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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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Friday, May 11, 2018
Words are powerful. They can hurt or heal. They are treasures in each heart and we dare not keep them to ourselves.

After Under a Cloudless Sky was published early in 2018, I started getting feedback about the story, the themes in the pages, the characters and how real they seemed, and what the story whispered to readers.

There was one note that stood out to me. A friend mentioned that his daughter liked my writing, and I sent her a copy. A few days later I received a card with writing on the front and back and around the printing. A handwritten note is the best kind because you get to see the flow of a person's thoughts. You see their heart in the ink.

She thanked me for the gift and said some wonderful things, but let me pull out two specific quotes.

"I feel like you're becoming a better writer with each book you write."

Oh, how that spoke to me. It's my goal to write better, deeper, more clearly, more heartfelt stories with each book. But there is such fear in starting a new project and so many whispers of, "No one will read this. You're a hack. You don't know what you're doing. Why don't you give up?" Those whispers, at times, become shouts and I've learned not to try to silence them but to listen carefully. The shouts are the fears of every writer. The shouts want to silence the good thing coming out. The shouts want to shut down, so if I listen to them and acknowledge them, I can nod, say "Thanks for your input," and get back to work. That's why this sentence in the note meant so much. Someone else on the other end of the process was moved and responded.

Later in the note the writer said, "I copied some June Bug quotes into my journal, and they were really timely."

June Bug is a story I wrote ten years ago in one of the most difficult seasons of my family's life. To know that in that struggle I had put something on the page that this reader identified with enough to write in her journal blew me away.

One more. She wrote, "If I may say so, I believe Jesus is really pleased with you, as well. You delight Him."

I looked at those sentences and smiled, shook my head, and thought, "She doesn't know me very well." I'm selfish and self-centered and sinful. Then I stopped and wondered, What if she's right? What if Jesus really is delighted in who I am. Who He's making me. What if He bases His delight not on my performance or my "getting better," but in who I am in Him?

And what if He feels that way about you? What if you allow Him to delight in you today? What if you are able to acknowledge the truth about your sin, but also hold tightly to the truth that "He who started a good work in you will be faithful to complete it?" What if I choose to see myself from His perspective and agree with how He feels about me instead of how I feel about myself most of the time?

That will not only make me a better writer, it will make me a better husband, father, neighbor, friend. It will also help me see others in light of this truth.

There is great power in words to heal and propel. They are jewels, precious ointment waiting to be poured out for ourselves and others. What will you do with your words today?

Monday, January 15, 2018
What is your secret?

We all have one. We all have something buried on the top of some hill of the past. Our great hope is that the secret will stay buried. Unseen. Dormant.

A secret unsettles us. There is no grave marker for the secret because we do not wish to remember. We want to forget.

The reason there is no stone above the buried secret is because we do not need one. We remember too well.

But what if the secret of your life is there not to haunt or shackle, but to redeem? What if the secret, buried deep, is the path to freedom? And what if the key to living an abundant life, the key to unlocking the door to your heart to redemption and reunion and a peace you have never known, lies in revealing the secret?

This is one of the big questions in the novel I've written—and this is release month, which doesn't mean much to anyone but the author and the publisher and a few friends who care. There's a lot going on in the world and a book about two little girls in a coal town in West Virginia in the 1930s, and then an old woman with a secret in 2004—well, trust me, it's an uphill battle to get something like that seen or noticed. A lot of other news is making a bigger splash.

But here's what I've come to understand after writing dozens of stories. Under a Cloudless Sky is my 80th published book, and I could not be more convinced of the power of a story than I am right now. Because a story well-told can get underneath the surface of your life and burrow so deeply that it can, at the same time, show you yourself and show you the path to real life.

My Secret

I've never done this. I've never had such a compulsion about a character as I had with Juniper and Hollis Beasley. They are "minor" characters in the novel, at least they were supposed to be. But the more I wrote about them, the more they took over the story. And as I wrote them, they became more defined, and I saw two Hollywood actors in my head playing them.

I've done this through the years, find a face, find a person who looks like a character in my novel and allow their smiles or frowns or voice to aid me. But this was different. I could see and hear them on the screen of my novel. And as much as I tried, I couldn't push their faces and voices from the dialog and narrative.

I mentioned to Karen, my publishing confidant (or editor, if you prefer), and she said, "Why don't you send the novel to one of the actors?"

So I did. Again, it was an act of hubris on my part to think that something I had written would even be seen by an A-list actor. But I found an address and mailed it. I've received no response yet, but that's not the point. If you don't believe in your story, you'll never risk. And if you don't believe in the power of your story, you'll never become vulnerable to that story. And if you allow the secret of your life to shackle you, you will never move past the fear and into a life of trust and belief.

I would love to hear who you think would play the parts of Hollis and Juniper best. I hope you pick up a copy of this story that's very close to my heart for a number of reasons.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
A writing friend asked a question recently about a project he felt compelled to write. Publishers didn't clamor for his book and he was wondering what to do—actually, he was asking the pivotal question every artist/writer asks. Here's how I answered and I hope it encourages you in some way.

Dear Fellow Writer,

The question you ask, "Does God need somebody else writing books?" is a killer to the heart. But I get where that's coming from. I've heard that question many times in many forms, and the hardest place is when it comes from yourself. The answer is, "No, God doesn't NEED you." But it's the wrong question. The question really is, "Has God given you something unique that comes from your own heart and enlivens your soul to share with the world?" And the answer to that is YES! You wouldn't have spent the time to write the book if that weren't true.

The corollary question is, "What's the purpose of this thing I wrote? Is it supposed to be published and make a big splash?" I don’t know the answer to that any more than the singer at the local church who dreams of a recording contract and a big audience. Stay at your post and do your duty. Sing your heart out where you are. At a small church. At a prison ministry. In your bed in the hospital. At the Ryman.

Read Colossians 3:23-24. Seems he's saying that whatever you've been given to do, do it with all your heart.

So the follow-up question is—since a publisher hasn't snagged this idea, what do I do with it? My gut tells me you need forward movement. Take another step in the process of writing out your heart. That might mean sending it to yet another publisher. It could also mean putting that one away and moving on to a different idea. Who knows—perhaps the next idea will really sing with a publisher and you can tack this onto the caboose of the contract.

You're sitting at a really good place—but it doesn't feel good. You've opened yourself and your ideas up to the world and now it's responding. Or, in the case of the one publisher, they're not responding like you'd like. Okay. This is part of the hard process. You have to train your heart to wait, even when you don't feel like it. And even when you have a contract, you have to be in waiting mode of the heart. Always connected with what God is doing in you. That's the key to this—the stories, the books, the creativity that flows from you is doing something IN you. And for it to really make a dent in someone else, it has to first make a dent in you. You don't have control of how big a dent it makes. God controls that. You have to be faithful with what you've been given—and willing to go to the places of the heart he takes you so that the conforming he's doing in you leaks out in the writing and the speaking and everything that flows from it (or doesn't).

The other question you're asking is, "What is success?"

Most will point to a bestselling writer and say, "That’s success." They look at the numbers. Okay, that's fine. But put this in spiritual terms. Was Stephen a success? What about John the Baptist? Or the others in Hebrews 11 who were sawn in two? I want to be Joseph who spends time in prison and is elevated to "Pharoah" status so I can save my people. But what if that doesn't happen?

Write your heart out. God has given you this desire. Don't second-guess it. Go with it and see what happens in your own soul. And then release that good thing he's given, the ways he's working and changing and conforming you and let go of the expectation. You already have the success in the change that's happening inside you.

I used to listen to the voice, "Who are you to think you could write anything good?" Now I hear more clearly, "Who are you to hide what God has given you under a bushel basket?"

Monday, April 3, 2017
I woke up a few days ago humming a tune, thinking of a hymn I heard the Back to the Bible Quartet sing on a radio program long ago. This is one of those songs you have to sing in 4-part harmony to get the full effect.

More love to Thee, O Christ,
More love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make
On bended knee;
This is my earnest plea:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee.

Modern songs will many times focus more on "how much I love Jesus." Songs of old did the same—think of "Oh, how I love Jesus." But this hymn is not focusing on the depth of my love and how great it is, it instead is a prayer to God to stoke the fires of love in my heart so that I can truly show love to God.

Once earthly joy I craved,
Sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek,
Give what is best;
This all my prayer shall be:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!

Searching for peace and rest is not a bad thing, unless you search for it in a place where it can never be found. God is the only one who can give this and you're looking for love in the wrong place if you wander. The single focus of the hymn writer and the longing of her heart was to truly find God and receive what is "best." Oh that this would be the cry of my heart today.

Then shall my latest breath
Whisper Thy praise;
This be the parting cry
My heart shall raise;
This still its prayer shall be:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!

There is a sense of the temporal in the last verse. The grass withers and the flower fades, and so will my life, my heart, my voice. But when I have but one whisper left, let my heart raise this prayer that I will be found faithful in loving the One who loved me first.

So how do I show more love to Christ? Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." 1 John 3:18 says, "Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and truth." The hymn writer is calling us not to correct speech or lofty prayers but an earnest, authentic faith that puts love into action.

How can you love God more fully today?
 
Friday, January 20, 2017
Eight years ago, I made a commitment on Inauguration Day. Today seems like a good time to renew it. See what you think about "My Oath of Office" below—and the addendum by an anonymous responder.



My Oath of Office (2009)

Will you respect the office of the President and the man who is charged by our country and by God to lead us?

Will you pray for this man and daily ask God not only for protection, but also for wisdom to lead our free nation?

Will you commit to repent of pre-judging him on things you've heard, on rumors you've been sent by email?

Will you pray for his wife in her new role? For his daughters who will be in the spotlight like never before?

Will you give him an opportunity to make decisions without vilifying him personally?

And when you disagree with a policy, when you believe he is going the wrong direction, will you speak the truth in love, will you be unlike those who have taken the opportunity to tear President Bush down at seemingly every turn?

To support, means to love. And agreeing with everything a person says when they are wrong is not loving. But to disagree in a way that shows dignity to that other person, while at the same time pointing out the truth, is what support means.



Anonymous said...
Thank you for this reminder! I also added this to one of your paragraphs: And when you disagree with a policy, when you believe he is going the wrong direction, will you speak the truth in love, will you be unlike those who have taken the opportunity to tear President Bush down at seemingly every turn? I will seek to recall and meditate on Matthew 12:36–37 -- "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

Thursday, August 4, 2016
Five years ago today my father died. He had slipped away from my mother, and my brother and sister-in-law suggested I get there quickly. I drove up to the house with crickets and frogs providing the soundtrack to that West Virginia requiem. The air was thick and humid and I knew this was the end of something good.


The other night as we sat on the front porch my wife looked at me and said, "You look just like your dad." I acted as if it bothered me, but it didn't. I'm okay with becoming my father, looks and all. I'm okay with all that entails, and some of it isn't pretty.

My father wasn't perfect, though. He made mistakes. He yelled on occasion. Wasn't politically correct with his views. But it's not his mistakes I think most about these days. That's the funny thing about time. It erases most of the mistakes and replaces them with warm memories. And both are true. The negatives and positives are real, but time seems to bring the warm ones to the surface more often.

His haircuts, for example. As a kid I hated them. I didn't like sitting on that rickety, metal chair and having hair go down my neck. It was musty and hot in the basement. I just wanted to go outside. As a kid I couldn't wait for that haircut to be over. What I wouldn't give to feel his hands on my head today, pushing those clippers around one more time.

The smell of the peppermints he ate on the way to church. His laugh. Seeing him at the kitchen table reading the paper. Walk with him and our dog, Shep, up the hill and into the woods. Hear him tinker with some machine that wouldn't run. Or ride the tractor into some impossible incline to cut the hay.

I wrote about my father in the book The Promise of Jesse Woods. He was not a pastor in real life, but he had the heart of a good one. There are echoes of his grace and faults in those pages. I suppose I will write about him in some way with each story, but this one captured a different side of him.

The death of my father was the end of something good. But it was also the beginning of memories as rich as the loamy soil he loved.

This is a photo I keep on my desk of my father and his older brother
sitting on the step of their house in the southwest coalfields of West Virginia.