legend.

I contacted the publicist for his book and told him what a fan I am and how I would welcome any amount of time with Mr. Conroy. I received a message that his schedule was closed. He only did a limited amount of media for the book. However, the publicist said he would send me something. He had no idea of the story I just told you.

Today a FedEx package arrived. Small. Thin. I thought it might be a copy of the book. I opened it gingerly and found a page from the book printed on card stock. It was numbered 11/500. “Why I Write” was at the top. At the bottom was Pat’s signature.

I couldn’t believe the kindness of this stranger who sent me such a gift. It felt like a nudge from above saying, “Keep going. Keep telling stories. Tell them well.” I would trade it for a conversation, of course. But I wouldn’t trade the grateful feelings of nostalgia and inspiration.
Good news—I will be one of the guests on Midday Connection tomorrow (Friday 11/12), talking about life, love, and Almost Heaven.

Anita Lustrea was kind enough to ask me to join her for a few minutes and I’m excited about the interview. You can hear it at noon Central Time or listen via the podcast or stream at MiddayConnection.org.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I just downloaded my latest book from Amazon. Free. And you can, too.

Through a promotion with Tyndale House Publishers, Amazon.com is offering Almost Heaven free for the Kindle for a limited time. Just click here and it's yours for the checking out.

I don’t own a Kindle, but I downloaded the Kindle software free from Amazon which means I can read my own book for nothing! If you have a computer and can get to the Internet and if you like free things, this is a no-brainer. Just go to Amazon.com, click on Kindle on the left side, then “Download free reading apps.” It’s a great way to get Almost Heaven. And did I mention it’s free?

Maybe I can get them to write my next book so I don’t have to do anything.
Monday, November 8, 2010
I had a one-day meeting in Nashville and decided to combine that with a trip to see my parents in West Virginia. My father is 90, my mother 83, and they live alone at the top of a knoll surrounded by trees, turkey, deer, and occasional hunters.

I rented a car and drove the 6 hours from TN. I pulled into their driveway early on Friday morning while it was still dark and stretched out with a jacket as a cover. A knock on the window awakened me. It was their neighbor, Fred, who mows their hay and runs off the occasional hunters.

“You’re the youngest one!” he said.

He apologized for waking me, but it actually gave me a good feeling to have someone watching out for them.

My mother and father pray before each meal. They’ve been married almost 61 years. They kiss each other just before going to take a nap. One will bring a cover for the other or a warm cup of soup or decaf. Their silent ways of saying “I love you” are perhaps the most enlightening. The blood pressure kit that is dutifully produced for another check of heart rate. The simple act of cleaning one another’s glasses. Picking lint from a shirt or flicking off an errant spider.

My father’s memory is fading. People and faces come and go. The score from the game we watched the night before. My mother speaks in hushed tones about the depth of his failure to recall. She is his memory. She hears for him. Though at times he seems to hear and remember perfectly well, so it all could be an act.

It concerned me when I saw my mother frantically going through the backseat of their Chevy Impala. My father has always been a Chevy man, though there were the Mazda years in the 1970s and 80s. She was looking for her extra set of car keys—the ones with the grocery store discount tags attached. She guessed she lost them at some store. Or, perhaps my older brother had misplaced them after his trip home. We went through all the possibilities.

This did not sound plausible to me. How would she have driven home if she lost the keys at a store? My brother is detail oriented. I asked her questions. “What were you wearing when you last saw them? Have you changed coats? Could they be in the washer?”

I looked in the car, under the seats, and in the yard where they walk toward their new ramp—a not-so-gentle slope that covers the concrete steps that have been so cruel in recent years.

She wanted her radio moved into the TV room. I looked for the keys. Then, in the living room, I spotted an errant purse hiding on the coat tree and with much trepidation reached inside and grabbed a set of keys with grocery tags attached. Frank and Joe Hardy never felt any greater accomplishment. But the look on her face when I produced them was not relief, but sadness and loss.

We drove to see my uncle—a wiry, thin man whose favorite question to me was always, “How much do you weigh now, Chris?” He always spoke with his teeth together, daring you to decipher him. We walked the wide hallway, led by my bloodhound of a mother, and we found Uncle Johnny sleeping in a wheelchair, the television tuned to a soap opera and Cheerios littering the floor. Like a slumbering chipmunk by the hickory nut tree.

I rubbed his shoulder as his breathing grew heavier. This was a man who used to take me bowling. He would catch minnows and fish with me at our ponds.

He awoke and looked straight up at my father and said, “Robert.” They touched each other, my father sat, and my mother introduced the stranger in the room. He repeated my name, then craned his neck to see me. I turned off the TV.

I awaited the pivotal question, but all he could say was my name. We stayed a few minutes, making one-sided conversation, then made our way to the front again. On the way home my mother asked if we could go to the mall and buy her some new slacks. She told me from the back seat which lane to get in, then which entrance to use.

I parked and rolled down the windows for my father. I know you aren’t supposed to leave little children in the car alone, or pets, but what about 90-year-old men?

I caught up with my mother inside and actually saw a friend I hadn’t seen in 30 years, not counting Facebook. My mother wanted me to say hello to an old classmate, Connie, who worked at this particular store. I didn’t know Connie well during our educational sojourn through the West Virginia education we both endured. She approached my mother from another department, tentative, unsure of what this might entail. Perhaps an irate customer?

“You went to school with my Chris, didn’t you?” my mother said.

“Yes, I did,” Connie said.

“Well, here he is.”

Connie looked up and smiled as my mother spoke of some accomplishment I had achieved. I remembered as a child her pride that I could talk “early.” Instead of just pointing and grunting at the Little Debbie Cakes, I could actually sound out “Oatmeal Cream Pie.”

Connie was kind and humored both my mother and me. Then we parted, finding my father still in the car.


The next morning my mother was concerned because all she could see on TV was cartoons. She needed a box of some sort from the cable company. This led me on a journey into the heart of darkness that is the world of cable, but I was more than willing to risk my life and dignity, facing the slings and arrows of this mysterious world.

I returned with 2 converter boxes to find my father alone, reading the paper in front of a strangely silent TV. I flicked the power button on the remote and found a full slate of channels. There had been an isolated outage in their area.

That afternoon we noticed it was getting a little chilly in the house. We discovered the gas was off, which set in motion another equally compelling adventure comparable to “The Lost Key Mystery.” My mother and father, barely ambulatory enough to navigate the new ramp, walked stiff legged toward an undulating field filled with unseen crevices, creeks, and gullies. Carrying a pipe wrench and a screwdriver, they led me to a pipe sticking out of the ground and proceeded to argue what would happen if I “blew the well.”

I will not go into detail here about what happened, but it was my mother’s tenacity in calling the drilling company and getting “Jerry” to drive the 60 miles to the farm that saved our lives from the bitter 45-degree temperatures and the sure explosion that would have followed if I had “blown the well.”

When I finally left them on Saturday night the hot water heater and furnace were working and the gas had returned. Game 3 of the World Series was history and it was time for me to leave. We hugged and kissed at the house on the knoll and as I drove away they flicked the light on and off, a signal I remembered from my youth. I carry that flickering light with me every day.
Friday, November 5, 2010
My Uncle Willy was a hulk of a man, bigger than life itself. Tall and rotund, he walked with a sideways gait, as if the world were a listing ship and he was the one who was centered. We always looked forward to his visits because we knew we would laugh. He had the biggest laugh in the world. The biggest heart. A big appetite, too.

When we visited his home in Virginia (he had a blueprint business in Richmond), we would always play endless games of pool in his air-conditioned home. When Uncle Willy came to our place in the hills, it was late night games of Rook and dominoes punctuated with bodily noises and ribald stories. We laughed until midnight.

Uncle Willy had served in the Navy and liked his apple pie with cheese on top, something I could never understand. Still don’t, but then I’ve never been in the Navy. He loved bowling and smoked big cigars in the big car with leather seats he always drove.

Uncle Willy’s lap was a place of comfort and felt like home. As long as he didn’t take his shoes off, you were fine. I’m telling it like it is, not nice and neat and sugary sweet. His feet smelled like something that had been left beside the road. But it didn’t really matter. That was one thing I learned early, love covers a multitude of fungal problems.

There was a fair amount of rancor anytime he and Aunt Aileen came to visit because at some point the two of them would get into an argument. That’s when things really got interesting. I hardly ever heard my parents argue so it was a treat. Like Archie and Edith to a certain extent. Uncle Willy’s booming voice. Aunt Aileen’s alto whine. The argument crescendoed and then they’d make their way out to lawn chairs that were never the same afterward. Lightning bugs rose and whippoorwills called. And arguments faded.

Uncle Willy sang a song about “Tweedle O’Twil.” I guess it was an old Jim Reeves tune. I’d never heard it other than his version. I remember the line, “Sittin’ there wishin’, he could go fishin, over the hill, Tweedle O Twil.” Somehow that embodied my image of Uncle Willy.

And then the parting would come. Aunt Aileen’s eyes would grow red. Tears would stream. Hugs all around and then I’d watch their car disappear around the corner. The house always felt a lot quieter after their visits. More lonesome. Like some beautiful, ravaging storm had passed through and had left you different than before it came.

Aunt Aileen died many years ago, but Uncle Willy hung on and kept going. Today I got the news that the health problems that plagued him finally claimed his life. But death's cruel tug cannot take away the laughter I can still hear. I still feel the comfort of his embrace. The morning coffee on his breath. The sound of pins toppling from his powerful delivery.

I do not know why God favors some and not others. Why he blesses us with sunsets that shimmer all the colors of the rainbow while in other places the sky is gray. But I am grateful I can say I was one of the lucky few who had an Uncle Willy.
We asked you to pray for Ellie, our little friend who underwent brain surgery last month. Here's a recent progress report from her father, Peter. Please continue to pray for Ellie and her family.

Ellie has been exhibiting a ton more emotions. She's smiling, crying and a few days ago I could have sworn she laughed! Her dominant emotive has definitely been crying...she seems to cry often and for no apparent reason. However, she's home and we haven't been back to the hospital save for a check-up with Neuro-surgery (everything is looking good).

It's becoming apparent that Ellie is more 'aware' of herself and her
surroundings. She seems to respond more when she hears us talking or
moving around, she's more attuned to pain, and perhaps, she even knows
when she's hungry (still eating through the tube). She must have been in something like a deep, mental fog for the last year brought on by her seizures (she still hasn't had any since the night of the surgery).

She's 15 months old, now. We're praying that the seizures do stay at
bay, so that she will continue to develop all that she can do. We worry
about her future, which I suppose is normal for parents. People will
say, she'll be in God's hands, which is true. It is also true that she
has never been out of His hands from the moment she came into being, and
neither have we. And yet, in His hands we've been allowed to endure
(and survive) the most difficult, hellish year of our lives.

It's impossible to know what the future holds, but we are still hoping
for the best. We are certain that she has attained her current
progress, in large part, because of so many people's prayers--so many of
you. We have never been alone in this fight. You have all been
unswervingly faithful in lifting us up, a fact that is overwhelming.

Obviously, we never, ever wanted any of this for our children...this was
never factored into our dreams. However, since it has been and
continues to be our reality, we could not have 'dreamed' of being so
completely and repeatedly enveloped in prayer and generosity as we have
been. You have all been unbelievably good to us...it must be from God.

Thank you.

With much love,

Peter with Alana, Katie, and Ellie