Welcome, Ward. What
would you like for our readers to know about you personally?
I have been in active ministry for 58 years, beginning as a
young evangelist, serving as a denominational youth director, college public
relations director, pastor in three churches, lecturer, adjunct professor,
writer, novelist, and nonprofit organization executive director. Obviously the
man can’t hold a job!
Tell us about your
I am a widower. Dixie and I
were married for amazing 59 years. We have 2 married children, 3 grandchildren,
4 step-grandchildren and 2 great grandsons. All of whom I love dearly.
Have you written
other nonfiction books?
The first book I wrote was a history of the Pentecostal
movement in the Pacific Northwest, called Let
Light Shine Out. I picked the topic for a Master’s thesis while in grad
school. It turned out to be a book instead.
Do you have any other
books in the works right now?
I write the “almost” weekly blog, Perspective. Its target audience is “people living, learning, and
leading in life’s second half.” I try to speak into their spiritual journey
with stories, humor, church, life experience, and other issues relevant to the
season they are in. I also invite guest bloggers to share their stories from
time to time. How about it? Want to share some perspective with people who hear
regularly from me?
I also have some too-new-to-talk-about fiction, non-fiction,
and allegory projects that will soon be looking for a home. They don’t have
names yet, although I’m thinking of a few good ones. They are like unborn
babies. Not sure if they are boys or girls. It’s a surprise.
What kinds of hobbies
and leisure activities do you enjoy?
I enjoy quiet evenings, being with family, long walks with
GAGE, the wonder dog, people, good books and movies, sports, swimming, golf,
Why did you write the
On Valentine’s Day 2014, Dixie
was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Short of a miracle she had only a few
months to live. We both had thought I’d be first to go. This was truly
In discussing the idea of my telling her story, at first she
said, no. Eventually, however, she realized, her story written by her husband,
might well bring encouragement, hope, and healing to others facing similar
circumstances. She had taught us how life could be a “sacred journey.” And at
the end she taught us how to die.
Dixie’s life has been
filled with teaching moments and I was nowhere near ready for these moments to
end. We used to laugh when she’d look at me or our children and ask her most
familiar question, a question seeming to sum up who she was. As her final line
in the book, she offers up this question for one last time to each and every
reader on their own sacred journey. “So tell me, what do you think we’ve
learned from all of this.”
Sacred Journey contains discussion questions designed for
couples, book clubs, small groups, grief recovery or bereavement settings, to
encourage seeking the reader’s answers to Dixie’s
question, “So tell me, what do you think we’ve learned from all of this.” Each
set of questions are directed to a specific chapter, making it easy for a group
leader to access.
What do you want the
reader to take away from the book?
It is a true love story, framed in the final eighteen months
of a woman’s life, written by the man who loves her still. It is not a how-to
book, but you will better understand the emotional, physical, and spiritual
crises you, other family members, or friends could be facing one day, or
perhaps are dealing with right now.
Is there anything
else you’d like to tell my readers about you or your book?
This is a book for family and for caregivers. One pastor
provided all the hospital chaplains in his city with a copy. It’s not a sad
book, but you will cry. It’s not a carefree read, but you will be uplifted in
spirit. It is a book for pastors and pastors’ wives to read. It’s about one of
their own. She was who they are now. Dixie’s
journey will help them help others.
Please give us the
first page or two from the book.
Calm before Storm
The year was 1935. The
stock market had crashed six years before, causing a domino effect of bank
failures, unemployment, disintegrated fortunes, and homes lost to foreclosures,
leaving people feeling helpless and fearful. Many lived in despair, while
others reached for strong inner resources and fought their despair with hope.
And some just gave up on life, choosing death by their own devices. Still
others existed in a living death of fear and anger, my parents included. My
family were farmers in Oklahoma,
and probably not greatly affected by bank failures and stock market demise.
They lost their land! The lack of rain and fury of winds and irreparable
farming practices collided in mid-America, creating the perfect storm for soil
erosion as farms literally blew away ~ DLT diary, 2015.
There is no doubt.
Loss brings with it its own demons. And when crises subside, the demons are not
gone with the winds. They settle in with no intention of going away. ~ WT
January, after two long travel days driving south from our home in Bellevue Washington, we
arrive in Indio, California, exhausted and wondering why we
left the comforts and conveniences of home to accept the inconveniences and
less comfortable circumstances of a hotel situated in the middle of a desert.
This is a different kind of desert however, an oasis made beautiful by money
and water. Oh yes, and sun. Well, there is that! When rain is normal and seeing
the sun in January a rare event, this might be enough. But there is more.
A different place helps me gather up life’s fringes and draw
them into my center. To focus and think. To plan and pray. It can happen almost
anywhere, but there is something for me that is truly restorative about the
desert. The warmth and sun, the barren hills and jagged mountains. I grew up in
the high desert of eastern Washington
state. This could be part of it. Or maybe it’s because so much of what happens
in the Bible, what Jesus did, how God reveals himself to us, takes place in the
It’s about roots. The desert has a way of speaking to us.
The trees, the barrenness, sudden rain-flooded streams, and dry river beds.
When you plant something here and water and nurture it, it grows quickly, leafs
out, bears fruit, becomes a beautiful thing. I like that. It shouldn’t happen,
but it does. A stick turns into an orange or lemon or grapefruit tree almost
overnight it seems. A little water and the desert blooms. It’s extraordinary!
Life, I think, is like this. Even in January.
Dixie and I spend the
entire month of days here in this desert where once we lived for four years. In
the early morning sunshine, we stretch our legs by walking a 2.8-mile route
before preparing a breakfast we enjoy outdoors on the deck. Later I go for a
swim, then sit by the pool and read. I am preparing to go to Russia in a few
weeks to teach in a seminary extension program. Dixie
prefers the quiet of our room to do some catch up reading and meditation.
We do not tell acquaintances in the area we are here. We
want to be together, but alone. Just the two of us. Something we need,
especially since I will be leaving soon. Each day is a pleasant repeat of the
one before. Evenings are warm and quiet and meals are simple. We enjoy desert
sunsets, more beautiful, we agree, than anywhere else in the world. At least we
feel that way right now.
The final day comes at last as we knew it would. Reluctantly
we leave this desert hideaway to resume our real life. As we drive north on
I-5, we are unaware we have just completed our last major trip together.
That passage really
grabbed my heart. Where on the Internet can the readers find you?
For more author information and to subscribe to Ward’s free
website, Perspective, go to www.wardtanneberg.com.
Thank you, Ward for
sharing Dixie’s final days with us. I know my
blog readers will be as eager as I am to read the book.
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